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Bishops, Aramaic, and the LXX

 

Editor’s Note: This letter is part of a conversation that started with Henry Harbuck’s article, “What Bible Did Jesus Use?

 

Greetings from AEGA,

I have read the notes you sent me as well as those from Kevin Williams. Though Mr. Williams made some excellent points, much of which I agree with, the majority of scholars who aren’t Messianic Jews don’t entirely agree. Many of them say that more than 250 quotations in the New Testament are from the LXX (septuaginta). But in what language Jesus quoted some of these Scriptures is another story.

As you said, Mr. Williams has a very conversational style, which I like. Notwithstanding, he is very balanced in his thinking and examines theological topics from many perspectives. He’s a man after my own heart.

Torah exhibit at Big Synagogue Museum, Wlodawa, Poland. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Concerning a similar matter, I am puzzled by a statement made by Craig S. Keener in his Bible Background Commentary (NT – p. 102) at Matthew 21:15-17. He says: “Because the high priests spoke Greek as their first language, Jesus quotes to them from the Greek translation of Psalm 8:2, which reads ‘praise,’ rather than the Hebrew, which has ‘strength’ (slightly less appropriate).” If Keener is correct, I must be wrong to have assumed for many years that the high priests spoke Aramaic. Concerning synagogue worship, I know that in the Jewish synagogues after the Jews returned from Babylonian Captivity, the presider or director read the scrolls (Scriptures) in Hebrew and the Targum paraphrased what was said in Aramaic. So I don’t know what to make of what Dr. Keener has said. Would you ask Mr. Williams to comment on this for me?

Lastly, I am confused by a statement made by Mr. Williams in his fifth paragraph: “In the synagogues, the Hebrew would have been the preferred text. As I’ve written elsewhere, there were offices such as the Overseer (Bishop) who made certain the text was read verbatim and the Targumim (translator), whose job it was to repeat the text in the local language for the sake of the non-Hebrew speaking Jewish population as well as the God-fearing gentiles.”

Question: Is Mr. Williams saying that the Overseer (Bishop) presided in the synagogue? Though it seems he is saying this, based on the sentence construction, surely he is saying otherwise. The title Overseer (Bishop) is an office of the New Testament Church, but I’ve never heard it used in relation to the synagogue.

Good-bye for now. Keep up the good work that you’re doing for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Sincerely, HIS servant,

Bro. Harbuck

 

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 2015

About the Author: Henry A. Harbuck, Ph.D., Th.D., is General Overseer and President of AEGA Ministries International. He is an author, pastor, conference speaker, educator, and certified naturopathic physician. Seeing the need for truth and accountability in Christian leadership, he co-founded the Association of Evangelical Gospel Assemblies in 1988 as a fellowship that would provide spiritual and legal covering for independent ministers, ministries and churches. The AEGA now has members in 50 countries and networks in over 65 nations around the world. Dr. Harbuck is currently completing a study aide entitled The New Millennia In-Depth Bible. aega.org

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