The Entire Early Life of Jesus | Jesus’ History in the Bible
Early Jewish Life of Jesus
Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian! Géza Vermes, one of the greatest scholars in the studies of the “Historical Jesus,” mentioned this phrase in his book “Jesus in His Jewish Context,” which sheds light on Jesus in the Jewish context that pertains to his era. Jesus’ life cannot be separated from the Galilean environment He grew up in. This will be especially relevant in our study of those obscure years of Jesus’ life, such as his infancy, adolescence, and the nature of his life in his 20s, alongside with his intellectual and religious development, which unfortunately there are no certainties behind what actually happened during this period (of Jesus’ life). Rather, all explanations presented in these episodes regarding this matter are based on the assiduous work of researchers.
With full awareness of these difficulties and obstacles that will meet us as we try to understand and determine the nature of Jesus’s personal and jewish life, let’s begin by inspecting the external factors (such as sociocultural factors) that would have influenced the personal life, the mind and social development of Jesus in first-century Nazareth. These factors include the language Jesus spoke, the education he received, the job he practiced, and his socioeconomic status.
Was Jesus Illiterate?
Was Jesus educated did he not know how to read and write? How was he educated and what proof is there if he was? Jesus grew up in the village of Nazareth, an obscure village not mentioned in the Old Testament. It is difficult to imagine any standard of formal education in such an underprivileged and meagre environment. So the question now is: did Jesus know how to read and write? Well just because Jesus was called a teacher didn’t necessarily mean he knew how to read and write, since, in such communities, which relied heavily on oral tradition as the means for transmitting knowledge, anyone could theoretically have become a teacher, as well as influential (even without prior education). Nevertheless, the question presses, “Was Jesus educated or illiterate?”
To fully answer this question, we will examine internal as well as external evidence, to understand the Jewish educational system at the time of Jesus. The internal evidence is retrieved from passages and statements from the New Testament while external evidence rely on extra-biblical sources or sources from outside the bible.
First: Internal Evidence:
Three texts from the Gospels indirectly indicate that Jesus was an educated man:
Jn 8:6 The Scene of the Adulterous Woman,
John 7:15 the Jews asking about Jesus’ knowledge of the Scriptures,
Luke 4:16-30 the Scene of the expulsion of Jesus from the synagogue of Nazareth.
We will examine each scene individually in a systematic and precise manner. Those texts need to be read wisely in order to understand the messages hidden in-between the lines.
Scene 1, Jn 8: 6 – The Scene of the Adulterous Woman
Jesus comes to the temple in the morning and sits with the people, teaching and preaching the kingdom of God. Some of the scribes and Pharisees bring to him a woman in their midst who committed adultery, and they tested and asked Jesus what they should do with her given that the Law of Moses commands that she must be stoned as a punishment. Jesus did nothing except stooped down to the earth and with his finger began to write on the ground. When they persisted in asking him, he stood up and responded with clemency and said, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7, NRSV translation). This phrase which proclaims the law of humanity and the law of truth, which touches the oppressed, and is uttered by the one who utters the law. And, again, He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Thus, each one of them was dismissed and only the one without sin remained with her whose sin was known. (St Papias of the second century is the first known instance to have likely referred to this story in his book on the sayings and life of Jesus where he tried to gather as many oral traditions as possible, and he is known to have conversed and been closely associated with the school of John the Theologian and his disciples in Asia Minor).
This story is absent from the oldest manuscripts of the Gospel of John, such as Papyrus 66 and Papyrus 75, and the most renowned manuscripts of the third and fourth centuries. However, St. Jerome includes the story in his Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate. The story is also mentioned in older manuscripts such as the Memphitic version of the Bible included this story (Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect or Bohairic Coptic), along with the Ethiopic and Armenian versions of the bible.
It is suggested that the East did not know this text for a while since there were some reservations on this passage’s use, and not on its authenticity (I find this dubious; there are many other more questionable passages to be left out, I cannot imagine them dabbling in Scriptural texts based on what sounds iffy). Some might have misunderstood Christ’s forgiveness as a justification for committing adultery (i.e. one can easily commit adultery and then repent because Jesus would forgive). There were objections to the use of the text by a few Church Fathers (recall that scriptures were to be read at liturgical gatherings so every scriptural passage has this connotation with it, they may have never organized for it to be read in the Liturgy and this part is known to be certainly true) so that it would not be misunderstood by the people. Amongst those who objected to its use for various reasons were Origen, John Chrysostom, and Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. For example, Origen refused sex (You mean he was a celibate?), in general, and St. John Chrysostom was accused of prostitution and immorality by Queen Eudokia, but he rebuked her vehemently, justifying himself by saying his bodily organs were dead because of his senility. (I’m not following the logic here) It was preferred that this text would not be circulated so that it wouldn’t be misunderstood by the public as a means of justifying adultery until afterwards, when church matters were settled and doctrines were set in stone. (I find this argument unfounded and dubious if I am honest – If you go deep enough into the manuscript evidence you will see that it was not part of the Gospel originally but it was copied in later (at a regional level) and then became subsumed by the larger body of texts when those texts became standardized. It was a strong oral tradition present in the school of John and the Church there put it into his gospel (and very likely the story is originally from him).
The second book of the Apostolic Constitutions verifies the authenticity of the pericope adulterae in its 24thpassage, in its injunction of accepting repentant sinners (in the church), which was opposed by some puritanical factions. The Apostolic Constitutions thus, references the entire story:
“And when the elders had set another woman which had sinned before Him, and had left the sentence to Him, and had gone out, our Lord, the Searcher of the hearts, inquiring of her whether the elders had condemned her, and being answered No, He said to her: Go your way therefore, for neither do I condemn you. John 8:11” (Apostolic Constitutions, Book II, passage 24)
Thus, we can see that the story of the adulterous woman in John 8 was popular amongst those who accepted repented sinners and was unpopular amongst those who censured the act of adultery (as in the East). – I find this argument so hard to believe but maybe I am wrong, or at least it sounds oversimplified.
But the question now is, what was Jesus writing with his finger on the ground? Raymond E. Brown answers this question with five possibilities:
- The first possibility dates back to the time of St. Jerome along with an Aramaic manuscript of the gospel which was unearthed in the tenth century, which indicated that Jesus was writing the sins of the scribes and Pharisees, but this is possibly based on a meditation rather than on a systematic academic basis.
- The second possibility is that Jesus did as a judge would have in the imperial courts of the Roman empire, writing his verdict before pronouncing it. However, if this is what happened the first time and what was written was what Jesus announced to them as it is written. With that being said, what did Jesus write the second time? Unfortunately this possibility is lacks precision. “They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.” (John 8: 6-8, NRSV)
- The third possibility is that some believe that what Jesus did is according to Jeremiah 17:13: “O hope of Israel! O Lord! All who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be recorded in the underworld, for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord.” (NRSV)
- The fourth possibility is that what Jesus wrote, according to John 8:6 (“They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” (John 8:6) (NRSV)) is the command that came in Exodus 23:1, “You shall not join hands with the wicked (to act as a malicious witness).” (NRSV) The italicized words, according to Raymond Brown fit the number of words that Jesus could have wrote in his stooped stance without shifting his position. This possibility, however, is illogical.
- The fifth possibility is that Jesus was exhibiting disdain and disapproval towards their actions while they drowned in their sins by tracing lines on the ground while he was thinking. This possibility is logical and straightforward and is the most likely realistic situation. (You need to explain your reasoning for rejecting the first four and accepting the last).
In conclusion, we cannot infer simply based on this scene on whether Jesus knew how to read and write since it does not indicate the nature of what Jesus was writing on earth, nor can we determine Jesus’ level of education.
Scene 2, John 7:15 asks the Jews about Jesus’ knowledge of the Scriptures:
On the fourth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus ascended to the temple and then began to teach the crowds. The Jews were amazed and asked how this Galilean from Nazareth can know the books? How does he teach without proper training under the hands of a Rabbi?
“The Jews were astonished at it, saying, “How does this man have such learning (or in other translations, “knows the letters/writings”), when he has never been taught?”” (John 7:15)
Although this is not implied in this verse, but the phrase “knows the writings” means that Jesus knew how to read. The question posed by the Jews to Jesus on his knowledge of the writings, however, is more than just a question about his literacy since one could become a rabbi after being a disciple to one of the great and well-known Rabbis. But in the case of Jesus he was not a rabbi because of his discipleship to a well-known Rabbi, but he was a rabbi out of his own authority. Remember, a Rabbi, in Judaism was a teacher of the Torah. Thus, the question the Jews posed here was concerned with the credibility of Jesus’ knowledge of the writings and his teachings since he was not taught by one of the great rabbis.
Scene 3, Luke 4: 16-30 Scene of Jesus’ Expulsion from the Synagogue of Nazareth:
Second: External Evidence:
How was the Jewish education system in Jesus’ time? This is the question that we will try to answer now, and through this we will be able to form a picture regarding the mode and method by which Jesus received basic education, and his ability to read and write.
To provide a clearer picture on the nature of education during Jesus’ time, we will examine the Rabbinic texts between the 1st century and 5th century AD which the scholar Shmuel Safrai inspected and refers to the Jewish education system in the 1st century and perhaps a little earlier. In that system, the child was educated at the City School, where he learned to read the Hebrew Scriptures, and the school was called bet ha-sēfer (the house of the book). Such schools existed in the cities of Palestine, even the small ones, where the child began to learn the Scriptures from the age of five, and at the age of ten began to learn the Mishnah (also known as the “Oral Torah“, which is the first major written collection of the Jewish oral traditions known). The child finishes his basic education at the age of eleven or twelve. The schools were a building or a room attached to the Jewish Synagogue, and in small towns the school was the backyard of the teacher’s home. The Talmud instructs that the teacher should be financially supported so that poor children would not be deprived of education in such school systems.
What makes this scene more evident is what was mentioned in the Gospels regarding Jesus’ strong education in the Halakha (collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the written and Oral Torah. Halakha is based on biblical commandments (mitzvot), subsequent Talmudic and rabbinic law, and the customs and traditions compiled in the many books) and the Jewish law. Because Jesus was the first-born amongst his family relatives, he was expected to learn the Law, besides learning his father’s occupation. This education took place in the synagogue of Nazareth where primary religious instruction took place. This helps explain why when Jesus was handed the book of Isaiah to read from that the people asked, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” (Mark 6:3).
In summary, the Gospels do not delve deeply into Jesus’ literacy. How competent was he in reading and writing? Was he as educated as the scribes and Pharisees? The Gospels do not provide us with enough evidence to make any conclusive answers. However, we have ample implicit evidence that Jesus knew Hebrew and Aramaic, and his knowledge of the law and books as mentioned in John 7:15, and even what was mentioned in Luke 4:16-30 is implicit evidence of Jesus’ knowledge of the law and books. Finally, we know Jesus learned to read and write as a child at the Synagogue of Nazareth, where he was raised. Although Jesus came from a rural and poor background, he was not a simple (or an illiterate) Galilean villager.
Was Jesus Just a Poor Carpenter?
Jesus was brought up in a simple, rural community of peasants. The word ‘rural’ here can be misleading. Thus, Eric R. Wolf explains the meaning of the word when he says: “Rural cultivators; …. They raise crops and livestock in the countryside”. It is likely that every family had some small land to cultivate in Galilee to sustain their livelihood, which coincides with what Eusebius of Caesarea mentioned in his book on Church History (Ecclesiastical History 3.20.1–3), saying that Judas’ family, who was Jesus’ brother, had a small parcel of land to toil with their own hands. This applied to most of the people of Galilee, where each family owned a piece of land to cultivate, where the land size was dependant on the financial stratum of each family.
According to Mark 6: 3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” and Matthew 13:55, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?”– Jesus is referred to as the son of the carpenter and what is commonly known, ecclesiastically, or church-wise, is that Jesus was a carpenter; however, what is the meaning of the word carpenter [τέκτων], which was mentioned by the Gospels? The carpenter in first-century Palestine was the one who made wooden furniture, as well as the wooden plows for plowing agricultural land or the wooden yoke placed on the shoulder of the bull.
Some researchers suggest that Joseph and Jesus were carpenters who worked to rebuild Sepphoris, a city 6 km north of Nazareth, which Herod wanted to build with a Hellenistic style.
Riesner proposes an interesting assumption that the word carpenter is evident in the Aramaic language naggārāʾ, which in some Talmudic sources means “teacher”, and that that the term “bar naggārāʾ” (or the son of a carpenter) means the son of a teacher (or a student), and that it is a term given to people who are familiar with the Scriptures. Geza Vermes supports this assumption.
In summary, the work Jesus did was demanding, both physically and psychologically, since he was responsible for sustaining his family, both financially and socially. Jesus worked in cultivating the land, in carpentry and in building prosperous cities.
Jesus came from the depth of this impoverished environment, and such a meagre socio-economic status, to be the light that illuminates amid the darkness and the injustice of the society and its authorities. He came out to raise, he emerged from poverty to enrich, he came out of ignorance to be the teacher who teaches with authority. He came out to speak with the tongue of the lowly, the poor and the brokenhearted.
In this article, we have tried to portray a clear picture of the early life of Jesus, how he spoke, how he taught, and how he worked. Jesus is a unique figure in the history of mankind and has become its central focus. Jesus’ life forever changed the course of the history of humanity. Let us behold his light so that we may be able to see the darkness of our consciences and the arrogance lying within our souls.
What Language Did Jesus Speak?
The first question we will attempt to answer is, ‘How did Jesus speak?’ ‘what language did he use while preaching the multitudes?’, ‘how did the disciples receive his parables, and what effects did his words have on his listeners?’
Jesus taught in the Roman provinces of Galilee and Judea, and his words had substantial influence; thus, Jesus spoke in the language (or dialect) understood by the people of those regions. But now the question is, what language did the people of Galilee and Judea speak? The simple answer to that, as John P. Meier pointed out is we do not know for sure. We do not have an audio recording from first-century Palestine. All we have are compositions and inscriptions which date back to that era in Palestine. The ambiguity of this evidence, however, caused a sharp division amongst researchers about the language Jesus spoke. Some asserted that he spoke Greek, others believed it to be Aramaic, and others argued he spoke Hebrew. One of the most meticulous researchers in regards to this matter was John A. Emerton who attempted to find common grounds and said that “Aramaic was the common language among the people of Galilee; thus, Jesus spoke Aramaic there (i.e. amongst the people of Galilee). However, He spoke both Hebrew and Aramaic in Judea at different times, which were both the common languages of those regions.
The ambiguity regarding what language Jesus spoke can be due to many factors, such as the scarcity of two primary sources, namely, the literary works and archaeological inscriptions of the time. The most notable of these inscriptions are the funerary inscriptions found on the tombs of the dead, which show us the language of the dead or the language of their families. However, some factors impacted these funerary inscriptions. For example, some families were inclined to write on tombstones in the language that dominated at their time. The scholar, Jan Nicolaas Sevenster, points out that many containers that contained Jewish bones (or their relics) had inscriptions in Greek, which was the language of the family. (It was very common for the Jews to put the bones of the dead who were poor in a coffin made of wood or in stone if they were rich). However, some scholars mention that the Aramaic language declined in light of the Hellenistic dominance of the Seleucids in Syria during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. (The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic/Greek state that ruled central Anatolia, Persia, Syria, the Eastern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, and what is now Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan). It is important to note that the evidence, gathered from the inscriptions dating back to the 2nd century BC up to the 2nd century AD, does not necessarily tell us what language the Jewish people spoke at the beginning of the first century AD.
The real decline in Jewish identity began under the authority of the Maccabees (They are a Jewish military group that revolted against the rulers of Syria (the Seleucids???) and were capable of establishing the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled Judea and surrounding regions between c. 164 to c. 63 BCE. They were famous for their strong zeal for the Jewish religion and they opposed the spread of the Hellenistic culture and the Greek language in the Jewish community) and the Hasmoneans (OUTLINE RELATION WITH MACCABEES They were the ruling dynasty of the kingdom of Judea in the second and first century BCE and they were mentioned in 1 Maccabees, Chapter 2 and 14). The second Hasmonean king in Judea, Alexander Jannaeus, and who acted as high priest as well, issued the first coin during his reign which contained both Hebrew and Greek (He ruled from 103 to 76 BCE and the son of John Hyrcanus. He inherited the kingdom from his brother Aristobulus I and married his brother’s widow, Queen Salome Alexander. He was recognized as a blood-thirsty and cruel tyrant because he was behind the civil war that erupted for the sake of expanding the kingdom). At the end of the 1st century BC, King Herod the Great continued to Hellenize the Jewish community (or make the Jewish community Greek). However, there was an attempt to revive the language of the ancestors during the time of the Maccabees, during which the spread of the Hebrew and Aramaic languages was emphasized in Palestine, as evidenced by the texts of Qumran (which were discussed briefly in our study of the Didache).
However, one can ask: how widespread was Greek in first-century Palestine? The use of Greek differed from region to region and from one social class to another. However, these differences were not significant since even the well-known Jewish historian, Josephus, did not have a good grasp of the Greek language despite using it when he wrote about the history of the Jews. Nevertheless, Meier points out that Josephus wrote his book the “Antiquities of the Jews” in his native Aramaic, and others helped him translate it into Greek.
There is an incident in the “Antiquities of the Jews” that informs us about the dominance of both Hebrew and Aramaic in first-century Palestine. When Emperor Titus besieged Jerusalem, Josephus was sent to convince the Jews to surrender the city, and he spoke to them with the language of the ancestors (Emperor Titus Falvius Caesar, 39 – 81 CE; the tenth roman emperor who launched a war against the Jews). The language of the ancestors (in this case) was Aramaic. In order for everyone to understand the emperor’s message, he (Josephus) spoke to them in the common language of the people, which was the Aramaic language: the language of the educated and uneducated.
The fact that the common language of the Jewish people was Aramaic, does not refute the fact that Jesus probably knew Greek. In fact, the Jewish community, itself, used Greek on several occasions. Jesus was likely able to communicate in Greek, as evidenced in his dialogue with Pontius Pilate during his trial, or in the healing of the servant of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10), or the Phoenician woman (Mark 7:24-30), who is referred to by the word Ἑλληνίς (a Greek woman or a Gentile), which indicates that she spoke Greek. However, Jesus’s knowledge of Greek was probably somewhat superficial to some degree since it is unlikely that he was educated in Greek. Nor can we say that Jesus’ sayings were in originally in Greek. This opinion is simply illogical.
Now we come to the Hebrew language, the scriptural and ancestral language of the holy people of Israel, and which suffered a significant decline following the Babylonian exile and the return of the Jews to Palestine. While the Hebrew language declined, Aramaic, which was the language of the ancient Near East began to be spread increasingly. David Flusser, however, has a special view on this matter. He says: “The spoken languages among the Jews of that period were Hebrew, Aramaic, and to an extent Greek. Until recently, it was believed by numerous scholars that the language spoken by Jesus’ disciples was Aramaic. It is possible that Jesus did, from time to time, make use of the Aramaic language. But during that period Hebrew was both the daily language and the language of study. The Gospel of Mark contains a few Aramaic words, and this was what misled scholars. Today, after the discovery of the Hebrew Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus), of the Dead Sea scrolls, and of the BarKokhba Letters, and in the light of more profound studies of the language of the Jewish Sages, it is accepted that most of the people were fluent in Hebrew. The Pentateuch was translated into Aramaic for the benefit of the lower strata of the population. The parables in the Rabbinic literature, on the other hand, were delivered in Hebrew in all periods. There is thus no ground for assuming that Jesus did not speak Hebrew; and when we are told (Acts 21:40) that Paul spoke Hebrew, we should take this piece of information at face value.” (David Flusser, Jewish sources in early christianity, Adama Books, New York (1987), p.11)
(Also known as the alphabet of Ben Sirach, which is an anonymous medieval text inspired by the Book of Wisdom of Ibn Sirach. It is dated to be between 700-1000 AD, and is a compilation of two lists of wisdom and parables, 22 of which are in Aramaic and 22 in Hebrew, which are arranged alphabetically.)
BarKokhba Letters – (It is fifteen letters, most of them written in Aramaic and Hebrew, and two of them are in Greek. Directed by the leader (BarKokhba) to his subordinates, Yehonathan and Masabala, who sat at En-Gedi on the western shore of the Dead Sea.)
While Aramaic was the prevalent language amongst the ordinary people of the first-century palestine, it was also the language of the Targum of the Jewish people (the analogous “targama” in Arabic which means ‘translation’ – these were spoken translations of the Jewish scriptures (also called the Tanakh) that a professional interpreter would give in the common language of the listeners, such as Aramaic). In support of the prevalence of Aramaic, many bone inscriptions from the middle of the first century are written in Aramaic. The popularity of Aramaic in first-century Palestine is evidenced in the Gospels. Many Aramaic scholars mention that the words of Jesus recorded in Greek in the Gospels have a more poetic nature, and their meaning is made much clearer if rendered in the Aramaic language. One of the most common examples for this is the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:12, and specifically the verse that says, “Forgive us our debts (sins or guilts), as we also forgive our debtors.” The word ‘debt’ here, does not only imply the sin or iniquity as in Greek or Hebrew translations. The word in Aramaic [ḥôbāʾ] provides a richer and deeper metaphorical meaning in this context.
More examples that prove the dominance of the Aramaic language in first-century Palestine include the transliterations of certain Aramaic expressions, such as “Talitha koumi (or Koum in Greek)!” in Mark 5:41, and “Abba, Father” in Mark 14:36. The example that supports this proposition the most is that of Peter in the book of Acts, where it says: “This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood” (Acts 1:19). The word ‘Hakeldama’ is derived from the Aramaic word bēqēl děmā, to which Luke, the author of the book of Acts, refers to by saying that “the field was called in their language”. This example suggests that the language which dominated over the Christians in the first-century Jerusalem was Aramaic given that the book of Acts was written in the first century.
In conclusion, the nature of the question of what language(s) Jesus spoke is complicated in light of the diverse linguistic landscape of the first-century Palestine which had four different languages – Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. There is no reason to believe that Jesus spoke Latin, the language of the Roman authorities and officials at that time and the wealthy Jews who dealt with them, especially the families of the chief priests; rather, Jesus most likely spoke Greek for communication and public dealings with the Gentiles and some Jews dispersed beyond the borders of Israel, also known as the Diaspora Jews. As for Hebrew, Jesus acquired the knowledge of the Hebrew language through instruction in the synagogue of Nazareth or a rabbinical school near his home. Hebrew was the language he used in his debates with the scribes and Pharisees. Whereas, Aramaic was the best means of communication among Jesus’ fellow Jews, which was clearly observed in the Gospels.
John P. Meier poses a critical question (and that is): How did Jesus talk with the Jews in Jerusalem during the final week of his life? We know that the first-century Jerusalem was strongly influenced by the Hellenic culture, and during that time of the year, i.e. the time of the Passover, Jerusalem was crowded with Greek-speaking Jews from the Diaspora. How did Jesus preach to them? How did he interact with this multilingual and multicultural community? Meier provides an intriguing answer. He asserts that Jesus taught the multitudes in Aramaic and his teachings were translated by one of his disciples who knew Greek – Andrew and Philip (What supports this opinion is what was mentioned in the Gospel of John when some of the Greeks asked Philip to see Jesus: “20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.” (John 12: 20 -22). Notice the presence of Philip and Andrew in this scene, which supports Meier’s view). Thus, Jesus was a trilingual Jew but not a trilingual teacher. In other words, he was able to speak three languages in casual conversations with his fellow Jews; however, he was unable to use these three languages to effectively communicate his teachings.