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[XTalk] Re: HMt and Hebrew in 1 c Israel

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  • Jeffrey B. Gibson
    ... [snip] ... Well, at least you seem to recognize finally that the claim about Hebrew as a spoken language needs evidence, and not just speculation, to
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 3, 2000
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      Yuri Kuchinsky wrote:
      Crosstalkers,

      Doubts have been expressed by Jack and others as to what extent Hebrew was
      used in Israel in the 1 c. These doubts seem to be misplaced. Hebrew was
      certainly both spoken and written in Israel in the 1 c. Much religious
      literature was written at that time in Hebrew. Here's some info from the
      Enc. Britannica,

      [snip]
      All this indicates very clearly that there can be no serious objections to
      HMt being at home in Israel in the 1 c. or later.
       
      Well, at least you seem to recognize finally that the claim about Hebrew as a spoken language needs evidence, and not just speculation,  to support it if it is to be credible at.

      But note, (as Fitzmyer himself, who is quite well aware of this "evidence", goes on to say) this "evidence" does not actually support your claim. It is all pre-first cent. To claim the speaking (let alone the **widespread** speaking)  of Hebrew in the 1st cent and beyond, we need something more contemporaneous AND from a wider sampling of the population than just pre 1st cent elites  or sectarians (which is who and/or what -- again as Fitzmyer notes) the authors of these works were.  As Fitzmyer notes, "pockets of Palestinian Jews also used Hebrew, but this was not widespread [emphasis mine]"

       
      As far as the inscriptional evidence is concerned, as Joseph A. Fitzmyer
      notes in his "The Languages of Palestine in the First Century A.D.", often
      it is impossible to say in which language the funeral inscription is made,

      "There are, of course, ossuaries with Semitic names that could have been
      inscribed by Hebrew-speaking Jews as well as by Aramaic-speaking Jews. The
      use of ben instead of bar in the patronymics is not sure indication of a
      Hebrew proper name, even though it is often used to distinguish Hebrew
      from Aramaic inscriptions on the ossuaries." (1997 reprint, p. 44)

      Fitzmyer, himself, is certainly persuaded of the use of Hebrew in this
      time period,

      "That Hebrew was being used in first-century Palestine is beyond doubt, as
      we have been saying..." (ibid, p. 45)
       

      You are being disingenuous here (a) by not quoting the entire conclusion that Fitzmyer comes to, namely, that what Hebrew was spoken was hardly widespread (see quote above) and (b) leaving out Fitzmyer's notice that claims made by those who appeal to the extensive literature in Hebrew from Qumran for the possibility of writing a Hebrew Gospel "exceed the bounds of speculation" (p. 46)
       
      Also, we have numerous Patristic sources indicating the existence of a
      Hebrew Mt in the early centuries of Christianity. Were all those Fathers
      of the Church imagining all those things? After all, they consistently
      report contacts with Jewish Christian groups of all sorts, all having some
      sorts of Hebrew gospels of Mt, most likely different versions and
      recensions.
       
      The difficulty here is three fold. None of the Church fathers claim that the "Jewish Groups". None of the Hebrew Gospels referred to (i.e. Gospel of the Hebrews) are said to be early. Indeed they are often viewed as translations from the Greek. And when the fathers refer to HEBRADI DIALELKTIKON in which these Gospels were written they meant Aramaic (or in the case of Papias, a style of writing, not the language it was written in --  see H. J. Kurzinger _Papias von Heierapolis und die Evangelien des Neues Tesaments: Gesammelte Autsatze, Neuausgabe und Ubersetzung der Fragmente, Kommentierte Bibliographie [Berlin, 1983]).
      It would certainly appear as rather presumptious for any historian to
      dismiss all that evidence out of hand.
       
      "All that" begs the question. In any case, however much there actually is, it would be presumptuous to dismiss it out of hand. But NO ONE has done this. What they have done has been to sift what this "evidence" to see  if it is evidence and then to determine how valuable it actually is in justifying a claim that Hebrew was **widespread** as a language in the first  -- with the notable conclusion that it wasn't.

      JG
      --
      Jeffrey B. Gibson
      7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
      Chicago, Illinois 60626
      e-mail jgibson000@...
       

    • Jeffrey B. Gibson
      ... This first sentence should, of course, read None of the Church fathers claim that the Jewish Groups to which they refer spoke Hebrew. Rather the
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 3, 2000
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        "Jeffrey B. Gibson" wrote:

        > The difficulty here is three fold. None of the Church fathers claim
        > that the "Jewish Groups". None of the Hebrew Gospels referred to (i.e.
        > Gospel of the Hebrews) are said to be early ...

        This first sentence should, of course, read

        None of the Church fathers claim that the "Jewish Groups" to which they
        refer spoke Hebrew. Rather the designation of Jewish has to do more with
        where these groups stood in relation to the Law than what language was
        characteristic of them.

        Jeffrey
        --
        Jeffrey B. Gibson
        7423 N. Sheridan Road #2A
        Chicago, Illinois 60626
        e-mail jgibson000@...
      • Jim West
        ... in fact hebrew was used in ist c. palestine like latin was used in 15th century germany- as the language of the scholar . you cannot suppose that hebrew
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 3, 2000
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          At 03:31 PM 1/3/00 -0500, you wrote:
          >
          >Crosstalkers,
          >
          >Doubts have been expressed by Jack and others as to what extent Hebrew was
          >used in Israel in the 1 c. These doubts seem to be misplaced. Hebrew was
          >certainly both spoken and written in Israel in the 1 c. Much religious
          >literature was written at that time in Hebrew. Here's some info from the
          >Enc. Britannica,

          in fact hebrew was used in ist c. palestine like latin was used in 15th
          century germany- as the language of the "scholar". you cannot suppose that
          hebrew was used by the common folk any more than you can suggest that latin
          was used by the filty urchins in stuttgart.

          that we have hebrew lit is not surprising- since literature is the venue of
          the learned. you are a bit more pressed to find evidence of common folk
          (and thus the majority of the population) speaking hebrew (much less reading
          it).

          Best,

          Jim

          ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

          Jim West, ThD
          jwest@...
          http://web.infoave.net/~jwest
        • Yuri Kuchinsky
          Crosstalkers, What kinds of early Jewish-Christians existed in the first century of Christianity? There appears to have been quite a few often divergent sects,
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 10, 2000
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            Crosstalkers,

            What kinds of early Jewish-Christians existed in the first century of
            Christianity? There appears to have been quite a few often divergent
            sects, and much literature exists on this subject. Naturally, all of this
            is extremely important for understanding the milieu in which the
            Historical Yeshu was conducting his ministry.

            It is my belief that low Christology, along with Torah-observance, would
            have been the mark of the earliest Jesus movement post-Easter, but very
            soon substantial theological developments and splits took place.

            Very good insight into early Jewish Christianity may be provided by
            _Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew_, by Justin Martyr (d. ca. A.D. 165).
            Overall, it may be said that Justin portrays four kinds of Jewish
            Christians. One may divide them according to the Christology they
            followed, and also according to their attitude towards the Torah
            observance.

            (1) According to Justin, some Jewish Christians were in complete agreement
            with the greater Church on both accounts (Dial 39, 43, 48). They accepted
            the orthodox view, affirmed also by Justin, of course, that Jesus is the
            Messiah, the pre-existent and virgin born Son of God (cf. chaps. 43, 48);
            they rejected the Law as having present relevance, and did not observe its
            provisions. According to Justin, these Jewish Christians redeemed all
            their compatriots, and "for their sake the nation was not completely
            destroyed." (chaps. 43, 48).

            (2) Other Jewish Christians held a form of an adoptionist Christology.
            They believed Jesus "to have been a man, and to have been appointed by
            election, and then to have become Messiah" (Dial 45, 47).

            Also, the Dialogue describes other Jewish Chistians who, while holding an
            "orthodox" Christology, yet also wished to observe the institutions of
            Torah (cf. chaps. 46, 47). Justin divides these into two groups.

            (3) He is critical of those Jews who say they believe in Christ but try to
            persuade others, particularly Gentile Christians, to observe the Law
            (circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, observing months and times of the
            year, ritual washing after touching prohibited things or after sexual
            intercourse, etc.) and who refuse to "associate intimately with Christians
            who do not keep the Law." According to Justin, such Hebrew Christians will
            not be saved.

            (4) Justin also knows of other Jewish Christians who keep the Law, he
            says, "through weak-mindedness" (dia to asthenes tes gnomes), but do not
            try to persuade others to do so. He believes these will achieve salvation,
            and that other Christians "ought to join ourselves to such, and associate
            with them in all things as kinsmen and brethren" (chap. 47). However, he
            acknowledges that there were some Christians who refused to have Christian
            fellowship with such Jewish Christians.

            So here's a summary of these 4 types,

            CHRISTOLOGY TORAH OBSERVANCE

            1 High No (group fully in accord with proto-Catholics)
            2 Low Yes
            3 High Yes (and attempting to persuade other Christians)
            4 High Yes (but no attempt to persuade)

            In reference to these divisions, it is my view that the earliest form of
            Jewish Christian belief would have been (2). I prefer to call these Jewish
            Christians Ebionites. I believe these would have been the earliest
            followers of Yeshu who later became the first Jerusalem community.

            Then, we have the group (3) that seems to have been partly accommodated to
            the more mainstream proto-Catholic theology of Justin's time, while still
            having substantial differences with them over the Torah observance.

            Even more accommodated seems to be the group (4). And finally, there's the
            group (1) that appears to have surrendered any differences they may have
            had in the past with the proto-Catholics.

            It is quite natural to suppose that all these four groups may have had
            their own devotional texts, probably various recensions of the Gospel of
            Matthew, as the Church Fathers so often insist, as well as others. So
            there would have been quite a variety of theologies reflected in their
            liturgical and devotional texts.

            Any opinions?

            Regards,

            Yuri.

            P.S. There has not been a great outpouring of interest so far re my
            proposal to start a new Hebrew Matthew list, but the subject is still
            being discussed on email with various parties. Meanwhile the discussion of
            HMt has now shifted to TC-List where it is quite lively at the moment,

            http://www.egroups.com/group/tc-list

            Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- http://www.trends.ca/~yuku

            The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
            equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
          • Daniel Grolin
            Dear Yuri, There is one thing that strikes me: You wrote:
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 12, 2000
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              Dear Yuri,

              There is one thing that strikes me:

              You wrote:
              <(2) Other Jewish Christians held a form of an adoptionist
              Christology. They believed Jesus "to have been a man, and to have been
              appointed by election, and then to have become Messiah" (Dial 45, 47).>

              This is the group you favour for the most ancient of Judeo-Christians. It
              occurs to me that the formulation, that Jesus was "appointed by election",
              follows the concepts of Horsley's "popular messianic movement", rather
              than a scribal variant. I would consider this to be a plus for your
              hypothesis, since Jesus' movement was undoubtedly popular in origin.

              Regards,

              Daniel
            • Yuri Kuchinsky
              ... Hi, Daniel. Well, first of all, let me correct what I wrote previously. For some reason I wrote appointed instead of annointed , although the general
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 12, 2000
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                On Wed, 12 Jan 2000, Daniel Grolin wrote:

                > Dear Yuri,
                >
                > There is one thing that strikes me:
                >
                > You wrote:
                > <(2) Other Jewish Christians held a form of an adoptionist
                > Christology. They believed Jesus "to have been a man, and to have been
                > appointed by election, and then to have become Messiah" (Dial 45, 47).>
                >
                > This is the group you favour for the most ancient of Judeo-Christians.
                > It occurs to me that the formulation, that Jesus was "appointed by
                > election", follows the concepts of Horsley's "popular messianic
                > movement", rather than a scribal variant. I would consider this to be
                > a plus for your hypothesis, since Jesus' movement was undoubtedly
                > popular in origin.

                Hi, Daniel.

                Well, first of all, let me correct what I wrote previously. For some
                reason I wrote "appointed" instead of "annointed", although the general
                meaning is still roughly similar. Here are a couple of corrected quotes
                from Justin.

                (2) Other Jewish Christians held a form of an adoptionist Christology.
                They believed Jesus "to have been a man, and to have been anointed by
                election, and then to have become Christ",

                "For there are some, my friends," I [Justin] said, "of our race, who admit
                that He is Christ, while holding Him to be man of men."

                "And Trypho said, "Those who affirm him to have been a man, and to have
                been anointed by election, and then to have become Christ, appear to me to
                speak more plausibly than you who hold those opinions which you express.
                For we all expect that Christ will be a man [born] of men, and that Elijah
                when he comes will anoint him. But if this man appear to be Christ, he
                must certainly be known as man [born] of men." (Dial 48-49)

                [end quotes]

                The complete text is available here,

                http://ccel.wheaton.edu/fathers2/ANF-01/anf01-48.htm#P4043_787325

                As Trypho says in the quote, for the believing Jews it would have made a
                lot more sense, and a lot less troublesome, to accept Yeshu as a common
                man at first, who was later made the Messiah at the time, or shortly
                after, his death by Crucifixion.

                Regards,

                Yuri.

                Yuri Kuchinsky | Toronto | http://www.trends.ca/~yuku/bbl/bbl.htm

                The goal proposed by Cynic philosophy is apathy, which is
                equivalent to becoming God -=O=- Julian
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