This means "Matthew" was probably a Greek or Roman or gentile, who had poor knowledge of Hebrew.
Matthew's weird. He seems to have known the Septuagint to the point of basing some of his theology on it, but also used a number of Aramaic turns of phrase and ways of writing that came through in his Greek. At the same time, Matthew also made changes to Mark, often improving on Mark's Greek. I think Matthew was a Greek-speaking, diaspora Jew that used at least one non-Mark source that was a Greek translation of an Aramaic original (though I didn't come up with that on my own and don't remember who it is that I ageee with
I find this topic quite interesting. It's so interesting, that earlier this year I started writing my own translation of the Bible.
Good luck! I tried doing that some years ago when I travelled for work a lot and spent quite a bit of pre-internet time in hotels. I had a Hebrew textbook, a Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and a reprint of the nineteenth-century Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon
. I'd crack the BHS to the middle of a minor prophet or something else that I hadn't read recently or often. After translating a chapter or two, I'd check against my NIV to see how close I got.
Of course, the ideal way to read the Bible is in the original languages. Anything else is just an approximation. It's often compared to watching TV in color or black and white. The true colors of the Bible will only come out when reading in the original.
You know, I used to think that, but I've come to the realization that translators know the languages much better than I do. I read German well enough to not need a dictionary for most non-academic stuff, but I still get more out of a competent English translation than from the original. I still find reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew to be fulfilling in a way that I would call devotional if I was still a Christian and I get a rather smug self-satisfaction when I think I notice something a translator misinterpreted, but in the end, I still read the ESV even when I'm looking for interesting things that I'd previously missed.
On the other hand, I do still occasionally notice something in my original language, "devotional" reading that I'd previously missed. It was only recently that I noticed that at Jesus' baptism when the Spirit descends to Jesus, Mark uses a different preposition (Îµá¼°Ï‚
) than Matthew and Luke (á¼�Ï€â€™
). It turns out that the meanings of the two words overlap, but aren't identical. Both can be translated as "on" or "upon," but Îµá¼°Ï‚
can also mean "toward" or "into." Did Matthew's different preposition clarify Mark's meaning or change it? Google found that there has been a great deal of discussion
about exactly that. Since most English translations use "upon" for both, though, I would never have known about it if I couldn't notice the difference in the Greek.
Now, as pointed out already, even if you can read in the original languages, there are still problems. I think it's comparable to seeing something on the TV and live. You see the real thing only when you can be there in person. So, in a sense, even being able to read the critical text is an approximation.
Though some might think this is a problem, I don't view it as a big deal. What it does mean is that whatever Bible we read, we still need to exercise our brain juices. We need to dive deeper and wrestle to understand the intended meaning. This is not to say the Bible is so obscure that we can't understand it. But, it is like all great literature where we can both read at a simplistic level or also at a profound deep level.