ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

ARAMAIC: THE LANGUAGE THAT JESUS SPOKE

Updated on December 30, 2010

ARAMAIC: THE LANGAUGE THAT JESUS SPOKE

As the world celebrates Christmas and remembers the message of Jesus Christ, many of us do not know that he spoke  not Latin but Aramaic; the lingua franca of that time in Nazareth. It is the oldest living language in the Middle East, and is a Semitic language belonging to the Afro-asiatic (formerly known as Hamito-Semitic) language family

Afro-Asiatic comprises of 375 living languages, spoken by nearly 350 million speakers. This family of language includes Ancient Egyptian, Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian with of course Arabic being the most widely spoken language. Aramaic belongs however to the Semitic sub-family.

The teachings of Jesus were spread throughout the Jewish Aramaic speaking community and then to Canaan, Syria and Mesopotamia in Aramaic. In fact all the Apostles James, John, Peter and Andrew who were from Galilee spoke only Aramaic.

Classification of Aramaic:

Klaus Beyers classifies Aramaic into three categories:

1.       Old  Aramaic      

This spans over a time period of 1100 BCE to 200 BCE. In 539 BCE it was the spoken language of Israel during the Second Temple period and was the main language of the Talmud. Originally the alphabets used were Phoenician but as it evolved it replaced the Assyrian cuneiform system of writing.  Despite Chaldean and Persian conquests, Aramaic thrived as the lingua franca even surviving the relentless march of Alexander’s invincible Greek army.

2.       Middle Aramaic

All this changed with the Islamic invasion of Damascus in 633 CE and Jerusalem in 635 CE. Aramaic began to lose its ascendancy. The decline was not however overnight.  It was only after nearly 200 years Aramaic began to slowly give way to Arabic. The time span of Middle Aramaic was 200 CE to 1200 CE.

3.        Modern Aramaic

In its present form Aramaic is spoken in scattered and fragmented communities mainly in West Asia.  Surprisingly despite Christian and Jewish groups it is spoken among Muslims too.  Researcher Eden Naby categorizes the users of Aramaic into four:

·         Christian communities use it as their liturgical language

·         Modern Assyrians use it as their vernacular dialect which contains a good number of Akkadian words.

·         It is used by the Mandeans of Iraq and Iran who are the followers of John the Baptist.

·         The Three villages in Maalula, in  Syria where  Aramaic continues be the spoken language

Obviously there is no singular Aramaic language and it has its variants.

The Decline of Aramaic

From being the lingua franca of a large geographic area to an endangered language after 3000 years is the result of diverse historical causes.

Firstly it was the emergence of Arabic after the rise of Islam in Middle East. Arabic became the favored language as it was considered to be the language of God.  This resulted in Aramaic being confined to a small group of Christian and Jewish neighbors. Secondly In 1948 the bombing of some synagogues in Iraq resulted in the migration of Jews to Israel.  Now the Christians who remain in Iraq too are besieged with a language policy which favors Arabs and Kurds.  In fact traditional Assyrian Aramaic has been discouraged and suppressed in Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Mandean Aramaic for instance is spoken only by 50,000 people and according to Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine in their seminal book “Vanishing voices” Aramaic can survive, only in a setting where there are a minimum of 100,000 speakers living in a relatively compact and secure environment.

Aramaic  Influences in India

Strangely thousands of miles away in the state of Kerala in South India, influences of Aramaic are found in a community which came to the Malabar Coast in 343 CE. They came from Aramaic speaking regions of Israel and Syria. Called Knanaya Christians they are descendants of 72 families who migrated to India lead by a merchant named Knai Thomman. There were 400 of them who settled down in modern Kodungallur near the ancient port of Muziris and  were permitted to settle down and engage in trade by the then King Cheraman Perumal . It is a community which practices endogamy in order to preserve their ancestral ties to the Middle East.

Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine state that each language “has its own window to the world”, and so the loss of any language is a great loss for humanity, especially if it happens to be of such historical importance as Aramaic.

The Lords Prayer in Ancient Aramaic

Assyrian Aramaic Jewish song

Aramaic speaking Syrian village

The Language of Jesus

Timeline of Armaic
Timeline of Armaic
Alexander Aramaic coin
Alexander Aramaic coin
Aramaic 7th century
Aramaic 7th century
King Ashoka's Greek and Aramaic inscriptions in kandhahar
King Ashoka's Greek and Aramaic inscriptions in kandhahar
Aramaic alphabets
Aramaic alphabets
Knai Thoma
Knai Thoma
Aramaic speaking Palmyra
Aramaic speaking Palmyra
Arameans learning Aramaic
Arameans learning Aramaic

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    7 years ago from India

    Thanks Ms Dee. Wish you a happy new year

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR

    ram_m 

    7 years ago from India

    Thanks Micky nice to hear from you once again wish you a happy new year

  • Ms Dee profile image

    Deidre Shelden 

    7 years ago from Texas, USA

    Lots of helpful information - nice!

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 

    7 years ago

    Very nice hub! Thank you so very much. God bless!

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)