Gifford reports that in his time “the great majority of competent and impartial critics” considered Greek to be the original language. As one of these critics O. F. Fritzsche put it, “If any one of the Apocryphal books was composed in Greek, this certainly was.” The strongest dissenter from this majority view was C. J. Ball, who marshalled the most compelling argument for a Hebrew original.

However, Yale Semitic scholar C. C. Torrey was not persuaded: “If the examination by a scholar of Ball’s thoroughness and wide learning can produce nothing better than this, it can be said with little hesitation that the language was probably not Hebrew.” Torrey’s own conclusion was that the work was originally composed in Aramaic. In recent years the tide of opinion has shifted and now the consensus is that the “letter” was originally composed in Hebrew (or Aramaic).