The publication of Professor Avi Hurvitz’s A Concise Lexicon of Late Biblical Hebrew (Leiden, 2014) has brought fresh attention to the changing language environment in the land of Israel following the Babylonian Exile. The idiom of the earlier Hebrew prophets was not identical with that of the Chronicler and other post-exilic works at the close of the Hebrew Bible. These developments continued into the first century of the Common Era – as we read in the Hebrew documents from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unfortunately, too little notice has been given to the contribution of the New Testament (as a first-century witness) to these changes in the Hebrew language, as well as the transition from Late Biblical Hebrew to the Hebrew of Israel’s Sages (i.e. Rabbinic/Mishnaic Hebrew). In this presentation we consider selected examples of Hebraisms found in our canonical Greek Gospels, which reflect the changing linguistic environment. Not only do these shed new light on the idioms Jesus chose to communicate his message, but they also contribute to the recently renewed debate about what language(s) Jesus spoke.
Alfonso Ropero Berzosa