"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 7, Number 5, May 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.]

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“. . . And Descended into Hell”:

A Question Regarding the So-Called Apostles Creed

 

One from time to time meets with the assertion that Christ, after His physical death--the separation of His spirit from His body (James 2:36a)--descended into hell and endured the time there between His death and resurrection in the torments of that place (cf. Luke 16:19-31), and thereby completed the payment for human sin.  This view is absolutely, demonstrably unbiblical.

 

The basis for this view is an uninformed interpretation of a clause concerning Christ in the so-called Apostles Creed, namely, “and [he, i.e., Christ] descended into hell,”--not an original part of that creed, by the way--in conjunction with a misunderstanding of a statement from Psalm 16, which is quoted in the New Testament, and from which the clause in the Apostles Creed ultimately came.

 

Psalm 16, which is in part prophetic of Christ’s resurrection, reads: “My flesh also shall rest in hope.  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption.” (vv. 9b-10, KJV).  In the NT, Peter on the Day of Pentecost quotes Psalm 16:8-11 (see Acts 2:25-28).  In verse 30, Peter, after alluding to the Davidic covenant of 2 Samuel 7, expressly and exclusively applies the words of Psalm 16:10 to Jesus--“Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him [i.e., David], that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ, to sit on his throne: he seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.” (Later, Paul in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia also quotes Psalm 16:10 in part, “Thou shalt not suffer thy holy one to see corruption”--see Acts 13:35--and expressly interprets it as a reference to the resurrection of Jesus, and not applicable to David; Acts 13:36-7.  He does not cite the words regarding leaving his soul in hell)

 

On the basis, then, of Psalm 16:10 and Acts 2:27, 30, some will say, “See!  It does say that the soul of Jesus was in hell until the resurrection.”  The problem here is viewing Divine truth through the truth-obscuring veil of translation.  In the Hebrew of Psalm 16:10, the Hebrew word rendered “hell” in the KJV is sheol; in Acts 2:27, the Greek is hades.  If we are to understand the Biblical teaching regarding the afterlife in general and the place and activities of Jesus between His death and resurrection, it is imperative that we carefully understand and differentiate several terms. 

 

On the one hand, the temporary abiding place of disembodied spirits is designated in the OT by the Hebrew sheol, and in the NT hades; these terms are frequently, though not uniformly rendered as “hell” in the KJV (“grave” and “pit” also are found).  However, an examination of the relevant passages in the Bible clearly show that this place--which included, at least until the resurrection of Jesus, a place of rest and repose for the spirits of dead believers (see Luke 16:19ff)--is not equivalent to the modern sense of the English word “hell,” which denotes the eternal abode of the lost, where they suffer both in body and soul for ever.  This latter, called in the NT by the Aramaic term “gehenna” (see “All the Aramaic Words in the New Testament, AISI 6:5), and also known as “the lake of fire” and “the second death” is properly translated by the English word “hell.”  Since sheol / hades has no exact English equivalent, the best policy is to merely transfer these words into English, as indeed is done in some more recent English versions (such as ESV), though some who love obscurity and confusion in English versions object to such a suggestion (though these same offer no objection to transferring into English such Hebrew words as cherub, urim and thummim, or seraphim which likewise have no exact English counterparts).  Had this been done in 1611, the occasional confusion that arises regarding Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27, 30 would not occur.

 

Beyond making a necessary distinction in words, a careful consideration of the content of the NT should immediately raise questions about the validity of the suggestion that Jesus suffered in “hell” between death and resurrection.

 

First, Christ promised the repentant thief that he and Jesus, they both, would be that very day together in “paradise” after death (Luke 23:43).  So, wherever Jesus was, the thief-turned-believer was there also.  How can these clear and plain words of Jesus be explained, if in fact Jesus, along with the thief awoke in torments?  “Not exactly what you expected, eh?” Jesus might be imagined to say to the thief.  Or, “Oops--make that ‘Sunday,’ not ‘today.’  What was I thinking?”

 

Then there is that marvelous victory cry of Jesus, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)  The particular Greek word there is Tetelestai.  This verb, teleo, means to “bring to an end, complete, finish” (to quote one lexicon).  Then, the verb here is in the perfect tense, a tense used to indicate a completed action that has abiding results.  In essence, both in verb and tense used, Jesus makes a double declaration of the completion of the work of redemption, in a word, “DONE! “ The complete, final, once-for-all, never-to-be-repeated sacrifice on the cross was brought to absolute perfection before Jesus expired.  To say that more suffering had to be added to this in “hell” to really complete our redemption, is to deny utterly that what Jesus said was true.

 

Third, the broken fellowship between Father and Son-- the consequence of Jesus becoming “sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and agonizingly testified to in those most terrible of words ever spoken by human lips, “My God!  My God!  Why have You abandoned Me?”--was restored before Jesus dismissed His spirit.  His final utterance on the cross was “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.”  Are we to believe that that fellowship, briefly restored on the cross, was almost immediately shattered again by the departure of the spirit of Jesus to three days of agony and torments in hell?  Perish the thought.

 

Finally, we are told that because of His self-humbling, becoming obedient to the point of death,--and that death by crucifixion!!--Jesus was highly exalted by the Father (see Philippians 2:5-11).  But when was the beginning of that exaltation?  At the resurrection?  No, but at the burial.  Crucified as a though a criminal, the natural place for Jesus to be buried was in a common grave with the others executed the same day--without ceremony, without respect, without grave marker.  But such a grave was no proper place for the victorious Son of God who had conquered sin and death by virtue of His suffering.  Rather, God highly exalted Him, beginning with His burial in a borrowed rich man’s grave, a thing so extraordinary that Isaiah even foretold it seven centuries before its fulfillment (Isaiah 53:9).

 

All these are irreconcilable with the idea that the sufferings of Christ continued in hades after His physical death.  Rather than suffer, Christ did other things in hades between His death and resurrection, including proclaiming His victory over sin and death to the saints at rest there.

 

For some historic perspective on the interpretation of this clause, let us consider some analysis of it first by church historian Philip Schaff and then by Baptist historian Thomas Crosby.  Philip Schaff in Creeds of Christendom, vol. II, pp. 44-55 presents the “Apostles’ Creed” in it various and changing forms over time, and provides an interesting note on the clause under consideration here--

 

“ ‘Descendit ad inferna,’ . . .’he descended into Hades.’  This clause was unknown in the older creeds, though believed in the Church, and was transferred into the Roman symbol after the fifth century, probably from that of Aquilea, A.D. 390, where it first appears among Latin creeds, as we learn from Rufinus.  In the East it is found before in Arian creeds (about 360). . . .”

 

Hades signifies, like the Hebrew Sheol, the unseen spirit-world, the abode of all the departed, both the righteous and the wicked; while hell (probably from the Saxon word helan, to cover, to conceal), at least in modern usage, is a much narrower conception, and signifies the state and place of eternal damnation, like the Hebrew gehenna, . . . . The current translation hell, is apt to mislead and excludes the important fact--the only one which we certainly know of the mysterious triduum [period of three days]--that Christ was in Paradise in the time between the crucifixion and the resurrection, according to his own declaration to the penitent thief, Luke xxiii. 43.” [p. 46]

 

Early 18th-century Baptist historian Thomas Crosby refers to the comments from the 1678 “An orthodox creed” (Baptist) as follows--

 

”. . .upon the article in the Apostles creed, he descended into hell, they thus comment, Not that he, to wit, Christ, went into the place of the damned, but that he went absolutely into the state of the dead.  See Dr. Usher in his body of Divinity, p. 174 and Mr. Perkins on the creed.” (The History of the English Baptists.  London: 1740.  Vol. III, appendix, p. 44; William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith.  Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Judson Press, 1960, revised edition; pp. 326-7 reproduces this quote).  The notion that Christ suffered in hades after His death was, then, expressly rejected by London Baptists of the 17th century.  Many others of more recent vintage could be brought forward as witnesses as well.

 

The notion, suggested by an uninformed reading of Psalm 16:10, KJV, that Christ could be in hades, where the rich man of Luke 16 was also present after death, not in paradise but in torments, was once a puzzle to me for a time when I was a new believer, until I learned of the “two-compartment” interpretation of hades, one side the place of temporary detention, in conscious suffering, of the spirits of the unsaved, the other, the place of rest for the spirits of the righteous, a place also called “Abraham’s side” and “paradise.”  I was first introduced to the “two-compartment” explanation of sheol / hades by the old Scofield Reference Bible (1917) in a note at Luke 16:23 (pp. 1098-9), nearly 35 years ago, and I have subsequently found no reason for abandoning that view.  (The New Scofield Reference Bible, 1967, modifies this note extensively and does not expressly either affirm or reject the two-compartment explanation).

 

Of historical interest is an ancient treatise, falsely titled “An Extract out of Josephus’s Discourse to the Greeks Concerning Hades.”  Though ascribed to the Jewish historian Josephus (d. ca. 100 A.D.), judged from its contents, this essay cannot possibly be his but undoubtedly arose from within the Christian community long after Josephus’ death, likely 2 or 3 centuries or more after.  Therein, the two-compartment view is espoused, with extensive, extra-canonical “embellishments.” The text of this treatise is published in the 4-volume edition of The Works of Flavius Josephus translated by William Whiston (Baker, 1979 reprint), vol. IV, pp. 239-243; Whiston (1667-1752) wrote and published an extended (and futile) defense of the genuineness of the aforementioned extract as being by Josephus, though he acknowledged that very few scholars of his day accepted as genuine the ascription to Josephus.  Whiston’s “Dissertation” is found in vol. IV, pp.  423-444, and includes the Greek text of the document in question.

 

We have by no means exhausted the subject of Hades here.  Indeed, the whole subject of early Christian views of the state of the departed dead, and of Christ’s descent into hades in particular, could occupy a lengthy essay.  Tertullian (ca. 160-ca. 220 A.D.) discusses the matter in some detail in his “Treatise on the Soul,” in vol. III of The Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.  The discussion of Hades and Christ’s descent there is on pp. 231-233.  The pseudepigraphal “Gospel of Nicodemus,” a 4th or 5th century work published in the same set, vol. VIII, pp. 448-458, gives a highly imaginative account of Christ’s descent into Hades.  This work is also published as part of The Lost Books of the Bible (World Bible Publishers, Inc.; see pp. 82-88).  For a collection of patristic remarks regarding this subject, see A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David W. Bercot, “Dead, intermediate state of the,” pp. 191-197.

---Doug Kutilek

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A Note on Paul’s Non-Use of the Term Hades

 

While the Greek term hades is very common in the Greek OT translation, the Septuagint (something over 100 occurrences), and is not rare in the NT (10 or 11 times), there is a notable pattern to its usage in the NT.  It is used by Jesus as reported by Matthew and Luke in their Gospels (twice each), and also in Revelation in the mouth of Jesus (once).  It is also used by Peter in referring to Psalm 16 in Acts 2, and by John in Revelation (three times).  But it is found only once in Paul’s writings--I Corinthians 15:55, at least in the Byzantine text, though there is a significant variant there.  The Byzantine text reads “O, death, . . . O, hades, . . .” (the KJV for “hades” has “grave” in the text and “hell” in the margin).  In contrast, the Alexandrian and Western forms of the text (including all Old Latin witnesses and the Latin Vulgate) read “O, death” twice, that is, they read “death” for the “hades” of the Byzantine text form, and almost all modern NT text editors accept this as Paul’s original wording (we will merely direct the interested student to the notes on evidence in the 3rd and 4th editions of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament and the 26th and 27th editions of the Nestle-Aland, Novum Testamentum Graece for the details).  The most plausible explanation is that Paul’s original wording, “O, death, . . .O, death, . . .” was altered by scribes to make it conform to the wording of Hosea 13:14 (which Paul is here quoting) in the Septuagint, the standard OT translation of Greek-speaking Christians, for which, by the late second century, some were even claiming inspiration.

 

But assuming that the reading “O, death, . . .O, death, . . .” was what Paul originally wrote, the immediate question is, why didn’t Paul follow the Septuagint’s hades, instead of substituting “death,” and the larger question is, “Why doesn’t Paul ever use the word hades?”  Obviously, the answer to these is NOT that Paul denied the existence of the afterlife in general or hades as an abode of the departed in particular (his letters make reference to both).   What, then?  A persuasive explanation has emerged from the desert sands of Egypt.

 

More than a century ago, numerous non-literary papyrus documents in Greek and dating from roughly the NT era (spanning from a couple centuries before to several centuries after the time of Christ) began to be unearthed in Egypt.  These were crucial to the identification of the dialect of NT Greek as koine, that is, common Greek, the common Greek of the first century, not “Jewish” Greek or “Holy Spirit” Greek as had been proposed by some scholars earlier. 

 

NT usage of Greek terms has often had light cast on it from these papyrus documents.  For examples, see,

--J. H. Moulton, From Egyptian Rubbish Heaps.  London: Charles H. Kelly, 1916;

--George Milligan, Here and There Among the Papyri.  London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1923;

--A.T. Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, chapter 2, “Notes on a Specimen Papyrus of the First Century A.D.,” pp. 29-34.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 reprint. 

(The pioneering works in the field by Adolph Deissman, Bible Studies [1901] and Light from the Ancient East [1908] both contain much that is of great interest in this regard, but also much that is highly speculative, and far too much that is deeply marred by destructive higher critical assumptions).

 

What light do these documents have to shed on the matter of Paul’s non-use of hades?  Messrs. Moulton and Milligan in their monumental work, The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources (1930), write concerning the word hades--“The word does not appear in the indices of any papyrus collection, so far as non-literary documents go” (p. 9), a remarkable fact since the word was common in the classical and pre-classical period of the Greek language, and those papyrus indices cover tens of thousands of discovered documents.  Moulton and Milligan do note but two uses of the word in the papyri otherwise known to them, and its common use on tombstones in Asia Minor.  They add this note: “except for its appropriation from the literary language to represent Sheol in the LXX, we should probably not find it in the NT.  It is significant that Paul substitutes thanate [“O, death”] for hade when quoting Hosea 13:14 in I Corinthians 15:55.”

 

Moulton gives a fuller explanation in his earlier-published From Egyptian Rubbish Heaps (1916)--“In going over the record of the Greek word Hades, I was rather surprised to find that it occurs only once in the innumerable papyri that Professor Milligan and I have been searching, and that in a document very far from the normal style.  What is the reason?  I am satisfied that this word had dropped out of the ordinary vernacular.  But, you say, surely the word occurs in the New Testament, and very often the Greek of the Old.  Quite so; but that was, I believe, only because the Septuagint translators found it an exact rendering to represent the Hebrew Sheol.  They took it for this purpose from the technical language of Greek religion, but as a word in ordinary life, it was no longer in use.  We seem to have at once an explanation of what has always rather puzzled me.  You will remember that at the end of one of Paul’s greatest chapters, the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, he brings it into sublime apostrophe: ‘Where, O death is thy sting?  Where, O grave is thy victory?’ as the Authorized Version has it.  That is a quotation from Hosea, and in the original you have both death and Sheol mentioned.  And I think we all agree that the phraseology is much more impressive than this that Paul uses.  How does Paul quote it?  ‘Where, O death, is thy sting?  Where, O death, is thy victory?’  Why did Paul use the same word twice, and spoil the rhetorical effect from Hosea?  The reason was that the word was not in common, ordinary use, and so, even if it were to spoil the literary effect, Paul put the word that everybody knew into the passage.” (pp. 71-2).

 

How instructive for us all this is!  First, here is yet another example where the Byzantine text, though in the numerical majority among the manuscripts, is shown to be secondary, giving an altered reading, rather than the original wording of Paul, a change motivated by a desire for conformity to the LXX version in common use (numerous other examples of the conforming of NT quotations to the LXX by copyists could be pointed out).

 

Second, we see that Paul was more interested in clear and intelligible communication with his readers and listeners than preserving the familiar--the traditional--but to his readers obscure words of the most widely-used Greek version of his day.  He therefore adapted and revised the LXX of Hosea 13:14 into a form more intelligible to his readers.  He therein gives us precedent by his example for revising obscurities in popular but archaic Bible versions in common use in our day.  In short, Paul’s example in I Corinthians 15:55 of revising the translation of the most widely used Bible version of his day into something clearer, informs us that it is an entirely legitimate enterprise to alter for the reader’s sake the antique words of the KJV into modern words which accurately convey to today’s reader the meaning of the words of the original Hebrew and Greek texts, even if some of the rhythmical beauty (more perceived than real, I affirm) must be sacrificed for the sake of intelligibility and accuracy. 

 

No translation in any language is beyond revision for cause.  When the words of an older translation cease to effectively and accurately communicate with the contemporary reader, then the translation cries out for revision.  Paul’s own example establishes the validity of translation revision.

---Doug Kutilek

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Who Killed Goliath?

 

2 Samuel 21:19, KJV

“And there was again a battle in Gob, with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Iaare-Oregim, a Bethlehemite, slew the brother of Goliath the

Gittite, the staff of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.”

 

2 Samuel 21:19, NASB

“And there was war with the Philistines again at Gob, and Elhanan the son

of Jaare-oregim the Bethlehemite killed Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose

spear was like a weaver's beam.”

 

A plain reading of these two English translations of the Hebrew (and we could note others that read similarly to the NASB) show that they affirm markedly differing things about who Elhanan slew, the KJV asserting, albeit via the insertion of the italicized words “the brother of,” that he slew the brother of Goliath, while the NASB (text) declares that he slew Goliath the Gittite, which is on the face of it a clear contradiction of the lengthy account of David’s--not Elhanan’s--encounter with Goliath in I Samuel 17.  Is the NASB here an unwitting (or worse, malicious) attempt at subverting the truth of the Scriptures?  We ask the question because that is precisely what some affirm.

 

First, note that the KJV does in fact italicize the words "the brother of," by which the translators are telling us that these words are NOT in the Hebrew text from which they translated.  Note that: here, by the KJV translators' own admission, the KJV abandons the reading of the traditional Masoretic Hebrew text, and bases its wording on something else; in stark contrast the NASB, be it noted, does rigidly adhere to the MT of 2 Samuel 21:19.  Among the many Masoretic manuscripts, none reads otherwise than the NASB (this portion of 2 Samuel is unfortunately not preserved among the Dead Sea Scrolls, there being one fragment that does include portions of the previous 4 verses). 

 

And among ancient OT translations, the situation is the same as in the MT.  The Greek LXX (ca. 200 B.C.) reads as does the MT (i.e., without the words "the brother of"), as do the Peshitta Syriac (100 A.D. or later) and Jerome's Vulgate (ca. 400 A.D.).  All of these are formal equivalence/ largely literal translations of the Hebrew text available to them.  The Targum Jonathan to the prophets (an interpretative Aramaic translation/paraphrase made between 200--500 A.D.), recognizing that there is a "problem" with the Hebrew MT here (vis-a-vis I Sam. 17) substitutes, apparently conjecturally, "David the son of Jesse" for "Elhanan son of Jaare-Oregim."  So, all Hebrew manuscripts of 2 Samuel 21, plus the formal equivalence/literal ancient translations available to us unite in stating that Elhanan slew Goliath.  But that is far from the whole story here.

 

The KJV, and other translations, have a cross reference at 2 Samuel 21:19 to 1 Chronicles 20:5, which reads in part--"Elhanan the son of Jair slew Lahmi the brother of Goliath, . . ."  The text of Chronicles, dating in its original composition to the 5th century B.C. and obviously using the Books of Samuel among its sources of information, in particular this very passage, is our earliest witness to the reading of 2 Samuel at this point, and is the only one that pre-dates the apparent confusion introduced by careless scribal activity into the text of 2 Samuel 21:19. 

 

The clause in 1 Chronicles 20:5, describing Lahmi as “the brother of Goliath” reads the same in all ancient witnesses, the Masoretic Hebrew text, the Greek Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate (which “translates” after a sort rather than transfers the Hebrew names, and understands “Lahmi” as an ascriptive term for “Elhanan, i.e. a Beth-lehemite rather than the name of Goliath’s brother), the Peshitta Syriac (which inserts a clause borrowed from v. 4, describing Lahmi as a “son of the giants”).  The Targum to Chronicles, not ascribed to Jonathan and of a much later date, interprets, paraphrases and expands the MT to make David the same as Elhanan (the standard rabbinic approach to the difficulty here)--“David the son of Jesse, a pious man, who rose at midnight to sing praises to God, slew Lachmi the brother of Goliath, the same day on which he slew Goliath the Gittite,. . .” (so translated by Adam Clarke in his commentary on 1 Chronicles 20:5).

 

Various attempts have been made at explaining the MT Hebrew text of 2 Samuel 21:19 as it stands, and harmonizing it with 1 Samuel 17 and 1 Chronicles 20:5--

 

1. “Elhanan” is a second name of David (like Solomon who had another name, Jedidiah), which then requires Jaare-Oregim (or Jair) as a second name for Jesse, David’s father.  But of this, there is no support anywhere else in the OT.

 

2. The existence of two “Goliaths,” one killed by David, the other killed by Elhanan.  But, again of this, there is no supporting evidence elsewhere.  Further, such a conjecture creates problems with the 1 Chronicles 20:5 parallel, since Elhanan would then have killed both this imaginary second Goliath and also his brother Lahmi.

 

The analysis by Karl Friedrich Keil (1807-1888) in his excellent commentary on the OT well-summarizes the state of the evidence and its interpretation at 2 Samuel 21:19--

 

“The words of our text are so similar to those of the Chronicles, if we only leave out the word Oregim [“weavers”], which probably crept in from the next line through oversight on the part of a copyist, that they presuppose the same original text, so that the difference can only have arisen from an error in copying.  The majority of the expositors . . . regard the text of Chronicles as the true and original one, and the text before us as simply corrupt.  But [some] maintain the opposite opinion, because it is impossible [they say] to see how the reading of 2 Sam. could grow out of that in the Chronicles; whereas the reading in the Chronicles might have arisen through the conscious alteration originating in the offence taken by some reader, who recalled the account of the conflict between David and Goliath, at the statement that Elhanan smote a giant named Goliath, and who therefore altered beth halahmi et [“the Beth-Lehemite”] into et lahmi ahi [“Lahmi the brother of”]. 

 

But apart from the question whether there were two Goliaths, one of whom was slain by David and the other by Elhanan, the fact that the conjecture of [some] presupposes a deliberate alteration of the text, or rather, to speak more correctly, an intentional falsification of the historical account, is quite sufficient to overthrow it, as not a single example of anything of the kind can be adduced from the whole of the Chronicles.  On the other hand, the recollection of David’s celebrated officer Elhanan of Bethlehem (ch. 23:24; I Chron. 11:26) might easily lead to an identification of the Elhanan mentioned here with that officer, and so occasion the alteration of et lahmi [“Lahmi” as direct object] into beth lahmi [“the Bethlehemite”].  This alteration was then followed by that of ahi goliat [“brother of Goliath”] into et Goliat [“Goliath” as direct object], and all the more easily from the fact that the description of Lahmi’s spear corresponds word for word with that of Goliath’s spear in 1 Samuel 17:7.  Consequently we must regard the reading in Chronicles as the correct one, and alter our text accordingly; since the assumption that there were two Goliaths is a very improbably one, and there is nothing at all strange in a reference to a brother of Goliath, who was also a powerful giant, and carried a spear like Goliath.” (Biblical Commentary on the Books of Samuel, pp. 465-6; Adam Clarke’s early 19th century commentary gives an explanation much like Keil’s and calls attention to Benjamin Kennicott’s First Dissertation on the Hebrew Text for confirmation of this explanation.  Kennicott [1718-1783] was the leading 18th century British expert on the Hebrew text of the OT).

 

(There are additional questions regarding the name Jaare/ Jair/ Jaor which need not detain us here.  For a fuller and more detailed analysis of the issues here, and some other suggested resolutions, see the notes on both passages in the Expositor's Bible Commentary set edited by Frank Gaebelein, on 2 Samuel 21:19 by Ronald Youngblood in vol. 3, pp. 1060-1; and on 1 Chronicles 20:5 by J. Barton Payne, vol. 4, pp. 403-4;).

 

The correct resolution to the problem, then, is to recognize that the MT in I Sam. 21:19 was corrupted in the copying process, as the KJV translators de facto do so recognize (the Books of Samuel in the Hebrew are widely acknowledged by scholars to be the most corrupted in copying of any part of the OT), somewhere between the 5th century B.C. when Chronicles was written (and wherein the true reading is preserved), and about 200 B.C. when the Greek Septuagint translation of Samuel, which has the MT's corrupt reading, was made. 

 

Which brings us back to the original question of the sinister motive commonly imputed by radical KJVO extremists to the NASB translation in its handling of 2 Samuel 21:19.  In light of the above evidence, this vehement denunciation of the NASB is, to say the least, much misguided, first, because the NASB does rigidly follow the MT Hebrew at 2 Samuel 21:19,--a thing deemed to be always the right policy by these folks, except of course when the KJV doesn’t do so, as here! 

 

Second, if the NASB is blameworthy here, so, too is the German translation of Martin Luther (I examined both 1534 and 1545 editions), the Spanish version of Casiodoro de Reina (1569), the text reading of Cipriano de Valera’s revision of the same (1602), as well as the Geneva Bible of 1560 in its text at this point.  All of these Reformation era versions are deemed reliable by KJVO radicals, and none of these is singled out for abuse at this point as the NASB is, in what is plainly a case of selective condemnation and outrage.

 

Let it further be noted that the NASB has a note in the margin on the word “Goliath”: “In 1 Chron. 20:5, Lahmi, the brother of Goliath.”  The Geneva margin, earlier by more than 400 years, also annotated “Goliath”: “That is, Lahmi the brother of Goliath whom David slew, 1 Chro. 20:5.”  Similarly, the 1602 Spanish Bible has a marginal note: “al hermano de Goliath.  Ved. I Chron. 20:5. donde se llama Lahmi” i.e., “the brother of Goliath.  See I Chronicles 20:5 where he is called Lahmi.”  So, all of these, recognizing a problem in our text, point the reader to the parallel passage for the correct reading of the text.

 

And that brings us to the question of how 2 Samuel 21:19 should be rendered into English.  It should read just as 1 Chronicles 20:5 does, with a marginal note stating that the basis for the reading is that parallel passage, though the Hebrew MT and all other ancient witnesses at 2 Samuel 21:19 give a different reading.  For this reason, the NASB (and NIV) must be faulted for following in its text the MT in a place where it was manifestly corrupted in the copying process (the ESV reads similarly, but has a note, “Contrast 1 Chronicles 20:5, which may preserve the original reading”).

 

The KJV's partial reconstruction and emendation of the MT in 2 Samuel 21:19 on the basis of the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 20:5. is correct as far as it goes, but it does not follow Chronicles in amending all the scribal alterations in 2 Samuel 21:19 ( “Jaare,” “Oregim,” “Bethlehemite” are left uncorrected).

---Doug Kutilek

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BOOK REVIEWS

 

The New Madrid Earthquakes by James L. Penick, Jr.  Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1981, revised edition.  176 pp., paperback.

 

In America, the term “earthquake zone” immediately invokes mental images of California--San Francisco, Los Angeles, the San Andreas Fault--or perhaps Alaska.  But the truth is, the most severe, most violent, most intense earthquakes in recorded American history occurred not along the West Coast, but in and around the region of southeastern Missouri known as the boot heel.  Beginning December 16, 1811 a series of more than 1,800 earth tremors occurred over a period of les than two months, with especially violent quakes on December 16 (estimated as magnitude 8.6 on the Richter scale), January 23, 1812 (8.4) and February 7, 1812 (8.7), with numerous lesser quakes in between and afterward.

 

These quakes, especially the most intense ones, were felt as far away as New Orleans to the south, Charleston, South Carolina, Baltimore, Maryland, and even in New Hampshire to the east, and north to Detroit, Michigan and southern Canada.

 

Using contemporary accounts, Penick gives details of the various quakes, the natural phenomena associated with them--many of them bizarre (including the creation of falls on the Mississippi River by uplifts in the river bed, the Mississippi actually flowing backwards briefly, the raising of lakes and ponds with all their waters and fish pouring out, the sudden sinking of tracts of land involving many acres of standing timber with the tree tops lowered to the level of the surrounding land)--as well as the effects on people in the area.  There was a surprisingly small loss of life--perhaps in the low hundreds--, largely because the region of greatest damage was thinly populated (today, more than 12 million live in the region of intense destruction), though virtually all structures in close proximity to the epicenters were devastated, and many boats and barges on the Mississippi were sunk, capsized or damaged (mostly by collapsing river banks or the massive resultant waves).

 

Penick also employs modern scientific research in discussing the cause of the New Madrid earthquakes; they are not at the collision point of two or more tectonic plates, the primary location of major seismic activity, but over a sag in the North American plate, with subsequent drag on the westward moving plate as the culprit creating the quakes.

 

Research shows that at least three earthquake episodes of similar magnitude have occurred in the same region in the past 2000 years, with the almost certainty that others will occur in the future--on average every 500 years (of course, earthquakes don’t know anything about averages).

 

A brief, informative book about an important, dare I say “earth-shaking,” event in American history.

---Doug Kutilek

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George Washington Carver: In His Own Words, edited by Gary R. Kremer.  Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1987.  208 pp., paperback.

 

George Washington Carver (1865-1943) is famous as the Tuskegee Institute scientist, born in slavery, who transformed early 20th century southern agriculture by his researches and promotion of the peanut and sweet potato as alternatives to the cotton-only system that ruined the once productive soil of the American South.  Indeed that is the public image, and is a fair one, as far as it goes. 

 

That Carver went from being an orphan, raised in the post Civil War era by his former owner on a poor southwest Missouri farm, to and ultimately through college (earning a master’s degree), and then rose to the highest level of respect nationally as an agricultural scientist and researcher is a remarkable story in itself.

 

The private Carver is not so well know or seen in the standard biographies of him (that by Rackham Holt-- George Washington Carver: An American Biography.  Doubleday, 1943--is a highly readable account) which tend to be only laudatory, passing by his “warts.”  Gary R. Kremer has assembled, with commentary, representative writings of Carver which reveal his inner man, his perspective, his achievements and frustrations, and failures along the way.  Reading Carver’s private correspondence exposes a candid view, sometimes revealing notable flaws of character.  Carver could be petty with teaching colleagues, whiny with the Tuskegee administration, self-promoting, and sometimes remarkably vain.  His repeated claims of fascination with the subject matter of published articles about himself was embarrassing to read.  He never believed he was appreciated as much as he deserved to be a Tuskegee.

 

Yes, Carver was flawed just like the rest of us, but he was also a genuine Christian, converted as a boy, who took his Bible reading and daily fellowship with God through Christ seriously all his life.  At Tuskegee Institute, he started an evening Bible class that numbered around a hundred in regular attendance.  His correspondence abounds with Biblical references and allusions.  He sought and found God’s hand and purpose in creation all around him.

 

Kremer’s volume is not “consuming” reading that one just cannot put down, but it is informative and insightful.

---Doug Kutilek

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Some quotes from George Washington Carver: In His Own Words--

 

“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for his having passed through it.” (p. 1)

 

“Carver drew upon three unique talents as a teacher.  First, he was genuinely interested in his students and made them feel that they were truly important to him; second, he was excited about his subject matter, and he transmitted that excitement to his students; and third, his teaching methods combined the transmission of ideas with the practical application of those ideas, . . .” (p. 84; all first-rate teachers have these qualities--editor)

 

“He believed that nothing existed without purpose.  The job of the scientist was to discover the purpose and publicize its possible benefits for mankind.” (p. 102)

 

“Even in his earliest letters, Carver wrote about how he relied on intuition and divine revelation for his scientific insights.” (127).

 

“I was just a mere boy when converted, hardly ten years old.  There isn’t much of a story to it.  God just came into my heart one afternoon while I was alone in the ‘loft’ of our big barn while I was shelling corn to carry to the mill to be ground into meal.” (p. 128)

 

“I am not interested in science or anything else that leaves God out of it.” (p. 131)

 

“. . . if we do not take Christ seriously in our every day life, all is a failure because it is an every day affair.” (p. 136)

 

“Carver’s mysticism seemed to increase with his age.  He saw purpose and design in every facet of the universe.  Indeed, the natural world was his laboratory for discovering the mysteries of an omniscient Creator.” (p. 140)

 

“The singing birds, the buzzing bees, the opening flower, and the budding trees, along with other forms of animate and inanimate matter, all have their marvelous creation story to tell each searcher for truth. . . .” (p. 142)

 

“You know full well that we see in people and animate things just about what we are looking for.” (p. 152)

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