The Impact of Biblical Examples of Textual Issues?

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Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am struck by the discontinuity between how the text of the LXX is handled by the Holy Spirit through New Testament citations and the way we (that includes me) handle the text today.

We consider a pastor a "Buckwheat" who doesn't quote a Greek or Hebrew word here and there or explain a complex grammatical construction to bring insightful hidden knowledge forward for the congregation.

Throughout the New Testament, there are numerous citations made from the LXX but not one example of the preacher or author making either a correction or amplifying the meaning from the original Hebrew (not even the scholar Paul!). There are even places where citations are made from the LXX that do not agree with the Hebrew, yet ALL citations are quoted and used as received without textual equivocation.

At the danger of being considered a "Buckwheat", how (and should) the example of the New Testament's use of the LXX here presented influence and shape our understanding of both textual and translational issues...especially as related to public preaching and teaching?
 
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Jimmy the Greek

Puritan Board Senior
I found this helpful:

[ame=http://www.amazon.com/Biblical-Exegesis-Apostolic-Richard-Longenecker/dp/0802843018/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257869130&sr=1-5]Amazon.com: Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period (9780802843012): Mr. Richard N. Longenecker: Books[/ame]
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Guess I am a 'Buckwheat', whatever that means. I never mention 'variants' in a sermon, however, sometimes do in a Bible Study.
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
Do you ever correct the translation you are using by referencing the original or cite the original to bring out meaning that is hard to get at in the translation?

I'm not saying this is wrong, I do it (I cite variants at times as well). I'm just saying we never see that done in New Testament citations of the OT and asking if that observation should influence how we teach and preach? (not the way we study)

Guess I am a 'Buckwheat', whatever that means. I never mention 'variants' in a sermon, however, sometimes do in a Bible Study.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
I am not a pastor, nor do I want to any way come across as speaking critically of those pastors who, in their wisdom, *do* find it necessary to sometimes note variant readings (for sometimes it is most necessary or helpful). But for the most part, I don't see many circumstances in which textual matters or variant readings should be brought up in sermons at all: the purpose of the sermon is to take the text and spiritually apply it to the hearers. Thus, the critical-exegetical work is done previously in order to present the "final" text as simply and purely as possible. "Variant readings" or "alternate senses" can be woven in discretely into the explanation or opening and paraphrasing of the text without recourse to specifically indicating variants, grammatical features, linguistic etymologies, etc. Far from being a "buckwheat," I deeply admire the abilities and learning of a minister who can so simply and effectually explain a passage without recourse to presenting the textual or linguistic data which he has extensively studied. Further, as to "correcting the translation," I'm not sure this should be happening too often. This is not to say that different words (if the minister thinks they convey the ideas better) cannot be brought in to open and explain the passage -- this, of course, should be happening; but, 1.) If the minister feels a translation frequently needs to actually be "corrected" in the preaching of the Word, why is this translation being used in the public worship of God? 2.) If the translation is acceptable, then it seems that to come across as "correcting" the translation (instead of simply explaining it) would do more harm than good, as it can shake the confidence of the hearers that their Bible is faithful and trustworthy.
 

jogri17

Puritan Board Junior
Not a pastor but as a person who hears sermons weekly and as a future pastor I just have to warn you pastors from being too exegetical in sermons. In the preparation it is important and GREAT but on sunday I want to eat my veal by it self and not see a youtube video about how veal is made... if you get my drift. The most you should do when comign accross a text that is controversial (women caught in adultery, long ending of mark, etc...) is say that ''there is some dispute whether or not this should be here however in fear of dishonoring God we shall preach it anyways for man is not perfect... etc...'' and just preach a more general sermon that teaches doctrine that can be supported elsewhere in the Scriptures. As for when the NT quotes the OT, D.A. Carson and Greg Beale's book is very useful. Also the NT authors were not trying to do exegeis (and certainly Paul and the author of Hebrews were capable of it) rather they rightfully used the OT text to make certain points outside of the author's original intent BUT still within the realm of application of those texts (this is where the idea of the Historical-redemptive method comes in handy for all scripture points to Christ though not each word is specifically about Him). Norman Geisler, on this subject, makes the excellent point that ''while a texte has only ONE meaning it could in theory have BILLIONS of logical meanings'' (paraphrase... the orginal just says ''many'' but I wanted to make the point).

Just some thoughts from a French student :),

JPG2
 

Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
If we could just agree on an accurate English translation (KJV or something ;) ) This wouldn't be a issue. I don't see the need to muddle around in a difficult language that everyone knows you don't know that well. Just preach from the text.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Do you ever correct the translation you are using by referencing the original or cite the original to bring out meaning that is hard to get at in the translation?

Expounding the nuances of syntax is different than presenting a 'textual variant'. The former I do often, the latter rarely.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I am not convinced the New Testament quotes from the LXX. I have grown to understand that the LXX has been made to line up with the New Testament greek also.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Randy, while that may and probably has been the case with some quotes, we have physical examples of Greek OT writings that differ from the Hebrew. We even have contemporary examples of Hebrew texts that differ from each other, although the differences between the different Hebrew texts isn't near as much as in Greek texts.

So the problem of the OP still stands, and was recognized as a problem from the beginning. The whole purpose of Origen's hexapla, which he compiled just 200 years after Christ was reconcile texts that differ from each other.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Re a genuine "buckwheat". Consider this quote from an online article on John Bunyan:

There was one book, however, that he knew as hardly any other man in any age has known it — the Bible. His knowledge of it was not the scholar's knowledge, for he knew nothing of Greek and Hebrew or even of such Biblical criticism as existed in his own day. What he had was a verbal knowledge of the English versions that was never at fault. Many stories are told of the readiness with which he could produce apposite scriptural quotations, often to the confusion of much more learned men than himself. This intimacy with the Bible, combined with one other element, is enough to account for the substance of The Pilgrim's Progress. That other element is his profound acquaintance with the rustic and provincial life about him, and with the heart of the average man.​

One learned pastor and theologian’s widely reported view of Bunyan was this:

John Owen, generally reckoned to be the most accomplished and learned theologian that England has ever produced, was asked by the King why he was so fond of listening to the Particular Baptist John Bunyan preach, ‘to hear a tinker prate,’ as the King sarcastically expressed it. Owen replied, ‘May it please your Majesty, could I possess the tinker’s abilities for preaching, I would willingly relinquish all my learning.’​
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
I thought I would look in on this before leaving for church this morning.

Interesting answers so far...I say interesting because, for the most part, the responses have been dancing around this issue but not addressing the actual question. No offense as I find this to be a very difficult question to answer myself.

I am asking specifically about the use of the LXX in the NT and what we should learn from it.

For instance. This morning I will be preaching from Hebrews 10:1-10. In Verses 5-7 it quotes some verses from Psalm 40 in the LXX. The citation "a body you have prepared for me", in the Hebrew is "you have opened [or digged] my ears".

This verse has a completely different meaning in the Hebrew but it is quoted without equivocation in Hebrews.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Robert, the reason no one has addressed the issue you apparently want most addressed is probably simply that it is an issue no one wants to actually open back up here. Thus, while kindly requesting that this thread not devolve into a debate over the issue, I will briefly state for you the four main "positions" taken on the matter of the LXX in the NT by the Reformed throughout history. I believe all should consider the following a fair summary; if not, please let me know so I can correct it. (Several of these positions may be found elaborated upon in the exegesis of the very passage you bring up).

1.) The NT quotes from the LXX. This position was rare in the period of Reformed Orthodoxy, especially amongst those most embroiled in polemic with the Roman Catholics. It is, however, the predominate position today. Mr. Calvin was of this opinion at at least one point of his life.

2.) We have no idea what the LXX looked like at the time of the NT, so to state that the NT quotes the LXX is absurd. This was the position of William Whitaker in his most famous and influential Disputations on Holy Scripture.

3.) In those places where the LXX and NT use the same/similar wording, it is probable that Christian scribes corrected the LXX translation to match the true and inspired translation of the NT. This was the position of John Owen.

4.) The NT *does* sometimes make use of the wording found in the LXX; but this is only where the sense matches the original Hebrew, and it it used so as not to raise the suspicions of the people who are accustomed to the LXX as the Old Testament. However, it is the Hebrew Text which is the basis of all quotations. Francis Turretin held this.

Positions 2,3, and 4 were the most common positions in the period of Orthodoxy (that the NT does not quote the LXX); 1 is the prevailing position today (that the NT does quote the LXX).

More specifically regarding the passage (Heb. 10:10) which you mentioned, a commonly held exegesis of the passage is that the Holy Spirit is not giving a literal translation of the Psalm, but rather is "paraphrasing" it, or giving the sense of it as much as the words. And then many scholars, such as Owen, held that the LXX was subsequently "corrected" to match this.
 
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DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thanks for the reference. I just put in an order for a used copy from Amazon (only $4.50!).

Care to share any incites you picked up as it relates to this question?



Judging by the abundance of heat over light generated in textual threads on the PB over the years, I am guessing that you better be prepared for more "incites" than "insights" regarding this vexing issue. :lol:
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Yes, incites even unintentionally, like

Positions 2,3, and 4 were the most common positions in the period of Orthodoxy

using the phrase period of Orthodox in this context :lol:

The position the vast, overwhelming majority of Christians throughout history is that NT authors quoted from the a Greek translation of the OT that was different than what we now call the Masoretic Text.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Tim, the statement is not a qualitative statement insinuating that modern teachers are not orthodox: it is simply a traditional term to refer to an era of history, which began drawing to a close in the late 17th and early 18th century (itself being divided into early, high and late Orthodoxy).
 

TaylorWest

Puritan Board Freshman
First, is the discontinuity as stark as you state? I certainly don’t think so. I’m not sure how you can justify the statement, “not one example of the preacher or author … amplifying the meaning from the original Hebrew (not even the scholar Paul!)” Is not Paul himself the one who said, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, "And to offsprings," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. (Gal 3:16 ESV)”

But even so, I think your premise is wrong because you are not considering the context within which the New Testament was written.

1) Hebrew is not nearly so nuanced as Greek. There are very few ‘complex grammatical constructions.’ As a whole, Hebrew is fairly simplistic, especially in comparison to Greek.

2) That said, the Old Testament is not nearly as propositional as the New Testament. Rather, it is filled with historical narrative, poetry, proverbs, prophecy, and the like. These forms do not require a high level of competency in grammar so much as a thorough understanding of biblical theology and such. Likewise, when preaching through the Gospels, grammar often plays a secondary role.

3) Also, I would argue that because Greek is so much more complex than Hebrew, the translator actually has more tools at his disposal for carrying through the nuances of the Hebrew than if a translator or teacher were to work from the Greek to either Hebrew or English. Since Hebrew and English are not nearly as inflected as Greek, he does not have the clarifying tools in the language to communicate the intricacies of the Greek. Therefore, he would have to make up for the inadequacy of the Hebrew and English languages by ‘amplifying the meaning’ of the Greek grammar.

4) Finally, since the New Testament authors were writing in Greek for Greek speaking readers and they generally quoted from some form of the LXX, it was unnecessary for them to amplify the Greek. Those readers did not need a lesson in Greek, they knew it. We on the other hand, have very little knowledge of Greek or even of inflected languages. Therefore we need to be shown the significance of such structures in order that we might gain a better understanding (a more complete understanding) of what the Holy Spirit intended.

All that to say; I think it is misguided to make too much of your observations. There are other factors that necessitate the historical-grammatical approach when preparing. Also, I often find that explaining the complexities (‘things hard to understand’) in the text with regard to grammar make my preaching and teaching more helpful and understandable to the congregation.
 

Robert Truelove

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think the fact that men put forth your options 2, 3 & 4 as an attempt to explain the variant readings only goes to demonstrate the difficulties these citations pose. These positions are all an attempt to reconcile NT citations with the Hebrew OT; particularly in the places in which there is variance.

Personally, I find these positions against the use of the LXX to have much more to do with trying to find an easier answer to the problem at hand then to acknowledge that most of these citations are from the LXX.

For the purpose of this thread, I'd like to put the position that the NT citations are not from the LXX as one potential answer and put it aside. No need to beat a dead horse. That answer is either correct or incorrect (not wishing to debate it here).

However, for now I remain persuaded that we are dealing with LXX citations in the NT. For me, the original question remains unanswered.

And for clarification...I am not trying to lead this thread in any given direction. This is an honest question. As far as my current preaching goes, anyone that has listened to many of my messages can tell you that I make use of the Greek and Hebrew to amplify the meaning as well as correct the translation in certain places. I'm not trying to make a case against this but I think the question posed is valid.


Robert, the reason no one has addressed the issue you apparently want most addressed is probably simply that it is an issue no one wants to actually open back up here. Thus, while kindly requesting that this thread not devolve into a debate over the issue, I will briefly state for you the four main "positions" taken on the matter of the LXX in the NT by the Reformed throughout history. I believe all should consider the following a fair summary; if not, please let me know so I can correct it. (Several of these positions may be found elaborated upon in the exegesis of the very passage you bring up).

1.) The NT quotes from the LXX. This position was rare in the period of Reformed Orthodoxy, especially amongst those most embroiled in polemic with the Roman Catholics. It is, however, the predominate position today. Mr. Calvin was of this opinion at at least one point of his life.

2.) We have no idea what the LXX looked like at the time of the NT, so to state that the NT quotes the LXX is absurd. This was the position of William Whitaker in his most famous and influential Disputations on Holy Scripture.

3.) In those places where the LXX and NT use the same/similar wording, it is probable that Christian scribes corrected the LXX translation to match the true and inspired translation of the NT. This was the position of John Owen.

4.) The NT *does* sometimes make use of the wording found in the LXX; but this is only where the sense matches the original Hebrew, and it it used so as not to raise the suspicions of the people who are accustomed to the LXX as the Old Testament. However, it is the Hebrew Text which is the basis of all quotations. Francis Turretin held this.

Positions 2,3, and 4 were the most common positions in the period of Orthodoxy (that the NT does not quote the LXX); 1 is the prevailing position today (that the NT does quote the LXX).

More specifically regarding the passage (Heb. 10:10) which you mentioned, a commonly held exegesis of the passage is that the Holy Spirit is not giving a literal translation of the Psalm, but rather is "paraphrasing" it, or giving the sense of it as much as the words. And then many scholars, such as Owen, held that the LXX was subsequently "corrected" to match this.
 
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