I will rouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and make you like a warrior's sword. Zechariah 9 v13

Greek or Hebrew ?

The Church of All Nations in Jerusalem - an example of Greek architecture, with columns and a portico.

The issue here is not what language the Bible was written in but whether we read it with Greek or Hebrew spectacles. The author is greatly indebted to David Pawson “Dispensational Zionism” Feast of Tabernacles 2007 and Dwight Prior’s teaching on Hannukah, “Let light shine out of Darkness”

The Bible is a Hebrew book. Even though the earliest surviving manuscripts of the New Testament are in Greek. The Bible was written by 40 authors, of whom only one was possibly not a Hebrew, and he got his material from Hebrews. Remember also that Jesus was a Jewish Rabbi.


There is a great difference between Hebrew and Greek thought and this has been an area of conflict through history. In the era before Jesus it manifested in the conflict remembered at Hannukah. The story is set against a background of the Hellenisation of Judah and all the surrounding nations.

In the history of the Church Hellenism affected the way scripture was read – completely for around a thousand years and still to some extent. Paul observed the different outlooks in his first letter to the Corinthians. (1 Corinthians 1 v22)

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

Western civilization is often called Judeo-Christian, since those have been its dominant religions, but in terms of civilization, it is basically Greek.

Look at civic architecture before the coming of steel and glass; it is based on Greek Temples with columns and porticos.

Our Politics, social structures and government are Greek – democracy is Greco-Roman; the Bible never advocated rule by consensus of the people.

The pursuit of individualism is also Greek. Jewish (Biblical) aspirations are towards a body of people following and serving God.

The Hebrew mind asks “What must I do?”, but the Greek mind asks “Why must I do it?”

The Hebrew view of ultimate virtue is to follow God, whilst the Greeks seek self expression.

Our concept of sport is drawn from the Greek Olympics and the gymnasium.

Philosophy is Greek, and it has coloured Christianity through the teachings of academics who value sophistication and the approval of man. So what of education?

Hebrew reliance is on God and His Torah while Greek minds do not accept revelation; only reason.

Art is based upon Greek concepts, and the term Classical refers to Greek style.

The Hebrew mind thinks of the Beauty of holiness, while the Greek mind seeks the holiness of beauty.

Even many church robes are based on Greco-Roman togas as worn by governors and leaders!

The Greeks could not handle the scale of values in Hebrew thought, nor the interrelation of physical and spiritual. The concept of God being interested in both our bodies and our spirits was rejected. David Pawson found that mentions of a Jewish blessing for going to the toilet amuses Christian audiences – because of the Greek mindset that God is not interested in the proper working of our bodily functions but a Jewish audience would not react because Jews see no separation between physical and spiritual.

The Greeks downgraded the physical to being bad and to be shunned or hidden, but the spiritual they elevated to the opposite extreme. The concept of the Spirit of God coming to dwell in our mortal bodies was unthinkable. Thus the Greek view of eternity was of striving towards the escape from the base, physical world and body and translation to a spiritual (non physical) existence in Heaven. You may have been taught like this in church, but it didn’t come from the Bible; it comes from Greek philosophy! If this version of Heaven was true, why did Jesus need to be resurrected with a physical body, and why would we look forward to being resurrected like Him?

Greek thinking started to impact the Christian church between the second and fourth centuries CE. Before that time the church had been rooted in Hebrew thinking and belief. Greek / Hellenistic thought and philosophy has always been seen as more sophisticated and the church fathers started to be seduced by it.

Philo of Alexandria, Origen and Clement and (St.) Augustine all switched from reading the scriptures through Hebrew spectacles to reading it through Greek spectacles. ( see also History) They started to allegorize statements in the scriptures that should have been taken literally. They sought spiritual meanings for everything – a temptation to us all, even today. The worst damage was done by allegorizing prophecy. This led to denying any ongoing relevance for Israel and the Jews (and thence to Replacement Theology and Anti-Semitism) and also the doctrine of our afterlife being as spiritual beings in Heaven, instead of in Resurrection bodies like Jesus’ living on a new earth when God comes down to live with us. (See Heaven and Hell)

So! Looking at the world you live in; what is Greek and what is Hebrew?

How can we replace Greek spectacles with Hebrew spectacles?

Learn from the Hebrew teacher – Yeshua mi Natzeret the itinerant Rabbi who taught his Talmidim (disciples / learners / children ) in the Hebrew manner, from the Hebrew scriptures, in the Hebrew language. Study with Dr Dwight Prior, using his DVD and study guide series, “Behold the Man.”

Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard JnrDavid Bivin and Roy Blizzard Jnr have used their scholarship on the Greek origins of the New Testament and the Hebrew way in which the Greek is written, in order to recover the Hebrew idioms in the teaching of Jesus (Yeshua) and throw light on sayings which are otherwise obscure and unhelpful. "Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus" What is Greek thinking? And how does it Compare with the Hebrew way?

How the Church Lost the Way

Looking at how a preference for Greek philosophy has made the church what it is today can explain many things about what many Christians believe and how churches behave.

Steve Maltz has tackled this subject with his usual clarity and directness.

He shows how (pagan) Greek philosophy became part of Christian theology and implicates many of the church fathers, showing quite a different side to church history; as a catalogue of downward steps rather than a glorious march of faith.

After having made the problem clear, Steve offers challenging suggestions for reversing the trend and recovering what has been lost.


Did Jesus speak Hebrew or Greek ?

Wildolive is not inclined to the view that Jesus spoke and therefore taught in Greek, but others have different views.

One argument says that the Septuagint translation of Hebrew Bible was made about three hundred years BC because Greek had become the spoken language for the Jews/Israelis.

But I would suggest that the assumption that ALL Jews used Greek is not proven.

It is true that many Jews were Hellenised under the Greek Empire - but not all. The revolt of the Macabees, comemorated at Hannukah, was against the suppression of Hebrew/Jewish culture and faith. Perhaps the social elite spoke Greek while the ordinary people stuck with Hebrew.
Jesus probably spoke Greek and Aramaic as second languages - living and working in "Galilee of the Nations" as a builder.
But surely his teaching in synagogue and on hillside to ordinary working folk would have been in Hebrew. Can you imagine him teaching from the Greek translation of the scriptures? His teachings, even in Greek texts, contain Hebrew wordplays that only come alive in Hebrew.

Also, in Acts 6:1 we read, "Around this time, when the number of talmidim was growing, the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against those who spoke Hebrew that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution." This suggests that the Greek speakers were a minority in the early church.


Updated 24/03/19

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