Monthly Archives: October 2010

From Jehoshua to Jesu

“Jesus” is a Latinized Greek rendering of the Hebrew original name Jehoshua, which is a theophoric name – like Michael (who is like god?), Christopher (christ bearer), and even Netanyahu (gift of YHWH).
Since some other people wrote it better than me, here is some cribbing of others:
The issue of the different forms of [the] name [Joshua] is a chronological one. Forms like יהושע were earlier than those names with the contracted theophoric element, eg ישוע.

This table should help show the different usage:

Jehoshua in Haggai and Zechariah, while (fit the battle) Jehoshua is restricted to Exodus and Joshua (with a few elsewhere).
Jeshua occurs 30 times in the Hebrew bible, exclusively in Chr, Ezra and Nehemiah.
Jehozadak in Haggai and Zechariah, as well as Chr.
Jozadak found in Ezra and Nehemiah
Jehonathan mainly in Samuel (61 of 74)
Jonathan used sparsely (12x including 5 in Esther).
Jehoiakim appears 36 times in Kings, Chr and Jeremiah
Joiakim occurs 3 times only in Nehemiah.

Both Haggai and Zechariah are earlier than Ezra and Nehemiah. Esther is also thought late. What we see is not a sudden stop of using the long form but a transition from long to short forms. We have the same person, Yeshua the high priest of the return being called Yehoshua in Haggai and Zechariah, and the short form in Ezra and Nehemiah.

The LXX uses the one form for both Yehoshua and Yeshua, Ιησους; the one form for Yehonathan and Yonathan, Ιωναθαν; similar forms for Yehozadak and Yozadak, Ιωσαδακ and Ιωσεδεκ. The Greek is obviously following the later habit based on the short form.

And another:
[Irenaeus] starts by criticizing the heretics for relying on the Greek language for developing their kabbalah:

This very thing, too, still further demonstrates their opinion false, and their fictitious system untenable, that they endeavour to bring forward proofs of it, sometimes through means of numbers and the syllables of names, sometimes also through the letter of syllables, and yet again through those numbers which are, according to the practice followed by the Greeks, contained in letters;– [this, I say,] demonstrates in the clearest manner their overthrow or confusion, as well as the untenable and perverse character of their [professed] knowledge. For, transferring the name Jesus, which belongs to another language, to the numeration of the Greeks, they sometimes call it “Episemon,” as having six letters (i.e. Ἰησοῦς because it has six letters), and at other times “the Plenitude of the Ogdoads,” as containing the number eight hundred and eighty-eight (i.e. the numerological value of Ἰησοῦς). But His Greek name, which is “Soter,” that is, Saviour, because it does not fit in with their system, either with respect to numerical value or as regards its letters, they pass over in silence. Yet surely, if they regard the names of the Lord, as, in accordance with the preconceived purpose of the Father, by means of their numerical value and letters, indicating number in the Pleroma, Soter, as being a Greek name, ought by means of its letters and the numbers, in virtue of its being Greek, to show forth the mystery of the Pleroma. But the case is not so, because it is a word of five letters, and its numerical value is one thousand four hundred and eight. But these things do not in any way correspond with their Pleroma; the account, therefore, which they give of transactions in the Pleroma cannot be true.

Moreover, Jesus, which is a word belonging to the proper tongue of the Hebrews, contains, as the learned among them declare, two letters and a half, (ישו) and signifies that Lord who contains heaven and earth; for Jesus in the ancient Hebrew language means “heaven,” while again “earth” is expressed by the words sura usser. The word, therefore, which contains heaven and earth is just Jesus. Their explanation, then, of the Episemon is false, and their numerical calculation is also manifestly overthrown. For, in their own language, Soter is a Greek word of five letters; but, on the other hand, in the Hebrew tongue, Jesus contains only two letters and a half. The total which they reckon up, viz., eight hundred and eighty-eight, therefore falls to the ground. And throughout, the Hebrew letters do not correspond in number with the Greek, although these especially, as being the more ancient and unchanging, ought to uphold the reckoning connected with the names. For these ancient, original, and generally called sacred letters of the Hebrews are ten in number (but they are written by means of fifteen), the last letter being joined to the first. And thus they write some of these letters according to their natural sequence, just as we do, but others in a reverse direction, from the right hand towards the left, thus tracing the letters backwards. The name Christ, too, ought to be capable of being reckoned up in harmony with the Aeons of their Pleroma, inasmuch as, according to their statements, He was produced for the establishment and rectification of their Pleroma. The Father, too, in the same way, ought, both by means of letters and numerical value, to contain the number of those Aeons who were produced by Him; Bythus, in like manner, and not less Monogenes; but pre- eminently the name which is above all others, by which God is called, and which in the Hebrew tongue is expressed by Baruch, (בָּרוּךְ ??) which also contains two and a half letters. From this fact, therefore, that the more important names, both in the Hebrew and Greek languages, do not conform to their system, either as respects the number of letters or the reckoning brought out of them, the forced character of their calculations respecting the rest becomes clearly manifest.[AH 2.24.1,2]

How's your fourth century conspiracy, now? Irenaeus is actually attacking the use of Greek to understand Jesus and arguing for the Aramaic basis to the tradition. As I noted in another post I strongly suspect that Irenaeus original wrote in Aramaic.

Harvey agrees with my identification of yeshu as the two and a half letter name of Jesus (p. 336). He also points to a marginal note that somehow made its way into the sentence in the oldest manuscripts – 'sion' which he takes to be a misunderstanding of a note which spelled out the value of yeshu (i.e. shin = 300, yod = 10, vav = 6). This strongly implies to me again that the original text was written in Aramaic.

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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in hebrew


Koine Greek 101!

I am in the slow process of learning Koine Greek, which is the type of Greek used to write the LXX and New Testament. Since I don't actually blog that much, I though I would just “take notes” as it were on what I've learned in Greek during the week.
So this post will be the first in a series of Koine Greek grammar/vocabulary/other cool stuff.
I mainly learned Koine Greek by reading Mark first in English and then in its Wescott-Hort Greek. I also use Wiktionary quite a bit and also the Perseus website. The first thing I had to learn was the Greek alphabet, and how to pronounce the words:
Αα – Aa (alpha)
Σσ/ς – Ss (Sigma)
Δδ – Dd (Delta)
Φφ – Ff (Phi)
Γγ – Gg (Gamma)
Ηη – “Eeta” (Eta)
Ξξ – Xx (Xi)
Κκ – Kk (Kappa)
Λλ – Ll (Lamda)
Ζζ – Zz (Zeta)
Χχ – “Ch” (Chi)
Ψψ – “Ps” (Psi)
Ωω – Oo (omega “big o”)
Ββ – Bb (Beta)
Νν – Nn (Nu)
Μμ – Mm (Mu)
Εε – Ee (epsilon)
Ρρ – Rr (Rho)
Ττ – Tt (Tau)
Υυ – Uu/Yy (Upsilon)
Θθ – “Th” (Theta)
Ιι – Ii (Iota)
Oo – Oo (Omicron “small o”)
Ππ – Pp (Pi)
Sigma is the only Greek letter (that I know of so far) that has a “final” form. As in, if Sigma appears at the end of a word, then it has to take that final form, like in the name Ιησους. There are two Sigmas here, one after Eta, and another after Upsilon. Greek also has a couple of letters that are only represented in English dipthongs. That is, two letters put together to make one sound. These are Theta, Chi, and Psi. Theta represents the “th” sound in English. Chi doesn't really have an English referent, but would something like “H-Ch”, kind of like making an “h” sound before saying “christ”. But saying it as a “k” sound is also acceptable. Psi is a letter that also doesn't have a natural English representation, but we say it naturally when we say the word “epsilon”. So even though we say the Greek word psyche (ψυχη) like “sai-kee” it would actually be pronounced “puh-sai-kee”.
After learning a bit about letters, I learned a bit about grammar. There are five cases that nouns come in:
1. Nominative
2. Accusative
3. Genitive
4. Dative
5. Vocative
An easy way to remember what role these cases have, here's a sentence that I got from a message board: “Hey Vocative, the nominee said he saw the accused with the general's date”
The Nominative is the person doing the action. The accused is the one who the action is being done to. Genitive denotes possession, and dative is who/what is being possessed or to who/what something is given. Vocative is just saying the thing out loud as a form of address.
Let me try to render that sentence (minus the vocative) in Greek: “Πετρος εβλεπει Παυλον και Ιακωβου Χριστω”. Being transliterated, this would be “Petros eblepei Paulon kai Iakwbou Christw”. I use “w” here to represent Omega (long “o”), like in the name “Joe”. Translated, this would be “Peter saw Paul with Jacob's Christ”.
I think this is all I'm going to write about what I've learned about Greek so far. As an ending for these posts in the future, I'm going to write about what cool new word I learned over the week (like Sesame Street! lol)
Today's word is: Βαλλω.
Ballw means “to throw”. This is the word used when the Pharisee accuse Jesus of using demons to “drive out” (εκ-βαλλει – literally “out-throw”) demons. This word is also etymologically related to the word Diablos. Diablos is derived from the Greek word Διαβολος which is Greek for “accuser” or “slanderer”. It came from δια-βαλλω: throw across. Think of it as “hurling insults across a room” like a tactless prosecutor does at a trial.
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Posted by on October 22, 2010 in greek


The Traditions of our Fathers

So a little over a year ago I made the argument that Paul wasn’t a Pharisee (which he claims in Philipeans 3:5) based on his apparent ignorance of Hebrew. I inferred this from his argument in Romans 10:

9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16) 

12For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,

13for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:32)

Here Paul’s argument only makes sense if Joel 2:32 actually says the word “lord”. He implies that the “name of the lord” that does the saving when it’s spoken is “Jesus”. Joel 2:32 actually says the name of the god of the Jews: YHWH. In the LXX, however, this is replaced with the word “lord” (κυριος in Greek; and it’s actually Joel 3:5 in the LXX). This is the traditional Jewish circumlocution of pronouncing The Name YHWH. This means that Paul was reading from a version of Joel that had “lord” instead of YHWH, more than likely the LXX in order for his argument to make any sense.

From this I made the connection that Paul wasn’t a Pharisee, since Pharisees were trained in Hebrew.

On the other hand, Paul does use a phrase that implies at least a kinship with Pharisaic ideals. He mentions his “zeal” for the “traditions of [his] fathers” (υπαρχων των πατρικων μου παραδοσεων – lit. the still extant traditions of my fathers) in Galatians 1:14. Josephus uses a similar phrase when describing the Pharisees:

Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6

What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers (παραδοσεως των πατερων). And concerning these things it is that great disputes and differences have arisen among them, while the Sadducees are able to persuade none but the rich, and have not the populace obsequious to them, but the Pharisees have the multitude on their side.

Here Josephus uses “traditions of our fathers” to mean the Oral Torah which eventually became the Talmud. Paul’s disdain for the laws of Moses seems to stem from a Sadducean interpretation of the law. As I understand it, the Pharisees were more liberal about following the law as opposed to the Sadducees. A Pharisee wouldn’t have considered the laws of Moses a “curse” (Galatians 3:10, 13) but instead would have simply relaxed its standards. It would be like a liberal Christian all of the sudden becoming a militant atheist. Militancy breed militancy; an all-or-nothing view of the universe. Thus Paul’s total abrogation of the laws of Moses must have come from a more conservative branch of Judaism – one like the Sadducees. The more analogous situation would be going from a conservative Christian to a militant atheist.

It doesn’t seem as though Paul is using “traditions of our fathers” to refer to the Oral Torah, but as a generic term for Judaism.


Posted by on October 14, 2010 in paul, pharisees, sadducees, YHWH, YHWH pronunciation


Messiaism in the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) community are popularly referred to as the Essenes, but this has come to be doubted by some in the scholarly community. The DSS community’s scrolls contain some of the earliest extant books of the Hebrew bible. The modern Hebrew bible is based on the Masoretic text (c. 200 CE). The DSS scrolls, however, date to around the beginning of the Hasmonean era (c. 150 BCE) to the Roman era (the first century CE). In quite a few instances, the DSS scrolls reflect the earlier polytheism of the Israelites that was later corrected in the Masoretc; even agreeing with the LXX when the LXX disagrees with the Masoretic.

The DSS community came about after the events recorded somewhat in Daniel. The outlawing of Judaism by Antiochus IV and the ousting of the previous high preisthood in favor of the Hasmonean priest-kings after the previous high priest had allowed Antiochus to desecrate the temple. While this was a victory for the Maccabees, the DSS community favored the previous high priest kicked out by the Maccabees, and their writings reflect their sectarian views. Thus for the Qumran community, they longed for two messiahs – one that would be a Kingly Messiah to re-estaish the authentic kingdom of David, and one that would be a Priestly Messiah who would re-establish the authentic pre-Maccabean priesthood. The Hasmoneans, however, made their own bid for authentic priestly succession with the introduction of the Sadducees. “Sadducee” is etymologically derived from Zadokim (or Tsadokim) implying that they followed the teachings of the high priest Tsadok who, according to tradition, anointed king Solomon.
Some of the DSS scrolls include The Temple Scroll; The Scroll of the 24 Priestly Watches; The Scroll of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; The Scroll of Priestly Blessings; The Scroll of Melchitsedek (describes the Archangel named Melkitsedek who functions as High Priest in heaven); The Testament of Levi; The Zadokite Document (also known as the Damascus Covenant).

All of these scrolls have to do with priestly issues. Then there’s also the War Scroll (portraying the struggle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness) and the commentaries (pesher) on biblical prophetic books which are rewritten and reinterpreted in a way that all consoling prophecies refer to the Sons of Light and all rebuking prophecies relate to the Sons of Darkness. The Sons of Light are lead by the Priest of Righteousness (Cohen Tsedek [or Zadok]) and the Angel of Light while the Sons of Darkness are lead by the Evil Priest (Cohen Resha) and by the Angel of Darkness

The Messainic Scrolls include:
4Q175 (or 4QTest), also known as The Testimonia, is one of the Dead Sea Scrolls and was found in Cave 4 at Qumran in the West Bank. Only one sheet long, 4Q175 is a collection of scriptural quotations seemingly connected to a messianic figure. The manuscript was written in Hasmonean script of the early first century BCE and was edited by John Marco Allegro.

The Testimonia is a short document containing five Biblical quotations arranged in four sections concerning God’s activities at the end-time. Only the last section is followed by an interpretation. The first three sections refer to future blessings which will come from three figures, a prophet similar to Moses, a messianic figure and a priestly teacher.

The first section consists of two texts from Deuteronomy and refers to the prophet-figure who is like Moses (Deuteronomy 5:28-29; 18:18-19). The second section is an extract from a prophecy of Balaam about the Messiah-figure, who is similar to David (Numbers 24:15-17). This prophecy predicts “A star shall come out of Jacob and a sceptre shall arise out of Israel; he shall crush the temples of Moab and destroy all the children of Sheth.”[Simon Bar-Kokhba, the Jewish Messiah of 132 CE literally means “Simon son of the star”] The third section is a blessing of the Levites, and of the Priest-Messiah who will be a teacher like Levi (Deuteronomy 33:8-11). The last section begins with a verse from Joshua (6:26), which is then expounded by means of a quotation from the Psalms of Joshua (see 4Q379). These verses show that the Qumran community was interested in the messianic prophecies found in the Tanakh.

4Q252 Column V, formerly known as Patriarchal Blessing, covers Joseph’s blessing of Judah. It contains a quotation from Jeremiah 33:17. The author links this blessing to Messianic expectation and the “covenant of royalty” given to David. The commentary serves dually as anti Hasmonaean polemic and affirmation of the Qumran community’s self understanding as spiritual descendants of David.

The Rule of the Blessing (1QSb) is a very fragmentary text once thought to be part of the Dead Sea Scrolls book known as the Community Rule. It is added as one of two appendices (including the equally eschatological Rule of the Congregation) following the book of the Community Rule, on one of the first seven scrolls discovered at the Qumran site. The Rule of the Blessing includes three benedictions for use during the eschaton: one for the general assembly of the eschatological Tribe of Israel, which describes a sort of “living water” bringing them into a new covenant with God, one concerning the Sons of Zadok, priests chosen by God who will act “like angels” and lead Israel after the War. The third prayer is that for the messianic meal, to bless the “Prince,” or Davidic messiah, who has come to deliver Israel. These blessings are meant to praise the sect who inhabited Qumran and its leaders, for the ultimate perfection had dawned, and they had been its harbingers. Similar prayers are found elsewhere in the scrolls, and some believe that this particular manuscript many be a collection of prayers for general, daily use.

1QSa (The Rule of the Congregation) The scroll [says] that in the “last days” there will be a great war with the Gentiles, and the whole of Israel will join with the Yahad (an eschatological community) to fight. The Rule of the Congregation then outlines in several sections the rules for governing the eschatological sect, stages of life for members of the sect and the duties expected of them at each age, those disqualified from service, duties for members of the Tribe of Levi, acts of the council of the community, a description of a man (or men) described as “the Messiah of Aaron and of David” entering, and the eschatological banquet that will follow to celebrate his arrival. The Rule of the Congregation concerns itself largely with the operations of the sect during these “end-times,” and the functions and purity prerequisites demanded of the sect during the messianic assembly (banquet).

The War of the Messaiah is a series of Dead Sea scroll fragments describing the conclusion of a battle led by the Leader of the Congregation. The fragments that make up this document include 4Q285, also known as The Pierced/Piercing Messiah Text, and 11Q14 with which it was found to coincide. It is possible that it also represents the conclusion of the War Scroll.

This six-line fragment, commonly referred to as the “Pierced Messiah” text, is written in a Herodian script of the first half of the 1st Century and refers to a Messiah from the Branch of David, to a judgement, and to a killing. Hebrew is comprised primarily of consonants; vowels must be supplied by the reader. The appropriate vowels depend on the context. Thus, the text (line 4) may be translated as “and the Prince of the Congregation, the Branch of David, will kill him,” or alternately read as “and they killed the Prince.” Because of the second reading, the text was dubbed the “Pierced Messiah.” The traditional transcription and translation support the “killing Messiah” interpretation, alluding to a triumphant Messiah (Isaiah 11:4).

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Posted by on October 7, 2010 in dead sea scrolls, messiah

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