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Is Hebrew from 2000 years ago anything like modern-day Hebrew?

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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-12-07 02:39 PM
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Is Hebrew from 2000 years ago anything like modern-day Hebrew?

Or is Greek from 2000 years ago anything like modern-day Greek?
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k8conant Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-10-08 12:22 AM
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1. Modern Greek is similar enough
for a speaker to read and understand New Testament Greek. I believe that's even more true of those from the islands which for a long time were somewhat isolated. Greek didn't change nearly as much as Latin and it certainly didn't die.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-10-08 08:52 AM
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2. Wonder why? Maybe the Greeks were more homogenous, whereas
the Romans were all over the place, intermingling with natives all over Europe.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-13-08 07:19 PM
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3. There are two varieties of Modern Greek:
Edited on Sun Jan-13-08 07:26 PM by Lydia Leftcoast
Katharevousa, which is the more archaic literary language, and Demotiki, which is the everyday spoken language.

Hebrew is an unusual case. It died out as a spoken language before the time of Jesus. By that time, it had evolved into Aramaic, although Jews still used it as a religious language, as Catholics used to use Latin.

In the nineteenth century, when the Zionist movement got started, the founders knew that they would be attracting people from all over the world and would need a common language. Since religiously educated Jews all over the world could at least read Hebrew, the Zionists decided to revive it and use it as their official language.

They made an effort to speak only Hebrew at home and to raise their children in it.

It's the only case I know of in which a completely dead language has been revived to the extent that it now has native speakers. Of course, they had to invent new words for modern items and concepts.

Since it was not spoken for over 2,000 years, only written, it didn't change. As far as I know, modern-day Israelis can read the Hebrew Scriptures without any trouble.

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-18-08 02:03 PM
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4. More on "dead" languages
Languages don't die out unless their speakers are all killed off (which happened to a number of tribes in both the Americas and Australia) or they choose or are forced to adopt another language (as happened to other tribes in the Americas and Australia, and a few in Europe, such as Cornish and Livonian).

We call Ancient Greek and Latin "dead" languages, but what happened historically is that they kept evolving and evolving, incorporating new words and shedding old ones, simplifying their grammar or adding new complications, gradually moving away from the old standard, until the time came when ordinary people could no longer understand them.

Greek was widely spoken for inter-ethnic communication all over the Eastern Mediterranean (which is why the New Testament was written in it). Most educated Romans also spoke it. However, the territories that were inhabited by native speakers of Greek were relatively small, consisting mostly of Greece, eastern Turkey, and Cyprus, and as the language lost its influence, especially as Islam spread in much of its former range, native speakers were soon the only speakers.

Latin also evolved. In the home territory of Rome itself, it evolved into the many dialects of Italy. In effect, then, Latin didn't really die. The descendants of the ancient Romans just kept speaking a little bit differently every generation, but until the 13th century, they kept writing in Latin. It was in the 13th century that Dante Aligheri wrote his Divine Comedy and became the first Italian author to write a major literary work in the language that people of his time actually spoke.

Similar evolution occurred in the old Roman territories. The people there were mostly not native speakers, but non-Roman ethnic groups who had assimilated to Roman culture. For example, the "mooshed together" sound system of French is attributed to the fact that most of the people who adopted Latin there were Celtic or Germanic. Spanish and Portuguese were influenced by Arabic, and Romanian by the Slavic languages. But they were all continuous descendants of Latin, with one generation following on another and no break, just gradual changes that kept accruing, until one day, people noticed that they had to learn Latin out of a book.

Hebrew had already evolved into Aramaic by the time of Jesus, and there are still small communities of Aramaic speakers in the Middle East. In that sense, Hebrew was a dead language for everyday use 2,000 years ago. Even so, Jews throughout the world studied Hebrew as a second language for religious purposes during the entire period before the beginnings of the Zionist movement.

In the case of modern Greek, my understanding is that it's written much the same as ancient Greek, especially in the more conservative Katharevousa form, but it's pronounced quite differently.
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Boojatta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 08:19 PM
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5. "Hebrew had already evolved into Aramaic by the time of Jesus"
Edited on Sat Mar-15-08 08:58 PM by Boojatta
Do you have any evidence to support the claim that Aramaic evolved from Hebrew? For example, what historical processes would explain how a language that descended from Hebrew could have become the official, commercial and literary language of the Persian Empire? How many people spoke Hebrew and how did they have such a big influence on the Persian Empire?

... Aramaic became increasingly important, finally establishing itself as the principal medium of communication both on an administrative and an international level. It is in this period that the Aramaic dialects melted into an amalgam, producing a new Official Aramaic. While Official Aramaic replaced Ancient Aramaic, it also introduced in it a few modifications. This lasted as the official, commercial and literary language of the Persian Empire (331 B.C.) until the 4th century AD when it was replaced, as lingua franca of the Middle East, by Greek.


Also, the same paper suggests that your "by the time of Jesus" statement would have to be quite an understatement:

The first Aramaic inscriptions are from between the 10th to 7th century B.C.


My source:
http://www.jaas.org/edocs/v14n1/e8.pdf

Is that not a reliable source?
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