Different Backgrounds, One Language!
by Mr. Haytham Dieck, Head of the Tour Guiding Program
Language is an outstanding human achievement that throughout history has enabled ideas and thoughts to be transformed into sounds, alphabets, and words. According to the Oxford Languages Dictionary, language is the “principal method of human communication.”
Probably one of the earliest challenges of humanity was communication. During the earliest stages of history, humans developed rudimentary methods to express their ideas by drawing pictures to describe a specific need. However, it took people ages to create the first writing system. Interestingly, it came from Mesopotamia – the cradle of civilization – in Sumer (not far from Ur, where Abraham came from) around 3000 BC. They invented an elaborate system of writing based on cuniform. One interesting discovery was the first birth certificate dated over 4000 years ago. From that point, historians refer to this period as the Historic Period, when history started to be documented efficiently.
Language communication developed further, this time by the Canaanites around 2000 BC when for the first time, ideas and thoughts were written down in letters. The Canaanites developed a sophisticated system in which sounds were matched with letters in an alphabet; for instance, the letter “B” came from the word “Beit” which means house, “H” came from the sound of the word “Heit,” which means wall in the Canaanite language. From the first alphabet, which the world knew through the Canaanites, human beings were able to construct sentences. From there, the Phoenicians distributed this system into the whole Mediterranean region, which influenced ancient languages such as Greek and Latin. Hence we have today’s ABC system as we use it in modern languages.
Language played a huge role in fostering communication between different cultures and civilizations. Specific languages dominated the world in each stage of history. Aramaic was the international language of the Assyrian Empire and, by the time of Jesus, became the local spoken language of Palestine. Greek was the lingua franca of the Hellenistic world. Everyone in the Middle East spoke Greek, as demonstrated at Jesus’s crucifixion, where the words “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” were written in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.
Because of language, His followers were able to document the ministry of Jesus. His precious words, feelings, and expressions were all wisely recorded by his disciples, carefully written to make sure that today we can read, learn, and fully understand them in the context of our daily life. It is His words and actions that bring us all together as Christians to adore Him. Despite our different backgrounds and speaking different languages, He taught us to speak one language full of love, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).