"AS I SEE IT" 

Volume 12, Number 8, August 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

 

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 upon request.]

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Another Darwin Quote

 

In the article about Charles Darwin in the previous issue of “As I See It” (12:7), we inadvertently failed to include a quotation we located in his son’s account of his life--

 

When I think of the many cases of men who have studied one subject for years, and have persuaded themselves of the truth of the foolishest [sic] doctrines, I feel sometimes a little frightened, whether I may not be one of these monomaniacs.

Charles Darwin

The Life of Charles Darwin by Francis Darwin

London: Senate, 1995 reprint of 1902 John Murray edition

p. 210

 

In light of Darwin’s own admission that frequently he was overwhelmingly impressed with the evidence of design in nature, a conclusion he had presuppositionally ruled out and therefore refused to entertain, he had good grounds for his expressed fears regarding his own thoughts.

---Doug Kutilek

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“El Gibbor”:  “The Mighty God” of Isaiah 9:6 and the NET Bible

 

In writing about the then recently-published Revised Standard Version, R. Laird Harris wrote:

 

It is a curious study to check the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, a monument of higher critical scholarship, and note how every important Old Testament passage purporting to predict directly the coming of Christ has been altered so as to remove this possibility.  Sometimes the alteration is by translation, and sometimes by unfounded alteration of the Hebrew consonants.  Cf. Psalm 2:12; 16:10; 45:6; 110:1 (the small “l”); Isaiah 7:14, Daniel 9:25f; Micah 5:2, etc.  Comparison of all of these verses with the New Testament and with the translations of the pre-Christian Greek Septuagint is most instructive.  It is almost impossible to escape the conclusion that the admittedly higher critical bias of the translators has operated in all of those places.  The translations given are by no means necessary from the Hebrew and in some cases, like Psalm 45:6, are in clear violation of the Hebrew.  But the man who does not believe in the supernatural Christ cannot believe in the Old Testament, for, as Jesus said, the two stand or fall together.”

Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible

Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957; revised edition, 1969

p. 58

 

And there is the comment of the late Dallas Theological Seminary Old Testament professor Merrill F. Unger in his analysis of the RSV OT, part of the DTS faculty review of the RSV which appeared in Bibliotheca Sacra 110:437 (January 1953), p. 57:

 

Because of a lowered view of the reliability of the Massoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the fallacious assumption that an acceptable translation is possible purely on the basis of linguistic science, the translators of the Revised Standard Version represent a radical departure from the standard of doctrinal reliability set by the Authorized and American Standard Versions. In no phase of their work does this dangerous feature appear more plainly than in their rendering of pivotal passages of Messianic import scattered throughout the Old Testament.

 

Unger then cites numerous examples of this denigrating of OT Messianic prophecies in the RSV. 

 

I regret very much to be compelled by the evidence to say that what R. Laird Harris and Merrill F. Unger decried as higher critical, anti-supernatural bias in the RSV in corrupting the Messianic prophecies of the OT is very much in evidence in the translation and notes of the New English Translation, the so-called “NET” Bible, produced and published chiefly by a cadre of Dallas Theological Seminary professors (I am employing for this study the “First Beta Edition” of the NET Bible, published in 2001).  It is my understanding that the treatment of the Messianic prophecies is largely or entirely the work of current Dallas OT professor and department chair Robert B. Chisholm, Jr.  The notes in the NET Bible are certainly entirely in harmony with Chisholm’s published views, for example as presented in his 2002 book, Handbook on the Prophets (Baker).  Indeed the NET notes and the statements in this book are often closely similar, even verbally identical.

 

Almost but not quite universally, Chisholm in the NET Bible guts OT messianic prophecies after the manner of the RSV.  In both book and Bible, he very frequently presents the arguments against the historic messianic interpretation, employing arguments embraced by liberal and apostate scholars, and often utterly fails to present the conservative case either in full, or at all.  Others besides myself have strong questions about Chisholm’s commitment to the historic faith of Dallas Seminary (as exemplified by his predecessors in the OT department, such as Charles Feinberg and Merrill Unger) and the fundamental tenets of conservative Biblical Christianity.  Let me quote, by way of example, from a review of Handbook on the Prophets by William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary, published in The Master’s Seminary Journal (vol. 16, no. 2, 2005, pp. 328-332).  After noting some of the strengths of this work, Dr. Barrick writes,

 

However, A[ncient] N[ear] E[astern] historiography and literary characteristics have led him and others to treat some of the large numbers in the OT as hyperbolic.  Thus, Chisholm believes that a number like the 185,000 for the Assyrian dead in Isa. 37:37-38 is far higher than reality (p. 89)--a conclusion this reviewer does not believe necessary. . . .

 

Chisholm’s treatment of some traditional messianic texts as indirectly messianic rather than exclusively messianic will be disconcerting to some readers (including this reviewer).  He concludes that the prophet intended Isa. 9:6-7 to refer to a mere human king for whom he ascribes hyperbolic titles (pp. 38-40).  Isaiah was not aware that another descendant of David would arise who would ultimately fulfill even the hyperbolic language in the prophetic announcement.  Chisholm believes that the context of Zech. 12:10 and 13:7 requires a non-messianic interpretation (pp. 474-75).  He explains that John 19:37 refers to the OT passage as a metaphor tied to Christ’s spear wound only as a “specific example of Israel’s rejection of God” (p. 475).  As for Jesus’ own apparent application of the text [Zech. 13:7] (Matt. 26:31), He “utilized it in a proverbial manner” (p. 475), not as an indication that it was directly messianic.  This reviewer agrees with Will Varner’s conclusion that it should be interpreted as a direct messianic reference (The Messiah Revealed, Rejected, Received, Author House, 2004, pp. 98-103). . . .

 

He refers to the language of Jeremiah 50-51 as “undoubtedly stylized and exaggerated” (p. 213). . . .

 

Since Chisholm states that “the exiles of the northern kingdom disappeared as a distinct ethnic entity as they were assimilated into the surrounding culture of their new homes” (p. 46), he concludes that “a future reunion of Israel and Judah and the implementation of a new covenant with both cannot be literally fulfilled” (p. 197).  Without clarification in this volume, the reader is left to wonder what Chisholm envisions for the future restoration of national Israel. . . .

 

In the author’s attempt to recall that the message of Jonah cannot be destroyed by liberals who deny the book’s historicity, he declares, “Unlike the exodus and the resurrection of Jesus, the historicity of the Book of Jonah is not foundational to redemptive historicity and biblical faith” (p. 408).  It is unfortunate that the readers of this volume will have to seek out Chisholm’s other writings on Jonah to discover that he truly does adhere to its historicity. . . .

 

“Seventy years” (Jer. 25:11, 12; 29:10; 2 Chron. 36:21; Dan. 9:2), according to Chisholm, is a non-literal stereotypical number (p. 185).  “Seventy weeks” (Dan. 9:24) is likewise a symbolic number (p. 317).  He attributes the latter to the imprecision of “the apocalyptic literary genre” (p. 317).  He makes no attempt to identify viable options that would indicate that the number “seventy” could be literal rather than symbolic.

 

Lastly, without providing any clarification or disclaimer, a positive citation of Richard Rice regarding the nature of God (p. 372) leaves the reader with the impression that Chisholm might agree with open theism.  Readers would have to have read already his discussion of Jer. 4:28 (p. 161, esp. n. 25) and of the Cyrus prophecies in Isaiah (p. 108) to know that their impression would be in error. . . .

 

Frankly, such repeated subverting of the historical-grammatical interpretation of the OT is what we might expect from a Fuller or Princeton OT professor, not one from Dallas, and could easily lead one to wonder if Professor Chisholm is not the Crawford Toy of Dallas Theological Seminary.  This denigrating OT numbers as “exaggerated” or non-literal / only symbolic undercuts the historical veracity of the OT.  If these numbers are not to be taken literally, why not likewise say the 400 years of servitude in Egypt (Genesis 15:13; cf. Exodus 12:40, 41), or the 40 years in the desert, or the 480 years from the exodus to the building of the temple (I Kings 6:1), or the large number of participants in the exodus (taken literally, involving millions) were all merely hyperbolic or stereotypical?  It is by this same convenient (but unconvincing) dismissal that amillennialists deny the literal thousand-year reign of Christ in Revelation 20. 

 

In all fairness, we hasten to add that, in contrast to this easy dismissal of a literal interpretation of the numbers pointed out in Dr. Barrick’s review, in an article by Professor Chisholm in the latest issue of Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52:2, June 2009, “The Chronology of the Book of Judges: A Linguistic Clue to Solving a Pesky Problem,” Chisholm takes all the numbers for the various times of servitude and the periods of service for the various judges in the Book of Judges, along with I Kings 6:1, at face value, without finding stereotypical or mere symbolism in them.  How his hermeneutics can accept some OT numbers at face value, while at times dismissing others, especially those of prophetic significance, is beyond my power of explanation.  It seems to be a sort of intellectual schizophrenia. 

 

But to my mind, far more grave is the denigrating and denying of the direct messianic reference of numerous OT passages, which cuts at the heart of Jesus’ and the apostles’ claim that He was indeed the promised One “of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets did write.”  This includes, especially, the claim that the OT presentation of the Messiah son of David as Deity is to be taken as hyperbole.

 

In the treatment of Messianic Prophecies in the NET Bible in general, there is a serious and inexplicable neglect of both ancient Jewish interpretation of these texts in rabbinic literature, on the one hand, and NT quotations of them on the other.  In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, for example, arguably the most important Messianic prophecy in the OT, not once do the extensive notes in the NET Bible hint at the fact that this passage was widely interpreted Messianically in ancient Jewish literature, (Targum, Talmud, Midrash and more) and is very extensively quoted in the NT, perhaps more so than any other OT text, and is always interpreted in the NT as strictly Messianic.  Can this “oversight” be accidental?

 

We wish here to address specifically the treatment of Isaiah 9:6, 7, particularly the term “el gibbor” in v. 6 (v. 5 in Hebrew), historically translated into English as “mighty God” (Geneva, KJV, ASV, RSV, NASB, NIV, ESV, HCSB, etc., and even the NET Bible).  What to the great majority of Christian commentators has been understood as an affirmation of the Deity of the Messiah is dismissed as hyperbole by Chisholm in both Handbook and NET notes (they are worded here almost identically).  To quote the Handbook (pp. 39-40):

 

The second title “Mighty God,” portrays the king as God’s representative on the battlefield.  God supernaturally empowers the king for battle.  When the king’s enemies oppose him on the battlefield, they are, as it were [emphasis added], fighting against God himself.  Though we might in retrospect see this title as indicating the coming king’s deity, it is unlikely that Isaiah or his audience would have understood the title in such a bold way.  Psalms 45:6 address the Davidic King as “God” because he ruled and fought as God’s representative on earth.  Ancient Near Eastern art and literature depict gods training kings for battle, bestowing special weapons, and intervening in battle.  According to Egyptian propaganda, the Hittites described Ramses II as follows: “No man is he who is among us, It is Seth great-of-strength, Baal in person; Not the deeds of man are these his doings, They are of one who is unique.”  The royal title in Isaiah 9:6 probably envisions a similar kind of response when friend and foe alike look at the Davidic king in full battle regalia.

 

What an anemic explanation!  Merely God’s representative on the battlefield?  While consideration of Ancient Near Eastern texts and art may shed some light on the matter, a consideration of evidence within the OT--which Chisholm does not do at all--is most telling in this regard.  “El gibbor” in the OT is always used as a title of Deity.  El is one of several OT Hebrew names for God (its relationship, if any to two other Hebrew words for God, eloah and elohim, is much disputed).  In actual usage, El is used overwhelming of the true God, and overwhelmingly in combination with modifying adjectives, as here (see the analysis of El by Jack B. Scott, in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, (Moody, 1980), vol. I, pp. 93-4). 

 

Gibbor is a common adjective, occurring more than 100 times in the OT, often applied to men, as warriors and heroes, but also applied in some cases to God.  The combination of El with the modifying adjective gibbor occurs five times, and always refers to God:

 

Deuteronomy 10:17--“For Yahweh your God is the supreme God [lit. God of the gods] and Supreme Lord [lit. Lord of the lords], the great, the mighty and the fearsome God [Heb. ha’El haggadol haggibbor vehannora’].”

 

Isaiah 9:6--“Mighty God’ [Heb.El gibbor]

 

Isaiah 10:21--“Mighty God” [Heb.El gibbor], who is identified previously in 10:20, as “Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel”

 

Jeremiah 32:18--“The great, the mighty God [Heb. ha’El haggadol haggibbor), Yahweh of armies is His name.” (As with Nehemiah later, Jeremiah quotes in part the words of Deuteronomy 10:17)

 

Nehemiah 9:32--“You are our God, the great, the mighty and the fearsome God [Heb. ha’El haggadol haggibbor vehannora’].” (obviously a direct quotation from Deuteronomy 10:17)

 

In these five passages, the adjective gibbor is used attributively, modifying El, and in all cases besides Isaiah 9:6, especially including Isaiah 10:21, they are clearly titles, names, or descriptions of God, not of a man standing in God’s stead.  There is no grammatical reason for excepting Isaiah 9:6 from the same usage.  The example closest in form (indeed identical) and closest in proximity to 9:6, that is, Isaiah 10:21--by the same author in the same context--, should be granted the greatest weight in the interpretation of the usage in 9:6.  And 10:21 is obviously a declaration of pure, unalloyed, unqualified Deity.

 

(Some additional passages where gibbor is used of God, but without El, may be of interest:

 

Psalm 24:8--“Yahweh strong and mighty [gibbor], Yahweh mighty [gibbor] in war”  

 

Jeremiah 20:11--And Yahweh is with me as a mighty [gibbor], terrifying one.”

 

Compare Psalm 45:3, were gibbor is notably used to describe the Davidic king at his wedding.  “Mighty God” in Psalm 50:1, KJV, represents the Hebrew El elohim rather than El gibbor).

 

When Chisholm wrote, “we might in retrospect see this title as indicating the coming king’s deity,” is he implying that we might not?  Or that to do so is to read back into the passage something that was not truly there originally?  What we do see is that in retrospect, yes, the Messiah was clearly called “mighty God” whether Isaiah and his contemporaries understood it or not, and whether Mr. Chisholm thinks they did or not!

 

Whether Isaiah and his contemporaries would have correctly and fully understood the force of the words here as declaring the essential (as in “essence, being, nature”) Deity of the Messiah is irrelevant (and I am not so sure they did not).  Beyond question, some writings of the OT prophets and NT apostles were not understood by their contemporaries (cf. 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 2 Peter 3:15, 16); indeed, there are some things in Scripture, I have no doubt, that we do not understand fully yet.  We know that the ancient Jews, the pre-crucifixion Apostles included, were sorely troubled and greatly puzzled by OT prophecies of Messiah’s suffering and death (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Zechariah 12:10; Daniel 9:26; et al.) and could not in their minds reconcile them with prophecies of His eternal reign (see John 12:34).  Their failure to understand in no way discredited the literal nature of both streams of Messianic prophecy, both His suffering and His reigning. 

 

In truth, there was no deification or even hint of the deification of kings in ancient Israel.  To the contrary, there are several examples of prophets or priests sternly rebuking David and his regal descendents for their sins, including David by Nathan (2 Samuel 12:1-14); Uzziah by Azariah (2 Chronicles 26:16-21) and Hezekiah by Isaiah (Isaiah 39), which thing they would not have dared to do to a “god”!  The repeated OT declarations which, taken at obvious face value, ascribe Deity to the Messianic king must have arrested the attention of the prophets and the people, and perhaps generated some bewilderment.  But to find something other than a plain declaration of Messiah’s Deity there is to twist these words.

 

The OT repeatedly presents the coming Davidic Messianic king as possessing the qualities, nature and designations of God.  In Isaiah 7:14, His name is called “Immanu-el,” literally, “God with us.”  As is well known, “name” in Hebrew often does not mean a proper name, but a description of a person’s essence, nature, being, character.  By way of example, in Exodus 34:5-7, in response to Moses’ request, Yahweh descends onto the mountain and passes by the shielded Moses and proclaims “the name of Yahweh.”  What follows is not an exposition or etymology of the proper name “Yahweh,” but a series of descriptive terms, expressing God’s character and nature: “merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth,” etc.  So, too, God says of the Angel (lit. Messenger) of Yahweh, “my name is in him” (Exodus 23:21).  It is clear from a collective study of the passages regarding the Angel of Yahweh, especially Exodus 3, that He is a Divine Person, and Exodus 23:21 may perhaps be paraphrased, “He has the same nature as me.” 

 

At Isaiah 7:14, “his name will be called Immanu-el” means by His very nature, He is “God with us,” a prophesy of the incarnation.  At Isaiah 9:6, the “name,” that is, nature and character of the child born, the son given, is described by eight terms, grouped apparently in four pairs--He is “wondrous in counsel, mighty God, eternal father, prince of peace.”  To seek some sense for “mighty God” other than a declaration of Messiah’s Deity is an attempt to explain away the obvious.

 

In Jeremiah 23:5, 6, “David’s righteous branch,” the promised future Messiah, is identified: “This is his name by which he will be called, ‘Yahweh our righteousness.”  It is of note that in the Babylonian Talmud, it is recognized that the Messiah is here called Yahweh.  “Said R. Samuel bar Nahmani said R. Yohanan, ‘There are three who are called by the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and these are they: the righteous, the Messiah, and Jerusalem.’” (The Babylonian Talmud: vol. 15, Baba Batra, by Jacob Neusner, [Hendrickson, 2005] folio 75b, p. 224).  This verse is then quoted.  This identification is found in other places in ancient rabbinic literature as well (see Robert Hayward, The Targum of Jeremiah [Michael Glazier, 1987], p. 111, n. 4.

 

In Zechariah 12:10, in a context where Yahweh Himself is speaking--“Me whom they have pierced”--, anciently the Jews recognized this as a Messianic prophecy though of course they had trouble with several elements in the text (see Sukkah 52 a in the Babylonian Talmud, but especially the Jerusalem Targum at this place).  I dealt in some detail with the latter in “A Remarkable Rabbinic Interpretation Regarding the Messiah,” AISI 7:11. I will reproduce here my translation of the verse (words in italics are additions to the Hebrew made by the Targumist)--

 

“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.”

 

If this verse is Yahweh speaking, which it is, and if this verse is prophetic of the piercing of the Messiah (as even the ancient Jews recognized), then it follows inescapably that Messiah must be Deity (I hope to address this passage in greater detail in the future).  That Mr. Chisholm cannot see it, even in light of John’s quotation of this verse (John 19:37) is remarkable.

 

Then there is Psalm 110:5, in what Jesus and Peter both affirmed is a strictly Messianic psalm (Matthew 22:41-46; Acts 2:32-36).  The vowel pointing for the word “My Lord” in v. 5 (viz., Adonay) is such as is only used of God.  In truth, this reading may be a substitution for an original “Yahweh” which is the reading of many Hebrew manuscripts, including some from the Cairo Geniza (some have tried to escape from the plain sense here of Messiah’s Deity by having Yahweh sitting at the Messiah’s right hand!).

 

As for Psalm 45:6, in a Psalm written in commemoration of the wedding of a very human Davidic king--probably Solomon--and best understood as Messianic in anticipation (as with Psalm 72), the best resolution by far of the “difficulty” of apparently addressing such a merely human king as God, is the suggestion of Dahood in his commentary on Psalms--one noted by Craigie and VanGemeren in their respective commentaries--, that “throne” should be understood as a denominative verb, namely, “God has enthroned you for ever and ever,” a sentiment wholly in keeping with the provisions of the Davidic covenant (2 Samuel 7:4-17; Psalm 89:19-37; cf. Psalm 72:5-7, 17; and Isaiah 9:7) and structurally parallel to “God has blessed you forever” (45:2) and “God has anointed you” (45:7).  To explore this interpretation in detail here would be to go beyond the confines of our present discussion, but be it noted that the supposed example in Psalm 45 of calling a mere man hyperbolically “God,” and thereby setting a “precedent” for interpreting Isaiah 9:6 the same way is rendered null and void by this understanding.

 

But let us suppose, contrary to Chisholm’s interpretations, that God really did intend to declare that the Messiah was literally both descendant of David and also Deity?  How else could He have said it to make it clearer, plainer, more obvious?  “Immanuel,” “El Gibbor,” “Yahweh our Righteousness,” “Me whom they pierced”--these all seem quite plain (which is why they are interpreted so widely as teaching the Messiah’s Deity).  How could God have been plainer, if He in fact did want to declare that the Messiah was both God and man in one person?  How?  Perhaps Mr. Chisholm can tell us that.

 

As for the people imaging the Davidic king in full battle regalia to be a god, after the manner of the pagans’ response to their kings--is there a single place in the OT where a battling Davidic king is so described--Jehoshaphat?  Uzziah?  Hezekiah?  Josiah?  No, Isaiah 9:6 is no mere admiration of the Davidic warrior king, as though he were a god, but a barebones, how-could-you-possibly-miss-this declaration that he is God!  The Messiah, in “name,” that is in His essential nature, is declared to be “El Gibbor,” which is everywhere else in the OT a title of Deity, as it most assuredly is here as well.

 

(For a fuller treatment of the Deity of the OT Messiah, see the extensive and valuable discussion by B. B. Warfield, ”The Divine Messiah in the Old Testament,” Princeton Theological Review, xiv, 1916, pp. 370-416; reprinted in The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, vol. III, Christology and Criticism (Baker Book House, 1991 reprint), pp. 3-49; and the excellent quote from Franz Delitzsch on Romans 9:5 reproduced in H. C. G. Moule, The Epistle to the Romans (Christian Literature Crusade, 1975 reprint), pp. 262-3.)

 

---Doug Kutilek

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The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Reliability of the Masoretic Text:

a Question

 

Hi Doug.

 

I was told the KJV is reliable because of the book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 

What would you say?

 

D--- J-----

---

 

Mr. J-----:

 

What the Isaiah scroll(s) from Qumran--Q Isa A (virtually complete) and 20 other, now fragmentary scrolls of Isaiah--confirm is the reliability, not of the KJV per se, but of the Hebrew text on which the great majority of vernacular Old Testament translations since the Reformation are based.  Between the oldest complete Masoretic Hebrew manuscript, Codex Leningradensis ("L"), which was copied just after 1000 A.D., and the Qumran scrolls is a span of over 1,000 years, yet in that period, the consonantal text is virtually unchanged.  And this fact assures us that the successive generations of Jewish scribes did faithfully reproduce the text without significant alteration for a full millennium (the Masoretes did add vowels to the consonantal text, plus accents and marginal notes, but they left the consonants without deliberate alteration).  This also strongly suggests that the scribes who transmitted Isaiah from the prophet's original manuscript to the Qumran community--a period of more than 6 centuries--were likewise faithful and careful copyists, since scribal habits of care or carelessness are also transmitted from generation to generation. 

 

Before the discovery of the DSS in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the only pre-Medieval “checks” on the reliability of the Medieval Hebrew text were quotations in rabbinic literature (Mishnah, Talmud), but especially ancient translations--the pre-Christian Greek Septuagint, the Peshitta Syriac, the Latin Vulgate and the Aramaic Targums.  Some of these, particularly the Septuagint, have occasional substantial divergences from the Masoretic text, and some scholars have argued for the “priority” in importance and accuracy of the text of the Septuagint where it differs from the Hebrew.  Claims of general Septuagintal superiority over the Masoretic Hebrew text now have few advocates, in light of the DSS evidence. That each of the ancient versions, at times, preserves original readings that have been miscopied in the Masoretic Hebrew is accepted as fact by all experts in the text of the OT, as it was by the KJV translators, who sometimes abandoned the Masoretic reading for that of the Septuagint, Vulgate, Peshitta or Targums.

 

So, the Dead Sea Scroll copies of Isaiah confirm the basic reliability of the Medieval copies of the Hebrew text, but not the reliability of any particular translation of that text.  The KJV is not at all unique in having been translated from the Masoretic Hebrew text (with nearly 300 places excepted in the KJV translation).  This is the basic text for the NIV, NASB, ESV and HCSB, and many others.

 

Doug Kutilek

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Spurgeon Implores Supplemental Divine Election

 

W. Y. Fullerton, a long-time close associate and co-laborer with Charles H. Spurgeon, wrote a biography of Spurgeon which is among the best in one volume.  In that volume he records a statement that Spurgeon made at a Thursday evening service in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.  Since the quote is rather remarkable, for a self-professed five-point Calvinist, let us hear Fullerton’s account:

 

This breadth of heart was revealed on another occasion when in his prayer at a Thursday evening service he dared to go far beyond his creed, and in his passion for the souls of men cried, “Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect--and then elect some more.”

 

C. H. Spurgeon: a Biography by W. Y. Fullerton. 

London: Williams and Norgate, 1920; p. 182

[this quote may perhaps be found in some other editions on p. 153]

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Book Reviews

 

John A. Broadus: A Living Legacy, edited by David S. Dockery and Roger D. Duke.  Nashville, B & H, 2008.  260 pp., paperback

 

The pre-eminent Southern Baptist scholar in the first half-century of the existence of Southern Baptist Convention (founded 1845) was John Albert Broadus (1827-1895).  A Virginia native and educated at the University of Virginia (M. A., 1850), he was a widely-acclaimed pastor and college professor in Charlottesville, Virginia in the 1850s, while still a very young man.  He became a founding professor of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (originally in Greenville, South Carolina, but relocated to Louisville, Kentucky in 1877) at its inception; he retained this position until his death.  He taught homiletics (bearing fruit in his famous textbook, On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons [first edition, 1870], the most widely-used book on preaching ever published), and New Testament interpretation, including Greek.  His writings included a justly famous commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew in the American Commentary series (almost the only volume in that set of permanent value), a less-known but excellent commentary on Mark’s Gospel (reviewed in AISI 11:12), a harmony of the Gospels, a single volume of sermons and addresses, a lecture series on the history of preaching and Jesus of Nazareth, besides extensive writing for periodic literature. 

 

Broadus was very much in demand as a preacher and pulpit supply, as well as guest lecturer, and he commonly spent the summer months as the designated preacher in some large and famous Baptist church, often in the North.  He established a legacy of warm-hearted excellent scholarship among Southern Baptists, a legacy continued by his student, colleague, and later son-in-law, A. T. Robertson.

 

This present volume consists of ten essays by ten different authors on various aspects of Broadus’ life: a life sketch, his pastoral work, his seminary labors, his writing (especially his book on homiletics), his unpublished Yale lecture notes on preaching, his negative view of sensationalistic preaching; and more.  There is a considerable amount of overlap among the essays (I think the fact the Broadus’ one student in homiletics in 1866 was blind was mentioned 5 or 6 times!).  A couple of the writers tried--a little too hard, I think--to drag Broadus into the “Reformed” camp.  Was he a moderate Calvinist?  Yes.  Reformed with all that that designation entails?  Judging from what I have personally discovered through close familiarity with much of his writing, No.

 

Broadus is a figure of great importance in American Baptist history in general and in South Baptist history in particular.  He is one of my three chiefest role models in the ministry (the others being Spurgeon and Robertson).  If this volume stirs the reader up to take up and read A. T. Robertson’s biography of Broadus (reviewed in AISI 1:5), Broadus’ text on homiletics, his commentary on Matthew, or his book of sermons, then its purpose would have been meet, and the reader well-served.

---Doug Kutilek

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“Certainly the aim of the church and the preacher is to bring glory to God by proclaiming the gospel biblically and compellingly to as many people as possible.”

Beecher L. Johnson, p.213

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Fields and Pastures New: My First Years as Country Vet by Dr. John McCormack.  New York: Crown Publishers, 1995.  265 pp., hardback

 

Dr. John McCormack, now professor emeritus of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, has written, and written well, in several books his experiences as a veterinarian.  In this highly readable and often hilariously funny account he chronicles his first year (in the early 1960s) in independent practice as a 28-year-old animal doctor in Choctaw County, Alabama (bordering Mississippi, about an hour north of Mobile).  As the first resident professional veterinarian in this almost entirely rural county’s history, he dealt with all kinds of animals, from large farm livestock, to household pets and even wildlife, as well as all kinds of people--small town residents, subsistence farmers, moonshiners, “folk-medicine” animal “doctors,” county agriculture agents, church gossips and more.  He shares with us the sights, the sounds, the scenes, and sometimes the smells (occasionally atrocious in the extreme) of labor-distressed cows, dogs with abscessed teeth, mules, hogs needing surgery, and a litter of skunks he regrettably agreed to “de-scent.”

 

As an entertaining and sometimes instructive diversion, you might pick up a copy of this book.

---Doug Kutilek

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