Syriac as common language in Jesus' time

I am reading an ebook titled:  A translation, in English daily used, of the Peshito-Syriac text, and of the received Greek text, of Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 1 John:  With an introduction on the Peshito-Syriac text, and the revised Greek text of 1881.  It includes comments that Syriac, not Hebrew, was the day-to-day language of the Israelites in Jesus' time, and that the antiquity of the Peshitta, and the traditions of the Syriac Church, accorded the Peshitta as having been written at least in part by the Apostles or by their disciples, and that the Peshitta is the most reliable account of the NT.  I have studied the Bible for many years and I know of no other mention of Syriac having been the common language among the Israelites in Jesus' time.  Have the concepts in this book fallen out of favor since it was written?

Asked By: 
Don
Syricac is a dialect of Aramaic

Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic, but written in a different alphabet. Rather than being written in the alphabet that was also used for Hebrew, Syriac was written in an alphabet that later evolved into the alphabet of Arabic. (One can search for Syriac on the internet and see that it looks like Arabic.) Aramaic had been an important ancient language since the period of the Babylonian Empire, and was so commonly spoken that Jews in Galilee, such as Jesus and his disciples, spoke Aramaic as their daily language. (Aramaic is very similar to Hebrew, about as close as Spanish and Italian are today.) The Peshitta is an early translation of the Bible into Syriac, and is very valuable for the study of the text of the Bible and of the church in the east, but this version of the Bible is not older than the ancient Greek or Latin versions. Thus it is written in the language that Jesus and his disciples spoke, but the text itself does not have a direct line to them.


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Author: Lawrence M. Wills
Syriac = Aramaic

Syriac is another name for Aramaic, which most scholars regard as the common language of Palestinian Jews of Jesus's day. But most scholars also consider the Peshitta to be a translation from the Greek, not an original language work, reflecting the actual words of the apostles. The NT documents look like original Greek compositions, not translations directly from the Aramaic.

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