Was Jesus Bilingual?

Pope Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have entered into a debate regarding the language spoken by Jesus Christ.

Several languages were spoken in the places where Jesus is said to have lived – the basis for a momentary disagreement between the Pontiff and Netanyahu last month.

On the last day of his trip to the Middle East, Pope Francis met Netanyahu at a public event at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem. The two discussed connections between Judaism and Christianity, and attitudes towards Christians in Israel today.


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  1. I think, that in this case we can assume, it was Galilean Aramaic (Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, i. e. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Saying on the Cross according for example to M 15, 14, and also other linguistic arguments could be added). At the same time i suppose, that any linguistic investigation of these issue is in this context not important, it does not matters the language, that he spoke, but it is much more important the dialogue among the people and the task of finding a commonplaces of the teachings of Jesus, not an arbitrary interpretation, that can´t be accepted because of the lack of respect for other religion or faith.

  2. The Pope was correct. The Prime Minister does not know his Jewish history. The Jews of the period used Hebrew only for some prayer and when quoting Sacred Text. They used Aramaic for everyday purposes. Jesus gave the sermon on the mount in Aramaic and the only prayer he taught was also in Aramaic.

  3. I translated the book, “Los Huesos de la Noche”, by Elvio René, into English a few years ago. In that book, which is about the life of Jesus Christ, the author describes the language Jesus spoke as Aramaic.

  4. Undoubtedly it is a very interesting linguistic and historical topic. Anyway he spoke the universal language of love, innocence, tolerance, forgiveness, brotherhood and human dignity. We should all think about it and try to put it into practice, even though it’s not easy at all.

  5. This is a really interesting question! My answer would have been Hebrew but I see there is more that I do not know! What are the languages that he could have spoken? Of course, no matter his mother tongue, this does not mean to say he was monolingual…

  6. According to the research that I know of, Jesus Christ spoke Aramaic. He was quoted in that language while he was on the cross. That was the language prevalent in the Jewish community at that time after their captivity.

  7. There was a probably apocryphal story of a Texas politician who said “If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”

    The sad thing is, it sounds like something that a Texas pol would say.

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