Southern Seminary has a wonderful tradition of having select faculty members give formal addresses to the faculty and seminary community at large. This semester Dr. Wellum gave an address entitled “What does the Extent of the Atonement have to do with Baptist Ecclesiology: an Experience of Doing Theology.” This address embodies what systematic theology should be and it is a great example of sound theological method. I encourage all to listen to it here.
I have been thinking about the whole matter of Septuagintalisms in the NT, and in Sunday School we are studying Ephesians. Basically, my thesis is that in Ephesians 1:6, Paul uses ὁ ἠγαπημένος, “the Beloved,” a term to describe Israel in the Hebrew Bible and even more clearly in the LXX, to echo or signal to the readers that Christ is the New Israel and consequently the Gentile believers are the New Israel since they have been chosen in him. The post concludes by returning to the question of whether ὁ ἠγαπημένος is a Septuagintalism or whether the LXX is the primary influence on Paul in this case.
The Context of Ephesians 1:6
The text says:
Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,
ὁ εὐλογήσας ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ,
4 καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ,
5 προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς αὐτόν, κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ,
6 εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ.
The church was blessed in Christ, chosen in Him, predestined through Jesus Christ to the praise of his glorious grace which he gave us in the Beloved.
In Greek, the discourse resumes with relative clauses down to the end of verse 14, which perhaps marks 3-6 as a unit, which is the paragraph scheme used in the NA 27. Within this unit, it is clear that the expressions ἐν Χριστῷ and ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ are in parallel with each other, since the former is at the end of the first line indicating the location of all the spiritual blessings, while the latter is at the end of the final line indicating the location of the glorious grace given to us. The intervening lines use pronouns referring back to the first line and treat the topics of election and predestination. We will return to the significance of this parallelism later.
The latter term τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ is a PfPPtc DMS from ἀγαπάω, and it is used as a substantive with the meaning “the one having been loved” or “the beloved.” In Greek there are at least two other ways of communicating this concept: 1)use of the -τος adjective αγαπητος, which of course is how Paul addresses Christians in a number of places (e.g. Eph. 5:1 “beloved children”; 6:21) and how Matthew describes Jesus at his baptism and his transfiguration (This is my beloved Son; Matt. 3:17; 17:5); 2) the use of a simple relative clause with an active verb (e.g. “the son, whom he loved” cp. Is 3:25).
The PfPPtc is used in two ways in the LXX: 1) places where it renders Hebrew words for “love” or “beloved” including references to Israel and references to individuals in Israel’s history, and 2) places where it renders Hebrew Yeshurun, which is an unexpected translation as we shall see.
References to Israel
II Suppl (Chr) 20:7 – καὶ ἔδωκας αὐτὴν σπέρματι Αβρααμ τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. The participle modifies either the seed of Abraham or Abraham himself (i.e. Israel or Abraham)
Judith 9:4 – a reference to υἱων ἠγαπημένων ὑπὸ σοῦ: sons beloved by you (the LORD)
Hosea 2:23(25) – The variant to the OG equals Rom 9:25 (see Ziegler’s Edition)
Isaiah 5:1 – a clear reference to Israel as beloved
Isaiah 5:7 – “the man of Judah is a beloved young plant”
Jeremiah 12:7 – God gives my beloved soul into the hands of her enemies
Baruch 3:37 – Israel who was beloved by him (God)
III Macc 6:11 – the beloved as a reference to the Jews
References to individuals
Deut 21:15-16 – in reference to a beloved wife in contrast to a hated one in case law
Deut 33:12 – Tribe of Benjamin
II Reigns (II Samuel) 1:23 – Saul and Jonathan are called beloved
2 Esdras 23:26 (Neh 13:26) – Solomon is called “beloved to God.”
Sirach 24:11 – reference to the beloved city in the A line and Jerusalem is the city mentioned in the B line.
Sirach 45:1 – a reference to Moses as beloved by God and men
Sirach 46:13 – a reference to Samuel as beloved by the LORD
LXX Da 3:35 – Abraham beloved by you (God)
It is clear that this participle refers either to Israel or to individuals in both canonical and deutero-canonical works. In all of the canonical examples, the Greek word is rendering the following Hebrew words: yadid, yadiduth, ‘ahab, sha’ashu’im, which means the Greek translations were predictable in these instances and cannot be used to establish theologizing on the part of the translators, since it is difficult to discern what is the theology of the Hebrew Bible and what is the theology of the translators. These references, however, are not the only relevant ones in our corpus. The LXX translators also translated Yeshurun with this participle.
References to Yeshurun as Beloved by the LXX Translators
וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט שָׁמַנְתָּ עָבִיתָ כָּשִׂיתָ וַיִּטֹּשׁ אֱלֹוהַ עָשָׂהוּ וַיְנַבֵּל צוּר יְשֻׁעָתֹו׃
καὶ ἔφαγεν Ιακωβ καὶ ἐνεπλήσθη, καὶ ἀπελάκτισεν ὁ ἠγαπημένος, ἐλιπάνθη, ἐπαχύνθη, ἐπλατύνθη· καὶ ἐγκατέλιπεν θεὸν τὸν ποιήσαντα αὐτὸν καὶ ἀπέστη ἀπὸ θεοῦ σωτῆρος αὐτοῦ.
Deut 33:5, 26
וַיְהִי בִישֻׁרוּן מֶלֶךְ בְּהִתְאַסֵּף רָאשֵׁי עָם יַחַד שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ ἄρχων συναχθέντων ἀρχόντων λαῶν ἅμα φυλαῖς Ισραηλ.
אֵין כָּאֵל יְשֻׁרוּן רֹכֵב שָׁמַיִם בְעֶזְרֶךָ וּבְגַאֲוָתֹו שְׁחָקִים׃
Οὐκ ἔστιν ὥσπερ ὁ θεὸς τοῦ ἠγαπημένου· ὁ ἐπιβαίνων ἐπὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν βοηθός σου καὶ ὁ μεγαλοπρεπὴς τοῦ στερεώματος.
כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה עֹשֶׂךָ וְיֹצֶרְךָ מִבֶּטֶן יַעְזְרֶךָּ אַל־תִּירָא עַבְדִּי יַעֲקֹב וִישֻׁרוּן בָּחַרְתִּי בֹו׃
οὕτως λέγει κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ ποιήσας σε καὶ ὁ πλάσας σε ἐκ κοιλίας Ἔτι βοηθηθήσῃ, μὴ φοβοῦ, παῖς μου Ιακωβ καὶ ὁ ἠγαπημένος Ισραηλ, ὃν ἐξελεξάμην·
A few comments are in order. First, the translation of the LXX is not a straightforward “literal” translation of Yeshurun as the work of the Three Jewish Revisers shows in Deut. 32:15 (α΄ εύθύτατος “very straight”; σ΄θ΄ ὁ εὐθής “the straight one” (cp. τῳ εύθει in Deut. 33:5); contrast ο΄ ὁ ἠγαπημένος). Second, there is no possibility of scribal error in this situation, and thus the translators seem to diverge from the plain sense of their Vorlage for theologizing purposes. Their contextual rendering of the proper name still maintains the title of honor for Israel, but it focuses on God’s love for them in election (Deut 7:8 et al.). Third, the Isaiah translator is probably dependent on the work of the Deut. translator, who preceded him. LXX-Is also provides a doublet for Yeshurun when he translates it ὁ ἠγαπημένος Ισραηλ, “The Beloved Israel.” It is also important to note the theme of the election of Israel (Jacob) (ἐκλεγομαι) in Isaiah 44:1-4, which is also present in Ephesians 1:3-6.
Paul’s Use of the LXX in Ephesians 1:3-6
This analysis leads to the following conclusions in Ephesians.
1) ὁ ἠγαπημένος is used of both individuals in Israel’s history and of Israel herself. Since Deut translates Yeshurun (a title for Israel) with this form, it cannot be dismissed that this book begins the pattern for the following books, both canonical and deutero-canonical that refer to Israel as God’s Beloved. In fact Deut most probably does set the trajectory. As was noted earlier, LXX-Is combined Beloved and Election of Israel together and Paul seems to be influenced by this connection.
2) Paul is capitalizing on the term’s original meaning in the LXX. The term refers corporately to Israel and to individuals within Israel. Paul places it in parallelism with ἐν Χριστῳ in Eph 1:3, indicating that it refers to an individual and the family of the Messiah. Primarily, via the parallelism Paul communicates that Christ is the Beloved or the New Israel. Also, the terms Χριστω and ηγαπημενος are used as incorporating (ἐν) terms. Regarding the former, N.T. Wright says, “I suggest, in other words, that Paul uses ‘Christ’ here as a shorthand way of referring to that unity and completeness, and mutual participation, which belongs to the church that is found ‘in Christ’, that is, in fact, the people of the Messiah” (Climax of the Covenant, 54; cf. 46).
3) Regarding the latter, the term was originally intended to be a title for God’s people or individual Israelites, and it denoted God’s love for them, but now Paul applies it to Jesus. This conclusion, of course, is consonant with Matthew in 3:17 and 17:5, where Jesus is called “my beloved Son.” Matthew has already made clear that Jesus is the new Israel on a new exodus from his use of the OT in chapter 2 (e.g. “Out of Egypt I have called my Son.”).
4) Εν Χριστω and εν τω ηγαπημενω, therefore, denote the people of God or the New Israel incorporated into Christ. Frank Thielman concludes, “It seems likely, therefore, that when Paul calls Jesus, “the Beloved” in this passage he has in mind Jesus’s embodiment within himself of the beloved and elect people of God” (2010; 54).
What is astounding about this observation, of course, is the overall context. Paul is commenting on the status of Gentile churches and he is saying that they are elect in Christ, that is, incorporated into the people of God, for whom the Messiah stands. By being incorporated into Christ, the Gentiles have become members of the people of God. In Christ, Israel’s history has become ours. We have truly been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Gen 12:1-3?) through identification with the people of God, who is Christ.
Returning to the original question of whether τω ηγαπημενω constitutes a Septuagintalism, it is too difficult to know whether Paul has in mind specifically the Yeshurun texts,which would almost certainly indicate that it is, but that is not the present concern. The question is whether the LXX is the fundamental contextual influence on Paul in this text and others. The Hebrew Bible certainly preserves Israel as the beloved, but clearly the LXX (280 BC and post) in both the canonical and deutero-canonical books went beyond the Hebrew Bible in at least four cases surveyed in this post. I want to suggest that this example cannot be used as a foundational piece of evidence for Paul’s use of the LXX, but it may be a corroborative piece of evidence to a larger portfolio of Paul’s use of the OT. The LXX provides a bridge from Hebrew OT to the NT in this case, since Paul’s argument may firmly stand on the Hebrew Bible and be further strengthened by appealing to the Greek OT.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem entitled “Christmas Bells” in which the last line of every stanza is “Peace on earth good-will to men.” Of course this line echoes part of the angelic choir’s pronouncement to the shepherds that Christ, the LORD, had been born, and it is the wording of the AV. The translation preserves the correct meaning of ευδοκια, since it preserves its meaning as divine favor “to men”, but the AV obscures the intended recipients of peace and favor which is present in the original text [if you get bored with the technical, skip to the conclusion for the payoff].
The Variant in Luke 2:14
The critical edition of the Greek New Testament has the following reading:
δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας (Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of favor [understood as men of God's favor; see below]).
The genitive singular ending is considered to be the original text and not the nominative singular. Thus the angels are pronouncing peace to men of God’s favor, not peace on earth, goodwill to men [indiscriminately].
I won’t give the full listing of the evidence in NA 27, but I will draw attention to the reading in Codex א (codex S if you are a Septuagintalist). Follow the link to the on-line edition here. This link goes to the proper lief in the codex, but the settings will have to be changed. I suggest using “raking light” and zoom in on the top right hand column, where the lemma may be found. The raking light reveals a very interesting feature about the texture of the codex. Stretching over lines 5-6 in uncials, you should see ΕΥΔΟΚΙΑ (note the ε in medial/hyper position). Now, does your eye see the ruffled texture of the parchment after the letter Α? I see what appears to be a scraping (that’s an erasing in today’s vernacular) of the parchment and the remnant of the bottom part of the stroke of a lunar sigma (i.e. Ϲ). It appears that the scribe originally wrote, ΕΥΔΟΚΙΑϹ and then a later corrector erased the sigma so that what now remains in the text is the nominative singular “favor or good-will.” Supposedly, codex B had the same erasure, but when I examined the exact replica of this codex, it was not easy to see the erasure. [Perhaps an electronic online edition of B with raking light would reveal the same phenomenon ;).]
The external evidence favors the reading in the critical edition since the reading is preserved in the oldest and best manuscripts over and against the text underlying the AV. The later correction of the codices S and B and the text of the other witnesses probably arose either to facilitate the difficult reading or accidentally on palaeographical grounds, since in some mss the lunar sigma may have been small in size (see Metzger, Textual Commentary, 111).
Meaning of the Phrase ανθρωποις ευδοκιας
Once the genitive is restored as the original text, there is still some debate over whether the phrase should be understood as “to men with a disposition of good will”, or “to men of God’s favor” or “to men whom God favors.” The first option seems plausible only if one is not reading the text through the lenses of the LXX and DSS. In the LXX, ευδοκια means God’s favor on his people. Psalm 5:12(11)ff says, “And let all who hope in you be glad; forever they will rejoice, and you will encamp among them, and those who love your name will boast in you, because you will bless the righteous; O Lord, you crowned us as with a shield of favor.” Psalm 105(106):4 says, “Remember us, O Lord, in the good pleasure of [towards?] your people; regard us in your deliverance.” 1 Supplements (Chronicles) 16:10, “Praise in his holy name. When a heart seeks his good pleasure, it shall be glad.” Significantly, scholars have also noted a Semitic parallel in 1QH iv.32f (the sons of his [God's] good pleasure); xi.9 (the elect of his [God's] good pleasure) (see Metzger, 111). I found no examples of ευδοκια in the genitive modifying ανθρωπος in LXX, and LSJ did not have any examples. This reading in Luke 2:14 is truly difficult, yet the Hebrew examples from the DSS offer sufficient evidence to interpret this text as an indirect Hebraism or Septuagintalism.
Luke 2:14, then, is best read in light of the LXX and the DSS. This context indicates that the angels sing about peace to men whom God favors, not the favorable disposition of men or men in the disposition of goodwill.
Christmas time, therefore, is not encapsulated in the slogans, “peace, man” or “let’s end all wars” or “world peace” with a fundamentally future orientation. Fundamentally, it seems to me, Christmas is about remembering that the angels declared peace to men on whom God’s favor rests, and that declaration was actually fulfilled in the first advent of Jesus. Christ, the LORD, has brought peace to men whom God has favored. Christ came to preach the favorable year of the LORD (Is 61:2; Luke 4:19-21) and he accomplished this by shedding his own blood and inaugurating the new covenant [or the covenant of peace in Ezek. 34:25 et al.], which procures the forgiveness of sins for all who repent and believe in him (Luke 22:14-20; 24:44-49). His sacrifice made peace and formed a people, a new humanity (Eph. 2:14-18), who now endeavor to live as the people of God by speaking the truth in love [i.e. living faithfully with one another as members of the new covenant. cf. Zech 8:16-17].
The cries “to end all wars” and “world peace” refer to the second coming of Jesus Christ, when he will announce the day of the judgment/vengeance of our God (Isaiah 61:2). On this day, he shall remove the tears from the eyes of the people of God’s favor, and he will judge his enemies with absolute justice and righteousness.
Christmas, then, is not an empty hope for world peace. It is remembering how God in Christ actually brought peace on earth to the people of his favor in the past, and that past historical reality is the ground for a certain hope that he will act in the future, that he will indeed come again to establish his justice and righteousness in the consummation of his kingdom in the new creation. “World peace” is part and parcel of why we cry,”Come, Lord Jesus!” It is not a lament or a gripe to God, as if the first advent of Christ had failed. The first advent brought peace through the blood of Jesus’ cross. The second advent will fulfill or consummate what Christ’s first coming inaugurated.
With this understanding, may we have a merry Christmas indeed!
My post on the The Peshitta’s Reading of Acts 16:34 has caught the attention of some paedobaptists on the Puritan Board. I do not want to get a membership just to respond to them, so I will reply briefly here and maybe they will find me :).
The translation the Peshitta provides does not “tend” to providing credo-baptist support, to the exclusion of a household that included anyone there under the terms, inclusive. It is simply a straightforward, and very faithful, translation into a Semitic language (which prefers certain renditions of Greek phraseology, not any different than a modern English translation will do); and simply put, very much follows the word order of the Greek. Being myself a person familar to varying degrees with both biblical Hebrew and the modern Semitic tongue, Arabic, I would have to say that Meade’s conclusions drawn from the translation is as tendentious as anything he tries to pin on a paedobaptist. Continue reading
I mentioned the Prologue to Sirach in some of my comments in my last post on the canon in II Macc and I want to elaborate on this evidence regarding the tripartite structure and the closure of the OT canon. This post will first discuss the date of the Prologue, second the relevant texts in the Prologue, and third whether the Prologue gives indication of a closed canon. Continue reading
The date of the closing of the OT canon has been and will continue to be an important topic of debate for biblical scholars, and the value of texts from the second temple period will continue to be discussed specifically with regard to the contents and shape of the canon during this time period. In this post I want to list some of the references to the canon of the OT found in II Maccabees and provide come commentary on them. I cross-checked the terms used in Roger Beckwith’s chapter on the Titles of the Canon with the terms used in 2 Macc. The search yielded the following relevant terms: νομος, προφητης, βιβλος, βιβλιον, and Μωυσης. In this post my appreciation for Beckwith’s work, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, is evident. Continue reading
As I was reading through II Maccabees again, I was struck by the references to God as creator and the Jewish mother’s exact confession of God as Creator in chapter 7. Regardless of whether chapter 7 was originally in Jason’s history (2:19-23) or an interpolation of the epitomator, the view she confesses is still from the second century BC at latest (see NETS, 503, for details).
Texts Pertaining to Creation
7:23 τοιγαροῦν ὁ τοῦ κόσμου κτίστης ὁ πλάσας ἀνθρώπου γένεσιν καὶ πάντων ἐξευρὼν γένεσιν καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὴν ζωὴν ὑμῖν πάλιν ἀποδίδωσιν μετ᾽ ἐλέους, ὡς νῦν ὑπερορᾶτε ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τοὺς αὐτοῦ νόμους.
Therefore indeed the Creator of the world, the one who formed the beginning of humanity and invented the beginning of all things will give both spirit and life to you again with mercy, as/because now you watch yourselves on account his laws.
7:28 ἀξιῶ σε, τέκνον, ἀναβλέψαντα εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς πάντα ἰδόντα γνῶναι ὅτι οὐκ ἐξ ὄντων ἐποίησεν αὐτὰ ὁ θεός, καὶ τὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων γένος οὕτω γίνεται.
I ask that you, child, after looking into heaven and earth and seeing all things in them, know that God did not make them from existing matter/things, and the race of men came about in the same way.
Some observations that stand out: 1) God invented the beginning of all things, which has to include all matter. 2) This view of creation is the ground for believing that God will raise the dead and supply them again with spirit and life. Thus the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo functions as the ground for the life in the new creation. 3) 7:28 expresses negatively what was already expressed positively in 7:23: God did not make them (the heavens and the earth) from existing things.
Although these texts are late compared to the rest of the OT, these texts depend on the doctrine of creation contained therein. The Jews were certainly reading the text that we have, and concluding from it that God created all things and he did not create them from existing matter. Their interpretation is not inspired, but it certainly enjoys a long tradition, and it is also the conclusion of the Author to the Hebrews in 11:3: Πίστει νοοῦμεν κατηρτίσθαι τοὺς αἰῶνας ῥήματι θεοῦ, εἰς τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι and the Gospel of John 1:3: πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν and other place in the NT.
At LXX Studies we will more than likely never be the first to break a story to the public, but hopefully we will be able to offer sound reflection on some of the more newsworthy items from the perspective of the Ancient Versions.
This past week, there was some hype due to an announcement that Ellen Van Wolde has made an argument that concludes something to the tune of “the traditional view that God is creator is untenable now.” As I understand it, a major part of Van Wolde’s argument concerns the translation of the Hebrew word ברא in Genesis 1:1. Of course the traditional translation of this word is “to create,” but Van Wolde has suggested that the word in this context should be translated “to separate,” so that the text is not teaching the original creation of the heavens and the earth, but only the separation of the heavens from the earth (see Chris for an apt critique of Van Wolde’s analysis of the Hebrew usage).
What Van Wolde means by the “traditional view” is not clear, but one may safely assume that she has in mind the traditional exegesis of Genesis 1:1 which supports the traditional Jewish and Christian view of creation that God created the heavens and the earth ex nihilo. I simply want to list the evidence of the Ancient Versions in order to present the traditional exegesis of this verse.
LXX: ᾿Εν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν. The text can be translated: In the beginning God created/made the heavens and the earth (see LSJ s.v. αρχη for anarthrous examples with prepositions, where the sense is still clearly definite probably because the lexical item naturally assumes only one beginning). The LXX, then, uses a verb which does not mean “to separate,” but means “to make” or “to create” ( for the latter meaning see s.v. ποιεω A.2 LSJ). For a thorough listing of translation equivalents for bara’ in the LXX and for what equivalents one would expect to see if the translators wanted to communicate the sense “to separate” see here. This translation comes from the 3rd century BC (c. 280 BC) and some might wonder if the translators intended to convey that God only formed the heavens and the earth from existing matter by their use of ποιεω. Although this is possible, only about 120 years later, we see clearly that the Jews are praying to the LORD God as ο παντων κτιστης (“the creator of all”) among other appellations in 2 Maccabees 1:24. The Jews clearly have an understanding that God created all things in this period of their history and this theology must come from texts such as Genesis 1:1.
Aquila: ἐν κεφαλαιω εκτισεν θεος συν τον ουρανον και συν την γην. Aquila employs the very specific verb κτιζω “to create” in order to render the Hebrew text. Note that Aquila is not using the συν preposition in the normal sense “with” so that someone might be tempted to translate the text: God created with the heavens and with the earth or something like this. Rather, Aquila uses συν characteristically to translate the Hebrew marker of the direct object את.
Symmachus: Not extant
Theodotion: Not extant
Vulgate: In principio creavit Deus caelum et terram. Jerome uses creo to communicate the idea of creation, not separation.
Peshitta: ܒܪܫܝܬ ܒܪܐ ܐܠܗܐ܂ ܝܬ ܫܡܝܐ ܘܝܬ ܐܪܥܐ܂ P uses a cognate (bra’) to translate the Hebrew text in this verse. According to the CAL in the G stem this verb may mean “to create” or “to get well.” The former is clearly the meaning in this context given that the verb is transitive in this context.
Targum: בֲקַדמִין בְרָא יוי יָת שְמַיָא וְיָת אַרעָא׃ The Aramaic Targum uses the same cognate (bra’) as P, which has the same range of meaning in this dialect according to the CAL.
The Ancient Versions speak with one clear voice that God did indeed create the heavens and the earth, not simply the “stuff” in the heavens and the earth, and they certainly did not understand the text to mean God separated the heavens and the earth.
Therefore any argument to the contrary will have to be established firmly on the basis of the analysis of the Hebrew text of Genesis and the Hebrew Bible as a whole, which is Van Wolde’s project apparently. However, see John Hobbins’ initial critique of Van Wolde’s analysis of the Hebrew Bible here.
Concluding his section on the King as Wise Man, Ronald Sweet says,
“The conclusion to be drawn from this evidence is clear. In Mesopotamian society the king was regarded as possessing an unusually large measure of god-given wisdom, and was thought to manifest that wisdom by performing deeds pleasing to the gods, in particular the building of temples. The Israelite tradition of King Solomon, the wise king whose greatest achievement was the building of a temple, reflects a similar point of view.”
Concluding his essay, he says concerning the wise man in Akkadian literature,
“Who, on the evidence of Akkadian literature, was the wise man in ancient Mesopotamia? If the answer is to be decided by a frequency count of claims to wisdom,or by the passion and eloquence of the claims, the answer cannot be in doubt: the king was the wise man par excellence. Yet only three kings claim to have been literate in two thousand years of Mesopotamian history. The wisdom of kings was therefore not a bookish or intellectual affair. It was largely a matter of recognizing the supremacy of the gods and performing deeds pleasing to them. Reverence for the gods was the beginning of wisdom.”
Now, Akkadian literature also knows of “commoners” as wise men (craftsmen, architects and builders, soldiers, cult officials, diviners, exorcists, musicians, physicians, scribes,counselors, teachers[he rejects the meager evidence of this category], and nonspecific). Concerning them Sweet concludes,
“The evidence has also shown that the vocabulary of wisdom was applied to certain classes of the king’s subjects. What is common to the classes so identified is that they are all in some way professions that required an obvious and special skill, ranging from carpentry through the leadership of armies to vocations requiring mastery of writing. It is interesting that wisdom terms are not applied to agricultural workers, shepherds, or boatmen, for example. Such people certainly required professional skills, but they were the widely shared skills of daily life. If the wise man of Mesopotamia is to be defined as the man who is called wise in Mesopotamia, the definition must emphasize his possession of special know-how, whether in the realm of material concerns or in affairs of the unseen world of the gods.”
(The preceding quotes came from Ronald F. G. Sweet, “The Sage in Akkadian Literature,” in The Sage in Israel and the Ancient Near East, edited by John G. Gammie and Leo G. Perdue, 57, 65.)
Does this picture in Akkadian literature shed any light on the biblical data? Furthermore, does this evidence aid those who argue that the kingdom/kingship theme runs through all of Scripture, even the wisdom literature? It seems to me that Scripture also places the emphasis on the wisdom of the king (Proverbs 1:1, Ecclesiastes 1:1; Deut. 17:18-19), but not to the exclusion of others (Exodus 35:31ff, Proverbs 30:1ff; Proverbs 1:8-9:fin? = Homilies of the teacher, which Sweet denied as a category in Mesopotamia?).
Let me know your thoughts on this matter.
I have been posting quite a bit on baptism issues lately (see posts on Acts 16:34 and 2:41), and I’m not really sure why. I guess I think about the issue while I’m reading the sources and I make a note to come back to certain texts for further reflection. When I was reading Job 1 a couple weeks ago, the reference to Job and his house struck me because I remembered Lee Irons’ post on this matter here. Irons is a more acute theologian than I, but he is convinced by Jeremias’ argument that oikos texts in the Septuagint “refer to the immediate family unit, with particular focus on the under-age children.” Now, one is struck by the impressive list of references, which Irons compiles in his paper; however, what if it can be shown in one clear instance that the oikos formula refers to a household which has no infants in the house? Would not that reference cause someone to pause before concluding (assuming?) there are infants in every household text in the NT? Well, that one reference is Job 1:10. I first commented on this issue on Weedon’s blog, which is another thread worth reviewing, if one is interested in the matter of baptism from a church history perspective. Continue reading