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Yeshua in Context » Language and Literacy

Targums, Aramaic Bible Paraphrases in Yeshua’s Time

The gospel writers occasionally use Aramaic, such as the famous talitha cumi of Mark 5:41 or Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani? of Matthew 27:46 and the corresponding Eloi of Mark 15:34. In spite of some evidence of popular use of Hebrew in certain circles, it is nearly unanimous amongst scholars that Aramaic was the common language of Israelites in Yeshua’s time (and Hebrew a religious language). The Targums are paraphrases of the Bible (loose translations with comments inserted, rather like study Bibles). Our manuscripts of the Targums are mostly from the Middle Ages. But were there Targums in use in Yeshua’s time? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Aramaic, Background to Gospels, Hebrew Bible as Testimony, Language and Literacy

Literacy in Yeshua’s Time

There is a myth, owing its origins to certain passages in the Talmud (put in writing about 500 CE) and a few in the Mishnah (200 CE), that in Yeshua’s time all Jewish boys went to school and learned to read. This myth has been propagated in a number of well-meaning writings about the Jewish background of Yeshua’s life. What is the real story about literacy in Yeshua’s time? … Read entire article »

Filed under: Background to Gospels, Language and Literacy