Monday, October 30, 2006

Bow To Him All You Gods

Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: For he will avenge the blood of his servants, And will render vengeance to his adversaries, And will make expiation for his land, for his people.
--Deut 32:43, ASV

Be glad, O skies, with him, and let all the sons of God worship him. Be glad, O nations, with his people, and let all the angels of God prevail for him. For he will avenge the blood of his sons, and take revenge, and repay the enemies with a sentence; and he will repay those who hate, and the Lord shall cleanse the land of his people.
--Deut 32:43, New English Translation of the Septuagint

Rejoice, O heavens, together with him; and bow down to him all you gods, for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and will render vengeance to his enemies, and will recompense those who hate him, and will atone for the land of his people.
--Deut 32:43, 4QDeut(q), DSS
Against the Masoretic Text in most of our bibles, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint preserve a rendering of Deuteronomy which, interestingly enough, is alluded to in the epistle of Hebrews:
And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
--Hebrews 1:6, ASV
The LXX obviously rendered "elohim" from the Hebrew as "angelos" or angels, which may also be what happened with the Vorlage of Hebrews (if we postulate a Semitic autograph).

This incongruity between the ancient witnesses of Deuteronomy in the LXX, DSS, and Hebrews and the Masoretic texts of our Bible suggests to me that the accepted form of Deuteronomy is corrupt and errant. But the more I research, the more I realize that there may have never been a final form--never a Deuteronomy apart from the compositions that were being continually edited and altered in various ways from the beginning until today. It may be that the autograph is only assesable through ingenuity and guesswork. But regardless of the history of textual transmission, this variant is a fascinating one that I would gladly pen back into my bible if the margins were big enough.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A House of Prayer

Question: When is a house of prayer a house of prayer? Answer: When Yahweh's people are redeemed.

In today's Western culture, we have mostly lost the use of symbolism to instruct, enlighten, and illicit change. But in the ancient world, lives were structured around, maintained, and altered through the power of symbolism. Yeshua is one person who showed himself a masterful artisan of symbol. Indeed, it appears to have been his primary method of interaction.

One symbol which Yeshua constantly dramatized in his life and words was that of restoration from exile. Even in those moments that might mistakenly be thought of as moralizing or ethical instruction, Yeshua was representing and enacting in present event a story tied to past history and looked for in future hope.
Then Jesus entered the temple courts and began to drive out those who were selling things there, saying to them, “It is written, 'My house will be a house of prayer'”
--Luke 19:45-46a, NET
One might see in this statement a chastisement for corruption and the establishment of true piety. But this is was no plea for correct ritual. As Yeshua crossed the courts speaking of Yahweh's house as a house of prayer, he directly identified the eschatalogical promises of Isaiah 56 with his activity.
Thus saith Jehovah, Keep ye justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the son of man who holdeth it fast...

Unto them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

...even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer...

...for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

--Isaiah 56:1-2a, 5, 7a, c, ASV
Is the temple meant for prayer? Surely. The nation? Certainly. But prayer does not reach Yahweh when he has cast his people away from him because of their sin. A house of prayer is, therefore, a house redeemed. Those aware of symbol would hear in Yeshua's words the bold assurance that the days Israel once longed for in which she would throw off the yoke of her enemy and be restored to her God were occurring right then in her midst. They would hear a declaration that Yahweh's righteousness had now come to Israel. And they would be presented with a challenge to follow the one, this son of man, leading the way of return to Yahweh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rabbi's Corner, Scripture Authors

One authoritative, ancient Jewish tradition about who wrote what in the Old Testament is preserved as follows...
Who wrote the Scriptures? — Moses wrote his own book and the portion of Balaam and Job. Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and [the last] eight verses of the Pentateuch. Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the Book of Judges and Ruth. David wrote the Book of Psalms, including in it the work of the elders, namely, Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Yeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. Jeremiah wrote the book which bears his name, the Book of Kings, and Lamentations. Hezekiah and his colleagues wrote (Mnemonic YMSHK) Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. The Men of the Great Assembly wrote (Mnemonic KNDG) Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther. Ezra wrote the book that bears his name and the genealogies of the Book of Chronicles up to his own time.
--Soncino Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin: Tractate Baba Bathra: 14b-15a
The tractate continues discussing parts and pieces that different authors contributed, clarifying, for instance, who wrote of Moses' death [Joshua], who wrote of Samuel's death [Gad the Seer], which psalms were written by Adam, Melchizedek, or Abraham, etc. There is even a record of several rabbis thinking Job was post-exilic:
R. Johanan and R. Eleazar both stated that Job was among those who returned from the [Babylonian] Exile, and that his house of study was in Tiberias.
--Ibid, 15a

Thursday, October 19, 2006

YHWH's Kavod

The a luminous manifestation by which God descends to earth and is made visible. The kavod resides in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and the Jerusalem Temple. It is the precursor of the shekhinah, or Divine Presence, of later Jewish sources, but is not entirely identical in conception.
--Victor Hurowitz, Understanding the Priestly Source, Bible Review
An earlier, more primitive concept of Yahweh's immanence? I've never heard of the kavod before. I know the shekinah concept was fully articulated in Rabbinic times, but always thought the concept reached back into ancient Israelite history. Well, there's one more thing to learn about. Fortunately, it's things like this that get me excited.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Magdalen Papyrus (P64)

This is sometimes also called the Jesus Papyrus or the Huleatt manuscript. P64 is one of the earliest extent Greek manuscripts of the New Testament containing portions of Matthew. I've found that on many less than scrupulus sites, P64 is listed as a manuscript which refers to Yeshua as God. Thus, for instance, you have this dubious quote floating around the internet, about which no reference or evidence is ever given for its origin, translation, or veracity:
"She poured it [the perfume] over his [Jesus'] hair when he sat at the table. But, when the disciples saw it, they were indignant. . . . God, aware of this, said to them: 'Why do you trouble this woman? She has done [a beautiful thing for me.] . . .
--unknown reference
A little investigative activity revealed that the word
"God" does not actually exist in P64. The reason it has been supplied is because a German scholar by the name of Thiede reconstructed missing and fragmentary portions of text in a way that proposed a nomina sacra for Yeshua. The nomina sacra, though it may not be a shortened form of the word "God", could still hint at some sacred meaning (like considering Yeshua divine). The problem is that the proposed nomina sacra do not physically exist on the papyrus.

Below is a picture of P64 for your pleasure. I am not certain whether the fragments are recto or verso or e
ven displayed in the correct order.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Invaluable NT Greek Reference

Learning Biblical Greek? Want to interact with the NT texts in their original language? provides tools that will be invaluable to both student and teacher. View the Greek of any passage of the NT and chose which manuscript you want to use. Translate any passage from any available manuscript and save or edit your translation. Build vocabulary cards--you can even specificy which verses you want your vocab to come from. Search for a verse in Codex Sinaiticus and either display the Greek or watch it highlight that verse directly inside the pages of a fascimile edition. Let your pointer hover over any Greek word and it will tell you its definition, gender, Strong's number, etc. They even have my favorite English translation (the NET Bible) built right in for easy reference and note viewing. So what are you waiting for? Get your Greek on!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Unwelcome Revelation

About this book of the Revelation of John, I....consider it to be neither apostolic nor prophetic... I can in no way detect that the Holy Spirit produced it... Christ is neither taught nor known in it.
--Martin Luther, Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522
My own opinion about Revelation is that it has done more harm than good. It has been the catalyst and origin of most anti-Christian cults. It has unwillingly led hundreds of thousands to error and vain imaginations. It has seduced even the people of God so that they should be turned from good and relevant actions in their world to focus instead on flights of future fantasy. It has led to the rest of scripture being twisted and mistreated. I believe it would have been better if Revelation was never accepted into the canon. At one point, I even considered ripping it out of my bible.

It is quite a turn of events for me to say this. Those who knew me several years back know that Revelation was one of my favorite books. Indeed, I was one of those seduced. I read not about Yeshua or the ways of the kingdom. I fed no hungry and helped no poor. I sought no scholastic and critical learning, but my ears rang with the sound of popular political preaching. I became obsessed and driven by an eschatalogical agenda. In conflict with charity, I sought those outside my party (Preterism) against whom I could harshly oppose and defeat. If there is a witness to the calamity of this book, it is I.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Johannine Dual-Theism?

In several instances, there appear to be parallels in John's gospel to the dual-theism expressed by Philo. I wrote briefly on this in one of my first posts (Philo's Logos, The Second God) in which I showed how John 1:1 could be understood to refer to two separate gods, both of whom are identified with Yahweh. The following verse from John may be another instance in which Yeshua could be described as a Second God:
No man hath ever seen God; the only begotten God...
--John 1:18, Syriac Peshitta
No one has seen God at any time, the only begotten God...
--John 1:18, NASB
No one has ever seen God; the only God...
--John 1:18, ESV
No one has ever seen God. The only one, himself God...
--John 1:18, NET
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son...
--John 1:18, NKJV
No one has ever seen God; the only Son...
--John 1:18, RSV
No man saw ever God, but the one begotten Son...
--John 1:18, Wycliffe NT
God no one hath ever seen; the only begotten Son...
--John 1:18, YLT
So what is John calling Yeshua...the only begotten God or the only begotten Son?

Historically, those who might be referred to as "Orthodox" (Irenaeus, Tertullian, Basil) have favored the Son texts. This was obviously done to counter those who might be perceived as heretics (Tatian, Clement of Alexandria, Arius) that favored the God texts. (It may be worth mentioning that the earliest Greek manuscripts of John, P66 and P75, contain "only begotten God")

If "only begotten God" is original to John, this might be evidence that John sees Yeshua, like Philo saw the Logos, as a second, separate god. However, being relatively unfamiliar with Johannine theology, I wonder if this idea could really be supported. I would appreciate hearing from those entrenched in Johannine scholarship on the issue.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Biblical Studies/Christian Faith Plans

Apply to Fuller's Theology School for Fall of 2007. Five year goal, two classes a quarter every quarter, Fall 2007 - Summer 2012. Double Major: Master of Arts in Theology, Biblical Studies and Theology; Master of Arts in Theology, Ancient Near Eastern Literature and Languages.

Use the time between now and Fall 2007 to get involved in one or two small groups. Become a member of a church--find an authority to submit and serve under. Continue teaching myself Hebrew, finish all seminary-level theology courses, finish patriarchal narrative studies, knock several textbooks off my reading list:

- “Christian Theology An Introduction” (with companion volume, “The Christian Theology Reader”)
- “The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology
- “Old Testament Parallels: Laws and Stories from the Ancient Near East
- “Critical Realism & the New Testament
- Israel in Egypt and Israel in Canaan – Chapters 2 and 3 of “Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple

Subscribe to these academic journals:

JSP (Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha)
CBR (Currents in Biblical Research)
JSOT (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Voyages in the KJV - 4

Got Apocrypha? The original 1611 KJV did.

Throughout the 1611 KJV, there are notes (*) in the margins linking a verse with other verses of scripture. Many of these notes link scripture passages with verses in the Apocrypha. So, for instance, here we have the KJV pointing to the Wisdom of Solomon right alongside verses from Matthew, 1 John, and Jude for further reference and instruction concerning Genesis 4:8:

Friday, October 06, 2006

Voyages in the KJV - 3

(See Voyages - 2)

A few things I find interesting just in this portion of text... Some objects are given masculine instead of neuter pronouns. For instance, it doesn't say “yielding fruit after ITS kind”, it says “yielding fruit after HIS kind.”

Another interesting thing is that the translation does not always follow the Hebrew. There are notes in the sides which, like a modern translation, give more literal renderings. For instance, in verse 4, there is a cross (+), which points to the side margin, where it says the translation “and God diuided the light from the darkeneffe” actually says in Hebrew “and God diuided betweene the light and betweene the darkeneffe”, which communicates something slightly different. So again, like a modern translation, we see the words of scripture being changed in the KJV to accommodate language, not necessarily to follow the actual biblical text word for word as is supposed.

Certain words that must be supplied to make sense in English like “was” (1:2), “it was” (1:4), and “were” (1:7) are in small print using a different typeset. They are not italicized like other KJVs. What a chore that must have been.

Although not occuring in Genesis 1, the name of God, translated LORD, is in a larger print than the rest of the text, not simply capitalized. The four fancy uppercase letters stick out from the rest of the text and resemble almost a sign, not a word, like the proto-Hebrew script used for the name of God in some DSS.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Voyages in the KJV - 2


called GENESIS.

I The creation of Heauen and Earth, 3 of the light, 6 of the firmament, 9 of the earth feparated from the waters, 11 and made fruitfull, 14 of the Sunne, Moone, and Starres, 20 of fifh and fowle, 24 of beafts and cattell, 26 of Man in the Image of God. 29 Alfo the appointment of food.

1 In *the beginning, God created the heauen, and the Earth.
2 And the earth was without forme, and voyd; and darkeneffe was vpon the face of the deepe; and the Spirit of God mooued vpon the face of the waters.
3 And God faid, *Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God faw the light, that it was good: and God diuided +the light from the darkeneffe.
5 And God called the light, Day, and the darkeneffe he called Night: +and the euening and the mozning were the firft day.
6 And God faid, *Let there be a +firmament in the nudft of the waters: and let it diuide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament; and diuided the waters, which were vnder the firmament, from the waters, which were aboue the firmament: and it was fo.
8 And God called the *firmament, heauen: and the euening and the mozning were the fecond day.
9 And God faid, *Let the waters vnder the heauen be gathered together vnto one place, and let the dzy land appeare: and it was fo.
10 And God called the dzie land, Earth, and the gathering together of waters called hee, Seas: and God faw that it was good.
11 And God faid, Let the Earth bzing foozth +graffe, the herbe yeelding feed, and the fruit tree, yeelding fruit after his kinde, whofe feed is in it felfe, vpon the earth: and it was fo.
12 And the earth bzought foozth graffe, and herbe yeelding fruit after his kinde, and the tree yeelding fruit, whofe feed was in it felfe, after his kinde: and God faw that it was good.
13 And the euening and the mozning were the third day.
14 And God faid, Let there bee *lights in the firmament of the heauen, to diuide +the day from the night: and let them be foz figues and foz feafons, and foz dayes and yeeres.
15 And let them be foz lights in the firmament of the heauen, to giue light vpon the earth: and it was fo.
16 And God made two great lights: the great light +to rule the day, and the leffer light to rule the night: he made the ftarres alfo.
17 And God fet them in the firmament of the heauen, to giue light vpon the earth:
18 And to *rule ouer the day, and ouer

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Voyages in the KJV - 1

Until recently, I had never actually seen the real deal. I don't think many nowadays have. Not even the electronic versions on-line are the original, honest-to-goodness 1611 KJV. When I saw it, I was amazed. It was far more than I thought it would be. It was not just a tome of scripture or a marvel of antiquated scholarship, it was a wonder of artistic craftsmanship and human industry that, perhaps, has never been equaled since in any bible and could only be bested by ancient Hebrew and Greek codices. And the No KJV ever read like this.

Below is the top portion of a picture on the opening page. Columns, crafted with saints, support the structure on the sides below this canopy (out of picture). Entire stories and theologies could be told just from this part of it. What I find most interesting is the representation of God therein. You have the symbol of a pierced lamb among men instead of a human face and instead of the white Anglo image that is now associated with Yeshua. Then, above, is a bird. It is not the iconic dove adorning church buildings—it is a realistic dove flying over the earth to bring light to men so that it is a kind of third luminary of the heavens. And then, above the Spirit, and the source from whence it sprung, is no image, but a Hebrew name, the one revealed to Moses. Yahweh. I am that I am. The one who is. The Being One. This is just a taste of what the old English book offers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The New And The Old

You have heard it said that in terms of the two testaments, "the new is in the old concealed and the old is in the new revealed." But I say to you, the new does not reveal the old and neither is the old concealed, rather, the new is an extension of the old, reaching in a new direction. It has its foundation in the old, and apart from the old cannot be understood, yet nevertheless has replaced it.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Just Finished Reading...

"You got to know when to hold 'em": Trumping the Bauer Thesis by Michael Svigel.

This essay argues that presuppositions about the resurrection of Yeshua result either in a historical view of the origins of Christianity characterized by unity out of which diversity sprung or by a diversity that was overpowered and funneled into a controlling singularity--orthodoxy.