Facts About the "Hebrew Primacy" Movement

Jewish New Testament These are some points that I have observed concerning the so-called "Hebrew primacy" movement. After reading a few threads on here and elsewhere concerning this issue, I wanted to share my personal observations, for whatever they're worth.

There are basically two different groups within the "Hebrew primacy" movement and each have their own goals or agendas (possibly three such groups).

The phrase "Hebrew primacy" is fairly a new one, originating mostly among Messianic Jews (a group consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who profess faith in "Jesus"/Yeshua as being the Messiah). The Hebrew Primacy movement generally tend to believe that the "New Testament" was originally written in Hebrew. Others within the Hebrew primacy movement state that portions of the New Testament were written in Hebrew, but not all of the Gospels and other books. The latter usually say that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew and possibly the Book of Hebrews. Opinions differ depending on the particular group.

There are some Greek primacists who contend that the Hebrew primacy movement was started by Aramaic primacists to eventually lead their adherents to the Aramaic text (i.e., the Peshitta).

On the other hand, there are some Aramaic Primacists (those who state that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic - however, opinions also differ on this issue between various Aramaic primacists) usually contend that the Hebrew primacy movement was started by "Greek primacists" (those who say the New Testament was originally written in Greek and not Hebrew or Aramaic). This latter opinion is certainly not out of order as we will see.

Paul Younan contends that those who adhere to the Hebrew primacy camp "are trying to convert Jews to Christianity". While this is true with some individuals within the Hebrew primacy movement, it is not so with all of them. There are amateurs and then there are scholars and then there are those "middle of the road scholars" or simply honest researchers looking for an answer. The latter typically have no agenda except to find the "root language". There are some within the Hebrew primacy movement that would object to "trying to convert Jews to Christianity". I classify the amateurs as those whom Paul Younan said, "are more than happy with a basically KJV-bible with some Hebrew names sprinkled here and there". I also refer to those as "Jewish wannabes".

Protestant New Testament used for proselytizing among Jews Many adherents of the proselytizing Hebrew primacy movement come from new religions (those religions that were formed outside the first and second century - Protestants, etc.) In fact, there is a movement within evangelical Baptist sects in the United States and Great Britain that publish bilingual Hebrew-English New Testaments and distribute freely among Jews, with the stipulation that the individual is in fact Jewish. Some of these are beautifully bound with gold gilted pages, gold lettering on the front, back and spine, and often times carry Jewish motifs such as the Star of David, Twelve Tribes of Israel, Ten Commandments and a menorah. The Hebrew text of the Scriptures is usually that of Franz Deltizch or Salkinson and Ginsburg. Both of these versions were translated from the Greek and not from an "original" Hebrew or Aramaic source text. In fact, the Delitzch version has been revised several times in order to come more in line with the "standard" Greek texts and King James Version. If it did not, these groups would never be distributing them. The English text of these bilingual New Testaments contain the King James Version (of course).

A group known as "Hope of Israel Publications" publishes such a volume. I was given a copy by a Jewish friend in Spain and I have to say that it is beautiful (at least the cover is). It would certainly be appealing to most Jews who love books of just about any sort.

Christian New Testament translated from Greek to Hebrew These are published by the Trinitarian Bible Society in Great Britain and distributed freely among Jews - mostly by Baptists. (I'm not picking on Baptists). The inside cover of my personal copy of the above mentioned bilingual New Testament states, "This Hebrew/English New Testament has been funded by Independent Baptists." There is an agenda. The inside also says that these Independent Baptists have always loved and supported the Nation of Israel. Yes, by shoving their offshoot of Greek Christianity down the throats of Jews, and lovingly informing them that if they do not convert (i.e., become Protestants) they will go straight to hell.

There are certainly those groups in which Paul Younan mentioned who are attempting to convert Jewish people. That's one group of "Hebrew primacists", while there are others with different agendas - or no agenda at all. However, it would not be fair to say that all "Hebrew primacists" fall into the same category.

The Greek Primacy movement, which is responsible (in part) for spawning the Hebrew Primacy movement, has yet to produce an original Hebrew manuscript of the New Testament (they really would choke if they were able to do that since they love their Greek so much). Even those who adhere to Hebrew primacy without being a part of the Greek primacy movement, are hard pressed to produce an original Hebrew mss as proof that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew and not Aramaic.

There are some among the Aramaic Primacy movement, such as Paul Younan, who contend that Hebrew and Aramaic are the same, while there are other Aramaic primacists who contend that the two languages are different from each other on various levels. I'm not going to go into detail on that topic since it goes beyond the purpose of this article.

A fair and logical (reasonable, honest, balanced) approach to both sides of the Aramaic and Hebrew primacist theories should be undertaken. Neither group should be leveling false allegations towards each other. The evidence is more than ample and the losing group should not act like sore losers. However, when one group has an agenda (i.e., attempting to convert people to their brand of Christianity) there is nothing in the "game" which could be considered as being "fair and logical".

Another Christian New Testament translated from Greek to Hebrew I have asked several people if they were aware of "Hebrew primacy" in regards to the New Testament. The majority of people I asked had never heard of such a movement and thought it was utterly ridiculous.

In regards to the majority of "Hebrew primacists", I have to agree with Paul Younan that they are there simply to take away attention from the original Scriptures and to try to make others turn a blind eye toward the major errors in the Greek text.

I have seen no complete or convincing evidence to prove to me that the "Hebrew primacists" are correct in their theory. This new movement (Hebrew primacy) has yet to produce any hard evidence or a Hebrew manuscript to prove their theories. I think many of them have an agenda other than simply really trying to prove anything other than convert others and divert attention from the Aramaic. I also really don't like the word "convert" except in the case where a person converts from their Jewish heritage and give it up completely. This is what some of these groups want Jews to do. In this latter case, they are less Jews than they ever were. The missionizing group tells them, once they have their claws in their neck, that they can no longer be Jewish and that "Jesus" has nothing to do with "Judaism".

-- Ya'aqub Younan-Levine

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