At first reading this might seem like an obvious statement, aimed and people of a lower intellectual order, and you were probably expecting a flamy writeup about the stupidity of some people. When I began to write it, it probably would have been. But as I began to write it, I realised that I was guilty of the same linear thinking. Anyway, that over with, once more unto the breach dear friends, once more.
It was upon watching University Challenge last week that I first came across this misconception. A question was asked about the following quote, “if English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for the children of Texas.” I laughed out loud, it was hilarious, it seemed obvious, of course Jesus did not speak English, he spoke in Aramic or, sometimes Hebrew. In fact, at the time of his life, English did not exist in any recognisable form.
However I then began to imagine Jesus talking, and I realised that I imagine him talking in English, using the same language as in the Bible, in other words, I imagine Jesus speaking like a well educated seventeenth century man. I tried to modify my imagination; I tried to think of Jesus speaking in the same sort of tones as Arabs I see on television. To me the Arabic language, which has its roots in old Hebrew and Aramic, sounds impressive and exiting, but also blunt and raw, not the delicate tones I imagine Jesus Christ speaking in.
This is an interesting example of how indoctrination works. Even if you live in America where schools do not teach children Christianity as a fact (which they do most United Kingdom primary schools, hence prayers and hyms in "Christian Worship assembelies"), you cannot help but be familiar with his image. The King James version of the Bible has become the standard, and since the Bible is taken by most religious teachers to be the complete truth, there are larger arguments to it’s authenticity than the language it is written in, and so it goes un-noticed. Even if you do not believe what the Bible says directly, you believe it’s indirect message, which is that Jesus spoke in the language the Bible is written in.
Having said all of that, the rational part of your mind should at least know that, even if you cannot imagine it, Jesus almost certainly delivered his great sermons in a language the local populace would understand.