"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 7, Number 11, November 2004

 

“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.

For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;

Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.

I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.

I will show partiality to no one.  Nor will I flatter any man.”

Job 32:17-21

 

["As I See It" is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek.  Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God.  The editor's perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.

 

AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com.  You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address.  Back issues sent on request.  All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org

 

All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only.  Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand.  Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given.]

 

John Gill on the Literal Nature of Future Prophetic Fulfillments

 

“I conclude with desiring the reader to observe that I do not produce the prophecies of the Old Testament respecting the Messiah’s second coming as literally fulfilled in Jesus, but as to be so fulfilled in him, and the reason of my taking notice of them is to make the scheme of prophecy more complete; and seeing all the rest of the prophecies respecting the Messiah have had a literal

completion in Jesus, there is a great deal of reason to believe that these will also, especially seeing it is such a completion of them that Jesus and his apostles have given us reason to expect.”

John Gill (1697-1771)

“The Prophecies of the Old Testament Respecting the Messiah,

considered, and proved to be literally fulfilled in Jesus,”

 in Sermons and Tracts, vol. III

London: W. Hardcastle, 1815, p. 139

 

In short, because the prophecies of the first coming of Christ were literally fulfilled, we have every reason to believe that those concerning the second coming will also be literally fulfilled, including those of an earthly geo-political, paradisiacal kingdom centered in Jerusalem.  Consistently following this principle of Bible interpretation, Gill, and many others, embraced a pre-millennial view concerning Christ’s second coming.--editor

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A Remarkable Rabbinic Interpretation Regarding the Messiah

 

The book of the OT prophet Zechariah abounds with Messianic prophecies, more so than any of the other writing prophets, Isaiah alone excluded.  That there were genuine Divine foretellings of the person, works and kingdom of the Messiah in Zechariah was the all but universal belief of ancient and Medieval Jews, including Jesus and the Apostles, and naturally enough the earliest Christians.

 

Various ancient Jewish works--interpretive Aramaic translations (called Targums), homilies, commentaries, works involving Jewish law and other writings--detail their understanding of the Messianic prophecies they recognized in Zechariah. Of these, one of the most notable is in regard to Zechariah 12:10.

 

That verse, literally rendered from the Masoretic text, states (God Himself speaking): “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitant of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and prayer for aid, and they will look to me whom they pierced and they will lament for him as the lamentation for an only [son], and he will be bitter as the bitterness for a first-born [son].”

 

By-passing the presentation here of a Messiah as Yahweh Himself (which greatly troubled the ancient Jewish interpreters), let us focus on the image of this Messiah suffering (presumably to the point of death), a thing which was highly problematic to the ancient Jews, since the majority of OT prophecies of the Messiah are of a conquering and ruling king, as Psalms 2 and 110 (of course, that the Messiah would suffer and die was also taught by the OT prophets, in such diverse passages as Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Daniel 9:24-27; and Zechariah 13:7).  In the Gospels, the Jews are reported to have been puzzled about Jesus’ hints of his impending death, since they understood from the OT that “the Messiah would abide forever” as Isaiah 9:6-7 plainly affirms (see John 12:34); in truth, the disciples were themselves utterly bewildered when Jesus began to tell them of His coming rejection and death (see Matthew 16:21-22; Mark 9:9-10; et al.).

 

To resolve the tension between the two OT portraits of the Messiah--the one as conquering king and earthly monarch, the other as suffering and dying--some among the Jews concluded there must be two Messiahs, one to suffer (called “Messiah son of Joseph” a.k.a. “Messiah son of Ephraim”) and one to reign (“Messiah son of David”).  From the clearer perspective of the NT, we can readily see that there are not two Messiahs with differing destinies, but one Messiah who will come twice, the first time to suffer, the second to rule and reign.

 

At any rate, there is a remarkable interpretation made in Jewish literature of Zechariah 12:10, in one of the ancient targums, namely the Jerusalem Targum to the Prophets.  The only complete targum to the Prophets known to exist today is Targum Jonathan, but anciently there was another Targum to the prophets, the Jerusalem Targum, which is apparently more expansive and interpretive than Jonathan, but which is preserved for us only in occasional quotations by Rabbinic writers or in the margin of other manuscripts.  One such preserved fragment is Zechariah 12:10.  The Jerusalem Targum to this verse reads:

 

“And I will pour upon the House of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of prophecy and of righteous prayer and after this, Messiah son of Ephraim will go forth to wage war with Gog, and Gog will kill Messiah son of Ephraim in front of the gate of Jerusalem, and they will look to me and they will seek from me because the peoples pierced Messiah son of Ephraim, and they will lament over him as the lamenting of the father and the mother over an only son and they will grieve bitterly over him as the bitter grief over a first-born.” [additions and expansions in the text viz-a-viz the Hebrew are italicized]

 

First of all, this paraphrase confirms the reading of the Masoretic text--“they will look to me whom they pierced,” (emphasis added) which taken at face value means it was God Himself who was pierced.  Second, it acknowledges the fact of a suffering Messiah, and is one of numerous Rabbinic texts which admits that Messiah would suffer and die.  Third, this designation of the suffering Messiah as “son of Ephraim” is of great interest.  Another name for this suffering Messiah is “son of Joseph.” 

 

This name for the suffering Messiah was NOT derived from some OT text as the name “son of David” in contrast certainly was.  The explanation for it seems inescapable--it did indeed come from the fact that Jesus was accounted as being “the son of Joseph” (John 1:45; 6:42), and is a de facto admission that Jesus was in some sense a Messiah.  The substitution of “Ephraim” for “Joseph” in this and other places (“Ephraim” being the name of one of the sons of the patriarch Joseph (Genesis 41:52), is an attempt to conceal the obvious connection Jesus of Nazareth, re-making the “Joseph” here into the OT individual, not the carpenter from Nazareth.

 

In several respects the paraphrast seeks to alter the force of the Hebrew.  Note how the one pierced is transformed from God Himself (as the Hebrew text has it) into the Messiah who suffers, or should I specify, the Messiah son of Ephraim/Joseph (not Messiah son of David).  And note, it is no longer the Jews who pierced this Messiah, but the Gentiles (the idea being derived from the rebellion of the “peoples” against the LORD and His Messiah in Psalm 2). 

 

One further detail is remarkable--the place of death for the Messiah son of Ephraim is reported to be “in front of” i.e, outside of the gate of Jerusalem.  In the NT, the place of the execution of Jesus is reported by John to be “near the city” of Jerusalem (19:20), but more interestingly, the book of Hebrews declares that “Jesus suffered outside the gate,” words remarkably similar to the Jerusalem Targum at Zechariah 12:10.  This small fragment of an addition to the Targum in Zechariah 12:10 may indeed be a remnant of the Jewish historical memory of the death of Jesus son of Joseph “outside the gate” of Jerusalem, and would be confirmatory of the NT accounts.

 

The Biblical teaching of a suffering Messiah greatly troubled the ancient Jews, since they looked for a conquering king.  That this Messiah would also be God Himself (as the obvious force of Zechariah 12:10 and at least 5 or 6 other texts require) was a further puzzle.  To “resolve” these difficulties, the rabbis invented the notion of two Messiahs, one to suffer and one to reign, rather than one Messiah with two comings.  And rather than face the awful truth of national guilt for the rejection and death of the Messiah, the rabbis transferred that guilt to the Gentile nations.  Far better to look on the One they pierced and accept His sacrifice for sin on theirs and Israel’s behalf.

---Doug Kutilek

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Robert Dick Wilson: How Fuller Misrepresented His Views

 

The late David Otis Fuller was one of the prime movers in the rise of the modern “King James Only” movement via the books he edited (Which Bible?, True or False?, and Counterfeit of Genuine?, all of which appeared in the early 1970s), the tracts he wrote and published on the subject, and the leadership he provided to the movement (see my “The Background and Origin of the Version Debate,” chapter 1, pp. 45-47, in One Bible Only?, edited by Kevin Bauder and Roy Beacham.  Kregel, 2001).  In his zealotry for this new-found doctrine which he began to espouse only in the last two decades of his life (his claims to the contrary notwithstanding) and in which he became progressively more extreme, Fuller engaged in a great deal of historic revisionism.  He began to claim respected and influential men from the past as adherents of the same radical KJV-only views he had embraced. 

 

Two such men dragged into the arena by Fuller as supposed proponents of his new view were British Baptist pastor Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) and Princeton Seminary Professor of Old Testament, Robert Dick Wilson (1856-1930).  Fuller edited for publication an edition of Spurgeon’s commentary on the Psalms, and professed to deeply respect the man.  Such respect did not, however, stop Fuller from blatant and knowing misrepresentation of Spurgeon’s views regarding Bible texts and translations.  Fuller published and widely distributed a single page of quotations--almost all lifted completely out of context--from Spurgeon’s last address at his annual Pastors’ College Conference.  That address had been published by Spurgeon as “The Greatest Fight in the World,” and was also known as “Spurgeon’s final manifesto.”  As edited by Fuller, and with Fuller’s editorializing, Spurgeon seems to indeed have held the same disdain for all non-KJV translations and all non-textus receptus Greek texts as Fuller.  However, when read in context (Pilgrim Publications of Pasadena, Texas reprinted the address in facsimile, in the mid-1990s and it is still in print, so the reader can see for himself), it is immediately evident throughout that Spurgeon was not even talking about the subject of Bible versions or Greek texts, and that Fuller has perverted Spurgeon’s original intent beyond recognition. 

 

As a corrective to Fuller’s deliberate distortion of Spurgeon’s views, I collected a plethora of representative quotations from Spurgeon’s writings on the subject of Greek texts and Bible translations, and demonstrated that Spurgeon, far from condemning wholesale all non-KJV English versions, in fact praised and quoted several revisions of the KJV, including the English Revised Version of 1881.  It was this very translation on which both the much maligned Westcott and Hort worked, and the text of which was very much closer to the Greek text of Westcott and Hort than it was to the textus receptus.  Further, Spurgeon acknowledged repeatedly that the KJV was not infrequently in error in its English rendering or in the underlying Greek text, and that our final authority must be the Bible text as originally written in Hebrew and Greek, not any English version (these in-context quotes from Spurgeon were published in booklet form by Pilgrim Publications in the early 1990s as “An Answer to David Otis Fuller: Fuller’s Deceptive Treatment of Spurgeon Regarding the King James Version”; this also is still in print I believe).

 

Unlike with Spurgeon, whom Fuller knew only from his writings, Fuller had had personal contact with Robert Dick Wilson, since Wilson had been one of Fuller’s professors in his student days at Princeton Seminary in the 1920s.  Fuller’s misrepresentations of Wilson are not a case of loose and dishonest editing of his published remarks (as was the case in his handling of Spurgeon), but involved oral remarks supposedly recalled with perfect clarity more that 50 years after the fact.

 

Circa 1980, Fuller wrote a letter to Dayton Hobbs of Milton, Florida, editor of The Projector, a Christian periodical.  This letter was subsequently published in The Plains Baptist Challenger, edited by E. L. Bynum, vol. xxxiv, no. 6, June 1980, pp. 3-4.  In that letter, Fuller made these sweeping claims regarding the views of Robert Dick Wilson:

 

“In more than fifty years of my ministry I have taught and preached the FACT that the King James Version is my final and absolute authority.  I take the identical stand my Hebrew professor at Princeton Seminary took, the renowned Robert Dick Wilson B. F. (before the foul flood of apostasy inundated those sacred walls).  I well remember him in Hebrew class saying ‘Gentlemen, the things I do not understand in the Bible (and he had clear reference to the King James Version) I put down to my own ignorance.’ “

 

It is a precarious thing to state with certainty what a man said in class some fifty years earlier (especially when the recollection involves reading back into a man’s views in the 1920s the opinions of a movement that did not even arise until the 1950s), and so there is an immediate credibility problem with Fuller’s claim.  This hesitance to give credence to Fuller’s claim matures into an outright rejection of it when Wilson’s own published writings are examined.  What Wilson may have said in class is open to question; what he wrote is open for all to see and confirm.   Though Fuller claimed that his views and those of Wilson were exactly alike, anyone familiar with the published writings of Wilson knows assuredly that the view Fuller imputes to Wilson was NOT what he in fact believed (and, I must ask, if the English translation was really accepted as the final authority, why were they studying Hebrew at all?).

 

Consider the following quotes, in context, of what Wilson wrote relevant to the subject.

 

“Many of the ambiguities of the Scriptures arise from this almost insurmountable difficulty in making a correct translation from the original text.  To coin new words, or to take over a word from the original, is often to make the version unintelligible to the ordinary reader for whom the version is primarily prepared; while, to use an old word in a new meaning is to lay the reader open to a misunderstanding of the true sense of a passage.  This is the fundamental reason why all appeals in matters of biblical doctrine should be made to the original languages of the Scripture.  This is the true and sufficient reason why all discussion among scholars as to the meaning of disputed passages should be based upon the ipsissima verba [Latin for “the very words”--ed.].  This is a firm and ever existing ground for the insistence of the church, that her teachers shall be thoroughly conversant with the original languages of the Word of God.  Translations must err, because no given language has terms expressing thought which exactly correspond to the terminology of another.” (Robert Dick Wilson, Studies in the Book of Daniel.  Baker Book House, 1972 reprint of 1917 edition.  Vol. I, pp. 84-5).

 

Wilson, then, affirmed that final Biblical authority is in the Hebrew and Greek texts, not in translations.  Translations must err because of the inescapable non-equivalence that necessarily exists between any two given languages.  All translations, with no exceptions, must err.  The KJV therefore must err, and for Wilson the KJV most assuredly was NOT his “final and absolute authority,” neither did he “take the identical stand” as his student D. O. Fuller.  Very much to the contrary.  Fuller’s false claim regarding the views of Wilson must be put down to Fuller’s own ignorance, bad memory, or willful misrepresentation.

 

Let us quote Wilson further:  “[I]n the text of our common Hebrew Bibles, corrected here and there, especially by the evidence of the ancient versions and through the evidence from paleography, we have presumptively the original text.” (Robert Dick Wilson, A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament.  Chicago: Moody Press, 1959.  p. 61).  Wilson, then, while freely acknowledging the general reliability of the Masoretic form of the Hebrew text of the OT, nevertheless recognized that there were places where the Masoretic text had been corrupted in the copying process and did not transmit precisely the true original text.  In such cases, the evidence of ancient translations of the OT (such as the Greek, Syriac, Aramaic and Latin versions) should be consulted as correctives.  Likewise, the results of paleography (by which he means matters involving the study of scribal habits, ancient inscriptions, and ancient languages related to Hebrew) can be profitably consulted with a view toward the correction and removal of scribal errors in the Masoretic Hebrew text.  Such a view is contrary to Fuller’s expressed opinions, wherein he claimed that the Masoretic text was unalterably perfect.

 

To claim, as Fuller did, that Robert Dick Wilson was in essence a KJV-only adherent, flies in the face of Wilson’s own plain-as-day published words.  Fuller either engaged in deliberate falsification of Wilson’s views, or of self-delusional rewriting of history in a flight of wishful thinking.  In either case, Fuller is exposed as a faulty witness whose affirmations are demonstrably unreliable.  How many have been led into error by this and other inaccuracies espoused by Fuller!

 

One thing more needs to be said about Fuller’s first sentence quoted above, viz., “In more than fifty years of my ministry I have taught and preached the FACT that the King James Version is my final and absolute authority.”  This is self-deceiving revisionism on Fuller’s part.  Among other ways in which he demonstrated that what he said here is not true is the FACT that from about 1967 to 1973 at Wealthy Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Fuller was pastor, the Bible used in the deaf ministry was The Living Bible (I have this on the direct authority and testimony of the man in charge of that ministry there at that time). 

 

The Living Bible is deemed an abomination by KJVOers--it is after all a paraphrase, not a translation, and worse yet (in their eyes), it is based, not on the KJV but the American Standard Version of 1901, the sister version of the English Revised Version, and which like the ERV used a Greek text very close to the Westcott-Hort Greek text, which is in KJVO circles the ultimate abomination.  Yet it was this paraphrase which was used in the church Fuller pastored, no doubt with his knowledge and acquiescence.  So much for a 50-year ministry with the KJV as the final authority.

 

It is notable that the regular employment of out-of-context and distorted quotations is characteristic of the KJV-only movement.  Adventist Benjamin G. Wilkinson (1872-1968), founder of modern KJVOism badly misrepresented the views of B. F. Westcott in Our Authorized Bible Vindicated (published in 1930; I addressed these distortions in one of my earliest anti-KJV-only articles, “Erasmus and His Theology,” The Biblical Evangelist, October 16, 1985).  D. A. Waite, President of the Dean Burgon Society, has greatly outdone Wilkinson in this regard, and has grossly and repeatedly slandered B. F. Westcott by the use of distorted quotations; in response, Jim May has thoroughly exposed Waite’s dishonesty in a series of articles about Westcott’s views which are posted at www.kjvonly.org.  Peter S. Ruckman, Sr., of course has long ago adopted this tactic as standard procedure.  Gail Riplinger makes extensive use of the same.  And I could add Sorenson and others as well.  If the KJV-only view is so weak that it must be propped up by dishonest and distorted quotations, there must certainly be something fundamentally wrong with it.

 

To all such, we say, yes, we are interested in knowing what was believed by notable men of the past on matters of present significance, including matters of Bible texts and translations, but please when you quote them, quote freely, quote fully, and quote honestly. 

---Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man by David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke.  New York: Regan books, 2004.  266 pp., hardback.  $22.95.

 

The Michael Moore who is the subject of this expose is the large and obese, shabbily-dressed, scruffily unshaven ball-cap wearing writer of political diatribes masquerading as comedy (such as Stupid White Men and Dude, Where’s My Country?) and producer of such mislabeled “documentaries” as Roger and Me (which slandered General Motors), Bowling for Columbine (which shamelessly used the Columbine High School tragedy to promote his political agenda) and Fahrenheit 9/11 (his most recent platform for smearing George W. Bush).  Moore is the buffalo who bellowed out at the Oscars, “Shame on you Mr. Bush!” and was even booed for this tacky and tasteless outburst by the liberal Hollywood crowd.

 

The authors bring together from a broad range of documented sources proof of Moore’s gross dishonesty, willful distortion, deliberate deception and often inexcusable ignorance as displayed in his books and films.  His loathing for everything American (except the millions of dollars he has made off the gullible) is extreme.  He even declares that America is to blame for the rise of the likes of Bin Laden, and in essence believes we deserved 9/11 (though he wishes the planes had attacked states that went for Bush in 2000 rather than New York which went for Gore).

 

The authors suggest and then prove their case when they note that Moore fits the textbook definition of the psychological disorder “narcissism.”  Complete self-absorption, believing that the world does in fact revolve around himself, contempt for those he deems his inferiors (nearly the whole of the planet), intolerance of disagreement with his views, and more (the Clintons also fit the definition to a T).

 

Moore has quite a following, a very lucrative following, among college students--those least able by experience or knowledge to discern the gross misrepresentations of the truth that characterize Moore’s body of work.  He is a pied piper to such, leading astray the simple. 

 

The back of the dust jacket shows a glum, seated Moore, with a rainbow caption above his head: “Dude, where’s your integrity?”  Good question.

---Doug Kutilek

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Reckless Disregard by Lt. Col. Robert Patterson.  Washington, D.C.: Regnery Press, 2004.  258 pp, hardback.  $27.95.

 

Lt. Col. Patterson, USAF (ret.) served, as part of his distinguished military career, as carrier of the nuclear codes during the latter part of the Clinton administration.  He accompanied the President everywhere he went during that time. His account of what transpired during those Clinton years was published as Dereliction of Duty: the eyewitness account of how Bill Clinton compromised America’s national security (Regnery Press, 2003). 

 

In that account, Patterson detailed how Clinton acted with the utmost in irresponsibility when it came to matters of American national security, even losing for a month (and notifying no one) the nuclear codes which are the only means by which the President can authorize a nuclear attack in time of war (and where would we have been if China or Russia had so chosen to attack us then with their nukes?  Sitting in urban ruins that glowed in the dark, that’s where).  Clinton deployed American troops more times than Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush 41 combined, not infrequently to distract the public from the endless series of scandals that plagued his administration.  And yet for all of his willingness to send American troops into harm’s way, several times Osama bin Laden--already known to be behind multiple terrorist attacks on the U.S. in the 1990s--was in the military’s cross-hairs, so to speak, and yet Clinton refused to authorize effective action, once delaying action until it was too late because Clinton was finishing a golf game!  At the same time, Clinton was authorizing the transfer to Red China of American missile technology which was crucial to China’s development of long-range nuclear missiles capable of hitting targets in the U.S.

 

In this his second book, Reckless Disregard, Patterson takes a larger look, examining the record over the past 40 years of “how liberal Democrats undercut our military, endanger our soldiers, and jeopardize our security.”  The historic record demonstrates that Democrat presidential administrations and liberal Democrats in Congress have had a consistently devastating effect on America’s military. 

 

Under Lyndon Johnson, American troops were committed to a war in Vietnam that was by the design of Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara one they did not intend to win.  Because Johnson’s Vietnam war dragged on and on, the military was increasingly and unfairly blamed for the failure to win, and worse still, hundreds of American p.o.w.s were held in unspeakably brutal conditions for as long as 8 years.

 

In the aftermath of Vietnam, liberals in the Congress, chief among them Senator Frank Church of Idaho, took out their “revenge” on the much-despised (by them) CIA and FBI by hand-cuffing their intelligence gathering capabilities and putting absurd restrictions on their activities, activities essential to national security.

 

Under Jimmy Carter, America was in “full retreat” mode around the world, the most humiliating incident being the holding of 52 Americans hostage in Iran for 444 days, with no effective plan of action (the only attempted rescue was a horrible fiasco that embarrassed America and emboldened our enemies).  Carter’s gross neglect of military readiness required the massive military build-up that was wisely undertaken by President Reagan (and which, not incidentally, won the Cold War and brought down the Berlin Wall).

 

Under Bill Clinton, besides the reckless deployment of American troops, including the incredibly ill-considered mission to Mogadishu, Somalia, there was a massive draw down of American forces, reducing our navy by almost half, reducing our air force precipitously and reducing the size of the Army by about 40%.  If there is any truth to the talk today about our troops being over-extended, the blame for the inadequate numbers must be laid at the feet of Bill Clinton who stridently diminished America’s military force.

 

Clinton also, in the face of repeated terrorist attacks on America--the World Trade Center in 1993, later U.S. Embassies in Africa, the USS Cole, Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia and more--did nothing.  He threatened, he blustered, he fumed, he once or twice fired a few cruise missiles, but did not effectively respond to these attacks.

 

John Kerry, for all of his tough talk and posturing on the campaign trail, has a record on national security that makes Bill Clinton look positively right wing.  Consistently voting against big and small items in the defense budget, he has opposed almost every major weapons system that has come up for approval in his 20 year Senate career.  He has repeatedly opposed pay raises for the military.  He has regularly voted to reduce the budgets of the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency--just those agencies entrusted with protecting us from terrorist attacks, all the while seeking massive increases in our funding for that enemy of American self-defense, the United Nations.  (Patterson also addresses the same grave concerns regarding Kerry’s Vietnam service as were addressed by the swift boat veterans in Unfit for Command by John O’Neil and Jerome Corsi [reviewed in AISI 7:10]).

 

John Kerry’s anti-Vietnam war “testimony” (perjured grand-standing is a more accurate characterization) before a Senate committee in 1971 is given in full in an appendix.  Set your blood on “boil” before you read it.

 

The record is clear and consistent--Democrat administrations since 1963 have been invariably and dangerously bad for America’s military readiness.  In times of international threat and danger, we dare not risk another one, especially a Kerry administration that would promise to exceed in its deleterious effects those of Clinton or Carter.

---Doug Kutilek

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The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code: A Challenging Response to the Bestselling Novel by Richard Abanes.   Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2004.  96 pp., paperback.  $6.99.

 

Though we have read and reviewed 5 other titles written about the popular novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, we deem it worthwhile to mention one more that we recently acquired and read, this small but well-done book by Richard Abanes.  Abanes gives a straight forward analysis, quoting the claims of Brown in his novel and contrasting the claims with demonstrable and documented--thoroughly documented--facts.  Abanes does a better job of exposing the secular historical errors in DVC than any of the other books I have read on the subject, and is particularly good at presenting who Pierre Plantard was and the immense part he had in fabricating a great deal of the material on which Brown hangs his novel.  The historical errors of Brown abound, indeed, he seems to get almost everything wrong to at least some degree, and often is grossly in error.  Not a few of Brown’s blunders which Abanes pointed out were not touched on in any of the other critiques of DVC which I read.  Abanes is also especially good in debunking Brown’s claims regarding supposed symbols ancient and modern for the “divine feminine” and other such.  He also takes apart Brown’s claims of hidden symbolism in the artist Leonardo Da Vinci’s artwork, as others also did, but does so in a very succinct manner.  What I learned from Abanes strengthened my published opinion that Brown’s much vaunted 9 months of research before writing the book was occupied with only reading secondary literature from the lunatic fringe, with nothing resembling real research.

 

On area of weakness is Abanes’ apparent own inadequate knowledge of Hebrew.  On p. 18, he states that “shekinah” is “a combination of Hebrew words.”  It is not; in fact, compound words in Biblical Hebrew are exceedingly rare to the point of being almost if not in fact non-existent and in Mishnaic Hebrew--where “shekinah” is first attested--they are nearly as rare.  Rather, “shekinah” is a feminine noun from the root Sh-K-N, which has the root idea of “dwelling, resting.”  In rabbinic usage it indicates God’s personal presence, often equivalent to the glory cloud in the tabernacle and temple, or the Holy Spirit.  Of course, there is not the least hint of it being some feminine consort or counter-goddess to the masculine Yahweh, as Brown absurdly affirms.

 

Likewise, Abanes misses the mark in discussing the Hebrew name of God, YHWH, commonly written and mis-read as “Jehovah”; an alternate form, and almost certainly the ancient pronunciation is “Yahweh.”  Abanes erroneously says of this Divine name, “we don’t even know its original spelling, nor do we know how it is to be pronounced” (p. 19).  Perhaps he was trying to say “we are unsure of its original vowels, since ancient Hebrew only wrote the consonants.”  In reality, we do know that Y-H-W-H are the correct consonants for the name, and there is strong evidence that the correct vowels are “a” and “e,” meaning “Yahweh” is correct.  Abanes is right in saying that the pronunciation Yehowah (mis-written by him as Yahowah) is a hybrid of the original four consonants Y-H-W-H with the vowels of adonai (once incorrectly written by him as adonah).  Adonai actually means “my Lords” (plural) rather than “my Lord” as Abanes states (the reason for this pointing by the Masoretes is open to debate). 

 

The explanation given as to why the Jewish scribes put the vowels of one word onto the consonants of another in this case is somewhat muddled.  It was done so that the reader, though seeing the Divine name, would know from the vowels present that he is to say “Adonay” instead of speaking the ineffable Divine name.  And while the pronunciation “Jehovah” or something similar does seem to be first attested ca. 1500, it was not then that Jewish scribes began writing this hybrid, but at least 700 years earlier, when the Masoretic scribes began adding vowels to the consonantal Hebrew text.  But it is clear from the evidence of ancient manuscripts, translations and variant readings that the Jews had begun reading “Adonay” instead of “Yahweh” long before the Masoretes, even in pre-Christian times.  So the substitution is very ancient.

 

Finally, Abanes missed a remarkable blunder in Brown’s “Hebrew” explanations (and one which I missed in my reading of Brown, but caught when Abanes addressed the subject).  Brown claimed (p. 309 of DVC) that the Hebrew name Yahweh is a compound of the masculine Yah and the feminine Havah (the Hebrew form of the name “Eve”), supposedly indicating the original androgynous nature of God.  Abanes is correct in saying that this is nonsense, but he misses one immense reason why.  Brown’s explanation would require that the final letter of Yah, namely “he” (pronounced “hay”) and the first letter (and vowel) of “Havah” merge or coalesce: Yah + Havah = Yah-vah = Yahweh.  While this might look to the non-linguist, non-Hebraist at first superficial glance to work, one insuperable barrier is the fact that the first letter of “Havah” is not “he” but “chet,” (“ch” as in Scottish “loch” or German “ich”) a hard guttural consonant which never is absorbed, elided, or coalesced with any other consonant in Hebrew.  And were there by some marvel and exception a coalescence of the “he” and the “chet” here, it is the much weaker “he” that would be absorbed, resulting in the name “Yachweh.”  Impossible.  Yet one more Brown blunder.  (The change of the supposedly original final vowel “a” of this supposedly compound word into “e” is also inexplicable, but we need not digress further).

 

Abanes also mis-copies the Hebrew word “hallelu-jah” from Ps. 106:1.

 

On matters relating to the canon, Abanes is not as clear as he might be, and is somewhat mistaken regarding the Roman Catholic (and Orthodox) canon of accepted OT books (note 19, p. 84), but we will not go into details here.

 

Abanes discusses the theological problems and errors of DVC at much less length than several of the other critiques (such as Bock, Hanegraaf and Maier, and Garlow and Jones), so those books should be consulted for fuller treatment of those themes.

 

Other than the two pages on which he discusses Hebrew, and the occasional minor slip elsewhere, this is the best of the shorter books on the DVC that I have read.  Though retailing for $6.99, I found it for $4.88 at Wal-mart.  I recommend that this book be placed in the hands of pastors and concerned church members, as well as unbelievers who may have been deceived by Brown’s claims of factual accuracy.

---Doug Kutilek

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