1106Re: [Roman_History_Books] Did the Romans at the time of Christ speak Greek or Latin ?
- Aug 11, 2003Jay, all educated Romans could read and speak Greek as well as Latin by the second or first century BCE. The
"official" language of the Roman empire was unambiguously Latin before the age of Constantine (307-337 CE).
Officials like Pontius Pilate then would converse in Latin or Greek, depending on the situation. Jewish leaders would
talk to the Romans in Greek, in the synagogues in Hebrew, and to their people in Aramaic. So far as we know, Jesus
spoke Aramaic only. Anyone in business however better know Greek, at least in the east, because this was the most
widespread language. Greek was much less common in the western empire except in places like Marseilles and other
entrepots along the coast. Commoners in the Eastern Roman empire tended to either speak Greek or the local language,
whatever that was. The oldest versions of the gospels are of course in Greek. Roman soldiers were initially
commoners, but naturally, if ambitious and smart, it behooved them to learn Greek if they didn't grow up with it.
People learn languages very quickly when they grow up with them; only Americans are suprised by the possibility of
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