Pope, Netanyahu spar over Jesus’ native language

POPE Francis and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have traded words over the language spoken by Jesus two millennia ago.

“Jesus was here, in this land. He spoke Hebrew,” Netanyahu told Francis, at a public meeting in Jerusalem in which the Israeli leader cited a strong connection between Judaism and Christianity.

“Aramaic,” the pope interjected.

“He spoke Aramaic, but he knew Hebrew,” Netanyahu shot back.

Like many things in the Middle East, where the pope is on the last leg of a three-day visit, modern-day discourse about Jesus is complicated and often political.

A Jew, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the Roman-ruled region of Judea, now the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He grew up in Nazareth and ministered in Galilee, both in northern Israel, and died in Jerusalem, a city revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims, and to which Israelis and Palestinians lay claim.

Palestinians sometimes describe Jesus as a Palestinian. Israelis object to that.

Israeli linguistics professor Ghil’ad Zuckermann told Reuters that both Netanyahu, son of a distinguished Jewish historian, and the pope, the spiritual leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, had a point.

“Jesus was a native Aramaic speaker,” he said about the largely defunct Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. “But he would have also known Hebrew because there were extant religious writings in Hebrew.”

Zuckermann said that during Jesus’ time, Hebrew was spoken by the lower classes – “the kind of people he ministered to”.


20 thoughts on “Pope, Netanyahu spar over Jesus’ native language

  1. So with the planet spinning, the planet in a irregular orbit of the sun ,the sun in a irregular orbit and wave movement about fifty times around the galaxy. The galaxy move at a speed of about 2,000,000 kilometers per hour .
    How could there be any sacred space ?
    The places that religions claim are sacred have been left behind .
    We are like a single atom floating through space .
    And space itself is stretching and distorted as objects pass and expanding at a increasing amount .
    And to top it of there is no set place anywhere .
    When you grasp those facts the three religions arguing about a connection of atoms on a point on this spinning rock come across as stupidity to say the least .


  2. This is like that other semantic battle between Jews and Christians. “No, we are not Christians we are Messianic Jews” say jewish believers in Jesus. “No Messianic Jews are not Christians” say many Christian authors and preachers.

    But “Christ” is the equivalent Greek word for the Jewish word “Messiah”. So go figure!


    • “No Messianic Jews are not Christians” say many Christian authors and preachers.

      please name two and I’ll write to them personally. If you can’t name two I suggest you retract.


      • Actually every Sunday worshipping Christian minister priest, etc. says it.

        The main reason is doctrine. The one that comes to mind is over the Sabbath (4th Commandment). The Sunday worshippers say that the Sabbath was done away with at the Cross and hence not binding anymore. The Messianic Jews say that it wasn’t (and then proceed to give similar reasons that I would give as a Seventh Day Baptist, or my counterpart in the Seventh Day Adventist Church).

        So go ahead. Write to every denomination that believes Saturday has been replaced by Sunday, and tell them that messianic jews are not a cult.

        This viewpoint is very well articulated in the book “Doctrinal Dangers in the Messianic Movement” by Dr Mark Robinson who argues that Messianic Jews are not Christians but rather Christian Judaisers (which apostle Paul attacked in his epistle to the Galatians).


      • After arguing who is entitled to be called genuine (whether Christian or Messianic Jew) because of diametrically opposite doctrines, we have both camps fighting for ecumenism (where doctrine is ignored). Thus the whole Christian messianic words end up into a semantic game.


      • Ha!Ha!Ha! That is exactly how this “Christian/Messianic” “Hebrew/Aramaic” plays out. Is the egg to be opened from the pointy or blunt end?


      • I don’t know Davinci,

        This something I have to get off my chest; one of my ‘I can’t keep silent any longer’ days—Apologies!

        No one has perplexed me more than you have on this blog. I mean, we both believe that the Bible is truly God’s Word, and yet we are so different in what we believe to be true Christianity.

        I actually cried out to God to please show me what true Christianity is, because I sometimes allow all the different opinions and views on this blog to drown out what God is saying to me, and I get confused. You know what I believe He answered me? ‘Christlikeness’.

        You know, I am reminded of Phillippians 3.7. What did Paul say about all his learning? “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him…..10 that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death”

        No-one can deny that intimacy with Jesus Christ was the deepest cry of his heart, as it should be with us—an intimacy that leads to conformity—Christlikeness.

        My two cents worth!


      • …and this “I think you hit the nail on the head Mon.” from a spruiker for
        Does that comprise ‘bigotry’, or just simple ‘hypocrisy’?


      • Phillip George, stop playing games.

        Your original question asked me to name Christian authors and preachers that make the claim that messianic Jews are not Christians. I have answered that question and the circumstances that this claim is made.

        You did not ask me what Messianic Jew or Messianic book I have encountered before.


    • I’ll try again, – but not ad nauseum
      what Messianic Jewish book have you read or which Messianic Jew have you spoken with?
      Can you name two?


    • Every “first” Christian was a Messianic Jew/ Israelite or proselyte to Judaism. Without Messianic Jews Christianity doesn’t exist.

      Jesus is a Messianic Jew!

      Christians are grafted into the vine/ root stock of Judaism – one commonwealth.

      It’s not just important it is a working definition of what Christianity is.

      …………davinci’s commentary is among the most simplistic error ridden oversimplification/ misrepresentation, I’ve ever seen “anywhere”, ever


      • So why don’t they call themselves Christian Jews eh Philiip George? Why make the distinction between Messianic and Christian?
        I totally agree with you that Jesus was a “Messianic” Jew. He was also a “Christian” Jew was He not?
        Secondly, it is not the Christians that are grafted into the vine/root stock of Judaism, but Gentiles. And the root/stock is not Judaism but the culmination of Judaism (which was Christianity). Maybe you should read Romans 11 again.


  3. In so much as Jesus wasn’t multicultural I agree He is a ‘right’ wing zealot

    a “should be” American citizen on death row for being Christian – American can’t sink any further without being under water!

    Any serious reader of the books of Moses understands that strangers within Israel were required to respect and obey many of the laws given to Moses. Kindness and understanding of strangers was not to be conflated into an invitation to practice any paganism, witchcraft, sodomy, human sacrifices, Baal worship they liked.

    Chances are He spoke Koine Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic – doesn’t mean He worshiped Apollo or welcomed Greek philosophy or philosophers into the Temple to share their false conceptions of non gods – allah etc.

    So if left liberal multiculturalism is “left” – then Jesus by virtue of Mount Sinai/ Moses and the Prophets is “right wing” .

    and the bleeding heart liberal left multi-culturalists are stone deaf silent about the persecution of Christians happening under their watch – including in the Pope’s very own Palestinian Bethlehem.

    Jordan’s own Queen Rania spoke out against Halal slaughter practices – stone silence from the multi cultic left. Culture wars are very current, very real, very now.


    • It isn’t so easy to stuff Jesus into a political box. He stands above all politics and as king has room for many shades of opinion within his circle. When Paul says that there is in Jesus no male or female, slave or free, maybe we could add left and right into the mix also.


    • Geez Flip: brilliant!….and thanks for the hint.
      To get around the censore (sic) all you need to do is use language he can’t understand!


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