Genesis 1:1, Targum Neofiti, Mark Driscoll, and Biblical Languages
Posted by John Meade on December 18, 2010
LXX studies is committed to the study of the biblical text and its ancient versions. Although I focus on the Hebrew texts and the Greek, Latin, and Syriac versions in most of my posts, the Aramaic Targums are also a real interest of mine, even though I consider myself very much a novice in them.
Tyler Williams has drawn attention to a post by Robert Cargill in which Cargill dismantles Mark Driscoll’s use of Targum Neofiti, which he used in a sermon here. I don’t agree with all of Cargill’s critique (e.g. his appeal to the documentary hypothesis to understand certain aspects of Gen 1), but his argument that Targum Neofiti in Gen 1:1 is a conflation of the Hebrew Bible’s Gen. 1:1 and Prov. 8:22 is quite compelling. The Targum is trying to harmonize God and Wisdom as the agents of creation, and is not an ancient Trinitarian interpretation of Genesis 1:1. Today, I learned something about Targum Neofiti. Check out the links above, and you probably will too.
This incident is just a small example of why our pastors need to have more than a simplistic knowledge of the biblical languages and the biblical sources. Our theological institutions must hold the line and insist that their students demonstrate competence in the biblical languages in order for them to graduate with an MA or MDiv. We are not interpreting Homer or Virgil or some other sources of antiquity, which to get wrong has very little consequence. We are interpreting and teaching the Word of God, which to get wrong has very serious consequences as the history of the church bears witness.
Let us all (teachers and pastors) be warned and exhorted to study, do, and teach the Torah of YHWH faithfully (Ezra 7:10; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 3:1 etc.).