A language closely related to Hebrew and widely spoken in various dialects in Palestine from the 8th cent. BCE up to and after the NT period. It was the language of diplomacy in 701 BCE (2 Kgs. 18: 26) but its use gradually spread right through the population, as did Latin in Italy in the Roman Empire. Several words appear in Aramaic in the gospels (‘Abba’, Mark 14: 36; ‘talitha cumi’, Mark 5: 41; ‘golgotha’, Mark 15: 22) and it is likely that Jesus himself spoke Aramaic. The Aramaic bar- for ‘son of’ has replaced the Hebrew ben-, as in Barabbas, Bar-Jona. A few sections of the OT, notably part of Daniel, were written in Aramaic, and there were translations and interpretations of the Hebrew OT in Aramaic for use in synagogues, called targums.