Why Did St. Paul Write Greek? -- By: Lewis M. Miller

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 072:285 (Jan 1915)
Article: Why Did St. Paul Write Greek?
Author: Lewis M. Miller


Why Did St. Paul Write Greek?

Lewis M. Miller

St. Paul was born of Hebrew parents. As a boy, in his father’s home, he doubtless spoke Hebrew — probably in the vernacular form that was then in common use. As a youth, at the feet of Gamaliel, he was thoroughly trained in the treasures of Hebrew lore and literature. How true and loyal a Hebrew he became under these parental and educational influences, we can best understand from his own words. He calls himself “a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee.” In his address to Agrippa he declares: “[The Jews] knew me from the beginning, (if they would testify) that after the most straitest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” And again he describes himself as “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.” Surely, no son of Abraham could make a better showing.

The Hebrew of the Old Testament, in which St. Paul had been so thoroughly trained, is a very unique language. But the more one studies it, the more he becomes convinced that its very peculiarities had much to do with its excellent adaptation to the great part which it was appointed to play in the sublime drama of human redemption. It was God’s own language. “It was constructed and perfected,” says one writer, “for the transmission of those lofty divine ideas that are eventually to lift the whole race from the darkness of sin into the light and life of holiness. ... It is a language in which

the spirit of God spake, and to which the breath of the Almighty gave life.” Yes; it may be truly said that God breathed into that language “the breath of life “and it “became a living soul.” Combining, as it does, the animation and vivacity of the Oriental tongues with the dignity and gravity of the Occidental, it forms also a connecting link between the East and the West.

Remarkable simplicity and directness characterize the Hebrew style of composition, giving it a wondrous power of touching the human heart. Carlyle felt this when he wrote: “The oldest Hebrew prophet, under a vesture the most diverse from ours, does yet, because he speaks from the heart of man, speak to all men’s heart.” And so it is — the Hebrew, which is the language of the heart, plays with the varied passions and emotions of the human breast — hope and fear, love and hate, joy and sorrow, vengeance and mercy — as skillfully as the harper plays with the many chords of his instrument. Addison has remarked that “the Hebrew idioms run into the English tongue with a peculiar grace and beauty.” This lends to our excellent version of the Scriptures much of that mysteriou...

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