14 July 2007

Integrity of the Holy Scriptures

There has been an increasing attack upon the integrity of the Holy Scriptures: an attempt to weaken the faith of those who hold to its marvelous promises. Perhaps the most prominent reason given for these proposals is the common belief that the Holy Prophets were simply brilliant men, rather than inspired men of God. Thus, they could see and discern the signs of the times, but not the times that were more distant from the age they prophecied. Some of these false premises were at first set out rather tentatively, but over time have often been given as a matter of fact. So, what do I mean by speaking of the integrity of the Scriptures? I would not suggest that the Holy Scriptures have been preserved perfectly, for we know that there are whole books of scripture mentioned in the Bible that are missing. Futhermore, we no longer have the original manuscripts, but only copies of copies. I do believe that the Holy Prophets were inspired men of God, and that they wrote as moved upon by the Holy Ghost. That they received inspiration and revelation from God that permitted them to see into the future. The purpose of this page is to warn against many of the twisted modern translations of the Scriptures, and to provide some references that defend the integrity of the same. The reader may not always agree with all the premises of these particular authors, but they nevertheless provide materials for the defense of the faith. Each person has the responsibility to study and ponder prayerfully over these important matters.

I begin by sharing an example of an attack on the Messianic references in the Holy Scriptures, with an exegetical defense of the integrity of the Scriptures, before moving on to other references.

What are these wounds in thine hands?

In the Book of Zechariah we find a number of sublime Messianic end of days scriptures. For instance, in Zechariah 12:10 (see also 12:7-10; 11:12-13; 13:6; 14:4, 9) we read: "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Now, associated with this scripture is another of great import: "And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends" (13:6). This last verse has been translated in some modern versions of the Scriptures in such a way to completely change its meaning. For instance, instead of thine hands we may read, "back" (RSV,AAT, JPS Tanakh), "chest" (HCSB), "body" (NIV), "between the hands," "between the shoulders," or "between your arms" (RV 1885, HNV, World English Bible). And instead of "friends" we may read "lovers" (AAT), or "harlot's house" (Moffatt) such as to yield an increasingly corrupt text that reads something like: "What are these sores on your chest? Those received at my lover's home."

Defense of KJV translation of this verse: Let us begin with a brief conversation about principles of translation. Some have suggested on a translation approach that insists that the same term be translated in the same fashion every time it is used. On the surface such an approach seems to have merit. But after brief consideration, we realize that this is not possible. Why? Because other languages, just like English and Spanish, have words with multiple shades of meaning depending on their context. A translator must understand the context of the source language as well as the target translation language. In Hebrew, the word בין most frequently does mean between. So that in Hebrew, one may refer to the nose as that which is between the eyes, and so on. However, even Gesenius (Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon, 1870, p. CXIV) admits that ביןhas other meanings, including intra, within, as in Job 24:11, Proverbs 26:13 and Zechariah 13:6 (!). Gesenius also uses the word amongst, such that, בין הרחבות means "within the streets," or rather "in the streets." So, returning to our verse in Zechariah 13:6, we translate בין ידיך as "in your hands."--Gregorio Billikopf (26 Dec 2005)

A. General References
Very Excellent1. Henry M. Harman, Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures (Vol. I of a Biblical and Theological Library series, 4th Edition, 1884), published by Phillips & Hunt, New York. This is my favorite work on the subject, with excellent scholarship and very interesting quotes from both Jewish and Christian scholars.
Very Excellent2. , .

B. Unity of Isaiah
Very Excellent1. Rachel Margalioth, The Indivisible Isaiah (1964), published by the Sura Institute for Research, Jerusalem Yeshiva University, New York. Margalioth makes numerous excellent points, of which I only refer to one type here. Regarding Isaiah 3:24, let us examine one of her many contributions (from my book, Isaiah Testifies of Christ. "Margalioth considers the thesis and antithesis of this verse, using the words "instead of" תַחַת. This is in contrast to "and instead of" or וְתַחַת. “And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty,” and contrasts them to those in the second half of Isaiah. Whereas here in Isaiah 3 the comparison was of something good turned into something bad, the same words are inverted so that instead good there would be something better. While the AV uses, “and for” the Hebrew is exactly that Isaiah 3:24 , וְתַחַת, so substituting and instead of in place of and for we then have: “For brass I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver, and instead of wood brass, and instead of stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness” (Isaiah 60:17). Furthermore, Margalioth points us to two other like verses (once again the AV has for in place of תַחַת so we make the same substitution as before:“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3); and “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:13)."

Z. Other Recommendations (available from Gregorio Billikopf).
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