When I tell people that the Bible is a Hebrew book I get universal agreement on the Old Testament (OT), but most people believe that the New Testament (NT) is a Greek book. However, I would say that the Bible is Hebrew from cover to cover, and I’ll explain why.
There are a number of different theories as to how we received the New Testament. The traditional Christian view is that they were written in Koine Greek, the lingua franca (popular language) of the day. That is the optimistic view. The skeptical view is that the Bible was written in poor translation Greek. Either way the bulk of the textual evidence supports that the NT was first put pen to paper in Greek. However, there is another view that has been gaining popularity that the NT was first put pen to paper in the Hebrew language, then translated into Greek early on. This is based on the fact that there are Hebrew idioms in the text when the Greek is translated into Hebrew. An idiom is an expression, such as using the term “falling asleep” when someone dies, in modern English we use the term “passed away”. These Hebrew idioms show up in many places in the NT. Also there is an ancient witness named Papias whom scholars tend to discount who wrote this:
“Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.”
As interesting as all of this is, to those who are inclined to argue about such things, it does nothing to solve the issue. I think that many scholars act as if books begin with paper and ink even though they know better from their own experience. There is no book or written work that begins with pen and paper. Even this article did not begin with me typing on the keyboard. Books begin in minds not written words.
The origin of the Bible is completely based in Hebrew. Every mind that participated in writing the Bible had Hebrew thought patterns embedded in it. From cover to cover the Bible is a Hebrew document. Every book in the NT was translated from Hebrew to Greek at some point. Whether it was in the mind of the author or at some later point after the pen was actually put to paper.
Further proof of this is seen everyday. Each person on the planet has a native tongue. That is the language that they consider primary in their brain. According to Terri Hirst president of EAL “The first language of a child is part of their personal, social and cultural identity.” That is to say that the way we think is formed by the first language that we learn as a child in our formative years. Every author in the NT grew up in Hebrew thought and culture. It has been said that the Jews spoke Aramaic rather than Hebrew, but even if that is the case (personally I don’t think so I would say they spoke Hebrew) it is further proof that the Bible is entirely of Semitic origin and none of Greek. Yes it was penned in Greek at some point, but it began in the mind of the Hebrew, and with a Hebrew understanding. This is why Paul said this:
“Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.” – Rom. 3:1-2
He was speaking of the OT, but the underlying fact is this. There is no oracle of God that was not entrusted to the Jews. They were the human agents who authored the NT. So the Bible is Hebrew from front to back. Even the NT no matter what language it was originally penned in.