Aramaic: the Humble Language that Overcame the Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires

Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew living in Judea, yet he didn’t preach in Hebrew, and he may not even have spoken it. Judea was then part of the Roman Empire, yet Jesus didn’t speak Latin either. Of course, Greek played a larger role than Latin in Judea and the empire’s other eastern provinces: the former domain of Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic (“Greek-like”) successors. Yet Jesus didn’t speak Greek either. Nor did he speak Persian, the languages of the Greeks’ predecessors: the first conquerors to unite the Fertile Crescent into a long-lasting empire. So what was Jesus’ language? He spoke Aramaic, and so did most everyone he knew. Aramaic never had a great empire, yet it was the Fertile Crescent’s lingua franca for more than fifteen hundred years. Why? Continue reading “Aramaic: the Humble Language that Overcame the Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires”