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).

Monday, August 19, 2013


This book is a good critique  of our modern ideas of worship by setting forth the truth in Scriptures about the right way to serve God.  Many people are idolaters, or at least worshipping in an idolatrous way, perhaps more so than we would have thought.  "Fundamentally, idolatry is thinking thoughts about God that are untrue of Him, or entertaining thoughts about Him that are unworthy of Him."  Macarthur spends some chapters going through the Trinity, and showing from the Scriptures that correct worship involves  a correct knowledge of God.  Muslims, Buddhists and other faiths not solely focused upon the Bible as God's Word(the Old and New Testaments) are not worshipping the true God, as they have an incorrect knowledge of who He is.  People who do not acknowledge Jesus as one with the Father are rejecting who God is and His salvation.  "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me."(John 14:6 ASV)  "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.."(Joh 14:9 ASV)  Peter speaking of Christ said:  "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. (Act 4:12 ASV)  Salvation is not found by worshipping any other god other than the God of the Bible. 


"It is significant that Jesus spoke of truth, not music, as the distinctive mark of true worship.(John 4:23-24)" And yet nowadays, music and ecstatic feelings are regarded as the height of worship, if not the only true worship.  And then there are others who equate Christianized Old Testament practices as worship(sacrifices = sacraments, alters, priests, atmosphere, Church building = the temple).  MacArthur takes these ideas to task with the Scripture's definition of worship stating that, "Some would insist that any kind of sincere worship is acceptable to God, but that is simply not true.  The Bible clearly teaches that those who offer self-styled worship are unacceptable to God, regardless of their good intentions." He shows that the Israelites, in making their golden calf, seemed quite sincere in their actions, and even equated the calf with God not with false gods, "And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf: and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow shall be a feast to Jehovah. (Exo 32:4-5 ASV Emphasis Added)  God threatened to completely annihilate them for it(Ex 32:9-10) but had ordained that Moses would plead for Israel.  Many of them  were still killed.  Sincerity is not worship in and of itself.  God defines what worship is, not us.   

"Music and liturgy…cannot make a non-worshipping heart into a worshipping one.  The danger is that they can give a non-worshipping heart the sense of having worshipped."  "Worship is a response to truth." States MacArthur.  As Christians, we worship God by believing what He says, in His Word, and by obeying what He says.  We can, and ought, to worship Him everywhere and all the time.  And we ought to worship Him as He says we are to worship, not what seems more worshipful to us. We do not need to add liturgical aspects to our service, or define practices by the Old Testament.  Macarthur uses the example of the Hebrew Christians written to in the book of Hebrews: "To worship God the Hebrews had to say no to the old covenant and its ceremonies, sacrifices, symbols, pictures and types.  The old was gone - it was set aside.  A new and better covenant had come, and they had to be willing to come to God in full confidence of the revealed faith of the New Testament.  The New Covenant, in contrast to the Old, is not a system based on ceremonies, sacrifices, and external obedience to the law.  Its truth is not veiled in types and figures."

As with any book, there are things that I do not agree with that are stated, but I do not see the need to address them here, as they do not affect my recommendation of this book. 

Thanks to MoodyPublishers for sending me a free review copy of this book! (My review did not have to be favorable)