The Hebrew New Testament Misunderstanding

Over the years, Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics have had to field the question, Do you believe that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew? many, many times. Given the complicated spiritual and theological dynamics present within the Messianic movement—one has to really have some courage to say, No, we do not believe that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew. There is, to be sure, no Hebrew New Testament document or fragment of any kind from the broad Biblical period. This stands in stark contrast to the fact that the Greek New Testament, and fragments of the Greek New Testament, are the most widely attested and accessible work of antiquity—even more so than the classical works of Greece and Rome.

The claim that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, has actually been disregarded by many in Biblical Studies. The idea that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of colloquial Hebrew expressions or Hebraisms contained in the New Testament, so-called proof of a written Hebrew original, can be contested. Ultimately, because of much of the Messianic movement’s leaders’ lack of homework—there are many ideas circulating about a presumed “Hebrew New Testament” which cannot be substantiated.

Sorting through this, sifting through data and noise, and evaluating what is fact and what is fiction—is by no means something easy. While seeking to maintain the inspiration, integrity, and reliability of the Greek Apostolic Scriptures—no one wants to be perceived as somehow trying to discount the veracity of the Hebrew Tanach, Hebrew language studies, or even studies in Judaism as somehow illegitimate. Yet, there are ideological questions to be asked about the existence of the Greek Apostolic Scriptures, historical questions to be asked about the logic of Hebrew New Testament proponents, and other significant side-issues to be evaluated. As we seek some resolution to these issues, we should each be asked to prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the following statement from Proverbs 18:17:

“The one who first states a case seems right, until the other comes and cross-examines” (NRSV).

Many of you are likely to have heard some teachings or statements on the origin of the Apostolic Scriptures or Messianic Writings—which have made some presumed “sense” to you. It may be time for you to perhaps consider another opinion as it involves the origins of the New Testament. This publication offers you some information, which you are going to have to weigh into your evaluations, as we consider some of the documented facts regarding the origin of the New Testament or Apostolic Scriptures.

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