What Language Did Jesus Read In?

Q. Someone in my small group said that when Jesus read from the OT in the synagogue that he was reading from the Septuagint. I disagreed because Jesus was within the Holy Land where Hebrew was still spoken. I understand that the main reason the Septuagint was made – so the Jews outside of the Holy Land could still read scripture since they were losing the Hebrew language. So, do you think the Septuagint was read by Jesus in the synagogues?

A. Following the return from Babylon, beginning in about 538 BC, the common language among the Jews of Judea was Aramaic. During Alexander’s conquest of the known world around 330 BC he enforced Greek as the official language, and it replaced Aramaic as the common language in Israel. The knowledge of Hebrew was maintained primarily among the priests. The Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was commissioned by the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy Philadelphus in 280 BC and was completed around 130 BC. It’s purpose was to accommodate Jews whose knowledge of Greek surpassed their increasingly limited understanding of Hebrew.

I’m not sure what language Jesus used in reading publicly. But since the New Testament was originally written in Greek, Old Testament quotes appearing therein are from the Greek (Septuagint) translation. That’s why when you cross check New Testament quotes with their Old Testament origins you’ll often find slight to moderate differences in wording.

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