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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Which son is in Psalm 2?

Much discussion has taken place over which son is referred to in Psalm 2. Neither time nor space permit us to review that literature. But I would like to comment on some translations of Psalm 2 which seem to me to be overly interpretive. By this, I mean that some Bible versions word this psalm so that it explicitly refers to a "Son," uppercase "S," presumably to indicate divinity, probably of a future Messianic Son. In the minds of some translators of Psalm 2 is likely a connection to Jesus, the Christian Messiah, who was called the Son of God in the New Testament.

First, let us look at the text itself, always a good place to start. Who is this psalm about? If we read the Hebrew literally, using a hermeneutic of taking the plain meaning of the original text seriously, it should be clear that this psalm is written by a king (likely David himself) about his being anointed to be king by the Lord God himself. In verse 7 the new king says of himself:
I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you. (NRSV)

The king says,“I will announce the Lord’s decree. He said to me: ‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father! (NET)
What does the Lord mean by calling the king of Psalm 2 his son? Many Christians immediately assume that this must refer to Jesus, especially since New Testament writers quote this psalm as referring to him. For instance, Paul preaches in Acts 13:32-33:
32. And we proclaim to you the good news about the promise to our ancestors, 33. that this promise God has fulfilled to us, their children, by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have fathered you.’ (NET)
Notice that the NET translators, theological conservatives who believe that Jesus is God's Son, the promised Messiah, uppercase "Son" in Acts 13:33, but not in the Hebrew Bible passage which this verse quotes, Psalm 2:7. I personally believe that the NET translators have translated accurately in each passage and appropriately indicated authorial intent with this differing typographical notation. There is lowercase "son" in Psalm 2 because that psalm originally referred to its author, an Israelite king anointed by God. Then there is uppercase "Son" in Acts 13:33 because Paul refers to Jesus as the promised Messiah and supports his argument in typical Jewish rabbinical prooftexting style by applying the Hebrew psalm to Jesus.

So, what is meant when God is quoted in Psalm 2:7 as saying "‘You are my son! This very day I have become your father!"? A NET Bible footnote properly explains:
The Davidic king was viewed as God’s “son” (see 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 89:26-27). The idiom reflects ancient Near Eastern adoption language associated with covenants of grant, by which a lord would reward a faithful subject by elevating him to special status, referred to as “sonship.” Like a son, the faithful subject received an “inheritance,” viewed as an unconditional, eternal gift. Such gifts usually took the form of land and/or an enduring dynasty. See M. Weinfeld, “The Covenant of Grant in the Old Testament and in the Ancient Near East,” JAOS 90 (1970): 184-203, for general discussion and some striking extra-biblical parallels.
If we revise the original meaning of Psalm 2 so that it no longer refers to the Israelite anointed by God to be king hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, then we are importing a Christian interpretation (firmly supported by the New Testament authors) upon the Hebrew Bible. I grew up in a church and theological tradition where this method of translating the Hebrew Bible Messianically was considered appropriate. It was considered proper for us to be guided by our Christian theology as we translated the Hebrew Bible. I no longer consider this approach appropriate translationally. The Hebrew Bible should be translated on its own merits. Each passage should be translated according to the meaning of its original authors writing within their own historical and cultural contexts. As a Christian, I also believe the New Testament: I accept that Jesus, my Messiah, ultimately fulfills or brings an additional fulfillment to many passages in the Hebrew Bible.

I now consider Bible versions which allow wordings of the Hebrew Bible to follow original authorial intent within original contexts to be theologically objective or neutral. That is, they do not Christianize the Hebrew Bible. Do I accept the Hebrew Bible as part of my Christian Bible? Absolutely. But I also want to be fair and accurate when I read it. I want to know who the authors of the Hebrew Bible were originally referring to. Then, later, I read the New Testament and find my heart spiritually warmed as so many Hebrew Bible passages are applied to Jesus, my Messiah. I do not consider it appropriate for my New Testament understanding of Jesus and the application of Hebrew Bible passages to him to influence how we translate the Hebrew Bible. If I am creating a study Bible, I would consider it appropriate to point out in footnotes New Testament applications of Hebrew Bible passages. Psalm 2 would be one of those passages. It is appropriate to cross-reference Psalm 2:7 to Acts 13:33 in study notes.

This position differs from the translational decision taken by some Christian translators today who believe that it is appropriate or even necessary to include a New Testament interpretation of an Old Testament passage within the translation of that O.T. passage. I consider such a practice to be "interpretive translation," the same claim made by critics of various Bible translation wordings who believe that a translation has gone beyond what the original text "says" to what the translator believes it "means."

Following are Bible versions which Christianize Psalm 2:
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. (NIV; "Son" is revised to "son" in the TNIV)

“I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. (NASB)

I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. (ESV)

I will declare the Lord’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father. (HCSB)

I will announce the LORD's decree. He said to me: “You are my Son. Today I have become your Father. (GW)
Better Bibles should use the least amount of "interpretive translation" necessary for conveying the original meanings of the biblical authors accurately to translation audiences. Some interpretation is always necessary. The very act of translating a single word from one language to another is a kind of interpretation. But we should avoid introducing our own theological understandings of the text when it is possible to translate accurately without them.

32 Comments:

At Mon Aug 14, 12:10:00 AM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon Aug 14, 03:06:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Thank you, Wayne. As you know, I agree with you. And I am pleased that the CBT (translators of NIV and TNIV) has changed its position on this one.

Concerning your "refers to the Israeli anointed by God to be king hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus", I would like to quote from a recent posting on the b-hebrew list, from Yigal Levin who is a scholar in Israel:

"Israeli" is a totally modern term, coined by Ben-Gurion, to refer to citizens of the modern state of Israel (of whom 20% are not "Israelite").

So I think it would be better to refer to King David and his successors as Israelites rather than Israelis.

 
At Mon Aug 14, 07:26:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

It is worth looking at the latest NET Bible project: the preliminary version of www.nextbible.org.

Thanks for the heads up on that. I like the new look of the NET Bible.

 
At Mon Aug 14, 07:27:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

So I think it would be better to refer to King David and his successors as Israelites rather than Israelis.

I've revised the post. Thanks, Peter.

 
At Mon Aug 14, 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Ian Myles Slater said...

I also find the importation of "Israeli" into Biblical contexts a little grating (something like referring to Etrucans as Tuscans), although I have often heard it used, even by people reading from printed texts with "Israelite" throughout. Sometimes, of course, by those used to the modern form from the news media, and only that form. But sometimes by people whose Modern Hebrew is pretty fluent, and are in fact aware of the distinction.

However, Ben-Gurion seems to have been reviving a nonce-word, with a new, and not necessarily Biblically appropriate, meaning, for routine use in a new situation. Which, given the desire for an expanded vocabulary, using traditional morphology, and a pressing need, was a legitimate procedure.

So far as I recall, the form "Israeli" (as against "Israelite" can be found in Leviticus 24:10, distinguishing a man-of-Israel (ve-ish ha-yisraeli) from an Israelite (yisraelit) woman "whose mother was Israelite and whose father was Egyptian." I suspect that a need for a concise gender-distinction is more active here than a nationalist one, but I may be wrong.

The form also appears in the MT of 2 Samuel 17:25, qualifying a proper name, Yitra ha-yisraeli, "Ithra the Israelite." However, the latter appears in 1 Chron. 2:17, as "Jether the Ishmaelite" (Yether ha-yIshmaeli); and also, apparently, as "the Ishmaelite" in some Septuagint MSS of Samuel. I may have missed others.

(By the way, the phrase "Israeli king" seems to have survived the revision of the post.)

 
At Mon Aug 14, 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I suppose that Yigal Levin's meaning was that Ben-Gurion was the first to use the word "Israeli" in English. It is of course a Hebrew word, long rendered "Israelite" in English. In fact in Hebrew, as also in Arabic (and hence in English for the people of many Arab countries), -i is the standard "gentilic" suffix use to form from almost any place name (or eponymous founder's name) the word for its inhabitant. These Hebrew "gentilic" suffixes are routinely rendered in English as "-ite". And the Hebrew feminine form is -it. The "t" in "-ite" does not come from this feminine form, as is clear from its English form when not treated as a gentilic, which is "-ith", as in Hebrew yehudit, which is both the feminine form of yehudi "Jew", used in the Hebrew Bible of the Jewish or Hebrew language (2 Kings 18:26 etc), and a personal name transliterated "Judith" (Genesis 26:34).

 
At Mon Aug 14, 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Ian Myles Slater said...

Sorry that I wasn't clearer; I should have specified that, over the years, most English translations have regularly "flattened" the distinction in Hebrew forms, producing a standardized gentilic (often from "B'nai Yisrael," when it isn't rendered "Children of Israel"), and folding in gender-distinguished forms as part of the package.

(And I should probably compose comments after morning coffee, instead of before.)

 
At Tue Aug 15, 05:02:00 AM, Blogger J.A. said...

Interersting post.

In Sweden we have an alternative translation to the official translation Bibel 2000. It's called Folkbibeln (The Peoples Bible). It's widely used by conservative lutherans and in pentacostal churches. Look how they have translated psalm 45:7, (direct translation to english):

"You love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore, God [apparently referring to Christ], has your God anointed you with the oil of joy more than your companions."

Is this an honest translation? Would the psalmist really call the king God?

 
At Tue Aug 15, 08:06:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Many Christians immediately assume that this must refer to Jesus, especially since New Testament writers quote this psalm as referring to him.

That's a pretty good reason for the assumption, isn't it? Actually, it is not just a reader's assumption, it is a teaching of the New Testament.

Wayne wrote: we should avoid introducing our own theological understandings of the text when it is possible to translate accurately without them.

If a New Testament author takes up an Old Testament passage and gives it a certain interpretation, I do not see how a Christian translator can ignore it, especially if his ordinary method of translation is to provide a good deal of explanatory interpretation in the text. At the very least, a Christian translator should give renderings which allow for the interpretations in the New Testament, when the Hebrew will permit it. The problem with the NET Bible and some other versions is, they include a lot of interpretation in the translation, but they disagree with the interpretations found in the New Testament. In many cases, to allow for the main point of a New Testament interpretation, all that is needed is a literal rendering, but the translators give us a paraphrastic rendering which excludes the New Testament interpretation. See, for example, Psalm 8:4-6 and Hebrews 2:6-8 in the versions. I think your example here, concerning the capitalization of the word "Son," is not a very good jumping-off point for talking about this issue.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 08:34:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

The issue with Psalm 8:4-6 and Hebrews 2:6-8 is that commentators do not agree that in Hebrews 2:6 "the son of man" (RSV) is a reference to Jesus Christ. If so, it would be a unique reference. I accept that there is likely to be an allusion here to the title of Christ, but in vv. 6-8 the author of Hebrews is talking about humanity in general and not yet about Jesus. And the Hebrew poetic parallelism makes it certain that the psalmist was referring to humanity in general rather than to any individual Messianic figure. So to read a reference to Christ back into this psalm is to do serious violence to the Hebrew language on the basis of a debatable interpretation of the letter to the Hebrews.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 09:24:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael Marlowe concluded:

I think your example here, concerning the capitalization of the word "Son," is not a very good jumping-off point for talking about this issue.

I disagree, Michael. Psalm 2 is a good example of using a New Testament interpretation of an O.T. passage to determine how the O.T. passage is translated. We should translate any text on its own merits, according to authorial intent, within its original historical and cultural context. N.T. interpretations of O.T. passages should not obviate different meanings originally intended by O.T. authors.

Both intended meanings, O.T. and N.T., are biblical. And accurate translations should reflect authorial intent in each case.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 12:36:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: We should translate any text ... according to authorial intent

For people who believe that God is the true Author of all Scripture, and that human authors were only used by Him to express His thoughts, questions of authorial intent are inseparable from questions about what God intended. If God himself has interpreted His words somewhere, we can't ignore that, and we can't disagree with it. The trouble with the RSV, the NET Bible, and some other versions is, they do just that. They try to limit the meaning to some human authorial intent, and they set aside interpretations that we conservatives attribute to God.

Now, when you say that "N.T. interpretations of O.T. passages should not obviate different meanings originally intended by O.T. authors," you also seem to be treating Scripture as if it were an anthology of human writings, in which one author might misinterpret another; and you are either forgetting or denying that God is Author of both the Old and the New Testaments. That is what made the RSV Old Testament unacceptable to conservatives. It was not a just a problem about a rendering here and there. Conservatives perceived that the RSV committee treated the Bible as if it were only an anthology of human writings.

We do know, from their own statements, that this is how they viewed it. They understood the Bible as a collection of "classic" religious writings that show a development from one set of beliefs to another, although the later writtings try to reinterpet the earlier ones in ways that are congenial to the new developments. They also thought it was the duty of churches today to continue this "development" of religious ideas, beyond the New Testament, rejecting some of its ideas but developing certain "trajectories" indicated in it.

And now, many scholars who teach in "evangelical" seminaries are doing the same thing with the Bible, and the explanations that they have offered for it are along the lines of the RSV translators who were part of the Barthian "neo-orthodox" movement of the 1950's. They are not openly disrespectful of Scripture, but their view of it is not orthodox. They do not believe in inerrancy, for instance. Several "evangelical" schools are now dominated by people who think this way. That is the background against which the TNIV and the NET Bible appeared, and it clearly does not reflect an orthodox attitude toward the Bible.

If you want to defend it, that is your business. But you should know what you are defending. It is not just about a de-capitalized word here and there. It is about a fundamental shift in theology, which includes various adjustments in our treatment of the Bible. The desire to show differences between the "authorial intent" of the Old Testament and the interpretations of it in the New Testament is part of this movement, and it is not theologically neutral.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 12:47:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I do not "believe that God is the true Author of all Scripture, and that human authors were only used by Him to express His thoughts". I do not consider this to be the standard evangelical doctrine of Scripture. It sounds more like the Islamic doctrine of the Qur'an being God's word dictated to a man. The true and historic evangelical Christian doctrine of Scripture is that human authors were the authors of Scripture, writing their own thoughts, rather than God's thoughts, but with those thoughts being inspired by the Holy Spirit so that what they wrote conformed with what God wanted. Thus, the Bible is an anthology of human writings. It is not "only an anthology of human writings", but that is the starting point. And the starting point for translation should be to treat it as such.

There is a good reason why your view of inerrancy was not being taught in the 1950's: it is a novel doctrine which had not even been invented at that time. It is sad that since then there has been a division and polarisation on the understanding of Scripture.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael wrote:

For people who believe that God is the true Author of all Scripture, and that human authors were only used by Him to express His thoughts, questions of authorial intent are inseparable from questions about what God intended. If God himself has interpreted His words somewhere, we can't ignore that, and we can't disagree with it.

Michael, please re-read my post. There is nothing about any decrease in my commitment to orthodox theology and an orthodox high view of Scripture. I am simply committed to accurately translating the original meaning of any passage within its original historical and cultural context.

New Testament quotes of O.T. passages do not necessarily determine what the original meanings of those passages were. It is a conservative, orthodox view of Scripture to believe that O.T. authors (with God, the Holy Spirit, as their co-author), intended a specific meaning local to their historical and cultural context. That view is not at all in conflict with the recognition that N.T. authors, again with the Holy Spirit as co-author, prooftexted O.T. passages in typical Judaic fasion to refer to Jesus, our Messiah. This does not open the door for endless interpretations of any passage. Interpretation must be subject to the meaning in any particular context. And that meaning is the result of an incarnational cooperation between human authors and their divine co-author, the Holy Spirit.

When God called "my son out of Egypt" in the O.T., I suspect that your own hermeneutic would recognize that "my son" was referring to the people of Israel coming out of Egypt during the exodus. But there is also a messianic interpretation of that passage in the N.T. where "my son" refers to the baby Jesus who was taken by Joseph and Mary for safety to Egypt during the killing of the innocents by Herod.

O.T. passages needs to be translated with the meanings intended by their human authors, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Psalm 2 is locally about God taking the psalmist as his son during his anointing as king. Many centuries later, we Christians are blessed to have a Messianic application off that psalm to our Messiah, Jesus, in the N.T. The latter application does not obviate the first meaning.

I'm sure none of this is new to you. I stand firmly within orthodox theology on this, not any neo-orthodox or postmodern position which uses a relativistic, anthropocentric, hermeneutic to interpret Scripture. God can do whatever he chooses. If he chooses to both local and later messianic meanings for some passages of Scripture, I will not argue with him. I want to translate each passage according to the meaning the human author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, intended for that passage first to be understood. I then also want to be sure to accurately translate later passages which quote those O.T. passages and give messianic meaning to them. The messianic N.T. meaning does not mean that we should take that N.T. meaning and revise the original meaning of the O.T. passage so harmonize with it.

Bible translators should not be in the business of harmonizing the Bible. We should not be in the business of revisionism. Revisionism is a form of interpretive translation.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 02:16:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: The issue with Psalm 8:4-6 and Hebrews 2:6-8 is that commentators do not agree that in Hebrews 2:6 "the son of man" (RSV) is a reference to Jesus Christ. If so, it would be a unique reference. I accept that there is likely to be an allusion here to the title of Christ, but in vv. 6-8 the author of Hebrews is talking about humanity in general and not yet about Jesus.

Peter, I don't see how you can maintain that in the quotation itself "the author of Hebrews is talking about humanity in general," when in the following verses, where he begins to offer his interpretation, he is undoubtedly referring details of its wording to Christ. But however that may be, you are evading the real issue. I could have given many examples of places where the NET Bible and other versions ignore the New Testament interpretations, and even exclude them, with their renderings of the Old Testament passages. Surely you will have to acknowledge that this is a tendency in certain versions. The preface and notes of the NET Bible speak to this issue in no uncertain terms. And you cannot pretend that they have rendered Psalm 8 the way they did because of some disagreement about whether the author of Hebrews is interpreting it in reference to Christ in vv. 6-8. They rendered it the way they did because they judged that the author of the Psalm was not thinking of Christ, no matter what we may find in Hebrews chapter 2.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 03:58:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I suggest you reread Hebrews 2:9 and note the word "but". It is in KJV, RSV and still in TNIV. This indicates a contrast between the previous verses and the following ones. The point of verses 5-8 is that we do NOT see everything in subjection either to angels or to humanity in general. But the one to whom everything is subject is Jesus, the new participant introduced into the discussion in v.9. At least, this is one way of reading the passage.

But if indeed "the NET Bible and other versions ignore the New Testament interpretations... with their renderings of the Old Testament passages", I applaud them for doing the right thing. They should not I suppose exclude NT interpretations, but readers need to recognised that NT interpretations of OT passages are not always strictly literal. Wayne has given a good example of this with Matthew 2:15; I hope you would agree that it would be quite wrong to adjust Hosea 11:1 to be explicitly Messianic.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 07:31:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: They should not I suppose exclude NT interpretations

But that is what they do. They don't give a hoot what the New Testament says.

I'll give you two statements about Isaiah 7:14 together, so that you can see what I am talking about.

Matthew 1:22-23. "Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us."

NET Bible preface. "The role or birth of the Messiah does not come into view here."

Now, which of these two is right? They cannot both be right. I'm inclined to agree with Matthew. But what do you think?

Even when the NET Bible's translation of the Old Testament passage allows for the New Testament interpretation, it is not because they had any respect for the New Testament citation. The note at Hosea 11:1 ("I summoned my son out of Egypt") says, "The MT reads "my son": however, the LXX reflects "his sons." The MT should be retained as original here because of internal evidence; it is much more appropriate to the context." How do you like that? The fact that Matthew quotes this verse with "my son" (Matt. 2:15) means nothing at all to them. They don't even mention it! The Septuagint manuscripts are taken seriously as evidence for the original reading, but the New Testament counts for so little that it is not even worthy of being mentioned as text-critical evidence. Their decision to retain "my son" in the Hebrew text is based entirely on their estimation of the "internal evidence."

Something is seriously wrong here, Peter. I don't care what kind of fancy theories of translation and hermeneutics these scholars might offer in defense of their attitude. It is wrong to ignore the New Testament like this.

Regarding your comments about orthodoxy, neo-orthodoxy, and the inspiration of the Bible, I suggest that you read this:

The History of the Doctrine of Inspiration From the Ancient Church Through the Reformation, by M. James Sawyer

and this:

Verbal Inspiration, by Arthur W. Pink.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 10:12:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Michael, please re-read my post. There is nothing about any decrease in my commitment to orthodox theology and an orthodox high view of Scripture.

Wayne, when you characterize the apostolic interpretations as "typical Judaic prooftexting," that is far from orthodox. I don't doubt that you think it is, and that your profession of "orthodox theology and an orthodox high view of Scripture" is offered in all sincerity, but it's obvious to me that you have adopted liberal views in this area. Perhaps you don't spend much time with conservatives these days, and so you don't realize how objectionable this opinion is. But think back to your days at Moody Bible Institute, and ask yourself how your statement about "typical Judaic prooftexting" would have been received by the people who were around you then.

You wrote: When God called "my son out of Egypt" in the O.T., I suspect that your own hermeneutic would recognize that "my son" was referring to the people of Israel coming out of Egypt during the exodus. But there is also a messianic interpretation of that passage in the N.T. where "my son" refers to the baby Jesus who was taken by Joseph and Mary for safety to Egypt during the killing of the innocents by Herod.

My own hermeneutic is nothing other than Matthew's hermeneutic, as I understand it, and the traditional hermeneutics of the Church. I put no distance between myself and Matthew. I do not put his interpretation in some "Judaic prooftexting" box. I believe that he reveals the mysterious typological meaning of the expression "my son" in Hosea 11:1, which was intended by the Author of those words. Here God calls Israel "my son" not because all the people of Israel are his son, but because in the fulness of time his Son would represent all Israel, as its antitype. Matthew is also noticing how Hosea 11:1 foreshadows Christ's return from Egypt. All of this was intended by the Author of Hosea from the beginning. It does not matter to me that we have no reason to think that in the original historical context this would have been understood. The nature of Scripture is such that its typological meaning becomes plain in the fulness of time, and in the fulness of the Spirit.

This is not just "Judaic prooftexting," it is the real thing. Matthew was not arbitrarily imposing a new meaning on Hosea 11:1. He exegeted the full meaning of it. The "contextual" meaning that you prefer is a mere shadow. But the true, real, and originally intended meaning of the sentence "I called my son out of Egypt" emerges in the history of Christ. Any translator who would interfere with the reader's ability to see this interpretaion is obstructing the spirit of prophecy. The same is true of all the places in the Old Testament that receive interpretations in the New Testament, and probably many more besides them.

I'm sure this seems very mystical to you. It is mystical. It is not in keeping with the canons of historical-critical exegesis. But it is Matthew's interpretation. The apostles treat the entire Old Testament like this, as a book of types and shadows. You should read Patrick Fairbairn's book on this subject, The Typology of Scripture. Don't try to put all this in some "Judaic" box. This is God speaking. You can't understand it while trying to look at it from the outside, as if it were a specimen of some Rabbinic mode of interpretation; you must enter into it, as God's own method of revealing the Truth.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael replied:

This is not just "Judaic prooftexting," it is the real thing.

I'm sorry I wasn't clearer, Michael. My use of the term "Judaic prooftexting" was intended only to be a technical label. I did not intend anything pejorative by it.

One of my sons-in-law is in a doctoral program at one of the best Jewish schools in the U.S. Rabbinical hermeneutics is widely varied (Mishnaic, etc.) and often involves quite different kinds of proof support from the historico-cultural conservative hermeneutics which I was taught and which I still follow.

The Jewish writers of the N.T. practiced typical rabbinical argumentation. It is a kind of prooftexting, and, again, I do not use that term pejoratively.

I believe that he reveals the mysterious typological meaning of the expression "my son" in Hosea 11:1, which was intended by the Author of those words.

And I agree with you. That is what Matthew and the Holy Spirit intended. It is, as you say, a typological interpretation.

But then I must ask you: Who did Hosea's audience understand him to refer to by "my son"? And, more importantly, who did Hosea and the Holy Spirit refer to when he wrote "my son" (in Hebrew, of course)? Will you accept that Hosea was referring to the nation of Israel who were delivered from bondage in Egypt?

Or do you believe that the only interpretation allowed for any O.T. passage is a N.T. interpretation, if there is one?

Michael, I have not studied historical-critical interpretation. I do not practice it, since I do not understand it. Oh, sure, I've heard of the documentary hypothesis for the Pentateuch, but I have never studied it. My background is in Bible, introductory theology, standard conservative hermeneutics, and then lots of linguistics. My time is so full with my Bible translation responsibilities that I do not have time to learn about theological or hermeneutical approaches others than what I was trained in. I continue to practice that. And it allows for multiple meanings for the same wordings, an original meaning and a subsequent messianic meaning.

My utmost desire is to be true to authorial intent, including the Holy Spirit as Divine Author, inspiring human authors in both the O.T. and N.T. O.T. passages often had local, current meanings within their historical and cultural contexts. N.T. writers, guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, gave new life to the original interpretations, life pointing to Jesus, our Messiah.

I have no problem believing that both the original and N.T. interpretations were inspired by the Holy Spirit. And our translations will be more accurate if we get as close as possible to communicating the original intent of any Bible passage.

I appreciate your concern for my orthodoxy. I know that no amount of explanation on my part may convince you that I am still committed to a high view of Scripture. In fact, I happen to believe that my desire to translate the original meaning of any passage reflects an even higher view of Scripture than an overall typological, covenantal approach to Scripture. I say this because I believe that translating original meaning honors God who inspired what the human authors wrote.

There is no theological or logical reason requiring any passage to have only one meaning. God is God and very capable of using different interpretations for some Scripture passages if he so chooses. I think the evidence is greater on the side that many O.T. passages had local meanings, even if centuries later, the Holy Spirit also inspired human authors to write with new Messianic meanings.

Well, I think we've come to another of our impasses. We each choose to believe something different. I won't question your theology. I wish that you would not question mine, based on a lack of adequate knowledge of what I actually do believe. But I can't spend more time trying to convince you otherwise. God knows each of our hearts. He knows that each of us are trying to follow the most accurate approach to Bible translation possible, but that we seem to differ in our hermeneutics. I follow the hermeneutics I was taught in my Bible school which says to take the plain, clear meaning of a text unless there is clear evidence to do otherwise.

Or as one of the speakers said at our son-in-law's graduation for him M.A. at the Jewish school this spring: "Text trumps interpretation."

I believe we should translate the text as it is and not add a subsequent interpretation to it. Likewise, we translators have no right to change the subsequent interpretation of an O.T. quote. I don't believe that we should practice interpretive translation, no matter how sincere we are in our hermeneutics. Let the text say what the text says. Let its authors (both human and divine) mean what they meant in each separate historical and cultural and theological context.

This is mainstream, orthodox hermeneutics, Michael. Yes, the whole matter of N.T. quotations of the O.T. is complex and much has been written about it. But I think we compromise the validity of the text itself when we import any interpretation to it other than the meaning originally intended by its human and divine author.

 
At Tue Aug 15, 11:42:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 03:04:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, Matthew is not offering a translation or exegesis of Isaiah 7:14 but is using it typologically. Similarly in all his OT quotes in chapters 1-2. This is basic Christian understanding of the Old Testament. Especially in Matthew, "fulfil" should be understood typologically, not as that a prophecy came to pass but that the underlying significance of an Old Testament passage was revealed.

You seem to show some understanding of typology, but also seem to think that the antitype negates the original type. But that is not how typology works. Thus, arguably, the tabernacle is a type of the heavenly sanctuary, but that does not imply that the type is not real, that it never existed or that the instructions to make it should never have been understood literally. Matthew 2:15 takes Israel, as referred to in Hosea 11:1, as a type of Christ, but that does not imply that Israel did not exist or that Hosea did not write about it. Similarly, the birth which Isaiah prophesied in 7:14 was the birth of a real child in his own time. That child was a type of Christ, but that typological understanding does not imply that no such child was born in Isaiah's time, nor that Isaiah not was primarily referring to the child in his own time.

You are right that the NET Bible translators should have considered Matthew 2:15 as textual evidence concerning Hosea 11:1. But probably didn't feel the need to do so explicitly, or to mention this in their footnotes, as they routinely follow MT rather than uncorroborated Greek, irrespective of any NT evidence.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 07:54:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I wrote to Michael:

In fact, I happen to believe that my desire to translate the original meaning of any passage reflects an even higher view of Scripture than an overall typological, covenantal approach to Scripture.

Michael, I should not have included "covenantal" in that sentence. Consider it deleted. I don't think Covenant Theology necessarily calls for a less literal, historico-grammatical approach to hermeneutics than that kind of hermeneutics that I was trained in.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 08:32:00 AM, Blogger M. J. Mansini said...

One of the main problems with this entire discussion is that I find scholarly talk about the "authorial intent" to often be... well, theoretical at best. The ability to reconstruct a historical understanding of a verse in its original context in the eyes of the original author has been anything but convincing in many cases. Sometimes I assume they are on the mark, other times there is much hearsay and conjecture. But, as someone once said, "A scholar without conjecture is like a child without a thumb." Probably not true in all circumstances... but relavent none the less.

Now, I personally feel that the scripture should be translated on its own merit, although "takes" on scripture from other places in scripture or other external witnesses can certainly aid the understanding of the text. Occasionally translators are so dogmatic about "authorial intent" that they theorize so intensely that they even forsake a Jewish perspective on some O. T. scriptures. Checks and balances are necessary.

For an interesting read on Scripture, its interpretation, inspiration, etc., many may be interested in reading Holy Scripture by Donald G. Bloesch.

He has interesting perspectives, which do differ from much of reformed theology and conservative Christianity.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 09:38:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Matthew wrote:

One of the main problems with this entire discussion is that I find scholarly talk about the "authorial intent" to often be... well, theoretical at best.

Yes, Matthew, unless someone can invent a time machine to enable us to visit the biblical authors and ask them what they meant, we can never be absolutely sure about authorial intent. But I believe that the attempt to get at authorial intent is correct. If we simply give up on it and turn to reader-centered interpretation, or allow texts to mean anything that comes to one's mind, then we have lost all objective connections to purposeful communication. When we communicate, including in blog comments, we intend to mean something to someone else. Most of the time we don't just intend to "relate" allowing our reader to have any interpretation they want of what we have said.

The Bible is a book of intended messages. IMO, postmodernism throws the baby out with the bathwater. It is good to emphasize, as postmodernism does, that we cannot know for sure what is in the mind of an author. But to swing the pendulum all the way the other direction is ultimately cutting ourselves off from any successful human communication, ever.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 10:29:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne, you wrote: The Jewish writers of the N.T. practiced typical rabbinical argumentation. It is a kind of prooftexting, and, again, I do not use that term pejoratively.

Pejorative or not, this characterization puts critical distance between you and the hermeneutics of the New Testament. You are standing apart from it, rather than entering into it. And you haven't really understood Matthew's interpretation of Hosea 11:1 if you want to classify it as "rabbinic argumentation" or "prooftexting." It is not an argument or a proof, it is a typological interpretation.

You ask: Who did Hosea's audience understand him to refer to by "my son"? And, more importantly, who did Hosea and the Holy Spirit refer to when he wrote "my son" (in Hebrew, of course)? Will you accept that Hosea was referring to the nation of Israel who were delivered from bondage in Egypt?

For Matthew, Hosea's audience is the Church of all ages. The meaning of Scripture is not time-bound. Its original and intended meaning is not determined by the kind of considerations that you are emphasizing here. You are asking quesions that he does not ask. If you were to ask him a question about Israel in the Exodus he would tell you that it is a foreshadowing of Christ and the Church. The apostles saw the deliverance from Egypt as an historical event, but its importance to them is that it symbolizes the real deliverance that has come about in Christ. Do you see that? Someone who is reading Scripture like this is not going to get hung up on questions like the ones you are raising.

There's a problem if you think the "original" and "intended" meaning is found out by asking these questions. That is not how Matthew thinks. When he points to the phrase "my son" he is not offering some gratuitous "proof text" for Christ's return from Egypt. He does not need a proof text for that. He is doing something much more profound than that--he is indicating that Christ and his Church are the true Israel. That is why the words of the passage in Hosea are understood typologically here.

The implications of this for Bible translators is, one must be very careful not to exclude such interpretations when preparing a version for the Church. The Church must learn to interpret the Bible the way Matthew did. We can't stand apart from it, and put it in a "Jewish" box. This is not only "Jewish," it is Christian, and it is the divinely revealed method of understanding the Old Testament. The Scripture must be understood as Matthew and the other apostles understood it. If people refuse to do this, we have a problem. If translators translate the Old Testament in ways that ignore this and prevent readers from doing it, we have an even worse problem on our hands.

You wrote: My time is so full with my Bible translation responsibilities that I do not have time to learn about theological or hermeneutical approaches others than what I was trained in. I continue to practice that. And it allows for multiple meanings for the same wordings, an original meaning and a subsequent messianic meaning.

If I can get you to understand anything in this exchange, I aim to make you understand that in orthodox theology the messianic meaning is NOT a "subsequent" meaning. It is intended from the beginning. It is not imposed upon the text later, by some spiritual "update" or supplementation of the meaning; it is discovered through the illumination of the Spirit. The sensus plenior or "fuller sense" was intended by the Author. God caused the Prophets to use the words that they used because these words were capable of bearing the whole meaning intended by God. He is the primary Author, and there was never a time when He did not intend this meaning.

It does not matter that the meaning was hidden for a time. That does not make it secondary. It is primary, not secondary. That is the orthodox view of this matter. The view that you have adopted was invented by liberal scholars in the nineteenth century, and it has always been opposed by conservative theologians. I don't know how you picked it up, but you should be aware of the fact that it is commonly associated with liberalism. It will not serve any good purpose for you to close your ears to this, and go on thinking that this view represents "orthodox hermeneutics."

You wrote: But I think we compromise the validity of the text itself when we import any interpretation to it other than the meaning originally intended by its human and divine author.

Wayne, if you had a better handle on orthodox hermeneutics you would not write sentences which imply that the New Testament authors "import" interpretations into the Old Testament which are contrary to the meaning "originally intended by its human and divine authors." This is a very bad way of putting it. If your time is full of Bible translation responsibilities, that is all the more reason why you should do some reading on this subject. And I'll tell you, the people at Dallas who who gave us the NET Bible are no pillars of orthodoxy, and you should not assume that every "evangelical" scholar represents historic orthodox views. Many of them do not.You will not be able to understand why your views are being met with such opposition among conservatives if you just assume that something written by an "evangelical" somewhere is generally accepted as orthodox.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 01:52:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael Marlowe responded:

Pejorative or not, this characterization puts critical distance between you and the hermeneutics of the New Testament.

Michael, I take the interpretation of each passage on its own merits. I understand Matthew's quote and his hermeneutic and I believe his messianic interpretation. I can believe Matthew as well as the Hosea passage he was quoting. That, to me, is truly honoring Scripture and the meanings God inspired its authors to write in any particular passage.

You are standing apart from it, rather than entering into it. And you haven't really understood Matthew's interpretation of Hosea 11:1 if you want to classify it as "rabbinic argumentation" or "prooftexting." It is not an argument or a proof, it is a typological interpretation.

Of course, it is typological interpretation. But it is also rabbinical prooftexting. It is a very Jewish style of argumentation. I'm not calling it wrong. I never have.

You ask: Who did Hosea's audience understand him to refer to by "my son"? And, more importantly, who did Hosea and the Holy Spirit refer to when he wrote "my son" (in Hebrew, of course)? Will you accept that Hosea was referring to the nation of Israel who were delivered from bondage in Egypt?

For Matthew, Hosea's audience is the Church of all ages.


Michael, I asked about Hosea's audience, not Matthew's. Who do you think Hosea was referring to when he wrote "my son"? Are you willing to consider that Hosea was referring to the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt?

Of course, we also have Matthew's interpretation of Hosea. But Hosea was writing for people of his time, first of all. Most Hebrew Bible authors were writing for cotemporaneous audiences. That does not take away from anything you have said about typology which we can see in Matthew's quote of Hosea.

The meaning of Scripture is not time-bound. Its original and intended meaning is not determined by the kind of considerations that you are emphasizing here.

Michael, I strongly disagree. Biblical authors were, first of all, writing to local situations in their historical and cultural contexts. If we miss this important fact, we risk a great deal of error, such as attempting to apply Levirate marriage today or trying to live by Levitical laws such as not wearing clothing constructed with two different kinds of material.

The church of all ages is not the only audience for any passage in the Bible. There were specific things written to specific audiences. That does not mean that by extension (or typology, which you prefer to practice), there is application to other audiences.

You are asking quesions that he does not ask. If you were to ask him a question about Israel in the Exodus he would tell you that it is a foreshadowing of Christ and the Church.

I don't know if "he" is Hosea or Matthew, but in either case, I have no problem viewing Israel in the Exodus as a foreshadowing of Christ. I was raised to see all kinds of typology in the O.T., from the various parts of the Tabernacle to the red rope set out by Rahab of Jericho. But typological applications do not obviate the initial local meanings intended by Bible authors writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The apostles saw the deliverance from Egypt as an historical event, but its importance to them is that it symbolizes the real deliverance that has come about in Christ. Do you see that?

Absolutely. I not only see it but I believe it. But I think we are straying from a focus on how we should translate Hebrew Bible passages which initially had local reference.

Someone who is reading Scripture like this is not going to get hung up on questions like the ones you are raising.

Michael, Michael, what should we do with you and your dismissive language? Why not lay aside your theological presuppositions and the sins which so easily beset you and run with endurance that race that is set out for us?! :-)

There's a problem if you think the "original" and "intended" meaning is found out by asking these questions. That is not how Matthew thinks. When he points to the phrase "my son" he is not offering some gratuitous "proof text" for Christ's return from Egypt. He does not need a proof text for that. He is doing something much more profound than that--he is indicating that Christ and his Church are the true Israel. That is why the words of the passage in Hosea are understood typologically here.

Fine, I agree. But that's missing the point of my post which is how do we translate the Hebrew Bible passages which have an initial local meaning.

The implications of this for Bible translators is, one must be very careful not to exclude such interpretations when preparing a version for the Church.

We should translate the Hebrew Bible with no meanings other than those with which it was originally written. It is perfectly fine to create study, reference, and cross-reference Bibles which point the reader to N.T. quotes of O.T. passages.

The Church must learn to interpret the Bible the way Matthew did. We can't stand apart from it, and put it in a "Jewish" box. This is not only "Jewish," it is Christian, and it is the divinely revealed method of understanding the Old Testament. The Scripture must be understood as Matthew and the other apostles understood it. If people refuse to do this, we have a problem. If translators translate the Old Testament in ways that ignore this and prevent readers from doing it, we have an even worse problem on our hands.

Michael, I disagree with how you seem to want to apply the hermeneutics of N.T. writers to translation of the O.T.. We must not change the meaning of any part of the Bible when we translate. We must leave Psalm 2 translated with its local meaning. To do otherwise is to lower the accuracy of our translation. We can put the church's typological interpretations in a footnote, but it does not belong in the translated text itself. To Christianize the Hebrew Bible is to practice interpretive translation, even when N.T. writers give us a Christian typological interpretation of the O.T. passage. We must let each passage stand on its own. We must respect authorial intention in each case. If believe that you are mistaken if you claim that the Bible should be translated typologically. You are mixing hermeneutical application with translation itself. Translation precedes application. We must allow for original meanings of the Hebrew Bible to be clear in translation. If we do not, we have not accurately translated the Hebrew Bible, which, of course, is also now part of our Christian Bible. But that does not remove it from still being a Hebrew Bible.

You wrote: My time is so full with my Bible translation responsibilities that I do not have time to learn about theological or hermeneutical approaches others than what I was trained in. I continue to practice that. And it allows for multiple meanings for the same wordings, an original meaning and a subsequent messianic meaning.

If I can get you to understand anything in this exchange, I aim to make you understand that in orthodox theology the messianic meaning is NOT a "subsequent" meaning.


I disagree, Michael. You learned from your profs well, but theirs is not the only orthodox hermeneutics. The hermeneutical tradition I was trained in is also orthodox. We take the biblical text itself seriously. We try to understand what the text said and what it meant originally. Development of theology and application come later.

It is intended from the beginning. It is not imposed upon the text later, by some spiritual "update" or supplementation of the meaning;

And I have not suggested that.

it is discovered through the illumination of the Spirit.

But the Spirit never illumines something which is different from the original meaning of a text. It is that original meaning which needs to be accurately translated.

The sensus plenior or "fuller sense" was intended by the Author.

Definitely, but that doesn't take away from initial, local meaning.

God caused the Prophets to use the words that they used because these words were capable of bearing the whole meaning intended by God. He is the primary Author, and there was never a time when He did not intend this meaning.

True, but God also intended the local meanings which the human authors were communicating under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Both meanings are true. But Bible translators do not have the right to translate in any way other than to communicate the meaning initial intended by the biblical author of each passage.

It does not matter that the meaning was hidden for a time. That does not make it secondary.

I said nothing about secondary meaning. I am a Christian. Christ is my Messiah. Christ fulfills the O.T. for me. I would love to have been there as he explained how he fulfilled O.T. prophecies to the men on the road to Emmaus. What he said would have "burned" within my heart also.

It is primary, not secondary. That is the orthodox view of this matter.

That is one orthodox view of how to translate the O.T., Michael. The typological approach to the Bible is only one hermeneutical method practiced by the orthodox church throughout history.

The view that you have adopted was invented by liberal scholars in the nineteenth century, and it has always been opposed by conservative theologians.

Michael, Michael, stop assuming things of me which are simply false. I have adopted nothing from liberal scholars. My Bible school was in the historical vanguard of opposition to liberalism and still is. Moody and Torrey were two of the main players in the fundamentalist/liberal debates and authorship of "The Fundamentals" papers. The heremeneutics taught there is the standard evangelical plain text historical-grammatical hermeneutic, which does not come from liberalism. It derives from a literal interpretation of the biblical text, recognizing non-literal meanings when a context calls for it.

I don't know how you picked it up, but you should be aware of the fact that it is commonly associated with liberalism.

Not the hermeneutics I was taught, Michael.

It will not serve any good purpose for you to close your ears to this, and go on thinking that this view represents "orthodox hermeneutics."

What can I say? You have decided what you will believe.

You wrote: But I think we compromise the validity of the text itself when we import any interpretation to it other than the meaning originally intended by its human and divine author.

Wayne, if you had a better handle on orthodox hermeneutics you would not write sentences which imply that the New Testament authors "import" interpretations into the Old Testament which are contrary to the meaning "originally intended by its human and divine authors."


Michael, you quoted me incorrectly. I did not say that N.T. authors import (Messianic) interpretation into the O.T. I said that some Bible translators do. And that is the issue at hand.

(snip)

You will not be able to understand why your views are being met with such opposition among conservatives if you just assume that something written by an "evangelical" somewhere is generally accepted as orthodox.

I think I understand fairly well now your opposition. I understand better now that I know about your insistence on a priority given to a typological hermeneutic. I prefer an overall hermeneutic of a literal interpretation of the biblical text using the historical-grammatical approach. We accept that there are instances where a typological hermeneutic is appropriate, but I was trained that such an approach does not do justice to the text itself as an overall approach. Just as conservative Christians are divided over charismatic cessationism or non-cessationism (do Poythress and Grudem agree here?), paedo-baptism vs. believers' baptism, worship on the Sabbath vs. worship on Sunday, etc., so they are divided on methods of hermeneutics. But any true conservative is fully committed to the biblical text and takes it seriously, as we have it. We do not resort to relativism or postmodern reader-centered approaches to hermeneutics. There is much that unites us hermeneutically.

Now, Michael, we must move on. It is clearer now where you and I differ. Your hermeneutics has some differences from mine.

I ask you to stop imputing to anyone on this blog ideas that you have about what they believe before you have asked them what they believe. Please follow the blog posting guidelines about not questioning the beliefs of anyone. If I want to discuss hermeneutics with you, I can join you to do so on your theology discussion list.

This blog is for discussing Bible translation issues. And on this blog we have a tighter constraint against questioning the beliefs of others who post here than some other forums do.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 02:08:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Peter wrote: Matthew is not offering a translation or exegesis of Isaiah 7:14 but is using it typologically.

Peter, I think it would be more correct to say that Matthew 1:23 represents a messianic interpretation of Isaiah 7:14. Matthew does not just "use" it, he discloses its messianic meaning. The meaning was there already, in the intention of God, before Matthew pointed it out.

I understand all of this in terms of Luke 24:27, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Christ did not teach his disciples how to "use" the Old Testament. He interpreted it. To those who were slow of understanding, he said, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!" And to those who reject his interpretations, the saying in 2 Corinthians 3:14 still applies: "for until this very day at the reading of the Old Testament the same veil remains unlifted." The meaning is already there, for those who are taught by Christ and who have the unveiled eyes. That is how Scripture presents all of this. It is an unveiling of the meaning, not a "development" or an invention of writers who are "using" the Old Testament and giving it new meanings after the fact, as the NET Bible editors assert. If they keep looking at it that way, they are not agreeing with the apostles.

You wrote: Similarly, the birth which Isaiah prophesied in 7:14 was the birth of a real child in his own time. That child was a type of Christ, but that typological understanding does not imply that no such child was born in Isaiah's time, nor that Isaiah not was primarily referring to the child in his own time.

I say that Isaiah prophesied about Christ, perhaps without knowing it himself. It may be that he had only in mind a child to be born in his time. I doubt it. But the words of the prophecy are given by God, who intends far more than a reference to some child in the days of Ahaz. The messianic meaning is not secondary. It was there even before Isaiah spoke the words.

You wrote: You are right that the NET Bible translators should have considered Matthew 2:15 as textual evidence concerning Hosea 11:1. But probably didn't feel the need to do so explicitly, or to mention this in their footnotes, as they routinely follow MT rather than uncorroborated Greek, irrespective of any NT evidence.

The note does introduce LXX evidence, and it does say that the editor's decision to follow the MT here is based on internal (contextual) considerations. I can't think that the New Testament citation is important to them if they don't even mention it.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Michael, I think we differ on how we interpret "interpret", or more precisely the Greek word διερμηνεύω, in Luke 24:27. You seem to imply that it means "give the original primary meaning of". I would suppose it to mean more like "expound", in other words, Jesus preached a sermon using these Scripture passages as his texts. We have a very brief example of such a sermon in Luke 4:18-21. Jesus takes Isaiah 61:1-2, not a "prophecy" but the prophet's description of his own calling (note how well the context fits the return from the exile in Babylon), and reinterprets it as applying to his own mission. Is that legitimate? Yes, but not because Isaiah's words originally referred to Jesus.

Meanwhile I accept your "The apostles saw the deliverance from Egypt as an historical event, but its importance to them is that it symbolizes the real deliverance that has come about in Christ." And similarly for Isaiah 7:14, 61:1-2 etc. But I think we must agree to differ on some aspects of this discussion.

 
At Wed Aug 16, 05:15:00 PM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: Michael, Michael, what should we do with you and your dismissive language? Why not lay aside your theological presuppositions and the sins which so easily beset you and run with endurance that race that is set out for us?! :-)

I don't think I've been dismissive at all. I've tried to engage you in a serious discussion. If there were any "sins" in my comments, God will have to show them to me. But I suppose it was my theological criticism of your position -- in which I said that your desire to translate the Old Testament without any regard for the New Testament interpretations is unorthodox -- which you consider to be "sinful." You must be very sensitive to theological objections if you think it is a sin for anyone to raise such an objection against your position. Maybe I should be more tactful about it. But Wayne, you can't exclude theological objections like this from the discussion if you want to get to the bottom of all these disagreements about Bible versions. The disagreements have a lot to do with theology. And it's not only about different views of inspiration, or typology. Different views on soteriology and ecclesiology will also cause people to disagree about Bible versions. Your approach assumes various theological positions. By that I mean, you have plenty of presuppositions yourself; though you don't seem to be aware of them. A discussion like this may be uncomfortable for you, but it is not a waste of time if it can help you see some of your own presuppostions clearly. That's important. I hope the discussion has been helpful to you in some way. I have enjoyed it!

Michael

 
At Wed Aug 16, 07:48:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

I teased:

Michael, Michael, what should we do with you and your dismissive language? Why not lay aside your theological presuppositions and the sins which so easily beset you and run with endurance that race that is set out for us?! :-

Michael replied:

I don't think I've been dismissive at all.

OK, Michael, that's fair enough. I would do better to say it like this: your evaluation of my hermeneutics has impacted me so that I have felt that you have been dismissive of my convictions. There has been repeated dismissive language throughout this exchange and there has been the same language in previous exchanges.

I've tried to engage you in a serious discussion. If there were any "sins" in my comments, God will have to show them to me. But I suppose it was my theological criticism of your position -- in which I said that your desire to translate the Old Testament without any regard for the New Testament interpretations is unorthodox -- which you consider to be "sinful."

I was teasing you, Michael. Note the smiley face at the end of the paragraph, which you copied. I probably shouldn't have teased in such serious exchanges. I was hoping it could lighten the pain of the exchanges.

You must be very sensitive to theological objections if you think it is a sin for anyone to raise such an objection against your position. Maybe I should be more tactful about it.

I don't consider it a sin, Michael. I was teasing you, hoping for something more uplifting, more personally satisfying from our exchange.

But Wayne, you can't exclude theological objections like this from the discussion if you want to get to the bottom of all these disagreements about Bible versions.

I don't, Michael.

The disagreements have a lot to do with theology.

Yes, I can tell that you are a covenant theologian from all your comments. You are consistent in your theological position.

And it's not only about different views of inspiration, or typology.

I doubt that we have different views on inspiration. You've never asked me about my views nor have I volunteered them. I suggest that you not try to articulate my views until you ask me what they are. And unless they are directly relevant to a Bible translation issue, this is not the proper forum for that. It would be better to discuss inspiration somewhere else. Suffice it to say, in case you are curious, that our mission organization requires us to sign a statement on inspiration and reliability of Scripture every five years (we have had some people who have to resign because they no longer can sign such a statement). I'm guessing that the theology statement I had to sign to graduate from Bible school was at least as conservative as any you might have had to sign or otherwise indicate your affirmation of. But we aren't really in a theology contest, are we?!

Different views on soteriology and ecclesiology will also cause people to disagree about Bible versions.

Yes, probably so, although I can't think of any examples right now. I know that even amillenialists translate the book of Revelation by specifying 1,000 years near the end of the book, since that is what the text says, even if they believe that that is a symbolic number. I respect amil translators such that kind of translation integrity. It is that same kind of integrity that I believe calls for us to translate each O.T. passage on its own terms. It is fine to footnote or cross-reference to N.T. quotes of that passage. I do not at all believe, as you have stated, that the N.T. quotes are irrelevant to the interpretation of the O.T. passages. I have already explained myself several times, but you have interpreted what I have said differently from what I thought I said, and definitely what I intended, so I don't think it will do any good for me to repeat my statements any more.

Your approach assumes various theological positions. By that I mean, you have plenty of presuppositions yourself; though you don't seem to be aware of them.

Tsk, tsk, there you go again, Michael. Feel free to quiz me off-blog to see what theological presuppositions I have and whether or not I am aware of them. My time is extremely limited due to my job, but if you make up a check list, I'm willing to get ticked off, I mean, to tick off items on the list!! :-)

A discussion like this may be uncomfortable for you,

Michael, I happen to love discussing theology and do so with my friends. But it is very uncomfortable to participate in what you consider to be a discussion. I don't want to give further details here in public.

but it is not a waste of time if it can help you see some of your own presuppostions clearly.

It is always good to be helpful to one another. Do you happen to have a wife? If so, does she help you learn about your own presuppositions and do you likewise help her learn about hers? Does she enjoy the process. It can be enjoyable if certain principles are followed.

FWIW, I have moved from theological positions I was trained in when younger toward some theology that is likely closer to yours,. That happened largely due to God's grace in putting me in a church family of a small exclusive psalm singing group that has roots in Geneva, PA. I suspect you know the group. Extremely conservative, and I was stretched theologically, and that was a good thing. The stretching took place in their loving, accepting, open family environment. What wonderful memories!

That's important. I hope the discussion has been helpful to you in some way. I have enjoyed it!

I have not. But I could have. Let's leave it at that and try to learn something from what could have been. I love to discuss implications of various systems of theology and hermeneutics for Bible translation.

In the future, let's both try to follow the blog rules more closely if we have further exchanges.

I would still appreciate a response to my question to you: Who you think Hosea was referring to that God spoke of as "my son" when he (Hosea, writing under the Spirit's inspiration) wrote "I have called my son out of Egypt"?

 
At Thu Aug 17, 11:06:00 AM, Blogger son of abraham said...

Wayne wrote: It would be better to discuss inspiration somewhere else.

It became relevant here in connection with our discussion of the "authorial intent" concept. A discussion of inspiration was needed because authorial intent is understood very differently by people who disagree about the nature of inspiration. Someone who believes that the "thoughts" are inspired, and who defines the "thoughts" in question as the conscious thoughts of the human author (as determined by the literary and historical context), has one view of authorial intent, and this will have consequences for his method of translation. But someone who believes that the words are inspired, and who emphasizes the divine authorship, has quite another view of authorial intent. Your comments all seemed to point to the first view. You kept talking about an "original meaning" of the Old Testament, which you clearly associated with the conscious thoughts of the human author, as determined by historical and literary considerations alone, and a "subsequent" meaning which comes along later, with the New Testament. I perceived that this way of talking about the matter is not consistent with the doctrine of verbal inspiration, or with the traditional conservative emphasis on divine authorship, in which one cannot make a distinction between "original authorial intent" and "subsequent" meanings. The meanings cannot be broken up and distributed like this under the traditional view of inspiration. When I raised this issue, your reaction was simply to affirm that you had a "high view of Scripture," and you were very defensive about that, but I do not think that you dealt with the issue at hand adequately. I suspect that your thoughts on the subject are fuzzy, and that your view of inspiration tends to prevent you from making any clear distinction between "verbal" and "human thought" inspiration. Evidently you do not really want to talk about this, and I agree that this is not the best place for it, but it was necessary to talk about it.

You wrote: Suffice it to say, in case you are curious, that our mission organization requires us to sign a statement ...

Wayne, I don't doubt your sincerity. But giving your assent to brief statements on inspiration can't substitute for careful theological reflection on the subject.

You wrote: I know that even amillenialists translate the book of Revelation by specifying 1,000 years near the end of the book, since that is what the text says, even if they believe that that is a symbolic number. I respect amil translators such that kind of translation integrity. It is that same kind of integrity that I believe calls for us to translate each O.T. passage on its own terms. It is fine to footnote or cross-reference to N.T. quotes of that passage.

This is a bad comparison, because in the first instance you are talking about amillenialist interpretations of the book of Revelation, and in the second you are talking about interpretations of the Old Testament that are found in the inspired writings of the New Testament. I object to the comparison because it leaves out of account the inspired and authoritative character of the New Testament. Refusing to be guided by the New Testament in your interpretation and translation of the Old Testament is not an act of "integrity," and it is not comparable to refraining from inserting your own theology into the text.

You wrote: I do not at all believe, as you have stated, that the N.T. quotes are irrelevant to the interpretation of the O.T. passages. I have already explained myself several times, but you have interpreted what I have said differently from what I thought I said, and definitely what I intended, so I don't think it will do any good for me to repeat my statements any more.

Wayne, when you make such specious comparisons as the one you made above, in which the interpretations of the apostles are compared to the interpretations of men who may or may not be correct, I can only conclude that there is something seriously wrong with your thinking on this subject. The problem does not disappear when you vaguely state that in your view the New Testament is "not irrelevent" to the interpretion of the Old Testament.

 
At Thu Aug 17, 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Michael replied:

It became relevant here in connection with our discussion of the "authorial intent" concept.

Yes, Michael, you are right. Discussion of inspiration and inerrancy and infallibility is relevant to the matter of authorial intent.

As for the rest of your message, I now choose not to start another exchange with you which will inevitably experience complementary schismogenesis. If you wish to reword your comments without assuming what I believe I'd be happy to discuss with you as I am with anyone else on this blog.

Please leave out all mindreading and we can have a genuine discussion. Please follow our blog guidelines.

 

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