A Note about the Hebrew and Greek Texts for the LORD's
The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, of
course, and that's the starting point for serious exegesis of its
writings. The Hebrew translation used here comes from the
Salkinson-Ginsburg Hebrew New Testament (1999 edition) which I
compared to F. Delitzsch's older Hebrew translation of the Brit
Chadashah as well as with the Robinson-Pierpont Majority Text
(1995), the Westcott and Hort NT, and the Friberg NT (UBS3/4).
Others have done similar work (i.e., attempting to reconstruct the
Hebrew from the Greek), such as Brad Young and David Bivins of the
Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research.
The LORD Jesus
undoubtedly taught this prayer to His disciples in Hebrew, since
Hebrew was the language of the synagogue and temple of His day, and
Jesus Himself "made aliyah" by performing Torah readings at the
synagogues (Luke 4:16). Jesus also revealed Himself to Paul in
Hebrew language during Paul's dramatic conversion experience (Acts
The Hebraic mindset informs the intent of the New
Testament writers, and we may fall into isogesis if we overlook this
foundational truth. In the West we have often imported Greek
concepts into the text of Scripture, forgetting that the New
Testament documents were all written by Jews who were steeped in
Jewish culture. If you need any background information on that
idea, I would suggest "Our Father Abraham" by Marv Wilson or Jim
Gerrish's book, "Does God Play Favorites?"
In fact there is
historical evidence that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew.
External evidence for this reaches as far back as Papias of
Hierapolis, of the second century CE. Eusebius quoted Papias:
"Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew
(The Ecclesiastical History, III, XXXIX, 16).
This is corroborated later in the Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat
116a), the Jerusalem Talmud (Shabbat 15c), as well as the
Tosefta (Shabbat 13:5), where debate rages concerning the
destruction of the scrolls of the New Testament. The question asked
was, "Should they be burned since they contain the divine Name
(i.e., YHVH)?" This debate clearly documents that the gospel was
extant in Hebrew in early church history.
the translator of the Latin Vulgate (around 400 A.D.) and considered
the greatest Hebrew scholar of the late Roman Imperial age, wrote
the following in his De Viris Illustribus (Of Illustrious
"Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican,
composed a gospel of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew
for the sake of those of the circumcision who believed, but this
was afterwards translated into Greek though by what author is
uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the present
day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently
gathered. I have also had the opportunity of having the volume
described to me by the Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who
use it. In this it is to be noted that wherever the Evangelist,
whether on his own account or in the person of our Lord the Savior
quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow the
authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew.
Wherefore these two forms exist, "Out of Egypt have I called my
son," and "for he shall be called a Nazarene."