Bi-Lingual Inscriptions in Galilee


Here is an interesting article about the discovery at Sepphoris, near Nazareth, of bi-lingual (Aramaic and Greek) inscriptions.

What should be noted about this is the following: 1) Galilee was a mixed language milieu. Probably both Jesus and the disciples knew some Greek as well as their native Semitic languages Aramaic and Hebrew. Jesus would have spoken Greek to Roman soldiers and Pilate; 2) these are burial inscriptions from the second or third century, and they refer to the term ‘rabbi’ which does not seem to have been a technical term for a religious leader until after 70 A.D.; 3) the evidence clearly shows how Hellenized Jews continued to be, even after the destruction of the temple, and even in the Holy Land. You don’t put Greek on a Jewish inscription in a Jewish graveyard unless it is a language being used by Jewish; 4) it is possible that the reason some Jews from Tiberius wanted to be buried in Zippori/Sepphoris is because Tiberias was still regarded as an unclean site (the city had been built on top of a graveyard and without regard to Jewish laws about clean and unclean).

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