Thursday, 27 March 2014

Comments on Psalm 40

One set of arguments that was raised barry umansky on the Contra Blumenthal article has been posted in the comments section and I wish to respond to the claims which he has made, Let's begin:

Glad you stated that one must seek the truth. This dovetails well with my previous post with respect to manipulation of the Hebrew Bible. I realize there is debate about the author of Hebrews although Jerome and Augustine attributed it to Paul. Nevertheless, Hebrews 10 posits the concept of Jesus being the final sacrifice for all mankind. 

The last point that Hebrews 10 presents Jesus as the final sacrifice I will not deny. There is indeed debate as to whom the writer of the Hebrews is and this was mentioned in passing in Contra Blumenthal as a point that wasn't of too much importance in the context of Contra Blumenthal.

The author then puts the words of King David into the mouth of Jesus with reference to Psalm 40. This Psalm has been used by the church as a messianic prophecy stating among other things that the prophecy that the messiah's offering of himself would replace all sacrifices (in Psalm 40) was fulfilled in the crucifixtion and Hebrews 10 confirms this.

However, this is untrue. First, the words were spoken by King David-there is a superscription in the Hebrew Bible attesting to this. These words were never spoken by Jesus. The superscription identifies King David as the author of this psalm. He
describes how his trust in God has been rewarded. King David explains that
gratitude is best displayed by obeying the Torah, and how he has proclaimed
God's wonders in public testimony. He pleads for God's continued help and
protection.

As mentioned in the past, especially in my article responses, I have mentioned the subject of Messianic passages both having a historical context and a messianic application. I am well aware of the fact that David is the one who spoke in the passage, but one must remember that David is a prototype of the Messiah, with some minute differences, namely Jesus having no sin to acknowledge and of course David not being crucified, which is a given. For example in one of my previous articles I have stated the following about Psalm 16:

"The application of Psalm 16 to Jesus by Paul in Acts 2 is this. Despite the Messiah being killed, his body did not linger in the grave as David's body did, nor would it continue to do decay. The Father did not abandon Jesus to continue to lie dead in the tomb and instead of being left in Sheol, he is restored to life. David is preserved in the historical context whereas in the Messianic application Jesus is restored to life and thus was preserved. Both men, despite their circumstances being different, were spared in their given contexts." (http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/examination-of-some-arguments-raised-by.html)

Thus we have a similar scenario presented of historical context and messianic application found in Psalm 40. Jesus continually trusted in the Father to the end, even death on a cross and there is no doubt throughout his ministry, God the Father continued to assist him and draw individuals to him. Even in his adversity, David was also strengthened by the Lord and remains faith and trusts in God regardless of the cost. The obvious differences I have already mentioned in this paper.

The author of Hebrews has Jesus saying:"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”

Here is the translation from the Hebrew of what David actually wrote:"You desired neither sacrifice nor meal offering; You dug ears for me; a burnt offering or a sin offering You did not request.Then I said, "Behold I have come," with a scroll of a book written for me. O God, I desired to do Your will and [to have] Your law within my innards."

This raises multiple questions. First, who gave the author the authority to put the words of King David into the mouth of Jesus? Second how does ..."you dug ears for me"... get translated into "but a body you prepared for me"? Third, how does "behold I have come with a scroll of a book written for me" get translated into " here I am- it is written about me in the scroll"? Fourth, who gave the author the authority to state the the temple sacrificial system was terminated? Fifth, why does the church omit other passages spoken by David where he states - For countless evils have encompassed me; my iniquities
have overtaken me and I could not see [them because] they are more
numerous than the hairs of my head, and my heart has forsaken me" Could it be that these passages would make Jesus a sinner and render him unfit as the unblemished final sacrifice? Finally, how does the last sentence in Hebrews " I have come to to do your will, my God" square with the trinity? If Jesus is co-equal with the father his will should be co-equal as well. Just another blatant example of manipulation of the Hebrew Bible for christological purposes.

Regarding the Trinity with respect to Christ doing the will of the Father, He only does the will of the Father. When we say that Jesus is co-equal to the Father, We do NOT mean they are equal in position, status and rank, we believe they are co-equal in essence in nature. Jesus is subordinate to Father in terms of rank and as he is fully human and subject to the Father, he can relate to the Father as his God, while at the same time be fully God, co-equal with the Father.

Most commentators I have come across do not apply verse 12 of Psalm 40 to Jesus, but rather to the sinners that he died for and the sins of others being placed on him. What I can say is that Jesus has mercy on the sinners mentioned who acknowledge their sin and turn away from them, just as David called on God to free him from his iniquity. This issue does need some thinking over by all of us.

If Jesus sinned, which the author of Hebrews makes very clear is NOT the case, he would be unblemished and unfit for a sacrifice. If he didn't sin, Thank God the Father for his sacrifice satisfying the debt we owe.

Finally, With respect to the translation of a body you have prepared for me, Sam Shamoun has stated the following in an article on this issue:
"Here is what the author of Hebrews wrote:

"Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, "Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God," as it is written of me in the roll of the book.’ When he said above, ‘Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Lo, I have come to do thy will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second." Hebrews 10:5-10

When we read the particular Psalm that the author quoted we do find that there is indeed a variant reading:

"Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire; but thou hast given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering thou hast not required. Then I said, ‘Lo, I come; in the roll of the book it is written of me; I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy law is within my heart.’" Psalm 40:6-8

On this basis it is assumed that the author deliberately tampered with the text to suit his theological agenda.

What this question fails to consider is that the NT authors often quoted a couple of OT text types that are at variance with the standard Hebrew Masoretic text. In fact, the NT authors at times quote a more ancient form of the text than the later Masoretic version as can be seen from a comparison with the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. These two texts often agree with each other in certain readings over against those found in the later Hebrew version.

One must therefore exercise caution before assuming that the NT is corrupting or quoting from an inaccurate version of the Hebrew text solely because their citations differ from those found in the Masoretic version.

In this case, it seems that the author of Hebrews cited an older form of the text, one found in the Septuagint version of the OT Scriptures:

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and sacrifice for sin thou didst not require.

Thus, the Septuagint serves as a witness to an older reading of the Psalms which contained the word body as opposed to that found in certain Hebrew versions.

Yet the fact of the matter is that the great majority of these variants are inconsequential, of no real significance, and can be easily reconciled. None of these variants affect any essential doctrine of the Christian faith.

These references actually help illustrate this point clearly. A careful reading of these two specific variants help clarify one another, and in no way contradict the point being made by the inspired author of Hebrews." (Sam Shamoun, A Misquotation of the Old Testament in the New Testament?http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/q_quote_ot.htm).

He has said more on the issue but I'd recommend reading the article for yourself and come to your own conclusion.

Hope this article has been of help to you guys.

Commentaries I can post on request.

Answering Judaism.

1 comment:

  1. There are significant problems with respect to the claim you are making, namely that the Septuagint is based on an older reading which contained the word body. First,rabbis who created the original Septuagint only translated the Five Books of Moses, and nothing more. This undisputed point is well attested to by the Letter of Aristeas, the Talmud, Josephus, the Church fathers, and numerous other critical sources. In other words, these ancient 72 rabbis did not translate the Book of Psalms.
    It is not known who translated the remainder of the Hebrew Bible but it is recognized that it was the Christian community who continued the translations into Greek. In other words, it is not a Jewish work at all.
    Finally, it is easy make the claim that the Septuagint is based on an earlier Hebrew version- so I would challenge you to provide this earlier version in Hebrew which utilizes a word such as גּוּף or גְּוִיָּה appear meaning body.

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