Polyglot Jesus

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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby linguoboy » Fri 17 Jul 2009 6:33 pm

Yaziq wrote:Would a conquered people learn the language of their conquerors? Or was it the other way 'round?

What you have there is a false dichotomy. Was it the case that all Englishmen learned Norman French or did all Normans learn English?

Also, the remarks about Greek as the lingua franca of the eastern Roman Empire above apply not just to administrators such as Pilate but also to the soldiery, and that includes centurions. Not to mention the fact that legionnaires were also recruited from conquered territories. So it's not unthinkable that the centurion in question spoke Aramaic natively.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby Delodephius » Fri 17 Jul 2009 9:44 pm

linguoboy wrote:
Delodephius wrote:Anyhow, personally I think besides Aramaic he most likely knew also Greek and Hebrew as these were the widespread throughout ancient Judea and I doubt that if he was an educated man he would miss being exposed to them at some point.

Why would the son of a poor carpenter from a backwater like Nazareth be an "educated man"?

Even I'm a poor farmer's son from a backwater, that doesn't mean I can't get decent education. There is nothing about Jesus' life before about the age of 30. How can we know he didn't go to some school or that he was taught in some religious sect? It is all possible. Maybe he learned Greek in a school, maybe on a market place. He could have learned Hebrew at a temple. I don't know, but was he literate?
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby linguoboy » Fri 17 Jul 2009 10:39 pm

Delodephius wrote:Even I'm a poor farmer's son from a backwater, that doesn't mean I can't get decent education. There is nothing about Jesus' life before about the age of 30. How can we know he didn't go to some school or that he was taught in some religious sect? It is all possible. Maybe he learned Greek in a school, maybe on a market place. He could have learned Hebrew at a temple.

We can't know this, therefore it's irrelevant. (Worse than that, it's a logical fallacy.) If there's any point to discussing the subject at all, we have to confine ourselves to arguing from the "facts" as reported in the Gospels. Otherwise, we just accept ILuvEire's argument that he was God, therefore he knew every language, end of story let's all go out and get a beer.

I don't know, but was he literate?

We do know that because Luke[*] tells us "And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read." This indicates literacy in Hebrew; whether he was literate in any other language is a separate question.

[*] A man who, if he actually lived at all, never met Jesus of Nazareth before he was crucified. But see above.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby dtp883 » Fri 17 Jul 2009 10:50 pm

But you live in Slovakia, no? In your country there is 10 years of compulsory education plus you have a computer. I doubt Jesus had either.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby Delodephius » Fri 17 Jul 2009 11:09 pm

dtp883 wrote:But you live in Slovakia, no? In your country there is 10 years of compulsory education plus you have a computer. I doubt Jesus had either.

I live in Serbia. And how do you know Jesus didn't have any education, even if informal like studying with some wandering sage? In his sermon on the mount he gives an impression of a well educated man, that's all I'm saying. If indeed he said all that what he did and in the way it is recorded in the gospels. Some things I doubt a simple carpenter's son would come up with all by himself. Unless he actually did, where did he got all that knowledge? Presuming of course the gospels are true. I personally doubt Jesus as a human being even existed.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby dtp883 » Sat 18 Jul 2009 3:26 am

Delodephius wrote:I live in Serbia.


Again I am sorry.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby linguoboy » Sat 18 Jul 2009 3:32 am

dtp883 wrote:
Delodephius wrote:I live in Serbia.
Again I am sorry.
Dude, it's not that bad of a country!
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby Sobekhotep » Sun 19 Jul 2009 6:42 am

I was under the impression that Jesus would have known at least basic Greek, since he was a carpenter & he likely would have needed Greek to engage in trade.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby linguoboy » Sun 19 Jul 2009 8:52 am

Sobekhotep wrote:I was under the impression that Jesus would have known at least basic Greek, since he was a carpenter & he likely would have needed Greek to engage in trade.

Why? Most of Galilee was still Aramaic-speaking at the time. Moreover, I'm not sure there's any reason to assume he ventured much beyond the vicinity of Nazareth (which doesn't appear in historical sources before the 3rd century CE, suggesting it was an unimportant hamlet in Jesus' day[*]) before he began his ministry. As far as I know, the guild system is a mediaeval development; thus there would've been no reason for Jesus to embark on a journeyman phase to complete his apprenticeship in any case.

There's some speculation that Joseph and Jesus found work in the nearby Hellenised settlement of Sepphoris. Even if that's true, it's not really diagnostic of anything. After all, contemporary Chicago is awash in Mexican and Polish carpenters whose mastery of the local lingua franca, English, runs the gamut from decent to nonexistent.


[*] If it existed at all, which is another thorny question of Biblical archaeology. In any case, there are no traces of Roman settlement in the area during the 1st century CE, so whatever clients he would've had there would've been fellow Galileans rather than foreigners.
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Re: Polyglot Jesus

Postby Stosis » Thu 23 Jul 2009 5:46 am

This is an interesting question. It is really hard to tell what Jesus lived like at all (if he wasn't just made up as a kind of parable or some such). It seems likely that he would have known many languages. In many current tribal societies, the members have to know 2-3+ languages because of trade. I don't really know much about this time period but maybe that little in sight will set someone down the right track :D

Also why focus on the big languages of the time. Weren't there other local vernaculars, perhaps never written down, that it is likely he could have spoken? or was it a fairly monolingual area as far as the common peasantry?
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