Bible Answer

What was the language of the New Testament?

Some people say that the original language of the New Testament was not Greek but Aramaic. Can you comment?

By your question, we can't be sure if you meant the language of the New Testament writings or the language spoken by the people of the New Testament times.

Regarding the original language of the New Testament books themselves (i.e., Gospels, Acts and letters), these works undoubtedly were written in Greek exclusively. This fact is not difficult to verify. Over 5,000 early manuscripts of New Testament writings still survive today, and all were written in Greek. To our knowledge, there has never been a New Testament manuscript found in the language of Aramaic. Without a doubt, all books of the New Testament were written in Greek.

Regarding the language spoken in New Testament times, numerous languages were commonly spoken. Jews universally spoke Hebrew in addition to a local Gentile language. After the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, Jews learned to speak Aramaic, and the language survived into Jesus day. Most common Jews spoke Aramaic. Gentiles typically spoke Greek, while educated Gentiles might also speak Latin.

In addition to Hebrew and Aramaic, learned Jews also spoke Greek, especially if they were engaged in commerce or trade within the Roman Empire. Some Jews like Paul might have known four or more languages.