|A HEBREW OR GREEK NEW
contibuting factor to misinterpretation is that the books of the "New Testament"
are "Greek documents." The fact that the "New Testament" texts we have
are in Greek, makes them no more "Greek documents" than the Septuagint (Greek)
version of the Old Testament, which the rabbis wrote into Greek 200 years before Yeshua.
The rabbis did this (as did someone at some point with the "New Testament"
letters), for the benefit of the non-Jewish world so that they could also learn of the God
and faith of Israel.
Thus, the "New Testament" documents remain Hebrew texts written in a Hebrew mindset, and must be studied that way, if we are to determine what the authors' meanings are. And until we learn the true original meaning, discussing "what the verse means to us" (as is done in many so called "studies") is a an exercise in futility and leads to error.
Having said that, there is overwhelming evidence, both historical and linguistic that shows that the texts were originally written in Hebrew, and also that Hebrew was not a "dead language" (as was thought of for quite some time). A good source of information on the latter is "Biblical Archaeology Review" (BAR) magazine. BAR has had articles in the past few years on digs that have unearthed documents from around the first century written in Hebrew, including legal documents and one woman's personal diary.
Other sources testifying to Hebrew being the language of 1st century Jews and a Hebrew origin of the "New Testament" documents include:
1. Recent Qumran findings (Dead Sea Scrolls) shows secular documents written at that time concerning "current events" (i.e., not just copies of old religious texts.) indicating Hebrew was a "living" language. There are several books on the Dead Sea Scrolls available. for recommendations if interested.
2. Jewish coins found from that era are minted with Hebrew text on them.
3. A study of the writings of the Christian "Church Fathers" shows that much of the "New Testament" was written in Hebrew. This includes direct statements made by; Papias, Ireneus, Origin, Eusubius, Epiphaneus, Jerome and Clement of Alexandria.
4. The prominent first century historian Josephus wrote in both his books, Antiquities and Wars, that Hebrew was the language of first century Jews and that they did not know Greek. (In fact there is a Jewish tradition saying it is better to eat swine than learn Greek.)5. Modern linguistics (thanks to the input of cognisant Messianic Jewish and gentile scholars) shows that the text themselves don't lend to an "original Greek" translation. A very good book you want to get with dozens of examples is, The Semitic Origin of the New Testament, by James Trimm. This can be ordered via www.nazarene.net. Also recommended is the Hebrew/Aramaic New Testament Research Institute at www.nazarene.net/hantri/
6. Other books, such as The Jewish New Testament, by David Stern are also helpful in showing the Hebrew thought that gets lost in the Greek/English. (The latter can be ordered through Amazon.com.)
An example of a proof for an original Hebrew text, is Matthew 6:19-24:
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
In these verses we have Yeshua speaking about money, and not making it more important than God. Note that He begins speaking about money, then says something about "an evil eye," then finishes His statement about money. If this were penned in Greek originally, you would have to ask, "Why this odd verse about an "evil eye" in the midst of a money topic?" It makes no sense. However, if you happen to know that having an "evil eye" is a Hebrew idiom of that time for "being stingy with your money," then, a) the passage makes sense, and b) you realize it HAD to be written in Hebrew first, then whoever translated it into Greek, (unaware of the idiom), simply took it word-for-word from Hebrew into the Greek.
There are many "New Testament" verses that are very hard, if not impossible, to understand without knowledge of the deeper teachings of the Judaism of that day. There are also many places where Yeshua and Paul quote from Jewish literature as shown elsewhere in this study.
It is important to note who these letters were originally meant to be read by "leaders" in the Messianic community (most likely Jews), who were well versed in the Judaism of the first century and its understanding of Torah.. (Note Peter's concerns about Paul's letters being hard to understand and often twisted about by "lawless" people -- "lawless" meaning not knowing or respecting Torah, the "Law.")
Nothing in the "New Testament" was ever meant to be read out of context, by people from another culture ignorant of the Hebrew meaning to the words and the concepts behind them, and replacing this with their own personal meaning. Nor were any of the "New Testament" documents ever meant to stand on their own, apart from being interpreted in the context of the Torah (God's direct revelation/instruction), which of course came first.
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