The Semitic Substrate of the Gospels. How to Translate Semitic Sources in New Testament Texts

Bachelor Thesis, 2021

85 Pages, Grade: 10

Free online reading

Table of Contents


The importance of a faithful translation

The synoptic problem

Historical approach to the theory of the Semitic proto-gospel

The Bible of the LXX (Septuagint)

Importance of the language of the Septuagint in the draftingof the Nuevo Testammento

Types of Semitisms in the Gospels

Jewish Poetics in the Gospels

Theories on the chronology of the elaboration of the Synoptic Gospels

Which semitic substrate: Hebrew or Aramaic?

In search of the Semitic original of the gospels

Rabbinic Translations





The attempt to discover after the Greek of the gospels, even after the Greek of other New Testament texts, some form of Aramaic or Hebrew original is very old in biblical exegesis and, in fact, there are many studies devoted expressly to this search. Some form of Semitic influence in the Greek of the gospels, letters and even other writings in which early Christian catechesis has been preserved, is accepted by most New Testament scholars and there is an extensive bibliography.1

Starting from the hypothesis according to which there would have been a Semitic original, in Hebrew or Aramaic, or both, hypotheses that have been carefully analyzed by many scholars in many of the NT books, one can discover the strange writing patterns of the originals in Greek of the NT that respond to imprecise translations as can also be detected in the Greek translation of the LXX of the OT , or known translations of Semitic originals into Greek, as is the case with the Siracida.2

Detailed linguistic studies have been carried out using statistical tools in nt books in search of specific translation patterns, although almost nothing has been done about the texts of the Septuagint, thus appearing an interesting field of analysis, especially with the advancement of statistical techniques of text mining and artificial intelligence in text analysis.3 4

Doubts arise when assessing the value of the evidence that is adduce for an affirmative answer to the existence of such a Semitic substrate. In all like-like search in this field, it is very likely that it will not achieve satisfactory results or convince all specialists.

Subsequently, another methodological approach emerges in which a different and original path has been followed. The direct option would not be to find sufficiently clear linguistic arguments in favor of the hypothesis of original Aramaic or Hebrews in the gospels or in their sources but, rather, to shed light on a series of passages from the gospels and other writings of the New Testament that have long aroused the concern of scholars about the difficulty in understanding them or in their logical coherence. , so that the translation of texts that in many cases appear very dark in their compression can be improved. Considering and analyzing possible problems in the process of translation of the hypothetical Semitic original by hagiographers, it is possible to detect translations that would be solved as compromise options in the conditions and context of the translators that, in many cases, were not completely satisfactory.5

The hypothesis of a misinterpretation of an Aramaic or Hebrew original can explain both: the strangeness of the Greek text and the totally acceptable meaning of the Semitic original. This approach is being developed by the so-called "School of Madrid" formed by professors of the Ecclesiastical University San Dámaso, disciples of M. Herranz. There is a wide catalogue of strange or, in some ways incomprehensible, texts from both the gospels and the other writings of the New Testament, especially the letters of St. Paul, which are also susceptible to analysis according to this scientific approach. The question of determining the Semitic origin of the gospels is very important not only to increase the accuracy of NT's writings, but it is also very important to demonstrate their historical character against the skepticism into which much modern exegesis has fallen.

Following the study of Jean Marie Van Cangh, we can say that in certain texts, for example from the gospel of Mark, the evangelist clearly translates a Semitic, Hebrew or Aramaic font, as can be deduced from the use of the parataxis with respect to classical Greek sources.6

But, in addition, Mark uses a biblical Greek similar to that of the Septuagint when he expresses for example two consecutive actions using the participle+aorist pattern or similar (participle-aorist with aorist, etc.). This could be an imitation or, perhaps more likely, the use of the same translation pattern from a Semitic language into Greek. It is the same way of translating the Hebrew double waw that is used to express two consecutive actions. The Septuagint is a translation of the Bible from Hebrew into Greek made only a few centuries before the gospels were written and its value is, for our purpose, that we can contrast a Hebrew-Greek translation with the original canonical (untranslated) Canonical Hebrew biblical texts, a translation that was made by Jewish authors with a similar socio-linguistic context.7

A study of other translation patterns in the Septuagint may shed new light on the study of texts of difficult interpretation in the NT whose difficulty may be due to an imprecise translation and, likewise, at a later stage, could also be an acceptable methodology for the study of the Semitic substrate in texts whose understanding is not conflicting.

The use of the Septuagint by the writers of the New Testament is a known fact and indicates that in the field of writing or translation, even in the same oral tradition of the deeds and sayings of Jesus, there were Jews who came from the diaspora, in addition to the native Jews of Israel. In addition, knowledge of the formation process of septuagint itself can provide much information about how Hebrew and Aramaic texts were translated into Greek with the greatest fidelity to the original meaning.

The Jews were extremely rigorous in the integrity of Holy Scripture. The Jewish text of the Hebrew Bible that is used today is the Masoretic Text (TM), which was structured and written later than the third century CE. and was definitively vocalized well into the Middle Ages. The Hebrew Consonantal Text (HT) text was rather fixed towards the third century BCE. One or more texts of this type, let's say pre-Masoretic, was the one that served as the basis for the first translations used by Christians since St. Jerome, a fixed Hebrew text offered to him by Hebrew rabbis.

In any case, the first disciples of Jesus who wrote the NT must therefore have used a series of texts that predate the MT, as will be described in detail later. They would not use the MT but other writings generated in the period from s. III BCE to s. I CE..

When, after their discovery, the Dead Sea Scrolls were examined, it was found that there were not one, but three different families from biblical traditions at the time of Jesus. One of them was closely aligned with the sources of the Masoretic Text (TM), another closely aligned with the Septuagint, and another that seems to have had links to the Samaritan Torah.

We can also affirm that the Septuagint was a biblical source used by the disciples of Jesus, even by Jesus himself, which is why the analysis of the translation process of the Septuagint has a great value, since it is the result of a translation of texts in Hebrew and Aramaic that we can assume would have characteristics and structures very similar to a possible Semitic vorlage on the part of the NT. However, it should be noted that not all of the texts cited from the OT in Christian writings depend on the Septuagint, although most do.

The study that is proposed in this study is to review current research on how to translate semitic sources existing in the intertestamentary period, in the time of Jesus and in the writing of the first New Testament texts. That is, by studying the use of the translation patterns of these sources we will be able to understand the translation patterns in the gospels and other writings of the NT, as well as the proposal of translation solutions from the Semitic substrate to the New Testament Greek.

This study starts from making its own the sensitivity for the truth that I have learned in this University of San Dámaso and the passion for the study of the gospels as the most reliable sources about the life and teachings of Jesus.

It requires a careful and passionate look to address this study, as . Mariano Herranz said, whose main method of study was the recovery of the Semitic substrate of the evangelical tradition as an aid to solve all the obscurities or editorial stridency contained in the gospels. Surely the first step that a good exegesis should take is to identify these anomalies of wording or meaning.

For this it is necessary to read the Greek text carefully, avoiding falling into a quick and superficial reading, which would prevent us from perceiving the strangeness. There must be a priority in the careful and insistent study of the sacred text, reading again and again the stories, observing in detail the wording and the context, so that the details, difficulties and contradictions can appear, which in another case would go unnoticed.

Following the guidelines of this method, after identifying the obscurities or editorial stridency, it must be explained how the strange Greek text in front of us could have been born. And since these are first and foremost problems that arose from the drafting of the text, we must try to find a linguistic or philological solution, which in the case of the Gospels must necessarily be bilingual Greco-Semitic, since it is clear that it would not be possible if a sacred writer wrote directly in Greek he could leave written passages of one or more verses in a dark Greek , which resists any coherent translation and interpretation, or which is clear in its meaning but with a meaning that is totally unacceptable from the point of view of a reading congruent with all Sacred Scripture.

An unquestionable characteristic of Greek, also of the Greek koiné, is its great precision in the expression of language, so that only a writer with little knowledge of Greek could commit such incongruities, which are not detected in the whole of nt. This method of study always starts from the Greek gospels that have reached us, being the careful reading of the Greek evangelical text that raises the question of how it is possible that Greek authors have written in their own language in such an anomalous way. A reasonable explanation is to appeal to the influence of the Semitic language that is at the origin of the evangelical tradition, that is, the oral tradition of the disciples of Jesus, embodied or not in written texts.

The validity of such a hypothesis is greatly reinforced when it explains the anomaly or strange Greek construction and makes appear a text with a clear and intelligible meaning. If the Aramaic or Hebrew language explains a clear impropriety in Greek, we must recognize the existence of a Semitic original.

The importance of this approach is that it reinforces the intuition, and even the conviction, that a good part of the evangelical texts were written in Aramaic and Hebrew, in copies that did not last, and therefore by sacred writers who witnessed the events that are narrated. And this would probably not only occur in the gospels, but it would even occur in the source of Jesus' sayings from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, as well as in the proper sources used by Luke and Matthew that would be written in Aramaic. Or even in non-evangelical writings such as the Acts of the Apostles.

Now, if the gospels or sources used for their writing were written in Aramaic or Hebrew, we must conclude that they were composed in Palestine, for the use of the first communities from Judaism, that is, on dates very close to the events they narrate. We would therefore be faced with works written by close witnesses with a high degree of historical reliability, for there would have been no time for the memory of the historical Jesus to have been weakened or modified by the influence of hellenistic religions.

It would be impossible to attribute the divinization of Jesus to the rereading of his words and deeds that the Christian community would have performed under the influence of Greek or Eastern divinities or heroes. If the writing of the gospels took place in Palestine, the influence of the Eastern and Hellenistic religions would be highly unlikely, since Judaism, in which Christianity was born, tenaciously rejected any adaptation of its faith to the pagan polytheistic conception.

Jesus' disciples, radically monotheistic Jews, confessed him as God from the beginning, only by the manifestation of Jesus himself and the facts that confirmed such a claim. The mystification that some exegetes argued in the past would be nothing more than a very unlikely working hypothesis considering the closeness of the wording to the facts that devout Jewish men saw, heard, touched, and experienced.

The importance of a faithful translation

The New Testament is testimony and announcement of an event that occurred during the first century of our age in the land inhabited by the people of Israel. Some Jews saw the Prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in this event and announced it to all men. To this end they wrote those books collected in the New Testament canon. For years, however, exegesis has read such books with skepticism, denying their veracity and historical reliability, especially as regards the content of evangelical accounts. One reason for the skepticism with which the gospels are read is alleged contradictions among evangelists as well as the inconsistencies and incomprehensible statements they contain. Some exegetical schools have tried to solve these difficulties by appealing to the Semitic origin of the gospels, stating that the Palestinian origin of these writings and their Semitic background is decisive in showing their historical value, which seems scientifically reasonable.

The main method of study has been the recovery of the Semitic substrate of the evangelical tradition as an aid to solve all the obscurities or stridency of the writing. In this line, the method used by M. Herranz and his disciples can be described as follows:

1) The first step of this exegesis is to identify these anomalies of wording or meaning. For this it is necessary to read the Greek text carefully, avoiding a quick and superficial reading that prevents perceiving the anomalies, observing in detail the wording and the context, so that the probability of the appearance of details, difficulties and contradictions, which may go unnoticed, increases.
2) After identifying these obscurities, stridency or anomalies of wording, an explanation must be obtained of how the strange Greek text that appears could have been born. And since they are first and foremost problems that arise from the drafting of the text, a hypothesis of linguistic or philological solution must be proposed, which in the case of the gospels must necessarily be bilingual, that is, Greco-Semitic. The principle at the heart of the matter is that it is inconceivable that a man who wrote directly in Greek should leave passages of one or more verses written in a dark Greek, that he would resist any translation and interpretation, or that he should be clear in their meaning, but with a meaning that is incomprehensible and unacceptable exegetically.
3) Critical analysis of solutions that shed light on the many dark passages in Greek by hypotheses that these oddities and anomalies of Greek are due to misinterpretation of a Semitic original. It is not an attempt to prove the Semitic origin of the gospels, but to seek an explanation for a dark passage.

Jesus and the apostles were Jews, of Semitic language and mentality; therefore, the formulation of the evangelical tradition was done in Aramaic. In fact, since the nineteenth century, when the so-called "historical grammar of Greek" emerged, many studies on the language of the gospels have pointed out many cases of misinterpretation of Aramaic words or expressions, showing how the Greek text available is only clearly intelligible by reading after it a Semitic original, whether Aramaic or Hebrew. It is what some authors call "semitic interference in the Greek NT". That is, when greek texts are analyzed carefully, they often show an inexplicable strangeness from the greek grammar itself.8

The method of study that is imposed must always start from the Greek gospels that have reached us. These are the real facts from which any serious study must start. A detailed reading of the Greek evangelical text raises the question of how it is possible that Greek authors have written in their own language in an anomalous, incorrect way. A proposed explanation that appears to be very reasonable, is to appeal to the influence of the Semitic, Aramaic or Hebrew language, which would be at the origin of the evangelical tradition. The qualitative leap also appears if the validity of this recourse to Aramaic or Hebrew is evident when it explains the strange Greek construction and makes appear a text with a clear and intelligible meaning. As some of the great experts in New Testament Greek say: "if the Aramaic language explains a clear impropriety in Greek, we must recognize the existence of a Semitic original."9

The transition from a fundamentally consonants language such as Aramaic or Hebrew to the Greek language, with such immense grammatical, structural, semiological, lexicographical, etc., logically had to produce translation errors, either because of a tendency to literal translation according to the Jewish religious mentality, or because of an imperfect misunderstanding of what was written in the original; apart from the errors produced by confusions of visually very similar letters, lack of clear separation of words, etc. The study of Greek translations of the Hebrew Bible can give us clues to existing "translation behaviors", as the translators of the Septuagint and the other Greek translations probably had a similar understanding of the original texts to that of the New Testament drafters.

Apart from this Semitic origin of the evangelical tradition, it can also be defended that the source of the sayings of Jesus, the gospels of Mark and John, and the own sources used by Luke and Matthew were written in Aramaic. Now, if these writings or sources used for their writing, were written in Aramaic and / or Hebrew, it can be said, as many experts have done, that they were composed in Palestine, for the use of the first communities from Judaism and on dates very close to the events they narrate. That is to say, that they would be works written by witnesses, whose historical reliability would be very high, since there would have been no time for the memory of the historical Jesus to have been weakened or reworked in the light of mystic religions, Gnosticism or Hellenistic philosophy. This influence was impossible in Palestine, as Judaism solidly rejected any adaptation or coexistence of its faith to the pagan polytheistic conception.10

It must be said that the working hypotheses that maintain a Semitic substratum of the writings of the NT, especially the gospels of Mark, Matthew and the documents from which Luke starts, are minority with respect to the hypotheses that they consider original written in Koine Greek, but the truth is not a matter of majorities, and the present work starts from the principle of faithful love to the truth.

Among the exegetes who have strongly pushed for the existence of a Semitic original (although he defended Hebrew and not Aramaic) of Matthew, Mark and documents used by Luke, is Jean Carmignac (1914-1986), who was one of the world's leading specialists in Dead Sea manuscripts. Between 1961 and 1963, in collaboration with three other experts, he published the Qumran texts, translated from Hebrew into French and commented on. Carmignac states that, in translating these texts, he found many relationships with the New Testament, so, beginning with the Gospel of Mark, he tried to translate it from Greek into Qumran Hebrew (the Hebrew of Jesus' time, a little different from biblical Hebrew and quite different from the Hebrew of Mishnah) for his research use. , in order to facilitate comparison with those documents. That translation, far from being difficult as expected, proved to be very easy, so he became convinced that Mark's Greek text was a translation of a Hebrew original. The translator carried out his work with extreme fidelity, translating from Hebrew into Greek word by word, and even preserving in Greek the word order required by Hebrew grammar. Not even a Semitic who had learned Greek very late would have suffered such a great attachment to his mother tongue. At least from time to time some freedom would have been taken, using a standard formula in Greek. But no, our Gospel according to Mark is the work of a translator who respected to the fullest (practically tracing) a Hebrew text (or perhaps some parts in Aramaic) that he had before him. Carmignac argues that:11

"The Greek of the Gospels is not a bad Greek: it contains no errors of concordance, no errors of conjugation, no obvious errors against syntax... Nor is he a clumsy Greek. It's not like "my" English, which is a mixture of French and English, where the influences of the two languages harmonize poorly, where the twists are uncomfortable and clumsy. In the Gospels, neither discomfort nor clumsiness; quite the contrary, a simple and spontaneous beauty, which is the usual beauty of Semitic prose. The Gospels were not composed of Semites who knew Greek poorly and spoke or wrote amphibious jargon, intermediate between the two languages. They were written by people who wrote quite well, albeit according to Semitic procedures, and were translated into very correct Greek by other people who wanted to fit the terms of the original Semitic words... The Greek of the Gospels... it is the good Greek of a respectful translator of a Semitic original, of which it retains the taste and perfume."12

The Synoptic Gospels could be the work of Greeks who imitated the Semitic style, specifically, that of the Bible of the Seventy (LXX), the first Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. But not a single work is known to reproduce such a particular style. While it is true that the authors of the Gospels or other writings have taken up this or that formula of the Seventy, these are occasional borrowings, not a continuous and sustained mixture as is the case; it is highly unlikely, apart from extremely difficult.

The writingists and preachers closest to the "biblical style" are far from expressing themselves continuously as the prophet Isaiah did, or as the Psalms express themselves, as Mark, John, or Paul do. Imitating a style "in the manner" of this or that author is something that can only be done in a timely manner, not from beginning to end. It can be said that making the "clear language of the Gospels" a simple artificial exercise in imitation of a style "in the manner of other authors" is extremely difficult and therefore very unlikely. In any case the comparison of the Gospels with the Septuagint is relevant in that it is also a literal translation from Hebrew (or, in some cases, Aramaic) into Greek, and it is very relevant to consider the translation patterns.13

Carmignac states that Matthew is as Semitic as Mark, which is certainly revolutionary. About Matthew we have the testimony of Papiah (ca. 130 CE) and several later Church Fathers who claim to know a Hebrew Matthew. The vast majority of exegetes support mark's priority thesis. Therefore, "instead of saying, since Matthew is later than Mark, he should be like that in Greek; why not say, since Mark predates Matthew, he must be like him in Hebrew?" 14.

Luke's case is different, as it appears to have been originally written in Greek. And yet the most unexpected Semitisms are observed in him, scattered amidst expressions of a very elegant Greek. To explain all this, the most normal hypothesis is to suppose that he worked on Semitic documents, translated very literally into Greek, which he inserted into his own writing, sometimes retouching them or maintaining their strangeness.15

If this hypothesis were true, it would obviously have many consequences on the understanding of NT. However, the valuable thing about Carmignac is that it makes an aseptic analysis, that is, leaving aside any theological consideration that could skew the research.

In addition to the gospels, it can be seen that in other NT texts, as in Acts, the hypothesis of a Semitic original is not at all out of the question. Numerous passages studied testify to this.

As an example of the usefulness of the hypothesis of a Semitic Vorlage of the gospels, we can observe the improvement in the understanding of the well-known problem of "the communion of goods" in the book of Acts of the Apostles, a problem that has given rise to an abundant amount of historiographical, sociological, theological and linguistic studies on the meaning of what Luke exposes in Acts of the Apostles, a problem that has given rise to an abundant amount of historiographical, sociological, theological and linguistic studies on the meaning of what Luke exposes in Acts 2 , 44-45 and in Acts 4, 32.34-35, concerning a sharing of goods in the early Church. It is not very clear, in the Greek of Acts that we have, whether it was an idealization of the beginnings that could link with Jewish and Greek social utopias for parenetic purposes, whether there was any resemblance to the communities of the Essenes or a patent willingness to exercise charity with brothers in economic difficulties.16

The obscurity in the understanding of the text arises from the fact that there are two close pericopes within the same context that seem to express different ideas:

Acts 2, 44-45

[44] Πάντες δὲ οἱ πιστεύοντες ἦσαν ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ εἶχον ἅπαντα κοινά

[45] καὶ τὰ κτήματα καὶ τὰς ὑπάρξεις ἐπίπρασκον καὶ διεμέριζον αὐτὰ πᾶσιν καθότι ἄν τις χρείαν εἶχεν

In this pericope it is clearly stated that "they had everything in common" (εἶχον ἅπαντα κοινά) and that this applied to "all believers" (Πάντες ... οἱ πιστεύοντες) and that this common whole was divided or divided among all (διεμέριζον αὐτὰ πᾶσιν), we can understand that according to their needs. This is certainly a radical approach. However, a little later in the book of Acts the subject is again treated, but with a very different approach and one could say not congruent with the above:

Acts 4, 32.34-35

[32] Τοῦ δὲ πλήθους τῶν πιστευσάντων ἦν καρδία καὶ ψυχὴ μία καὶ οὐδὲ εἷς τι τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐτῷ ἔλεγεν ἴδιον εἶναι ἀλλ’ ἦν αὐτοῖς πάντα κοινά …

[34] Οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐνδεής τις ἦν ἐν αὐτοῖς ὅσοι γὰρ κτήτορες χωρίων ἢ οἰκιῶν ὑπῆρχον πωλοῦντες ἔφερον τὰς τιμὰς τῶν πιπρασκομένων

[35] καὶ ἐτίθουν παρὰ τοὺς πόδας τῶν ἀποστόλων διεδίδετο δὲ ἑκάστῳ καθότι ἄν τις χρείαν εἶχεν

It is now claimed that it was not all believers but the rich who had land or houses (κτήτορες χωρίων ἢ οἰκιῶν) sold them if necessary since "nothing they had was considered their own" ( οὐδὲ εἷς τι τῶν ὑπαρχόντων αὐτῷ ἔλεγεν ἴδιον εἶναι) but that "it was to them all common" (ἦν αὐτοῖς πάντα κοινά) , so the sale was distributed to everyone in need (διεδίδετο δὲ ἑκάστῳ καθότι ἄν τις χρείαν εἶχεν), not to everyone. Here the approach is different and refers to the help of those who had a lot to those who were in need.

This inconsistency between the two pericopes, which obscures the understanding of what Luke meant, can be clarified if the hypothesis of a Hebrew/Aramaic vorlage with some translation errors in verse Acts 2, 44, is proposed, usually translated with the unrealistic statement that "... they had everything in common...".

With this hypothesis, we can first see that by using είχον, imperfect of the verb "to have", a verb that does not exist in Hebrew/Aramaic and that is written using the verb הוה introduced by a lamed. The preposition ל in many cases has the value of "a" or "towards", but can also indicate origin, cause, membership, or provenance. In this sense it is used in many texts found in Qumran. In Aramaic and Hebrew the words have a very high level of polysemy, that is, depending on the context there can be a significant semantic change, even more pronounced when it comes to meanings determined by a preposition.

This alternative meaning was not taken into account by the translator, or at least he did not consider it appropriate, but if that meaning is taken into account, this verse would read as "... from them came all things of the common...", which has a more coherent sense and aligned with the understanding of all Sacred Scripture.17

Second, Πάντες (All) may well have been a little-studied translation of the particle כל , which is effectively translated as "all", but which also frequently means "everyone". In this way one would have a subject in the singular that would allow to explain a possible second error when translating the word על , with the preposition ἐπὶ ("on" or "together") that coincides with that same preposition in Hebrew/Aramaic, but that may very well be the perfect or the participle of the Aramaic verb עלל , third person singular, which means "to return" or "to return home".

Third, τὸ αὐτὸ is the inappropriate translation of הדא by the cardinal "one". In Aramaic, it may be the participle of the verb הדא , "to be cheerful".

In this way, verse Acts 2:44 can be reconstructed as follows:

"And each of those who believed came and returned home with joy, and from them came all the goods of the commons"

This wording of Acts 2:44 makes it uniform with that expressed in Acts 4:32-35, in the sense that there was a willingness of some brothers with economic relief to part with certain goods to help brothers in need.18

Due to the antecedents that are studied in this work, relating to texts that present a certain darkness or by patterns that we have analyzed in the Septuagint, it is very likely that the translators of the Semitic texts into Greek at the time of the Second Temple did not have a level of knowledge of the Hebrew or Aramaic language to handle well the wide polysemy that these languages present.

The synoptic problem

In the analysis of the Semitic substrate of the gospels it is necessary to take into account all the wealth of knowledge that is had around the so-called "synoptic problem", since in the past decades these two fields of exegetical research have had many points of contact.

The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke contain a great deal of common material, often expressed in very similar, sometimes even identical language and that is why they are called the synoptic gospels. The question of how to explain the similarities and differences between the three synoptic gospels has thoroughly occupied exegetes for centuries. This question is called the "synoptic problem," which consists of a set of hotly debated questions, such as the following: In what order were the synoptic gospels written? In which language did each one originally appear? What kind of written sources were available to each of the writers of the gospels? Therefore, the synoptic problem is connected with the problem of the Semitic substrate of the gospels.19

Tradition has dealt extensively, of course, with the synoptic problem, and it is worth noting the commentary of Origen (182-251 CE) on this matter which can be summarized with this quote of his giving an explanation of the order in which the gospels were written:20

"The first thing that was written was the Gospel of Matthew, who was once a tax collector but then an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it in Hebrew for Jewish believers. The second was written by Mark, who wrote it following the directives of Peter, whom Peter also recognized as his son in his epistle: "The church in Babylon greets you ... and so does my son Mark" [1 Pet 5,13]. The third is Luke, who wrote the Gospel praised by Paul for Gentile believers. After all of them the Gospel of John was written."21 22

Current editions of the Bible reflect this order described by Origen, whereof the gospels appear in the order Matthew-Mark-Luke-John. However, many exegetes in the last two centuries have come to doubt this tradition. Today it is widely believed that mark's gospel was the first to appear, as it is the shortest of the four and does not include some valuable teachings of Jesus that were recorded by Matthew and Luke. In biblical exegesis, the shorter versions are considered to be the closest to the original sources. Those who favor Mark's priority argue that it is difficult to explain why Mark had omitted such material if it had been available to him.

Historical tradition since Origen says that Matthew was written the first, followed by Mark. But a current academic view, based on critical examination of gospel texts, holds that it was the other way around. It is the opposition between the primacy of Mark versus the primacy of Matthew. There are approaches that reconcile both positions such as that represented by Carmignac, who proposed a model that reconciles this difference between ancient tradition and modern exegesis based on the existence of a common source to both gospels written in Aramaic or perhaps in Hebrew. To reach that conclusion Carmignac made an exhaustive analysis of the Semitic substrate of these two gospels, which showed what he considers to be a very similar "original Hebrew imprint" in both.23

To approach the synoptic problem, first, we will consider that the different pericopes (narrations or discourses) of the Synoptic Gospels can be classified into three groups and seven subgroups:

- Pericopes of simple tradition: they are present in a single synoptic Gospel (Mt, Mk or Lk).
- Pericopes of double tradition: they are present in two synoptic Gospels (Mt-Mk, Mt-Lk or Mc-Lk).
- Pericopes of triple tradition: they are present in the three synoptic Gospels (Mt-Mk-Lk).

The vast majority of contemporary exegetes lean towards the "theory of the two sources", which holds that the sources of Matthew and Luke are Mark and the hypothetical document Q (from the German Quelle = "source"), a document that some authors call "Collection of Discourses" although, properly speaking does not have, so it is usually called "source of sayings", because it would contain above all sayings of Jesus. Some scholars add two sources of Matthew and Luke (M and L) thus obtaining the "theory of the four sources" (Mc, Q, M and L). 24 According to this theory it can be stated that:

- the texts of triple tradition and those of double tradition Mt-Mc and Mc-Lc depend on Mark;
- texts of double tradition Mt-Lc depend on Q;
- texts of simple "Matean" tradition depend on Q or M;
- texts of simple "Lucan" tradition depend on Q or L.

The current strong consensus about Mark's priority is based primarily on two aspects of this gospel:

- Its great brevity. Mc narrates fewer facts and far fewer speeches than Mt or Lc, and this would be implausible if Mc were later than Mt or Lc.
- Its testimonial character. In many pericopes of triple tradition and double tradition Mt-Mc or Mc-Lc, Mc provides precise and concrete (sometimes picturesque) details that appear to come from a direct witness. The disappearance of these details in Mt and Lc may be the result of their greater concentration on theological content.

The Q source, the other major pillar of the two-source theory, seems less solid, due to a serious problem that was avoided by presenting the single, double, and triple traditions, but must necessarily be addressed. It is that, in texts of triple tradition, Matthew and Luke often modify Mark's text in the same way: the same omissions, the same additions, the same substitutions (either in Greek or in the underlying Hebrew). There are hundreds of these "minor agreements of Matthew and Luke against Mark." Two main solutions have been proposed to solve this problem. Some experts assume that Matthew and Luke do not depend on our current Mark, but on an older wording of Mark (called in German your-Markus). Many exegetes are inclined towards this solution.

If this last solution is complemented by the theory about the writing of Mark in Hebrew it would seem above all that a compiler would have wanted to combine Mark and the Collection of Discourses in a single work and that on this occasion, he would have frequently retouched the Hebrew text of Mark, omitting certain details, transforming certain sentences, adding some explanations. It is this completed Mark that Matthew and Luke would have used. This would explain why many times Matthew and Luke fit the same quote from the Collection of Discourses in the same place of Mark's account.25

It is very interesting to note Luke's statement when he speaks of "many" accounts prior to his own (Lk 1,1). According to the consensus of the current exegetes, Luke could refer to at least these four works: Mark, Collection of Discourses, Mark Completed and Matthew. Due to the numerous Semitisms of composition, transmission, and translation (distributed in all its main parts), these four works before Luke must have been written in a Semitic language, probably in Hebrew. The intervention of different translators from Hebrew to Greek would help explain many of the differences between the synoptic Gospels. This proposed solution would not change substantially if it were to be assuming that the editor of Marcos Completado is the same person as the editor of the Collection of Speeches. It is possible that the editor of both "works" was Matthew himself, but this could support an alternative, controversial theory to the theory of the two sources: Matthew would have used Mark, Luke would have used Mark and Matthew. This hypothesis, defended in our time by Farrer, seems much simpler than the theory of the two (or four) sources. The latter gives the impression of multiplying the sources needlessly, but in truth the great complications of this theory are not gratuitous, but come from an initial hypothesis that can be considered quite questionable: that Luke did not have at his disposal the gospel of Matthew. Questioning one of the great tenets of modern exegesis, the original wording of the gospels in Greek, makes it difficult to prove any alternative. But, attention, it's just a postulate.26

The Hebrew Gospel Hypothesis

The Hebrew Gospel hypothesis, also called the proto-Gospel hypothesis, similar to what is called the Aramaic Matthew hypothesis, is a set of theories based on the proposition that a lost gospel in Hebrew or Aramaic is at the base of the four canonical gospels or at least the three synoptics. Part of a primitive Christian tradition derived from Papiah of Hierapolis, about 125-150 A.C., which holds that the apostle Matthew composed that original gospel not in Greek but in Hebrew (or perhaps Aramaic, or both, since Papias does not seem to have very clear that distinction). Papiah seemed to say that this Hebrew or Aramaic gospel was later translated into the canonical gospel of Matthew. But more modern studies seem to show that this is unsustainable. Modern variants of the hypothesis have gained some strength, but there is no widespread consensus.27

Thus, the idea that the gospels were originally written in a language other than Greek begins with Papiah, which indicates that Matthew assembled the lodges about Jesus in the Hebrew language (hebraidi dialektōi), although it is quite possible that in saying this he meant rather "Hebrew style", and that he translated this material ( hērmēneusen ) as best he could.28

Likewise, by "Hebrew", Papias could very well refer to "Aramaic", the common middle eastern language alongside Koine Greek, with enough licity to Hebrew that Papias did not make the distinction in the text. This might suggest that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic. However, Blomberg states that there are Jewish authors such as Josephus, who write in Greek while translating materials into Hebrew, and often leave no linguistic clues that transluster their Semitic sources. Several theories have been put forward to explain this ambiguous statement by Papias: either Matthew would have written two gospels, one Semitic, now lost, and one in Greek preserved today, or he may have meant that Matthew wrote in the Jewish style rather than in the Hebrew-Aramaic language. However, the fact is that on the basis of this information, Jerome (c. 327–420 CE) claimed that all Jewish Christian communities shared a single gospel, identical to Matthew's Hebrew or Aramaic, claiming also to have personally found this gospel in some communities in Syria.29 30

Jerome's testimony is viewed with skepticism by modern exegetes. Jerome claims to have seen a gospel in Aramaic that contained all the quotations he assigns to him, but it can be shown that some of them could never have existed in a Semitic language. Jerome seems to have assigned these quotations to the Gospel of the Hebrews by mistake, as it seems likely that there are at least two or perhaps three ancient Judeo-Christian gospels, only one of them in a Semitic language, so Jerome mistakenly regarded them as one. But, in any case, if there is a part of quotations that would come from a source in Hebrew or Aramaic, that Jerome had in his hands.31 32

Additionally, it must be said that there are other sources of the Fathers that speak of gospels written in semitic language:

- Irenaeus, in Adversus Haereses 3:1: "Matthew also issued a gospel written among the Hebrews in his own dialect"
- Eusebius (quoting Origen), in Eccl. Hist 6, 25: "... the first is written according to Matthew, the same one who was once a tax collector, but then an emissary of Jesus the Messiah, who published it for Jewish believers, and wrote it in Hebrew..."

The Gospel of Matthew can be considered anonymous since the author is not mentioned in the text and nowhere does he claim to have been an eyewitness to the events. It probably originated in a Judeo-Christian community in Roman Syria in the first century CE and there is little doubt that there was already a version of this Gospel in Greek Koine at the end of this first century CE. However, there are authors who advocate a somewhat older Hebrew version. The author Matthew was universally accepted by the early church and was considered to have been based on three main sources: the Gospel of Mark, the supposed collection of sayings known as the Q source, in Greek, as well as on the exclusive material of his own community, called M by scholars. By the way, M and Q look like written sources composed in Greek, but some of the parts of Q may have been translated from Aramaic into Greek more than once. M is comparatively small, only 170 verses, composed almost exclusively of teachings; it probably wasn't a single source, and while some of it may have been written, most appear to have been oral.33 34 35

Historical approach to the theory of the Semitic proto-gospel

We have seen that, historically, the proposal of an original Semitic of NT texts is born in the statements of Papias in the s. II CE, who claimed that the apostle Matthew composed a Hebrew or Aramaic Gospel that was later translated into the canonical gospel of Matthew although this theory has quite a few experts against it.36

Subsequently, we have seen that Jerome seems to claim that all Judeo-Christian communities shared a single gospel, identical to Hebrew Matthew or Aramaic, and would claim to have personally found this gospel in use in some Christian communities in Syria. Jerome claims to have seen a gospel in Aramaic that contained all the quotations he assigns to it in his writings, but scholars detect certain inconsistencies and it seems more likely that there were at least two and probably three ancient Judeo-Christian gospels, only one of them in a Semitic language.37

The Gospel of Matthew is anonymous as the author is not named in the text and nowhere does the hagiographer claim to have been an eyewitness to the events. It probably originated in a Judeo-Christian community of Roman Syria towards the end of the first century, and there is no doubt among modern scholars that it was composed in Koine Greek, the everyday language of the time. The author, traditionally accepted by the early church as the apostle Matthew or his school, relied on three main sources: the Gospel of Mark; the supposed collection of sayings known as the Q source, also in Greek; and material unique to his own community, called M. Both Mark and Q are written sources composed in Greek, but some of the parts of Q may have been translated from Aramaic into Greek. M is relatively small, only 170 verses, composed almost exclusively of the teachings. It was probably not a single source, and although some of them may have been written, most appear to have been oral.38 39

R. Simon in 1689 was one of the first scholars to claim that an Aramaic or Hebrew Gospel of Matthew was behind the Nazarene gospel, and could be considered a proto-gospel. J.J. Griesbach (Commentatio, 1794) treated this as the first of three theories originated as solutions to the synoptic problem: i) the traditional Augustinian hypothesis of use, ii) the original gospel hypothesis or proto-gospel hypothesis, iii) the fragment hypothesis (Koppe, 1793); and iv) the oral gospel hypothesis or tradition hypothesis (Herder, 1797).40

Later a broad basis of study was built for this hypothesis due mainly to J. G. Eichhorn in 1804, who proposed an original Aramaic gospel of which each of the synoptic hagiographers had in a different form. This theory is related to the "Aramaic Matthew hypothesis" of Theodor Zahn (1897), who investigated the belief, widely disseminated in researchers at the time, in an early Aramaic/Hebrew Matthew already lost, although it does not establish a relationship with the preserved fragments of the Gospel of the Hebrews in the works of Jerome.41

Zahn's study is not very systematic and there are no clear references, although in his work he proposes that the order of writing would be Aramaic/Hebrew Matthew, Mark and Luke. The belief in a lost Semitic gospel of Matthew has regained some debate in recent decades with the study of some medieval copies of this supposed Semitic gospel of Matthew, such as that of Shem Tov that we will discuss later.

Subsequently, the line of study on a Semitic protoevangelium became more rigorous with G. E. Lessing, who in 1778 postulated several lost common sources of Aramaic Gospels called your-gospel or proto-gospel, freely used by the three Greek synoptic gospels. J. G. Eichhorn postulated four intermediate your-gospels, while Johann Gottfried von Herder advocated an oral evangelical tradition such as the unwritten your-gospel, leading to F. Schleiermacher's view of the Lodge as an evangelical source. According to this, the your-gospel, like the Homeric epics, was oral and was gradually arranged in appropriate literary forms around a scheme defined by the three "signs of the Kingdom", baptism, transfiguration and resurrection.42

H. Olshausen (1832) suggested that a lost Hebrew Matthew was the common source of Greek Matthew and the Judeo-Christian gospels mentioned by Epiphanius, Jerome and others. Later, in the vicinity of the University of Leuven, L. Vaganay (1940), L. Cerfaux, X. Léon-Dufour and A. Gaboury (1952) attempted to revive lessing's proto-gospel hypothesis.43

There are variants of these traditional hypotheses of a proto-gospel, and thus E. Nicholson (1879) proposed that Matthew wrote two gospels, the first in Greek, the second in Hebrew; and R. Handmann (1888) proposed an Aramaic Gospel of the Hebrews, but argued that this was not the Hebrew Matthew and that there was never a Hebrew your-Matthew. Handmann makes the Gospel according to the Hebrews a second independent source of the synoptic gospels, along with the "Ur-Mark".

J. R. Edwards (2009), suggested as a common source of the Judeo-Christian Gospels and the unique material of the L-source in the Gospel of Luke, a Hebrew your-Matthew, already lost. For Edwards the Hebrew Gospel is not the Hebrew or Aramaic Vorlage of canonical Matthew, which would have been an erroneous attribution made as early as patristic times due in part to the widespread, and apparently considered trustworthy, tradition that the Gospel of Matthew was written by the apostle Matthew. Because of this, this First Gospel was named as the Gospel of Matthew. However, the Canonical Matthew should be attributed to a Judeo-Christian author written for a Judeo-Christian community who used a certain background of the apostle himself, so that, according to Edwards, the first Gospel (Matthew) would actually be the end point of the Synoptic tradition and would depend on Luke as one of its sources, and not vice versa (later Matean).44 45 46

From the s. XIX the hypothesis of the Hebrew Gospel begins to be analyzed by what is called modern textual criticism. C. A. Credner identifies three possible Judeo-Christian gospels: Jerome's Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Greek Gospel of the Ebionites quoted by Epiphanius in his Pananium, and a Greek gospel quoted by Origen, who refers to it as the Gospel of the Hebrews. In the same vein, most scholars of textual criticism, such as Fr. Vielhauer and others, proposed a triple distinction: i) The Jewish Gospel of Epiphanius, ii) the Gospel of Jerome in Hebrew (or Aramaic), and iii) a Gospel of the Hebrews, which was produced by Jewish Christians in Egypt, and like the canonical "Epistle of the Hebrews" (in Greek). However, there is an ongoing academic debate about the exact identification that the Semitic Gospel is the one cited in the references of Jerome, Origen, and Epiphanius; and whether each of these Church Fathers used one or more Semitic Gospels as a working tool.47

However, transcending the debate, the presence in the testimony of these Fathers of three different traditions is noted as the baptism of Christ which strengthens the hypothesis of three or more traditions.48

The hypotheses about a Ur-Gospel (Eichhorn, Schleiermacher, Lachmann, etc., in the nineteenth century) had and have a minority acceptance. And, likewise, the question of the reliability of Jerome's testimony has more detractors than defenders, and as an example of the former, H. Köster (2000) questions the value of Jerome's evidence for linguistic reasons. Köster denies that Matthew could be a translation of a Semitic vorlage uncritically adhering to the mainstream of a double source in Mc and Q, and considers that Jerome's claim that he himself saw a Gospel in Aramaic containing all the fragments he assigns to it is not credible, just as it is not credible that he translated the respective passages from Aramaic into Greek and Latin, as Jerome states several times. Köster states that "it can be proved" that some of these quotations could never have existed in a Semitic language, but offers no such proof or references to them.49

However, opinions such as that of Köster, who represents the majority line, are in stark contrast to those of Schneemelcher and other authors. Schneemelcher cites several Fathers who mention the Hebrew Matthew, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius and, abundantly, Jerome. Schneemelcher considers the existence of three different Semitic gospels as very likely: the Gospel of the Nazarenes, the Gospel of the Hebrews, and the Gospel of the Ebionites.50 51 52 53

Already in Jerome there is a confirmation of the existence of two Jewish Gospels, the Gospel according to the Hebrews and an Aramaic Gospel. Apparently, the latter was accessible in the library of Caesarea as can also be deduced from quotations from Eusebius in his Theophany. It would be very likely that the Nazarenes would use this Aramaic gospel (since Epiphanius also bears witness to this). That the Aramaic Gospel, the evidence of which is given by Hegesipus and Eusebius, is identical with the Gospel of the Nazarenes is in fact not absolutely certain, but possible, even probable.54

The Bible of the LXX (Septuagint)

If we start as a working methodology from the hypothesis, not surprising, that there were texts from some nt books written in Semitic languages that were later translated into common Greek, it would be very appropriate to look at similar translation processes scientifically proven. We would have a very interesting frame of reference in the extensive process that occurred from the third century BCE to translate from Hebrew and Aramaic into common Greek the texts of Palestinian Judaism to facilitate teaching, prayer and synagogal and private worship in the Jewish diaspora in the kingdoms arising from the ancient Hellenistic Empire.

Such is the case so studied of the Septuagint Bible, but also of other texts such as the Samaritan Pentateuch and other writings found in Qumran and outside Qumran (Wadi Murabba'at, Wadi Sdeir, Masada, etc);; collectively called "Texts of the Judean Desert". It should be noted that the Septuagint Bible (Greek or LXX) is not a translation that starts from the Masoretic Text (MT), which is several centuries later, but part of much older and more disintegrated texts, in the sense of the existence of several different originals of the same biblical texts.55 56

Years ago, it was considered that there must be a single archetype or vorlage of the Septuagint, but after the discoveries of Qumran appears the trace of several origins. The texts found in Qumran dated to the s. I CE, and some older ones, show notable differences with the tm text, 10% in content and spelling, and also show differences between them; they are the texts called type-TM. While those found in the Judean Desert, outside Qumran, which are later (already in the s. I CE) show little deviation from MT, 2% in content and spelling, as well as a marked tendency to a stability and standardization of the text, a trend that would culminate in the MT in later centuries.57 58

Likewise, taking this reasoning to the hypothesis of an original Semitic of the gospels, one might think that some Semitic phrases, translated into Greek, had entered the gospels through a writer who was very familiar with the Greek translation of the OT, either by imitation of expressions of the Septuagint or other mechanisms that will be considered later in this work.

From the point of view of the study of the Semitic substrate of the NT, these investigations should be taken into account because the reference of the Greek text (Septuagint) to its Vorlage is not the consolidated text of the MT. The discovery of the Qumran texts in 1947 and others later in the Judean Desert have an extraordinary impact on the understanding of the Hebrew/Aramaic Bible and the Greek Bible. These findings brought to light the existence of "non-Tiberian" (nT) traditions, that is, prior to and parallel to the tradition that begins in Tiberias in the first centuries of our era among groups of Jewish rabbis and that would culminate centuries later in the Masoretic Text (MT). The first fact that becomes clear is that, if we want to use the process of translation from the Hebrew Bible to the Greek Bible as a frame of reference to delve into the probable process of translation from Hebrew/Aramaic texts to nt texts, the MT will not serve as a starting point, since the translators used sources that deviate a not inconsiderable percentage from the MT standard.

These differences are not only orthographic or morphological, as some scholars show, but also lexicographical, that is, associated with mutual semantic knowledge between the Semitic and Greek language domains in the centuries in which the translation process occurs. This approach is very interesting as the Greek text can illuminate the Hebrew/Aramaic text, and vice versa.59

In some cases, the process operates in both directions simultaneously and it is not at all unreasonable to consider that the comparative study of syntactic structures, constructions, morphology and Semitic words in the Bible with their Greek equivalents in the Septuaginta would lead to a better understanding of both, as well as the process of transit from one to the other.60

Jan Joosten does several studies about this Hebrew-Greek correlation that are interesting. It does so based on lexicographical information about Hellenistic Greek, along with analysis of the biblical context, so that the study of the source text can function as a heuristic tool helping to determine what meaning translators were thinking of when they translated a word in a certain way.

This can be particularly useful with Greek words that are polysemic. Consider the Greek verb κατακρατέω in the following verse of the prophet Micas:

Mic 1, 9 in the Septuagint:

ὅτι κατεκράτησεν ἡ πληγὴ αὐτῆς, διότι ἦλθεν ἕως Ιουδα καὶ ἥψατο ἕως πύλης λαοῦ μου, ἕως Ιερουσαλημ (LXX)

Because his plague has prevailed; because it has even reached Judah; and it has knocked on the door of my people, even Jerusalem.

Mic 1, 9 in MT

כּיִ אֲנוּשָׁה מַכּוֹתֶיהָ כּ יִבָ־אָה ע דַי־הְדָוּה נָגַע עַ דשׁ־ עַרַ עּמַיִ ע דַ־ירְ וּשׁ לָםָ (MT)

Because his wound is incurable. He has come to Judah; it has reached the door of my people, Jerusalem.

Micah speaks of the ruin that befalls Samaria and Judah for their infidelity, but the nuances are different in the Septuagint and in the Hebrew text.61 In the Septuagint, κατακρατέω is practically always used as a transitive verb meaning "to seize", "to hold", "to obtain the dominion of'. Thus, the Syro-hexapla translates here κατακρατέω as " ʾeḥdat mḥoota dilah", meaning "his blow has taken over". In the present passage, however, the verb appears to be intransitive; at least, there is no obvious direct object. Muraoka, in his lexicon, and others, propose "intensify", "to make heavy", "to make prevail", as a translation of this verb. This meaning is attested in classical Greek, but nowhere else in the Septuagint. In any case, there is a conflict of translation since the context seems to impose the intransitive reading "to become strong", "to prevail", while the usual septuagint lexicon favors the transitive meaning of the verb, "to seize", "to dominate".62 63

In this certain insecurity, a glance at the starting Hebrew can be a useful tool for determining the original meaning, which is not possible in the case of the analysis of the possible Greek translation of the NT texts, since the starting Hebrew is not available there. But it is interesting to analyze the processes that occurred in the translation of lto Septuagint to understand how that translation would have occurred in the NT.

In this example, the information that is obtained from the starting Hebrew of Mic 1, 9 is not easy to use. In Hebrew the underlying root אנש means "to be weak, to be sick"', and the passive participle means "to be accustomed to serious illness". In any case, the meaning of Hebrew would seem to favor the intransitive reading of Greek. A closer look, however, shows that the Hebrew root אנש may not have been well understood by translators: אנוש is translated as στερεός, "hard", in Jer 15,18, and "lift" in Jer 30,12; it is64 also confused with אנוש, "human being", in Isa 17,11 and Jer 17,9; 17,16. If the verb κατεκράτησεν reflects אונשה, the current Greek translation should be treated as a hypothesis with a not very solid backing hypothesis.

However, there is another possibility which is that perhaps instead of the root אנש , "to be weak", the translator thought, using his Hebrew phonetic and lexicographic repertoire, in the root סאנ (with samekh) meaning"to force", "to oblige". On Qumran scrolls, confusion of shin/sin and samekh is frequent; the root סאנ is sometimes written with a shin. There are quite a few passages referring to the same text that are written in one way or another (shin or shamek) in which manuscripts of Qumran. So, for example:

1QS VII 12 -> היה אונש …ואשר יהלך לפינ רעהו ערום ולוא

4Q261 ->ׄ היה אׄוׄנס

.. anyone who walks naked in the presence of a comrade, unless forced

The confusion between the letters shin/sin and samekh is very characteristic not only of Qumran in general, but also of the Septuagint in particular, and generates interesting translation problems. Let's look at a sample of this fact: the root, אנס, in Palestinian Aramaic and post-Bible Jewish expresses, as seen, meanings such as "dispossessing, extorting, seizing, subjuging, preventing, forcing, raping a woman."

Several passages have been described in which this verb has an impersonal subject that, semantically, gives a certain "power" to a personal indirect object: חלמי אנסני , "my dream surpassed me" (4Q531 f22: 9); משתיא אנסיה "(his) alcohol consumption dominated him" (BGit 68b). These meanings are very close to the meaning expressed by the Greek κατακρατέω in some passages of the Septuagint.65

This reasoning allows to hypothesize that the translator of Mic 1,9 identified אנושה as a form of the verb אנס, exchanging ש and ס (samekh), which with the initial waw and considering the he as a sufijal pronoun of 3rd person, and translated it accordingly as the indicative aorist of 3rd person singular, κατεκράτησεν.

Although the verb אנס is sparingly attested in the Hebrew Bible, it may well have been part of the translator's "mental lexicon." It should be noted that quite possibly those translators did not have lexicons or dictionaries like the modern exegetes. Septuagint translators usually present the biblical text after late Hebrew or Aramaic. If this is correct, it follows that the translator makes the sentence κατεκράτησεν ἡ πληγὴ αὐτῆς mean: "the plague has overcome it", taking the personal pronoun as the direct object of the verb.

That this meaning could be perceived in this way by a Greek reader in ancient times is shown in the commentary of Cyril of Alexandria, who quotes the verse according to the text received from the Septuagint, and in his commentary rearranges the text to κατεκράτησεν αὐτῆς ἡ πληγή, showing that, for him, the pronoun is governed by the verb. From here, he explains that the verse refers to Senarchib who, "having occupied all of Samaria and Judea, besieged Jerusalem."66

The important argument is not that the meaning of the Hebrew verb can be transferred to Greek, but that, given the polysemy of certain Greek words, and given the obscurity of some Septuagint contexts, lexicographers must consider other elements to understand the translation process, especially the understanding of the starting Hebrew/Aramaic that can indicate or give clues as to what meaning of a Greek word translators thought when it was used in translation.

It is risky to try to penetrate the minds of translators to guess why they chose the words they chose. To a large extent the translation process is a mystery. However, philological study is important to shed light on the choice of this or that Greek equivalent to a Semitic word, but without ruling out other conditions.67

In this way Hebrew/Aramaic can illuminate Greek, and vice versa, and in some cases, the process operates in both directions simultaneously. It so happens that the comparative study of the Hebrew words in the Bible and their Greek translations in the Septuagint leads to a better understanding of both. This can happen in surprising ways, as it can be illustrated with additional observations by continuing the example in Mic 1, 9 discussed above. As it appears in the Syro-hexapla, Symmachus and Theodotion, these diverged from the Septuagint in their interpretation of the Hebrew adjective אנושה . The Syracus equivalent is qəṭîrāytā, "'forced", which in other passages corresponds to the greek word βίαιος. On this basis, scholars apply the same greek adjective in Mic 1, 9. "Βίαιος" is attested in both Aquila and Theodotion in some other places where the Hebrew text has אנוש. Aquila and Theodotion usually use a stereotypical translation, associating one and only one Greek word with the concrete Hebrew word.

It is quite certain, therefore, that Aquila and Theodotion represented each appearance of the adjective אנוש with the Greek βίαιος, a word that according to the most reliable LXX lexicons, means "possessed of great power", and translates "strong, powerful" (for example, a passage from Theodotion is used in Job 34, 6 where the Hebrew corresponds to אנוש). In light of the use of the word in untranslated Greek, this is certainly a possible interpretation. But etymologically it would mean "weakness", so here it is the context that determines how the translation was produced. However, it is also possible that the Greek βίαιος was chosen to translate the Hebrew אנוש because it expressed the meaning "forced, restricted". This second meaning is also well attested in all varieties of Greek. It opens up the possibility that the representation is not in fact based on contextual exegesis, but on the identification of the roots אנש and אנס, in the same way that was argued for the translator of Micah above. Aquila and the Theodotion may have considered that אנוש amounted to אנוס, "forced".68 69

A conclusion that is appearing in this argument is that in the process of translation of the Bible of the LXX appear different approaches to translation: contextual models, stereotyped models, conjectural models, that is, there is no uniformity in the translation process. The relevance that this fact, found in the analysis of the translation of the Septuagint, may have for the analysis of the Semitic substrate of the NT is that, in the hypothesis of a Greek translation on a Hebrew/Aramaic vorlage, later in 2 or 3 centuries than that of the Septuagint, most likely these same approaches would appear when approaching the complex task of translation. There is a notable difference, of course, and that is that in this case we do not have in principle any sample, even similar, of the original Hebrew/Aramaic used.

In light of these considerations, some data from Qumran Hebrew have begun to be used methodologically. Next to the passage of the Rule Roll where the word אנוש with shin/sin almost certainly means "forced", the adjective אנוש appears in two passages in the Hodayoth where it qualifies the noun כאוב, "damage":

1QHa XIII 30 (+ 4Q429 f2: 11)

ותהי לכאוב אנוש ונגע נמאר

And (the poison) will become a pain and a serious sore.

1QHa XVI 28–29

כי פר֯ח֯ נגע֯י למרורים וכאוב אנוש

Because my sores have burst into a pain that can't be stopped.

In these passages, all interpreters have given the adjective its biblical meaning of "serious, incurable". Even, if possible, in light of the Greek data of Aquila and Theodotion, it could be assumed that the Hebrew of Qumran knew only one root אנס / אנש, "to force". The association with the meaning "pain" would be based on biblical passages such as Isa 17:11 or Jer 30:15, but the interpretation of the adjective may be more indebted to post-Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic.

In modern dictionaries the adjective אנוש is usually translated as "incurable", similar to the meaning "insanabilis" of the Vulgate in Jer 30,12-15. Saint Jerome seems to have adopted this interpretation of Symmachus, for whom the equivalence between אנוש and ἀνίατος is attested in Jer 15,18 and 30,12. As long as it is not taken too literally, it is a fairly reasonable contextualized translation, particularly in passages where the adjective qualifies wounds or afflictions. But it is necessary to ask from what context this translation is taken: it is possible that it was derived from the context of Jer 15,18 where it reads הרפא מאנה אנוּשה ומכתי, "my wound is, it refuses to be healed"; but it is also quite possible that Symmachus' choice was inspired by the identification of the roots אנש and אנס: an "incurable" wound is a wound that cannot be stopped, while a forced wound falls on one and there is no escape. The nuance is different.

We started in this example of the problem of the Greek verb κατακρατέω in Mic 1,9. The possibility that the translator had thought of the verb אנס / אנש "to dominate, power over", sheds light on the meaning of this Greek verb. From here, the question arose as to whether at any stage of the interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, the verbs אנש and אנס may have been amalgamated. The data in the later Greek translations of Aquila and Theodotion suggest that this was actually the case. If so, this could have implications for Hebrew lexicography, not only of the Bible, but of Qumran Hebrew: instead of two roots, אנש and אנס, this State of the Hebrew language could actually have a single verb in two different spells. It would appear, therefore, that the sources of Qumran, which would be close to the sources used by the translators of the Septuagint, would have particularities to take into account with respect to other Hebrew sources.

Apparently so far, there may well be some concern about the semantic and lexicographical knowledge that the translators of the Septuagint might have. Some experts claim that their knowledge at the morphological and syntactic level would be good, but at the lexicographical or semantic level it would not be profound. They had no lexicographical tools, no references, no dictionaries. Translators cannot be evaluated by today's standards but in the context of their own world.70

Understanding the biblical text, Semitic or Greek, is an abstract concept. Even today there are TM words that are not fully understood and, therefore, translations often suggest alternative representations of individual words, and add vowel or other marks, or perform more or less conjectural translations (i.e., with some reservation). The lack of deep knowledge of Hebrew by septuagint translators can be reflected in several types of representations, especially in conjectural translations.71

Any translation process in ancient times is often conjectural, because translators had no lexicon or word lists at their disposal. Therefore, they had to turn to other sources of information: the direct and living knowledge of the translators of Hebrew and Aramaic (including their etymological understanding of these languages, exegetical traditions, context, the translation of the Pentateuch, etc.). It seems evident that the so-called conjectural representations are the most abundant model in the translation at the time of the Septuagint, and most likely also in the translation that was made in the s. I CE of Semitic originals into the common Greek of the NT. Several types of conjectural representations can be described in the Septuagint translation:72 73

1. Untranslated words
2. Contextual conjecture
3. Contextual manipulation
4. Reliance on parallelism
5. Use of general words.
6. Etymological representations.

If these conjectural representations existed in translation, they should all the more so appear in a likely translation of Hebrew/Aramaic texts from NT into Greek, as their translators might have even a lower level of knowledge of Semitic languages than Septuagint translators.

Let's analyze these conjectural representations on a case-by-case basis to see if they can serve as a framework for knowledge of phenomena that also occurred in NT.

Conjectural representations: untranslated words

As a general rule, unknown words were transcribed in their exact Hebrew form, including prefixes and suffixes, either because they do not know exactly how to translate them or because of their special meaning. A few examples, among many others:

Judg 5, 16

למה ישבת בין המשפתים

LXXA ἴνα τί μοι κάθησαι ἀνά μέσον τῶν μοσφαθαιμ

The word משפתים is a word that the Greek translator does not know and that in LXXA is transliterated, not translated as is, and that is subsequently attributed a translationorn by a wordthat is "sheepfold”), which is a foreignism, which in LXXB is translated by διγομίας, "doublecharge", and which is translated in modern language versions as "sheepfolds". It reveals the phenomenon of a lack of understanding of some words of the Semitic original by the translator who generates a dark and varied translation.

In the Septuagint are cataloged 77 untranslated words that appear one or more times and another 32 have been treated as proper names because their exact meaning was not known. In nt the number of these words is certainly smaller, because the length of the texts is also much smaller.

Contextual conjecture

It should not be difficult to accept that in other cases of lack of understanding of Semitic words, translators resorted to contextual conjecture based on recurring patterns, particular to the translator or particulars of the school or group of translators. Some Hebrew/Aramaic words were lexically difficult for translators, and if in such cases we find ourselves with different representations according to different contexts, it stands to reason that the translators adapted the translation of the word "difficult" to different contexts.

An example of this is the translation of "Armôn", ארמון. This word, which occurs about 30 times in the Bible, is usually translated as "palace" but appears in this way very rarely in Hebrew, from the second century BCE. This may explain the wide range of his representations in the Septuagint and also shows that the translators did not know their exact meaning, ignorance that they mitigated using the context.

The translation equivalents that come closest to the meaning of the Hebrew original are βασίιλειον ("palace"') as in Pr 18,19 and άνφοδον (literally: a block of houses surrounded by streets) as in Jer 17,27; 49,27 (30,16). But elsewhere it cannot be translated as "palace" and the translator uses a translation taking into account the context or common practice. Some of these other translations are:

- έναντίον (meaning "in front of", sometimes "opposite")

2 Kings 15,25 (Q)

ויכהו בשמרון ב ארמון בית המלך74

και ἐπάταξεν αὐτόν ἐν Σαμαρεία έναντίον οἴκου το βασιλέως


- πόλις (“city”)

Isa 34,13 ועלתה א רמנתיה סירים75

και ἀναφύσει εις τάς πόλεις αύτῶν

- άντρου ("cave"; hapax in LXX)

1 Kgs 16, 18

76 המלך בית ארמון אל ויבא

και εἰσπορεύεται εἰς ῦντρον του οἴκου του βασιλέως

The translator uses a variety of fairly flexible options to suit the context. In the hypothesis of a Semitic original of the NT, translation decisions of this type must have arisen but, in this case, they are really difficult to detect.

Contextual manipulation

In some other cases it happened that, to avoid a difficult word, a subtle change was made in that word, therefore more difficult to recognize. This technique consisted of translators knowingly manipulating Hebrew consonants in order to create words that fit better in the context than the words of their Vorlage, either because the Vorlage was not comprehensible to them or because the translator made certain adaptations following other changes or mistranslations recognized earlier. Such representations do not reflect real variants, but rather "pseudo-variants", that is, Hebrew readings that existed only in the translator's mind, perhaps shared in the same exegetical school, and not on the parchment.77

These manipulations are based on the translators' own paleographic knowledge, that is, it was known to them that certain Hebrew letters were graphically so similar that they were often exchanged in the Hebrew sources themselves. Therefore, a translator who found no meaning in a word when it is written, say, for example, with a daleth, would have been strongly tempted to understand daleth as a resh, assuming a probable transcription error in thesource. Assuming such paleographic maneuvers is objectively conditioned by the appearance of lexical or other difficulties. An example of this phenomenon is as follows:

Jer 31,8 MT

וקבצתים מירכתי ארץ בם עור ופסח הרה וילדת יחדו

קהל גדול ישובו הנה

And I will gather you from the farthest parts of the earth, including the blind and lame, the pregnant woman and the one at work, together, a large crowd will come back here.

LXX καί συνάξω αὐτούς ἀπ' ἐσχάτου τῆς ἐv

ἑορτῆ φασεκ καί τεκνοποιήση ὄχλον πολύν

καί ἀποστρέψουσιν ὡδε

And I will gather you from the farthest parts of the earth at the passover feast, and you will give birth to a great crowd, and you will come back here.

What we read in the Septuagint implies that the Hebrew vorlage is necessarily במועד פסח, "at Passover", "on (the) Passover Festival", rather than what is read in the un-vocalized TM above: בם עור ופסח, i.e. "blind and lame". The Greek translator had in mind a text which differed here completely from the TM, and which coincides with the return of the Jews from exile at the time of Passover (referring to Is 30,29). The large difference in meaning between TM and LXX is based on a relatively small difference in consonants and vowels. The context was completely different and the translator was prompted to make several changes in relation to the TM text to maintain consistency. In particular, the words "the pregnant woman and the one in labor, together" ( וילדת יחדו הרה ) did not fit the new context and this caused the translator to introduce a second verb, parallel to the first, vocalizing וְיָלַדְתְּ instead of the וְיֹלֶדֶת instead of the וְיֹלֶת instead of the וְיֹלֶת instead of the וְיֶֹת instead of the וְיֹלֹלדֶת instead of the וְיֹלֶת instead of the וְיֹלֶת Additionally, it does not consider רה or יחדו when translating, so that it remains in Greek: καὶ τεκνοποιήσῃ ὄχλον πολύν, i.e. "and you will give birth to a great multitude". The vorlage of the translator would therefore be:

הנה וקבצתים מירכתי ארץ במועד פסח וילדת קהל גדול

... that compared to MT:

קהל גדול ישובו הנה וקבצתים מירכתי ארץ בם עור ופסח הרה וילדת יחדו

it brings up some relevant differences. Such translation modifications have also been proposed in the hypotheses of a Semitic original such as vorlage of texts in the gospels.

Dependence on parallelism

Dependence on parallelism is actually a form of contextual translation. Dependence on parallelism can be said to be a stable means of determining the meaning of words, but the decision to resort to parallelism remains subjective and the recognition of different types of parallelism requires different representations.

In the case of a rare word, which appears rarely, the translation of a parallel word is used. For example:78

Jer 10, 20

אהלי שדד וכל מיתרי נתקו...אין נטה עוד אהלי ומקים

יריעות י

ἡ σκηνή μου ἐταλαι πώρησεν ὤλετο καὶ πᾶσαι αἱ δέρρεις μου διεσπάσθησαν ...οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι τόπος τῆς σκηνῆς μου τόπος τῶν δέρρεών μου

My tent is undone, the ropes torn off, ..., there is no one to lift my tent and hold the tarps.

In this case מיתר appears 8 times in the MT and usually means "rope" but here it does not fit well in the second part of the periscope and translates synonymously to יריעותי (tent, skin covering the tent) which translates in Greek for "skin". In other words, there is no direct translation, but there is a process of adapting meanings.

Use of words of very general meaning

The lack of knowledge of the meaning of a Semitic word is often disguised by the use of general words that the translator considered somehow appropriate in the context (e.g., "to do," "to give," "to organize," "to prepare"). It is not easy to show that a given representation reflects a contextual assumption, but that assumption is likely when the Semitic word is objectively difficult. For example, the use of παρασκευάζω ("prepare") as a general equivalent in Jr 9. This verb occurs five times in Jeremiah and six times in other parts of the Septuagint.

The translator must have known hebrew verbs, but probably couldn't locate proper representations, so he uses a more general purpose one:

Jer 6, 4 קדשו עליה מלחמה

παρασκευάσασθε ἐπ αὐτὴν εἰς πόλεμον

let sanctifis the war against it.

Jer 46, 9 and the vehicle resale...

(LXX 26,9) prepared (andmanufactured LXXA) the

Wrath, Οh cars.

In this other case the translator probably did not know the Hebrew verb that appeared in the original text either (it only appears again in Jr 22,15 and there is also a rough translation):

Jer 12, 5

ואיך תתחרה את הסוסים79

How will you compete with horses?

πῶς παρασκευάσῃ ἐφ᾽ ἵπποις

In Hebrew it is said "... how will you compete (strongly) with the horses?", but the translator says "... how will you prepare with the horses?". The meaning is similar, but not the same. Perhaps the translator was not entirely sure of the meaning of the verb תתחרה and completed the meaning with a word of broad meaning. But evaluating the full meaning of the verse, it is evident that it is darker in the Septuagint, for Jeremiah establishes a dialogue with God in these verses about "why are the bad guys lucky" and the righteous have difficulties, because "if you ran with the ordinary ones and got tired, how will you compete with the horses?"

Etymological representations: Root-linked representations

Many translators translated all occurrences of a given Hebrew word, for example a preposition, root, or construction by the same Greek equivalent (stereotype). It can be said that since always in the translation of the Septuagint the tendency to stereotypes was the general rule. The system of stereotypes was an important part of the translation technique and originated from the approach that the words of the Bible must be translated consistently to remain as faithful as possible to the language of origin. This would be a basic exegetical principle. This type of translation created a coherent representation of groups of complete Hebrew words (roots) with Greek words that also belong to a group of words.

Although this root-linked system had its origin in a certain conception of the translation technique, it was also systematically used in the translation of words with comprehension difficulties. If a difficult word has a recognizable Hebrew root (although "root" is not the correct term in Hebrew), it was translated by a Greek word belonging to a Greek root that elsewhere translated other Hebrew words belonging to the same group (roughly what in Indo-European languages is the root).

The Greek word does not necessarily have the same meaning as the Hebrew word, but other words close to that Greek word were used elsewhere as representations of Hebrew words close to the Hebrew word being translated.80

The word משארות, "kneading", referring to bowl kneading, appears three times in the Bible. In Deut 28,5 and 28,17 it was translated by ἐγκατάλειμμα, and in Exodus 12,34 by φύραμα. The word ἐγκατάλειμμα ("remnant, leftover") does not convey any meaning that comes close to "kneading" and was simply chosen because the root of the Hebrew noun, שאר, was translated otherwise by (ἐγ) καταλείπω, "to leave". That is why the TM says in this verse "'a blessing on your basket of grain and your bowl of kneading", while in the Septuagint it says "blessed are your barns and your leftovers".

The technique of etymological representation reflects a concern for the consistent representation of groups of Hebrew words with equivalent groups of Greek words, but was also used to solve the problem of the translator's ignorance about the exact meaning of a word. For example, both נערת and ἀποτίναγματος appear only in Judg 16,9, meaning "strings" (from Samson's bow being cut) and this representation is based on the translation of נער in Judg 16,20 (ואִנָּעֵ֔ר, the imperfect) with ἀποτινάσσω, actually, ἀποτινάξομαι, ("I will free myself" ).81

Etymological representations based on conjecture

Dependence on etymology is a fundamental procedure for septuagint translators. Sometimes etymological dependence is called conjecture when translation is based on a certain level of consonant manipulation, which sometimes involves discarding prefixes or suffixes. In all cases, the Hebrew words involved are hardly comprehensible. Translators often ignored the meaning of words in their Vorlage and this ignorance led to various conjectural representations. Rarely were translators sophisticated enough to leave words uns translated as seen before. The amount of conjectural translation in septuagint is probably extensive, but the actual number of cases can never be determined.82 83

In any case, despite the difficulties of translation, even though it was entrusted to the best exegetes and translators of that time, techniques were introduced to overcome the difficulties by being as faithful as possible to the originals. In this way one can list elements of this translation technique as it is the case that quite possibly the Greek Pentateuch served as a "lexicon" (like a bilingual mental dictionary) for the translation of words of difficult understanding in later books such as prophets, psalms, etc., since it was available to translators, even in their own memory.84

The question that now arises is whether these characteristics of the translation of the texts of the Hebrew Bible into Greek at the time of the Second Temple are characteristics that can be attributed to translators who could translate hypothetical NT texts written in Hebrew or Aramaic into Greek. In the first case, the profile of a priori translator was that of a doctor of the Law who knew or knew the original texts and was in the environment of the Diaspora in which common Greek was the mother tongue.

Christian translators may not have among them doctors of the Law, although the profile of St. Paul or St. Justin would fit, but, of course, they were immersed in diaspora Greek as their mother tongue. However, the translation techniques that we have just analyzed in the development of the texts of the Septuagint discover that in many cases the translators were not profoundly knowledgeable of biblical Hebrew, at the lexicological level, a profile in which Christian translators could also be embedded. These Christian translators would also be guided by the principle of being as faithful as possible to the originals and, in all likelihood, used similar translation techniques.

We can say that in the translation of the Septuagint the fact that the translations of a Hebrew word are made to one or two Greek words, or some more, is preserved, but without there being much dispersion. In addition, the translation system is relatively constant. The lexicon, morphology and syntax used in the Septuagint, also in the NT, is basically the same as the Koine Greek of the Hellenistic area of influence, which, except for certain very general peculiarities does not differ in an essential way with the Attic Greek, or even the one that is usually called Classical Greek. There is, however, agreement that there are unusual patterns and an interference of the syntax and semantics of Hebrew (also Aramaic) in Greek used by Diaspora Jews in Egypt as we have seen in the analyses of non-Christian authors. We can choose a representative text that includes a good part of the characteristics of a Greek translated from Hebrew:

Ex 6:

[5] καὶ ἐγὼ εἰσήκουσα τὸν στεναγμὸν τῶν υἱῶν Ισραηλ , ὃν οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι καταδουλοῦνται αὐτούς , καὶ ἐμνήσθηντῆς διαθήκης ὑμῶν

[5] And I heard the groan of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in captivity; and I remembered your Covenant.

[6] βάδιζε εἰπὸν τοῖς υἱοῖς Ισραηλ λέγων Ἐγὼ κύριος καὶ ἐξάξω ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς δυναστείας τῶν Αἰγυπτίων καὶ ῥύσομαι ὑμᾶς ἐκ τῆς δουλείας καὶ λυτρώσομαι ὑμᾶς ἐν βραχίονι ὑψηλῷ καὶ κρίσει μεγάλῃ.

[6] Go and say to the children of Israel, "I am the lord, and I will bring you out of the dominion of the Egyptians, and I will rescue you from their servitude, and I will redeem you with a strong arm and a great judgment."

There are many typical morphological and syntactic features of translation that we can observe:85

(a) The word order of Hebrew is closely followed in Greek.
b) The Hebrew parataxis (using waw) also adheres to Greek as a result of following the Hebrew order of words, which led to the repeated use of καί in verse 6. Only in verse 9 is that order broken with the use of the particle δέ (ἐλάλησεν δὲ Μωϋσῆς), a variation to the usual that rarelyoccurs.
(c) The Hebrew syntactic features are represented in Greek, including that of the relative particle by a resuming pronoun in verse 5,86 ὃν οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι καταδουλοῦνται αὐτούς. Although the Hebrew term אשר is not declinable, the Greek does decline the relative (ὃν) although it does so erroneously, as it does not agree with either the antecedent or the subordinate sentence it introduces. It may be an error (use of ὃν instead of οὕς) or the inertia of the translator who does not care about the concordance of the indeclinable and unnumbered and genderless Hebrew relative. This would be a characteristic "translation mark" from Hebrew to Greek.
(d) The Hebrew idiom is represented in verse 6 by λέγων ("saying") as the equivalent of the Hebrew introductory formula for direct speech, לאמר . This feature is possible in Greek, but not too usual; its frequency in the Septuagint is generated by the Hebrew idiom. Elsewhere we see representations such as the hebrew absolute infinitive translated by various cognates in Greek (for 87 φεύγω or φυγῇ ), itself a Greek idiom, but which appears more frequently in the Septuagint than it would in standard Greek.
(e) The frequent use of auxiliary verbs in Hebrew has generated the auxiliary of verse 6 , βάδιζε εἰπὸν ('Go say').
(f) The development of specific terminology or the extension of word semantics seem to be frequent phenomena in the Septuagint, here demonstrated by διαθήκη (v 5)meaning'covenant or alliance'.
(g) The inclusion of typical Koine Greek words but not classical, here partially represented by λυτρόω "to rescue" (verse 6). Many other words exclusive to koiné or in contemporary use could be: ἐκτοκίζω "Lend tointerest"; ἀρχιοινοχόος , "chief cupbearer"'; τοπάρχης , "gobernador of a district".
(h) The omission of a copulation is frequent, as in verse 6: Ἐγὼ κύριος, "I am the Lord." This is permissible in Greek, but its frequency in the Septuagint is generated by the Hebrew idiom.
i) The transliteration of names or some terms is common, here it is demonstrated by Ισραηλ . In such cases, transliterations may be non-declinable.
(j) The Hebrew prepositions are represented by their Greek equivalents as seen in the use of ἐν (~ ב ) in verse 6, but some anomalies appear: in this case there is a comitative dative (associative, 'with'), but what is expected in the Greek of that time would be a prepositional phrase.88

All the translation characteristics of the Septuagint Greek from semitic written sources can be evaluated in the Greek in which the NT texts that can be thought to have a Vorlage written in Hebrew/Aramaic are written.

Importance of the language of the Septuagint in the draftingof the Nuevo Testammento

In the Egypt of the first centuries BCE and early CE there was a very large Jewish community in the diaspora, in Babylon, Asia Minor, Greece and especially in Egypt, where the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek. Thepopular Greek dialect koiné was not spoken or written by the Jews in pure form but very mixed with idioms of the vernacular and nuanced with the general structure of that language. Therefore, a Judaizing Greek way of speaking and writing would emerge and (perhaps it did not become a dialect that was not well understood by the natives of the Greek language and that generated a certain contempt of these towards those89.

The establishment of a Jewish literary tradition in Greek culture played an important role in the expression of a Judeo-Greek identity, the Septuagint being the first literature of its kind known, or more specifically we should speak of the translation of the Pentateuch into Greek, and which is made sometime in the third.century BCE. The style of language adopted had a great influence both on later translations of biblical books and on Judeo-Greek compositions of the time; and , likewise, it is the Scripture that is quoted in the NT. However, how this style is viewed has been a matter of controversy over the past century, although the debate began centuries earlier.90

In the hypothesis of a witten semitic substrate, already lost, of NT texts, it is reasonable to think that translators in of these texts into Greek were inserted in a specific way of speaking and writing the Greek we have just described. Most likely he would not need to imitate the style of the Septuagint because that style is his own style. When the book of Acts describes the debate of Deacon Stephen in the synagogue called the Libertes, an exegetical and theological environment that moves in a cultural sphere very widespread in Judaism is glimpsed. It is also very likely that within the disciples of Jesus this Hellenistic environment was growing in front of the original discipleship that arises in palestiniense Judaism that began to write the gospels in its mother tongues, Hebrew and Aramaic. This Hellenistic environment began to translate the precious Semitic texts that recorded the master's words with a degree of fidelity sustained by the temporal proximity to events.

There arises a need for balance between fidelity to the original sources and the urgency of evangelization in places that are increasingly distant and less and less Judeo-Palestinian. With the means of translation available, writings are generated that must overcome the great cultural and mental structure gap between things written in Semitic languages and an Indo-European language such as Greek.

Types of Semitisms in the Gospels

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been an important catalyst for the analysis of the Semitic substrate of the NT, and the Hebrew traditions not coming from Tiberias are attracting renewed attention, to clarify the translation of the Greek texts of the Bible and also for the analysis of the Hebrew/Aramaic substrate of the NT. In recent decades various exegetes, through their work with the documents of Qumran, became familiar with the Hebrew, and even Aramaic, of the time of Jesus and noticed many connections between the writing of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. In some cases even, to study these connections further, translations into Hebrew of the Greek text of the gospels began, starting with that of Mark, showing how easy it was to carry out the translation. The experience of Jean Carmignac has already been quoted as saying:

'' I had imagined that this translation would be difficult because of the considerable differences between Semitic thought and Greek thought, but I was absolutely astonished to discover that this translation was, on the contrary, extremely easy. In mid-April 1963, after a single day of work, he was convinced that Mark's Greek text could not have been written directly in Greek and that it was really just the Greek translation of an original Hebrew. The enormous difficulties I had imagined had been solved by the Hebrew-Greek translator, who had transposed word for word and who had even retained in Greek the word order preferred by Hebrew grammar."91

In this perception it can be discovered the technique of stereotypes that was used in the Septuagint and that we have described in the previous section in a domain of study completely independent of the study of the Semitic substrate of the NT. As knowledge of Qumran's texts and other writings found in the Judean Desert evolved, it became clear that the first perceptions of Mark's text were not at all isolated but that other translators had independently made similar observations about a Greek, mainly that of the synoptic gospels, which have characteristics of being a Translation Greek.92

Several possible explanations for the Semitic nature of the Greek synoptics were considered:

- A starting hypothesis may be that this Greek was produced by writers who were simply trying to imitate the style of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, but it seems unlikely, as the text is shown to be too Semitic for that.
- Another widespread hypothesis is that the Greek of the gospels was that of writers whose native language was Semitic but who tried to express themselves in Greek but did so with some awkwardness. However, this hypothesis also does not seem to fit the data because "the appearance of the texts is perfectly Greek, too Greek to have been derived from people who had a poor knowledge of Greek; however, the reality they express is perfectly Semitic, so Semitic that it could only come from people who expressed themselves naturally in their mother tongue. The Greek of the gospels is not a poor Greek, nor a clumsy Greek, it is the good Greek of a translator who respected a Semitic original, which retains an original mark."93

A group of exegetes came in this context to the conclusion that the Greek texts of Matthew and Mark were translated from Semitic (probably Hebrew) originals, and that Luke wrote in Greek, but resorted to Semitic sources. Even a significant minority of scholars over the past century and a half have held similar views, either holding a Hebrew original or an Aramaic one, or both, "as a theory, nor absolutely as a probability, but as a proven fact."94 95 96

From all these studies it is possible to obtain a taxonomy of Semitisms characteristic of the Greek text that reveal the influence of a Semitic language. We can describe at least nine possible categories.97

In principle, the first four kinds of Semitisms (loan words, imitation, thought and vocabulary) do not serve as evidence that the original language of the Synoptic Gospels was Hebrew or Aramaic, because it can always be assumed that these semitisms could come from the influence of the mother language of the Semitic editors of the Greek-language Gospels. But the following types of Semitisms can support an original Semitic text that was translated later.

Loan Semiticisms

Some words, such as "amen", "abba", "hallelujah", "messiah" and "Sabbath", are transmitted or transcribed directly from a Semitic language, a phenomenon that already appears in the translation of the LXX.

Imitation Semitisms

Some Hebrew phrases translated into Greek may have entered the gospels through a writer who was very familiar with the translation of the Septuagint from the Old Testament. Imitation Semitisms consist of the reproduction of an expression from the Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament into Greek that was used by both Hellenized Jews and early Christians.

Semitisms of thought

Classical Greek writings contains many subordinate sentences that give this language a great capacity for precision and synthesis. However, in the Semitic way of thinking there is a refusal or a certain impotence to combine, to synthesize and to subordinate the elements of thought, which leads to a very marked tendency to dissociate these elements from thought separately and to express themselves very broadly, or rather, fullness.

It is a fact determined by the mental structures learned since childhood and which explains that the coordinated clauses connected by ''and'' are more typical in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the synoptic gospels, which, in addition, also contain phrases that reflect an expression of "fullness" or "explanatory overload" typical of the Hebrew script. They consist of the absence of association and subordination and the breadth of the expositions of the Semitic languages.

By themselves, these structures do not explain in a decisive way that there is a Semitic original of a Greek text, but can explain a style of Greek, let's say "dissociated".

Vocabulary Semitisms

Semitic language does not have a characteristic that is intrinsic to Indo-European languages and that is the rule of saving linguistic resources. In Hebrew or Aramaic, many times more words and concepts are used than a person who speaks Greek would use. For example, instead of simply writing "he came," the Semites preferred to write "he got up and came." For example, Mt 5:2 says that Jesus "opened his mouth and taught them '' instead of simply saying that he spoke or taught his disciples.

Sometimes, it also happens that a single word in one language can have a range of meaning that is covered by multiple words in another language. For example, we use the word "son" to refer strictly to our male offspring, but "son" or "child" is used much more widely in Semitic languages and also in synoptic gospels, so for example, in Mt 8, 12 instead of using "citizens of the Kingdom", use "sons of the Kingdom"; in Mt 23,15 "sons of Gehenna is used"; or "sons of thunder" in Mk 3:17; etc.. As in the previous case of thought semitisms, this type of semitism describes the origin of the hagiographer, but does not give definitive proof of the language in which the original was written.

Syntax Semitisms

The characteristics of the Hebrew syntax appear frequently in the Greek text of the gospels, that is, Greek expressions with syntactic peculiarities typical of a Semitic language are used. Thus, for example, in Hebrew, the verb "to say" or "to speak" is often used with the preposition "toward," a construction that also appears in the gospels.

Or another example among many: to say "in the king's house", Hebrew, and sometimes Aramaic, deletes the first article and says "in the king's house", using the construct state of "house". A Greek-speaking semitic person will tend to omit the article in that case, as noted several times in the NT.

In principle, also syntax semitisms can come from the influence of the native language of evangelists; but if these syntax errors are too frequent, this explanation becomes implausible and it must be admitted that they come from a translator too faithful to the original, who wants to fit even in the smallest details a text considered sacred, which happens both in the translators of the Septuagint, as well as the authors / translators of the NT.98

Style Semitisms

Semitic prose is designed to be read aloud. It often includes the repetition of words, either to emphasize, or as an aid to memorization. That semitic prose resembles a kind of poetry.

Repetitiona are also common in the gospels, where we see phrases such as: "A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed ... '' (Lk 8:5); "With desire I have wished ... '' (Lk 22:15); "They rejoiced with great joy'' (Mt 2:10).

Repetition is important in Hebrew poetry, where the most important feature is parallelism. The poetry in the gospels also exhibits parallelism. Greek poetry has very precise laws, which require a strict order of the long or short syllables that form a verse. In contrast, in Hebrew poetry there is freedom over the number and type of syllables and the poetic unity is not the verse but the stanza. Hebrew poetry rhymes thought (parallelism), not the sonority of the last syllable of verse (as in Greek or other languages). The poems that appear in the Gospels (the Benedictus, the Magnificat, the Lord's Prayer, the Prologue of John, the Priestly Prayer of Jn 17) do not respect the rules of Greek poetry, but the rules of Hebrew poetry.

There are many studies on the Semitic poetic style of the AT so that if one makes a retroversion of the texts of the gospels in their Greek originals into Aramaic or Hebrew, one observes in the resulting translations a deep identity in the poetic technique that was used in the OT.99

It seems evident that Jesus used rhythmic procedures typical of rabbis, which were intended to fix the discourses in memory. These rhythms were preserved by the first Christian reciters and preserved until the very moment they were put in writing. In Mark's common source they seem to have been lost, but Matthew often tries to reproduce the same way of speaking of Jesus. It is not definitive proof, but one cause of this phenomenon may be the fact that the original was Semitic.100

There is another phenomenon of style, typically Hebrew, that can provide a very powerful argument to the existence of that Semitic original. In Hebrew, you usually start a book, chapter or development with a waw (e.g.: וָיּהִי, wayyehi, "and it happened", or "and became"), and then place a time supplement that is usually an infinitive introduced by the preposition -ב, "in" (example: "in the thinking of ..."); then the sentence continues with another verb, usually preceded by "and". This construction appears 292 times in the AT and in the Septuagint it was translated by καὶ εγενετο ἐν τό... ("and became..." ), then expresses the tense complement with an infinitive followed by its subject and its complements, it continues with a καὶ ("and") followed by another indicative verb. The result is strange in Greek: "and it became his doing (this or that) and (such a person) says...". This strange twist is never found in nt books that are known to have been written in Greek such as the second part of Acts, the epistles and the Revelation, but it appears twice in Mark, six times in Matthew and thirty-two times in Luke. If this were an influence of the Septuagint, it would not be explained that it only affected the synoptic gospels.

A writer who writes in Greek would not use this complicated expression. It only seems to be explained by a translation from Hebrew, not even from Aramaic, because this twist does not exist in that language, which would also explain why this twist does not appear in the gospel according to St. John. However, since this twist appears in the Septuagint, there would be some possibility that it was an imitation of it.

Compositional semitisms

In the gospels it is well known the fact of the existence of dark passages and difficult to understand. A very reasonable justification for this fact may be that the meanings of many of these passages that might exist in a Semitic version are lost or obscured when translated into Greek.

There are procedures for composing texts of the gospels that can only be explained by means of an original Semitic text. For example, let us look at the case of the Benedictus (Lk 1, 68-79), poetry composed of three stanzas, each of which has seven verses.

In Hebrew, the first three verses of the second stanza begin with verbs whose roots allude to the names of the three protagonists: John, Zechariah and Elizabeth. This triple evocation can only make sense if the text is in Hebrew. Let's see why. The first begins with the biblical, typical Qumran form: "Blessed (be) the Lord the God of Israel." The third begins, as often in Qumran, with a personal pronoun: "and to you, child...". The second begins:101 "To realize the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember their holy covenant; the oath he made to our father Abraham."

In Hebrew, the word for "performing mercy" is ḥânan, the root of the name Yô ḥânân (John); the word for "remember" is zâkar, the root of thename Zakaryâh; and the word for"swear" is shâba, the root of thename Elîshâba ҅at (Elizabeth). Here, an allusion to Zechariah and his wife and son is present in Hebrew but is lost in translation into Greek or modern languages. This composition would not be easily possible from Aramaic, since in this case the equivalent of zâkar would be dekar, but from Hebrew the Semitic pattern is very clear.

There are also a number of other places in the gospels where pun or assonance would be present in a Hebrew version. So, for example, Mk 3:14-15, where Jesus chooses twelve disciples.

" that they may be with him, and that he may send them to preach, and have power to cure diseases, and to cast out demons''.

In a Hebrew version of this passage, the word for "to send" would be shalah, the word for "to have power" would be shalat, and the word for "to expel" would be shalak. The fact that these Hebrew verbs are so similar may be a coincidence, but it is also possible that in an early Hebrew version of Mark, the verbs were chosen for their assonance following a style characteristic of Hebrew writings. There are about thirty examples of compositional Semitisms in the Synoptic Gospels, which makes it unlikely that these patterns are a coincidence. Translations into Greek or other languages do not preserve such compositions.102

Transmission Semitisms

In some parallel passages, synoptics use different Greek words whose Hebrew counterparts are very similar. In cases where one of the Greek words seems more likely than the other, it is tempting to speculate that the discrepancy may have resulted from a slight transcription error in an original Hebrew source. This phenomenon we have already analyzed previously in the translations of the Septuagint so it is a common translation technique throughout the time of the Second Temple.

For example, in Mt 3,11 John the Baptist says that "he is not worthy to wear the shoes of the one who will follow him", while in Mk 1:7 and Lk 3:16 he states that "it is not worthy to unbutton them..." It turns out that the Hebrew words for "unfasten'' and "carry" are very similar: lâshélét and lâs'ét, respectively, the latter being less reasonable or natural. This shows a certain permeability in the translators, who seemed to assume possible inconsistencies in the Hebrew/Aramaic originals that were "corrected on the fly".

There are dozens of examples in the gospels of these copying errors that generate different meanings in translation. Copies of the Semitic manuscripts contained copying errors. It is known that a good copyist would commit on average a copy error every 20 lines, mainly due to the visual similarity of some letters and the absence of vowels in the text that makes the consonants go together. It is very common to mutually confuse the following pairs of letters:103 ב כ , ד ר , ה ח , ו ז , ח ת , ם ס , ן ף , ע צ , among others, especially in a handmade calligraphy. This is a well-known phenomenon, especially by Qumran scholars.

Translation Semitisms:

Finally, in the catalogue of traces of Semitic structures in Greek translations, there are set of interesting clues: some times appear, mainly in the Synoptics, two permissible Greek translations of the same Hebrew word in parallel passages. In these cases the Synoptics can present two different translations that are explained by the same original document. For example, Mk 5:29 speaks of a "source" of blood (πηγή), while Lk 8, 44 mentions a "flow" of blood (ρυσις). It turns out that the Greek words used in these two verses are also used in the Septuagint to translate two meanings of the same Hebrew word, מקור, in Lev 20,18.

Another example is Mk 4,19, which mentions "... the worries of the current time and the deception of the riches, and the greeds of the rest'', which is a little strange and Lk 8,14, replaces it with "pleasures of life". A Semitic original, Hebrew, would explain this duplicity because, the Hebrew word for "rest" is she'âr, and the Hebrew word for "flesh" is she'er, which have the same consonants pattern with different vocalization. With this second vocalization the correction of Luke is understood and in this way coincide the three concupiscences that appear in 1 Jn 2, 16.

The knowledge of the texts of Qumran, which put us in contact with the Hebrew and Aramaic sources that existed in jesus' time, with the way of writing throughout the period of the Second Temple, "allow us to recognize in the Greek of the Gospel of St. Mark, as if it were a tracing, this same language". There are experts in the writings of Qumran who express the perception that a good part of the Greek writings of the gospels were copied from the Hebrew. But obviously this perception could be false and misleading; therefore, it is necessary to verify it scientifically. The starting point is to establish it as a working hypothesis and once this is done verify its usefulness in clarifying linguistic phenomena that appear in the Greek texts of the gospels.104

Thus, as an example, this knowledge of the Hebrew texts of Qumran can shed light on disconcerting pericopes such as the one found in Mk 9:49: "... for all shall be salted with fire...". Research on the Dead Sea scrolls has uncovered the fact that the Hebrew word for "salted" can also mean "vaporized." It is possible, or rather, likely that the latter was the purpose in Mk 9:49.

To be rigorous, the existence of the first four or six categories of Semitisms described above does not in themselves prove that the Greek synoptic gospels include material translated from Semitic sources. Semitisms of this kind could also appear if the natives of a Semitic language had originally composed the gospels in Greek. However, examples in the following categories can only be either coincidences or evidence of the presence of an underlying Semitic text, probably Hebrew for some or with a strong Aramaic component for others. In any case, it does appear clear that there are too many possible examples of the latest types of Semitism to be considered mere coincidences.

Jewish Poetics in the Gospels

In the thread of the semitisms that Carmignac calls Style Semitisms arises a differentiating element that goes beyond lexical, grammatical, orthographic or semantic considerations, and it is the fact that in many parts of the gospels expressive structures appear that preserve the rules of Jewish Poetics so that they allow us to know that a certain text that appears to us in Greek , is, with a very high probability, a text translated from Hebrew or Aramaic. Obviously, the initial expressive force is lost, but a clear imprint remains.

An example can explain it, bridging the gap: if, in many years' time, a researcher finds a text from a widespread "old" language (English) that says "... from lost to the river...", he will be perplexed and give multiple interpretations, not always coherent, on the mysterious meaning of the phrase; but perhaps, another researcher who is also studying texts in another language also very widespread (Spanish), will have read in some books the phrase "... of lost to the river..." and will suddenly understand the meaning of the text.

But, in addition, you will know for sure in which language the original was written whose translation seemed so mysterious. The example is not very poetic, but this is what would also happen with literary figures, made-up phrases and poetic constructions, which are translated by someone who, although he knows the language of origin and destination, most likely does not have a good ability to adapt poetic resources.

The Hebrew people have always preserved, especially in the past, the custom of orally reciting Sacred Scripture and have kept alive and awakened the sensitivity to hear and appreciate the phonic, sound quality of the poetic language that underlies the sacred texts. It is a special cultivation of emotions (symbolism), which attaches great importance to the sound qualities of the texts. Biblical poetry, whether written or not, was intended for oral recitation, in public, and was cultivated in a tradition of great poets. Reading quietly is a rather late invention; in Hebrew, "to read" is said קָרָא , which means, ordinarly, "to call, to cry out." It is curious that the Jews still today call Sacred Scripture מִקְרָא ("reading aloud"). He who is trained in listening to the recited poetry can later read quietly, listening in his fantasy to the sound effects as a conductor hears a score reading it. However, the text is often seen and not heard. The text written in Hebrew, and also in Aramaic, of Holy Scripture and the preachings of Jewish teachers was made to be "heard."105

The Semitic substrate of the NT would also have that same characteristic, and its structures can be detected even in the Greek translation that was developed. The Greek translation of nt, as it happened in the Septuagint is characterized by a marked tendency to literality, as we have seen in the section dedicated to the Septuagint in this work.

A language develops its phonic style procedures with the closed repertoire of its phonemes: by combination, distribution and relationship with meaning. Phonemes can highlight certain differentiating features. The main resources are alliteration, assonance, rhyme, sequences, dominant sound, etc. Functions can be primary—onomatopoeia, sound metaphor, paronomasia, euphony—or subordinated to other effects, such as rhythm, antithesis, satire, etc.

It seems that the Hebrews catered more to consonants than to vowels for these procedures and sound effects. The expression binaría or Hebrew106 gemination is very abundant, for example in Is 5, 6, וָשָׁ֑יִת שָׁמִ֖יר (transliterated, samir wasayit), which can be translated as " brambles and barges ". This type of gemination consists of strikingly repeating some phonic elements, which occurs in other languages (e.g. "gold and moor"), although not as intensely as in Hebrew. An experience is divided into two pieces, seeking intensity or extension; afterwards, the two pieces merge in sonic homogeneity ("brambles and barges" is more expressive than "brambles and thistles").

Less striking and more refined is the procedure of articulating a poem with words of similar sound (assonance). This is the case of Is 5,7 where sound can confer lapidary sonority to an antithesis:

ו ַיְקַ֤ו לְמִשְׁפָּט֙ -- wayeqaw lemispat

וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִשְׂפָּ֔ח -- ioehinnéh mispáh

לִצְדָקָ֖ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה צְעָקָֽה -- litzedaqah wehinnéh tzeaqd107

He waited straight, and there you have: murders;

(waited) justice, and there you have: regrets.

Words are used to ensure the loudness of the tonic open final syllables with the vowel qames. This expressive force is lost in the Septuagint, but the same words are maintained when translating into Greek, which, although it still makes sense, is written in a certain forced way that constitutes a "trace" of the original from which it is translated.108

There are numerous poetic resources used in Hebrew Sacred Scripture to revise them all. What is relevant is that these structures are literally translated into the gospels as well. We have already seen some of these occurrences as is the case of Mk 3, 14-15, where Jesus chooses twelve disciples...109

" that they may be with him, and that he may send them (shalah) to preach,

and have power (shalat) to cure diseases,

and to cast out (shalak) demons ''.

It is likely that in a Hebrew version of Mark, verbs were chosen for their assonance in order to give greater expressive force to verses, as in Isa 5,7. But the important fact is that it is not a few such cases that are detected, but they occur very frequently, especially in the gospel according to Matthew. These are small passages of text but scattered throughout all the synoptic gospels, in a way completely similar to the writing style of quite a few of the books of the OT. Let's cite some of the numerous occurrences using the transliteration of Hebrew letters to better represent phonetics:110

Mk 1,13, the evangelist briefly summarizes the temptation and the stay in the wilderness, but specifies: "... Jesus was with the beasts..." which indicates with high probability the beautiful pun in Hebrew "... wehâyâh im hahayyâh..."

Mt 3,9 and Lk 3,8, jesus says "... I tell you that God is capable of drawing children of Abraham from these stones" which uses a resource of typical Hebrew assonance saying stones='Abânîm and children=banîm. In Aramaic it would be 'abnayya' and benayyâ' respectively.

Lk 1,46-47, the Magnificat, shows an invisible asonántico resource in Greek or Spanish: "My soul exalts the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" which reflects what was quite likely said or written in Hebrew: tagdél (exalts) and wetâgél (exulta, rejoices, as in Sal 96,11, וְתָגֵ֣ל ), for it is a pun existing in Hebrew. However, the Greek translator seems to have mistakenly read wattâgel, breaking the symmetry. In fact, Delitzsch's back-translation translates the Greek 111 καὶ ἠγαλλίασεν (an aorist, rejoiced) by wattâgel וַתָּגֶל which in Hebrew is a perfect (roughly equivalent to a past in Spanish).

Mk 2:6 says that the scribes sit down and reflect yôshebîm weḥôshebîm. It has already been said that Jesus, as prophets and teachers used these resources to engrave in the minds of the listeners that they should remember in memory and then recited (and transcribed in the case of the gospels)

Mk 3,10 says that those who seek to touch (nâga') Jesus are, not the sick who would be the most immediate if it were written in Greek directly, but those who have sores (nèga') which makes all the sense if it was written in Hebrew.

Mk 4,6 and Mt 13,6, "... but as soon as the sun cameout, it burned and for lack of root it dried up...". The mention of the sun is in no way necessary , and, in fact, Lk 8:6 suppresses it), but the word "sun" (shèmèsh) is phonetically related to the Hebrew word for "root" (shôrèsh).

Mk 6,38 says that "Jesus said to them (lâhèm) how many loaves (Ièḥèm) do you (Iâkèm) have? Let's go... (lekou)". Said by Jesus or recited by his disciples, that repetition of the unstressed syllables gave them as a certain characteristic musicality.

Mk 9,18, the possessed spit (weyâraq) and grinds his teeth (wehâraq). In Mk 10,34 Jesus predicts that he will be mocked (wesâhaqû bô) and spit on him (weyâreqû bô).

There are quite a few more examples of this kind which have been catalogued by some experts and which could be studied in depth. In this regard, if one examines the back-translations of the gospels from their Greek to Hebrew source, in general the words that would fit from the point of view of Hebrew or Aramaic poetics do not appear, because the lexicon (expressions, vocabulary) they use is drawn from much more modern sources of the AT (the Tanakh) than the texts of the Second Temple period which was the lexicon that would be handled by the possible editors of a Semitic original. To make a back-translation closer to the original, appropriate lexicography should be used, using material from biblical texts from the Second Temple era, including Qumran and other sources from the Judean Desert.112

Theories on the chronology of the elaboration of the Synoptic Gospels

There is an important debate and numerous theories about the origin of synoptics, but we can test ourself to establish the hypothesis of an initial gospel written in Hebrew or Aramaic (or both) and to see how a roadmap can be made taking that hypothesis into account. If so, this could well have happened before 40 CE. and it could well be Peter or his disciples, although knowing the identity of the writer(s) is not a very relevant matter. Matthew would have had this text available among his sources when he composed his own Hebrew gospel. Later, in the early 60s CE., Mark translated the gospel of Peter into Greek and made some brief additions (e.g., Mk 1, 1-15) to produce the gospel of Mark.113

By placing Peter's Hebrew "protoevangelio" before the other gospel accounts, this model is consistent with modern scholarship that affirms marcan priority. On the other hand, he also agrees with the Christian tradition by interpreting patristic statements about Matthew preceding Mark as references to Mark's final Greek text. Such an interpretation is very reasonable, as the early writings of Papias and Irenaeus describe Mark as Peter's "interpreter" or "translator.

There are some variants of this roadmap by other authors who share the use of the hypothesized of the semitic original, but in a different sense when considering Luke as the initial element. But the debate of primacy within the synoptic gospels is quite complex and must actually be somewhat decoupled from the analysis of the Semitic substrate of the NT books. What does seem a clear working hypothesis is to consider that, regardless of the exact chronology, there were one or more Vorlage written in Hebrew, Aramaic or Aramaic-Hebrew diglossia.114

There are experts who support each of these options, but there is an accumulation of evidence on the option of a diglossia of Hebrew and Aramaic in light of research on texts found in Qumran. A situation in which there was a rather "sacred" usage in Hebrew and a rather "secular" usage in Aramaic, even in Jesus himself.115

Which semitic substrate: Hebrew or Aramaic?

One usually speaks of semitic substrate of NT or biblical Greek in general, without distinguishing that there could be various different semitic interferences, at least Hebrew and Aramaic. However, it would be logical to think that the interference that one or the other can cause is different and should be considered specifically.

Since the late nineteenth century, most scholars who have dealt with these questions have maintained that Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic. The two most important arguments for the consideration of Aramaic over Hebrew have been, first, the fact that there are words contained in the Gospels (talitha qumi, etc.) that are Aramaic and not Hebrew; secondly, the idea that Hebrew had become extinct as a language spoken among Jews long before the time of Jesus: in everyday life, Jews spoke Aramaic, while Hebrew had become a dead language (something like Latin in Europe in the Middle Ages).

However, it is likely that Hebrew was studied in schools with rabbis, as it was necessary to know it to read scripture. In fact, Hebrew was spoken in the rabbinical schools after the destruction; the Mishnah is written in Hebrew. It is difficult for this to have happened if hebrew was not alive in some way. It was a language that was not dead at all, but had a wide use especially in the liturgy and in the school.

The "Aramaic approach" of the Gospels has thus had considerable support, as many passages in the gospels have been explained from the use of Aramaic to some extent. In some works such as that of Matthew Black, the idea that some of Jesus' words may have been spoken in Hebrew, not Aramaic, and thus recorded in a possible Semitic version prior to the Greek originals is downplayed. There are many studies that go in the same direction.116 117

However, more recent research has emerged to support the idea that Hebrew was widely used in Jesus' time and that fact may have been reflected in some way in the gospels. This line of research argues that Hebrew did not become extinct as a living language until the second century CE., so that, in Jesus' time, Hebrew was actively spoken and written, along with Aramaic, by many Palestinian Jews. The theory that Hebrew was, in this period, a dead language with a use restricted to liturgy and Torah study, would therefore not be accurate.

If the Qumran texts and rabbinic literature are formulated primarily in Hebrew, this is not because the writers wanted to imitate the Bible, but because Hebrew was their mother tongue, even if it was shared with Aramaic. It is true that there were Aramaic translations of the Torah and some other books, in the Targumin more or less between the s. I BCE and the s. I CE. But the raison d'être of the Targum was not to make the Bible accessible to the masses who had forgotten its Hebrew but rather to expedite commentaries on Sacred Scripture.

The Targum was not read in synagogues in Jesus' time. Rather, it was used as a tool in Jewish schools and the Synagogue, so that biblical Hebrew would have become a language that needed to be learned for a socially and religiously integrated life in the Israel of that time. But it is also the case that post-biblical Hebrew dialects were widely spoken and, although the precise relationship between Hebrew and Aramaic is unclear, it would be correct to state that Israel was a bilingual or better trilingual country due to the widespread use of Greek.118

It is credible then to claim that Jesus could speak in both Hebrew and Aramaic. If we take a look at the Semitic words that appear in the Gospels, we see that there are words like "talitha qumi" and "lama sabachthani" that are Aramaic, but there are also those that could be Hebrew, such as "korban", "rabbi", "abba", etc; and a few words, such as "hosanna" and "amen," which are Hebrew exclusively and not Aramaic.

It is clear that Jesus had to speak in Aramaic with the Syrophenic woman or with the Samaritan woman, but it is also certain that when debating with the Pharisees and scribes about the Law he could do so only in Hebrew, for that was the accepted religious norm.119

One might ask how important it may be to take into account this distinction between Hebrew and Aramaic, since both languages have a good deal of common vocabulary and grammar. But the fact is that they are not the same and are distinguished by non-trivial nuances. A paradigmatic example is the last request of the Lord's Prayer (Mt 6,13; Lk 11,4) which says: "deliver us from evil" or "deliver us from the evil one". What we read in Greek in Mt 6,13, ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ, is ambiguous since the genitive "τοῦ πονηροῦ" can be either neutral, meaning "of the evil, of something bad", or masculine, meaning "of the evil, of the devil". Many exegetes have looked for a solution in Semitic texts that may be subjugating. Well, in Hebrew, the expression הרע ,hara', "the/the bad", never refers to evil people or spirits, while in Aramaic the equivalent expression, בִּאישׁ,bi'sha, "the bad", is used for both humans and Satan.

In the very ancient editions of NT in Syriac (an Aramaic dialect) it is common to call the devil "the bad guy" (bi'sha); thus the verse "fire prepared for the Devil and his angels" (Mt 25,41) is expressed in Syriac as "fire prepared for the Evil and his angels." Therefore, if the end of the Lord's Prayer was expressed and written in Aramaic, the nuance would be "ldeliver us of the Evil (One)," while if it was in Hebrew it would be "deliver us of evil (evilness)"120. To this day there is no unanimity.

In search of the Semitic original of the gospels

To find the original language of Jesus it has been suggested by numerous scholars to back-translate the gospels from Greek to Hebrew and Aramaic. The one that provides a better understanding of the Greek that appears in the gospels is more likely to be the original language. It is true that numerous back-translations have been made from the Gospels in Greek to Aramaic or Hebrew, but not for the purpose of studying a possible Semitic original.121

Several authors detect in these translations, which usually appear simple to perform as we have already mentioned above, which allow to clarify dark meanings in the Greek text.122

This type of evidence is difficult to use because it has some subjectivism, but, nevertheless, it clearly highlights a problem that cannot be ignored: that Greek does not fit as the original language of writing a good part of the NT.

The first back-translation of a gospel

Shem Tob's Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew is the oldest Hebrew translation of the Gospel according to Matthew and of any other gospel or book of the NT. It was written no later than the second half of the fourteenth century. It is embedded in a controversial anti-Christian book, entitled Even Bohan"The Touchstone" or "Proven Stone", which was probably written in Hebrew by the Sephardic rabbi Shem-Tob ben Isaac Ibn Shaprut. This treatise attacks the Christian concept of messianism and divinity of Jesus, as is logical in a Jew, and uses for his polemic a source that allowed him to know with solvency the Christian position. It stands to reason that he searched among the oldest possible sources.

However, the Hebrew version of the gospel according to Matthew that appears in these manuscripts would not, according to some Hebraist experts, be a translation of Shem Tob, but was copied from an earlier rather ancient text, as evidenced by a comparison of various versions with texts from the fourth century and earlier. For this reason, the idea immediately arises that this gospel according to Matthew in Hebrew by Shem Tob could derive directly from the original version of the first centuries of Christianity; suggestive idea, but one that is not scientifically verified to this day.123 124

This version contains the term השם, Ha-Shem ("The Name"), once in its entirety, and 19 times in the abbreviated form ה״, where the Gospel of Matthew in Greek has either Κύριος or Θεός ("The Lord God"), but not in all the places where these two words appear, which is somewhat disconcerting because it would seem to be meaningless if it were a back-translation and not an original.

To this day, several manuscripts containing the Gospel according to Matthew dated between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries and also translations have survived. This version of the gospel appears in a Jewish apologetic book against the Christian faith written to defend against religious pressure on Jews in Spain and is used as a base tool for criticism, which is why the transcription of the gospel is riddled with commentaries.125 126

The gospel text could be a retro-translation from the Vulgate, although it seems strange that effort for the purpose of the book, and, in addition, you can see elements of a Hebrew written in the s. I CE. preserved with quite a few modifications in rabbinical writings and evolved over the centuries with added elements. There is some controversy about this point in the document that will be discussed later in this paper.127

Other back-translations

There are about ninety Hebrew translations of the New Testament. About thirty concern only Acts, the Epistles or revelation and about sixty are from the Gospels, in whole or in part. Not to mention the multiple quotations from the Gospels in medieval treatises of controversy between Jews and Christians, of which quite a few are written in Hebrew, of which we have seen an example. All this in the period from s. XIV to s. XX. Some were composed of Jews and many others by Christians. The present state of all this documentation allows to undertake a serious work of how the original Semitic of many texts of the NT could be. The most thorough translation is that of Delitzsch, who for 52 years organized the collaboration of an extensive group of exegetes and translators.128

When translators, for the most part, agree on a point, it can be regarded as solidly established. When they diverge, as is so often the case, one can at least be expected to be right and careful examination will allow one to appreciate the value of each suggestion. Thus, it can gradually approach the original texts of the Gospels. The problem with this procedure is that the number of translations available is very short, as most of them have not been found. The greater the number of translations available, the more reliable the analysis would be.

After the discovery of the Qumran manuscripts, carmignac's approach stands out, which translates into Hebrew Greek texts of the gospels in the light of the Hebrew of the Qumran manuscripts and notes a certain naturalness and ease in translation, as if the Greek had been previously translated from Hebrew while maintaining the same linguistic structures. In 1961-1963, in collaboration with other experts, he published in two volumes the texts of Qumran, translated from Hebrew into French with commentaries. In the process of translating the texts, it was found that there were many relationships between the texts of Qumran and the NT, so he began an unfinished project of commentary on the New Testament in the light of the Dead Sea documents.129

The methodology of this project begins with the reverse translation of the gospels, starting with that of Mark. It was tried to translate it from the supposed Greek original into Qumran Hebrew (the Hebrew of Jesus' time, a little different from biblical Hebrew and quite different from the Hebrew of mishnah or TM) in order to facilitate comparison with the aforementioned documents. It was expected that such a translation would be very difficult, but it turned out quite the opposite because it appears as a carbon copy of a Hebrew text of Qumran that a translator had carried out his work with extreme fidelity and simplicity, translating from Hebrew into Greek word by word, and even preserving in Greek the word order required by Hebrew grammar. , in the style of Qumrán .

Not even a Semitic who had learned Greek very late would have suffered such a great attachment to his mother tongue. At least from time to time, some freedom would have been taken, using a standard formula in Greek, but it does not happen once. The Gospel of Mark is the work of a translator who respected to the fullest (tracing) a Hebrew text before him, with, perhaps, some embedding in Aramaic.

To avoid errors in his translation of the Gospels into Hebrew, Carmignac decided to compare his own translation with previous translations, which we have already cited. His background search yielded great results and from this comparative study emerges a categorization of various Semitic patterns underlying the Greek of NT. However, the existence of this substrate revealed by these Semitic patterns is far from being unanimously accepted, with many critical currents.

Rabbinic Translations

What are known as rabbinical translations are a set of versions of the Gospel of Matthew that are written by rabbis in the Hebrew language and that had various purposes, usually associated with polemicizing with Christian environments over several centuries, especially in the Middle Ages. The Hebrew versions of the Gospel of Matthew have been known and used by New Testament scholars for centuries. The most relevant Rabbinic Translations are three: Matthew of Shem-Tob, The Matthew of Sebastian Münster (1537 CE) known as "Old Hebrew Matthew" and the Matthew of Jean Du Tillet (1555 CE) similar to that of Münster.

However, in addition to these three, at least four other (mostly fragmentary) Hebrew Matthews are known: (1) the Book of Nestor, (2) the Milhamot HaShem, (3) the Sepher Joseph Hamekane, and (4) the Nizzahon Vetus.

A clear distinction must be made between these rabbinical versions and what is called the Gospel of the Hebrews, which was one or more works found in the early Church, and which survived only as fragmentary quotations in the Greek and Latin texts of the NT.

Some scholars consider all rabbinical versions as translations from the canonical version of Matthew into Greek or Latin, always for the purpose of making a Jewish apologetics against Christianity; although a reasonable reflection on this would make us wonder if there was any use in making a Hebrew version for an apologetic critique against Christianity. On the one hand, Hebrew is always used as a sacred language, which does not seem compatible with transcribing to it writings from a sect that in that environment was a heretical sect. The gospels are thus attributed a level of equals with respect to the Bible of the Jews that does not seem to be consistent with the content of the criticism made of them. On the other hand, it seems likely that the recipients of apologetic writings found it relatively easy to access the canonical sources that existed.

Therefore, the conclusion that they are simply back-translations is unclear. Other scholars have provided linguistic and historical evidence about Shem Tov's Matthew that would indicate that he used, at least in part, a Hebrew text from the first century CE, before it was translated into Greek, thus connecting with the theories that have been analyzed in this same work that start from Papias, he wrote around the year 100 that, "Matthew composed his story in the Hebrew language, and everyone translated it as he could".130

The Hebrew Gospel of Matthew on The Touchstone

In a medieval rabbinical commentary of the second half of the fourteenth century written by Shem Tob ben Yitzjak Ibn Shaprut called Even Bohan (Touchstone), of controversial tone against Christianity, is included in its twelfth chapter a gospel of Matthew in which the entire text appears in Hebrew. The goal is to use this gospel to refute as incongruities or falsehoods what is contained in it. Much has been conjectured about its origin, varying interpretations between a biased translation of the Vulgate and an original copy adapted in Hebrew that circulated in Diaspora Jewish circles in Europe.

The gospel text is divided into 116 sections, possibly reflecting the vorlage division of translation. Among the pericopes are added 58 controversial comments, expressing questions and critical points on various topics, mainly on the figure of Jesus, on his relationship with the Torah and on his divinity. In the Middle Ages this debate between Jews and Christians was very virulent.131 132

The evangelical text differs from the canonical text in some places, which gave rise to some doubts about the origin of such differences, given the Jewish apologetic origin against Christianity. It is an available version of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, regardless of its origin and motivation. We have already seen back-translations of the gospels from Greek to Hebrew by Christian scholars in later centuries in order to explore the Semitic substrate of texts (Delitzsch, Carmignac, etc.); in this case it is attributed, falsely or not, a remote origin close to apostolic times. The truth is that if shem Tov's Matthew and Deitzsch's back-translation, for example, are placed in two columns, the differences are great.133

In relation to the Hebrew gospel of Shem Tov, some Christian scholars were interested in the textual origins of this Gospel of Matthew, not so much by this particular text but by the possibility that it was based on an original version in Hebrew that circulated in Jewish environments, since there are versions of this type since the ninth century CE. Questions arise such as why such a copy was not known to the Christian environments of the first centuries or why these materials appear from the s. IX CE. and not before. Some scholars have conjectured that the provenance of this text of Matthew predates the medieval period, perhaps it may even have been related to the various lost gospels written in Hebrew mentioned by Papiah, Origen, Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Jerome, described earlier in this text. Other experts, however, have identified the text as medieval although they recognize the intrinsic value of this source. A few years ago, a tense debate was established between the two groups. The latter group has argued that this Hebrew gospel is, in fact, a medieval translation, possibly related to Tacian's 134 135 136 Diatesaron, but there is no clear conclusion. The most out of doubt is that the text is not a translation by Rabbi Shem Tob, but an incorporation of a copy that existed in the European Jewish environment and that was incorporated into the Even Bohan to be used as a reference in the argumentation.137

Unfortunately, Shem Tob's commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew are not yet available as a critical text and various manuscripts are used directly, as several are preserved in good condition.

It is important to note here that Shem Tob, although he perceives the reading of Christian texts as a danger, includes a complete text of the gospel in his apologetic-polemical work, which would be unnecessary if the gospel was already available in Hebrew through the proselytizing activity of friars and converts. Whatever the case, the existence of the Gospel of Matthew by Du Tillet and presumably also by Vorlage of Münster, in Hebrew, suggests that there was an interest in spreading the content of the gospel within the Jewish community. Therefore, it is not implausible that there could have been translations of which the Hebrew Matthew of Shem Tov could be an example. Either way, Shem Tov chose to include the Gospel of Matthew in Even Bohan.

However, there are experts who consider the Hebrew text of the Gospel of Matthew as a copy close to an original written in the early centuries of the Christian Era. For example, the distinctive Semitic grammatical construction known as waw-consecutivum ("and" + the perfect [or imperfect] tense of a verb) that appears widely (e.g. Mt 2,11) in the Hebrew Matthew of Shem-Tob is considered to indicate that it was composed in the early Christian era, as waw-consecutivum is considered to have ceased to be used after the use of biblical Hebrew declined following the destruction of the Temple. , which occurred in the early Christian era. However, it can be argued that it may well be an "imitation" of the ancient style made centuries later, something that is known to occur in many texts.138

There is strong criticism of the theory that Shem Tob includes a Hebrew copy of Matthew from the first century CE. and that supports in turn that this text is a medieval translation with a Latin vorlage (Vulgate or Vetus Latina), a process very common in medieval translations of NT in European vernacular languages, but the Jews of Europe did not have Hebrew as their vernacular, in any case Yiddish or Ladino.139

For experts opposed to an early Hebrew original, Shem-Tob's Eben Boḥan is clearly a late medieval work. The manuscripts of which Howard produced his edition date from "between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries CE". The Hebrew Matthew in the Eben Bohan140 is, however, older than Shem-Tob: this is demonstrated, among other features, by his occasional critical comments on translation. There is evidence, both internal and external (in the form of another Semitic language translation made in Spain during this period), to suggest that the original translator/compiler of the Hebrew Matthew contained in the Even Bohan was a Christian who knew Hebrew according to Petersen. These experts consider that there is empirical and textual evidence that141 waw-consecutivum was used long after the decline of Biblical Hebrew.

Codex Vatican 32 is a translation of the Gospels into Hebrew of the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, by Dominic of Jerusalem. Although raised jewish, Dominic eventually converted to Christianity. Familiar, like anyone fluent in Hebrew, with biblical style, the translation would use the waw-consecutivum where a similar construction or sequence (conjunction + simple verb) is missing in Greek. Dominic's translation, then, is empirical proof that the use of waw-consecutivum in Hebrew did not end in Christian Antiquity when Biblical Hebrew was replaced by Mishnahic Hebrew, but continued to be used, especially when translating biblical texts, such as the gospels, even in the modern period.

Attending to the question of the arrangement of the text, or rather, of its sequence, where the use of the waw-consecutivum construction is especially relevant, it should be noted that142 Greek hypotaxis, with its many participles, was unpopular in the vernacular translations of the gospel made in the West during the medieval period. Instead of imitating the complex Greek grammatical structures, vernacular translations used paratactic constructions, linked by interpolated "y". An example taken from a particular manuscript, in Middle Dutch, copied around 1280, will illustrate this argument. In the Library of the University of Liège is kept MS 437, a harmony of the Gospel known as the Harmony of Liège. It was copied around 1280 CE. and, through a Dutch archetype, dates back to a Vorlage in Latin.

The Atheist M of Shem Tob 1,24, uses a waw-consecutivum. The verse reads in the greek original: "ἐγερθεὶς δὲ Ἰωσὴφ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕπνου ἐποίησεν ὡς προσέταξεν αὐτῷ ὁ ἄγγελος " "And having been raised from the dream Joseph, he did as the angel arranged." There are two clauses; the first contains a participle ("raised"). It is subordinate to the second clause, whose verb is in the simple form of "made" (ἐποίησεν). Because of subordination, no conjunction in Greek (or Spanish) is necessary. Note that the name "Joseph" is part of the main clause.

The Dutch Liège Media Harmony in its text of Mt 1,24 says, "And when Joseph woke up he got up and did what...". Here we find three clauses, all with simple verbs, and without Greek subordination. The Greek participle ("arise") has become a simple verb; "and" has been interpolated to link verbs. Note also that the appropriate noun "Joseph" has migrated from the second clause in Greek to the first clause in Middle Dutch. Here, then, is an example of how western medieval vernacular evangelical texts dealt with Greek hypotaxis. Remember that the Vorlage of Liège Harmony is Latin.

The text of Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew says, "And Joseph awakened from his sleep, and he did so according to all." There is a similarity of the structure of shem-tob's text with the structure of liège harmony. Each has the first identical clause ("And [when] Joseph woke up), with a relocation of "Joseph" from the clause whose verb is "did" to the clause with the verb "awakened". Shem-Tob then interpolates "from his dream", while the Liège Harmony interpolates "rose". Both texts then interpolate the conjunction "and" in relation to the verb "he did it" ("and he did it").

Of course, there is no equivalent for waw-consecutivum with its "conversion" from the verb from perfect to imperfect, or vice versa, in any language other than Hebrew. But the structural similarity of the middle Dutch text and the Hebrew text at the point where the waw has been interpolated seems clear.

We know that behind this half-lost Dutch archetype lies a harmony of the Latin gospel. This is demonstrated by (1) the preface to the Harmony of Liège, which states that it was translated from Latin; (2) the numerous Latinisms in the manuscript; (3) his numerous readings of Vetus Latina and sometimes Vulgata; and (4) the practice of time and place (the average Dutch ecclesiastical literature in this period was translated from Latin).

Since Dutch literature only begins to appear around 1200 CE (at the earliest), we can be sure that the Middle Dutch archetype of the Liège Harmony was translated from Latin no earlier than 1200 CE. Later, probably around 1280 CE, although it is also possible that it is later, in 1350, a copy of this Middle Dutch archetype was made: that copy is the harmony of Liège. This argument is what allows us to hypothesize that Matthew of Shem-Tob was a translation from a Latin vorlage.143

However, we have already seen that there is another sector of experts who consider that the gospel of Matthew contained in the work of Shem Tob can be a copy, certainly with modifications and adhesions, of an original written in Hebrew that was generated in the s. I CE. or shortly after, and which circulated in the Jewish and Christian communities, undergoing successive modifications.144

For these experts, the Hebrew Matthew of Shem-Tob belongs to a process of textual evolution within a Jewish Hebrew environment that began in times before the sixteenth century in which it was written, which sinks its roots in a source that possibly originated in the beginnings of the early Church and culminated in the document du Tillet in the XVI century , or possibly later if other forms of texts related in some way to the Hebrew Matthew are taken into account. The texts that come into play in this analysis are the aforementioned polemical Hebrew writings of the Book of Nestor (dating perhaps from between the sixth and ninth centuries), the Milhamot HaShem of Jacob ben Reuben (1170), Sepher Joseph Hamekane of Rabbi Joseph ben Nathan (thirteenth century), the Nizzahon Vetus (thirteenth century), and the Hebrew versions of Matthew published by Sebastian Münster.145

The similarity of Matthew's text of Shem-Tob to Matthew's quotations in early Hebrew works shows that shem-Tob's text preserves an already existing Matean Hebrew tradition that had been in the process of evolution for an unknown period of time.

The Hebrew text of Matthew of Shem-Tob would have been the subject of extensive revision throughout its transmission history that would include an alteration designed to align Hebrew with medieval Greek and Latin texts, as well as for the inclusion of various foreign materials in the narrative.

The text of this alleged gospel of Matthew in chapter XII of Shem-Tob is characterized by literary devices such as puns, word connections, and alliterations. These literary resources are numerous, even some parts of the text are virtually saturated with them, and belong to the very structure of Hebrew. Its origin cannot be explained by the medieval Hebrew styling of the Dutch Harmony of Liège, as Petersen argues to explain the consecutive waw that also abounds in shem-tob's text. Some characteristic samples determining of the many cataloged, would be the following: puns (retruécanos), connections of words and alliterations.146

Puns, Word Games

Similar to the analysis of the canonical text of the gospels in search of the Semitic substrate by experts that we have previously analyzed in this work, the text of the gospel that appears in the Even Bohan has been analyzed in search of literary resources that are marks of an original Hebrew text.

Howard describes numerous asssonances really similar to those found in style Semitisms in Carmignac's analysis of the Hebrew substrate of the canonical gospels. Let's look at some examples:147 148

Mt 7,6: "Do not throw your pearls in front of the pigs, let them not be trampled underfoot and turn to attack you." "Pig" (חֲזִיר ) and "returns" (לַחֲזוֹר) are similar in Hebrew, both in sound and appearance, and form a play on words in the text.

Mt 16.18: Instead of the Greek pun, Πε / τρος / Πε / τρα, rather trivial (Peter-Stone), the Hebrew says: "You are a stone, and on you I will build my house of prayer." The pun consists of the word אֶבֶן "stone" (sounds eben) and אני אבנה "I will build" (sounds ebenah); with a semantic game more natural and coherent with the rest of the Gospel.

Mt 23,27-28: "For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly seem beautiful, but inside they are full of bones of dead men and all filth. So also outwardly you seem fair to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." The pun involves the root קֶבֶר "tomb" and קֶרֶב "center, interior, inside". The pun in Hebrew makes a lot of sense and is written with the well-known recourse to the assonance of Hebrew, very difficult to reflect in a translation from Latin or Greek.

Word connections

Word connections are links made by the repetition of the same or similar words designed to join separate phrases, sayings, or pericopes. Let's look at some examples:

Mt 4,21-23:

"He turned away from there and saw two others, James and John, brothers, who were sons of Zebedeel (meaning זבד (zabad), "to give", plus אֱל "God"). . .

Then Jesus went for the land of Galilee teaching in his assemblies and preaching to them the good gift (זבד, zabad) ... of the kingdom of Heaven." Zebedee comes from the verb זבד (zabad), to give, and אֱל (the), the abridged version of God's name, and both words possibly mean "gifts or gift of God."

The repetition of the "gift" (זבד ) a little later links the periscope of the disciples' call to the periscope of Jesus' first preaching journey in Galilee. It is also interesting, because if it had been translated by Shem-Tob from Greek or Latin into Hebrew as the detractors of this source claim, it would surely have been translated as "zabadiah", from the verb זבד (zabad), to give, and יה (yah), the abridged version of God's name.

Mt 5,9-10:

"Blessed are those who seek (רודפי - pursue) peace ... Blessed are those who are persecuted (הנ רדפ ים) for righteousness"(רדף, persecuted).

The original in the Matthew of Shem-Tob is:

[9] May peace-beers who the Sons of Elkaim read.

[10] Besie who are persecuted for their justice in the kingdom of heaven.

Two sentences are connected in which the verb "to pursue" connects two different meanings but related by the syntactic structure. Let's look at another example:

Mt 8,28-31:

"They met Him ( ויפגעו בו ) two men possessed by demons. Then the demons begged him ( ויפגעו בו ) ...".

The verb פגע means "to go out to meet", or "to join", or "to pray". With the same verb, presenting two different meanings, the Semitic author encompasses the entire scene, using a very characteristic Hebrew literary resource.

Mt 14,35-36:

"They brought all the sick ( החולים ) with various types of diseases... They implored him (חלו) to do it"

In this case חלה means "be sick" or "implore"].

Let's look at more examples:

Mt 26,28; 26,34-36:

"This is my blood of the new covenant which will be shed by many by the atonement ( ל כפרת) of sins... Jesus said, Truly I say unto you, tonight before the rooster deny me three times. Peter said to him: If it is possible for me to die with you, I will not deny you ( לא א כפור) to you . . . . Then Jesus came with them to the village ( ל כפר) of Geshemonim (Valley of oils)."

This extended connection of words is composed of the words כפרת, meaning "atonement" and כפר, which is polysemic and means "to deny" and "people", so in this pericope a connection is constructed between: (1) an atonement, (2) a denial, (3) a place where action is consummated.

A good number of many other such connections have been catalogued throughout the gospel of Matthew of Shem-Tob, demonstrating that it is not a casual procedure, but, on the contrary, it is a type of resource used systematically in the text.149


Likewise, there are also many other passages in Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew that are structured around alliteration, including paronomasia and rhymes of various kinds, which represents a poetic resource absolutely characteristic of Hebrew biblical literature. It is true that these resources may be the result of imitation, but it seems too much effort on the part of rabbis to translate a gospel into Hebrew only for the purpose of using it as a reference in their polemical writings against Christianity.

Among the numerous alliterations that can be found throughout the gospel of Matthew inserted in the Eben Bohan of Shem Tob, we have the following:

Mt 4:12: "... heard that John had been handed over to prison"

יש''ו כי נמסר יוחנן במאסר

If this text had been a translation from the Vulgate or the Greek original, the word "imprisoned" would have been used instead of "delivered" which in Hebrew is used in a somewhat forced way to search for the poetic rhyme סר סר, a very common resource because they were texts intended, not to be read, but to be , first remembered, and then recited and heard by the assembly. Alliteration favors learning in memory and its recitation.150

There are many other cases listed, such as:

Mt 4,21: ".. and saw two other brothers... "

וירא שני אחים אחרים

Mt 9:8: "The multitudes saw and feared..."

ו יראו החבורות ויראו

To rhyme "see" (ראה) with "fear" the option "ירא" is used for this verb, which surely would not be the option of a Hebrew translation. Possibly the translator would opt for פחד and yes it would be in this case the interest in rhyme in a Hebrew original written by authors accustomed to biblical poetics.

Mt 11,29: "Take my yoke on you ( עולי עולכם ). . . and know that I am meek ( ותכירו כי עני אני)."

If all these literary resources typical of Jewish biblical poetics are taken into account, we can at least contemplate as a working hypothesis to consider that in the gospel of Matthew embedded in the book of Shem Tob there are components of a remote gospel in Hebrew dating from the time of the early Church in the s. I or s. II CE, that is, a time before the date in which the style of Biblical Hebrew ceased to be used. Even in this hypothesis, it must be borne in mind that the primitive text would probably be contaminated with very numerous medieval additions and with diverse motivations.


As early as 1556 CE, Theodore of Beza, Calvin's successor in Geneva, claimed that God dictated directly to inspired writers the words to use when writing sacred texts. For centuries, this was a principle strongly established in NT scholars, so that when hypotheses of a certain Semitic substrate appeared, there was a strong rejection. Admitting the Semitisms of the NT would be tantamount to accusing the Holy Spirit of using barbarism in the Greek language.

Today this objection is ridiculous to us, because we know well that the divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture is not a word-for-word dictation, but an action of God in the intelligence and will of the hagiographer who respects his personality. But in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, even after, this objection seemed irrefutable to many, who consequently denied Semitisms or explained them by inventing a special language of the Holy Spirit, based on Greek. Thus they could affirm that in the NT the Holy Spirit used perfectly this tongue forged by Himself.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century another very critical current appears from the nascent biblical rationalism and modernism in general. To "rationally" explain the origin of Christianity, rationalists had to assume a certain time of fermentation between the life of Jesus and evangelical accounts. Thus, Baur and the Tübingen school delayed the composition of the Gospels to the second century CE. (years 130-170 CE); but the greater that delay, the more annoying the presence of semitisms and the more complex semitic patterns. Then the fashion was established either to ignore this problem, or to dismiss it by a vague recourse to the mother tongue of the evangelists or to their desire to imitate the Seventy.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, under the influence of Franz Delitzsch, the theory of a Semitic original takes its breath and semitisms and complex Semitic patterns are seriously re-studied. Although a new criticism quickly appears, this time coming from philology. The discovery in Egypt of a large number of contemporary papyri from the early Christian era allowed philologists to further study biblical Greek and explain some of the alleged Semitisms without resorting to Semitic languages. Although this study had solid scientific foundations, many philologists made an undue generalization and thus concluded that Semitisms did not exist, or were too few and without much importance.151

The discoveries of the Qumran texts and the Judean Desert give a great boost to the theory of an original Semitic of many NT texts, reaching the conclusion that the Greek of the Gospels testifies to a good knowledge of the language: the nouns are declined correctly, the verbs are conjugated correctly , the vocabulary is considerably rich, etc. This means that our Greek Gospels were not written by illiterate people with limited knowledge of Greek, but were written by people who possessed a good Greek culture and a good ability to express themselves in Greek. However, these writers did not express themselves with the independence and freedom that a writer who wrote from scratch or transcribed oral texts might have, but were somehow obliged to respect as slavishly as possible sacred documents that they could not violate.

The Synoptic Gospels would not be compositions originally made in Greek, but translations made from Hebrew and Aramaic (except for the prologue and the transitions of Luke). Therefore the true authors of Mark and Matthew would be its editors in semitic language. For Lucas, the situation is less clear, because it is not possible to know if he himself was the translator or if he resorted to the competence of some bilingual collaborator; but in this gospel numerous Semiticisms and Semitic patterns are also attested.

In any case, the writers, or most likely translators, of the Greek manuscripts of the gospels, although they are good connoisseurs of Greek, manifest serious problems in the process of translation from Hebrew or Aramaic, in a very similar way to the problems observed in the translation of the Septuagint and other texts, as Immanuel Tov and others have revealed. In this case, you have the immense advantage of knowing the text translated into Greek, on the one hand, and on the other hand, a fairly reliable source of the original Semitic text.

In the case of the gospels we only have the Greek text, because there are no Semitic originals that have reached our days, although there are historical references to the existence of such originals in some Church Fathers. Also interesting are the pretensions of certain medieval copies in Hebrew of some gospels such as that of Matthew, transcribed for apologetic purposes of medieval Judaism against Christianity, at the time when converts in Europe began to be very numerous.

There is a debate with arguments in favor that they are mere back-translations either from the Vulgate, or from the Greek texts, and arguments in favor that they are copies of a Hebrew original that circulated in the times of the Early Church and that was known to the schools of the Hebrew rabbis who transmitted them. In this second case, medieval copies would be copies with many inlays and modifications difficult to trace, but of not inconsiderable utility. The contrast of the study of the supporters of one approach and another can also be interesting to trace the possible processes of translation of a possible Semitic original.

Likewise, it is still suggestive to have a complete text in Hebrew such as that of Shem Tob, which, placed in parallel with well-known retro-translations such as That of Delitzsch, shows very great differences, which would separate this medieval copy from being considered a translation into Hebrew of the known texts. Therefore, the study of these medieval sources, so problematic in principle, may be useful if they are studied critically and thoroughly.

Also important for the Semitic study of the NT is the effort of Hebraist experts who are thoroughly familiar with the Semitic texts of the OT and the discoveries of Qumran such as Carmignac, who proposed to translate the Greek text of the gospels into a Hebrew such as that found in Qumran or other discoveries of the Judean Desert, and realized the ease of such a translation. , which would be explainable by the fact that the Greek of the gospels is a Greek that respected the morphological and syntactic structure of the hebrew original.

In any case, all the approaches analyzed in this paper are tools oriented to a main methodology, which has a solid exegetical foundation, consisting of applying the hypothesis of a Semitic vorlage to periscopes that show a certain strangeness or obscurity in the writing in Greek and its subsequent translation into modern languages. If within a periscope of this type, in Greek, we find translation solutions that can be questioned or compared with other possible solutions from Hebrew or Aramaic, and these generate a clearer and more coherent text, we can glimpse that Semitic vorlage in broad pieces of the gospels. Some of these translation solutions can be discovered by analyzing common translation errors from a Semitic language into Greek, as we have detailed in this paper. Other alternative solutions of translation to the canonical one, will have to use deeper linguistic studies.


Aejmalaeus, A., On the Trail of Septuagint translators: collected Essays (Kampen 1993)

Aejmalaeus, A., “What We talk about When We Talk about Translation Technique”, en: Taylor B.A. (Ed.), X Congress of the International Organization of Septuagint and Cognate Studies (Oslo 1998)

Aranda Pérez G., García Martínez F., Pérez Fernández M., Literatura judío intertestamentaria (Verbo Divino, Estella 1996)

Block, D.A., “New Testament Semitisms”, The Bible Translator 39, 2 (1998) 215-223

Bover, J.M., O'Callaghan, J., Trilingual New Testament (BAC, Madrid 2018)

Burrows, M., “Principles for Testing the Translation Hypothesis in the Gospels”, Journal of Biblical Literature 53 (1934) 13-30

Buth R., Notley, R.S., The language Environment of First Century in Judea (Brill Ed., Leiden 2014)

Carbajosa, I., From faith is born exegesis. Interpretation of Scripture in light of the history of Old Testament research (Biblical Studies 43; Divine verb, Estella 2011)

Carbajosa, I., "The value of syntactic analysis to discern between original Greek and Greek translation in the Bible. Status quaestionis", in: García Pérez J.M. (Ed.), Rastreando los orígenes. Language and exegesis in the New Testament. (Studia Semitica Novi Testamenti 17; Madrid 2011)

Carbajosa, I., "Review of: Natalio Fernández Marcos, Septuaginta. The Greek Bible of Jews and Christians (Library of Minor Bible Studies 12; Follow me, Salamanca 2008)", Biblical Studies 67 (2009) 329-333.

Carrón J., García- Pérez J.M. , Los supuestos relatos ficción y leyendas en los Evangelios (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2002)

Carron, J., Jesus, the manifested Messis (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2001)

Davila, J. R., “Can we tell if a greek apocryphon or pseudepigraphon has been translated from hebrew or aramaic?”, Journal for the Study of Pseudoepigrapha 15 (2005) 3-61

Fernandez Marcos, N., Some pitfalls in translation greek , Sefarad 64 (2004) 341-362

Fitzmyer, J.A., The semitic Background of the New Testament, Vol. I: Essays on the Semitic Background of the NT (Scholars press, London 1974)

Fitzmyer J.A., Harrington D.J., A manual of palestinian Aramaic texts ( 2nd Century B.C.- 2nd Century A.D. (Biblia et Orientalia 34; Biblical Institute Press, Roma 2002) (disponible en

Franco, C., Jesus Christ, his person and his work, in the letter the Hebrews (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2010)

García Pérez, J.M., San lucas: Evangelio y tradición (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2001)

García Pérez, J.M, La catequesis más consoladora de san Pablo. The luminous darkness of 1Cor 15 (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2002)

García Pérez J.M. (ed.) et al., Tracing the Origins. Language and exegesis in the NT (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2011)

García Pérez, J.M, La pasión de Jesús en los primeros escritores cristianos. Mark, Luke and Paul (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2012)

Herranz Marco, M., Traces of Aramaic in the Gospels and in early Christian catechesis (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2001)

Martin, R.A., Syntactical Evidence of Semitic Sources in Greek Documents (Wipf&Stock Publishers, Eugene, OR 1974)

Piñero, A.,. "Biblical Greek New Testament. Current panorama."Cuadernos de Filología Clásica 11 (1976) 123-198.

Tov, E., “Did the Septuagint translators always understand their Hebrew text?”, en: Petersma A., Cos C.E. (Eds.), De Septuaginta. Studies in honor of John Williams Wevers (Benben Publications, Ontario 1984) 85- 101.

Van Cangh, J.M., "Hebrew Sources of the Gospel of Mark", in: García Pérez J.M. (ed.), Tracing the Origins: Language and Exegesis in the New Testament (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2011) 120-127

Van Cangh, J.M., Toumpsin A., L'Evangile de Marc: Un original hébreu (Éditions Safran, Bruselas, 2005)


BAC Library of Christian Authors

BibOr Bliblica and Orientalia

CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly

JBL Journal of Biblical Literature

JSP Journal of Social Psycology

SSNT Studia Semitica Novi Testamenti


1 See, for example, Fitzmyer, J.A., The semitic Background of the New Testament, Vol. I: Essays on the Semitic Background of the NT, (Scholars Press, London, 1974); Martin, R.A., Syntactical Evidence of Semitic Sources in Greek Documents (Wipf & Stock, Eugene, OR 1974)); Block, D.A., “New Testament Semitisms”, The Bible Translator 39, 2 (1998) 215-223.

2 Van Cangh, J.M., Toumpsin A., The Gospel of Mark: An Original Hebrew ( saffron, Brussels 2005); Van Cangh, J.M., "Hebrew Sources of the Gospel of Mark”, in: García Pérez J.L. (ed.), Tracing the origins: language and exegesis in the New Testament (Ediciones Encuentro, Madrid 2011)120-127

3 Sáenz Piñero A., "Biblical Greek new testamentary. Current panorama", Notebooks of Classical Philology 11 (1976) 123-198.

4 Alfonseca M.,et alii, "Uso de herramientas informáticas para analizar la autoría y influencias mutuas de los libros del Nuevo Testamento griego", Estudios Bíblicos, LXX, 2 (Madrid 2012) 233-259

5 Herranz, M., Traces of Aramaic in the Gospels and in early Christian catechesis (STUDIA SEMITICA NOVI TESTAMENTI, Encuentro, Madrid 2011) 34

6 From Cangh, J.M., “Hebrew Sources of the Gospel of Mark”, 122

7 Machiela D.A., "Hebrew, Aramaic, and the Differing Phenomena of Targum and Translation in the Second Temple Period and Post-Second Temple Period”, en: Buth R., Notley R.S. (Eds.), The language Environment of First Century in Judea (Brill, Leiden 2014) 209-213

8 See for example: Dalman G., The words of Jesus ( Leipzig 1898); Becker E.M., “Historiographical Literature in the New Testament Period”, en: Holmen T., Porter S.E. (eds.), Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (Brill, Leiden 2011) 2,1787-1817; and others from this same handbook.

9 Moulton J.H., Howard W.F ., A Grammar of New Testament Greek, II (Edinburgh 1920) 16.

10 See for example, Herranz Marco M., Traces of Aramaic in the Gospels and in early Christian catechesis (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2001); Chrupcada L.D., "Luke Jew? Current research tracks", en: García Pérez J.M. (Ed.), Tracing the Origins. Language and exegesis in the NT (SSNT; Encuentro, Madrid 2011) 172-189

11 Carmignac, J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels (Desclee, Paris 1986) 12-45

12 Ibid., 11-12

13 Ibid., 12-13

14 Ibid., 13

15 Ibid., 14

16 Franco Martinez, C., "Community of Goods in the Rising Church? (Acts 2,44s; 4,32)", in: Garcia Perez J.M., (Ed.), Rastreando los orígenes -Tracing origins (Encuentro, Madrid 2011) 286

17 Ibid., 309

18 Ibid., 311

19 From the Greek, ConciseTransliterated synoptikós, literally means "to see together"

20 Eusebio, History of the Church, in: ed. Maier P.L. (Spokesperson-Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI 2010) 6, 210

21 Quoting 2 Cor 8, 18

22 Ibid., 6, 235

23 Carmignac, The Birth of the Gospels, 12-45

24 Ibid., 16

25 Ibid., 18

26 Farrer A. M., “On Dispensing With Q”, en: Nineham D.E. (ed.), Studies in the Gospels: Essays in Memory of R. H. Lightfoot (Blackwell, Oxford 1955) 55-80

27 Köster, H., Introduction to the New Testament: History and Literature of Early Christianity (Walter de Gruyte, New York 2000) 2, 207

28 Turner D.L., “Mathew”, in: Yarbrough R. W., Stein R. H. (ed.), Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament (Baker Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 2008) 15-16

29 Bloomberg C.L., An exegetical and theological exposition of the Holy Scripture XXII. Mathew (B&H Publishing, Nashville, TN 1992) 6-7

30 Köster, Introduction to the New Testament, 210

31 Jerome, Of manly illusions (Marian Apostolate, Seville 1999) III, 20-22

32 Köster, Introduction to the New Testament, 207

33 See for example: Carmignac, The Birth of the Gospels,1-35; Tresmontant C., The Hebrew Christ: language in the age of Gospels (Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago 1983) 10-25

34 Burkett, D., An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002)

35 Köster H., Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development (Trinity Press, Philadelphia, PA 1990) 284-299

36 See for example: Köster H., Introduction to the New Testament: History and Literature of Early Christianity (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2000) 207

37 Ibid., 208

38 Aland K., Aland B., The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism, (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI 1995) 99

39 Van Voorst R. E. , Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence ( Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 2000) 93

40 Reicke, B., The Roots of the Synoptics Gospels (Fortress, Philadelphia, PE 1965) 51

41 Fast U., The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings,Augsburg Fortress Pub., Minneapolis (1998)

42 Helmer C., “Schleiermacher’s exegetical theology and the New Testament”, en: Mariña J. (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Fiedrich Schleiermacher (Cambridge University Press, Cambrige 2006 235

43 Hayes, J.H., New Testament: History of Interpretation (A bingdom Press, Nasshville, TN 2005) 35-65

44 L is material not from Mark or Q

45 Edwards, J. R., The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Eerdmans Pub., Grand Rapids, MI 2009) 99

46 Although Edwards states this in his book (Ibid.), does not include it in its synoptic relations scheme.

47 The original is: Credner C.A., Contributions to the Introduction to the Biblical Scriptures (1832), but due to the difficulty of reading the Gothic German copy, an indirect reference to: Stuart M., “Inquiry respecting the Original Language of Mathews’s Gospel”, en: Peters A. (dir.), The American Biblical Repository, 12, XXXI (Gold & Newman, New York, NY 1938) 170

48 Vielhauer P ., New Testament Apocrypha, 1 ( Westminster John Knox Pub., Louisville, KY 1991) 134-178

49 Köster H., Introduction to the New Testament, 2 (Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2000) 207

50 Clement of Alexandria, Stromata in: merino M., Stromata (Fuentes Patrísticas 7,17, Ciudad Nueva, Madrid 2005) 2.9.45; 5.14.96

51 Origins, Commentary on the Gospel of John, II, 12; Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, XV, 389

52 Eusebio, History of the Church 3.25.5, 3.27.1-4, 3.39.17. 4.22.8, 3.24.6, Theophany 4.12, 5.10.3

53 Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 4; Commentary on Ephesians 3; Commentary on Ezekiel 6, in: Biblical Commentary of St. Jerome (Christianity, Madrid 1972); Jerome, De viris illustribus (Seville 1999) 2.7

54 Schneemelcher W., New Testament Apocrypha 1 (Westminster John Knox, Louisville KY 1991) 99

55 Tov E., Hebrew Bible, Greek Bible and Qumram. Collected Essays (TSAJ 121; Mohr Siebeck, Heidelberg 2008) 129

56 Tov E., Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Fortress, Minneapolis, MN 2012) 24-26

57 "MT-like", in many sources

58 Tov E., “A study in Terminology and Textual Theory, Proto-Masoretic,’ ‘Pre-Masoretic,’ ‘Semi-Masoretic,’ and ‘Masoretic’: A Study in Terminology and Textual Theory”, en: Barker J.M. et al., Found in Translation, Essays on Jewish Biblical Translation in Honor of Leonard J. Greenspoon (West Lafayette, IN 2018) 31–52

59 Ibid., 55

60 Joosten, J. “The Interplay between Hebrew and Greek in Biblical Lexicology: Language, Text, and Interpretation”, en Joosten J., Bons E., Eds., Biblical Lexicology: Hebrew and Greek vol. 443 (De Gruyter, Berlin 2015) 209-223

61 The Hebrew text used by Joostein is the TM; the vorlage of LXX proposed by other experts are pre-TM texts as we will see later.

62 The Syro-Hexapla is the Syraic translation of the Septuagint based on the fifth column of the Hexapla of Origenes. This version is important for the study of the Septuagint, because it probably includes the symbols that Origen used to mark the differences he observed between the septuagint text and the Hebrew text. Since many later copies of the Septuagint removed the symbols from Origen, the Syro-Hexapla is one of the main ways in which textual critics can identify the hexaplatic material in the Septuagint. Being a direct translation from the Greek of the Septuagint into The Syllable, it must be distinguished from the Peshitta, which is a Syraic translation directly from the Hebrew. See: Wish H.B., Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge 1914) 112

63 Muraoka T., A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (Peeters, Leuven 2009) 374

64 In this particular verse, according to the Greek Bible of Theodation of Ephesus, whose dependence on the LXX is unclear (he may have used another parallel Hebrew tradition). This Bible is referenced in the Pastor of Hermas and by Saint Justin in his Triphon. It is characterized, among other things, by a very marked tendency to the direct transliteration of Hebrew words in case of good knowledge of the translation.

65 Talshir D., “On the use of Raped in Aramaic and in Hebrew”, Meghillot 3 (2005): 205–229

66 PG71, col 656 (Graeca Patrology), in: Migne J.P (Ed.). Patrologiae Course Completus. Series Graeca. 71 cabbage 656

67 Eco U., Say almost the same thing: translation as experience (Lumen, Madrid 2017)

68 Muraoka T., A Greek-English lexicon, 345

69 Joosten, J. “The Interplay between Hebrew and Greek”, 221

70 Tov E., “Did the Septuagint Translators Always Understand Their Hebrew Text”, en: Tov E. (Ed.), The Greek and Hebrew Bible. Collected Essays on the Septuagint (Brill, Leiden 1999) 203–218.

71 Ibid., 203

72 Tov E., The Text Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research TCU (Simor, Jerusalen 1997) 16

73 Tov E., “Did the Septuagint Translators Always Understand”, 217

74 Fuente: WTT Manuscrito Leningrado, BibleWorks 9

75 Source: WTT Leningrad Manuscript, BibleWorks 9

76 Source: WTT Leningrad Manuscript, BibleWorks 9

77 Tov E., The Text Critical Use of the Septuagint, 162–171

78 Ziegler J., Studies on the Septuagint of the Book of Isaias ( Ata XII, 3, Münster 1934) 136

79 Source: WTT Leningrad Manuscript, BibleWorks 9

80 Tov E., The Text Critical Use of the Septuagint, 216

81 Tov E., The Greek and the Hebrew Bible, 217

82 TOV E., The Text Critical Use of the Septuagint,172-179

83 Allen L.C., The Greek Chronicles (Brill, Leiden 1974) 1, 120

84 Barr J., “Did the Greek Pentateuch really served as a dictionary for the translation of later books?” en: Baasten M.F.J. & van Peursen W.T. Eds., Hamlet on a Hill: Semitic and Greek Studies Presented to Professor T. Muraoka on the Occasion of His Sixty-fifth Birthday (Peeters, Leuven 2003) 13

85 Aitken J.K., The Language of the Septuagint and Jewish Greek Identity, 121

86 In syntax, the notion of a resuming pronoun refers to: (i) either a pronoun that uses a syntactic entity expressed earlier in the same sentence; or, ii) the use of a pronoun that repeats the antecedent a second time, i.e. the governance of a relative clause

87 In historical linguistics, "cognates" are those terms that have the same etymological origin, but a different phonetic evolution and often also a different semantic evolution. The similarity of cognate words often leads to mistranslations, such as that of English actually for "currently", although what it means is "really"; or policy, which seems to mean police, when in fact it means "norm". These terms are called false friends, and it would be interesting to trace them in translations of biblical texts.

88 Horrocks G., Greek. A history of the language and its speakers *Willey-Blackwell, Chichester UK 2010) 11c, 97

89 Aitken, J.K., “The Septuagint and Egyptian Translation Methods”, en: Kraus W., van der Meer M. and Maiser M., XV Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Munich 2013 (SBL Press, Atlanta, GA 2016) 269-294

90 Aitken J.K., “The Language of the Septuagint and Jewish Greek Identity”, en: Aitken J.K. and Paget J.C. Eds., The Jewish-Greek Tradition in Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2014) 120-34.

91 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 1

92 Lindsey R.L., Jesus Rabbi & Lord: The Hebrew Story of Jesus Behind Our Gospels (Cornerstone, Oak Creek WI 1990) 17. The concept of Traslation Greek means a text not written in Greek at the origin, but being the result of a traslation.

93 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 4

94 Lagrange M.J., Gospel according to saint Matthew (Gabalda, Paris 1923) 3

95 Zimmermann, F., Aramaic Origin of the Four Gospels (Ktav Pub., Brooklyn, NY 1978) 5

96 Torrey C.C., “The aramaic Gospels”: The Christian Century, 56, 43 (1934) 1340

97 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels,30

98 Ibid., 33

99 Burney C.F., The Poetry of our Lord: an Examination of the Formal Elements of Hebrew Poetry in the Discourse of Jesus Christ (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1925); Schokel A., Manual of Hebrew Poetics (Christianity, Madrid 1987) 38

100 Jousse, M., "Les outils gestuels de la mémoire dans le milieu ethnique palestinien: Le Formulisme araméen des récits évangéliques": L'Ethnographie, 30, (Paris 1935) 1-20

101 Carmignac, J., "Etude sur les procedes poetiques des Hymnes": Revue de Qumram, 2, f-4, 8 (1960) 515

102 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 40

103 Ibid., 41

104 Ibid., 48

105 Schokel A., Manual de poética hebrea - Handbook of Hebrew Poetics, 38

106 Ibid., 39

107 HEBREW OT, Leningrad Manuscript

108 Casanowicz I.M., Paronomasia in the Old Testament (Jerusalen 1971) 98; Boadt L., “lntentional Alliteration in Second lsaiah”: The Catholic Biblical Ouarterly, 45, 3 (1983) 353-363

109 Schokel A., Handbook of Hebrew Poetics, 39

110 Aicher G ., Hebraï word games in the Gospel of Matthew (Bamberg 1929) 20-51

111 Delitzsc F.J.,- Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament (1877), Bibleworks v9, DLZ ; Delitzsch translated into Hebrew the text of the Greek version of Elzevir of 1624.

112 Aicher G., Hebraïsche Wortspiele im Matthäusevangelium , 31; Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 40

113.Carmignac J., The sources of Matthew, Mark and Luke Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek?, (Vision Books, Madrid 2012) 55-57

114 Lindsey R.L., A Comparative Greek Concordance of the Synoptic Gospels, Vol. 1, (Dugith Publishers, Jerusalen (1985) xv

115 Tombstone P., “Insights from Qumran into the Language of Jesus”, Revue de Qumrân, 8, 4 (1975) 483-501

116 Black M., An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (Global Village Books, Queensland 1998) 89-102

117 Fitzmyer, J.A., The semitic Background of the New Testament,15-89; Casey M., “An Aramaic Approach to Q” , Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series, 122 (2002) 4-19

118 Barr J., “Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in the Hellenistic Age”, en: D W.D., Finkelstein L., Eds., The Cambridge History of Judaism, II, The Hellenistic Age (Cambridge 1989), 82-83

119 Grintz J.M., “Hebrew as the spoken and written language in the last days of the Second Temple”, Journal of Biblical Literature 79 (1960), 32-47; Tombstone P., “Insights from Qumran into the Languages of Jesus”, Qumran Review 8 (1972-76), 483-501

120 Fitzmyer, J.A., The Gospel According to Luke: Translation and Commentary, (Cristiandad Ed, Madrid , 1987) 312

121 Barr J., “Which Language Did Jesus Speak? Lecture at John Rylands Library”, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 53, 1 (Manchester 1970)

122 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels, 67; Bivin D., Blizzard R., Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus (Makor Publishers, Arcadia CA 1983) 79-91, 119-139

123 Howard, G., “Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew and Early Jewish Christianity”, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 70, 19 (Mercer University Press, Sheffield 1998) 3-20.

124 Niclos J.V., "The Gospel in Hebrew of Shem Tob ibn Shaprut", Biblical Review 106 (1999) 358-407

125 Among them: Ms Vat.ebr.101, Vatican Apostolic Library; Ms. Mich. 119. Bodeleian Library, Oxford

126 Merrick D.W., Shem Tov's Hebrew Matthew: Sacred Name Version (CreateSpace, Scotts Valley, CA 2015)

127 Howard, G., “Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew”, 18

128 Delitzsch F., Hebrew New Testament (Leipzig 1877); available in the BibleWorks 9 tool, for parallel study with other manuscripts

129 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels

130 Papiah of Hierapolis , E xposition of the oracles of the Lord VI, en: Eds. Roberts A., Donaldson J., Ante-Nicene Fathers,1. (Eerdmans, Gran Rapids, MI 2001) 241

131 Edwards J.R., The Hebrew Gospel & The Development of the Synoptic Tradition (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI 2009), 1-118

132 Howard, G., Hebrew Gospel of Matthew ( Mercer University Press. Macon GA 1995) 12

133 Ibid., 16

134 Ibid., 18; Baltes G., Hebrew Gospel and Synoptic Tradition: Investigations into the Hebrew Background of the Gospels (Mohr Siebeck,, Tübingen 2011) 12-98

135 See for example: Garshowitz L., "Shem Ṭov ben Isaac Ibn Shapruṭ's Gospel of Matthew", en: Walfish B. (Ed.) The Frank Talmage Memorial Volume, 1, Jewish History 6 (Haifa University Press, Haifa 1993), 299-306; Niclos, J.V.,(Ed.), Shem Tob ibn Shaprut. "The Touchstone" (Eben Bohan). A work of Judeo-Christian controversy (Madrid 1997); Petersen W.L., “Some Observations on a Recent Edition of and Introduction to Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew”, Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 3 (SBL; Atlanta 1998) 133

136 Howard, G., “A Response to William L. Petersen's Review of Hebrew Gospel of Matthew ”, Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism (SBL 4, Atlanta 1999)

137 Petersen W.L., " The Vorlage of Shem-Tob's 'Hebrew Matthew", New Testament Studies 44 (1998) 490-512; Petersen W.L., “Some Observations on a Recent Edition of and Introduction to Shem-Tob's Hebrew Matthew”, 134

138 Howard G., Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, 98

139 Petersen W.L., “Some Observations”, 132

140 Ibid., 134

141 Ibid., 135

142 Hypotaxis is a period of sentences that are linked to a relationship of dependency (subordination). The parataxis assumes a series of successive sentences that make independent sense, could work alone, but appear united, either simply juxtaposed, or coordinated by bond particles.

143 Ibid. 136

144 Howard, G., Hebrew Gospel of Matthew (Mercer University Press. Macon GA 1995) 18; Baltes G., Hebrew Gospel and Synoptic Tradition: Investigations into the Hebrew Background of the Gospels (Mohr Siebeck,, Tübingen 2011) 10

145 Howard G., "A Response to William L. Petersen's Review of Hebrew Gospel of Matthew", TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 4 (1999) 19

146 Petersen W.L., “Some Observations”, 139

147 Howard G., "A Response to William L. Petersen's”, 20-22

148 Carmignac J., The Birth of the Gospels, 20-25

149 Howard G., "A Response to William L. Petersen's”, 23

150 Schökel A., Manual de Poética Hebrea, Ediciones Cristiandad, Madrid (1987)

151 Ibid., 4

85 of 85 pages


The Semitic Substrate of the Gospels. How to Translate Semitic Sources in New Testament Texts
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Biblical Studies, Hebrew substrate on NT
Quote paper
Angel Hernandez Bravo (Author), 2021, The Semitic Substrate of the Gospels. How to Translate Semitic Sources in New Testament Texts, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: The Semitic Substrate of the Gospels. How to Translate Semitic Sources in New Testament Texts

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free