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April 4
Language and Religion
 Languages of Sacred Scriptures
o Texts from “Abrahamic Religions”
 Hebrew Bible
 No longer as important in number of
practitioners but is at the source of the two
largest religions on the planet.
 New Testament
 Qur'an
o Hindu Scriptures are in Sanskrit and will note be
 Called “Vedas”
 Judaism and Islam
o God has revealed himself in certain languages making
those languages sacred
o Jews insist on reading the Torah in Hebrew
 When Boys (or boys and girls in reformed
tradition) turn 13 they are called to read part of
the Torah in Hebrew
 It is considered that the “Angels speak
Hebrew” so it is important to read Hebrew
even if you don’t understand it.
 It is okay to pray in native language
o Muslims think it is important to read parts of Qur’an in
Arabic even if they don’t know what they are saying.
 Christianity
o Written in Vernacular Greek
 Greek was “langua franca” of the time period
 Scriptures were in Greek but Jesus likely did not
preach in Greek
 Most Christians (except Greek Orthodox) do not
worry about speaking Greek.
o Dead Sea scrolls were written in by a sect of Jews in
Hebrew and were hidden to protect form the Roman
invation. Written by the arsines
o World was created in Christianity through the words of
God – He Spoke the word into Existence according to
 Most major religions have in common that there is a world of
invisible beings that have great power
o They will be referred to generically as “Spirits”
 An invisible entity that has consciousness and
Abrahamic religions believe in a “creative
spirit” known as God, Allah, Hebrew word
for God is “Elohim” or “Elokim. In Greek the
name for God is “Theos”.
 Orthodox Jews will not mention the
name of God when lecturing – they
will say “the name” (in Hebrew)
o The use of the name for God is
very restricted; sacred books
must be buried in a special
place when they are torn called
a “Ganeeza”
o Tetragramaton – the four letter
name for God
o “Yahweh”
 In Islam God (Allah) is mentioned all
the time
 In the Christian religion, it is also
okay to mention God
Monotheistic religions
o Believe in more than on spirit and said spirits can
interact with normal people
 Called spirits or “alahine” (spelling?) in Hebrew
 For Shabbat (Jewish holy day of Sabbath)
there is a song that is sung to the Angels; a
good and bad angel come. If the house is
prepared properly the Good Angel will be in
charge over the Bad one.
 There are evil spirits in Judaism as well as
good ones
 There is only one God in Christianity
 There is usually a “trinity” of Spirits
o There is a human soul that is “immortal” (it will never
die) not Eternal (has always existed)
Hebrew belongs to the Semitic language Family
 Semitic family includes Hebrew and Arabic group of languages
o Hebrew
o Arabic group shares a written form
o Amharic
o Tigrinya
o Aramaic – Spoken in every day life; quite possibly the
language Jesus spoke.
 Cousin language of Hebrew
Kabala: A group of Jewish teachings that arose in France
o Many Rabbis believe it is divinely revealed
 Hebrew is not considered to be like every other
 Letters of Hebrew alphabet was created by God
before the World was created.
 World was created through the words of Hebrew
 The letters K,L,B were combined to create
the first dog
 “Hebrew was the language through which the
world itself was created”
 Assumption is that Adam and Eve spoke
Hebrew Bible (TaNaKh)
 Mostly in Hebrew; a few texts in Aramaic
 Books
o Torah first 5 books of Moses (T)
 Also known as “Pentateuch”
o The Prophets (N for Navi) – Most important part for
Christians (Christians believe it alludes to birth of Jesus)
o Writings (Kh)
 On Mount Sinai the whole Torah was relevealed not just the
10 Commandments including events that had not yet
o Entire Torah was on a single scroll
o Also revealed the oral Torah which was forbidden to be
written down
 Passed down from generation to generation;
never written down
 When Romans destroyed Jerusalem and
destroyed temple in Israel
 Jews went into exile around 200
 religious leader determined it was okay to
write it down because it was being forgotten
 Called Mishnah – 16 Volumes
o Written in Hebrew even though
it was no longer the written
o More modern Hebrew than the
rest of the Bible
o For 300 years Rabbis
commented on the written oral
law; interpretations and
explanations were added
 Called Gemara
 Now combined to be
called “Talmud”
April 6
Hebrew scriptures: Tanakh
 Torah (Pentateuch)
o In Tradition: Written by Moses
 Theological understanding: Written around 1200
B.C.E. (~3200 years ago). Already existed as a
unified scroll.
o Scholars: Written at different times and combined
 Called: “Documentary hypothesis”
 Combined over many centuries
 Were not Unified until around 500 B.C.E.
 Hypothetical: based on linguistical evidence
 Neviim (Prophets)
 Khetuvim (Writings)
Take three first letters and put vowel between them and get the
Biblical Inconsistencies (according to “Documentary Hypothesis”)
 In first chapter God is called “Alohim” (Spelling?) through
Chapter 2 Verse 4 writing is very logical; after that the name
of God changes as does the story.
 Noah and the Arc
o Sometimes he takes 2 of each animals
o Other times he takes 7 of each
 So called “fundamentalists” (or traditionalists) will not accept
this hypothesis.
Islamic Scholars memorize the entire Qur’an
It is considered “forbidden” to memorize religious scripture it in
Judaism; it is expected that you read the words.
Religious Figures Language and Writing:
 High level of literacy in Jewish world
 Moses wrote things down
 Jesus never wrote anything down or told anyone to write
down what he was saying
o Possible reason he never wrote anything down: During
the time period it was believed that the World was
going to end soon
o Feverish expectation that God would deliver a messiah
to Israel that would conquer the Romans in an
Apocalyptic fashion (Earthquakes etc)
 Reason Romans were worried about Messiah’s
Possible reason Jesus was captured and
 Priests were in collusion with Romans
 Writings of Paul indicate a coming Apocalypse
o Execution of Jesus
 Movie “Passion of the Christ”
 Linguistically Fascinating
 Jesus and Jews were speaking
o Good Aramaic with a good
accent (well spoken)
 Romans were Speaking to each-other
in Latin and some Roman
o One scene at the trial of Jesus
 High Priests could not
execute anyone, only
Rome could do this
 Jesus was brought by
High Priests to Ponchos
Pilot (Roman Governor)
 Pilot asked Jesus
what did he do that
they want to kill
 Bible did not
mention what
language they would
have spoken in
 Unlikely Pilot would
have known
Aramaic, Unlikely
Jesus would have
known Latin.
 In the film Pilot was
arguing with Priests
in Perfect Aramaic,
and Jesus
responded to Pilot in
Latin this is not
 The likely
language of
between Pilot and
Jesus in reality
would have been
Jesus was probably
actually born around 4
B.C.E. and died around 30
C.E. due to an error in the
Muhammad was not literate
o he could not write so it is a point of how divine the
message is.
o He commanded the people around him to write down
what he was saying.
o He received the revelation over 20 years.
/ Hebrew World:
oral law could not be written down
70A.D temple in Jerusalem was destroyed
about a half century later there was a revolt against Rome
and the Jews were thrown out
o Jews scattered throughout Roman World
o Jerusalem was destroyed
o Jews no longer had a central Temple
o There was a danger the Oral Traditions would be lost
 Around 200 A.D. The leaders decided the
information needed to be written down
 Called Mishnah
 Gemara was several hundred years of
 Talmud is combination of Mishnah and
Post Biblical:
 Mishnah
 Gemara
 Talmud
Christianity Focuses on Jesus of Nazareth
 Happens in Israel under Roman occupation
 Rome was governed by a Puppet King
o Jerusalem became too controversial and Romans began
being controlled directly
 Jesus lived in North in Galilee
Diglossia of Languages:
 Israel: Hebrew / Aramaic:
o The preaching of Jesus was done in Aramaic (the
language of Prayer and Writings was Hebrew)
 Aramaic was the common language
 Hebrew was not spoken in normal conversation,
was used for Religious teachings
 This is still disputed, but is the predominant
 Roman World: Greek (Koine) / Latin
o Koine: Vernacular Greek
 Mother tongue of many in Roman World
 Used as a common language for communication
 Europe: Latin / Romance Languages
o Educated were taught Latin, but common people spoke
local languages (French, Spanish, et al)
o Roman Catholic Church used Latin
 Islamic World: Arabic / local varieties of Spoken Arabic
o Used in News, Qur’an and Higher Education
o Not spoken natively by anyone
Christian Scriptures:
Septuagint: Greek translation of Hebrew Bible
New Testament:
 Gospels (all in Greek, possible Matthew was in Aramaic, but it
has never been found)
o Beginning at Birth
 Matthew (wise men were in house)
 Luke (Stable scene)
o Mark
o John
o Most in line around “Passion Narrative
o Last Supper
o Arrest
o Events of Crucifixion
 Dies in Afternoon
 Buried
 Rises on Sunday
o Resurrection goes in different direction
 Acts of the Apostles (Written by Luke)
Epistles (letters from Paul [Paul was converted later] and
o Letters of Paul probably written in the 40s
o Means “Revelation” or “To Reveal”
o Modern “Left Behind” series follows this last book