Evidence for Hebrew Roots of Matthew 1:21

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The oldest known manuscripts of the New Testament were written in Greek, but by comparing Matt. 1:21 in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek with the knowledge of the naming formula so common in the Hebrew Bible, we see that this verse only makes sense in Hebrew. Since the naming formula depends on a wordplay that does not work in Greek or Aramaic, Matt. 1:21, or the oral tradition behind it, had to be in Hebrew.

Many have argued over which language(s) Jesus spoke. Many will say He spoke Greek because the New Testament was written in Greek. Some will argue that Jesus spoke Aramaic, which was the lingua franca of the time, while a growing number are coming to believe that Jesus spoke Hebrew, at least with His disciples and fellow Israelites. In this short essay it is not my intention to examine all the evidence for each of these arguments, but to present just one case which I hope will add to the discussion.

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Comments 5

  1. Excellent insight? How close is Aramaic to Hebrew in your estimation?

    Is it like Italian vs Spanish, or is it like Greek vs Russian (where the similarities are simply due to borrowed Greek characters, but otherwise completely different?)

  2. Adam Focht Post
  3. Clifton Payne

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  • Adam Focht

    Adam Focht

    Adam Focht is the Israel National Director for Precept Ministries International. He has lived in Israel since 1997, when he came for a Graduate Year Program at the Hebrew University and then remained to complete an M.A. in Bible at the same institution. Before finishing…
    [Read more about author]

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