Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is A Post-Missionary, Truly Messianic Judaism Possible?

Dr. Michael Brown reviews "Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism" by Dr. Mark Kinzer. It is well worth the read.

Dr. Brown has much criticism for the ideas in the book, while he refrains from getting personal.


Friday, April 20, 2007

What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? And What Do They Have to Do with Textual Criticism?

You've probably heard about the Dead Sea Scrolls on a History Channel special. What are they?

Here is a Wikipedia summary. But the simple answer is that in the middle of the 20th century they found a bunch of texts, commonly known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Portions from the Hebrew Bible were found among the texts.

These texts are the oldest surviving texts of the Hebrew Bible. How would they be used?

Well, stay tuned for an example. But the short answer is that the Dead Sea Scrolls provide information about the textual traditions prior to the Masoretic texts we have now.

In textual criticism, we want all the available texts we can get our hands on. Its another piece of evidence. This doesn't mean that the Dead Sea Scrolls should be favored over the Masoretic texts in all cases, but they should be consulted.

I don't want to give everything away. I don't want to confuse you by bringing in new texts to talk about. But the Dead Sea Scrolls will come up. Hopefully, all will become clear then.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Is the Mosaic Covenant Irrelevant?

Jennifer Green of Baton Rouge wrote the following:
As evidenced by two recent letters, both of which argue that so-called “Messianic Jews” are Jewish, there seems to be ongoing confusion about the differences between “Messianic Jews” and mainstream Jews, whose members can be roughly divided among the Orthodox, Hasidic, Reform, Conservative, Humanistic and Reconstructionist movements within Judaism.

What all these Jewish denominations have in common is a belief system based on Covenant — that which God gave Israel, through his prophet, Moses, at Sinai.

“Messianic Jews” — also known as “Jews for Jesus” — have rejected this covenant as irrelevant, replacing it with belief in Jesus.

Rejected as irrelevant?

Who says that?

Read what the apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) wrote in Romans:
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Why Use the Septuagint in Textual Criticism?

As we explained in our last post, the Septuagint is an ancient Greek translation of the Tanakh. So why would we use it in our textual criticism of the Tanakh?

First, Septuagint texts predate the earliest Masoretic texts of the Tanakh which we have. So these translations can help us determine what the Hebrew texts looked like prior to what we have now.

There are differences between the Masoretic texts and the Septuagint. But just because the Septuagint came from an earlier textual source, that does not mean we automatically favor the Septuagint over the Masoretic texts.

But it can and should be used. In some future posts, we will show how the Septuagint should be used in textual criticism.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

What is the Septuagint?

As we continue our textual criticism series of posts which focus on the Tanakh, we know turn to the Septuagint.

What is the Septuagint (also know by the abbreviation LXX)?

Here's a good definiton:
The Septuagint (LXX) is the name commonly given in the West to the Koine Greek Alexandrine text of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) produced some time between the third to first century BC.

And another:
Septuagint (sometimes abbreviated LXX) is the name given to the Greek translation of the Jewish Scriptures. The Septuagint has its origin in Alexandria, Egypt and was translated between 300-200 BC. Widely used among Hellenistic Jews, this Greek translation was produced because many Jews spread throughout the empire were beginning to lose their Hebrew language. The process of translating the Hebrew to Greek also gave many non-Jews a glimpse into Judaism. According to an ancient document called the Letter of Aristeas, it is believed that 70 to 72 Jewish scholars were commissioned during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus to carry out the task of translation. The term “Septuagint” means seventy in Latin, and the text is so named to the credit of these 70 scholars.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Contradictory Resurrection Accounts?

When Tovia Singer put his counter-missionary MP3's on his website, I thought I would have time before the Easter/Passover season to go over his lecture on the Resurrection accounts. Well, I haven't gone over it.

But I'm pretty sure this is the gist: the Resurrection accounts contradict each other.

Well, there was an article about the Resurrection in the Washington Post. I read the following about alleged contradictions in it:
"Some are easy and some I don't know how to reconcile," said Davis, a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). "They were different stories that got talked about and talked about, so its not surprising there would have been some discrepancies. But there's tremendous agreement on the basic facts."

Any discrepancies can be "eliminated by a straight-up reading of the text," said James Emery White, president of the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a evangelical school in South Hamilton, Mass.

Here is an article that approaches the topic with more depth than this blog entry will attempt.

But even after all this, I have a feeling that Tovia Singer may still have a problem even if I grant contradictions (which I don't). But I won't prejudge what I haven't listed to. Hopefully, more on that later.

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