Did the Romans at the time of Christ speak Greek or Latin ?
- There is a lot of controversy over Mel Gibson's movie, "The
Passion". Can someone please clarify if the Romans in the time Jesus
in that part of the world (as a rule) spoke Latin or Greek ? I know
that those who could afford Greek teachers learned Greek. But didn't
the average Roman soldier know only Latin ?
About the movie script:
"Some scholars, many of them Catholic, who have seen a version of the
script believe the film is irresponsible. It gets significant facts
wrong - including the use of Latin at a time when Romans spoke
- they probably spoke greek, but i defer to blake.
"If one names an enemy and attacks...they must expect their own life to be in peril."
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- The flick will be controversial.
- Jay, 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