In what language was the Bible originally written?

In what language was the Bible originally written?

Question

In what language was the Bible originally written?

Answer

Thanks for your question.

The Bible was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21) and originally written and even spoken in Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek.

The majority of the Old Testament was written in what is called Biblical Hebrew. It is called Biblical Hebrew to differentiate it from Modern Hebrew. When the Jews were exiled to the Babylonian Empire many of them began using Aramaic. So, some parts of the Bible, such as portions of Ezra and Daniel, etc., were written in Aramaic. [1]

The time between Malachi and the birth of Christ is known as the intertestamental period, or the 400 years of silence. During this time there was no new revelation given by God and thus the phrase “years of silence.” During this time Koine Greek began to be used and the Old Testament was translated into Greek. That translation is called the Septuagint (abbreviated as LXX).

The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, or just Koine, meaning "common." And indeed it was the common language of the day, not the formal academic Classical Greek used by scholars of that period. Since this time the Bible has been translated into numerous other languages.

The Bible is comprised of two testaments (Old & New), sixty-six inspired books, 1189 chapters, 31,173 verses, and 773,692 words. The sixty-six books of the Bible were written by approximately 40 different men over a period of about 1500 years.

God's word is true (Prov. 30:5). Since there is no higher authority, God is his own authority (Psa. 12:6; cf. Heb. 6:13; 2 Pet. 3:16). Jesus prayed to God the Father, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). God has promised to preserve the truth for his people (cf. Isa. 59:21; Matt. 5:17-18; John 10:35) and declares that belief in it is absolutely necessary (cf. John 5:46-47; 1 Cor. 14:36-38).

God’s word is clear. (Deut. 6:6-9). In other words, the basic message of the Bible is clear enough for anyone to understand it, even a child. While there are some passages of Scripture that are difficult to understand (2 Pet. 3:15-16), the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture means that anyone who studies to show himself approved unto God (2 Tim. 2:15) can understand the essential message of salvation and what it means to please the Lord (Psa. 73:24-26; John 17:22, 24; 1 Cor. 10:31; cf. WSC .1.1).

The Bible is inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 2:21; cf. Exod. 20:1; 2 Sam. 23:2; Isa. 8:20; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 1:22; Luke 24:44; John 1:23; 5:39; 10:34-35; 16:13; 19:36-37; 20:9; Acts 1:16; 7:38; 13:34; Rom. 1:2; 3:2; 4:23). The original documents (i.e. autographs) are God-breathed and a divine product. In other words, though God used human instrumentality, the original texts were breathed-out, or inspired, by the Lord himself. The Bible is the word of God.

The Bible is inerrant. Inerrancy means the Scriptures do not err; nor do they affirm any errors. There is no error mixed with truth (cf. Psa. 12:6), and what it teaches is wholly truth. The Bible does not endorse anything that is untrue; it is entirely truthful and has no errors in the autographs. So, the Scripture contains no affirmations of anything that is contrary to fact.

The Bible is also infallible. This is thought of as a stronger term than inerrancy. Infallibility deals with possibilities and so it means the Scriptures cannot err; it is incapable or impossible of teaching any error. The autographs are absolutely trustworthy (Psa. 19:7; 111:7), sure (2 Pet. 1:19), and worthy of full acceptance (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; Tit. 3:8).

Note

[1] Aramaic — Sixty-seven (67) verses in Ezra (Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26); some two hundred (200) verses in Daniel (Dan. 2:4b-7:28); Jeremiah 10:11, and some other proper names, words, and phrases throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament we observe Aramaic used in such verses as: Matt. 5:22 (Raca); Matt 27:46 (Eli Eli lema sabachtha); Mark 5:41 (Talitha cum); Mark 7:34 (Ephphatha); Mark 11:9 (Hosanna); Mark 14:36 (Abba); John 20:16 (Rabbouni); and 1 Cor. 16:22 (Maranatha).

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).