Did Jesus Speak Greek?: The Emerging Evidence of Greek Dominance in First-Century Palestine

By G. Scott Gleaves

A critique of the Aramaic Hypothesis that has dominated historical Jesus studies, suggesting that the language Jesus and his followers spoke was Greek.

ISBN: 9780227175484


Did Jesus speak Greek? An affirmative answer to the question will no doubt challenge traditional presuppositions. The question relates directly to the historical preservation of Jesus’s words and theology. Traditionally, the authenticity of Jesus’s teaching has been linked to the recovery of the original Aramaic that presumably underlies the Gospels. The Aramaic Hypothesis infers that the Gospels represent theological expansions, religious propaganda, or blatant distortions of Jesus’s teachings. Consequently, uncovering the original Aramaic of Jesus’s teachings will separate the historical Jesus from the mythical personality.

In Did Jesus Speak Greek? G. Scott Gleaves contends that the Aramaic Hypothesis is inadequate as an exclusive criterion of historical Jesus studies and does not aptly take into consideration the multilingual culture of first-century Palestine. Evidence from archaeological, literary, and biblical data demonstrates Greek linguistic dominance in Roman Palestine during the first century CE. Such preponderance of evidence leads not only to the conclusion that Jesus and his disciples spoke Greek but also to the recognition that the Greek New Testament generally and the Gospel of Matthew in particular were original compositions and not translations of underlying Aramaic sources.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 238

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

G. Scott Gleaves is the Dean and Associate Professor of New Testament Studies and Christian Ministry of the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies and Kearley Graduate School of Theology at Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama.


Foreword by Rodney Eugene Cloud


1. Did Jesus and His Disciples Speak Greek?
2. The Emerging Dominance of Greek in First-Century CE Palestine
3. The Linguistic Proficiency in Greek of Some of the Primary Disciples of Jesus
4. Aramaic and Portions of the Greek New Testament


Subject Index
Scripture Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Scott Gleaves has written a well-reasoned, and quite readable, book on the thorny question of what language Jesus spoke, and in what language the gospels were originally written. Gleaves gives a judicious critique of the Aramaic hypothesis and provides evidence for the alternative view that Greek was the first language for Jesus and his contemporaries. I recommend this book highly.
Paul L. Watson, Professor of Old Testament Studies, Amridge University, Montgomery

This is a readable book moving step-by-step from initial dissatisfaction with the Aramaic Hypothesis (expressed in nine questions) through evidence for his conclusions. … I found his enjoyable study more persuasive than the Aramaic Hypothesis’s theoretical sources. It certainly deserves a wide readership.
Robert S. Dutch, in Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol 38, No 5