Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Apostle of the Last Days - By Marvin Pate

Did I like this book? Yes and no, but inclining more towards the latter.  The Apostle of the Last Days is an argument for Paul's life, letters and theology being eschatologically focused/united and that the troubles in the Churches Paul communicated with were because of faulty eschatologies.  Pate goes through the letters written by Paul and explains the Roman Eschatology/Roman Imperial Cult, non-Christian Jewish Eschatology and professing Christian faulty eschatology.  He then explains Paul's correction of them.
 Did I like this book? Yes and no, but inclining more towards the latter. The Apostle of the Last Days is an argument for Paul's life, letters and theology being eschatologically focused/united and that the troubles in the Churches Paul communicated with were because of faulty eschatologies. Pate goes through the letters written by Paul and explains the Roman Eschatology/Roman Imperial Cult, non-Christian Jewish Eschatology and professing Christian faulty eschatology. He then explains Paul's correction of them.
Some of it was quite interesting, especially where he explains Paul's counter to the Jewish view that justification of people before God would not happen until the "age to come".  I especially liked his overviews of the epistles, they were interesting summaries.  "Justification by Faith - God's end time verdict now"  is how he subtitles the chapter on Galatians.  His explanation that Christ "inaugurated the kingdom of God at his first coming and will complete that kingdom at his return" is among the topics discussed throughout the book. 

But then there are some things are a bit hard to keep straight. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 14:34 Pate says, "These controversial words probably mean no more than that Christian wives, enjoying their freedom in Christ to prophesy and speak tongues, should be careful not to let things get out of control by becoming overly enthusiastic to the point of being boisterous in the worship services.  Rather than all speak at once, the ladies should discuss spiritual matters at home with their husbands."   So, what about the verse afterwards that says that it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church?  So women have the freedom to act shamefully in the church, but wives shouldn't use that freedom?   What about 1 Timothy 2:11-15?
And then, although Mr. Pate seems to be pre-millennial, he believes that the true Israel is made up of Christian Jews and Gentiles. Biblically, I don't know why people don't see a continuity between the Israel of God and the remnant of Israel.  I don't understand why they think that Gentiles need to be an actual part of Israel rather than partaking with Israel in God's blessings as Gentiles not Israelites.  The Bible indicates that God planned to save and bless the Gentiles as Gentiles not as Israelites.  Christian Gentiles are a part of the people of God without having to become Jews.  

Some other statements were odd too…Pate thought that some things  "…suggest that the apostle, like the book of Revelation, feared that the antichrist was about to dawn in the form of the roman emperor."  This almost make it sound like the book of Revelation was written by someone simply observing modern trends of events rather than truly receiving a revelation.  I'm assuming that Pate didn't mean it that way, but it is still odd...

There were other things both good and bad, but I'll end my review now with a quote that I liked:

"But the eschatological battle that wages within the Christian does not result in a stalemate, because the believer possesses the Holy Spirit, the gift of the end times par excellence, according to Romans 8:1-16.  The Spirit enables Christians to obey God and thus live a life of righteousness."

Thanks to Kregel Academic for sending me a free review copy of this book!  My review did not have to be favorable. 

This book may be purchased at Kregel Academic and on Amazon

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chronological Life Application Study Bible

I wouldn't call this Bible uniquely applicable to a person's daily life as the Scripture is always applicable. That is not to say that I don't like this format, I do! I just needed to clarify that I don't quite agree with the title. This is a chronological Bible, interweaving chapters from various books of the Bible in their probable sequential order. This means that some chapters are split up and other parts of other chapters are placed in the gap to stay chronological.  

There are many helpful charts to support the chronological aspect, some of my favorites being the several charts throughout the accounts of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, showing the "Kings To Date and Their Enemies"…I always get a bit confused about them. One of the other things I found very helpful were the little maps throughout, demonstrating where people went and where such and such a town was located. It gives you more comprehension of Biblical geography. There are also several large pictures of what Jerusalem and the Temple looked like in certain eras. Also included throughout are small full-color modern pictures of the various places that are spoken of, such as the Parthenon in Athens, Samaria, and there are also pictures of things as well, such as a millstone, and biblical manuscripts.

The notes are interesting, and even though they are apparently against the complete sovereignty of God, the notes in Romans are still interesting, part of the note on Romans 11:7 reads: "Resisting God is like saying to him, 'Leave me alone!' But because God is always and everywhere present, his answer to that prayer might be to agree and make that person less sensitive, more hardened to him…" I do not like that the writers of the notes do not take a stand on the age of the earth, they give the impression that it is not important for the beginning of the Bible to be literally understood, which can give a wrong impression as to the rest of the Bible. 

I also need to mention that at least one of the pictures is inappropriate(Adam and Eve), you'll want to scribble it out, I have not seen all of the pictures yet so there may be more. I don’t know why they thought that was okay to put in, even if it isn't as bad as it could be it still contradicts Genesis 3 where God gives them clothing(keep in mind that they were also husband and wife), why is it okay for their offspring to depict them in what is now their shame? We still live after the fall, not before it, so why contradict that?  

Anyway, I do like all of the maps and several of the charts and pictures of the locations, it really is interesting to have a visual picture as one reads along. 

Click here to view the website for this Bible

Many thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network from whom I received a free review copy of this Bible.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Strange Fire - By John Macarthur

In this book, MacArthur attacks the 'Strange fire'/worship practice of  pneumacentrism/Holy Spirit centrism(Major focus upon the Holy Spirit)particularly in the Charismatic movement, and does a good job too.  He starts by reminding us to 'test the spirits' and then moves on to how the modern charismatic movement got started and how they misinterpret Scripture.  We look at the Scriptures to see what the work of the Holy Spirit actually looks like and what 'Spirit-filled' really means. 

Speaking in tongues is addressed, of course, and we are given the history of how and why the Charismatics switched from viewing the word 'tongue' as being a human language to its being an unintelligible spirit babble.  They apparently tried out their 'tongues' on people in other countries, and it proved that their supposed 'languages' were not languages at all but merely gibberish.  They wanted to keep this babble and so reinterpreted the Scriptures to make it mean, essentially, 'holy babble'.   

Some Charismatics believe that there can be modern Apostles other than the twelve in the early church.  This is addressed by the author as well.  He makes the point that the Apostle's did not tell the Churches that new Apostles should(or would) be appointed, but rather pastors, elders and deacons were to be appointed.  Also addressed is the so-called 'prophecy' that is happening today.  While Charismatics believe that the early church(and OT) had prophets of God who always prophesied correctly, for some reason, today they believe that one can be a prophet and be wrong in your prophecy many times.  While giving Scriptural proofs against this view, this statement is made, "…the Bible only and always condemns erroneous prophets as dangerous and deceptive.  Fallible prophets are false prophets."   The Holy spirit does not give us new revelation but rather gives us illumination/understanding of the Scriptures. "After all, a foundation is not something that can be rebuilt during every phase of  construction.  The foundation is unique, and it is always laid first with the rest of the structure resting firmly above it. "

I found the look at 1 Corinthians 12:31 very interesting. The statement, "But earnestly desire the best gifts."..  rather than being imperative, the statement is probably indicative,  "The New International Version rightly captures the apostle's point in its alternate reading of this verse:  "But you are eagerly desiring the greater gifts."  The Syriac New Testament similarly states, "Because you are zealous of the best gifts, I will show to you a more excellent way."

It’s a good critique of the Charismatic movement along with excellent warnings about the dangers of this misfocus upon the Holy Spirit and His gifts. The ending of the book has a plea to pastors who are concerned with rightly interpreting God's Word, and yet are more accepting of the Charismatic doctrines, to seriously rethink this issue.
I'll end with one more quote, "By elevating the authority of experience over the authority of Scripture, the Charismatic Movement has destroyed the church's immune system - uncritically granting free access to every imaginable form of heretical teaching and practice."

Thanks to BookSneeze®/Thomas Nelson publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book!(My Review did not have to be favorable)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Joseph: And the Gospel of Many Colors by Voddie Baucham Jr.

Joseph: And the Gospel of Many Colors is not a full fledged commentary on the account of Joseph, nor was it meant to be.  It is more of an overview of the life of Joseph using a Christo-centric perspective.  I wanted to read this book partly because I thought that perhaps I was misunderstanding what people mean by "Christo-centric" as a hermeneutic.  Some of Baucham's explanations, such as the following, encouraged me in that regard:  "This does not mean that we find Jesus in every verse.  Another objection to the redemptive-historical approach to the Old Testament narrative is that it inevitably leads to allegorizing the text. Suddenly, every part of the story refers to an aspect of Christ.  The pit can't just be a pit; it has to be a type of grave.  The prison can't just be a prison; it has to be a type of hell.  And, of course, coming out of prison and going before Pharaoh must be a type of resurrection.  The possibilities are endless and the dangers, myriad." 

But it turns out that I was wrong and hadn't misunderstand what "Christocentric" seemed to be implying. Perhaps I still don't completely understand the argument, but I disagree with the results of the hermeneutic.  Despite what the author says in the above excerpt, he goes on to call Joseph's brother Judah "the forerunner of Christ", not simply genetically, but because of some of his actions:  Judah obeyed his father and offers himself as substitute prisoner of the Egyptian  in the stead of his brother Benjamin, "Once more there are echoes of his greater son, Jesus:  'Greater love has not one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends'(John 15:13)'…"  Where does God in His word ever make such a connection?  God was certainly gracious to Judah in making him the genetic forefather of the Messiah but I don't see where he was ever said to be the forerunner of Christ by his actions. 

My disappointment started at the beginning of the book, this excerpt being a large part of my discouragement:  ".…..Everything we've observed about the Joseph narrative is true.  And anyone teaching the story in a manner commensurate with the brief outline I've just given would be showing faithfulness to the text.  Joseph was faithful.  His brothers were sinful.  He was rewarded with position, power, and prominence.  All true!  However, let me ask you a question.  What separates the telling of the story from any other moral tale?  More importantly, where is the good news? ……Also, do you notice the materialistic bent?  Joseph was faithful to his father and he got sold into slavery.  He was faithful to his master and he got sent to prison.  He was faithful in the prison and he got promoted to second-in-command to Pharaoh, himself.  There you have it:  faithfulness = material wealth, success, notoriety, etc.  How is that different from a Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, or plain old secular, irreligious tale?  How is it distinct from Aesop's Fables?  Because it mentions God as the source of the success?  IS that all?  There must be something more!"  Why?  Someone can preach the account of Joseph's life without making God's material rewards for him a standard for all Christians. And God certainly is the source of Joseph's success.  What would be wrong with simply preaching the providence of God in Joseph's life in particular and acknowledging that God graciously used him to save the nation of Israel from whence the Messiah would come? Is it no different from a fable if we don't see Judah as a forerunner of Christ by his actions?  If we don't see, or speak of, the tests Joseph made of his brothers as being similar to the 'tests' of 1st John, does this mean that we are misinterpreting the text?  Baucham himself mentions "Of course, the tests in Genesis 42 do not include the person and work of Christ, and right belief therein.  However, the similarities are clear.  The apostle John encourages us throughout his letter to examine ourselves for evidence that our faith in Christ has produced fruit similar to that being tested in Genesis 42." 

The author explains that he used to preach verse-by-verse, expository messages, that he was "steeped in an expository tradition that was so concerned with the 'grammatical-historical' exegesis of texts that it became 'atomistic' in its execution….If the text was about practical matters, I did not want to 'spiritualize' it and make it about something else…"  He recounts that his change came when he spoke on an Old Testament passage and a Jewish woman heard it and rather than being offended at the message, complemented him on it.  Baucham was appalled that his message was not a stumbling block to the Jewess(1 Cor. 1:23-24), "was it because she was 'being saved'?  No.  It was because I had not preached Christ!"  I don't see that the passage means that a pastor is not preaching correctly if he is not offensive to unbelievers in every text he preaches upon.  I'm pretty sure that if the Jewess had started attending every service at the  church Baucham is pastor of, she would have been extremely offended sooner or later. 

The Christocentric  hermeneutic seems forced, not natural.  In the book it is mentioned that the author of Hebrews spoke of Joseph, "'By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones" (Heb. 11:22).  That's it.  That's how the author of Hebrews views the crux of the Joseph narrative.  Not a word about all the things we make such a big deal of in our efforts to apply the text.  For the author of Hebrews, Joseph's story is about faith - a faith that allowed him to look beyond Egypt to the Exodus."    Where was the author of Hebrew's Christocentric Hermeneutic there?  If faith was the crux of the Joseph narrative then why did Baucham seem to imply that the crux of the narrative was Christ?

"We were made for eternity.  And unless there's something in the story of Joseph that gets us ready for, closer to, or more informed about that, there's no good news at all."  But isn't God's providential control good news?  Isn't "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work."(2Ti 3:16-17 ASV)  Why doesn't Paul say that "every Scripture that is Christocentrically interpreted is profitable…"? I have never understood that when Christ said that 'Moses wrote of me" he meant that everything Moses wrote was about Christ, rather it was that Moses wrote of Him.  When on the Emmaus road Christ "interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."  I have always taken it to mean that He explained all of the prophetic texts that are found in the Scriptures.

I am very sorry to be so negative.  There were good things in the book, and Baucham didn't find Christ in every text, He did see the providence of God.  But some of his interpretations were odd and his explanation of Christocentric was not Biblically convincing.  I simply don't see that using a literal/grammatical/historical hermeneutic turns historical narratives of the Bible into fables.

 I'll end on a positive note with my favorite quote from the book:  "If we refuse to forgive, we have stepped into dangerous waters.  First, refusing to forgive is to put ourselves in the place of God, as though vengeance were our prerogative, not his.  Second, unforgiveness says God's wrath is insufficient.  For the unbeliever, we are saying that an eternity in hell is not enough, they need our slap in the face or cold shoulder to "even the scales" of justice.  For the believer, we are saying that Christ's humiliation and death are not enough.  In other words, we shake our fists at God and say, "Your standards may have been satisfied, but my standard is higher!"  Finally, refusing to forgive is the highest form of arrogance.  Here we stand forgiven.  And as we bask in the forgiveness of a perfectly holy and righteous God, we turn to our brother and say, "My sins are forgivable, but yours are not."  In other words, we act as though the sins of others are too significant to forgive while simultaneously believing that ours are not significant enough to matter."
Many thanks to Good News Publishers / Crossway Books and Bibles for sending me a free review copy of this book(My review did not have to be favorable).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The New Answers Book 4 - Edited by Ken Ham (General Editor)
The interpretation of the Bible's account of Creation through the lens of science seems to be a popular thing amongst professing Christians nowadays.  This is a very discouraging state of things, that Christians trust human observations before the Bible's declarations.  That is one reason why this book is so refreshing as the authors hold to God's Word as the starting point and as the 'lens' with which to interpret their scientific observations.   
The interpretation of the Bible's account of Creation through the lens of science seems to be a popular thing amongst professing Christians nowadays.

The New Answers book 4 by Ken Ham(editor) and many others, is full of chapters dealing with questions in regards to 'issues' that may come up in discussions about Creation, and is also great for simply perusing possible answers as to how certain things about Creation week might be explained.  It is a compilation of several essays on various aspects of Creation written by several different people who are biased towards the Bible.  The nice thing is that they do not make having answers to every question imperative, such as the chapters on Starlight.  They make some suggestions as to how starlight could have been visible from earth immediately at Creation but make it clear that we don't have to know how,  faith in what God's Word says is what is important, whether or not we understand it all.  As one of the contributors wrote, "Interpretations of Scripture are Not Scripture….Keep in mind that it is the text that is inspired, not our interpretations of it." 
Keep in mind that this is book 4 in the New Answers series so if you have questions that are not addressed in this volume they may be in the other books in this series.  I have not read the other ones but, based on what this one is like, I believe that I can highly recommend all of them as they seem very biased towards what God says happened at Creation.  I love that type of bias!!!   

 I'll end with an excerpt from the beginning of the book:  "As soon as you surrender the Bible's authority in one area, you 'unlock a door' to do the same thing in other areas.  Once the door of compromise is open, even if ajar just a little, subsequent generation push the door open wider.  Ultimately, this compromise has been a major contributing factor in the loss of biblical authority in our Western world….…If one uses fallible dating methods to reinterpret Genesis (e.g., the days of creation), then one is 'unlocking a door,' so to speak, to teach others that they won't have to take the Bible as written (e.g., Genesis is historical narrative) a the beginning so why should one take it as written elsewhere (e.g., the bodily Resurrection of Christ).  If one has to accept what secular scientists say about the age of the earth, evolution, etc., then why not reinterpret the Resurrection of Christ?  After all, no secular scientist accepts that a human being can be raised from the dead, so maybe the Resurrection should be reinterpreted to mean just 'spiritual resurrection'."


Many thanks to New Leaf Publishers for sending me a free Kindle review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable) -  published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group

This book may be purchased from New Leaf Publishers , and on

Other Reviews of the book:
 Also see GoodReads Page

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reformed or not Reformed? - Happy Reformation Day!

Today is celebrated by some as Reformation Day, the day in 1517 when Martin Luther posted 95 theses questioning indulgences on the Castle Church door in Wittenberg. This act accelerated the Reformation in Germany and elsewhere. 

Before recommending some resources for remembering the Reformation, I would like to offer some thoughts on the term 'reformed' as applied to modern Christians who believe in the sovereignty of God, election, perseverance of the Saints…etc. My dad and I have had several talks about this term.  To put it plainly, we do not like the term. The Reformation was about reforming back to the Bible, God's Word, as the so-called 'church' had strayed from that foundation.  I was born into a Christian family, we go to a church that is Biblically grounded, so we have no need to reform, but rather focus on conforming to God's Word.  The word 'Reformed' always points back to the Reformation, and the doctrines that the 'reformers' rediscovered.  As Christians, ought we not to base our beliefs on the Bible, God's Word, and those doctrines that have been in that book for 2000 + years?  By focusing too much on the people God used and the books they wrote about the Bible, we are in danger of doing what the Catholic Church did and end up revering men as objects of worship and holding the books of those Reformers, Puritans and Modern Reformed people as a replacement for the Bible itself.  Ironically, we will need to reform the Reformed.   

My dad believes that 'Biblicist' is a better term for Christians than 'Reformed'.  It makes sense doesn't it? Instead of insinuating that our doctrine is that of the Saints rediscovery of a particular era, we should particularly associate ourselves with the authoritative Word of God.  Luther, Calvin, Owen, and Edwards are mere men, who made mistakes(yes, even in Biblical Interpretation), they were not the originators of truth, they were merely focusing on studying the Word of God as we should be doing.   

L. S. Chafer makes a good point:  "It is a bad indication when, in any period, men will so exalt their confessions that they force the Scriptures to a secondary importance, illustrated in one era, when as Tulloch remarks: 'Scripture as a witness, disappeared behind the Augsburg Confession" ...No decrees of councils; no ordinances of synods; no "standard" of doctrines; no creed or confession, is to be urged as authority in forming the opinions of men. They may be valuable for some purposes, but not for this; they may be referred to as interesting parts of history, but not to form the faith of Christians; they may be used in the church to express its belief, not to form it."  And no, I do not agree with Chafer on everything as I do not agree with his interpretation on certain things, but the statement above is an excellent summary of the point that I am trying to make.  Let us get back to the Bible, not back to the Reformers.  

All of this is not to say that I don't appreciate these men.  I do!  I love reading about God's usage of them, and like to read their writings.  I just want to be wary of focusing more on the instruments God used more than God Himself and His Word.  We do not need to know about the Reformers or their writings in order to discover the Truth as we have the Word of God. 

My favorite books about the Reformation are Jean Henri Merle D'Aubigne's History of theReformation of the Sixteenth Century and the sequel to that work, "TheHistory of the Reformation in the Time of Calvin."  He does a pretty good job of keeping the focus on God's Word rather than on the men God used.  His aim is to show God's working in History.   

Also would recommend a 1980s movie on Luther entitled, Martin Luther: Heretic.  The music is horrifically cheesy at parts, but the acting is okay.  I was surprised at how much this movie actually dealt with Luther's discovering Biblical salvation, rather than just focusing on His discovery of the love of God as other movies do.  They even dealt with his excited finding of the Greek word for repentance, and what means: changing one's mind, which was against the Latin translation: 'do penance'.  The biggest complaint I would have about this movie is that it is too short (only about 70 minutes).  We got the dvd for free from just had to pay for shipping and handling), and it looks as though they still have that deal:
Today let us thank God for convicting Martin Luther of sin, for giving him faith in His Word that tells the true way to be saved, and for the grace to act upon what he believed. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Merle D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation in the Time of Calvin

If you liked The History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, you'll be as excited as I was at finding out that there is a sequel, and a long sequel at that(8 Volumes). "The History of the Reformation in the Time of Calvin". The sad thing is that Merle D'Aubigne didn't live long enough to finish it. But he did get a lot done. In this history, we'll return to France, Germany, Switzerland and visit some new places, including: England, Scotland, Italy, Spain and Geneva.

What do you think of when you think of Geneva in connection with the Reformation? Calvin? The Geneva Bible? What about a fight for a Republic based on a constitution? That is where D'aubigne begins this work. Calvin isn't even at Geneva yet, nor has it been reformed. There is an evil bishop trying to gain control over the Republic, and there are disputes between the liberals and conservatives about giving up their liberties. If you find the History of the American Revolution interesting, then you might find this fight of Genevese to keep their political liberties interesting. In the midst of this violent political struggle in Geneva, the Gospel beings to enter and do its work among the people. Calvin doesn't come for quite a while, and even when he does, he his ejected from the city only to return later.

"What was the soul of the Reformation ? Truly, salvation by faith in Christ, who died to save - truly, the renewal of the heart by the word and the Spirit of God. But side by side with these supreme elements, that are found in all the Reformations, we meet with the secondary elements that have existed in one country and not in another. What we discover at Geneva may possibly deserve to fix the attention of men in our own days: the characteristic of the Genevese Reform is liberty.

If the empire of Charles V. Was the largest theatre in modern history, Geneva was the smallest. In the one case we have a vast empire, in the other a microscopical republic. But the smallness of the theatre serves to bring out more prominently the greatness of the actions: only superficial minds turn with contempt form a sublime drama because the stage is narrow and the representation void of pomp. To study great things in the small is one of the most useful exercises. What I have in view - and this is my apology - is not to describe a petty city of the Alps, for that would not be worth the labor; but to study in that city a history which is in the main a reflection of Europe, - of its sufferings, its struggles, its aspirations, its political liberties, and its religious transformations...

It is in this small republic that we find men remarkable for their devotion to liberty, for their attachment to law, for the boldness of their thoughts, the firmness of their character, and the strength of their energy. In the sixteenth century, after a repose of some hundreds of years, humanity having recovered its powers, like a field that had long lain fallow, displayed almost everywhere the marvels of the most luxuriant vegetation. Geneva is indeed the smallest theatre of this extraordinary fermentation; but it was not the least in heroism and grandeur, and on that ground alone it deserves attention."

We will also reencounter William Farel and follow him in his perilous mission to preach the Gospel in Switzerland and thence to Geneva. We'll meet again with Marguerite De Navarre, and see her struggle with trying to support the preaching of the Gospel and yet please her brother the King of France at the same time. As D'Aubigne points out in contrasting Calvin and Marguerite, "while Calvin desires truth in the Church above all things, Margaret clings to the preservation of its unity, and thus becomes a noble representative of a system still lauded by some protestants - to reform the Church without breaking it up: a specious system, impossible to be realized." You'll be taken back in time to the beginnings of the preaching of the Gospel in England, Ireland and Scotland. And then go back to the Sixteenth century and see the King of England, his troubles with divorcing his wife Catherine, marrying Anne, her subsequent execution, the break with the Catholic Church...etc. D'aubigne will peak in at Luther and Melanchthon here and there too.

All in all it is just as good as his former work, and introduces more obscure, yet interesting, characters I had never heard of before.

Here are the links to the free versions:  Volume 1  Volume 2  Volume 3  Volume 4  Volume 5  Volume 6  Volume 7  Volume 8

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Roger Sherman and the Creation of the American Republic - By Mark David Hall

Who is Roger Sherman?  The name sounded vaguely familiar to me but didn't bring up any definite information in my head. I understood that he had something important to do with the founding of our nation.  What interested me in this book was that it appeared to be an argument against an exclusively secular interpretation of the founding documents.  "Historians are better than political scientists and law professors at recognizing that faith mattered to many Americans in the founding era, but even they have a tendency to treat America's founders as deists who embraced a rationalist approach to politics and who embraced secular documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights…"  Hall points out that, when discussing the founders' views of the separation of Church and State, people normally look at a select group of the most famous founders.  He believes that this is not the best course of action as, "these men are not representative of the founders as a whole." 

The more I read, the more interesting Rodger Sherman himself became to me.  Sherman was the only founding father who signed and helped create all what are probably the most important documents in the formation of America:  The Declaration and Resolves, the Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and also helped with the Bill of Rights.   This book is not really a biography, though it is biographical. Using Sherman as the primary example, the author makes a compelling case that many of the founders were Calvinistic/Reformed or that that was their religious background, and he demonstrates how their views of government were impacted/formed by their religious beliefs.  Hall states that, "Within a generation of Calvin, virtually every reformed civil and ecclesiastical leader was convinced that the Bible taught that governments should be limited, that they should be based on the consent of the governed, that rulers should promote the common good and the Christian faith, and that unjust or ungodly rulers should be resisted or even overthrown."   It is observed that this political Calvinism was more influenced by Theodore Beza and David Pareus than John Calvin.   

Sherman did not believe that he was disobeying God by going against England, being "convinced from a relatively early date that Parliament's constitutional authority extended only to geographical areas represented in the body."  Having no representation in that governing body, he believed that colonies were their own governments.  And as the King was not doing his duty of protecting them, he believed that they were not obligated to remain loyal to him.  When it came to the formation of a new government, he believed that man was innately sinful, not basically good, and so was for limited government with checks and balances, and was very much for states' self-government in the making of the United States.  It was very interesting to read about some of the debates that took place in the drafting of our ruling documents. Sherman and other 'Reformed' Founders were significant participants in the  founding of our nation, and so deserve more attention in our examination of its principal documents. Hall makes the significant point that "Sherman, like Thomas Jefferson, authored a significant state law concerning religious liberty, and, unlike Jefferson, he participated in debates on the First Amendment.  It is therefore striking that when Supreme Court justices have used history to interpret the First Amendment's religion clauses, they have made 112 distinct references to Jefferson but have mentioned Sherman only three times."

This book was well written and, in a way, riveting.  It was very exciting to learn of what type of men God used to form the United States of America.  Even though it was more of an overview and not very long, Hall does a great job of making a good argument in a small space.    On a side note, I was fascinated to discover that Jonathan Edwards Jr. (son of sr.) became Sherman's pastor, and that Sherman "remained supportive of Jonathan Edwards Jr. after most of his church abandoned him."  

I highly recommend this book to those interested in the history of the U. S. A.  To end this review, here is one more quote from the book:  "Like their descendants, Puritans were concerned with "liberty", but it is critical to recognize that they never understood the concept to include the excessively individualistic idea that men and women are free to do anything except physically harm others.  They distinguished between liberty and personal license.  Puritans were primarily interested with freedom from sin, but they also understood liberty as the ability of a people to govern themselves and to do what God requires of them."
Many thanks to Oxford University Press for sending me a free review copy of this book(My review did not have to be favorable).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When God Spoke Greek - By Timothy Michael Law

What Bible did the Apostles use to teach and evangelize the Gentiles and Hellenized Jews who spoke Greek?  What did they use when they wrote their epistles?  Many of them(if not all) used a Greek translation of the Hebrew, commonly called The Septuagint.  In this book the author, Timothy Michael Law,  explains the Septuagint's possible origins and talks about the significant differences that are found between this translation and the text of Hebrew manuscripts that we can reference.   This part of the book was what I was most looking forward to, where he would deal with the Apostles quotations from this version against what our Hebrew text says.  One of the most significant examples is found in the book of Hebrews, chapter 10 verse 5, where the writer is proving the sufficiency and necessity of Christ's sacrifice by quoting a portion of Psalm 40:  "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a BODY didst thou prepare for me…"(Heb 10:5 ASV emphasis added) But if you turn to Psalm 40:6 in basically any Old Testament of a Christian Bible, or any Tanakh(vs. 7 in the JPS), It will read something along these lines:  "Sacrifice and offering thou hast no delight in; MINE EARS HAST THOU OPENED: Burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required."(Psa 40:6 ASV emphasis added) This rendition takes away the prophetic statement about the Messiah's coming in the flesh.  So either the translators of the Septuagint mistranslated this verse or someone miscopied the Hebrew, and I believe it to be the latter case. As Law explains, "The Hebrew Bible in the editions we now use is often not the oldest form of the Hebrew text…in many cases the Septuagint provides the only access we have to the oldest form." 

Timothy Law is pushing for a greater knowledge of the Septuagint amongst Christians, it being the Bible of the Apostles and of the early Church.   As Law states, "The prejudice in the contemporary Church in favor of the rabbinic Hebrew Bible is startling, but not unexpected given that Christian educational institutions teach future scholars and clergy the Old Testament exclusively from the Hebrew Bible, relegating the Septuagint to the sidelines of an upper-level elective course.  Students thus graduate from schools that teach Christian history and theology without ever considering that the scriptures used by the New Testament writers and the first Old Testament of the Church is not the Hebrew Bible they spent time and money to study."  I completely concur with him in this, but our assumptions move on from that belief in contradictory ways. Having been looking into the Apostles' use of the Septuagint for a year or two now, I was very excited about this book, but have been disappointed to a degree that I did not expect.  This may sound odd, but I was extremely disappointed that Timothy Law turned out to be unbiased towards the Apostle's(I thought he was a professing Christian).  From the beginning of the book and on the reader will  find statements like this, "We can also see that the New testament authors sometimes use Septuagint readings we know to be mistranslations of the Hebrew, an unsettling reality but a reality nonetheless." and again, "….it is not insignificant that the apostle Paul and his later interpreters in the early church will employ these mistranslations in the reformation of Christian theology." 

Mr. Law contradicts himself by those statements. He talks about how there was a plurality of variant readings in the Biblical texts in the days of the Apostles and so they could "choose whichever reading best suited their purposes to open up new avenues for biblical interpretation" but makes statements like "We also sometimes see the New Testament authors quoting what is unquestionably the Septuagint's mistranslation of the Hebrew, which is not to say they are 'wrong' by doing so…"  These statements are quite confusing…the Apostles were right to use an 'unquestionably wrong' translation from a random manuscript among an alleged plurality of texts, any one of which could be right?  And yet, despite not knowing what Hebrew manuscript the LXX translators used, and apparently ignoring the fact of the admitted antiquity of these translators' manuscripts,  Mr. Law makes a judgment call and says they were wrong.  I don't buy it.  And also  his statements about Matthew's use of the prophecy of the virgin birth are shocking(Matt 1:23, Isa. 7:14):  "The Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew Bible gives Matthew the textual 'proof' to connect Jesus to the prophecy."  And this conclusion is apparently reached because the Hebrew word in our Hebrew texts allegedly does not mean 'virgin' but 'young girl', and since WE don't know of any ancient Hebrew manuscripts that read 'virgin' then the LXX translators didn't have one either.  Again, this reasoning is absurd.  Law states, "they were told in Greek that Jesus fulfilled the Greek Jewish scriptures, the Septuagint."  And we are just supposed to assume that the majority of Hebrew texts(or all of them) in the days of Christ and the Apostles did not support Christianity. 

Mr. Law seems to be okay with the idea that Christ and the Apostles fabricated Christianity, but I am not.  And therefore, I cannot recommend this book.   

I am very grateful to Oxford University Press for the review copy of this book(my review did not have to be favorable), and am very disappointed that I could not give it a good review. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

NIV Integrated Study Bible

I have followed some chronological Bible reading plans before, but have never used a Chronological Bible, so this is my first one and I am delighted with it. It has several timelines and also a timeline across the bottom of every page indicating what year, or approximate year, you are in at whatever point you are at in your reading.

 As example of how this type of Bible arrangement works: when you reach the book of Acts and are reading at the time the letter to Galatians was probably written, the book of Galatians is inserted 'into', as it were, the book of Acts and you read it as a part of the account instead of as a separate book. It is so nice not to have to keep turning back and forth every few minutes in order to read chronologically, instead you can just read right through, simply turning one page after another. When you are done, you can just place a bookmark where you stopped instead of having to mark the spot on a reading chart when you are done. So convenient!  

Not only is this chronological, it also uses a parallel column format at times.  For instance, since the four Gospels recount some of the same events, instead of placing them one right after another, these chronologically 'parallel' accounts are placed side by side in two, three, or even four columns. Oh, and be sure to read the introduction to this Bible first. I did not do this at first and thus had a misconception for a while that the people who arranged this Bible were fudging the chronological aspect by placing the repetition of the law that was given when Israel is finally about to enter the promised land, parallel to the first giving of the law about forty years earlier. Later on I examined their arrangement again, and found that they actually repeated this recounting of the law when it is reached at the correct time. If I had read the introduction first I would have found that they use 'conceptual parallels' and not just chronological parallels: "Conceptual parallels occur primarily in the books of Moses when similar commands and instructions are repeated in different historical settings…In order to keep genealogies and conceptual parallels in their historical setting, they are repeated whenever they appear in the chronological presentation…" Conceptual parallels are indicated by a light grey title instead of the normal solid black title.

The text of the NIV 2011 seems fine so far, though I know there has been some concern over the rendering of some verses, such as changing New Testament epistles addressed to 'brothers'  as 'brothers and sisters'. I don't really like that rendering and would prefer a more literal translation, but can overlook it in this instance and substitute the correct wording in my head(i.e. 'brothers').  With other verses I'll just need to look at the more literal translations. Daniel Wallace(professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary) has some articles on his blog critiquing the new NIV that you may find interesting.  I do LOVE that they still have the footnotes that the old NIV had, regarding different renderings of verses in the Septuagint, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other manuscripts in the Old Testament and New Testament as well.

All in all, I like the chronological format of this Bible, and though I wouldn't recommend it as a primary study Bible, it is very convenient and interesting.  It would be nice if they would come out with an NASB version as well...

Thanks to BookSneeze® and Zondervan for sending me a free review copy of this book!(My Review did not have to be favorable)

This Bible may also be purchased at Amazon


Monday, August 26, 2013

Chapter 2 - The Scriptural Basis of Christianity

Chapter 2 - The Scriptural Basis of Christianity
                                                                               You may view chapter 1 here
John is sitting in the full lecture room a few minutes before the lecture is supposed to start.  He sits looking down at the Bible in his hands (opened to the Old Testament) but is listening intently to a conversation from the row behind him.  "Yes, I agree that this Septuagint theory is very interesting, but I looked up more information on the Septuagint last night, and its origin sounds rather nonsensical.  Apparently 72 scribes got together, each made their own separate translation in separate cells, and after translating alone for 72 days, all the separate translations were exactly the same.”  “That sounds very weird."  "Yeah, I know!  Kind of makes me think that the Septuagint isn't very reliable."  "But remember, the Apostles apparently used it." "Oh yes, I forgot that…but what if they were simply using what they had available to them?  Besides, why would God have let His Church use a corrupt copy of the Old Testament for almost 1500 years?"  At that moment Mr. Jones walks up to the lectern, yet again carrying many books and a laptop.  And yet again, Mr. Jones will be plagiarizing, so watch out for italics. 

As he is connecting the laptop to the projector he says, "I see that we have quite a crowd!  Perhaps you are all here to refute me, but there will be time enough for that in the question and answer session."  Having accomplished his task Mr. Jones straightens up.  "Tonight we will be looking more into the Septuagint.  The approximately 3rd Century BCE Greek translation of the Old Testament, supposed by many Christians to be an inadequate translation of the original Hebrew, quoted and referenced by the Apostles, and the Bible of the early Church.  How did this unique work come into being? " 

"Many of you may have heard of the Library of Alexandria.  Built and preserved by the Ptolemaic Kings of Egypt, probably built by Ptolemy the first or second.  This library was the largest library of the Ancient world.  According to the Letter of Aristeas which is about two, or three hundred years old, Ptolemy the second wanted to add the Jewish Scriptures to his growing collection of writings.  He wanted them translated as well, Greek being the language spoken in his kingdom.    He had seventy two Jews from every tribe who translated the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.  They finished their work in seventy-two days, dividing themselves into subcommittees and consulting with each other…The last part of the Letter of Aristeas narrates a formal ceremony during which the Jews of Alexandria accepted this Greek translation of the Torah as Sacred Writ….To underscore the seriousness of this action, a curse was uttered against anyone daring to alter the wording of this Greek version.[1]  There are other versions of this account of the translating of the Torah, some more embellished than others, including accounts of the divine inspiration of the translators. " 

"The rest of the Hebrew Scriptures seem to have been translated a little later than the Torah.  After the time of Christ, the translation was often called 'the seventy', rounding the number of translators and days[2], eventually taking on the Latin name for seventy, namely 'Septuagint'.  The Greek translation was utilized by the Diaspora, or the Jews who had been scattered from the kingdoms of Israel and Judah who were losing their knowledge of Hebrew." 

“And now let us move on to the time of Christ."   Mr. Jones smiles while staring down at his notes on the lectern and looks up at the audience while still keeping his head bowed.   "Why am I moving on so fast?" he raises his head, "Don't we have a lot of information about the LXX from before the time of Christ?  No, not much at all.  Does this discredit the translation?  No. And so we move on. Ignorance about a work's background does not invalidate the work itself.  At the present time, its subsequent history deserves more study than its 'creation'.  At least that should be the focus of Christian study on the subject. [based on current resources.  We do not have much at all on its beginnings].  In this case, its validation comes, not from its beginning, but from its usage in the days of Christ and the Apostles, which we will examine first." 

Mr. Jones searches through his papers.  "The translators of the Septuagint may not have been inspired, but inspired people used it."  He finds the paper he wants.  "Now, for the first question everyone wants to know... did Christ, the Messiah, use the Septuagint? And here is my answer which I am sure will disappoint many of you:   I don't know.  Some believe that He did.  Most likely He spoke in Aramaic, which makes any texts that match the LXX mean that He was probably quoting from a Hebrew or Aramaic text that matched the LXX.   For the most part, I am going to be dealing with the more accepted fact, that the Apostles used the Septuagint and what that means for us. "   

 “Mr. Jones starts turning the pages of a book on the lectern.  “People say that the Apostles and disciples, and perhaps even the Messiah, worked with what they had, namely a corrupt translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Let us see if we can live with the implications of that view.   Here is what I am going to do. We are going to take a look at some of these quotations, and see what would have happened if the Disciples of Christ had used the so-called 'correct' version of the Old testament.  I am going to switch out their quotations of the LXX with the Masoretic version and we will see if their point is still made."

"Let us now turn to the followers of Christ.  First, we will look at a quotation from the Old Testament by the author of the book of Hebrews, who uses a text from the Septuagint as proof that Jesus the Messiah was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sins.  In Hebrews 10, he quotes Psalm 40 to make his point.  Let us see what would have happened if the writer of Hebrews had used a 'correct' translation in accordance with our Masoretic text.  I will read you the *ahem*, ‘corrected’ version of Hebrews 10:4-12 .  "For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, 'Sacrifice and offering thou hast no delight in; Mine ears hast thou opened: Burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I am come; In the roll of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God.'

 Saying above, Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein (the which are offered according to the law), then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins: but he, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (Heb 10:4-12 ASV) Now, if the writer of Hebrews had actually used the Masoretic version,  I wouldn't see this text as a proof text but rather as a contradiction to his point.  I would see that God doesn't require burnt offerings or sacrifices…and He apparently opened up the ears of the Messiah to understand that, so why would the Messiah offer Himself as a sacrifice for sins?  Why have we been sanctified through the body of Jesus Christ?  Why did He, having apparently DISREGARDED God's desire, get to sit down at the right hand of God?! Did Christ come to take away the law and establish disobedience?  What Gentile would accept that verse as proof?  But, of course, that is not how the writer of Hebrews quoted that verse.  The proof of what this author is saying depends on that one phrase "but a BODY you have prepared for me'.  This is the Offering that is better than the blood of bulls and goats.  Christ's obedient sacrifice of His body actually takes away sin, once and for all.  This is why He can sit down at the right hand of God, as all is done." 

How about Romans 11:25-29:  'Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares the LORD. ; "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. (Rom 11:25-28 ESV)."  Mr. Jones smiles and says in a sarcastic tone, “There is hope for Israel, a Redeemer will come and save those who turn away from their sin.  This Redeemer will take away the sin of those Jews who have become righteous. The leopard CAN change his spots." 

"I saw a video on Youtube the other day, where a person from Jews for Judiasm was alleging that Paul twisted the words of this verse from Isaiah 59:20 to fit his belief system.   He doesn't mention that this was a quote from the Septuagint.  This man says, and I quote, 'Paul doesn't only change the words of Isaiah, he is now changing the entire job description, if you will, the entire mandate of the Redeemer.  Paul says that the entire purpose of the Redeemer, the Messiah, is to come to remove the sins from Jacob, since in Paul's understanding the Jewish people/Jacob is not able to turn from sin on their own, they are not able to live a godly life, Paul believes its not possible, he says in Galatians 2, to live a life of righteousness according to the Torah, Paul says if that were possible, then Jesus died in vain.  So Paul's entire thesis is that we cannot turn from evil, we cannot turn from sin……..and therefore Paul assigns a new function to the Redeemer.  According to Paul….the function of the Redeemer is to take the sins out of the Jewish people, to redeem them from sin……Isaiah never said the words that Paul attempts to put into his mouth.[3]’”

  Let us read what the verses leading up to verse 21 of Isaiah 59 say, starting at verse 1 "Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue muttereth wickedness. None sueth in righteousness, and none pleadeth in truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. They hatch adders' eggs, and weave the spider's web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth; and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no justice in their goings: they have made them crooked paths; whosoever goeth therein doth not know peace. Therefore is justice far from us, neither doth righteousness overtake us: we look for light, but, behold, darkness; for brightness, but we walk in obscurity. We grope for the wall like the blind; yea, we grope as they that have no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the twilight; among them that are lusty we are as dead men. We roar all like bears, and moan sore like doves: we look for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with us, and as for our iniquities, we know them: transgressing and denying Jehovah, and turning away from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. And justice is turned away backward, and righteousness standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and uprightness cannot enter. Yea, truth is lacking; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey. And Jehovah saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice.  And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no Intercessor: therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it upheld him. And he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a mantle. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, wrath to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense. So shall they fear the name of Jehovah from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come as a rushing stream, which the breath of Jehovah driveth. And a Redeemer will come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith Jehovah. And as for me, this is my covenant with them, saith Jehovah: my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith Jehovah, from henceforth and for ever. '(Isa 59:1-21 ASV)

 "What do you make of that?”  Mr. Jones returns to his sarcastic voice, "God sees that Israel is wicked, that they are evil, so He decides to send a Redeemer to the righteous of Israel.  It seems that the New Covenant is like the Covenant God made with Israel's fathers when they came out of Egypt, it is works based. The people of Israel are supposed to change their own hearts.  God saves those who are good, gives good hearts to those who already have good hearts, puts the law in the hearts who already have the law in their hearts, and leaves the rest of Israel to their fate.  God does not save the ones whose transgressions are multiplied before Him.   God cares, not for Israel enslaved to sin, not even, apparently, for Isaiah, as he speaks in first person, but only for a potential few in Israel who turn away from their sins.  "

 “Of course that is not the case.  There IS hope for Israel because,  " even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; HE shall TURN AWAY ungodliness from Jacob: "(Rom 11:26 ASV Emphasis added) The Redeemer will come to turn away all Israel from her sins…not simply to deliver the ones who have turned away from sin themselves.  The New Covenant will be established with Israel, New hearts will be given to them, just as was promised in Jeremiah 31. “

“The Apostle Matthews declaration that the Christ was born of a virgin may be affected by our prejudice towards the Masoretic text.  Based upon linguistic claims made in our day, If Matthew had used our Masoretic text, his proof for the virgin birth would have looked something like this:   For this reason the sovereign master himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel.”  Is this a Jewish translation? No, this is the NET Bible translation (New English Translation), a Christian translation of the Old and New Testaments.  According to their website, “…the NET Bible was read, studied, and checked by more eyes than any Bible translation in history.[4]   Their explanation for their rendering of Isaiah 7:14 is that, “Though the Hebrew word used here (עַלְמָה, ’almah) can sometimes refer to a woman who is a virgin (Gen 24:43), it does not carry this meaning inherently. The word is simply the feminine form of the corresponding masculine noun עֶלֶם (’elem, “young man”; cf. 1 Sam 17:56; 20:22). The Aramaic and Ugaritic cognate terms are both used of women who are not virgins. The word seems to pertain to age, not sexual experience, and would normally be translated “young woman.” The LXX translator(s) who later translated the Book of Isaiah into Greek sometime between the second and first century b.c., however, rendered the Hebrew term by the more specific Greek word παρθένος (parqenos), which does mean “virgin” in a technical sense. This is the Greek term that also appears in the citation of Isa 7:14 in Matt 1:23. Therefore, regardless of the meaning of the term in the OT context, in the NT Matthew’s usage of the Greek term παρθένος clearly indicates that from his perspective a virgin birth has taken place.[5]Silence.  From HIS perspective.  In Matthew’s opinion?”

“Many Jews are emphatic that the Hebrew word translated Virgin in Matthew’s account means ‘young girl’, not virgin. has an article dealing with this problem, quote:  In the same way that in the English language the words “young woman” does not indicate sexual purity, in the Hebrew language there is no relationship between the words almah and virgin. On the contrary, it is usually a young woman who bears children. The word alma only conveys age/gender. Had Isaiah wished to speak about a virgin, he would have used the word betulah1 (בְּתוּלָה) not almah. The word betulah appears frequently in the Jewish Scriptures, and is the only word – in both biblical and modern Hebrew – that conveys sexual purity.[6]

“And yet again the Hebrew manuscripts of hundreds of years before Christ seem to be at odds with our present ones.  The Septuagint reads, “behold, a virgin”.  Regardless of whether the original word was Almah or betulah, and regardless of our modern Hebrew scholars definitions, the Hebrew Scholars of more than 2000 years ago say that the word used meant ‘virgin’.  It would be pointless to rebuke the evangelist for using the ‘wrong’ text.  On the contrary, the ‘wrong’ text gains a significance of its own by being used[7].

 “Are you beginning to see the importance of these proof texts not being incorrect translations of the Holy Scriptures?” 

“How about narrative errors?  Let us look at the disciple Stephen, making his last testimony before he is about to be stoned to death.  This is in Acts chapters six and seven.  Stephen has been brought before this council by Jews, including elders and scribes, who have been stirred up by certain members of the so-called freedman's synagogue who "could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking."  They secretly instigate men who told likes about Stephen and stirred up these other Jews against him, so much so that these people sized him and brought him before the council.   All the people in this council are looking at him and see his face as the face of an angel.  Stephen starts speaking about Israel’s history.  He has reaches the point where Joseph is now a high official in Egypt and has sent for his father and brothers to join him there.  Turn to Genesis 46:27."  There is a rustle of pages in the audience for a few moments. 

 Mr. Jones continues, "And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy. "(Gen 46:27 ESV)   Now here is what Stephen says about this in Acts 7:14:  "And Joseph sent and summoned Jacob his father and all his kindred, seventy-FIVE persons in all. "(Act 7:14 ESV emphasis added) Now, if I were one of those council members, and if I was out for Stephen's condemnation, I would jump at any chance I could get; even if it was merely a numerical error.  Stephen should know his history right?  Besides this, from our perspective you have this statement at the end his speech, "But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,"(Act 7:55 ASV) And also Stephen was known as "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit"(Acts6:5) .   Now, I am sure that you know where I am going with this.  The Septuagint says that there were seventy-five.  "all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were seventy-five souls. (Gen 46:27 Brenton) It lists Joseph's grandchildren and great grandchildren in verse 20 of this 46th chapter of Genesis."  

“To wrap up our examples, let’s go ahead and look at one of the Messiah's quotations of the Scripture, turn to Mathew 21:14." There is the sound of rustling pages around the room.  He finds the place,   "'and he (Christ)saith unto them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer: but ye make it a den of robbers. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children that were crying in the temple and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were moved with indignation, and said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established strength?(Mat 21:13-16 ASV(edited)' Notice that the chief priests and scribes seem to have been silenced as we don't see a retort given.  But as you know, I have switched out Christ's rendering of the verse for the Hebrew verse.  If this is how the verse actually read, as a Priest or scribe, I would be inclined to question Jesus' application."  Mr. Jones’ voice takes on an angry whining tone, "What does that verse have to do with our question?  Are you saying that these children are strong?  What does strength have to do with what these children are saying?  Praising YOU as the MESSIAH! "  Mr. Jones' voice returns to its normal tone, "If this is how the verse reads, then why are these priests and scribes silent?? Perhaps because the verse actually read as Christ quoted it, which just so happens to match the Septuagint:  "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have PREPARED PRAISE'?" (Mat 21:16 ESV)  This makes sense, His asking them, didn't you know that this praise from the mouth of these children was ordained?  Rather than saying, don't you remember the verse about children being strong? ".[8]

This text has even more significance because, although Mathew is recording the Messiah’s words in Greek, he is probably translating what Christ was saying in Aramaic, yet His quotation still matches the Septuagint. 

"This will be the end of our examples.  But do you understand now?   If the evangelists or Apostles could have founded the claims of Jesus, as the Messiah, on the authority of a merely human version, with their own inspired writings; where could be our confidence on their integrity, and where our trust on the authority of the New Testament?  The belief of Divine Inspiration precludes all notion of craft, hypocrisy, or double dealing.  It may suit partizans and special-pleaders to adduce testimonies, which they do not confide in; to make the best on an indifferent case, or to take advantage of ignorance and simplicity.  But all such devices would be utterly subversive of our faith in a sacred and Divine record.  For my part, I am free to confess, that I never could give credit to the Inspiration of the New Testament, if I believed, that the greater number of its appeals to the Old Testament were expressed in uninspired and uncanonicle language[9]".

 "We are often told of the 'indirect accommodations' of this version, and of its being 'sufficiently good for their purpose.' - But it was evidently made and designed for that purpose.  We are told that the Apostles did not intend to sanction and authorize its authority, by thus continually preaching and quoting it.  But no man can read the New Testament and credit such assertions.[10]"

"Why would they settle for a corrupt translation?  Why not make their own?  Paul most likely knew Hebrew.  "Born and educated at Tarsus, he there acquired a profound knowledge of Hellenistic Greek, and when he went to Jerusalem, to finish his studies "at the feet of Gamaliel," he no doubt became thoroughly conversant with the Hebrew Scriptures.  But, though a "Hebrew of the Hebrews,” he seldom refers to the Hebrew text, and he delights to quote the version…[11]"   Instead of the Apostles making an accurate translation, having a new one made, or warning their followers about it, this version became the Old Testament of the early Church for several hundred years.” Mr. Jones pauses a moment and the room is completely silent.  “Just think about it:  The earliest dispute amongst the first believers, arose between the Jewish and Gentile converts, respecting the rite of circumcision, and the observance of the ceremonial law.  But there was no dispute, concerning the Divine and Scriptural authority of the Septuagint version.  The Hellenistic Jews had already been accustomed to read that version for nearly 300 years.  The Gentile converts were naturally led to its adoption, from its congeniality with the New Testament.  But it never entered into the minds of either Jew or Gentile, to suppose, that this version had been quoted by Christ or the Apostles, out of mere accommodation to their prejudices.  It remained, for modern critics to devise an hypothesis, which is not only destructive of Divine inspiration, but subversive of fair dealing and of common honesty[12] 

Mr. Jones closes his Bible and stacks his notes.  "Why would God verify His Gospel by a version instead of by the original Hebrew Scriptures?  Think about this for a moment, The Hellenistic Jews, when they ceased to be able to read their native Hebrew, could not have been addressed in any other manner.  It was only by a version of their ancient scriptures, that they could retain a knowledge of the promises made to their ancestors.  And why should that version be deemed of inferior authority, if it was designed not only for their personal benefit, but to carry forward the ulterior purposes of the Christian dispensation?  Why should the version be deemed inferior to the original, when the original itself, without that version, would have been utterly unintelligible, and thus incompetent to bring about the final purposes of the Jewish economy?”

“The force of this reasoning will be at once apparent, if we suppose for a moment, that the Septuagint had never existed.  The Hebrew language would then have ceased to be vernacular several hundred years before the Christian era; but no Greek version could have aided to supply its place.  In that case, the Jews would have wandered far and wide over the east and west; but they would have had no Scriptures to remind them of their patriarchs and prophets.  It must have all depended on unwritten traditions, and on dubious historical reminiscences.  In the fullness of time, the era of Christianity would have arrived; but where would have been the people, awaiting its advent, and prepared to welcome its tidings?”

“The Gospel is preached in Judea by Christ and the Evangelists in the native dialect, and various references are made to Moses and the prophets, to prove that the "Great Prophet had come into this world."  But how were they to verify those allegations, when they could not consult the Hebrew text?  The Apostles travel into Asia Minor, and Greece, and they publish the same tidings in the Greek tongue.  But who are to be their hearers?  The Jews? - they had no intelligible Scriptures in their hands.  The Gentiles - to whom such Hebrew-Greek, on this hypothesis, would have been equally unintelligible?”

“The New Testament is subsequently composed in this peculiar Greek, with all its references to the Old Testament exclusively directed to the Hebrew. ...Versions no doubt, after a while, would be made of the Old Testament, both Greek and Latin, but of what authority would they be, either to Christians, or to unbelievers?  Being made subsequently to the coming of Christ, they could not be adduced, as any evidences of his Divine Mission;  and as taken form a language, which none but the Jews understood, their fidelity must have entirely depended on such translators as Aquila or Theodotion(who were both supposed to be Proselytes to Judaism).. - But it is useless to pursue the supposition. - It is evident, that by the sole want of the Septuagint, the entire progress of Christianity would have been arrested, and all its evidences obscured and darkened.[13]

…...This version of the Hebrew Scriptures has been providentially held out for our assistance e- it comes to us recommended by its own origin and antiquity - by its use amongst the Jews 250 years  before the Christian era - by its adoption in the Church, for 400 years after it, - and by its continual citation in the New Testament.  You say, It is but a version.  Is this any objection to its being of sacred and divine authority?  …. it should also be considered, whether the fact, that it was by means of this version the Gentiles were prepared for the advent of Christ, and for the reception of the Gospel, be not indicative of the corresponding fact, that it is by means of VERSIONS of the Scriptures, that the knowledge of Christianity has been published amongst all nations?  Since the manifold wisdom of God has seen fit to render the progress of divine knowledge dependant on Biblical versions, it cannot be objected that he chose the version of the LXX, as the prototype and pattern of all succeeding translations of the Scriptures, thereby dignifying and consecrating their office to the end of the world.[14]"

Again there is silence.  "Now, we will take a fifteen minute break, and then begin the last lecture, if you are so inclined to hear it." 

Mr. Jones walks away from the platform and is immediately accosted by several eager inquirers.  John stays in his seat feverishly writing down notes. 

[1] Leonard J. GreenSpoon, Essay: Jewish Translations of the Bible, from The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford New York, Oxford University Press 1999) pg. 2006. 
[2] The Jewish Study Bible (Oxford New York, Oxford University Press 1999) pg. 2139. 
[5] NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C.  Notes on Isaiah 7:14.
[7] Mogens Muller, The First Bible of the Church:  A Plea for the Septuagint (Sheffield, England; Sheffield Academic Press 1996)pg. 23.
[8]Christ’s Quotation:   εκ στοματος νηπιων και θηλαζοντων κατηρτισω αινον
  Septuagint:                ἐκ στόματος νηπίων καὶ θηλαζόντων κατηρτίσω αἶνον
[9] Edward William Grinfield , An Apology for the Septuagint, in which its claims to biblical and canonical authority are stated and vindicated (London, England; William Pickering?1850)54-55.
[10] Ibid. Page 33.
[11] Ibid.  Page 32.
[12] Ibid. Page 54.
[13] Ibid. Pages 13-14.
[14] Ibid. Pages 16-17(Edited).