καίγε in Joel 2:29 and Acts 2:18

Blogging has been a low priority for me this past year since my transition to Phoenix last summer. My first year of teaching at Phoenix Seminary was both challenging and satisfying. Currently I am teaching a course on the Septuagint, Readings in the Septuagint, and in my preparation I came across an interesting piece in Joel 2:29.

As I was reading Joseph Ziegler’s apparatus for the Duodecim Prophetae for Joel 2:29, I found a curious variant. I provide the first part of the Hebrew, LXX, and NT followed by the apparatus for LXX:

HT: וְגַ֥ם עַל־הָֽעֲבָדִ֖ים

LXX: καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους

NT: καί γε ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους

καί 1° W* B-S*-V L-36 C-68 AchSa] + γε rel. = Act. 2:18.

No doubt Ziegler has determined the original text in this instance and perhaps Acts 2:18 influenced the rest of the Greek manuscript tradition with the addition of γε. Acts 2:18 is the earliest witness to this variant but it probably did not introduce this reading into the textual transmission. Where did γε come from? We now have enough evidence, especially for the Twelve Prophets, that shows that the Jews were revising the (O)ld (G)reek to a text closer to the proto-Masoretic Text long before the time of Jesus and the NT. One of the characteristics, indeed the characteristic after which the tradition became named, was the revision of the translation of וגם/גם with καίγε (sometimes two words καί γε) where OG had simple καί. This characteristic and the general tradition was brought to its pinnacle in the revision of Aquila. The most significant piece of evidence for the tradition comes from the Nahal Hever Scroll of the 12 Prophets dated to the middle of the 1st century BCE.

One can see that the use of καίγε brings the Greek text into greater quantitative alignment with the Hebrew source, for now גם has an equivalent in the Greek text.

What is intriguing to me in this example and others like it is that the NT has a reading which in all probability goes back to the καίγε tradition of the 1st century BCE and therefore a reading in close alignment with the proto-MT.

It is very intriguing to me that at times they cite what is close to the OG (even when it departs from the proto-MT) and at other times they cite what is closer to καίγε or Theodotion (a prominent member of the former tradition; see here). Did the NT authors have a choice between texts or did they simply use what they had at their disposal? This is an open question in my mind and I invite you to list your opinions in the comments.

UPDATE: Brian Davidson informed me that Steve Runge wrote a paper on Joel 3:1-5 in Acts 2. Steve gives a great discussion of the Hebrew discourse function of גם and the Greek discourse function of γε. The particles גם and γε disambiguate the intended function of the following prepositional phrases marking the fullest extent to which the outpouring of the Spirit will be experienced. The LXX is ambiguous with καί only, but γε in Acts 2:18 indicates that the fronting of the prepositional phrases is emphatic and not contrastive. Excellent analysis of the grammar. What Steve does not mention (not the intention of this paper) is the καίγε tradition, which probably influences Acts 2:18. Before Acts 2, the Jews were already revising גם/וגם with καίγε where the OG had only καί.

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Ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ, Septuagintalism in Ephesians 1:6?

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 11:15

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

Deut 32:15

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.

Isaiah 44:2

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.

Septuagintalism?

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.

Peace on Earth: The Text and Message of Luke 2:14 for Christmas Time

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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!

What is a Septuagintalism and why is it important to NT Studies?

Natalio Fernandez Marcos, author of The Septuagint in Context, says, “Nowhere in the New Testament is the need for a Semitic Vorlage demanded by the evidence, and most of the Hebraisms invoked by philologists are more easily explained as indirect Hebraisms or Septuagintalisms through the sub-language that was created for the Scriptures by the translations of the Bible in Greek” (Septuagint, 333).

In my study of Greek Job, I have come across at least two examples of the use of προσθείς + finite verb which translates Hebrew יסף + infinitive, “to X again”, in which the action to be repeated is carried by the infinitive. In Job 27:1 and 29:1, Job takes up his parable/discourse again. The OG renders this construction as προσθείς + εἶπεν: lit. having added/furthered, Job said… Or “Again, he spoke his discourse.” LSJ lists this meaning for προστίθημι only for LXX and NT. A simple example from the NT comes from Luke 19:11: Ἀκουόντων δὲ αὐτῶν ταῦτα προσθεὶς εἶπεν παραβολὴν, “Now after hearing these things, he again spoke a parable…”

Since there is some debate over whence this NT construction comes (Hebrew or Aramaic Vorlage or LXX influence), it is interesting to compare it to Aquila’s revision of Job 27:1: καὶ προσέθηκεν Ἰὼβ ἆραι τὴν παραβολὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ εἶπε (lit. And he added Job to take up his parable and he said). Predictably, Aquila renders every word of his Hebrew source into Greek, even preserving the exact Hebrew word order. He has translated the Hebrew verb ultra literally, which preserves the Hebrew parataxis, whereas the OG translator created a hypotactic construction. Nowhere do the NT authors use the construction of Aquila to my knowledge, but they do use the construction of the LXX with some frequency.

This observation and the phenomenon of Septuagintalisms in general (see the list in Marcos on pages 333-35) indicate probably that the NT authors were influenced by the LXX and perhaps in some cases the early revisers, but might it also indicate that they did not have much recourse, if any, to a Hebrew parent text and that they were not very influenced by its linguistic makeup? If they had recourse to the Hebrew parent text of the Greek OT, would we expect more literal renderings such as we find in Aquila or Theodotion, who clearly had such an access? Of course there are more angles to this discussion, which I have left out (e.g. revision of the OG by the time of the NT, what was the exact form of the Greek OT during the first century AD? etc.). All I’m asking at this time is, do the presence of Septuagintalisms add to the growing consensus that the NT authors were more, if not exclusively, influenced by the LXX than the Hebrew text and therefore they may not have made ad hoc renderings from this text?

[Caveat: Text form does not indicate a different canon thus the NT authors’ dependence on the LXX does not mean that they were thinking in terms of the so called “wider canon” of the LXX. That such a conception existed at all is dubious according to a thorough examination of all of the evidence.]

Does the NT Misread the OT?

Daniel O. McCellan and I are having a bit of an exchange on his blog regarding the whole issue of the NT’s use of the OT here. Daniel posits that Hebrews 2:5ff has misread Psalm 8 via the mistranslation of the LXX. In Daniel’s view, this example shows that one cannot read the Bible “univocally,” since the NT is reading into the OT text and using it for its purposes. I disagree with Daniel for two reasons: 1) I’m not convinced that the LXX has misread the Hebrew text when it translates אלהים with αγγελοι. On his thread I said:

The Greek Psalter uses αγγελος 13 times to render three Hebrew words: אביר אלוהים, and מלאך. Of these 13 times, it uses αγγελοι to render “gods” 3 times (8:5, 96(97):7, and 137(138):1). In 96:7, αγγελοι is a very fitting translation of אלוהים since it clearly has “gods” or “divine beings” in view and not the God of Israel, YHWH, while the other two references are debatable. There is clearly not a different Vorlage underlying the LXX, since it is an established equivalent in the Psalter (see also Job 1:6 et al.). So there is no textual fluidity here, but rather indication that the translator is attempting a somewhat close rendering of a text similar to M. When the Hebrew Psalter refers to false gods/judges(?) or elohim in 81(82):1 and 85(86):8, the translator uses θεοι. Thus it would seem that the LXX has detected three meanings of elohim: God, angels or divine beings, and false gods/judges, and it has a different equivalent for each, clearly distinguishing the true God of Israel from the false gods by employing the singular and plural of θεος respectively. All of this seems like good translating on the part of the LXX, not a different Vorlage.

Therefore, in my view, LXX Psalms is actually a faithful translation of the Hebrew text (Peshitta and Targum also have “angels” here). Daniel thinks the translator made a translational (?; I don’t think he means an unintentional error of hearing or sight) mistake here, but I think he needs to show that αγγελοι is an insufficient Greek equivalent in those instances where elohim means something other than false gods or the God of Israel. It may be a novel translation equivalent in the LXX (though I’m not certain of this point), but does that mean the translator misread the Hebrew text?

2) I’m also not convinced that Hebrews has misinterpreted Psalm 8 by applying it to Christ. There is some debate over whether this text is Christocentric or anthropocentric, but let’s assume the former for the sake of discussion. I understand Psalm 8 to be written by David on the basis of the superscription attested in both MT and LXX, and therefore it is quite early. If it is Davidic, then one should read it in light of the covenant God made with David (2 Sam. 7:13ff) and in the light of the original creation of Adam, since it is a commentary on creation. I understand humanity and, therefore Adam as the first human, to be a kingly figure, since he is identified as the image and likeness of God. Genesis 5:3 also links Son with image, and therefore Adam is considered the Son of God, which is a title of kings in the ancient world. David also realizes that the covenant God made with him and his genealogy places him as King over all of the peoples, since there is one God over the entire world in the Israelite worldview  (Deut. 6:4; 2 Sam. 7:19; cp. Isaiah 2:1-3).

Hebrews 2:5ff, then, continues the Christological argument of the author, begun in 1:4ff. The word οικουμενη links 1:6 to 2:5ff, showing that the argument in chapters 1-2 is actually the same one. The author effectively shows in the categories of the OT that Jesus is the great Davidic King, the Son of God, who is at the same time fulfilling the covenant made with creation.

Conclusions

Daniel has set up the argument that there are some who understand the relationship between NT and OT as “univocal.” I’m not sure to whom he is responding, since most Evangelical scholars I know and read, affirm the relationship between the Testaments to be something like “unity in diversity.”  This means that the Bible has essential unity but that it also has contours and development, similar to a well-woven tapestry, which has individual patterns and colors, but of course these all create a unified pattern. The question is then, does the evidence reveal that Hebrews diverged from the essential message and theology (-ies) of the OT in a way that the OT would not approve or affirm? Or does the evidence indicate that the exegesis of Hebrews develops the OT theologies (creation and Davidic covenant et al.) in light of the first advent of Jesus Christ in a way that the OT would stand and say, “Amen.”

These are big questions, but each one needs to wrestle with this issue. Thanks Daniel for raising this important question, even if we do disagree on the answer.

Reply to Contra_Mundum Regarding Acts 16.34

Introduction

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 :).

Contra_Mundum says:

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 “Reply to Contra_Mundum Regarding Acts 16.34”

More On God as Creator from II Maccabees

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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.

The Lexis of Acts 2:41 or Who were the First Christian Baptizees?

This study only introduces an argument, which needs more research in the Classical and Patristic periods.  The argument concerns the description of the first baptizees in Acts 2:41.  The book of Acts records the history of the earliest apostolic church.  The question of what is normative in the book of Acts vs. what is only descriptive is a lingering question to ask of this book.  There seems to be components of the book of Acts that may not be normative for Christians today but simply applied to the first century church.  Perhaps, the description of the church community as sharing all of their possessions so that no one was in need may be an example of description, but does not constitute normative practice for the church in all ages and at all times; however, baptism is a normative aspect of the church (Matt. 28:18-20).  Therefore, the book of Acts must shape our doctrine and practice of baptism.  Most do not debate that the book of Acts reveals the subject or the recipient of baptism.  Presbyterians usually look to household baptism texts and conclude that infants of believers ought to be baptized.  Baptists appeal to texts in Acts where the subjects of baptism are reported as having believed and then were baptized.  The book of Acts has many baptismal accounts to examine, but this post is devoted to one aspect of the first account in Acts 2.

Another assumption I have about the book of Acts is that earlier accounts are expanded, while later accounts are abbreviated.  In other words, Luke describes in detail who was baptized in the first few baptismal accounts, while in the later accounts he simply reports that a baptism happened.  He does not explain what happens to the baptized members in later accounts, while in the earlier account he explains that baptism leads to membership in the church for example. Continue reading “The Lexis of Acts 2:41 or Who were the First Christian Baptizees?”

The Peshitta’s Reading of Acts 16.34

Acts 16.34 contains that wonderful and glorious text of the salvation of the Philippian jailer and his household.  However, the question that has intrigued interpreters is who is believing according to this verse?  Is only the jailer believing? Or is the jailer believing together with his household?  Allow me to cite the Greek text of the verse then I will describe the exegetical difficulties, and finally I will provide the Syriac Peshitta reading of the verse and draw some conclusions from it.

Greek Text: αναγαγων τε αυτους εις τον οικον παρεθηκεν τραπεζαν και ηγαλλιασατο πανοικει πεπιστευκως τω θεω.

Difficulty: Does πανοικει (an adverb meaning “with the whole house”) modify the main verb ηγαλλιασατο or the participle πεπιστευκως?  As an adverb, grammatically it may modify either word.  What is the difference between the options? If it modifies the first verb, the translation is something like: “He rejoiced with his whole household because he believed in God.”  If it modifies the second, the text reads: He rejoiced because he believed in God–together with his whole household.  In the second translation the adverb indicates that the whole household believed with the jailer and were subsequently baptized according to 16.33.  The first translation has only the jailer believing, but the whole household is rejoicing with him and if the oikos argument is granted, this whole household is baptized apart from faith. Continue reading “The Peshitta’s Reading of Acts 16.34”