New Book: The Multilingual Jesus and the Sociolinguistic World of the NT (Brill, 2015)

This book is my very first monograph that has just been published recently. It is broadly a study of the sociolinguistic contexts of the speech communities of first-century Palestine and, more specifically, a study of the use of the languages of those speech communities and of Jesus. Here are some of the questions I have sought to answer in this book: Was Jesus multilingual? Which languages did he speak? What does the linguistic composition and sociolinguistic situation of first-century Palestine look like? On what occasions were Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin spoken in that ancient community?

These questions have had biblical scholars searching for answers since the sixteenth century, proposing different opinions on the issues related to these questions. Answers to these questions significantly influence our understanding of the various sociolinguistic elements and facets of early Christianity, the early church, and the text of the New Testament. But those answers depend upon our depiction of the multifarious sociolinguistic dynamics that compose the speech community of ancient Palestine, which include its historical linguistic shifts under different military regimes, its geographical linguistic landscape, the social functions of the languages in its linguistic repertoire, and the specific types of social contexts where those languages were used.

Using a sociolinguistic model, my study attempts to paint a portrait of the sociolinguistic situation of ancient Palestine, consequently providing answers to these questions. Those interested in studies on various aspects of early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism, New Testament Greek language, the text and context of the New Testament, and linguistics and sociolinguistics may want to take a glance at my book. It is arguably the most comprehensive treatment of the subject matter to date in terms of its survey of the secondary literature and of its analysis of the sociolinguistic environment of first-century Palestine.

For more information, click here.

— Hughson T. Ong

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