Was the New Testament Written in Hebrew?


As Christians, it is essential for us to study and understand the origins of our sacred texts. The New Testament is a collection of writings that chronicles the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, the foundation of the Christian faith. One commonly debated topic among scholars and theologians is the original language in which the New Testament was written. This blog post will explore the evidence and arguments surrounding the question of whether the New Testament was written in Hebrew or another language, specifically Greek.

The origins of the New Testament are crucial in helping us better comprehend its message and intent. By investigating the historical, linguistic, and cultural contexts in which these texts were written, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the Word of God and its impact on our lives. In this post, we will delve into the various perspectives on the original language of the New Testament, and examine the evidence supporting each viewpoint.

Was the New Testament Written in Hebrew?

The Predominant View: Greek as the Original Language

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The majority of scholars agree that the New Testament was originally written in Greek, also known as Koine Greek. This belief is based on several factors:

Manuscript Evidence

The oldest and most complete manuscripts of the New Testament that have been discovered are written in Greek. Among these are the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, which date back to the 4th century AD. Additionally, the vast majority of the over 5,000 Greek New Testament manuscripts found are written in Koine Greek, the common language of the eastern Mediterranean at the time of Jesus and the early church.

Language and Culture

During the time of Jesus and the early church, Greek was the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean region, including Israel. This was a result of the conquests of Alexander the Great and the subsequent Hellenization of the area. The Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, was widely used among Jews in the 1st century AD, including the apostles and early Christians, as evidenced by numerous quotations from the Septuagint found in the New Testament. For example, in Matthew 1:23 (NKJV), the quote from Isaiah 7:14 is taken directly from the Septuagint: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.”

Authorship and Audience

The New Testament authors, including the apostle Paul, wrote their letters and Gospels to diverse audiences, many of whom were Greek-speaking Gentiles. It would have been logical for these authors to write in a language that could be widely understood by their intended readers. For instance, Paul wrote to the Romans (Romans 1:13, NKJV), “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.” Writing in Greek would have allowed the message of the Gospel to reach the largest possible audience.

The Minority View: Hebrew or Aramaic as the Original Language

Although the majority of scholars believe that the New Testament was written in Greek, there are those who argue that the original language was Hebrew or Aramaic, the languages spoken by Jesus and His disciples. This view is based on the following points:

Semitic Linguistic Features

Some scholars point to Semitic linguistic features present in the Greek New Testament, such as idioms, syntax, and vocabulary, as evidence that the original texts were written in Hebrew or Aramaic and then translated into Greek. For example, Jesus’ words on the cross in Mark 15:34 (NKJV) are recorded in Aramaic: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” These linguistic features suggest that at least some portions of the New Testament might have been composed in a Semitic language before being translated into Greek.

Early Church Traditions

Some early church traditions and writings indicate that certain New Testament books, particularly the Gospel of Matthew, were originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Papias, an early church father from the 2nd century AD, is quoted by Eusebius as saying that Matthew wrote his Gospel in the Hebrew language. Similarly, the church historian Jerome, who lived in the 4th century AD, claimed that he had seen a copy of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew.

Contextual Considerations

Advocates of the Hebrew or Aramaic original language hypothesis argue that the New Testament authors were primarily addressing a Jewish audience, who would have been more familiar with Hebrew or Aramaic. Furthermore, they claim that the New Testament’s message and content, rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish culture, would have been more accurately conveyed in a Semitic language.


The debate over the original language of the New Testament is complex and multifaceted. While the majority of scholars agree that the New Testament was written in Greek, there are valid arguments and evidence that support the possibility of Hebrew or Aramaic origins for at least some portions of the text.

Ultimately, it is essential to remember that regardless of the original language, the Holy Spirit inspired the authors of the New Testament to convey God’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ. As believers, our primary focus should be on understanding and applying the teachings of the New Testament in our lives.

In conclusion, while the evidence strongly suggests that the New Testament was originally written in Greek, it is important to remain open to the possibility of Hebrew or Aramaic origins for some portions of the text. As we study and engage with the Word of God, let us be guided by the Holy Spirit, seeking to grow in our knowledge and love for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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