Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Differences in the Hebrew and Septuagint Old Testament Canons of Scripture


Many Christians are unaware that the Old Testament Jewish canon of Scripture is very different than that of our Bibles.  In our Bibles, the Old Testament is broken down into the three major divisions: the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets – and even these can be broken down further.  But the order as found in the Jewish canon of Scripture is the Law, the Prophets, and then the Psalms (see chart).  Consider the following.

Lk. 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.    

Jesus began with the Law and the Prophets and then assuredly progressed to the Psalms; and indeed, all of Scripture is about him (Jn. 5:39 e.g.).      

Lk. 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Notice the order: the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and then the Psalms (Writings: Ketivum).  But there’s more.  In reproving the Pharisees and other religious leaders of his day, Jesus says:

Mt. 23:35 That upon you [Pharisees] may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

This represents the Jewish canon of Scripture because Abel was slain in Genesis 4:8 and Zacharias was slain in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22: the first and last books found in the Hebrew canon of Scripture.  In addition, the Jews have a shortened term for these three main divisions called the Tanakh, which means, “that which is read.”  It’s derived by taking the first letter of each word used in naming their three main divisions: “T” from Torah (Law), “n” from Nevi’im (Prophets), and “k” from Ketivum (Psalms), which yet again reveals the threefold division as found in the Hebrew canon of Scripture. 

But what’s the significance of this, if any?

First, because of the arrangement of the New Testament canon as found in our Bibles today, people seem to have the tendency to believe that the prophets of Israel prophesied and wrote their books after the period of Kings and Chronicles when in fact they did during these times.  This in and of itself isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s something we need to be aware of.   

And second, and more importantly, the canon found in our “Protestant” Bibles today was highly influenced by the Septuagint, which begins in Genesis and ends in Malachi and includes the books of the Apocrypha as part of its Old Testament canon.  But yet, we’re often told that Jesus (and his disciples) quoted from the Septuagint although we’ve learned today that he didn’t because he constantly referred to the three main divisions as found in the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament and not that of the Greek Septuagint.  Selah.

Hebrew Canon (Tanakh)
Protestant Canon
The Law
(Torah)
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
The Law
Pentateuch
Genesis
Exodus
Leviticus
Numbers
Deuteronomy
The Prophets (Nevi’im)
Joshua
Judges
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Ezekiel
Hosea
Joel
Amos

Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi
Historical Books
Joshua
Judges
Ruth
1 Samuel
2 Samuel
1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Ezra
Nehemiah
Ester
The Psalms
Poetical Books
Job
Psalms
Proverbs
Ecclesiastes
Song of Solomon
The Prophets
Major
Prophets
Isaiah
Jeremiah
Lamentations
Ezekiel
Daniel
The Psalms
(Writings or
Ketivum)
Psalms
Proverbs
Job
Song of Solomon
Ruth
Lamentations
Ecclesiastes
Ester
Daniel
Ezra
Nehemiah
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles
Minor
Prophets
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah
Malachi

What the Bible Teaches About Life on Other Planets and Alien Beings


Gal 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.  8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.             

Some would assert that there’s life on other planets.  Books, TV shows, documentaries, and other forms of media have long reported on these things.  But what does the Bible have to say?  Or does it say anything at all?  Fortunately it does. 

Gen 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

From Genesis, we see that the sun and moon were created for “signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” to “give light upon the earth.”  Note that they’re for the earth and nothing else; therefore, from this, it’s easy to infer that only the earth was intended for life. Psalms 115:16 supports this view.   

16The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

On the sixth day of Creation, God formed Adam from the dust of the earth, and then later that same day created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs.  And after them, all men are the result of procreation between Adam and Eve: that’s why Eve is called the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20); and since man is made just a little lower than the angels (Ps. 8:4-6; Heb. 2:5-9), then what room does that leave for alien beings and intelligent life on other planets?  Psalms 115:16 doesn’t allow for a gap between that which was formed on the earth and that which was formed in heaven.  In other words, the only signs of life that are ever mentioned in the Bible are those which God created for himself in the heavenlies and those he began on earth.  And so if there’s life on other planets, from whence did it come?  And who is their Creator?  The answer is obvious – else God would have told us so.
           
This would almost seems humorous if it wasn’t for certain that Satan would use it to deceive the elect – causing them to be less fruitful by turning their attention away from serving the Lord to those things which appear in the sky.  We are told not to chase signs and wonders and the Bible does in fact tell us that there will be many things happening in the sky above (Lu. 21:11).  But these things should not frighten us nor deter our attention from serving the one true and living God.
           
Of course someone may be curious about alien abductions and the like.  But as we’ve already seen, aliens simply just do not exist.  So what are we to think?  The common story by people who claim to have been visited or abducted by aliens is that they underwent some sort of alien autopsy and were left scarred (physically or otherwise) by the event, or that the event was accompanied by a wondrous light and offerings of wondrous knowledge and insight, perhaps even words of caution.   
           
For those who claim to be harmed, Satan is come to steal, kill, and destroy and so there is no doubt that he wants to harm people in any way that he can, or lead them to believe that they were harmed (Jn. 10:10).  Frankly, these claims are ridiculous.  It may be real in their mind, but at some level they have given themselves, and their minds, over to Satan (2 Thess. 2:11). 
           
For those who claim to have received some sort of special knowledge, this isn’t anything new.  Satan appeared to Eve and succeeded in tempting her by offering information which would cause her to become much wiser and become like God (Gen. 3:1-7; 2 Cor. 11:3-4).  Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), but unless this “angel,” or “alien being,” is speaking positively of Jesus Christ, or repentance based upon his blood etc., then it isn’t of God – and this is the summation of the matter.  Selah.          

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Did the King James Translators Mistranslate “Easter" in Acts 12:4?



And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

In the King James Bible (KJB), the word translated “Easter” in Acts 12:4 is the Greek word pascha.  This word is found 29 times in the New Testament and on every occasion it’s translated as “Passover” except for this one instance in Acts 12:4.  But why the sudden departure?

All modern versions of the Bible translate pascha in Acts 12:4 as “Passover” whereas the KJB translates it as “Easter.”  So if it can be proven that pascha should be translated as “Passover” instead of “Easter,” then we should be reading from one of the modern versions.  But if it can be proven that pascha should have been translated as “Easter,” then we should be reading from the KJB.  Two Bibles that read differently can’t both be correct, and so one is right and the other is wrong.  Therefore, a side must be chosen.  And so it isn’t just a matter of who translated pascha correctly, it’s a matter of which version of the Bible we should be reading: one of the newer more modern versions or the KJB.  But let’s have a closer look.   

As a holiday, Easter began many centuries ago as a hedonistic fertility rite honoring the goddess Astarte (Ishtar).[1]  The rabbit and the egg are symbols of fertility and this is why we have Easter eggs and the Easter (Playboy) bunny.  Therefore, needless to say, Easter and Passover have nothing to do with one another.  Passover is Christian and Easter is pagan.  Easter is celebrated in the morning (Eze. 8:13-16) and Passover at night (Dt. 16:6).  These two are diametrically opposed to one another as are the two sets of manuscripts used in making the modern versions of the Bible and the King James.[2]  Suffice it to say that the only thing that Passover and Easter share in common is that they both occur during the Jewish month of Nisan (March\April).  But the question remains, is Acts 12:4 referring to Passover or Easter?  The answer is found in the beginning verses of Acts 12:

Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.  2And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.  3And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread [in which Peter was arrested].)  4And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter [Passover?]to bring him forth to the people [to kill him].

Passover is on the 14th of Nisan which is immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins on the 15th and ends on the 21st (Ex. 12:12-18; Num. 28:16-18; Dt. 16:1-8).  Easter occurs a few days afterward.  But from vv. 3-4, Peter is arrested during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which means that Passover had already passed and that Easter hadn’t yet arrived, and so it would make no sense for Herod to say that he’s going to kill Peter after the Passover because the Passover had already passed.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was already underway! 

In other words, Herod is speaking of the Passover as if it hadn’t happened yet but was going to happen soon.  But v. 3 has Peter being arrested during the Feast of Unleavened Bread which always follows the Passover, and so Herod couldn’t have been referring to the Passover as the modern versions suggest because Passover occurs before the Feast of Unleavened Bread and not after – unless of course he was referring to the next Passover which was a full year away!  But this is unlikely as the context of the passage is that of Peter needing quick deliverance (Acts 12:5-19). 

In addition, “Passover” in Scripture is never used to refer to the entire 8-day celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, although it is true that the Feast of Unleavened Bread often includes the idea of the Passover (Mt. 26:17; Mk. 14:12; Lu. 22:7), but not vice versa.  Passover was a unique event that occurred during one evening and not over the course of an entire week; so to translate Acts 12:4 as “Passover” would have contradicted common practice and usage of the term thus adding to the confusion, of which God is not the author (1 Cor. 14:33). 

Herod’s remarks would have made sense had he arrested Peter before the Passover – intending to kill him afterwards; but it was too late as they were already in the middle of the Feast (3); but again, he didn’t because pascha either refers to Passover or Easter, but not the Feast.  So to render pascha as “Passover” really makes no sense: it had already passed.  The translators of the KJB saw this problem and rendered it “Easter” instead.  But why?   

Logic dictates that pascha in Acts 12:4 isn’t referring to the Passover but another holiday that occurs later in Nisan, and that is Easter.  So in this instance, pascha has been used to refer to the time of the Passover instead of the specific day of the Passover.  Easter and Passover occur near to one another, but on different days.  And similar to what he’d done with John during a birthday party (Mt. 14:6-12; Mk. 6:21-29), Herod would have been happy to offer up a human sacrifice like Peter – especially during a major pagan holiday.  So the King James translators had it right.  They correctly rendered pascha in Acts 12:4 as “Easter” because the Passover day had already passed.  Thus the superiority of the KJB has been proven and so Christians should be reading from the KJB and not the modern versions of the Bible that introduce error.  Again, two “versions” that read so differently can’t both be true.  The translators of the KJB have ended the confusion whereas the modernists have added to it.  Selah.   




[1] A.k.a. the "queen of heaven" (Jer. 7:18; 44:15-27) or Diana (Acts  19:23-41 [Gr. Artemis]). 
[2] All modern versions are derived from the Septuagint and the KJB is derived from the Hebrew Masoretic Texts and the Textus Receptus.