Do Greek Gospels Mean Weak Gospels?

by Craig Dunkley

In a recent post, we explored the origins of the gospels.  These books outlining Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection, were written relatively soon after his crucifixion and, evidence indicates, are basically first- and second-hand accounts.  The gospels of Matthew and John were written by two of Jesus’ original disciples, at least according to tradition and to early church historians.

Recently, while on a trip across the country, I was reading a book that repeated a common argument against the gospels being eyewitness accounts.  Here’s the basic argument:  There’s no way that the gospels were written by people who were actually with Jesus.  In particular, the books of Matthew and John could not have been written by any of Jesus’ disciples.  Why?  Because Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic, yet the earliest existing copies of the gospels were written in Greek…and good Greek at that.  There’s just no way that these semi-literate people from the backwater of Judea could have written these books in Greek.

On the surface, the argument makes sense.  Dig an inch below the surface, however, and it makes less sense, for two reasons:

  • There’s some evidence that one of the gospels (Matthew’s) was originally written in Aramaic, the primary language of Jews in Judea at the time.
  • Even if Matthew’s gospel was not originally written in Aramaic, there is strong evidence to indicate that many Jewish people—and others in first century Judea—could speak Greek. Matthew and John would have been no exception, and could therefore have written their gospels in Greek.

Let’s take a closer look…

Do Greek Gospels Mean Weak Gospels?