19. This literature exists for us only in translations made in the days of the early church. Most of these books were originally written in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, or in Aramaic, the language of Palestine in the time of Jesus. Traces of this language as spoken by Jesus have been preserved in the gospels,—the name Rabbi; Abba, translated Father; Talitha cumi, addressed to the daughter of Jairus; Ephphatha, to the deaf man of Bethsaida; and the cry from the cross, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (John i. 38; Mark xiv. 36; v. 41; vii. 34; xv. 34). It is altogether probable that in his common dealings with men and in his teachings Jesus used this language. Greek was the language of the government and of trade, and in a measure the Jews were a bilingual people. Jesus may thus have had some knowledge of Greek, but it is unlikely that he ever used it to any extent either in Galilee, or Judea, or in the regions of Tyre and Sidon.
Sources of Our Knowledge Of Jesus
20. The earliest existing record of events in the life of Jesus is given to us in the epistles of Paul. His account of the appearances of the Lord after his death and resurrection (I. Cor. xv. 3-8) was written within thirty years of these events. The date of the testimony, however, is much earlier, since Paul refers to the experience which transformed his own life, and so carries us back to within a few years of the crucifixion. Other facts from Jesus’ life may be gathered from Paul, as his descent from Abraham and David (Rom. i. 3; ix. 5); his life of obedience (Rom. v. 19; xv. 3; Phil. ii. 5-11); his poverty (ii. Cor. viii. 9); his meekness and gentleness (ii. Cor. x. 1); other New Testament writings outside of our gospels add somewhat to this restricted but very clear testimony.
21. Secular history knows little of the obscure Galilean. The testimony of Tacitus is that the Christians “derived their name and origin from one Christ, who in the reign of Tiberius had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator, Pontius Pilate” (Annals, xv. 44). Suetonius makes an obscure and seemingly ill-informed allusion to Christ in the reason he assigns for the edict of Claudius expelling the Jews from Rome (Vit. Claud. 25). The younger Pliny in the second century had learned that the numerous Christian community in Bithynia was accustomed to honor Christ as God; but he shows no knowledge of the life of Jesus beyond what must be inferred