Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Isaiah 55:1-4

Here's a sample of a different tone and approach in the book of Isaiah, the lesson for this week for many. I have set it down a minor third from the usual pitch.
The text with corrections based on the Letteris edition is here:

ה֤וֹי כָּל־צָמֵא֙ לְכ֣וּ לַמַּ֔יִם וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽין־ל֖וֹ כָּ֑סֶף לְכ֤וּ שִׁבְרוּ֙ וֶֽאֱכֹ֔לוּ וּלְכ֣וּ שִׁבְר֗וּ בְּלוֹא־כֶ֛סֶף וּבְל֥וֹא מְחִ֖יר יַ֥יִן וְחָלָֽב 
לָ֤מָּה תִשְׁקְלוּ־כֶ֨סֶף֙ בְּלוֹא־לֶ֔חֶם וִיגִֽיעֲכֶ֖ם בְּל֣וֹא לְשָׂבְעָ֑ה שִׁמְע֨וּ שָׁמ֤וֹעַ אֵלַי֙ וְאִכְלוּ־ט֔וֹב וְתִתְעַנַּ֥ג בַּדֶּ֖שֶׁן נַפְשְׁכֶֽם 
הַטּ֤וּ אָזְנְכֶם֙ וּלְכ֣וּ אֵלַ֔י שִׁמְע֖וּ וּתְחִ֣י נַפְשְׁכֶ֑ם וְאֶכְרְתָ֤ה לָכֶם֙ בְּרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֔ם חַֽסְדֵ֥י דָוִ֖ד הַנֶּֽאֱמָנִֽים 
הֵ֛ן עֵ֥ד לְאוּמִּ֖֗ים נְתַתִּ֑יו נָגִ֥יד וּמְצַוֵּ֖ה לְאֻמִּֽים

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Messing about

I should be playing golf - but its raining and cold, so we didn't. So I am prepping a presentation for my book - and I noted in the text how Psalm 86 is built around six words in verse 15 all from Exodus 34:6 but I didn't spell it out - I sort of left it as an exercise.

Those 6 words account for 24 words of the 147  in the psalm in 15 of the 17 verses.

Selected recurring words from Psalm 86

Word and gloss * first usage123456VsRoot
אתה you
2אתה
חנני be gracious to me
3חנן
אדני my Lord
3אדון
אדני my Lord
4אדון
אתה you
5אתה
אדני my Lord
5אדון
ורב and abundant in
5רב
חסד loving-kindness
5חסד
תחנונותי my supplication
6חנן
אדני my Lord
8אדון
אדני my Lord
9אדון
אתה you are
10אתה
אתה you
10אתה
באמתך in your truth
11אמת
אדני O Lord
12אדון
חסדך your loving-kindness
13חסד
ואתה but you
15אתה
אדני O Lord
15אדון
וחנון and gracious
15חנן
ורב and abundant in
15רב
חסד loving-kindness
15חסד
ואמת and truth
15אמת
וחנני and be gracious to me
16חנן
אתה you
17אתה

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunrise in the west

from the point of view of a tree in the western part of the garden in the Pacific North West - yes the sun rises in the west too :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Noye's Fludde

28 years after our performance with another one upcoming this weekend, David Stratkauskas was rummaging around and found 24 negatives from the performance in 1985. Here they are.

Bass Robert Menes was in the title role. Diana MacDonald as Mrs Noah. And three of our four children acting or in the orchstra: Simon and Bob on violin, Jamie as a rat, and Sarah as Mrs. Ham. Bob was the voice of God on the second night. It is the only time I ever played the fiddle in public.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

4X Justin Martyr

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

Why 4X? A reminder, that the further we get from the event in history, the thicker our lenses. X = the event; 2X = the first commentary (the LXX), 3X was the NT but could have included the pesherim of Qumran. These show the formation of Isaiah as part of the emerging canon. A canonical piece of writing is one that is capable of generating commentary. (Joseph Blenkinsop in McDonald and Sanders, The Canon Debate).

Isaiah was considered third in the later prophets series, after Jeremiah and Ezekiel in some lists, because it is closer to the Twelve in its redacted canonical form.  It was no shock to me to realize that the poems of the Psalms were not written by David and his contemporaries.  It cannot be a blow to faith. So it can be no shock to realize that other books like Isaiah were brought together after the exile and include passages that are not written by 'Isaiah'. The experience of Israel is the canonical problem - and it must happen before it can be canonized for it to be a human if inspired history.  Faith then is recognizing our participation and our complicity in this same history - hence the need for ransom and restoration.  Both also very human things.

I am shocked, however, by a too quick assumption that humans can define God or the divine or inspiration. Nevertheless, I must get used to it. It is a quick solution to a fearful problem. 

So where do we go with Childs on Justin Martyr (c. 100-165) and in particular on the reception of Isaiah in that early second century when the nascent Christ-faith was vying with early Rabbinic Judaism in the person of Trypho (identity uncertain - my initial thought is that he is constructed for the conversation)?
  1. Justin cites Isaiah more even than the Psalms (!) 76 direct quotations (not to mention the allusions).
  2. he takes for granted (as does Trypho - assuming he is not an imaginary dialogue partner) the authority of the OT.
  3. Justin takes for granted the apostolic tradition (too early to call it the NT).
  4. He quotes more extensively from chapters 40 and on (I base this mostly on the list of topics to which he applies Second and Third Isaiah).
  5. The list of theological applications is quite long - Childs lists 14 categories that Justin uses Isaiah to support, from Christ as Israel's everlasting king (Isaiah 43:15) to the reign of 1000 years (Isaiah 65:17-25).
I am sure I have heard these arguments and proof texts put forward in various assemblies today without so much as a thought (in me) of what type of hermeneutical method is being evoked. Childs notes that in the dialogue: "Nowhere does one find any discussion of rules or defense of assumptions..." I find it interesting that "Trypho repeatedly asks for further explanations of proofs he judges, at best, to be ambiguous, artificial, and highly selective."  That seems to me to make the dialogue far more interesting than it might otherwise be.  (It's quite a hoot actually - here's a pdf.)

Trypho makes a good beginning here but does not follow it up: Moreover, I am aware that your precepts in the so-called Gospel are so wonderful and so great, that I suspect no one can keep them; for I have carefully read them...

Then Justin: law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one; and an eternal and final law – namely, Christ – has been given to us, and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law, no commandment, no ordinance. Have you not read this which Isaiah says: 'Hearken unto Me, hearken unto Me, my people; and, ye kings, give ear unto Me: for a law shall go forth from Me, and My judgment shall be for a light to the nations. My righteousness approaches swiftly, and My salvation shall go forth, and nations shall trust in Mine arm?'

If only Trypho could answer... Then Justin throws whole chapters at his interlocutor all at once. Really! Then the tone gets worse. I find the arguments embarrassing because the prophet's criticism is internal and Justin's is external and a judgment of his brother. He hurls Psalm 49 (LXX) 50 (Hebrew) against him not recognizing that in the second half, But unto the wicked God saith, that Justin is himself that wicked. Psalm 50 is a trap for those who judge just as is Romans 1-2 (which may indeed have been modeled on that psalm.)

Then Justin jumps from Song 8:5 to Isaiah 63:2-3 and Trypho asks: Why do you select and quote whatever you wish from the prophetic writings, but do not refer to those which expressly command the Sabbath to be observed? For Isaiah thus speaks: (58:13) etc. There is little here but a form of mud-slinging. Justin has created Trypho to pound him down with clobber-chapters. And he is missing that very Christ that he professes. (Well, at least Childs got me to read a little of this.)

Childs makes an attempt to defend Justin (devil's advocate) against the accusation that he is 'an example of primitive exegetical misunderstanding that has largely served as a liability to the Christian church ever since'. Childs notes that Justin respects the OT. OK I guess - but it is not the sort of close reading that I think it deserves - not that I am capable of completing Isaiah the way I did the psalms - there is not enough time in one life.

Childs everywhere uses 'Christ' as an abbreviated name for Jesus. Is this a linguistic trap? When I see the anointing in TNK and am taught by the LORD God through these words, must I see Jesus or do I see the anointing (Christ) and teaching Spirit? [God is Spirit] 

I have definitely come to this experience of mine through Christ Jesus and through his death in which I participate, but when I call him 'my Lord' I do not call him 'my LORD'. Because personal possessive pronouns are never applied to the name of God. 

Curious eh?  We did a study over several years of Christ in the OT. It takes years for Christians to see that the God of the OT is not Jesus, but rather the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob - ... this is my name for ever and this is my memorial unto all generations. This is also the "God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ".   I fear we are already on the road to the Shoah in the year 100 and even post-Shoah, we do not perceive this problem.

That's why X is the subject of this series. Where do you think I will get to? I think I know something of X already: The TNK exhibits the same Spirit as is incarnate in Jesus, but so often we short-circuit our obedience and our knowledge of this gift.  I think I can and must live with the tension. I would name Jesus in his humanity as my Lord and I would identify Jesus as Christ in his incarnation of the logos with respect to his divinity. In his Anointing he teaches me the same anointing from TNK as he exhibits in the NT. And the Anointing Spirit teaches me 'through Christ' the same way he teaches the elect poet of the psalms or the redactors of the later prophets.

We must take care with our hermeneutics lest we take the name of God in vain. [and it may be that I have more to learn about my pugnacious spirit]

3X-part 5 Paul and Isaiah

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

This is the last of the sections on the NT and its use of Isaiah. Without looking at Childs, I know there is a major focus on bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles using Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah, in Romans 15. But the question is not what - but how does Paul use these texts?

Childs: "Paul's exegesis shares features with the Hellenistic synagogue of the diaspora such as the use of allegory, but not in a highly developed for akin to Philo. ... lacks the characteristic forms of rabbinic midrash ... only rarely is there a close parallel to the pesher approach of Qumran."

Here is a beginning of an attempt to name the method by which groups interpret the past as it is recorded in the Scripture. What is this allegory, midrash (Hebrew draw out, search), or pesher (Aramaic interpret, occurs frequently in Daniel)? These questions will arise over the next 1800 years with various answers and various terms.

Without going into great detail on all Paul's paraphrases, additions, omissions, and combining of texts, I have selected the texts on atonement to examine: Isaiah 53:9 to 11 in Romans 4:25 and 9:15, 19. Childs puts these forward as 53:9 and 10b (sic). And Romans 9:15 is from Exodus 33:19 and so adds nothing to a discussion of Isaiah. Romans 9:19 from Isaiah 29:16 and has little to do with atonement. Childs is too brief on these for me. There is certainly no allegory and only one word to link the passages from the Greek (that I can see).

It is clear that the Greek of Romans 4:25 has next to no relationship with Isaiah 10 LXX but has some words from 11. Paul is leaning on the Hebrew, but the Greek is not entirely off the mark. The cleanse is used as a sacrificial term implying purify, a theme important in the scheme of approaching the Holy.

LXX53LXXHeb
καὶ δώσω τοὺς πονηροὺς ἀντὶ τῆς ταφῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς πλουσίους ἀντὶ τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἀνομίαν οὐκ ἐποίησεν οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦverse 9
And I will give the wicked instead of his burial, and the rich instead of his death; because he committed no transgression, neither was guile found in his mouth.
And one appointed his grave with wicked men, and with a rich man in his death; because he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
καὶ κύριος βούλεται καθαρίσαι αὐτὸν τῆς πληγῆς ἐὰν δῶτε περὶ ἁμαρτίας ἡ ψυχὴ ὑμῶν ὄψεται σπέρμα μακρόβιον καὶ βούλεται κύριος ἀφελεῖν10And the Lord desireth to cleanse him from his plague: if ye offer for sin, your soul shall see a long lived seed: and the Lord desireth to take (him) away from the trouble of his soul,
And the  LORD was pleased to bruise him; he laid sickness on him; if his soul should make a guilt-offering, he should see a seed, he should prolong days, and the pleasure of the  LORD should prosper in his hand. 
ἀπὸ τοῦ πόνου τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ δεῖξαι αὐτῷ φῶς καὶ πλάσαι τῇ συνέσει δικαιῶσαι δίκαιον εὖ δουλεύοντα πολλοῖς καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν αὐτὸς ἀνοίσει11To show to him a light, and to form him with under­standing, to justify a just one that serveth many aright, and their sins shall he himself bear.Out of the travail of his soul he shall see, he shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant make many righteous; for he will bear their iniquities
ὃς παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶνRomans
4:25




I would interpret these passages according to human experience, as Rashi suggests in his understanding of Psalm 39 that one voice can speak on behalf of the people. Rashi interprets the psalm as a corporate psalm, the subject 'I' assuming the full weight of the trouble of Israel in exile. If Rashi is pointing in the direction of one person speaking for the elect, then Rashi himself is pointing to the efficacy of vicarious suffering and participation in redemption. A similar singular voice appears in the central chapter of Lamentations. It should not be difficult then to extend the TNK into an understanding of how one man could die for the people or give his life for the life of the world.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Photons; Seraphs; and the fire of God

Y'all know that when God saw the light, he said it was good. So now I have this fiery proton laser stream in me for 5 minutes a day destroying the wickedness of my cancer - and healing the whole body as part of the everlasting covenant.

Primal light - destroying and healing - some deal eh?  And I am daily in a Star Trek movie with wonder-working seraphic nursing staff considering every tender move and aiming the gun of God's life-giving light-fire at me.

Oh my breathing adjectives - tov tov tov.


Books have arrived

Seven boxes. This is now for me a real book.

Off to my appointments now ....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brought to you by the letter zayin

This morning's Sunday school was another four-class music session. Brief here.

Zayin led us eventually to Exodus 3:15 with the older children - so I worked out the music tonight - curious as to how the Lord answered Moses.  It has very elaborate ornamentation and the Lord has a very long name - not just the tetragrammeton.  The music does have the impact that punctuation would have - but also rather more than that. The atenach is a very long way into the verse (bar 3).


3X-part 4 Mark, Luke, John

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

I think I should move a little faster. So here is some data from Mark, and some notes on Luke and John re their use of Isaiah and a comment or two from Childs. (This is a very curious way of re-entering the NT from my long sojourn among the psalms.) 

Mark 1:2-3
This is a combination of Malachi 3:1, Exodus 23:20 (not LXX) and Isaiah 40:3.
MarkHebLXX
Ὡς γέγραπται ἐν τοῖς προφήταις,
Ἰδού, ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου
ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου,
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ

הִנְנִי שֹׁלֵחַ מַלְאָכִי וּפִנָּה־דֶרֶךְ לְפָנָי

לִשְׁמָרְךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ
קֹ֣ול קֹורֵ֔א בַּמִּדְבָּ֕ר פַּנּ֖וּ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יְהוָ֑ה יַשְּׁרוּ֙ בָּעֲרָבָ֔ה מְסִלָּ֖ה לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ

ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐξαποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου καὶ ἐπιβλέψεται ὁδὸν πρὸ προσώπου μου
ἵνα φυλάξῃ σε ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ
φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν
Childs points out the confirmation of the gospel of verse 1 from this catena of allusions and quotations of the prophets. Gospel also has "Hellenistic roots associated with the emperor cult of Rome". This use of the same term 'good news' for political 'fairness' and Roman 'peace' contrasts with the reign of justice required for the Messianic rule. Childs says that the connotation of the connection is unclear but "it is hard to believe that at least some of his audience would not have sensed the competing agendas".

He comments that "Both Malachi 3 and Isaiah 40 use the phrase 'prepare the way,' which is not evident in the Greek". But what am I looking at in Isaiah 40:3 (grayed out above)? I guess he means that it is in the Greek of Isaiah but not in the NT Greek. Ottley has Prepare ye the way for his translation of the LXX. It seems to be a word from seeing, maybe colloquially: 'will keep an eye out for you the way'.

Luke 4:16-30
This section of Luke is a conflation of Isaiah 61:1, 58:6, and 61:2. I will skip the display of the omissions. What I am struck by is Childs' comment that only later would the Greek term εὐαγγελίζω "acquire the full Christian meaning of proclaiming the gospel".

I am disturbed by this comment. What is the "full Christian" gospel that it should differ from the reign of God and judgment with equity?   When I was younger, I met this interpretation that Isaiah's gospel or the gospel of the kingdom differed from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope I misunderstood. There can be no difference here, no separation of one gospel from another as if there was an 'unchristian' gospel. 

The gospel is the penetration of equity and justice into human governance. Yes, it is based on the example of self-giving in Jesus which brings "to fulfillment the prophetic promise of God's eschatalogical salvation by his very presence". But the adjectives 'full' and 'Christian' run the risk of pointing to a belief in words about Jesus rather than a working out of the obedience of faith. I am very wary of adjectives. They short-circuit thought and can inhibit and stall the action of obedience. In some ways Christendom despite its failures has succeeded in bringing such self-giving to the policies of human government. But 'Christians' must learn from the examples of success and failure in the TNK and in doing so find the means of obedience that their faith must lead to or it is empty rather than full.

What is Luke's 'today'?  Childs warns me of identifying this with the pesher exegesis from traditional rabbinic midrash. He says of Qumran that "the concern to interpret prophecy as predictions being fulfilled literally in the present life of the community offers an exegetical analogy close to Luke's resounding 'today'", but "the conflict portrayed in Luke 4 is of a different order: it centers on the claims of Jesus the Messiah to fulfill the Isaianic promise."

John 12:41
Here after referring to Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10 "the evangelist offers a commentary on Isaiah's purpose. ... The sequence of the passage makes it clear that John is speaking of the glory of Jesus. ... quite clearly, the evangelist is speaking of the vision by the prophet of the pre-existent Son." (Childs p 15).

OK I guess - but don't think of glory as being dependent on time. It must be independent of time, mutually orthogonal, one, perhaps the One of many dimensions. Childs also compares Abraham (John 8:56) and Moses (John 5:45) in this section. He concludes with the reference to John 2:22 as informing the disciples of the present reality of the Incarnate Word with them in Jesus.

As one who believes, I cannot disagree, but as one who searches for a unity that is broken, I have to ask how our words (traditions, confessions, etc) fail to respect the unity into which we are called. (John 17:21).

Next - on to Paul and his reception of Isaiah.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

3X-part 3b The sign of Immanuel

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.
In the previous post I thought I would look in more detail at the whole series of Then was fulfilled citations in Matthew. Here's the first. The others will have to wait, because I now realize this would lead me away from the direction I think I want to follow. And it is too difficult for the moment - digging deeper than the roots in the text will allow me given my current tool-set.

לָ֠כֵן יִתֵּ֨ן אֲדֹנָ֥י ה֛וּא לָכֶ֖ם אֹ֑ות
Therefore the Lord himself will give you (pl.) a sign
Hebrew
Is.
Greek LXX
Mt.
NT
הִנֵּ֣ה הָֽעַלְמָ֗ה הָרָה֙
וְיֹלֶ֣דֶת בֵּ֔ן
וְקָרָ֥את שְׁמֹ֖ו עִמָּ֥נוּ֩ אֵֽל
7:14b
ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει
καὶ τέξεται υἱόν
καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Εμμανουηλ
1:23
Ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει,
καὶ τέξεται υἱὸν,
καὶ καλέσουσιν τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἐμμανουὴλ,
ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον, μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός

The above is the text of the sign of Emmanuel. Matthew adds an explanation of the name, otherwise the text is pretty much identical to the LXX.

The music of the Hebrew follows. There is an interesting pair of triplet ornaments around the text. I am unsure what the mode should be. I tried some variations and decided to leave it in the default chromatic hypodorian. (I will spare you the singing).

Childs rather cryptically comments:
The Septuagint's translation of almah with parthenos (virgin) shifts the focus ... Not only does the interpretation of Immanuel's role in Isaiah 8 point to a continuing eschatological role of Immanuel; the linking of Micah 5:2-3 [=Matthew 2:6] and 2 Samuel 7:12-16 [Isaiah 9:6] also points to the expectation of a future David. Thus the "prince of peace" forms a messianic texture joining Isaiah 9:6 and the shoot of Isaiah 11.
He then appeals to Pesch (He will be called a Nazorean) who writes of "the unusual history of the nation of God".

I think I might see my history as an ontogeny recapitulating this phylogeny as one way of understanding what the TNK can do for me, but for now, on to Mark ... 

3X-part 3a, Then was fulfilled (intro)

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.
In the previous post I laid out the data for the usage in the NT of Isaiah 6:9-10.

Childs now gives a page or two of introduction on the 'then was fulfilled...' formula. From his coverage, the thought arose in my mind: is this citation a fulfillment or a twisting of Scripture? In C.F.D. Moule's words, these citations are "to our critical eyes, manifestly forced and artificial and unconvincing" (The Origin of Christology, p129).  When I wrote earlier in this series of getting the tip of the sword into a box of abstractions, you can begin to see what the problems are for Snoopy on his Sopwith Camel.

Childs allows the most promising of modern approaches to Matthew to be that of Rudolf Petch He will be Called a Nazorean. Petch brings the interpretive framework into a time of a later community. But Childs, though pleased with the perspective as far as it goes, is not happy with either Moule or Petch.
"The fulfillment formula quotations are directed, above all, to establishing the identity of Jesus as Messiah and Lord in relation to the Old Testament prophecy and only secondarily to extending the implications of his commission to his disciples (Matthew 28:16-20)."  
I wonder if primary and secondary can be so easily separated. Who is this Jesus who is so celebrated? But who also is the community that is taught to sing a new song? Does obedience and formation come only through conformity to a confession, say concerning 'divinity' as if a human could establish the boundaries for God?  Yet equally I can concur with Childs, even if I sense the risk of short-circuit, in his one-line summaries of Matthew such as
The entire Old Testament is understood as a prophetic revelation of God's purposes directed to the future that has now been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. A typology is assumed between the history of Israel, viewed prophetically, and the life and ministry of Christ.

But I do have some serious difficulties with these words. I would write this - maybe
The Hebrew Scriptures (Teaching, Prophets, and Psalms) are understood as a typical example of human life, individual (David) and corporate (Israel) into which tradition Jesus enacts a life of obedience to God that reveals him as unique. This unique word made flesh, the community of his presence declares Lord and Anointed (Christ), in order that humanity might learn to love as he loved, to be pure as he is pure.
But I digress... Childs' essay on Matthew - focusing on Isaiah 7:14 is difficult to summarize in that it already summarizes a host of other scholars. So let me present how Matthew uses Isaiah and other prophets - the raw data according to Childs with the Hebrew and Septuagint and Matthew side by side. Then let's see what emerges. I was thinking I could just do one table - but what's the hurry! I will do a post on each verse in the Then was fulfilled sequence. Each also needs the music of the Hebrew to bring it to our ears. The posts will include Matthew 1:23, 2:15, 17-18, 23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:18-21; 13:35; 21:4-5; and 27:9. [project deferred - see next post] Then perhaps I will see and hear more than I would if I failed to read closely.

Psalm 96 - Words and Music

This video is really quite astonishing, [HT Jonathan Wheeler.] considering the melody and the ornamentation have been constructed from what was for 1000 years considered punctuation. (See my cheat sheet here.) The harmonies and instrumentation are not in the Hebrew text but are an imaginative reconstruction.
 
Notice the construction that shows an awareness of musical form. The text with pointing (but not the Letteris edition) is here.

This is the command:

Sing to יהוה a new song // sing to יהוה all the earth // sing to יהוה bless his name // publish from day to day his salvation // Recount his glory among the nations to all the peoples his wonders

The text does not divide in its recurrence pattern exactly as the music suggests, rather the last verse of each section links to the following section as if building the poem in a cascade.  This illustrates that much more is to be learned about the text of the Bible by singing it rather than punctuating it.

What is this new song? This is a theme already sounded in Psalms 33 and 40 and to be heard again in Psalms 98, 144, and 149. Note this phrase also in Revelation 5:9.

Friday, February 8, 2013

3X-part 2, Seeing and Hearing

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

In the preceding post, I noted that the collage of allusions to Isaiah 6:9-10 requires a great deal more analysis. In particular we must see the raw data. So I lay it out - for my sake that I may see what I am looking at and hear what I must hear.

First, the subject verses: LXX / MT then Ottley translations
וַיֹּ֕אמֶר
לֵ֥ךְ וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֖ לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה
שִׁמְע֤וּ שָׁמ֨וֹעַ֙ וְאַל־תָּבִ֔ינוּ
וּרְא֥וּ רָא֖וֹ וְאַל־תֵּדָֽעוּ
6:9καὶ εἶπεν
πορεύθητι καὶ εἰπὸν τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ
ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε
καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε
And he said,
Go, and say to this people,
Certainly hear ye, but understand not;
and see ye, but perceive not.
And he said,
Go, and say to this people,
By hearing ye shall hear, and not understand;
and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.
הַשְׁמֵן֙ לֵב־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה
וְאָזְנָ֥יו הַכְבֵּ֖ד
וְעֵינָ֣יו הָשַׁ֑ע
פֶּן־יִרְאֶ֨ה בְעֵינָ֜יו
וּבְאָזְנָ֣יו יִשְׁמָ֗ע
וּלְבָב֥וֹ יָבִ֛ין
וָשָׁ֖ב וְרָ֥פָא לֽוֹ
6:10ἐπαχύνθη γὰρ ἡ καρδία τοῦ λαοῦ τούτου
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν αὐτῶν βαρέως ἤκουσαν
καὶ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν ἐκάμμυσαν
μήποτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούσωσιν
καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν
καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς
Make the heart of this people fat,
and make their ears heavy,
and smear over their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn again, and one heal them.

For the heart of this people is made fat,
and with their ears they hear dully,
and their eyes have they closed;
lest at any time they should see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and should return, when I will heal them.

I wonder how significant the LXX change from imperative to future is or the change of mode from causative to passive or stative. Hebrew verb forms are notorious for the difficulty in sensing the appropriate 'temporal' rendering in another tongue. Our humanity is strung out in a temporal frame. We cannot help but be aware of 'Christmas past, present and future'. Our being reveals both past and future as if we carry all the 'marks and scars' with us at every moment. God is not so bound. For God, presence is a given. So all time is present to Glory. The sense of this fundamental experience is in the text of Scripture explicitly in several places (sun standing still in Joshua or shadows moving backwards in Isaiah 38:8, and Before Abraham was, I am, in John.) Presence / face is a theme in the Psalms, abundantly clear in the first section of Psalm 68, for example, where it dominates the first 9 verses. This observation resonates with Childs' comment that "the coming of the kingdom is not simply a promise, but a divine reality experienced in the person of Jesus Christ."  I guess I need to emphasize that such presence is not foreign to the TNK. This is the first step in resolving the struggle - to recognize word, anointing and presence in the 'OT'.

How then are these verses of Isaiah read by Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John? (Now why would I list these in that order - O Markan priority, how now we take you for granted. I was, by the way, a closet Griesbachian. Now - who am I? Let's see if the Greek usage in the NT gives a clue...)

Here is the data on the use of Isaiah 6:9-10 for pondering and some of Childs' comments and LXX repeated for ease of comparison.

Mark 4:12
ἵνα βλέποντες βλέπωσιν
καὶ μὴ ἴδωσιν
καὶ ἀκούοντες ἀκούωσιν
καὶ μὴ συνιῶσιν
μήποτε ἐπιστρέψωσιν
καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς τὰ ἁμαρτήματα
That seeing they may see,
and not perceive;
and hearing they may hear,
and not understand;
lest at any time they should be converted,
and [their] sins should be forgiven them.

9b ἀκοῇ ἀκούσετε
καὶ οὐ μὴ συνῆτε
καὶ βλέποντες βλέψετε
καὶ οὐ μὴ ἴδητε
10b μήποτε ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς 
καὶ τοῖς ὠσὶν ἀκούσωσιν
καὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ συνῶσιν
καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς

Hearing and seeing are reversed from 9b, most of 10b is omitted, and forgiveness of sins is substituted for healing. It's a paraphrase and yet the LXX is clearly recognized. Childs' comment is that the addition of ἵνα retains the telic (purposeful) force of the Hebrew. 

Matthew 13:13-15
διὰ τοῦτο ἐν παραβολαῖς αὐτοῖς λαλῶ
  ὅτι βλέποντες οὐ βλέπουσιν καὶ ἀκούοντες οὐκ ἀκούουσιν οὐδὲ συνίουσιν
Therefore speak I to them in parables:
because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Here Matthew lays blame on the failure to hear and see. It is neither command (Hebrew) nor future (LXX) but present. The conjunction because emphasizes the blame. Then follows an exact copy of Isaiah 9-10 LXX with one word missing (αὐτῶν = their) otherwise it is identical to the LXX. It is almost as if Matthew has copied the text here just like I copy and present this evidence. It makes me wonder why τοῖς is rendered as 'their' and not 'those' or even 'those very ears and those very eyes'. It also lays blame and makes present the prophecy. 

Luke 8:10
ἵνα βλέποντες μὴ βλέπωσιν καὶ ἀκούοντες μὴ συνιῶσιν

Luke abbreviates Mark retaining the telic reference to the Hebrew - or all three recall the same context of the mystery of parables (not I might add a foreign element but evident in the Psalms and Job and so on. The last of the first group of Korah Psalms is a parable: I will bend to a parable my ear // I will open my riddle on a harp.)

Luke closes his Acts with a refresher of this lesson from Isaiah (Acts 28:26-27). This appears to me to be identical to Matthew 13:14-15. They must both have had a text that did not include the extra αὐτῶν. 

John 9:39
John 9 summarizes the parable/sign of the man born blind. It is a very free allusion. It makes Jesus' mission parallel to that of Isaiah. 
καὶ εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς
εἰς κρίμα ἐγὼ εἰς τὸν κόσμον τοῦτον ἦλθον 
ἵνα οἱ μὴ βλέποντες βλέπωσιν καὶ οἱ βλέποντες τυφλοὶ γένωνται 

John 12:38-40
This section combines Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:10 again paraphrased
Τετύφλωκεν αὐτῶν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς
καὶ πεπώρωκεν αὐτῶν τὴν καρδίαν 
ἵνα μὴ ἴδωσιν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς 
καὶ νοήσωσιν τῇ καρδίᾳ 
καὶ ἐπιστραφῶσιν καὶ ἰάσωμαι αὐτούς

The brown is an exact match, the green matching words but not word order. Note the telic allusion to the Hebrew.

Now what does this do for the New Testament's usage of Isaiah as prophecy. It gives rationale to Paul's final comments on the temporary blinding of Israel that the Gentiles might be brought in. (Romans 11:8). I am surprised that Childs did not point out this other allusion to Isaiah 6. That's because it is a slight paraphrase of Isaiah 29:10 - but the collector / redactor of Isaiah must hear and see the eye/ear thread in this passage (not to mention chapter 35 and lots of others).

Satis.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

3X-part 1, Isaiah in the NT - overview

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

In an earlier post, I noted that Childs begins with Hengel's comment that the LXX is the first commentary on the OT. This is not just whether the text is 'actualized' or even carelessly translated by the Alexandrian Greeks but that all translation is commentary. (See the threads at the reading Isaiah group on Facebook.)

Earlier in his short introduction, he complains that "many moderns have described the use of the Bible as a map of misreading." He points to allegory as a possible solution. [See my historical conversation with Iyov summarized a few years ago here.] I will not go here immediately but wait for an exploration of the terms of engagement with the Bible till a review of Childs' chapter on Origen.  I note in passing that we are called to the obedience of faith, not obedience to our assumptions. Many things that we think about incarnation and allegory are unthinkable without the light of the Holy. And the Holy is unapproachable with assumptions. We may be assumed, but we may not assume. Perhaps this too is a divine passive. [James McGrath wants opinions on the divine here.]

The rest of Childs' first chapter is on the use of Isaiah in the NT - a complex subject fit for many books.

But first how does Childs explore the use of Isaiah in the NT? A primary link is the use of the term Gospel in Isaiah. What is Gospel? The good news is God's judgment in favour of the poor (Luke 6:20, Matthew 5:3, Isaiah 61:1). As a student of the psalms, I cannot disagree with this assessment. Childs draws on work by C. A. Evans (From Gospel to Gospel) who also cites the use of Isaiah 35:5-6 (Matthew 11:4-5, Luke 17:18-23) and Matthew 16:19, cf Isaiah 2:22. I would also draw on the preferential option for the poor that is so clear in the Psalms and central to the harvest Psalm 67. The use of בשר (publish, gospel, flesh) is explicit as Gospel in Isaiah but implicit in the Psalms (e.g. Psalm 68:11). My Lord gave a promise // the women publishing are an abundant host.

Childs then reminds me that the NT sees the Gospel בשר incarnate in the flesh בשר of Jesus. In his words: "Jesus does not merely proclaim the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God, he has realized it through his life and death (Mark 10:45, Isaiah 53:11-12)." My words are slightly more stark. בשר in Hebrew is εὐαγγέλιον in Greek. It occurs to me that this contrasts starkly the positive flesh of the Eucharist with the negative flesh-image of Paul and the relatively neutral but positive statement that 'to you shall all flesh come' (Psalm 65:2, Isaiah 66:23).  Psalms 65-67 are directly in the middle of the circles of psalms formed by the inscriptions of Korah, Asaph, and David.  Psalms and Isaiah are worth a close study.

Childs then moves on to the use of Isaiah 6 in Mark 4:12, paraphrase, Matthew 13:13, 15 and Luke 8:10 and Acts 28:26-27 and John 9:39 and 12:40.  This collage of allusions requires a great deal more analysis. Childs lays out the idea but not the data. I intend to lay out the data in a subsequent post in this series.  It will touch on the use of the LXX and the way in which it is directly quoted and paraphrased and also it will touch on the Synoptic problem and other aspects of the Apostolic community writing in the first years of the preaching of good tidings to the nations.




Tuesday, February 5, 2013

X

X is the traditional unknown in Algebra. X as Chi is also an abbreviation for Christ.

I am going to write a series of blog posts on X. If you already know the value of X and have solved the infinite number of possible algebraic problems concerning X, or have a clear coherent and comprehensive theology of X, you might still want to read these to see if I approach any different questions for which X has a solution but perhaps not so obvious as answers allow.

I am reading Isaiah in Greek - sort of. See this Facebook group for the threads. We are about chapter 11 this week.  Reading Isaiah in Greek!  Yes - we are reading what Martin Hegel calls
 'the first complete and pre-Christian commentary on the Old Testament'. 
That is the Septuagint (LXX = 70, a penny-rounded approximation to the 72 scholars who translated the Hebrew into Greek) version of Isaiah. (I did a little matching of the Hebrew to the Greek here and here - but this process is long and neither my Greek nor my database is ready for such an exercise.)

So X is the Hebrew of the OT (or TNK) per Hengel in The Septuagint and Christian Scripture.  Look at that! LXX already has two X's in it.

Does that make The LXX X? or is it 2X. 2X will do. What then is 3X? 3X = NT of course, the second major commentary on TNK in the light of the experience of X Jesus by the Apostolic communities.  We will have a post on 3X - perhaps several, because each of the Gospels and the letters etc use the LXX and sometimes the Hebrew in diverse ways.

Who then is 4X? - I will pick Justin Martyr and his dialogue with Trypho.
5X? - Irenaeus and his struggle against heresies.

If you read the table of contents of Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture, you will find the rest of my sequence right through to the post-modern Bruggemann. That should get us to 19X with Childs as 20X. At least twenty posts and probably several sub-sections.

These are the rest of the unknowns which Childs examines in his quest for the struggle of Christendom to accomodate Isaiah as 'Christian': Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, Jerome, John Chysostrom, Cyril of Alexandria, Theodoret of Cyprus, Thomas Aquinas, Nicholas of Lyra, Martin Luther, John Calvin, 17th and 18th Century Interpreters, The 19th and 20th Centuries, Postmodern Interpretations and Hermeneutical Implications.

Then will we know the value of X? or the person of X?  Stay conscious... heads up for some meditations on reception history and the book of Isaiah.

Stand firm in your refusal to remain conscious during algebra.
In real life, I assure you, there is no such a thing as algebra.
- Fran Leibowitz