The Language Environment of First Century Judaea

Jerusalem Studies in the Synoptic Gospels—Volume Two


The articles in this collection demonstrate that a change is taking place in New Testament studies. Throughout the twentieth century, New Testament scholarship primarily worked under the assumption that only two languages, Aramaic and Greek, were in common use in the land of Israel in the first century. The current contributors investigate various areas where increasing linguistic data and changing perspectives have moved Hebrew out of a restricted, marginal status within first-century language use and the impact on New Testament studies. Five articles relate to the general sociolinguistic situation in the land of Israel during the first century, while three articles present literary studies that interact with the language background. The final three contributions demonstrate the impact this new understanding has on the reading of Gospel texts.
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Biographical Note

Randall Buth is director of the Biblical Language Center and chairman of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, Israel. From 1977 to 1996 he lived in Africa and served as a translator and translation consultant with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and as a translation consultant with the United Bible Societies. Buth is the author of Living Biblical Hebrew and Living Koine Greek. R. Steven Notley is Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the New York City Campus of Nyack College. He has published many books and articles, including with Anson F. Rainey, The Sacred Bridge: Carta's Atlas of the Biblical World (Carta 2005), with David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee (Eerdmans, 2007), with Ze'ev Safrai, Parables of the Sages (Carta, 2011).

Review Quote

"[The] collective aim of the authors, to more thoroughly document Hebrew as a living language alongside Aramaic in Second Temple Palestine, has clearly succeeded. [...] This collection of essays should be on the reference shelf and within easy reach of all serious students of the gospels who attempt to encounter the linguistic landscape of first-century Palestine." – Steven Thompson, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, Australia, in: RBL 05/2016

Table of contents

Introduction: Language Issues Are Important for Gospel Studies Sociolinguistic Issues In a Trilingual Framework 1. Guido Baltes, “The Origins of the “Exclusive Aramaic Model.” 2. Guido Baltes, “The Use of Hebrew and Aramaic.” 3. Randall Buth and Chad T. Pierce, “Hebraisti” 4. Marc Turnage, “The Linguistic Ethos of Galilee” 5. Serge Ruzer, “Syriac Authors” Literary Issues In a Trilingual Framework 6. Daniel A. Machiela, “Hebrew, Aramaic Translation” 7. Randall Buth, “Distinguishing Hebrew from Aramaic.” 8. R. Steven Notley, “Non-LXXisms” Reading Gospel Texts in a Trilingual Framework 9. R. Steven Notley and Jeffrey P. Garcia “Hebrew-Only Exegesis” 10. David N. Bivin, “Petros, Petra” 11. Randall Buth, “The Riddle”


Scholars and students of the New Testament, the Historical Jesus and Judaism in Roman Antiquity with a particular focus in the language environment of these subjects will be interested in the conclusions of the Language Environment of First Century Judea.