"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 12, Number 2, February 2009

 

“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

 

“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”

Earl of Kent

Shakespeare’s King Lear

Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34

 

[“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]

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Lincoln and Darwin:

Parallel Lives, Divergent Legacies

 

Plutarch’s famous Lives of Illustrious Men, a standard volume from antiquity, pairs and compares the lives of selected individuals from the Greek and the Roman empires.  Were he alive today, Plutarch might be tempted to pair the lives of the greatest of American Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, and that of the most famous and influential philosopher of science, Charles Darwin, as both were born on precisely the same day, February 12, 1809.  This year marks the bicentennial of that event (as well as the sesquicentennial of the publication of Darwin’s most famous book, The Origin of Species, in 1859).

Though born on precisely the same day, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin in their beginnings and their legacies could not be more in contrast.  Darwin was born in comfortable upper class circumstances in England with prospects for a first-rate education--with the luxury of changing his focus from medicine (the profession of both his father and grandfather) to religion (for which he was notably unsuited) to amateur naturalist--and a place in the easy life of English aristocratic society.  The other, Lincoln, was the second child of an abjectly poor American pioneer family, the son of an at best semi-literate father and a mother of questionable pedigree.  He grew to manhood amidst all the severe disadvantages of the cultural and economic realties of frontier life, and had but small prospects for any kind of education except the most rustic.  The panorama of his life held out hope of little beyond an existence of hard and bitter labor in the unforgiving wildness of the frontier.  Only a life of unremitting toil seemed to lie ahead; many years of such toil did in fact mark his path from youth to manhood.

The portraits of both men are today enshrined on the currency of their respective nations--Lincoln’s profile is on the penny (and has been for a full century) and a full face portrait is on the five-dollar bill (beginning I know not when--at least as early as the 1930s).  Darwin’s likeness is currently on the 10 pound note of the United Kingdom.  I had one during my last visit to England two years ago, and was frankly glad to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Both men are buried in prominent memorials, Lincoln in a massive mausoleum in a cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, Darwin in the scientists’ corner of Westminster Abbey, near the markers of such prominent Bible-believing Christians as Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and Lord Kelvin.

Lincoln’s mind and thought were molded by a limited but excellent corpus of literature read and re-read and mastered as a youth, chiefly the Bible and Shakespeare, but supplemented with such other books as he could find.

Darwin studied medicine for a time at the University of Edinburgh, then Divinity at Cambridge University, but was more interested in riding, hunting, and shooting than academics.  He was much drawn to the study of nature--for which Cambridge offered no degree.  Young Darwin, still just into his 20s, was signed on as the unpaid naturalist for a planned two-year voyage (that stretched to five) aboard the H. M. S. Beagle, to study the east and west coasts of South America, with its flora, fauna, geology and geography.  Out of the raw materials of this journey, Darwin published a journal, took part in writing the official reports, and spun his hypothesis of biological evolution.

Lincoln’s one notable journey by water, also undertaken in his 20s, was a barge trip down the Sangamon and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans.  Accounts of his pledge there of lifelong hostility to slavery are apocryphal.

Darwin is most noted for his books--the Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, among others, plus numerous papers and studies on various scientific subjects (an important study of earthworms among them).  His The Origin of Species is beyond doubt the single most influential work of the 19th century. 

Lincoln wrote no books and kept no diaries, but was best known for his speeches--his debates with Stephen Douglas over the slavery issue in the 1858 Illinois Senate race which brought him national prominence, but particularly his two Inaugural addresses, especially the Second one, and his Gettysburg Address--the most famous speech of the 19th century--besides some written items such as the Emancipation Proclamation and, inter alia, his letter to the Widow Bixby.  Lincoln was an absolute master of English prose.

Darwin was not the first to propose a purely naturalistic (i.e., non-supernaturalistic) explanation for the origin and existence of life in general and of human life in particular; the ancient Babylonians and Greeks (with myths of spontaneous generation of the gods out of eternal matter), and more recently Lamarck, and even his own grandfather Erasmus Darwin had done so.  But the net effect of each of these was the same: to thereby distance man from God, or rather God from man, making man a product of natural forces and not of God’s direct creative activity.  This has as a logical outflow the denial of the direct accountability of man to God, or of the constraint of human behavior by supposedly “Divine” laws and commands, which after all must be just merely human constructs, not Divine revelations.

Darwin’s theory (or strictly speaking scientifically, hypothesis, since its posits have been neither observed nor are testable) was built on at least two faulty presuppositional foundations: 1. the then-recently hypothesized uniformitarian geology (that is, that current slow processes of erosion and deposition or land mass uplift or recession, e.g., can be confidently and endlessly extrapolated into the past, requiring a very great age for the earth and its geologic features, in millions, not thousands of years) instead of the catastrophism that had held sway, and to which the earth’s surface features regularly bear witness; and 2. Thomas Malthus’ theories of population growth, namely, that populations of organisms increase geometrically while food supplies only grow arithmetically, setting the stage for intense competition for survival--“nature red in tooth and claw”--resulting in the “survival of the fittest.”  Darwin, in complete ignorance of the genetic transmission of traits, accepted this competition as the driving force behind the improvement of each species, and its eventual transformation by small steps into a new species, or, by branching, into multiple new species.  (What this competition for food supplies actually does is not drive the species to higher levels, but acts to preserve it from the degenerative drag of genetic defects, deformities and such.  Rather than “the survival of the fittest” at the top, it is more accurately portrayed as “the elimination of the defective / unfit” at the bottom).

Darwin himself admitted that the weakest link in his argument was the absence of transitional forms in the known fossils, but he held out hope that with further discovery, these “gaps” in the record would be filled.  Now 150 years and literally millions of examined fossils later, the absence of any transitional forms is as troubling for the theory as ever, indeed, more so, as the hope that theory-supporting transitional forms will be found out there somewhere has faded nearly to despair.  Rather, the fossil record testifies repeatedly to stasis rather than transition--both plants (e.g., gingko trees) and animals (e.g., the coelacanth fish) appear in fossils allegedly tens and even hundreds of millions of years old without perceptible change from forms found living today.  Occasionally a fossil bird or primate will be found and widely touted in the popular press, or in National Geographic (which has gotten egg on its face more than once in this regard), as “the missing link,” only to be discredited in short order.  In truth, there is no one missing link, or ten or a hundred or a thousand, but literally millions of them, since the necessary genetic changes from one species to another would require many thousands of generations and a multitude of transitional forms, and this for every species.  But they are simply non-existent.  Oops!!

It has been justifiably stated that Darwin’s theory would have never been proposed had the modern knowledge of genetics and inheritance been current in Darwin’s day; they would have simply made his claims untenable.  But Gregor Mendel did not begin his experiments until the 1860s, and his results were not published until decades later still; DNA was not discovered until a century after Darwin wrote.

Darwinism was embraced immediately by numerous philosophers and liberal theologians, chiefly, and opposed by many scientists, such as Louis Agassiz of Harvard, Lord Kelvin and Louis Pasteur, on scientific grounds.  Leading conservative theologians such as Charles Hodge of Princeton and Charles Spurgeon of London also voiced strong opposition.  So, too, did Robert Fitzroy, captain of the H. M. S. Beagle on which Darwin had sailed.

From Darwin’s limited hypothesis which he applied in the realm of biology alone, this surmise of accidental, undirected yet progressive development from lower states to higher ones over time via unbridled competition was extended by others to sociology, the history of religion, economics (laissez-faire capitalism, with its crushing of all competition in the quest for dominance of an industry), chemistry (alleged building up--in stellar “furnaces”--of simple helium into the whole periodic table of elements), and astronomy.   Mindless, soulless, purposeless development over time by nothing but pure chance--this soon became philosophically and presuppositionally the universal “solvent” for explaining everything naturally (as opposed to supernaturally).  In short, it served as a very convenient way to dispose of God.

The fruit that has been borne on the tree of Darwinism in the past century and a half is abundant and altogether poisonous.  (The late Henry M. Morris in his book The Long War Against God [Baker, 1989] chronicled how from Darwinism and ‘pre-Darwinism’ sprang a broad spectrum of societal and social evils).  Biological Darwinism--which has yet to make a real contribution to genuine scientific advancement, or to serve any useful purpose in scientific research--by making God unnecessary, is at foundation, essentially atheistic. 

Religious Darwinism, the foundation of radical higher criticism of the Bible, which adopted a purely evolutionary view of Biblical teaching, theology and institutions is diametrically opposed to the teaching of the OT and NT, ascribing its doctrines and institutions to merely human developments, and denying expressly both the fact and even the possibility of Divine revelations, genuine prophecy or bona fide miracles. 

From philosophical Darwinism has come Marxist communism (Karl Marx wrote to Darwin asking permission to dedicate his magnum opus, Das Kapital, to Darwin, who wisely refused; Josef Stalin, while in seminary studying for the priesthood, read Darwin and adopted his views).  In the 20th century, the death toll from Darwin-inspired Marxism approached if it did not actually exceed 100 million lives.

So, too, from applied social Darwinism came laissez faire capitalism with its unbridled competition, and an overriding design and intent to crush and destroy all opposition, regardless of the consequences to people or the planet. 

Darwinism was expressly embraced by some military leaders of Germany prior to World War One, who (perhaps along with others) on the basis of the belief that competition for survival drives the human race forward biologically, actually welcomed the war, as an opportunity to prove the superiority of the German people, and to exterminate inferior groups.  What human activity is more competitive than war?  Therefore, war can serve to advance the superior races of mankind, and is ultimately a good to be embraced, not a horror to be avoided.

Darwinism is inherently racist, though almost no Darwinists will openly admit it (the full title of Darwin’s book is: “The Origin of Species: the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life” (emphasis added); Nazism developed its Arian supremacy doctrine from Darwinism; it was no accident that Hitler’s book is called Mein Kampf--literally, “My Struggle,” an echo of the second line in the title of Darwin’s book. 

Likewise, from the inherent racism and Malthusianism of Darwin’s philosophy come infanticide and euthanasia (extermination of the unfit), abortion on demand (extermination of the excess population), anarchy and more.  All these readily find full justification for themselves in the adoption of biological Darwinism. 

It is no coincidence that the first century in human history where Darwinism dominated the philosophy and worldview of the controlling institutions of human existence (governments, educational institutions and businesses),--that is, the 20th century--was also the most brutal, violent, bellicose and barbaric by far as regards man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man.  This is the natural fruit of the philosophy of Darwinism. 

It is difficult enough to restrain and control human behavior with the threat of human punishment here and Divine retribution hereafter.  But eliminate God, His standards, and His promised day of judgment for humankind, and man is simply beastly in his conduct--not a remnant barbarism from some lower, more animal ancestry, but the appalling corruption of a once perfect but now utterly degraded nature originally created in the image of a holy God.

Whereas Darwin laid the foundation for a world devoid of God consciousness, one cannot read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, his Second Inaugural Address, and much else that he wrote or spoke as President, without seeing that the dominant philosophy in his worldview was that of accountability to a close and personal Creator, and imitation of His compassion and mercy toward us in our treatment of our fellow man, a choice part of His purposeful creation.

Lincoln’s legacy was chiefly in actions.  He was elected with the lowest plurality of votes in American Presidential history (39%) in a four-way race.  He was immediately faced with the secession of 11 States and very soon a war he did not want or start.  He had to endure repeated battlefield failures, setbacks and defeats as he worked through a long series of marginally competent, or outright incompetent general officers (only in the last year of the war did he find two first-rate commanders--Grant and Sherman); Lincoln was a better strategist than any of his generals, though he had no military training or background.  He frequently battled both parties in Congress and experienced stern opposition from his own Cabinet (nearly every member of which thought himself Lincoln’s superior).  He was lambasted with unbridled even brutal criticism in the press.  And along with the crushing burden of daily and often massive casualties, unprecedented expenditures, and difficult foreign relations, he endured unspeakable personal sorrow in the death of a favorite son and the subsequent derangement of his wife.  Somehow through all of these, he managed to save the Union (his first aim), free first by fiat and then Constitutional Amendment those enslaved, defeat the Confederate armies, and lay the groundwork for a reunification of the nation--a collective task almost certainly no other man then living could have or would have accomplished.  An assassin’s bullet ended his life at 56, less than a week after the victory had been won.  By almost universal acclamation, Lincoln is hailed as America’s greatest President.

Such then are these parallels lives--beginning the same day, but following highly divergent paths, and attaining sharply contrasting results.  Darwin’s legacy is one of progressively intensifying darkness and horror and all that is worst in man, Lincoln’s that of a conscious dependence on our Creator, Who has revealed Himself to man, and who will hold man accountable for his conduct, particularly his treatment of his fellow man.  Darwin’s hypothesis and subsequent worldview is truly a major driving force behind man’s descent--into the abyss.  Lincoln’s worldview sets man in his proper relationship to the Creator, and to his fellow man, “with malice toward none, with charity for all.”

---Doug Kutilek

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Book Review

Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon, by Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, & Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.  494 pp., hardback.  $50.00

The Meserve-Kunhardt family is made up of five generations of Lincoln enthusiasts, beginning with Frederick Hill Meserve (1865 -1963), who in 1897, at age 31, began collecting vintage Civil War photographs and photographic plates to illustrate a hoped-for published edition of his own father’s Civil War memoirs.  From this beginning, Mr. Meserve became almost obsessed with rescuing from destruction and oblivion a small mountain of no longer valued Civil War photographic plates, amongst which he discovered seven of President Lincoln.  This began a lifelong search for and compilation of an exhaustive collection of Lincoln photographic images, and anything related to Lincoln.  The Meserve photographic archive of Civil War--and Lincoln--photos was recognized as the greatest in the world.

Mr. Meserve “infected” his daughter Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt (d. 1979) with the “Lincoln bug”, who passed this family legacy on to her son Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., who in turn did the same for his sons Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt, and Peter’s son, Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr.

From this line of Lincoln scholars have come at least three major works on Lincoln in the past 40+ years: Twenty Days by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., which chronicles the events of the twenty-day period from Lincoln’s assassination until his internment in Springfield, Illinois (see our review in As I See It, 10:1).  Originally published in 1965, to correspond with the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination, it was reprinted in 1993.  Then came Lincoln by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt (1992), an account focusing on Lincoln’s 50 months as president.  The latest is Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon, by Philip B. Kunhardt III, Peter W. Kunhardt, & Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., naturally designed to coincide with (and slightly precede) the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.    All are over-sized books--approximately 8.5” x 11”--and profusely illustrated with period photographs, engravings, and such.  Naturally, there is considerable duplication in the photos and illustrations found in these three volumes.

Looking for Lincoln traces the development of the Lincoln legacy from his death in April 1865 to the death of his oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln in 1926.  In brief, usually single-page entries, we are presented in chronological order the writing and publishing of Lincoln biographies and reminiscences, disputes among authors, the events and destiny of dozens of people associated in life with Lincoln--family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, biographers, political colleagues and adversaries, military personnel, and more--plus sculptors, artists, memorials, monuments, celebrations and everything else in the growing Lincoln legacy in the collective memory of the nation and the world.  Items and memorabilia associated with Lincoln were sought for, collected, displayed, bought and sold.  Events and developments surrounding places significant in Lincoln’s life--homes, offices, battlefields, places he visited, lived--and died--are traced in a most informative manner.  Even the multiple relocations of his body (and an attempted theft) as his burial monument was built, repaired and replaced are noted.  In spite of my reading many books about Lincoln and his times, I learned numerous facts and details which I don’t recall ever having come across before.  Perhaps one of the more disconcerting of these was reading some remarks by Frederick Douglass in which he expressed opinions as bitter, angry and radical as those that typify the views of Mr. Obama’s long-time Chicago pastor, Reverend Wright, at his most extreme worst.

Of course, the chronicle of the developing Lincoln legacy is not “complete,” stopping as it does in 1926.  The publication of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln in 8 volumes plus index in 1953 was a major milestone, to note but one development among many (there are numerous excellent biographies and topical studies that have been and are being published even now, adding to the mass of Lincolnia.  Two works that trace such beyond 1926 are Benjamin Thomas’ Portrait for Posterity (1947) on notable Lincoln biographers and Lincoln in American Memory by Merrill Peterson (1994).

As an appendix, the book reproduces in miniature every known photo of Lincoln, 114 in all, in chronological order, with the place and name of the photographer (as far as known) given.

One criticism I do have of the book is its (only) occasional tendency to wander into modern “political correctness,” reading back into the period under consideration by way of statement or emphasis contemporary leftist political views.  The book also repeats the discredited claim that Confederate General N. B. Forrest was responsible for the murder of black Union soldiers at Fort Pillow (p. 108).

All in all, a worthwhile volume.  Let us resolve to inform ourselves and well regarding our own history, as is befitting people with such a legacy as we are blessed to have.

---Doug Kutilek

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Broadus on Repentance:

A Fuller Statement of His Views

 

Note: in the December 2008 issue of As I See It, we published a succinct statement by 19th century Baptist preacher and scholar John A. Broadus on the nature of Biblical repentance.  Some thought his remarks susceptible of a misunderstanding of his views, concluding that he confused repentance and the fruit of repentance.  To demonstrate the full nature of Broadus’ views on repentance, we quote at length his much more detailed discussion as found in his famous commentary on Matthew--editor

Repent.  To understand the precise New Testament use of this highly important term, we must distinguish between the Greek word, the English (borrowed from an imperfect Latin rendering), and the Hebrew expressions in the OT.  The Greek word here [Matthew 3:2] and commonly used in the NT (metanoein), signifies to change the thought, and so to change the opinion or purpose.  This inner change naturally leads to, and thus the expression may be said practically to include, a corresponding change of the outward life, which we usually describe by the word ‘reform.’  A change of thought does not necessarily involve grief; and the word is sometimes used by Greek writers for a mere change of opinion or judgment, where there was no occasion for regret.”

“But in all moral uses of the term there will of course be grief at the previous wrong course that one now determines to abandon.  Whenever this Greek word is employed in the NT (unless we except Hebrews 12:17), the reference is to changing the mind, purpose, from sin to holiness, and no one will do this who does not feel deep sorrow for the sin he has already committed.  Sorrow is not thus expressed by the word itself, but in NT use is always suggested from the nature of the case, and thus becomes associated with the word.  To repent, then, as a religious term of [the] NT, is to change the mind, thought, purpose, as regards sin and the service of God--a change naturally accompanied by deep sorrow for past sin, and naturally leading to a change of outward life.”

“A different Greek word (metamelesthai) signifying to change the feeling of care or concern, to regret, is employed in Matthew 21:29 (30), 32; 27:3; and in Romans 11:29; 2 Corinthians 7:8, 10 (‘repented of’); Hebrews 7:21.  This regret might of course lead to change of purpose and conduct, but the term does not denote any such change, though the circumstances sometimes suggest it.  It is only the first Greek word that the NT uses to denote repenting of sin.  The distinction between the two must, however, not be too strongly pressed, as shown by their use in the Septuagint.  A changed feeling might imply, or at least suggest, a changed purpose, and a changed purpose a changed feeling, so that both would sometimes yield substantially the same sense.”

“The Hebrew word for ‘repent’ denotes pain, grief, and sometimes suggests change of thought and purpose; the Septuagint translate it sometimes by the second and sometimes by the first of the above-mentioned Greek words.  It is noticeable that the prophets nowhere exhort men to ‘repent’ (though telling them to mourn and weep over their sins), but use the simple and practical word ‘turn.’  The NT also frequently employs this general and practical term, variously translated into English by ‘turn,’ ‘return,’ ‘be converted’; and in Acts 3:19; 26:20, both are combined, ‘repent and turn’ (compare Acts 11:21, ‘believed and turned’).  It thus appears that the NT exhortation is substantially the same as that of the prophets (e.g., Joel 2:12, 13; Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 33:11, 15; Zechariah 1:3, 4); but the NT term (metanoein) rendered ‘repent’ is more specific, and strictly denotes the inward change, leaving the outward change to be inferred as a consequence, or sometimes distinctly expressing it by adding the word ‘turn.’  In both the OT and the NT exhortation the element of grief for sin is left in the background, neither word directly expressing grief at all, though it must in the nature of things always be present.”

“But great difficulty has been found in translating this Greek wor[d] into other languages.  The Syriac versions, unable to give the precise meaning, fall back upon ‘turn,’ the same word as in Hebrew.  The Latin versions give ‘exercise penitence’ (paenitentiam agere).  But this Latin word, penitence, apparently connected by etymology with pain, signifies grief or distress, and is rarely extended to a change of purpose, thus corresponding to the Hebrew word which we render ‘repent,’ but not corresponding to the terms employed in OT and NT exhortations.  Hence a subtle and pernicious error, pervading the whole sphere of Latin Christianity, by which the exhortation of [the] NT is understood to be an exhortation to grief over sin, as the primary and principal idea of the term.  One step further, and penitence was contracted to penance, and associated with medieval ideas unknown to [the] NT, and the English Versions made by Romanists, now represent John, and Jesus, and Peter, as saying (paenitentiam agite), ‘do penance.’  From a late compound (repaenitere) comes our English word ‘repent,’ which inherits the fault of the Latin, making grief the prominent element, and change of purpose secondary, if expressed at all.  Thus our English word corresponds exactly to the second Greek word (metamelesthai), and to the Hebrew word rendered ‘repent,’ but sadly fails to translate the exhortation of the NT.  It is therefore necessary constantly to repeat the explanation that the NT word in itself denotes simply change of purpose as to sin, leaving us to understand from the nature of things, the accompanying grief and consequent reformation.”

John A. Broadus

Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, pp. 33-35

(Judson Press, Valley Forge, Penn., 1886)

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Gospel-Hardened Hearts: Their Cause

 

“Men are sometimes ‘gospel-hardened,’ yet not because they have heard the gospel too much, but because they have heeded it too little.”

John A. Broadus

Commentary on the Gospel of Mark, p. 39

(Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1905)

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 “Jesus” in Acts 7:45 & Hebrews 4:8

A Reader’s Question

 

“Hi Doug,

This isn't pertaining to KJV onlyism, but I figure that you know enough about the KJV to help me out.  Recently someone asked me why the KJV translates Iesous as “Jesus” instead of “Joshua” in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8.  My response was that as far as I can tell, the KJV translators always translated “Iesous” as Jesus instead of Joshua in the New Testament.  I suspect they did it to remain consistent.  Can you shed any light on this for me?

Thanks,

 N--- N------“

---

Dear N. N.--

In clothing Biblical names with English dress, that is, representing in English Bible translations the proper names of persons and places found in the Bible, there are several factors to consider, and several forces in tension, often pulling against each other.

First, there is the form as found in Bible itself, both in the original languages (either Hebrew or Greek or both in the case of persons mentioned in both covenants) and in influential translations such as the Septuagint Greek for the OT, and, especially, Latin for the whole Bible.

Second, the consideration of how the particular person or place is generally known in the English-speaking world.

Examples--

“Jerusalem--In the original Hebrew, this word has two different spellings, which could be approximately transliterated “Yerushalaim” (the more common) and “Yerushalayim” (the name “David” and many others also have more than one spelling in the original language text).  So we could, if we so desired, substitute one of these spellings into our English Bibles for the standard English form “Jerusalem” which does not closely represent the first and third consonants of the usual Hebrew form (nor the fifth of the second form) and fails to closely represent the third and fourth vowels of both Hebrew forms.  But since our English form “Jerusalem” (dependent on the form found in the Greek LXX translation of the OT--Ierousalem,--rather than the Latin Vulgate’s Hierosolyma) is unambiguous and clear, and universally accepted, most see no need to make the substitution.

We could address similar phenomena (chiefly varying degrees of imprecise transliterations of consonants and vowels from Hebrew to English) with a whole host of OT names-Moses (a Greek-derived form of the Hebrew name “Moshe”); Samson (in Hebrew, “Shimshon,” literally, “Little sun”; yes, “he was so bright his mother called him sun/ son”); Nebuchadnezzar (whose two different spellings in Hebrew is further complicated by the fact that neither of these corresponds precisely to the original Akkadian form, Nabu-kudduri-utzur); and many hundreds more.

The OT name for God, “Yahweh” is probably the most complicated of all.  The four Hebrew consonants of this name, YHWH, were deliberately not supplied with the corresponding original vowels in the Masoretic text, but rather with the vowels of two other words, so that the reader would know not to actually pronounce the Divine name, but to substitute one of these others (in a superstitious attempt at avoiding the violation of the Third Commandment given at Sinai).  Usually, the Masoretic text (following a Jewish custom at least a thousand years old at the time) supplied “YHWH” with the vowels of the word “’adonai”--literally “my lords/masters” (plural).  In cases where the Hebrew “Adonai” actually precedes YHWH in the text, the Masoretes supplied the Divine name with the vowels of “Elohim,’ the generic Hebrew word for “God.”  (And as if this were not enough “insulation” from actually saying God’s name, many orthodox and conservative Jews, when they come to the Divine name in Hebrew, don’t even say “Adonay” but, “Haqqadosh baruk hu’”--“the Holy One, blessed be He”; or “hashshem,” literally, “the Name” or even “hammaqom,” literally, “the place”).  The Greek LXX and the Latin Vulgate, following ancient Jewish custom, represent the Divine name with “Kurios” and “Dominus,” respectively, which explains the English practice of representing YHWH by “LORD”--all capitals in the KJV (and occasionally “GOD”).  The Spanish Reina-Valera of 1602, and some English versions (uniformly, in the ASV of 1901) have instead “Iehovah/ Jehovah” which is actually  a “hybrid” form--the consonants of YHWH with the vowels of “Adonai” and is a form that has no historical validity whatsoever (it appears first in print circa 1520, the product of some budding Christian Hebrew scholar who didn’t understand the writing conventions of the Masoretes), and though it has no basis in fact, it still persists--in unenlightened use--and makes me cringe every time I hear it.  (I myself favor a close transfer of the original Hebrew form into English, i.e. “Yahweh.”)

Which brings us to “Joshua” / “Jesus.”  “Joshua” is a name spelled three different ways in Hebrew--four if you count the man’s original name, Hoshea, before Moses altered it (Numbers 13:16).  In the Greek OT translation, this name was represented as “Iesous,” which is precisely the same form as the NT Greek name of the Savior as well as several other individuals in the NT (all of whom, except Joshua, are clearly distinguished contextually in the NT from Jesus of Nazareth).  But in the English-speaking world, Moses’ assistant is universally known as “Joshua,” derived from the Hebrew, rather than “Jesus,” derived from the Greek form (in cultures were Biblical names were influenced by the Latin Vulgate. or the LXX , Iesous or “Jesus” might be current).  Therefore to render in the NT, under influence of LXX practice, the two references to “Joshua” (Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8) as “Jesus” is sure to cause confusion (just as do the differing OT and NT forms of names of well-known OT persons Elijah-Elias; Elisha-Eliseus; Jeremiah-Jeremias; Isaiah-Esaias; Hosea-Osee).  Such inconsistency cannot be justified.  The need, and the uniform modern practice in English versions, is to consistently and regularly employ only one form of a Biblical person’s name, that is either the Hebrew or Greek (or Latin) form of the name--either Moshe or Moses; either Shlomo or Solomon--but not both.  The KJV’s use of “Jesus” to refer to Joshua in the two NT references has puzzled and confused millions of Bible readers, myself included, when “Joshua” would have been perfectly clear.

Let me touch briefly how Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 have been treated in various versions ancient and English (the Greek in both places has Iesous)--

The Vulgate (late 4th century) has respectively Iesu and Iesus

The Syriac Peshitta (early 5th century )--yeshua’ / yeshua’

Wycliffe’s version (c. 1385) -- ihesus  / ihesus

Tyndale (1526, 1534, 1535, 1536); Cranmer (1539) -- Iosue / Iosue

Geneva NT (1557) -- Iesus / Iosue

Geneva (1560); Bishops’ (1568); Rheims (1582); KJV (1611) -- Iesus / Iesus

Luther’s German (1534, 1545 and I strongly suspect in the 1522 NT also)--Josue / Josue

Reina-Valera Spanish (1569, 1602)-- Iesus / Iesus but in the margin Josue / Josue

 

In English, of 16th century versions, Tyndale (no doubt under the here-beneficial influence of Luther’s version) uses the Hebrew-based form “Joshua,” thereby making the reference to the famous OT personage Joshua obvious, and sparing the reader confusion between him and Jesus of Nazareth in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8.  This practice was maintained in Cranmer’s version (and probably in Coverdale’s), but was abandoned in part in the 1557 Geneva NT for the Greek-derived form “Iesus” and entirely so in the 1560 Geneva Bible, and all English version thereafter through the KJV in 1611.  I suspect that Calvin’s or Beza’s influence led to the Genevan version’s departure from Tyndale’s precedent (unfortunately, the standard English edition of Calvin’s commentary in Acts does not have his Latin or French version; at Hebrews 4:8, his Latin version has “Iesus”), and the Geneva’s pattern, instead of Tyndale’s, was followed thereafter, to the detriment of the English reader’s understanding. 

Tyndale’s practice was wisely resumed in the American Bible Union version of 1867 (and possibly by others earlier), and especially in the English Revised Version (1881) and the American Standard Version of 1901 (both have “Joshua” in the text both places, with “Gr. Jesus” in the margin), and has been characteristic of English Bible versions ever since.  If comprehension by the English reader is the translator’s goal, the KJV’s “Jesus” in Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 is simply indefensible.

Doug Kutilek

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