What I am going to write in this article is no doubt going to offend some, upset others, and make some people cheer in relief. I feel led, regardless of anyone's response, to write what I have written and I understand if people want to vehemently disagree with me. I believe what I have written to be as truthful and as accurate as I can be from both a historical (researched) and Scriptural standpoint.
It has come to my attention that there is a group called the Hebrew Roots/Sacred Name Movement who are claiming that the only valid New Testament Scriptures are those which were written in Hebrew and that what we have now that we call the New Testament is in fact a great conspiracy by the Vatican to lead us away from the “truth”. This “truth” essentially is that 1) only Scriptures that were originally written in Hebrew are true Scriptures, for God only speaks in Hebrew, therefore anything written in any other language is invalid, 2) the Old Testament Laws are still in effect, and we are still under obligation to keep all of them, 3) Jesus, or Yeshua as He is referred to by these groups, is seen as the Messiah, however not as God incarnate, and that He never indicated that there was a new way, 4) that we must only use Hebrew names when referring to God and Jesus, and 5) Paul is a heretic.
What this gospel in effect does is to limit God to only dealing with people from the nation of Israel who speak Hebrew (or those who study Hebrew so as to be able to talk and read the “true” Scriptures), as Gentiles (and most of the Jews of Jesus day) do (or did) not know Hebrew. It also completely invalidates the entire New Testament as it now stands, for every book in the New Testament is only found in Greek manuscripts, as well as invalidating part of the book of Daniel, which was written in Aramaic. This last idea that the New Testament is invalid and the Torah is still in effect led them to the conclusion that Paul, who wrote most of the epistles (in Greek) was a heretic, so therefore His teachings that we are no longer under the yoke of the law are heretical. It also dispenses with the book of Revelation, crucial prophecies about the future, which we are warned by Jesus not to add to or take away from, and which has blessings attached to it for those who read and heed it and warnings for those who do not. It also renders Christ's sacrifice on the cross of no effect, although I have not heard anyone among these groups actually make that statement. It is simply the natural conclusion of what they are espousing, which will be covered below.
First a brief background on these Hebrew Scriptures. The knowledge of the existence of these hypothetical Scriptures comes from some writings of the early church fathers. Within some of their writings a few mention that they had seen a gospel supposedly written by Matthew, which was written in Hebrew. They then quote some of these manuscripts. So what we have is about seven or so fragments of what these manuscripts were supposed to say embedded within other writings. There are no fragments of any Hebrew manuscripts extant at all. All that exists is the quoting of these manuscripts by others in their works. Now, within these writings there is disagreements as to what is exactly said, as there appeared to have been three different versions of this gospel of Matthew, now differentiated by the names of the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, and the Gospel of the Ebionites, based on the groups who claimed to have copies of this one original manuscript by Matthew. (Note that all three groups are composed of Jewish people.) There are several doctrines that these gospels teach that are distinctly different from what we know and accept to be the New Testament. They are as follows:
Adoptionism – this doctrine teaches that Jesus was the biological son of Mary and Joseph. At the time of His baptism, God adopted Him and He became divine.
The Holy Spirit is feminine.
There is no Trinity, God is One.
Obedience to the Law is of utmost importance. It is essential to do so to have a real relationship with God.
God should only be addressed in Hebrew (and He only writes in Hebrew which eliminates the New Testament), as that is the only language God uses.
Added to these doctrines is the belief that Paul was a heretic, (not only because he did not write in Hebrew, but because his teachings do not advocate being under the yoke of the law.) and that
James, the Lord's brother, was in attendance at the Last Supper as a believer.
To determine whether or not there is any merit to this hypothetical gospel, which virtually destroys Christianity and the New Testament, we need to look at both the external and internal evidence.
First let's look at the idea that Matthew would have written the book in Hebrew for his audience. To do that, we must look at the history of Israel and see if Hebrew truly was the language of the people of the day.
God gave Moses the Scriptures in Hebrew. What few Torah scrolls there were, were kept by the elders who (for those who had them) would read them or (if they did not have a Torah) orally relate and interpret for the people what they understood the Torah to say and teach. These oral transmissions became known as the oral traditions. From Moses to the captivities, everyone spoke Hebrew, so everyone understood what was being said when the Scriptures were read, however many times all they heard were the oral traditions, which sometimes bore no resemblance to what the Scriptures actually said. During the course of time, Israel went into captivity. When taken captive, the enemy took most of their Torah scrolls, so oral traditions became the main means of transmitting the Law to the people, as there were not enough Torahs. By the time the people came back into the land from exile, they had been assimilated into much of the culture of their captors. Some things changed during these captivities. One of those things was that they had ceased to speak Hebrew, and now spoke a language that was similar to Hebrew, but of Chaldean origin. It was known as Aramaic. This was the common language of the people. Those who were the religious leaders would have had to maintain a knowledge of Hebrew so that the Torah could continue to be read, for we know that when they came back into the land, Ezra led a reading of the Torah for the people. There were some men then (religious scribes and Levites) who were able to translate them for the people, and then later the scholars (rabbis, scribes, Pharisees, etc.) of Yeshua's time were trained to read the Scriptures in Hebrew.
Now, the assertion is made that this historical fact is wrong and that the people all did speak Hebrew at the time of Christ, but do the Scriptures bear that out? No, they do not. First only a remnant returned to Jerusalem. Many Jews remained in the country where they were captive and continued their lives, adopting much of the culture and keeping the language of their captors. This explains the reason as to why the Holy Spirit gave the gift of tongues when He was first given to the disciples. It was so all these Jews who had come into town could hear the gospel in the language they spoke, for they did not speak Hebrew (or Aramaic in many cases). But neither did the remnant returning speak Hebrew. In the book of Nehemiah, we are told about Ezra leading a reading of the Scriptures to the congregation when they returned, and we are told that they had to have them explained, for they could not understand them as read. The argument may be made that the explanations were not because the people did not understand Hebrew, but that the gist of what was being said needed to be explained. While one might make that argument when one speaks of the prophet's writings, the Torah is not that hard to understand and it was the Torah that was being read. “Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery.” The laws did not really need explanation, if the people were actually understanding the words when hearing them read.
Nehemiah 8:1-3 “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.”
Note that Ezra brought the law before men and woman and all that could hear with understanding. In other words, not everyone could understand what was read, only those who spoke Hebrew, which did not include all the men and women. Those who had understanding are separated out a second time as a group apart from the regular men and women. If there is any dispute about this, we have more testimony as to that fact. Now those who could understand are actually named.
Nehemiah 8:4-8 “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.”
This group of men and the Levites gave the people understanding as to what was being read. This was because the people no longer spoke Hebrew. They spoke Aramaic. It says they did not understand the reading, it had to be translated for them.
Now that the people were back in the land, historical traditions say that Ezra and a group called the Great Synagogue or Assembly went about putting together the Torah and writings of the prophets to create the Tanakh or Old Testament. There is a reference in the Scriptures that indicates that he did organize a group to put together and understand the Scriptures. Nehemiah 8:13 “And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law.” When the Scriptures were read in synagogue, after the Torah was read in Hebrew, (which the people did not understand) the oral traditions (commentaries and interpretations of the law) were given in the common language. These were called Targumim which “explained” the Scriptures. [I use quotes on the word “explained” as the interpretations did not always match God's intent and meaning.] Unfortunately, a lot of the oral traditions were incorporating pagan beliefs and traditions developed and incorporated into Judaism during the captivity in Babylon (Kabbalah). They were misinterpreting the Scriptures and relaying them to the people. And since only the religious leaders actually understood the Scriptures as written, and the people could not read them for themselves, not only because they did not read or write Hebrew, but because Torahs were not readily available to everyone, the people were not understanding God's Word as He intended.
Originally these “oral traditions,” as they were known, were just passed on orally, but then famous scribes or rabbis, as we now know them, added their own commentaries, writing all of it down. One of the most famous of these was Hillel (c 110 BCE). These became the Mishnah and Talmud. Over time, what was in these writings came to be considered more important than the actual Torah in terms of the laws, and they essentially became the law overriding what God had said. These are the laws that the Hebrew Roots movement are now asking people to follow, the Talmud laws, not God's laws. This sort of thing is also common today in the Christian church. Pastors refer to commentaries on the Scriptures for understanding rather than looking at the Scriptures themselves. They preach from the commentaries, they study the commentaries, and have no idea what the Scriptures actually say. In this they are no different from the rabbis of Bible times. This sort of thing leads to a great deal of error, which is what Yeshua was often correcting when He spoke to people and said, “Ye have heard it said....., but I say unto you....”
By the time Christ came along, the land had been conquered first by the Greeks and then by the Romans. Greek had become the world language during the time of Alexander, and it was used for commerce between countries, provinces, communities, etc. If you were a businessman and you wanted to do business with anyone outside of your community, it behooved you to learn Greek, for it was the “international” language of the day. It was the language of commerce. This continued to be the international language up to Christ's day. Communities all had their own language or dialect. Mainly in Israel it was Aramaic, but even then, each community's dialect would have been different. Jesus and His group were mocked for their country (what we would call hillbilly or backward) speech. Backward because Galileans were erroneously considered the country bumpkins of the day, because it was an agricultural community. Matthew 26:73 “And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.” Mark 14:70 “And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.” Acts 2:7-11 “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Note that in this last passage that Galilee had its own dialect that was different from those in Judea, for they heard the Holy Spirit speaking in their tongue which was listed as one that was different from that of Galilee.
So we know that Aramaic and its dialects were the common language of the people of Israel. We know that Greek was the international and commercial language. Even though Rome had conquered the Greeks, Greek continued to be the international language and Romans no doubt learned it so that they could speak with the people in any province into which they were sent, as Latin was not a world language. Among the Romans themselves, Latin would have been the common language. For a Jew to communicate with a Roman, the only language they had in common was Greek, for the Romans did not, as a practice, learn the common language of the people they were sent to keep under control (unless they wanted to or were there for a very long time and just assimilated it) and it is highly unlikely that the Jews would learn yet another language when they already spoke Aramaic, Greek, and some of them Hebrew. Neither would the soldiers learn Hebrew, for even the common people of Israel did not have a huge grasp of that language. And only men would have, for women were not taught it at all. The argument is made that since the sign put over Yeshua on the cross by Pilate was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, that obviously everyone spoke Hebrew. No, everyone probably spoke Greek. Greek was for everyone to read, Latin was for the Romans to read, and Hebrew was for the religious leaders who insisted that Christ be put to death (Pilate was not in favor of this crucifixion so he probably did this to make them angry), for they were there when Pilate wrote the sign. Now, this would lead us to believe that either Pilate knew Hebrew (unlikely) if he himself actually wrote it, or that he had the Hebrew part written by one of the Jewish scribes that we are told was in attendance (more likely).
Now comes the question, what language did Yeshua and the apostles speak, and in what language was the rest of the New Testament written. We already know that the common folk spoke Aramaic and dialects of that as their first tongue. That Yeshua spoke this is confirmed in Scripture for when on the cross He said, ““Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”, which happens to be in Aramaic. That it was apparently a dialect is also shown in that the listeners at the foot of the cross thought He was calling on Elijah rather than God. They did not completely understand his dialect, although they did have a basic understanding of what He was saying (which indicates they understood a form of Aramaic).
Jesus grew up in Nazareth in Galilee. While it was an agricultural town, it lay only a couple miles from the Gentile city of Sepphoris. In Sepphoris Greek would have been the spoken language. For Joseph to make any kind of living in an agricultural community as a carpenter, he no doubt had to get work in Sepphoris. Sepphoris was basically the capital of Galilee. So within a few miles of His home, was a city of 12,000 or so Greek speaking people, with whom Joseph no doubt would have been doing business. It is not a stretch to think that as Joseph's sons would be expected to follow him in his occupation, that the boys would have been taught to speak Greek, so that they could ply their trade. That Yeshua could speak Greek can be confirmed by Scripture where it is shown that He spoke to the Roman soldiers and others, who would not have known Hebrew, nor probably have been fluent in Aramaic. It is highly unlikely He was speaking Latin. And people from outside the province may even not have known Aramaic, even if they were Jews, for the further they were from Judea, the more they would have adapted their language to the country in which they resided. And we know that even in Israel, Aramaic changed over the years to various dialects. So the question becomes, did Yeshua and the disciples speak Hebrew at all?
I think it is fair to state that Jesus probably knew Hebrew even without an education in it. He was God incarnate after all. To answer that question for the rest of the group, we must look to the educational system of the day. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9 God had given the mandate that the children were to be educated by the parents to know the Torah. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” [ These verses were to become the source of the wearing of phylacteries or tefillin, which are small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn on the forehead and arm/hand by observant Jews during morning prayers.]
Around 75 BCE Simeon ben Shetah regarded elementary education as compulsory and set about seeing to it that it was carried out. Apparently children were not being homeschooled properly, as their parents were not educated either. A “formal” course of education was established for young boys to follow. My research came across some information that stated that in Galilee, historically it has been found that they probably had the greatest educational system in Judea even better than that in Jerusalem. This area was known for being the most religiously conservative in the land, in spite of the fact that most people considered them simple, because they were an agricultural area and had a “backward” country dialect. [Personal note, I have noted that it seems that the most conservative areas both politically and religiously tend to be found in the country and small towns, not the cities. And that most people consider country folk to be less educated, which is not necessarily true. I have several degrees and live way out in the boonies, as do a number of my educated friends. The cities are also full of uneducated people.] Whether this information about Galilee is accurate or not I cannot say or prove, as I did not live then. I can only reference the information I found. It may or may not be precise.
What seems to be more certain about education is that children were educated in Judaism at home until the age of five. At that time little boys began their “formal” education. This was the equivalent of Hebrew school today. The boys would go to the local synagogue or whatever venue was used and learn from the rabbis and scribes. Naturally the environment of the community dictated how “formal” this would be able to be. Over the course of the next five years they were expected to completely memorize the Torah (the first five books) by rote. Sources say that while the scribe or rabbi would first speak the scripture in Hebrew, there was a meturganim, an interpreter of many languages, who would then speak it in Aramaic for the children to repeat the passage back. This meant that the students were not learning to recite in Hebrew, but in Aramaic. Whether this part was true in all schools, in some schools, or not at all is something that I cannot verify. It is what the research I have found says existed. We do know that Hebrew was not the common language. If they were taught to recite in Hebrew, it had no meaning in terms of understanding the words, for they didn't speak Hebrew and were simply given a translation in Aramaic. They merely memorized by rote. They were not taught to read it at this stage, so they could no more understand what they were saying in Hebrew than if someone gave you a sentence in a foreign language, told you the gist of what it meant, then you learned to phonetically pronounce it. You would not really learn the language that way. You might learn some pat phrases you could use at appropriate times, that is all. The boys were required to do this all week long. At the same time, they were trained by their fathers to learn their father's trade.
From the age of ten to fourteen, they would continue their studies at a Beit Midrash, literally the “House of Interpretation” or otherwise known as the House of Learning, memorizing the rest of the Tanakh or Old Testament in the same manner as before, so that they were able to chant any passage from the Scriptures, without having to be able to actually read and interpret it from the Hebrew. (Note that the literal name of the school indicates what was really happening. They were learning the understanding from the commentaries, or oral traditions, not the Scriptures themselves. They merely learned to recite them.) Again, they probably did not really learn to read it with understanding, but if they learned to read it at all, it was probably by phonetic pronunciation, as dialogue was conducted in the common language. During this time they also learned how to debate, using rhetorical questions and answers, using the arguments of the oral traditions. (Hence the name Beit Midrash). Unlike the first five years, where they did no thinking but just repeated passages back and memorized by rote, during this time they were taught to use their critical thinking skills in an unusual way. They would be given a question and had to answer it not by quoting a Scripture that answered it, but by asking a question in return (generally taken from an argument from a commentary, which is still the practice at Yeshivas today). At the age of fourteen it was determined whether or not a boy was sufficiently intelligent to continue his studies. Most boys stopped their education at this point and went to work with their fathers. Only the brightest were able to continue their studies. (The practice of Bar Mitzvahs did not start until after the 1st century, so learning to read for that was unnecessary.) So the only possible Hebrew that they may have learned would have been learned this way, but if the sources are right, and they often did not even recite in Hebrew but in Aramaic, and debated in Aramaic, then they would not really have learned Hebrew at all.
The hopeful goal at this point for those who continued (for there was still a weeding out process) was to become a scribe or rabbi. This process required that the student find a rabbi from whom he could study and of whom he would be a disciple or talmid. As different rabbis held to different schools of interpretations of the scriptures, a student had to find one with whom he agreed in theology. When approached, the rabbi would then give the prospective student what would be the equivalent of our entrance exams for college. If a student passed, he was told to “take his yoke upon him.” (Sound familiar?) If he didn't, he went into business with his father or tried to find another rabbi to test him. Upon passing, the student would become a disciple and go wherever the rabbi went, leaving home and family behind. A student who did not possess trilingual skills at this point was required to study and obtain them. They spoke Aramaic, but had to learn Hebrew and Koine Greek as well. (Probably most already knew quite a bit of Greek, and the Jewish scholars had already made a translation of the Torah into Greek for people a couple centuries earlier, as nobody knew Hebrew.)
Now for the next four years a young man studied and at the age of eighteen it was determined that he was ready for marriage, so the decision had to be made whether or not he continued his education. If it did not seem like he had it in him to go the rest of the course to become a scribe or rabbi, either through diligence or intelligence, he was told to go home, get married, and take up his trade (the same as his father). If he continued in his studies, he was free from the pressure to marry (which was considered an obligation of the law), so that he could continue to study as a disciple. When a disciple or talmid completed his course of study at around the age of thirty, he was given a certificate which was the equivalent of a doctorate and the Sanhedrin ordained him as a rabbi, also extending the authority to act as a judge of penal matters. He could finally start his own public ministry around the age of thirty (which is when Yeshua began his). Most rabbis began their ministry at their local synagogue. Only a few were good enough (in terms of being versed in the Scriptures and wise) to become master rabbis, who could have their own talmidim or retinue of disciples. Usually a rabbi was much older before he was worthy of this position. Christ did this at the age of thirty when most were just beginning as novice rabbis. We also know from the Scriptures that He acted as a judge of matters, which seems to indicate He had been given this authority, as the Sanhedrin had laws about these things.
So armed with all this information, we now come to the question, what language did the disciples speak? We know Yeshua had to have been trilingual at the very least. He grew up with Aramaic and there is Scriptural evidence to prove He did speak it. We know He had to speak Greek, first from his growing up right next to a Greek metropolis, and second He spoke to a Roman soldier among others, who would not speak Hebrew or Aramaic, (and it is unlikely although not impossible that Jesus spoke Latin). We also know He spoke Hebrew as this was the original language of God. Of course it is possible that if He were to truly live as a human, that He had to learn the same way the rest of us did when it came to things like languages, by studying it. Even if so though, He was highly intelligent and wise, and of course automatically understood the Laws of God, so no matter what, His begin able to speak Hebrew is not in question.
Getting back to the manuscripts, let us consider for a moment that the disciples did read and write Hebrew. Consider for a moment the idea that the Scriptures (all of the New Testament) were not originally written in Greek. That leaves the common language of Aramaic, or the scholarly language of Hebrew. What internal evidence in the Bible can we find that they were not written in Aramaic?
The first evidence is when Yeshua called out on the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This is an Aramaic expression of Chaldean origin. In Mark this is exactly the way it is written, and he interprets it for his audience. If he were writing in Aramaic, why would he translate into Aramaic something that is already written in Aramaic? In Matthew we find it written slightly differently. Matthew writes that He said, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”. While the last two words are in Aramaic, “Eli” is actually Hebrew, and Matthew also feels the need to translate this phrase for his audience. So Matthew feels the need to translate something which he says was said in both Aramaic and Hebrew into the language in which he is writing his account. This would seem to indicate that he is writing in neither Aramaic or Hebrew. In Mark we also find Yeshua saying “Talitha cumi” another Aramaic phrase, which Mark then again interprets for his audience.(This also validates the idea that the people spoke Aramaic as their first language, for it is what Christ spoke to the young girl and what He spoke when in distress on the cross. This latter, which Christ addressed to God while on the cross was not in Hebrew, so what does that tell us about speaking to God in Hebrew? If Yeshua addressed God in another language, why can't we?) So it is obvious if it has to be translated from the Aramaic for their audience, they are not writing in Aramaic. So now we have to consider, are they writing in Hebrew as asserted? There is no question that Luke and John did not write in Hebrew. Here are a few verses that show this.
John 5:2 “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.” Why on earth would John feel the need to say what it is called in Hebrew tongue, if He is writing in Hebrew? He would simply say the name with no explanation.
John 19:13 “When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.” The judgment seat is known to the audience as the “Pavement”, but then John gives the name in Hebrew. That is because he is not writing in Hebrew.
John 19:17 “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:” Again, why would he explain that something has a different name in Hebrew if he is writing in Hebrew?
Luke wrote both the gospel and the book of Acts. Acts is merely the second installment in the writings Luke was sending to Theophilus, an obviously Greek man from the name. Most assuredly Luke would not write to him in Hebrew. And we see that he does not from these verses.
Acts 4:36 “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,”
Acts 9:36 “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
Acts 9:36 “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
In both these cases, Luke is interpreting a Jewish name for his audience into Greek. So obviously he is not writing in Hebrew.
Mark also was not writing in Hebrew, as he too had to explain the name of Golgotha.
Mark 15:22 “And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull.”
So we can see that these three apostles were not writing in either Aramaic or Hebrew, but must have been writing in Greek, as there is no other language that would make sense. And they were writing documents that they intended to be read by both Jewish and Gentile followers.
But what about Matthew? The assertion is made that He wrote in Hebrew. Above we see that he interpreted what Christ said on the cross, so that would indicate otherwise. Not having the so-called Hebrew manuscript, the only thing we have to judge this is the writings of the church fathers who say they quoted some of it, and the Gospel of Matthew in our canon (from the Greek) with which we have to compare it. In the New Testament version of Matthew 1:23, right at the beginning of his narrative, Matthew says this, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” One of the first things Matthew does is to interpret the Hebrew name given to Yeshua. Immanuel is a Hebrew name. Anyone who spoke Hebrew would know what it meant. This clearly indicates Matthew did not write the gospel included in the New Testament in Hebrew, nor did he write it in Aramaic as shown earlier, as he had to interpret for the readers from these two languages. The manuscripts that exist of this gospel are in Greek, and it seems that the internal evidence of the only manuscripts we have of his agrees with that conclusion.
So the idea that any of these were originally written in Hebrew and the Vatican has passed off Greek copies onto us does not seem to hold up under scrutiny.
But let us look at the external evidence again. This all began with the idea that the disciples could read and write fluent Hebrew. What were the odds they did? We know what the educational system seemed to be at that time. It seems from the way they were called that they had not studied to the point of being educated in Hebrew to that extent. At least some were married and all had trades (or in John's case were in training given his age). Given what is known about the training of young men, most likely they were not terribly versed in Hebrew, as they had not gone on to become rabbis, which is when the language skills were taught. But that aside, let us now consider the audience. To whom was the gospel going to go? Yeshua made it clear that it was to go first to the House of Israel (who spoke Aramaic), but they were rejecting it, so it was to go out to the entire world without the benefit of going through Israel first. This was a world in which Greek was the common denominator of communication. This gospel, to go out into the world could not go out in a language that was well on its way to becoming extinct in the very people for whom it was the original language. Why on earth would God choose to send the gospel out in a language nobody would understand? He wouldn't. The idea was to send it out to the Gentiles and they spoke Greek. God is not relegated to only Hebrew. After all, He created all the languages at Babel. He is perfectly capable of hearing and understanding the prayers of Christians in every language on earth. Christ called out to Him in Aramaic on the cross. Why would He not want to use a language that everyone could understand to spread the gospel? Why would He use a language that would become lost for a couple thousand years to teach His truths? He wouldn't. That would defeat His very purpose. Hebrew is the original language and a pure one, and one day will be restored in the millennium, but it is not so sacred that it and it alone is the only means of communication God used then or now. In fact, God Himself validates this fact that He uses other languages, as He had the Holy Spirit give the apostles the gift of tongues at Pentecost. If Hebrew is the only language one can use to speak to or about God, why did He Himself see to it that the apostles spoke the gospel in other languages. He made them do this. He gave them no choice. It was His choice to work outside of the language of Hebrew through the apostles. If they were to speak other languages, why could they not write in another language? One that everyone could understand? They would, for all the manuscript evidence shows that they wrote in Greek. There is not a single scrap of manuscript extant that is in Hebrew.
So let us now consider the hypothetical manuscript under question. It is not any of the other gospels that are being said to have been written in Hebrew, for there is absolutely no evidence of that, as shown above through internal evidence and externally by manuscript evidence. The only extant manuscripts in existence, some of which go back to the middle of the first century, including parts of the book of Matthew, are exclusively in Greek. Since the external evidence of these Hebrew manuscripts' existence is only found in the testimony of a few people, let us examine what is said to be the internal evidence of this Gospel of the Hebrews. In other words, is what they teach in line with the rest of Scripture?
We know that the other disciples wrote about their experiences with Christ, and that they all agree on what He was teaching. The entire New Testament (including the gospel of Matthew that is included in the New Testament) teaches the same doctrines throughout. Are we to assume that only Matthew understood the truth and that what we call the gospel of Matthew in our Bible is a hoax? That he really wrote this other gospel in Hebrew and that the rest of them completely misunderstood what Yeshua was teaching? To assume that scholars over the centuries are all in on some vast conspiracy by the Vatican (which did not exist when these Greek documents were first written, so that accusation is ridiculous at the start) to keep the true gospel from us is to say that God is incapable of preserving His Word. Do I think that Satan has tried to corrupt that truth? Absolutely. That is what I think these manuscripts that came out of Egypt that are all full of error, and from which all these modern English translations come are. But you can read about that in my article on the KJV Bible in the archives (which is linked below). God has always kept His truth available to those who really wanted it and sought after it. That is precisely why I do not think it is in Hebrew. It would have been lost to everyone over the course of the last couple of millennia had He done that, simply because hardly anybody knew Hebrew.
Now looking at the actual teachings of this Gospel of the Hebrews, I had listed them above. Let us see how they line up with the rest of the Scriptures.
Adoptionism. According to this doctrine, Yeshua was the biological son of Mary and Joseph and was adopted by God at His baptism, being then made divine. This is in complete opposition to everything in both the Old and New Testament.
First we are told in the Tanakh (which was written in Hebrew) that God would give a sign and that it would be that a virgin (not a women who had had sex with her husband) would conceive and bear a son and His name would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Funny how it is Matthew of all of them who quoted this very verse to show that Yeshua was not born of human paternal parentage. Matthew 1:18-23 “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
Luke 1:30-35 “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
We are told in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The Hebrew Tanakh tells us that the Messiah will be the mighty God (but there is only one God), the everlasting Father (and there is only one Father). The evidence that Yeshua is God is there long before the New Testament tells us.
Then we are also told in the New Testament that Jesus was God incarnated as a human. 1 Timothy 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It was because of His sinless divine nature due to being God incarnate, that He was able to keep the Law perfectly and so provide the needed sacrifice to cover our sins, being a sinless perfect sacrifice. If He were not made divine until His thirtieth birthday (or thereabouts), He could not be sinless, for as a mere human He would have been born of a sin nature and most assuredly would have sinned before His thirtieth birthday, given that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” His sacrifice would have been no more than any other human's sacrificial death in meaning. It would not have covered the sins of the world. Acts 20:28 “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Only God Himself could pay for our sins with His sinless blood. If Christ was not God, we are doomed to perdition, for it is His blood that was shed to purchase the church.
Christ told us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” HIS commandments? I thought they were God's. This is not a problem when we understand that Yeshua is God.
As for the Holy Spirit being Yeshua's mother, in John 15:26 Christ calls the Holy Spirit “he”. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” He does it again in John 16:13-14 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” Yeshua calls the Holy Spirit “he.”
This brings us to the doctrine of the Trinity. We already have seen that Yeshua is God incarnate from the above verses. He also said that He and the Father were one, meaning one in being. John 10:30 “I and my Father are one.” He called Himself “I am”, which is what God called Himself. Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, Verily,verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” The reason they wanted to stone Jesus was because He was thought to be blaspheming God by saying He was the “I am”. Now we find that there is a third person in the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit was there at the beginning too. It was God who created the heavens and earth, but they were also created by Yeshua, and the Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Colossians 1:16-18 “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Genesis 1:2 “ And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” We can see that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all created the earth. If God was the One who created it, than how can it be that the other two did also? There are other verses that could be brought to show this Trinity, but I will let the reader do his own research to continue that subject. Finally we have a verse that explicitly says that there is a Trinity. 1 John 5:7 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Yes, I realize that this one verse that proves the Trinity is only found in the KJV, not in the manuscripts that came out of Egypt. Did anything good ever come out of Egypt in the way of doctrine? The Lord says that there is a perverse spirit there that causes all kinds of error. Do we believe the Lord or not? Isaiah 19:14 “The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit.”. Again I reference my article on the KJV about this. http://bibleconundrumsandcontroversy.blogspot.com/2011/01/king-james-version-only-controversy.html.
So if adoptionism, a female Holy Spirit, and there being no Trinity is what this Gospel of the Hebrews teaches, then either it is completely bogus, or the entire New Testament is entirely bogus. There is no middle ground on this.
Another small problem concerns the Lord's brother, James. James was supposedly at the Last Supper according to this faux gospel, but the Lord's brothers did not believe in Him as the Savior until after the resurrection. In John 7:5 we are told that they did not believe in Him being the Messiah. “For neither did his brethren believe in him.” The only ones at the Last Supper were the small close-knit group of disciples with whom Christ wanted to spend His last hours. He did not spend them with His unbelieving siblings.
In this hypothetical gospel, the emphasis is upon being obedient to the Laws, yet Yeshua preached mercy rather than justice, which the Law demands. In many cases He overrode the Law, thereby breaking it. Now by breaking it, I use the following definitions of the word “break.”
- To surpass or outdo. (Mercy and forgiveness surpass the punishment of sin).
- To overcome or put an end to (He put an end to the required punishments by offering forgiveness and mercy). Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”
- To lessen the force or effect of (The threat of punishment was lessened by the offering of forgiveness)
- To render useless or inoperative (Forgiveness and mercy renders the punishments of the law inoperative)
- To reduce in rank; demote. (The punishments prescribed by law were demoted in favor of mercy)
- To fail to fulfill; cancel (The punishment was not fulfilled or was canceled by offering mercy and forgiveness)
- To fail to conform to; violate (Christ did not conform to the prescribed letter of the law)
- To invalidate by judicial action. (Christ as a rabbi and therefore judge invalidated the prescribed punishment of the law by his judicial action of forgiveness and mercy)
- To become unusable or inoperative (The punishments of the law became inoperative)
- To diminish in or lose physical or spiritual strength (the punishments of the law lost their spiritual strength in that He replaced them with a higher form of spirituality – forgiveness and mercy.)
- To come to an end (the punishments of the law were abolished and replaced when Christ died for our sins and God destroyed the temple, thereby rendering the laws (not the Ten Commandments which are separate and different from the penal, dietary, etc. laws, but the civil and judicial laws of Israel) of no effect, as they had been replaced by the teachings of Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:13-17 “And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”)
Yeshua replaced the penal laws (a great many which had the death penalty) and brought them to an end by paying the penalty Himself and offering forgiveness in its place. We do not stone people for adultery, or not observing the Sabbath, or for being a rebellious son, just to name a few. He also changed some of the other laws, rendering them obsolete. The Law gave the right to divorce. Yeshua said that we should not divorce except in one particular case - adultery. The law allowed remarriage. He said you should not remarry, for it is adultery. The law said that if a man smites you or something of yours, you could seek restitution. Christ said to turn the other cheek. The law said to put an adulterer to death. Jesus offered forgiveness instead. The law said to bring a sacrifice to be forgiven for sins. Yeshua simply forgave them and simply told them to sin no more, not go and sacrifice, undoing the sacrificial system for sins. In many ways, He broke (in the sense of the above definitions) the law. But then we are not speaking of the Ten Commandments, which He kept perfectly, and which are the covenant with God. Exodus 34:28 “And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” He broke or canceled out the penal laws and sacrificial system, replacing them with something much better - mercy and forgiveness.
Even God Himself broke the laws, (again in the sense of the definitions above) for in destroying the temple He made it impossible to carry out hundreds of the laws regarding sacrifices, the priesthood, and feasts, as He Himself had given directions for them observe. He rendered them canceled and inoperative. When they asked for a king, God gave them a king, but warned them that they would no longer have the rights He had given them. They would have their lands taken, their children taken, and be taxed well above the tithe they gave to the Lord. His rules about property would be null and void. So both God the Father, and Yeshua the Son “broke” the laws that God had established for the nation of Israel. In so doing, we are shown that these laws (not the Ten Commandments for they are inviolate) have been superseded. They were only for the nation of Israel anyhow, not for the world, at least not until God sets up His kingdom on earth at which time God will again establish laws for His government.
Anything that God wanted kept, He reiterated in the New Testament. For example, homosexuality is still a form of fornication, and therefore a sin (but one of the Commandments is about sexual sins so therefore it is still in effect). The laws of the Ten Commandments still stand, for they are the covenant, but the punishments are gone (of course those who reject forgiveness will face the punishment at Judgment day and we can still reap the natural consequences of our acts). Concerning penal laws, we are told in Romans that we must answer to the laws of the government God gives us. These are the laws we must obey (the laws of our nation, state, county, city/town) and suffer the punishments of, if we break the law. Christ paid the punishments (most of them death) of God's laws when He died on the cross. The Ten Commandments were originally about showing us our sin. Now they are about holy living. Yeshua said if we love Him we will keep His Commandments. Before, they were impossible to keep and just showed us our need for a Savior. Now they are something we can actually strive to do, through Yeshua. If we love our Lord, we will live holy lives. The Commandments are all the Law that were put in the ark of the covenant, not the entire body of law, for the Ten Commandments are the testimony of the covenant between God and man.
The Ten Commandments were made for all mankind, not just Israel, for they show us our sin. Romans :20-21 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;” The Ten Commandments are for the world and actually preceded the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. Abraham knew these laws. Genesis 26:4-5 “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Before God gave the body of laws to Moses at Mt. Sinai the Israelites already knew about the Sabbath, and probably the other Commandments. This is shown when God addresses them before the giving of the Laws. Exodus 16:28 “And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?”
The Laws of Moses (everything other than the Ten Commandments) were given only to the nation of Israel and most were lifted when Christ came and replaced them with love, mercy, and forgiveness. More were made impossible when the city and temple were destroyed and Israel was dispersed into the world, ending the nation as a physical nation. Hence the civil laws of the nation became null and void. Others were ended when God told the apostles that they were no longer needed ( e.g. dietary). Christ was the righteousness of God apart from the Law (the laws, not the Commandments). Jesus fulfilled THE Law (the covenant Law) when He kept the Ten Commandments perfectly, but He abolished the punishments of the Law when He took the punishments on Himself and offered us mercy in their place. Ephesians 2:14-16 “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:” By keeping the Commandments perfectly, and paying the punishments in the law (death), Christ reconciled both in one body, so making peace with the penalty of the law and rendering it obsolete.
Now I hear someone give the argument that the Scriptures say in Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” The Hebrew Roots proponents say that this verse means that the entire law is still in effect, but is that really what it means? Let's look at the verse in context. Matthew 5:17-20 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
First Yeshua says that He did not come to destroy the Law. But we already see that He did change the penal, sacrificial, and other laws. There are two laws. The Law of the Ten Commandments, which is the covenant with God, and the laws of the temple and penal laws, which were for Israel alone. Christ fulfilled the Laws of the Ten Commandments keeping them perfectly. He paid the penalties of the penal laws, and gave the ultimate sacrifice of the sacrificial laws, and the temple (for the age of the Church) became the believer himself in Him. So He did fulfill all the Laws, both the Commandments and the other laws. Therefore when He said that not one iota would pass from the Law until it was fulfilled, He was speaking of two different things. First His death on the cross where all these things were reconciled in Him fulfilled that part of the laws. Then He does let us know that we are still under obligation to strive to keep the Ten Commandments, which are our covenant with God, and which will not pass away. By believing in Yeshua, we are in essence keeping the rest of the laws anyhow, for in Him exist all the fulfillment of the penal, sacrificial, and religious rites of the law. He is the Law fulfilled and belief in Him is keeping these Laws.
Another teaching of this Hebrew Roots group is the accusation is that Paul is a heretic. Why is this accusation leveled? Because Paul understood who Christ was, why He came, and how He ended (fulfilled) the penal codes, the temple laws, the dietary laws, etc. on our behalf. If one wants to labor under the yoke of the law - the Old Covenant or Testament - and try to fulfill it himself, then Paul is the enemy, therefore the only way to deal with him is to label him a heretic. If one wants to be under the New Covenant or Testament that Yeshua instituted and have the laws written on your heart instead of laboring to fulfill them yourself, accepting that Jesus already did it all for you, then Paul tells us how to achieve that and his words are truth.
So it would seem that this Gospel of the Hebrews cannot possibly be Scripture, as it is opposition to the Scriptures. While those who believe this is the only valid Scripture say that the New Testament is heretical and blame the forces of Satan for leading people from the truth, it would in reality seem that Satan is using people's pride and ignorance (because they do not research these things) to lead them away from the truth of real salvation. In the quest to leave the paganism that has infiltrated the church (and yes, I do believe the Catholic church is responsible for a lot (but not all) of it, Protestantism has done its share too), people are running back to the Jewish roots of Christianity. (News flash. Judaism is rampant with Kabbalah or paganism. They are as bad as modern Christianity). This, if done properly without going overboard, and judiciously avoiding the paganism woven throughout, is an excellent thing and to be commended, but people are taking it way beyond what they should. Peter's statement could well apply to this situation, “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” They are not only undoing the teachings of the New Testament by putting people under the yoke of the law again, which Paul warns against, but Gentiles are even claiming to be Israelites from the lost ten tribes. They are making this claim on the basis that they feel called back to the Jewish roots. That does not make one an Israelite. That means that God is making them aware of the paganism that needs to be purged from their beliefs, not that they are from the nation of Israel. To make this claim of being an Ephraimite (as many call themselves) shows that they are not seeking to get back to the true teachings (for if that were all it were, they would not seek to make themselves into “Jews”), but that they pridefully want to think that they are special because they are from the “chosen” people. These people should beware, for the following verses may well be about them. Revelation 2:9 “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” Revelation 3:9 “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”
One does not need to be an Israelite to follow truth. And one does not need to be an Israelite to be chosen. According to God, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29. And in Colossians 3:11 “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” We are all the seed of Abraham regardless of ethnic origin, as long as we believe in Yeshua. Galatians 3:7 “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” In seeking to try to be something which one feels is superior in righteousness (an Israelite by ethnicity), especially when there is no hope of proving it, is a matter of pride and ego. Yeshua told His disciples to not seek to be called rabbi or master as one should not seek to be what the people considered superior in righteousness, education, or in other ways. Matthew 23:8-12 “But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Quite honestly, considering that the ten tribes were totally pagan and so bad that God expelled them to be lost until He brings them back at the time of the millennium, it is not a heritage of which people should be proud. It is something shameful.
Another claim that is being made, besides that of the only valid Scriptures being those in Hebrew, is that you should only use the Hebrew names for God, Jesus, et al. That these are the only names that what? That work? That get you heard in prayer? That make you right with God? This is absurd. I deliberately use Hebrew, Greek, or English terms as the mood strikes. It makes no matter as long as people understand of whom you speak. God speaks and understands all languages. If we are all dependent upon Hebrew for conversing with God, then there have been a couple thousand years where nobody has been talking to or hearing from God. There is nothing wrong with using the Hebrew names, I am sure God enjoys it, but God doesn't demand that we do so. He did not write it in the Law. Nowhere does He say we cannot have translations or transliterations of His name in other languages. In fact, as already mentioned, He was the one who had the Holy Spirit have the apostles speak in other languages for the sake of spreading the gospel, so to say that we must only use Hebrew is to overrule what God chose to do. In fact God tells us that He would speak to the people in a language other than Hebrew, because they were not listening to Him in that language. Isaiah 28:9-11 “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” 1 Corinthians 14:21 “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” It is not just a New Testament teaching. It is in the Old Testament too, for all you Hebrew Roots people.
Further it is charged that the name Jesus is really the name Zeus, and that this conspiracy is getting people to call upon a Satanic entity rather than Yeshua. To say that one must be extremely gullible to believe this when a simply google search on the names would show the truth is just incredible. First let's address the true origin of the name Jesus. The English name Jesus comes from the Latin form of the Greek rendering of Yeshua, which happens to be “Iesous”. “Iesous” was a transliteration as closely as was possible in the Koine Greek language. It was not the result of the Vatican or any pagan conspiracy, but was actually a transliteration made by the Jewish scholars who translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek in the Septuagint in the third century B.C. (The name Joshua is the same name and is in the Old Testament, which is why they transliterated the name. It was in the Torah). From there the name was transliterated into Latin, “Iesus”, and then finally into English, “Jesus” (our J replacing the I). It was not a case of translation, or of usurping the name of a pagan god, but of transliteration. The problem being that the languages do not all have the same alphabet or phonetic sounds, thus the requirement of substituting letters and sounds.
The claim that the name “Jesus” is the pagan name “Zeus” is an absurd and ridiculous claim. The apostles themselves called Him “Iesous” in the Greek manuscripts. Do we know better than they? The name “Zeus” is not the same as “Iesous”. In ancient Greek Zeus is spelled “Zeus,” just as it is in English, not “Iesous.” We simply use the Greek name in English. It has not been transliterated or translated from Greek. It in no way has any relation to the name Jesus. This is simply a ridiculous lie that is being promulgated by this group.
A last consideration is this. If the Gospel of the Hebrews was written by Matthew, why are there three different versions of the same gospel? Why do these excerpts that these church fathers included in their writings not agree? Is it not possible that someone took the original Greek manuscript and for reasons of their own (the continuation of the law rather than the freedom of grace) created a Hebrew manuscript and altered teachings to suit their own agenda, then circulated these manuscripts as if they were the original? Is this not a possibility given the evidence above? As there are no extant examples of these manuscripts, it cannot be proven that it is not possible. In fact the body of evidence seems to point to this very conclusion. And what exactly are these people who fall into this group who make this claim today reading? I have serious doubts that they are all Hebrew scholars and read this gospel in the original language. (I am assuming that someone must have taken the writings from these church fathers and compiled them into a book form). Are they reading an English translation of this gospel? If they are, how hypocritical! Or are they trusting that someone is translating it orally to them correctly the way the Jews trusted their rabbis with the oral traditions? Again, how hypocritical. Do they only speak the pure language of Hebrew during the course of the day? I know they don't, for I have corresponded with at least one person who believes in this Hebrew gospel and its teachings, and we corresponded in English. Nobody speaks Hebrew except possibly those who live in Israel. This entire theory of this gospel is one to be rejected.
If one wants further discourse on the Law vs. the Ten Commandments vs. Grace, my article on that can be found here. http://bibleconundrumsandcontroversy.blogspot.com/2012/09/should-christians-keep-entire-law-of.html.