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orion re: DSS and language

I don't really have a dog in this fight- but may I make a remark without
seeming to be a belligerant?

It seems that Professor Hays suggests that knowledge of several langauges
among first century Jews in Palestine is not a proven fact or even likely.
I suspect that when it came to matters financial, first century folk were
not much different than modern folk.  When I was last in Jerusalem in the
Old City I walked into a shop and heard the owner speaking to a customer in
German.  Then he turned and attended to my questions in English.  As I
walked out he spoke to another arrivee in Arabic.  In other words, his
economic interests prodded him to learn basic phrases in a number of languages.
I suspect that Palestinian Jews at the time the DSS were written were smart
enough to learn some of the basics of Greek and probably Latin, for the same
reasons.  Of course this does not mean that they all had a thorough grasp of
the various languages any more than most modern Americans are very good at
English grammar.  But I have no doubt that they could get by when they
needed to in the language they needed to.


Jim West
Adjunct Professor of Bible
Quartz Hill School of Theology