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Marc1152
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« on: September 17, 2010, 11:00:42 PM »

Here is a two hour lecture by the Karaite Jewish scholar Nehamia Gordon author of the Book : "Hebrew Yeshua vs Greek Jesus". This is a textual study of the Greek Translation of the book of Mathew vs what he believes is the Hebrew original. More important, he describes in very critical terms the teachings of the Pharisees. This bares upon several recent discussions on OC.net. I hope this will clear things up a bit.

Note: Karaites are non-Rabbinical Jews who strictly follow scripture alone.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2662031810327980639#

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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2010, 04:45:59 PM »

I watched the video yesterday morning - and spent all day today and yesterday thinking about it and praying about it.  What does is the stance of the Orthodox Church in light of this?

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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2010, 09:56:56 PM »

I watched the video yesterday morning - and spent all day today and yesterday thinking about it and praying about it.  What does is the stance of the Orthodox Church in light of this?



Yes, this is very provacative. I am going to write more about this later when I feel better ( I have been sick for days).

I am sure the Church accepts well researched scholarship.  Reading Mathew in Hebrew clears up several passages and solves some contradictions. I cant see any problem with that.

Thanks for looking at it. I know it is a commitment of time. 
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2010, 10:08:38 PM »

I was fascinated.  Well worth the two hours.
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« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2010, 01:32:05 AM »

I'm in the process of watching it now. So far I feel like I could disagree with some of his assertions simply based upon his ignorance of a lot of the finer details of Christian history, i.e. how he is understanding Church Fathers like Papias, which only in ways which is furthering his thesis. A simple viewing of a Wikipedia article on Papias discusses some problems with Gordon's interpretation of his accounts, although they do not either totally exclude his conclusions.

There were actually different versions of Matthew or different books associated with Matthew circulating in the earliest centuries of the Church, so it might not even clear which one Papias is referencing.

Anyway, so far I like some of the perspectives, as many modern Biblical-critical scholars place Christ firmly in the Pharisee camp for a variety of reasons. Although I can already tell that Jesus is essentially going to wind up being a reflection of the sect which Gordon belongs to, which of course also makes me suspicious!  Cheesy

I'll post more after I finish watching it, maybe.
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« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2010, 03:00:49 AM »

I though this Amazon.com review of Gordon's book might be helpful in some ways:

"Since Gordon is a respected Hebrew scholar I expected to find deep insights into the book of Matthew. I expected to find some content beyond Christianity since Gordon is a Karaite Jew and he can not believe Jesus is a teacher of righteousness. I was curious why Michael Rood was involved in this project, what role did he have? As a former Christian, I wanted to gain knowledge about Hebrew Primacy since it has few adherents compared to Aramaic Primacy and Greek Primacy. I did not find what I was looking for.

The book's conclusions have so many holes it read like swiss cheese. The Shem Tov's Matthew is far beyond the possiblity of being the "original" Matthew, or even a copy of such. The Appendix has a "Testimony of Papias" basically a quote from an early church father saying Matthew was written originally in Hebrew. First off, the quote is a second-hand quote and Papias's "fact" was second-hand knowledge. Papias's writing is non-existent today and the quote here is found as a quote in another writing, so the accuracy is questionable and the context is unknown. I asked myself the question "Does Papias mean it was written in the Hebrew language or in the language of the Hebrews which would have been Aramaic at that time?" Gordon may be a Hebrew scholar but he really has no background in New Testament studies. He was the wrong person to write on this topic, he even says he had to go to other experts to ask questions since he knew nothing. He claims proof it was originally in Hebrew because of word puns. Wait, Aramaic is a Semitic language. Many Aramaic words share the same root as Hebrew too. There are Aramaic word puns, and the Hebrew word puns are going to be in many of the same places as the Aramaic word puns. That is not proof. Gordon was asked a question about vows in the Oral Torah, yet he doesn't study Talmud, he is a Karaite. To answer the question, some sages said ANY vow (which includes a vow on HaShem) can be nullified by the authority of a sage, and next is stated some sages said they have not the authority. For further study on vows closest to the time of the Pharisees read Nedarim in the Mishnah and Tosefta.

Gordon paints Jesus as a Torah observent Jew yet knows nothing about the times Jesus broke the Torah(written Torah). Jesus actually says in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to untie the yoke of the law but to (Aramaic - emali) add to the law. "Add to" in the sense of pouring water into a half-full vessel (this is why it is translated "fulfill"). This is exactly what the Pharisees say with the Oral Torah. They claim the Written Torah is not perfectly complete and this is proof that an Oral Torah was given, because the Oral Torah makes it prefectly complete. This is contrary to the message of the Torah and Prophets. Jesus is just taking another route from the same place, the Torah is not perfectly complete.

I believe Gordon wrote this book for Messianic Christians to be introduced to Karaism, for them to see Jesus as a Karaite, and ultimately study and observe Torah. He possibly feels that if they study Torah they will come across many of the passages which point to Jesus like Deut. 13, the Hebrew of Num.23:19, or find that blood sacrifice is not required for atonement (Lev.5:11-13), that Lev 17:10-11 is talking about the improper and proper use of blood, not that it is necessary for atonement... and a plethora of others. A lot of former Christians are drawn to Karaite Judaism and I think he expects this book to speed the flow of converts. Michael Rood seems to be the big name promoting this book to Christians."
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2010, 12:26:57 PM »

I also wanted to say after reflecting on this a bit that it doesn't strike me as solid scholarship has much as public relations for his religious group. The video/book package makes it seem more like an infomercial. Furthermore, this was not released by any academically viable press. It was rather produced by a small religious press, which signifies that it is primarily a devotional/evangelistic piece of literature to me.

quietmorning, I wouldn't get too upset about it, because many of his assertions seem to have a lot of holes in them. The fact that he's presenting this as something only he has managed to figure out very recently with cutting-edge primary sources makes the amateur scholar in me highly suspicious.
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2010, 02:16:53 PM »

quietmorning, I wouldn't get too upset about it, because many of his assertions seem to have a lot of holes in them. The fact that he's presenting this as something only he has managed to figure out very recently with cutting-edge primary sources makes the amateur scholar in me highly suspicious.

Thank you, Alveus Lacuna. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2010, 04:56:46 PM »

I tend to agree that he is pushing his own sect. But I don't think his audience is really Messianic Jews. He denies Jesus as being the Messiah several times and forthrightly.

I think he is trying to locate Jesus on the spectrum of Jewish thought. I am certainly no scholar but assuming for a minute his translations and theory are accurate, then I can easily see how he concludes that Jesus took a position very similar to what later Karaites believe, that Rabbinical Judaism has put their teaching authority over what is plainly written.
Based on the posts of many here on OC.net I think that should be a popular position.

If he is correct and the Book of Mathew was originally written in Hebrew then several contradictions ( as he points out in the video) are reconciled. Jesus never endorses the Pharisee's at any time as he seems to at the beginning of Mathew ( "They sit in the Teaching Chair ( Mosses seat), listen to them."  But rather "Listen to HIM" (Moses). More good news.

I also found his lesson on what the Pharisee's believe  then and now to be worth the price of admission.  I notice that the Church takes up the same rationale in terms of Tradition. Both groups derive validity based on an Oral Law. Ours based on Paul's admonition to keep both written and oral teachings. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion , no? Seems like there is a connection.

 Gordon admits that he was taught wrongly the Jesus tried to discard the Torah. We can now see that he was arguing for a belief in the Torah untainted by Pharisaical re-interpretations. Certainly a step in a good direction, at the least for Mr. Gordon personally. It is also good for Christians to understand better what Jesus was arguing for.

 
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« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2010, 05:49:22 PM »

I tend to agree that he is pushing his own sect. But I don't think his audience is really Messianic Jews. He denies Jesus as being the Messiah several times and forthrightly.

I think he is trying to locate Jesus on the spectrum of Jewish thought. I am certainly no scholar but assuming for a minute his translations and theory are accurate, then I can easily see how he concludes that Jesus took a position very similar to what later Karaites believe, that Rabbinical Judaism has put their teaching authority over what is plainly written.
Based on the posts of many here on OC.net I think that should be a popular position.

If he is correct and the Book of Mathew was originally written in Hebrew then several contradictions ( as he points out in the video) are reconciled. Jesus never endorses the Pharisee's at any time as he seems to at the beginning of Mathew ( "They sit in the Teaching Chair ( Mosses seat), listen to them."  But rather "Listen to HIM" (Moses). More good news.

I also found his lesson on what the Pharisee's believe  then and now to be worth the price of admission.  I notice that the Church takes up the same rationale in terms of Tradition. Both groups derive validity based on an Oral Law. Ours based on Paul's admonition to keep both written and oral teachings. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion , no? Seems like there is a connection.

 Gordon admits that he was taught wrongly the Jesus tried to discard the Torah. We can now see that he was arguing for a belief in the Torah untainted by Pharisaical re-interpretations. Certainly a step in a good direction, at the least for Mr. Gordon personally. It is also good for Christians to understand better what Jesus was arguing for.

 

I'm fairly certain that he is speaking to Messianic Jews. I'm pretty sure he says that he is.
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« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2010, 06:03:31 PM »


If he is correct and the Book of Mathew was originally written in Hebrew then several contradictions ( as he points out in the video) are reconciled. Jesus never endorses the Pharisee's at any time as he seems to at the beginning of Mathew ( "They sit in the Teaching Chair ( Mosses seat), listen to them."  But rather "Listen to HIM" (Moses). More good news.


Jesus referred not only to the Pharisees, but also to "the scribes" as religious authorities sitting in Moses' seat. Why did He do that? Why did He relate the Pharisees to the scribes in that context?  Roll Eyes

If the Book of Matthew had been written in Hebrew and contained the sentence : "Listen to HIM" (Moses) rather than "Listen to THEM" (Pharisees), that whole chapter in Matthew would make no sense. The guy who focuses on the word "Pharisees" disregards the notion of textual coherence.
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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2010, 06:08:31 PM »

I tend to agree that he is pushing his own sect. But I don't think his audience is really Messianic Jews. He denies Jesus as being the Messiah several times and forthrightly.

I think he is trying to locate Jesus on the spectrum of Jewish thought. I am certainly no scholar but assuming for a minute his translations and theory are accurate, then I can easily see how he concludes that Jesus took a position very similar to what later Karaites believe, that Rabbinical Judaism has put their teaching authority over what is plainly written.
Based on the posts of many here on OC.net I think that should be a popular position.

If he is correct and the Book of Mathew was originally written in Hebrew then several contradictions ( as he points out in the video) are reconciled. Jesus never endorses the Pharisee's at any time as he seems to at the beginning of Mathew ( "They sit in the Teaching Chair ( Mosses seat), listen to them."  But rather "Listen to HIM" (Moses). More good news.

I also found his lesson on what the Pharisee's believe  then and now to be worth the price of admission.  I notice that the Church takes up the same rationale in terms of Tradition. Both groups derive validity based on an Oral Law. Ours based on Paul's admonition to keep both written and oral teachings. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion , no? Seems like there is a connection.

 Gordon admits that he was taught wrongly the Jesus tried to discard the Torah. We can now see that he was arguing for a belief in the Torah untainted by Pharisaical re-interpretations. Certainly a step in a good direction, at the least for Mr. Gordon personally. It is also good for Christians to understand better what Jesus was arguing for.

 

I'm fairly certain that he is speaking to Messianic Jews. I'm pretty sure he says that he is.

I am confused about who you are talking about. Do you mean what he refers to as "Torah Keeping Christians"? I hardly think his several denials of Christ would be very appealing to them.  He was just re-telling an encounter with such a person

Or do you mean..Messianic JEWS. Jews who are focused on the coming of the Messiah ( not Jesus)... ?. It was my understanding that Jewish groups with a strong Messianic focus are Hasidim. Ultra-Orthodox. I think that would be a hard row for him to plow.
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« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2010, 06:14:42 PM »


If he is correct and the Book of Mathew was originally written in Hebrew then several contradictions ( as he points out in the video) are reconciled. Jesus never endorses the Pharisee's at any time as he seems to at the beginning of Mathew ( "They sit in the Teaching Chair ( Mosses seat), listen to them."  But rather "Listen to HIM" (Moses). More good news.


Jesus referred not only to the Pharisees, but also to "the scribes" as religious authorities sitting in Moses' seat. Why did He do that? Why did He relate the Pharisees to the scribes in that context?  Roll Eyes

If the Book of Matthew had been written in Hebrew and contained the sentence : "Listen to HIM" (Moses) rather than "Listen to THEM" (Pharisees), that whole chapter in Matthew would make no sense. The guy who focuses on the word "Pharisees" disregards the notion of textual coherence.

On the contrary, in Hebrew, Jesus's criticism of the Pharisee's is consistent throughout.

First, the Greek Mathew writes that the Parasee's sit in Mosses Chair and that we ( followers of Christ) have to follow them. Later, Jesus escoriates the Pahrisee's in no uncertain terms. How do you reconcile that contradiction? Which is it?

But now, if reading Mathew in Hebrew is correct, the contradiction is reconciled. Seems like a good thing to me.   
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« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2010, 06:35:06 PM »


On the contrary, in Hebrew, Jesus's criticism of the Pharisee's is consistent throughout.


Let's put the guy's theory to a test then and replace the word "Pharisees" with "Moses":

“The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what he (Moses) tells you and do it. But do not do what he (Moses) does, for he (Moses) does not practice what he teaches. (23:2-3)

Does this make any sense?  Roll Eyes

First, the Greek Mathew writes that the Parasee's sit in Mosses Chair and that we ( followers of Christ) have to follow them. Later, Jesus escoriates the Pahrisee's in no uncertain terms. How do you reconcile that contradiction? Which is it?

But now, if reading Mathew in Hebrew is correct, the contradiction is reconciled. Seems like a good thing to me.
 

There is no contradiction. Jesus first endorses the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, but immediately emphasizes that they do not do what they teach. This means "pretence" and "hypocricy", which are perfectly in line with Jesus' harsh critique of the same religious leaders in the following section. The main theme of Jesus' rebuke is unsurprisingly the hypocricy of those religious authorities. For example:

Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

"Giving a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin" was a part of the Law, but the Pharisees neglected "justice, mercy, and faithfulness". The first clause refers to the religious leaders' authority endorsed by Christ, for it was written in the Law given to Moses. Nothing wrong with that.
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« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2010, 08:02:02 PM »

I believe Mr. Nehemiah was invited by a group of Messianic Jews (Evangelical Christians) to speak. They recorded this video.

Every time he talks about so-called contradictions in Matthew, he says "This is a problem for YOU, but not for me, since I do not follow Yeshua as the Messiah. But I did some research anyway... etc etc..."

"You"= the Messianic Jews which are his audience.

At the beginning of his speech, as he identifies himself as a Karaite Jew, he adds that Karaites "Do not look to Yeshua as the Messiah." This would be idiotic if he was talking to real Jews. Of course Karaites don't believe in Jesus. No duh. He has to clarify this, in case his Messianic audience mistakes him as one of their own.
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« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2010, 09:53:29 PM »


On the contrary, in Hebrew, Jesus's criticism of the Pharisee's is consistent throughout.


Let's put the guy's theory to a test then and replace the word "Pharisees" with "Moses":

“The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what he (Moses) tells you and do it. But do not do what he (Moses) does, for he (Moses) does not practice what he teaches. (23:2-3)

Does this make any sense?  Roll Eyes

First, the Greek Mathew writes that the Parasee's sit in Mosses Chair and that we ( followers of Christ) have to follow them. Later, Jesus escoriates the Pahrisee's in no uncertain terms. How do you reconcile that contradiction? Which is it?

But now, if reading Mathew in Hebrew is correct, the contradiction is reconciled. Seems like a good thing to me.
 

There is no contradiction. Jesus first endorses the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, but immediately emphasizes that they do not do what they teach. This means "pretence" and "hypocricy", which are perfectly in line with Jesus' harsh critique of the same religious leaders in the following section. The main theme of Jesus' rebuke is unsurprisingly the hypocricy of those religious authorities. For example:

Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

"Giving a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin" was a part of the Law, but the Pharisees neglected "justice, mercy, and faithfulness". The first clause refers to the religious leaders' authority endorsed by Christ, for it was written in the Law given to Moses. Nothing wrong with that.



Let's put the guy's theory to a test then and replace the word "Pharisees" with "Moses":

“The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what he (Moses) tells you and do it. But do not do what he (Moses) does, for he (Moses) does not practice what he teaches. (23:2-3)

Does this make any sense?  Roll Eyes


Did you listen to the Lecture? That would not test what he suggested. It was a change of one word, from "THEY" to "HE"

So instead of "Do what THEY say" With only the difference of a small letter, It becomes "Do as HE says". It does not apply all through the phrase.

 Roll Eyes

So you think followers of Jesus were commanded to do as the Pharisee's tell them? "Do what they say?' Really ?.. The passages in Mathew go far past an acknowledgment of the Teaching Authority of the Pharisees.
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2010, 03:23:33 AM »


Did you listen to the Lecture? That would not test what he suggested. It was a change of one word, from "THEY" to "HE"

So instead of "Do what THEY say" With only the difference of a small letter, It becomes "Do as HE says". It does not apply all through the phrase.

WHY is that? Is this his personal choice? If only one word changes, the rest of the chapter goes dead with no sense. Why would Jesus have asked the audience to listen to Moses after saying that the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat? This is logically fallacious. Jesus referred to Moses because He discussed the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, not vice versa. The given interpretation implies that Moses' authority was based on the scribes' and Pharisees' sitting on Moses' seat, which is utterly ridiculous.

So you think followers of Jesus were commanded to do as the Pharisee's tell them? "Do what they say?' Really ?.. The passages in Mathew go far past an acknowledgment of the Teaching Authority of the Pharisees.

You are falling into the same error as that guy coming up with an innovated theory.

Not only the Pharisees, but also and primarily the scribes. When Jesus said: "Do what the scribes and Pharisees tell you...", He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites. As long as the scribes and Pharisees taught the Law with the authority given them through Moses, people had to obey them.
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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2010, 07:50:18 AM »


Did you listen to the Lecture? That would not test what he suggested. It was a change of one word, from "THEY" to "HE"


I was wondering the same thing - the points being made concerning the lecture are so off it's almost laughable. 
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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2010, 11:23:50 AM »


Did you listen to the Lecture? That would not test what he suggested. It was a change of one word, from "THEY" to "HE"

So instead of "Do what THEY say" With only the difference of a small letter, It becomes "Do as HE says". It does not apply all through the phrase.

WHY is that? Is this his personal choice? If only one word changes, the rest of the chapter goes dead with no sense. Why would Jesus have asked the audience to listen to Moses after saying that the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat? This is logically fallacious. Jesus referred to Moses because He discussed the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, not vice versa. The given interpretation implies that Moses' authority was based on the scribes' and Pharisees' sitting on Moses' seat, which is utterly ridiculous.

So you think followers of Jesus were commanded to do as the Pharisee's tell them? "Do what they say?' Really ?.. The passages in Mathew go far past an acknowledgment of the Teaching Authority of the Pharisees.

You are falling into the same error as that guy coming up with an innovated theory.

Not only the Pharisees, but also and primarily the scribes. When Jesus said: "Do what the scribes and Pharisees tell you...", He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites. As long as the scribes and Pharisees taught the Law with the authority given them through Moses, people had to obey them.

I think it means something like: Even though the Pharisees sit in the teaching chair, dont listen to them, listen to Moses"  That is far more consistent with his harsh criticisms of the Pharisees just a few pages later.

He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites.



But that's a stretch . Isnt it? You have to go fishing for what the passage (from the Greek) "really means". No such gymnastics are required in Hebrew. The passage now makes perfect sense and is consistent with later criticisms of the Pharasees.

The passage in Greek says, very directly, to listen to the Pharisees. That's a real problem.  
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2010, 03:28:49 PM »


I think it means something like: Even though the Pharisees sit in the teaching chair, dont listen to them, listen to Moses"  That is far more consistent with his harsh criticisms of the Pharisees just a few pages later.

If this is what Jesus meant, then another problem arises from Matthew's Greek text: the contrast Jesus underlined between what the scribes/Pharisees taught and did disappears, and the verse based on that contrast must be deleted to make the discourse more meaningful.

This interpretation is far more consistent with the Protestant mentality, which objects to every sort of religious authority. It reminds me of Protestant believers who preach: "Do not listen to the Christian clergy although they claim to represent Christ, but listen to Christ alone".


He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites.



But that's a stretch . Isnt it?

No, it is not.

You have to go fishing for what the passage (from the Greek) "really means". No such gymnastics are required in Hebrew. The passage now makes perfect sense and is consistent with later criticisms of the Pharasees.

Now the passage makes no sense as the concept of hypocricy is not effectively expressed and the contrast between religious authorities' teachings and acts lose their existence.

The passage in Greek says, very directly, to listen to the Pharisees. That's a real problem.  


It is not a problem.

I have to remind you for the third time: The passage also refers to the scribes and actually associates the Pharisees with the scribes.
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« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2010, 04:30:05 PM »


I think it means something like: Even though the Pharisees sit in the teaching chair, dont listen to them, listen to Moses"  That is far more consistent with his harsh criticisms of the Pharisees just a few pages later.

If this is what Jesus meant, then another problem arises from Matthew's Greek text: the contrast Jesus underlined between what the scribes/Pharisees taught and did disappears, and the verse based on that contrast must be deleted to make the discourse more meaningful.

This interpretation is far more consistent with the Protestant mentality, which objects to every sort of religious authority. It reminds me of Protestant believers who preach: "Do not listen to the Christian clergy although they claim to represent Christ, but listen to Christ alone".


He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites.



But that's a stretch . Isnt it?

No, it is not.

You have to go fishing for what the passage (from the Greek) "really means". No such gymnastics are required in Hebrew. The passage now makes perfect sense and is consistent with later criticisms of the Pharisees.

Now the passage makes no sense as the concept of hypocricy is not effectively expressed and the contrast between religious authorities' teachings and acts lose their existence.

The passage in Greek says, very directly, to listen to the Pharisees. That's a real problem.  


It is not a problem.

I have to remind you for the third time: The passage also refers to the scribes and actually associates the Pharisees with the scribes.

Now the passage makes no sense as the concept of hypocricy is not effectively expressed and the contrast between religious authorities' teachings and acts lose their existence.

Why is that? First he says that even though they are in power don't listen to them. Then soon after he calls them hypocrites. I think instruction not to listen to hypocrites, even though they may be in authority, is very very clear. It is much clearer than "Do as they say" and then later pointing out that they are hypocrites... I think the Greek version is much smokier.


It is not a problem.

I have to remind you for the third time: The passage also refers to the scribes and actually associates the Pharisees with the scribes.


So ? I am not trying to be snarky, I just dont see your point. "Don't listen to them. Listen to Moses"  . Seems clear.

In any event, whether or not you think the Hebrew is less clear than the Greek, it is what it is. If Mathew was really written in Hebrew or Greek is the question, not which version is more acceptable to either of us personally.

I'm no scholar for sure. But his case for the Hebrew Original seems cogent. The criticisms i have heard so far as to why his scholarship may be in error seems weak.  For example, to say that Aramaic has word puns too is ridiculous. Mathew is chock full of Hebrew word puns, a classic sign of an original writing.    

And there is nothing "innovative" about textual analysis. No dogmas or doctrines are changed. The Hebrew Mathew is in fact in line with Orthodox understanding of what Jesus taught. It's just clearer. Clear = Good.

If it wasn't really written in Hebrew, then it's just a curiosity that contains some amazing coincidences.
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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2010, 04:56:01 PM »

The scribes would have been responsible for transcribing the Word ACCURATELY - and if there was a nudge here and a nudge there (which seems to be something done since the beginning of written language. . .even transcriptionists  today do it when they copy notes from a doc. . .you can only do so much - but if you are transcribing the Word?  Don't to do this?  Let's change it up a little, need to argue that point?  Let's change it some more and prove it.  This was one of the major issues in the Maccabees period . . .so much so that it had to be given fresh.  This happens today with our wonderful internet docs - change it in a sec and get a whole gang of people to support your cause for something that's been fabricated.  (This has happened TO me, so I know it's a fact, not an urban legend.)

I'm beginning to understand the frustration of people who say they can't trust any of the translations - I'm very thankful that He's sent us the Holy Spirit to clear things up and teach us. 

And after praying about this for some days, I think that's where I'm at.  I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit who lights my path every single moment.  The further down the 'splits' you go, the less and less is available to read  - sometimes I wonder if this isn't a divine purpose to keep certain things hidden for the sake of those who are yet to come, to protect, as it were until it is time to reveal.
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« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2010, 01:28:11 AM »

hey all,

Jesus' attitude to the pharisees and to the law is anything but simple.

There is a book with a chapter on the Jesus and the Pharisees title "Person of the Christ" by regina orthodox press which may be helpful:

http://www.amazon.com/Person-Christ-Earthly-Context-Savior/dp/1928653332/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285305985&sr=8-1

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« Reply #23 on: September 24, 2010, 01:51:39 AM »

Yes, the OT was mostly written in Hebrew, the Apocrypha in Greek, they spoke in Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek, so if you could translate to any of those languages, you might find interesting things.

Can you read some Hebrew, Marc?
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Marc1152
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« Reply #24 on: September 25, 2010, 02:42:27 PM »

Yes, the OT was mostly written in Hebrew, the Apocrypha in Greek, they spoke in Aramaic, and the New Testament in Greek, so if you could translate to any of those languages, you might find interesting things.

Can you read some Hebrew, Marc?

I'm a fan of Mel Gibson and all, but Gordon makes the case that Jesus spoke Hebrew, not Aramaic. You should listen to his lecture if you get some time.
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« Reply #25 on: September 25, 2010, 05:15:30 PM »

He may have spoken Aramaic in Galilee and a type of Hebrew dialect in Judaea.
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« Reply #26 on: April 02, 2011, 10:15:30 PM »

Dear Marc,

Thank you for posting the lecture by the Karaite scholar Nehemiah Gordon. You show yourself to be intelligent and have significant knowledge about a range of resources on Judaism. Gordon proposes alot of challenging ideas, as do you in some of your posts. In a way, a critical discussion of such religious ideas can be compared to what you earlier described as the method of study in Yeshivas where the students propose and critique opposite ideas.

You are right when you say:
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This is a textual study of the Greek Translation of the book of Mathew vs what he believes is the Hebrew original. More important, he describes in very critical terms the teachings of the Pharisees...

Note: Karaites are non-Rabbinical Jews who strictly follow scripture alone.

I am not sure why you say here that Gordon's criticisms of the pharisees is what's more important than Gordon's views on the Shem Tov versus the Greek version. However, I do find Gordon's criticism of phariseeism to be a very deep criticism, relative to what I've read elsewhere.

I am not sure which discussions you mean when you write:
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This bares upon several recent discussions on OC.net. I hope this will clear things up a bit.

I agree with you here, because the idea that the Shem Tov version, which Gordon says was used for Judaic apologetics during the Spanish Inquisition, is the authentic version of the gospel would be provocative:
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Yes, this is very provacative. I am going to write more about this later when I feel better ( I have been sick for days).
I am sorry you were sick.

I somewhat doubt your words when you write:
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I am sure the Church accepts well researched scholarship.  Reading Mathew in Hebrew clears up several passages and solves some contradictions. I cant see any problem with that.

A person may have well researched scholarship, but if the views of the scholarship contradict important positions of the Orthodox Church, like which versions of the gospels are correct, then I expect that the Church would reject the scholarship, unless of course the Church was convinced by it and changed its position.

I don't see any problem with reading Matthew in Hebrew either if it "clears up several passages and solves some contradictions". In fact, the Orthodox Church in the Holy Land has services in Hebrew sometimes, and naturally Bible passages would be read in Hebrew.

I think the video is worth looking at insofar as it's mentally challenging. You're right that it's a commitment.

I agree with you when you say:
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I tend to agree that he is pushing his own sect... He denies Jesus as being the Messiah several times and forthrightly.
Of course he is sharing the views of his own sect and presenting them in a positive light. By itself, tht wouldn't be wrong if he beleives those views are correct. Perhaps it would be better for him to state up front that he is presenting a Karaite view, or that his conclusions have shown Jesus to conform to a Karaite view. Another way to avoid the charge of pushing his own sect would be to say that the pharisees could be more right than Karaites about some things, but if he doesn't believe that, then it wouldn't bad for him to fail to include mentioning this in his talk.

I disagree with your comment:
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But I don't think his audience is really Messianic Jews.
, because he states several times that "you", ie his audience, have a problem with some ideas of Jesus expressed in the Greek version, because he sees those views as problematic. This means that his audience here is clearly Christian. Messianic Jews in particular would be more sympathetic to the idea of a Hebrew Jesus, because they themselves see themselves as Hebrew instead of Greek in culture.

You're right that
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I think he is trying to locate Jesus on the spectrum of Jewish thought.
, if by Jewish you mean nonChristian Judaism, since Gordon is using the Shem Tov, which was written or copied for the purpose of Judaic apologetics and which omits some specific references to Jesus as the "Christ." On the other hand, if by Jewish thought you include the Judaism of the Old Testament, then it's unnecessary to use the Shem Tov and go into the discussions about Matthew that Gordon does, because all the New Testament presents itself as within the Jewish religion, with ideas like atonement and Messiah-ship.

Of course you are right that
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I am certainly no scholar but assuming for a minute his translations and theory are accurate, then I can easily see how he concludes that Jesus took a position very similar to what later Karaites believe, that Rabbinical Judaism has put their teaching authority over what is plainly written.
, because "assuming... his... theory" is correct, then the rest of what you said it correct, because his theory fits Jesus into a "a position very similar to what later Karaites believe, that Rabbinical Judaism has put their teaching authority over what is plainly written".

I think probably you are correct that:
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Based on the posts of many here on OC.net I think that should be a popular position.
, the position being that " Rabbinical Judaism has put their teaching authority over what is plainly written". It seems that when Christians differ with Judaism over the plain meaning of some verses, then the pharisees would naturally partly justify their position based on their rabbinical authority, and here the Christians would respond that they are putting their rabbinical authority over what's plainly written.

I highly doubt your view that
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If he is correct and the Book of Mathew was originally written in Hebrew then several contradictions ( as he points out in the video) are reconciled.
First, if the Book was originally in Hebrew, it could simply be a very close translation of the later Greek version that took the same position on the questions Gordon raised. Secondly, his ideas in the video didn't necessarily resolve the contradictions more reliably than simple logic based on the Greek version would.

I also disagree with you that:
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Jesus never endorses the Pharisee's at any time as he seems to at the beginning of Mathew ( "They sit in the Teaching Chair ( Mosses seat), listen to them."  But rather "Listen to HIM" (Moses). More good news.
First, Jesus would've agreed with their authority to officiate in the Temple, and thereby endorsed them to do so. Second, your translation "Listen to HIM" is wrong, because based on grammar, context, and other copies of the Shem Tov and all other Greek versions, it appears He said "Listen to what they say". Third, it wouldn't be good news if He never endorsed the Pharisees, because they did officiate services at the Temple and synagogues, and read Moses' Law, so it would be worth at least partly endorsing them.

I sympathize with your statement:
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I also found his lesson on what the Pharisee's believe  then and now to be worth the price of admission. 
More clearly, the price was some minutes of my life, and he presented it as if the Pharisees believed the most important things then that they do now. What felt worthwhile was hearing his deep critique of them. However, it would be better if there were Christian and Pharisaic responses, like a debate, to clarify the ideas.

I disagree with your statement:
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I notice that the Church takes up the same rationale in terms of Tradition. Both groups derive validity based on an Oral Law. Ours based on Paul's admonition to keep both written and oral teachings. Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion , no? Seems like there is a connection.
(1) I doubt that the Church bases its validity on some "oral law", because I don't remember the Orthodox Church referring to ideas outside the Bible as an "oral law" like phariseeism considers some of its extra-Biblical writings to be.
(2) The Church views itself as a continuation of God's people Israel, and as derives validity from the written law.
(3) Paul's admonition to keep oral teachings isn't the same as having an oral law, wherein breaking one of the oral teachings separate from the Tanakh means directly breaking a commandment. The Church has canon law, but I doubt that it equates it to the laws of the Tanakh. There is an exception though: a common idea is that the Ecumenical Councils are infallible, which practically raises them to that level. The best counterargument I see is that sometimes the Councils have been overturned by later councils, which makes them less than infallible by themselves.
The canon law does govern the way the Church operates, but even Karaite groups probably have organizational bylaws.
(4) Sure, there seems like a connection between Paul calling himself a member of the pharisees and his advice to keep oral teachings. On the other hand, saying to keep teachings isn't the same as making those teachings its law. And besides, it seems like Jesus would also have told his disciples to hold to their Christian traditions and teachings. For example, one book in the gospels mentioned that Jesus said and did some things not written in the gospels.
(5) The Church bases its validity partly on oral teachings, but doesn't always rely on them when establishing its validity. Consequently, while it can indirectly establish its validity from Paul's admonition, it isn't necessary. Its validity can be also shown by secular sources, like those tracing Church history.

Your words here are correct:
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Gordon admits that he was taught wrongly the Jesus tried to discard the Torah. We can now see that he was arguing for a belief in the Torah untainted by Pharisaical re-interpretations... It is also good for Christians to understand better what Jesus was arguing for.

However, I have some doubt about your statement:
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We can now see that he was arguing for a belief in the Torah untainted by Pharisaical re-interpretations. Certainly a step in a good direction, at the least for Mr. Gordon personally.
, because it seems like Jesus could've been OK with some pharisaic re-interpretations as long as they were OK  and didn't conflict with or hurt the scriptures. The scriptures themselves give examples where religious leaders interpreted the Torah again to make it apply to certain circumstances. Gordon himself gave an example where it said that a judge should make an interpretation of the law when disputes arose.

I disagree with your comment on Samkim's words (I'm fairly certain that he is speaking to Messianic Jews. I'm pretty sure he says that he is.):
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I am confused about who you are talking about. Do you mean what he refers to as "Torah Keeping Christians"? I hardly think his several denials of Christ would be very appealing to them.  He was just re-telling an encounter with such a person
It's clear that Messianic Jews is usually a term for a certain group of Christians who keep Judaic practices, as that's the common English name for them. So I assume that Samkim is referring to them. Plus, Gordon made it clear that he was speaking to a Christian audience because Gordon said that verses he found problematic for traditional Christianity were problematic for "you", the audience. So Samkim is apparently tending in the direction of Christians when he says that he thought Gordon said that he was speaking to Messianic Jews.

I am not sure if Torah Keeping Christians are the same as Messianic Jews, although they would fit in the category of Messianic Jews. I agree that his several denials of Christ would be appealing to them. It's true that he was re-telling his encounter with a Torah Keeping Christian, but that doesn't mean he wasn't addressing an audience with Messianic Jews.

I agree with you when you:
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It was my understanding that Jewish groups with a strong Messianic focus are Hasidim. Ultra-Orthodox. I think that would be a hard row for him to plow.
, because they wouldn't be so interested in seeing Jesus in a positive light, nor would they agree with Karaite criticisms of phariseeism.

You asked:
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Or do you mean..Messianic JEWS. Jews who are focused on the coming of the Messiah ( not Jesus)... ?.
I disagree with the idea that Jesus isn't the Messiah.

Theophilios wrote:
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If the Book of Matthew had been written in Hebrew and contained the sentence : "Listen to HIM" (Moses) rather than "Listen to THEM" (Pharisees), that whole chapter in Matthew would make no sense.
and you replied: "On the contrary, in Hebrew, Jesus's criticism of the Pharisee's is consistent throughout."
1. It appears you are assuming that "the Book of Matthew had been written in Hebrew and contained the sentence : "Listen to HIM" ". However, I highly doubt this, partly because this is only in some versions of the Shem Tov, and few scholars accept the Shem Tov as an accuracte copy of an early Christian hebrew work.
2. Offhand, I assume that even if Jesus had said to listen to Moses, his other criticisms of the pharisees would be consistent throughout, since the idea of listening to Moses doesn't conflict with criticisms of pharisees hypocrisy.

You ask:
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First, the Greek Mathew writes that the Parasee's sit in Mosses Chair and that we ( followers of Christ) have to follow them. Later, Jesus escoriates the Pahrisee's in no uncertain terms. How do you reconcile that contradiction? Which is it?
It can be both, and you can reconcile the contradiction by saying that the first is a broad principle, and the second provides grounds for an exception. For example, I could tell a child to obey his/her teachers in school, and then also make big criticisms of the teachers. The way to reconcile it would be for the child to conclude that he/she should obey the teachers, except for cases when the teachers said to do bad things.

I agree with you on first glance that:
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But now, if reading Mathew in Hebrew is correct, the contradiction is reconciled. Seems like a good thing to me.
Except that I don't believe the Shem Tov reading is correct, and it isn't good to pick an otherwise bad version just because it reconciles a contradiction. After all, it would make sense that if someone was going to invent a version, rather than sticking to a literal translation, they would invent a version without contradictions, especially if it was to serve the purpose of defending in polemics. The Greek version may have put literal translation first out of respect for the subject, while the hypothetically-invented version may have wished to invent a clearer version.

Finally, just because the contradiction is reconciled in the Shem Tov doesn't mean that there wouldn't be another, more genuine way to reconcile it otherwise.

I agree with you when you write:
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Let's put the guy's theory to a test then and replace the word "Pharisees" with "Moses":
“The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what he (Moses) tells you and do it. But do not do what he (Moses) does, for he (Moses) does not practice what he teaches. (23:2-3)
Does this make any sense?  Roll Eyes


Did you listen to the Lecture? That would not test what he suggested. It was a change of one word, from "THEY" to "HE"
So instead of "Do what THEY say" With only the difference of a small letter, It becomes "Do as HE says". It does not apply all through the phrase.
 Roll Eyes
I'm not sure if Theophilios watched the lecture, but even if he did, it was a long, packed, 2 hour lecture, so he easily could've forgotten how Gordon described this passage.

You ask:
Quote
So you think followers of Jesus were commanded to do as the Pharisee's tell them? "Do what they say?' Really ?..
Sure, I really think so, and think that's a correct quote. Certainly it makes sense that Jesus would've said that regarding the pharisees' expounding Moses' law. For example, if they said to follow the 10 Commandments, Jesus would've said to do that. And further, he said this specifically in the context of their expounding Moses' law. Other times Jesus repeated a pharisaic practice when he said that one doesn't fast in a bridegroom's presence.

I have some doubt that:
Quote
The passages in Mathew go far past an acknowledgment of the Teaching Authority of the Pharisees.
, because He specifically conditioned His instructions on the fact that they sat in Moses' seat. It acknowledges that they have teaching authority from Moses' seat, and as part of that it says to obey their observances as they sit in the seat, ie. so far as they are within their authority.

I also believe that the quote "they" is correct here, as only some versions of the Shem Tov version say this.

I disagree with you when you write:
Quote
I think it means something like: Even though the Pharisees sit in the teaching chair, dont listen to them, listen to Moses"  That is far more consistent with his harsh criticisms of the Pharisees just a few pages later.
(a) the pharisees are sometimes saying what Moses said, literally reading his words, so such a paraphrase appears contradictory. At best, one would have said: listen to them only when they are reading Moses' exact words.
(b)Saying don't listen to the pharisees is consistent with his criticisms, but it isn't consistent with the positive things he says of them. For example, he mentions that they clean the outside of a cup, which is a positive thing. Saying don't listen to them at all would be inconsistent with part of the sense of the chapter.
(c) Saying to listen to Moses seems consistent too, but out of place, because Jesus doesn't go through and show that they have directly violated specific teachings of Moses. Rather, He shows that they do not do what they say, which is what He says is His criticism of them.

I sympathize with your words:
Quote
He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites.
But that's a stretch . Isnt it? You have to go fishing for what the passage (from the Greek) "really means". No such gymnastics are required in Hebrew. The passage now... is consistent with later criticisms of the Pharasees.
But just because something is a stretch doesn't mean it's wrong. In fact, I think this is correct. Jesus points outs that the pharisees were hypocrites, but whichever version of the text one accepts, Jesus still appears to say to obey the Mosaic Law: in the Shem Tov, Jesus says listen to him, ie. Moses, who said the law; in the Greek version, Jesus says listen to the pharisees in Moses' seat, who are also saying Moses' law as well as giving their interpretations of it.

But I disagree with you that:
Quote
The passage now makes perfect sense
.
The passage in the Shem Tov you refer to here appears to mean: "The pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Do as Moses says, but don't do like the pharisees are now acting." Still, this raises the question: OK, well what about what the pharisees are SAYING? Should we follow that, at least?
It's as if the statement skipped something important. So it doesn't make "perfect sense."

I disagree that "That's a real problem." that "The passage in Greek says, very directly, to listen to the Pharisees." It could be, for example, that Jesus here is stating a broad principle, like listen to your teachers, even though He criticizes them. And there can be exceptions to such a broad principle, like if a school student sees that his/her teacher said to do something bad.

You wrote:
Quote
"Now the passage makes no sense as the concept of hypocricy is not effectively expressed and the contrast between religious authorities' teachings and acts lose their existence."

Why is that? First he says that even though they are in power don't listen to them. Then soon after he calls them hypocrites. I think instruction not to listen to hypocrites, even though they may be in authority, is very very clear.
1. I find Theophilios' words here to be an exaggerated analysis, as I commented to him below on this.
2. You are correct about the Shem Tov when you say: "First he says that even though they are in power don't listen to them. Then soon after he calls them hypocrites. I think instruction not to listen to hypocrites, even though they may be in authority, is very very clear."

However, there is also a saying in America: "Do what I say, not what I do".
This saying gives the idea that the speaker's words are good, but that the speaker is a big hypocrite because he/she doesn't follow them.

If this phrase is changed to: "Don't do what I say, and don't do what I do either, because I don't even do it myself",, then the hypocrisy becomes weaker, because the person's decrees become less important. The person says not to do them and doesn't do them himself/herself, so they seem like less important decrees, as they aren't to be followed by anyone anyway.

Consequently, I doubt that:
Quote
It is much clearer than "Do as they say" and then later pointing out that they are hypocrites... I think the Greek version is much smokier.
The Greek version is clearer, because it strengthens the sayings that the pharisees fail to observe, because it says that the sayings should still be observed anyway.

I agree with you when you write:
Quote
"I have to remind you for the third time: The passage also refers to the scribes and actually associates the Pharisees with the scribes."

So ? I am not trying to be snarky, I just dont see your point.

I'm not sure what his point is here either, but I guess that he is focusing on the pharisees' and scribes' mutual role of saying what the written law is.

I also highly doubt that:
Quote
In any event, whether or not you think the Hebrew is less clear than the Greek, it is what it is.
What you are referring to here as "the Hebrew" is the Shem Tov version in Hebrew, and apparently a strong majority of scholars believe it was concocted in Medieval times instead of being a direct, accurate copy of an early Christian Hebrew text. Forgive me if "concocted" sounds too harsh, but I'm not sure of a better word, since their view is that it was an alteration of other known sources.

You are right that:
Quote
If Mathew was really written in Hebrew or Greek is the question, not which version is more acceptable to either of us personally.
I'm no scholar for sure.

At first glance, I would agree with you that:
Quote
But his case for the Hebrew Original seems cogent.
, or "convincing", "believable." However, when one stops the tape and thinks through his argument, it seems much less convincing and believable.
1. He's proposing that a medieval gospel copied or composed for the purpose of Judaic apologetics is a genuine copy of a Christian Hebrew original.
2. He gives no explanation of the document's history describing how such a copy would have gone from the Hebrew copy mentioned by early Christians to Shem Tov without it being recognized and recorded in the years between.
3. His evidence for its accuracy is that its ideas are better. But just because ideas seem clearer or make better sense doesn't mean it's original. After all, with subsequent editing, the editors could make what they see as clarifications in editing. In fact, I remember reading that such "interpretative clarification" was one practice of the scribes when they copied the Tanakh. Like if they were unsure about something, they would change it they way they thought correct.
4. His evidence also includes the existence of Hebraisms. But even if the Hebraisms exist and were in the original, the same Hebraisms and word puns could also exist in translations from the Greek back into the Hebrew, whether or not the Shem Tov was the correct version of the original. So the existence of Hebraisms in a Hebrew translation doesn't mean that that particular Hebrew translation is just a copy of the original, or if it's a retranslation that brings out Hebraisms inherent in the words.

The strength of some criticisms varied from weak to strong, in my opinion, so I somewhat disagree with you when you write:
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The criticisms i have heard so far as to why his scholarship may be in error seems weak.  For example, to say that Aramaic has word puns too is ridiculous. Mathew is chock full of Hebrew word puns, a classic sign of an original writing.
Theophilios' statement that Aramaic has word puns too makes perfect sense as a strong criticism. Aramaic is a Semitic language, and has similar words and word roots. I'm not a linguistic expert, but even Palestinian Arabic has overlap with Aramaic and Hebrew.

So it would make sense that similar word puns exist in both Aramaic and Hebrew. For example, the word "vayet" has two meanings in Hebrew: he stretched and he turned or withdrew. It's repeated twice in an apparent word pun in the same chapter Matthew, according to Gordon. It would make sense for Aramaic to also have a word that means both of those two things, and for this inherent word play to come out if the passage was translated from the Greek version into Aramaic.

Actually, I have some confusion about Gordon's example, because I'm not sure that the word pun would exist if the Greek version was translated straight into Hebrew, or if this is a word pun that only exists in the Shem Tov. A brief look at Hebrew and Aramaic translations of the Greek version suggested to me that the Greek version lacked this word pun even if it was translated into Hebrew and Aramaic. This goes in favor of the Shem Tov's validity. However, I hardly understand either of those languages at all, so my judgment on this is weak. I wrote about this on my thread "The Authenticity of the Shem Tov Version of Matthew's Gospel": http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,34810.0.html

So, the Shem Tov appears to have word puns, like "vayet", but it could be that they exist even if they are translated from the Greek version into Hebrew, so it doesn't mean that the Shem Tov is the original, even if word puns are a sign of an original, which is an idea that makes sense.

Another possibility could be that an editor of the Shem Tov changed the Greek version where they saw the possibility for a word pun. If, as it appeared to me, the Shem Tov has more of a word pun by saying that after hearing of the plot, Jesus "turned", it could be that here the word pun is at the expense of a normal meaning.

To be clearer, the Greek version says that after Jesus knew of the pharisees' plot, He withdrew. But the Shem Tov says that He "turned"(vayet). Here, vayet makes a word pun, but it does so at the expense of meaning, because it isn't clear what this means unless one looks at the context and sees that withdrew is what was meant. Unless of course, the word vayet also means "withdrew", in which case the Greek version would hold inside of itself the word pun in a form hidden simply by being in the form of the Greek language.

I agree with you that:
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And there is nothing "innovative" about textual analysis... Clear = Good. If it wasn't really written in Hebrew, then it's just a curiosity that contains some amazing coincidences.

But I disagree with you that:
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No dogmas or doctrines are changed. The Hebrew Mathew is in fact in line with Orthodox understanding of what Jesus taught. It's just clearer.
1. Here, you refer to the Shem Tov as the Hebrew Matthew. I highly doubt with your words here, because I read that the Shem Tov omits some Christian ideas like Jesus' saving, Messianic role, and role in forgiving sins, although I'm not sure that it omits those ideas completely. Plus, for example, the Shem Tov has Jesus saying "don't swear falsely", rather than the Greek version, which has Him saying simply "don't swear", which is in line with James' letter. Gordon tries to make a big point out of this difference.
2. I disagree that it's clearer, because for example the part about vows becomes less clear, because it emphasizes more that one shouldn't swear falsely in particular, which clouds the issue more, because James' letter advises against swearing at all.
3. Clearer is not necessarily better, particularly when clearer is wrong. For example, Jesus could have been making an intentionally cloudy statement. For example, He sometimes gave parables, that one would have to think about to get the moral lessons from. The parable method is less clear than simply and explicitly stating the moral rule meant in the parable.

You wrote:
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I'm a fan of Mel Gibson and all, but Gordon makes the case that Jesus spoke Hebrew, not Aramaic. You should listen to his lecture if you get some time.
Yes, I did listen to the lecture, and it was somewhat worthwhile as a mental challenge. I like Mel Gibson OK. Although some reviews of the Passion of the Christ were that he overemphasized the physical suffering aspects too much. But on the other hand, that was part of what he wanted to convey.

Gordon does make the case that Jesus spoke Hebrew, not Aramaic. He succeeds in suggesting that Jesus spoke Hebrew, because in Acts he shows that a more accurate translation is that the voice spoke to Paul in Hebrew. On the other hand, this is an easy thing to suggest, because He would've been able to speak it so that He could read it aloud in the synagogue in Nazareth, and expound the scriptures to the disciples.

But in my opinion, Gordon fails to show that Jesus did not speak Aramaic. The simple fact that Jesus spoke Hebrew doesn't mean that He didn't speak Aramaic. For example, just because I know that people on this forum write in English doesn't tell me whether they know another language, like Greek, Hebrew, or a slavic language. In fact, even if I don't see them writing in the second language on the forum doesn't tell me if they speak the second language or not.

Peace - שָׁלוֹם - Мир
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« Reply #27 on: April 02, 2011, 10:18:05 PM »

Quietmorning!

Hello. It is nice writing to you. You wrote:
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I watched the video yesterday morning - and spent all day today and yesterday thinking about it and praying about it.  What does is the stance of the Orthodox Church in light of this?

Wow that is alot of thinking and praying about it! I also spent a long time, ie over a few days, thinking about it. Offhand, I'm not sure exactly what the Orthodox Church's position is on the first half of the movie, when Gordon discusses Jesus' words to observe what the pharisees sitting in Moses' seat bid to observe. I would guess that the Orthodox Church would say that this suggests one should follow the authority of religious leaders, except when those leaders make bad decisions.

Probably the Orthodox Church would sympathize with Gordon's criticisms of phariseeism, except that the Church wouldn't simply reject all customs not found in the scriptures.

Finally, the Orthodox Church rejects the idea that the Shem Tov version of Matthew is the original version. Instead, the Orthodox Church uses what Gordon refers to as the Greek version.

You wrote:
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I was fascinated.  Well worth the two hours.
For me it was fascinating too. He really packed in the information. I'm not sure it's worth the two hours though, because I feel that it would have to be accompanied by a presentation with opposing viewpoints. For example, it would be worthwhile to see how pharisees would respond to his criticisms of them, and how Christian scholars would respond to Gordon's claims about would-be original early Christian Hebrew versions.

You commented in response to Theophilios' confusion about whether Gordon changed all the "they"s to "he":
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Quote from Marc 1152... Did you listen to the Lecture? That would not test what he suggested. It was a change of one word, from "THEY" to "HE"

I was wondering the same thing - the points being made concerning the lecture are so off it's almost laughable. 
You're right about Theophilios' comment here. But some other points here, like the review posted by Alveus, are on the mark or close to it.

i agree with you when you say:
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The scribes would have been responsible for transcribing the Word ACCURATELY - and if there was a nudge here and a nudge there (which seems to be something done since the beginning of written language. . .even transcriptionists  today do it when they copy notes from a doc. . .you can only do so much - but if you are transcribing the Word?  Don't to do this?  Let's change it up a little, need to argue that point?  Let's change it some more and prove it.  This was one of the major issues in the Maccabees period . . .so much so that it had to be given fresh.  This happens today with our wonderful internet docs - change it in a sec and get a whole gang of people to support your cause for something that's been fabricated.  (This has happened TO me, so I know it's a fact, not an urban legend.)
I am not sure what your point is though. It's new for me that "This was one of the major issues in the Maccabees period . . .so much so that it had to be given fresh." I'm sorry to hear you had the bad personal event you referred to with changed documents.

I agree with you when you say:
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I'm beginning to understand the frustration of people who say they can't trust any of the translations - I'm very thankful that He's sent us the Holy Spirit to clear things up and teach us.
We are talking about documents originally written almost 2000 years ago, so it's harder to say strongly that one trusts their authenticity. But on the other hand, we can also have some trust in the Church that it chose the books wisely, based partly on other writings by other Christian saints commenting on the books of the Bible.

Your words here are pretty, although it's somewhat confusing for me:
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And after praying about this for some days, I think that's where I'm at.  I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit who lights my path every single moment.  The further down the 'splits' you go, the less and less is available to read  - sometimes I wonder if this isn't a divine purpose to keep certain things hidden for the sake of those who are yet to come, to protect, as it were until it is time to reveal.
May the Holy Spirit continue to do so for you. When you say that the further down the splits you go, the less you have to read, this makes sense. That is, the more you limit your reading material based on what sects have written the material, the less is available to read.

However, here we are mainly dealing with a small number of splits on the question of the Greek Matthew v. the Shem Tov Matthew: Traditional Christians who use the Greek version, and followers of Judaism who may prefer the Shem Tov for the apologetics purpose for which it was written.

This is a funny thought I haven't considered:
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sometimes I wonder if this isn't a divine purpose to keep certain things hidden for the sake of those who are yet to come, to protect, as it were until it is time to reveal.
By "this", I assume you mean uncertainty about which translation is correct. It could be true. I don't know. It would seem like something in the mind of God, which is hard to know unless He clearly tells you what it is.

God Bless.


Alveus Lacuna,

You seem to be correct when you say:
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I'm in the process of watching it now. So far I feel like I could disagree with some of his assertions simply based upon his ignorance of a lot of the finer details of Christian history, i.e. how he is understanding Church Fathers like Papias, which only in ways which is furthering his thesis. A simple viewing of a Wikipedia article on Papias discusses some problems with Gordon's interpretation of his accounts, although they do not either totally exclude his conclusions.
As you say, Gordon is only understanding Papias in a strong way when Papias says Matthew wrote in the "Hebrew dialect", that is Gordon puts a strong emphasis on the most apparent meaning of the word Hebrew here.

The Wikipedia article on "Papias of Hierapolis" says:
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Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.
Citing this text, many argue that Papias claimed that Matthew was written in the Hebrew language, (as it is often translated in English). However, Papias' comment in Greek, (Ματθαῖος μέν οὖν Ἑβραίδι διαλέκτῳ τά λόγια, "Hebrew dialect") is a common construction in Greek and is seen in many different sources and contexts and seems to consistently refer to a style or subset of a language being spoken; and, this is distinguished from the general Greek term for language or tongue, "γλῶσσα". Papias' statement seems to signify a style of language or dialect being used by the "Hebrews", (or in other words, the style or subset of a language being used by the Hebrew race). In the historical context, the "dialect of the Hebrews", (Ἑβραίδι διαλέκτῳ), was most probably a reference to the Hebrew dialect of Aramaic.
Flavius Jospehus Antiquities of the Jews Bk 5, Sec 121: ... δὲ ὄνομα τοῦτο σημαίνει Ζεβεκηνῶν κύριος: ἀδωνὶ γὰρ τῇ Ἑβραίων διαλέκτῳ κύριος γίνεται:

You wrote that:
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There were actually different versions of Matthew or different books associated with Matthew circulating in the earliest centuries of the Church, so it might not even clear which one Papias is referencing.
You are right if there were several versions of Matthew in Hebrew and/or Aramaic. In fact, in that case, Papias could just be making a general reference to several editions Matthew put together. But otherwise, it could be clear that Papias is referring to a single collection that Matthew made in Aramaic or Hebrew.

You wrote:
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Anyway, so far I like some of the perspectives, as many modern Biblical-critical scholars place Christ firmly in the Pharisee camp for a variety of reasons.
However, Gordon is a Karaite, and is here placing Christ in the camp of the Karaites, and saying that a Karaite camp existed then, which would be a camp that rejected the oral torah and accepted the written one. It makes sense on the other hand, that Christ could be within the Pharisee camp, broadly speaking, because he accepted many of its ideas, like the general resurrection.

Also, I agree with you when you write:
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Although I can already tell that Jesus is essentially going to wind up being a reflection of the sect which Gordon belongs to, which of course also makes me suspicious!  Cheesy
Except that I'm not sure what you mean that you are suspicious of.

You wrote:
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I'll post more after I finish watching it, maybe.
I think you have good insights.

Thanks for posting the Amazon review:
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I though this Amazon.com review of Gordon's book might be helpful in some ways:
"Since Gordon is a respected Hebrew scholar I expected to find deep insights into the book of Matthew. \
I'm alittle surprised he's a respected Hebrew scholar, because his theory did seems like it had alot of holes in it, like the reviewer said. On the other hand, he did have alot of information about sources that it feels aren't usually discussed, eg the Shem Tov. I wasn't expecting deep insights, but I was expecting some more solid, convincing ideas. The closest he got was when he made claims about Hebraisms in Matthew.

I feel like this expectation was upheld in the movie, because he talked about criticisms of phariseeism from a Karaite perspective:
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I expected to find some content beyond Christianity since Gordon is a Karaite Jew and he can not believe Jesus is a teacher of righteousness.
I sympathize with the reviewer's curiosity when he/she asks:
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I was curious why Michael Rood was involved in this project, what role did he have?
I assume that Rood helped organize and facilitate his presentation to Christians, since Rood is a Christian who also makes presentations about Christianity.

It makes sense when the reviewer commented:
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As a former Christian, I wanted to gain knowledge about Hebrew Primacy since it has few adherents compared to Aramaic Primacy and Greek Primacy. I did not find what I was looking for.
Although I'm confused what the fact that being a former Christian has to do with it.

It's funny when the reviewer writes:
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The book's conclusions have so many holes it read like swiss cheese. The Shem Tov's Matthew is far beyond the possiblity of being the "original" Matthew, or even a copy of such.
I'm not absolutely certain it's far beyond the possibility of being a copy, but it looks extremely likely that it is, and I would like to see the reviewer explain why.

THe reviewer makes a good point:
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The Appendix has a "Testimony of Papias" basically a quote from an early church father saying Matthew was written originally in Hebrew. First off, the quote is a second-hand quote and Papias's "fact" was second-hand knowledge. Papias's writing is non-existent today and the quote here is found as a quote in another writing, so the accuracy is questionable and the context is unknown. I asked myself the question "Does Papias mean it was written in the Hebrew language or in the language of the Hebrews which would have been Aramaic at that time?"
Regarding  this statement by the reviewer about Papias' words:
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Papias's writing is non-existent today and the quote here is found as a quote in another... the context is unknown.
What he means is that the writing is nonexistent outside whatever source it's quoted in. And by the context he means what was going on surrounding the composition of Papias' testimony.
And I do think it's an open question whether Papias meant it as in the Hebrew language or the Hebrews' language. Furthermore, one reading of the passage on "Papias" on Wikipedia quoted the Greek literally as "the Hebrew dialect." For example, there
s an "Scottish dialect" of English, and then there is also a Scottish Celtic language, which I think would be what "the Scottish language" would refer to.

It was alittle surprising when it says:
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Gordon may be a Hebrew scholar but he really has no background in New Testament studies
. Maybe this means that in other areas he has in fact been a respected scholar with solid work.

I have some doubt about the statement:
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He was the wrong person to write on this topic, he even says he had to go to other experts to ask questions since he knew nothing.
Just because he may begin research with little knowledge or have different viewpoints doesn't mean he's the wrong person. It seems OK for people to consult experts and for them to start with no knowledge.

The reviewer makes a good point:
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He claims proof it was originally in Hebrew because of word puns. Wait, Aramaic is a Semitic language. Many Aramaic words share the same root as Hebrew too. There are Aramaic word puns, and the Hebrew word puns are going to be in many of the same places as the Aramaic word puns. That is not proof.

I disagree with the reviewer's sense here:
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Gordon was asked a question about vows in the Oral Torah, yet he doesn't study Talmud, he is a Karaite.
Gordon said that in the past he was actually an Orthodox Jew educated in that sect, and then became a Karaite.

It sounds like the reviewer makes an informed statement:
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To answer the question, some sages said ANY vow (which includes a vow on HaShem) can be nullified by the authority of a sage, and next is stated some sages said they have not the authority. For further study on vows closest to the time of the Pharisees read Nedarim in the Mishnah and Tosefta.
However, I am not sure what question the reviewer is referring to, because it seems like no such question that would give this answer was posed directly in the clip.

Regarding the claim:
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Gordon paints Jesus as a Torah observent Jew yet knows nothing about the times Jesus broke the Torah(written Torah).
It could be that Jesus had a very liberal reading of how to obey the Torah in those instances, and thus from a very liberal view, He didn't break it. For example, today I think Reform Jews have something called liberal Halakha. One example of the very liberal view could be Jesus picking grain on the Sabbath. My guess is that alot of Reform Jews would also take liberal readings when acting on the Sabbath.

The reviewer makes a strong criticism here:
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Jesus actually says in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to untie the yoke of the law but to (Aramaic - emali) add to the law. "Add to" in the sense of pouring water into a half-full vessel (this is why it is translated "fulfill"). This is exactly what the Pharisees say with the Oral Torah. They claim the Written Torah is not perfectly complete and this is proof that an Oral Torah was given, because the Oral Torah makes it prefectly complete. This is contrary to the message of the Torah and Prophets. Jesus is just taking another route from the same place, the Torah is not perfectly complete.
Except:
(1) it may not be contrary to the Torah and Prophets, because I don't remember the written torah saying that there will be no more prophets or writings after them. The Torah says don't change these commandments, and it seems hard to get around this. One way though might be to say that Jesus came with a New Covenant, and that the written Torah was part of the Old Covenant, which was what said that people shouldn't take away from it. In other words, the written Torah was the Old Covenant, and it was within the Old Covenant that the Torah in it said not to change it.
(2) Another view here of fulfilling could be that Jesus fulfilled its requirements, not that he added to or changed the torah's words themselves. In line with this, the reviewer actually appears to show that Jesus here meant fulfill rather than add to:
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Jesus actually says in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to untie the yoke of the law but to (Aramaic - emali) add to the law. "Add to" in the sense of pouring water into a half-full vessel (this is why it is translated "fulfill").
First, the reviewer here points to the Aramaic word "emali", but in fact our earliest extant source is Greek, so he/she should've used the Greek word. Here he admits that the word is translated as "fulfill", and then tries to say that it really means "added to" because the real sense of the term is to pour something into. But this actually means fill up, which is closer to fulfill, so the reviewer appears to be making a weak claim here. Plus, the New Testament repeats the idea of fulfilling elsewhere in similar ways, like fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies. For example, when Jesus' life matched some prophecies the gospel writers sometimes said He fulfilled the prophecies.

I believe the reviewer made an honest and true review here:
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I believe Gordon wrote this book for Messianic Christians to be introduced to Karaism, for them to see Jesus as a Karaite, and ultimately study and observe Torah... A lot of former Christians are drawn to Karaite Judaism and I think he expects this book to speed the flow of converts. Michael Rood seems to be the big name promoting this book to Christians."
I read a similar suggestion elsewhere on the web. Plus his audience is Christians and he is Karaite, so it seems like this would be a desire of his. I was unaware that alot of former Christians are drawn to Karaitism, but it makes sense because Jesus' criticisms of the pharisees make sense, and the Karaites like Gordon also criticise phariseeism using logic. The movie had an intermission where Michael Rood spoke, so it makes sense that he would be the big name promoting it to Christians.

Regarding the statements:
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He possibly feels that if they study Torah they will come across many of the passages which point to Jesus like Deut. 13, the Hebrew of Num.23:19, or find that blood sacrifice is not required for atonement (Lev.5:11-13), that Lev 17:10-11 is talking about the improper and proper use of blood, not that it is necessary for atonement... and a plethora of others.

(1)Here, Deut 13 simply warns against and penalizes false prophets who would turn Israelites to other gods. I seriously doubt Jesus was such a false prophets, because He still pointed toward Jehovah and because the Old Testament also prophesied that God would make those who believed in Him into gods, not to mention the serious possibility that Jesus was God's son in some way.
(2)Christians wouldn't be strongly moved against Christianity just by reading Deut 13, because Christianity already has warnings against false prophets and turning to other gods, so the Christian readers would be already familiar with such readings.
(3) Numbers 23:19(KJV) says: "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" I am not sure how the Hebrew would be very different.

The Tanakh's JPT translation, which was made by Judaic scholars, reads similarly: "God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a mortal that He should relent. Would He say and not do, speak and not fulfill?"
One explanation of this from a Christian perspective is that God had not yet incarnated at the time, so at that time it was true that "God is not a man". Another explanation, which seems pretty weak, could be that this means God was not a man for the purpose of lying, repenting, or relenting. But the opposite reading could be true too: that God wasn't to lie, so He wasn't a man. A third explanation could be that Christ wasn't simply a man, but he was a combined God-man.
A fourth explanation could be to separate God as the divine nature in Christ's person from the human nature, and say that God, the divine part, isn't itself a man.
(4) Leviticus 5, which the reviewer uses to show a blood sacrifice was unnecessary, allows for an exception to the blood sacrificer, where the sacrificer uses flour because the sacrificer doesn't have enough resources to get the animal sacrifice. So in fact, this lack of necessity only exists where a blood sacrifice is impossible. Thus, Leviticus 5 isn't setting forth a broad principle that it's unnecessary, but only that under a certain condition an exception is possible. So the logic from the passage in Leviticus 5 is that under other conditions- the more common one where it's a possibility- it would still be a necessity.
(5) Even the Judaic scholars' JPT translation of Leviticus 17 goes against the reviewer's statement that:
"that Lev 17:10-11 is talking about the improper and proper use of blood, not that it is necessary for atonement..."

Leviticus 11(JPT) specifies: "For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I have therefore given it to you [to be placed] upon the altar, to atone for your souls. For it is the blood that atones for the soul." Here, God explains that he gave the blood in the sacrifice because it is the sacrifice's blood that atones for the soul, and that in turn makes sense from this verse because it says that the soul is in the blood.

The reviewer seems correct that the verse doesn't specify that substituting a soul for a soul is the only way possible for an atonement. But it does suggest that at least it's a central means, because God says he ordered the sacrificial blood for this purpose.

I agree with you when you write:
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I also wanted to say after reflecting on this a bit that it doesn't strike me as solid scholarship has much as public relations for his religious group. The video/book package makes it seem more like an infomercial. Furthermore, this was not released by any academically viable press. 
However, it seems like it could also be combined scholarship and public relations for his group, because he did include research. On the other hand, your opening statement seems ok, because it doesn't seem like what's in the movie is solid scholarship, because for example he didn't investigate the other 23 copies of Shem Tov he finds so important. And yet the video book package, as well as the fact that he is giving Karaite literature to a large Christian audience seemed like something of public relations for his group. So there is more of public relations than deep scholarship.

When you say it wasn't an academically viable press, I have some doubt or confusion about what you mean, because sometimes small presses can produce good academic literature on a topic that especially interests the group.

I sympathize with your statement:
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It was rather produced by a small religious press, which signifies that it is primarily a devotional/evangelistic piece of literature to me.
, because it seems like a small religious press would focus most of its limited resources on books that strongly reflected its own religious views, although it could be an academic accompaniment to other works that were devotional/evangelistic, like you said.

I also agree with you when you write:
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quietmorning, I wouldn't get too upset about it, because many of his assertions seem to have a lot of holes in them. The fact that he's presenting this as something only he has managed to figure out very recently with cutting-edge primary sources makes the amateur scholar in me highly suspicious.
More clearer, what it makes us very suspicious of is that his ideas have holes in them because they are as yet untested, since he presents it as something only he has been able to figure it out. It's possible that there are other scholars who agree with him, but if so, it's a small, minority viewpoint and his would-be failure to mention the other scholars also goes against the strength of his own belief in the veracity of what he's saying.

Plus, I agree that they have alot of holes, like his failure to describe how it happened that Shem Tov would've come into possession of such a would-be accurate version.

Kind Regards.



samkim,

I agree with you when you say: "I'm fairly certain that he is speaking to Messianic Jews."

On the other hand, I don't remember him saying that he is, so I have some doubt that he said he was speaking to them.

I think you're probably right when you say:
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I believe Mr. Nehemiah was invited by a group of Messianic Jews (Evangelical Christians) to speak.
, because partway through it says Michael Rood, a Messianic Jew, would speak, and because the audience was Christian.

I have some doubt about your words:
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They recorded this video.
, because it says in the beginning "Hilkiah press", which is Karaite.

It isn't clear from his words "Every time he talks about so-called contradictions in Matthew, he says "This is a problem for YOU, but not for me, since I do not follow Yeshua as the Messiah. But I did some research anyway... etc etc..."" that ""You"= the Messianic Jews which are his audience." It could be, for example, that "you" could just be Christians in general, because they also follow Jesus as the Messiah.

I agree with you when you write:
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At the beginning of his speech, as he identifies himself as a Karaite Jew, he adds that Karaites "Do not look to Yeshua as the Messiah." This would be idiotic if he was talking to real Jews. Of course Karaites don't believe in Jesus. No duh. He has to clarify this, in case his Messianic audience mistakes him as one of their own.
Except that it still might not be that they are Messianic jews, as opposed to just Christians. After all, if he hadn't specified this, then with all his claims about Karaites criticising pharisees, and with his views where he claims that he agrees with Jesus on some things, then some Christians in his audience could foreseeably mistake him for part of the Messianic Jewish movement.

Regards.



Theophilos78,

You have a pretty avatar, and I am curious what it is. It's also impressive to me that you were a Muslim and came to Orthodoxy.

You wrote:
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Jesus referred not only to the Pharisees, but also to "the scribes" as religious authorities sitting in Moses' seat. Why did He do that? Why did He relate the Pharisees to the scribes in that context?
 Roll Eyes

Here you are asking a rhetorical question, as you rolled your eyes. What you mean is that here Jesus referred to both the pharisees and the scribes because what he meant to say about them was to focus on something that they had in common in their position as sitting in Moses' seat. What this suggests is that Jesus was referring to their power to say what the law is and recite the law.

Still, one counterargument could be that Jesus was simply referring to their roles in Moses' seat. For example, a horse-driver and a security guard riding shotgun can both sit in the front seat of a stagecoach, but they have different roles. I can tell other stagecoaches to obey the driver and guard on a certain stagecoach, but they would still both have different roles.

So in Matthew 5, Jesus could be referring to their power to recite, state, and interpret the law of Moses.

I am unsure if you're right here:
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If the Book of Matthew had been written in Hebrew and contained the sentence : "Listen to HIM" (Moses) rather than "Listen to THEM" (Pharisees), that whole chapter in Matthew would make no sense. The guy who focuses on the word "Pharisees" disregards the notion of textual coherence.
That's because the rest of the chapter seems to be Jesus giving examples of pharisees' hypocrisy. You seem to have a correct suggestion, because it would make sense for Jesus to say that they say some good observances, but are hypocritical in fulfilling them. For example, it is a good observance to "clean the outside of the cup", but he points out a hypocrisy in their action when "they are full of extortion and excess" within the cup. But you didn't explain why you think it makes no sense, so I have some doubt about what you are saying here.

After all, the other verses still make sense by themselves. So I do disagree that the whole chapter makes no sense with Gordon's meaning. But on the other hand, Jesus doesn't go through and say that Moses' observances are good and other observances, if performed correctly, like cleaning a cup, would be bad.

You proposed:
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Let's put the guy's theory to a test then and replace the word "Pharisees" with "Moses":
“The experts in the law and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore pay attention to what he (Moses) tells you and do it. But do not do what he (Moses) does, for he (Moses) does not practice what he teaches. (23:2-3)
Does this make any sense? 


But your scenario doesn't work, because the guy's theory was that only the first insertion you made (what he tells you) is the one that says "he". Gordon's theory is that the rest of the places still should say "they."

I somewhat agree with you when you write:
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There is no contradiction. Jesus first endorses the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, but immediately emphasizes that they do not do what they teach. This means "pretence" and "hypocricy", which are perfectly in line with Jesus' harsh critique of the same religious leaders in the following section. The main theme of Jesus' rebuke is unsurprisingly the hypocricy of those religious authorities.
There is no direct contradiction between saying to observe what someone says to observe and saying that the persion is hypocritical in their actions. There is only an indirect, vague contradiction between praising someone and then criticising them.

You give a good example when you write:
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Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

"Giving a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin" was a part of the Law, but the Pharisees neglected "justice, mercy, and faithfulness". The first clause refers to the religious leaders' authority endorsed by Christ, for it was written in the Law given to Moses. Nothing wrong with that.

You asked why only one time Gordon changed "they" to "he." You asked: "WHY is that? Is this his personal choice?" The answer is that Gordon was following the Shem Tov, which has it Gordon's way, although it appears his personal choice to follow the Shem Tov.

I sympathize with your words:
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If only one word changes, the rest of the chapter goes dead with no sense. Why would Jesus have asked the audience to listen to Moses after saying that the scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat? This is logically fallacious. Jesus referred to Moses because He discussed the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, not vice versa.
However, it can still make sense logically. It is at least rational to say: "The pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Do as Moses says, but don't do like the pharisees are now acting." Still, this raises the question: OK, well what about what the pharisees are SAYING?
So I agree with you more when I think about it.

To answer your question, Jesus could be saying to listen to Moses after saying that the pharisees sit in his seat, in order to bring up their hypocrisy and contrast following Moses with following the pharisees.

It makes sense when you write: "Jesus referred to Moses because He discussed the religious authority of the scribes and Pharisees, not vice versa.", because the chapter is about the scribes and pharisees' ways, and so the mention about Moses was a part of mentioning about their authority.

You comment:
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The given interpretation implies that Moses' authority was based on the scribes' and Pharisees' sitting on Moses' seat, which is utterly ridiculous.
It's funny(!) because I don't see how this means that Moses' authority was based on the pharisess and scribes sitting on Moses' seat, and I agree it would seem utterly ridiculous, because Jesus wasn't presenting them as models. But actually Gordon seems to follow this weird reasoning, as Gordon explicitly says that his view is that Jesus is saying: The pharisees sit on Moses' seat and get their claim to authority from Moses', so follow Moses... instead of them.

It makes sense when you responded to Marc:
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So you think followers of Jesus were commanded to do as the Pharisee's tell them? "Do what they say?' Really ?.. The passages in Mathew go far past an acknowledgment of the Teaching Authority of the Pharisees.

You are falling into the same error as that guy coming up with an innovated theory.
Not only the Pharisees, but also and primarily the scribes. When Jesus said: "Do what the scribes and Pharisees tell you...", He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites. As long as the scribes and Pharisees taught the Law with the authority given them through Moses, people had to obey them.
However, you state this in a broad way. One possible counterargument to what you're saying comes to mind: What if the Pharisees were talking about Moses' law and then made a bad interpretation? Would people have to obey them? If your explanation is absolute, someone could conclude you would answer 'yes', resulting in people following bad interpretations.
It seems that one way to overcome this counterargument could be to say that in such a case, the pharisees would be exceeding the scope of their authority.

Your statement is confusing:
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"I think it means something like: Even though the Pharisees sit in the teaching chair, dont listen to them, listen to Moses"  That is far more consistent with his harsh criticisms of the Pharisees just a few pages later."

If this is what Jesus meant, then another problem arises from Matthew's Greek text: the contrast Jesus underlined between what the scribes/Pharisees taught and did disappears, and the verse based on that contrast must be deleted to make the discourse more meaningful.
1. Marc is saying that he prefers the Shem Tov over the Greek text, so it doesn't really matter if it causes a problem with Matthew's Greek text.
2. Marc could just add to what you quoted, that in addition, Jesus finds hypocrisy between what they do and what they say.
3. Still, you are making a good point, that if Jesus says to do what they say, then it adds to the pharisees' hypocrisy, because it means that they hypocritically don't do the good things they say.
4. You make an insightful good point that this emphasis on their hypocrisy would disappear. If they were just saying bad things and then not doing them, then it wouldn't really be a hypocrisy that matters. And if they were saying good things, then it would make sense to listen to those things.
5. I don't think that deleting anything would make it more meaningful, because each phrase has meaning, and thus, adds it. On the other hand, it might make more sense as I said in the example above.

I also agree with you when you write:
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This interpretation is far more consistent with the Protestant mentality, which objects to every sort of religious authority. It reminds me of Protestant believers who preach: "Do not listen to the Christian clergy although they claim to represent Christ, but listen to Christ alone".
To paraphrase, the idea would be like saying clergy are hypocritical, because they don't do what they say, so therefore, don't do what they say. But this idea doesn't make sense, because some priests say to do good things in their sermons, even if they don't follow them themselves. And it would make more sense just to do the good things the priests said.

You commented that it's not a stretch to say: "He meant that people must not disregard the Mosaic Law solely because the religious authorities were hypocrites." Jesus didn't explicitly say this word for word, so it's a stretch. But it's a normal, natural stretch, because the observances Jesus would've meant to follow would've been ones made by people speaking from Mosaic authority, which suggests that they were observances coming from the Mosaic Law directly or indirectly.

I somewhat disagree with you when you write:
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Now the passage makes no sense as the concept of hypocricy is not effectively expressed and the contrast between religious authorities' teachings and acts lose their existence.
Even without effective expression, the passage is at least rational. However, I agree that with Jesus saying to avoid their observances, which suggests that the observances are bad, it reduces the effectiveness of the expression of their hypocrisy, because it no longer contrasts their stated good observances with their failure to follow them.

I somewhat disagree that in that case "the contrast between religious authorities' teachings and acts lose their existence", because still there is a contrast between what they say and their failure to do what they say.

I agree with you when you say: "It is not a problem." that "The passage in Greek says, very directly, to listen to the Pharisees.", as I explained above.

I'm not certain which point you are trying to make when you say:
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I have to remind you for the third time: The passage also refers to the scribes and actually associates the Pharisees with the scribes.
, although I discussed it above too.

Take care



Gamliel,

You wrote:
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He may have spoken Aramaic in Galilee and a type of Hebrew dialect in Judaea.

This idea would work if one accepts that a Hebrew dialect was what was commonly spoken in Judea, and Aramaic was what was spoken in Galilee. However, I read that Aramaic was what was spoken in 1st century Judea as the common language. I have some doubt about it, but not really any basis for this doubt, except that it simply appears Gordon and Marc propose that Aramaic wasn't the common language then and there.

Health and Happiness.
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« Reply #28 on: April 02, 2011, 10:19:21 PM »

Hello Daniel!
Thanks for posting about your book. It is a pleasure to correspond with you and have you on the forum.

You wrote:
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hey all,

Jesus' attitude to the pharisees and to the law is anything but simple.

There is a book with a chapter on the Jesus and the Pharisees title "Person of the Christ" by regina orthodox press which may be helpful:

I'm not sure that:
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Jesus' attitude to the pharisees and to the law is anything but simple.
At first glance it does appear anything but simple, because for example, it appears that in Matthew he says some good things about them, like that they clean the outside of a cup, but then he criticises them even harsher, like saying that they don't clean the inside of it. Plus, it appears like His attitude to the law is anything but simple, because He talks about fulfilling the Law as if it's good to do so. But then He describes it as "you have heard it said", as if the law was a saying. That's true, but it seems more than that. Jesus I assume would agree. ideas can develop even more complicatedly in this direction.

However, with many things that appear complicated, once you understand them, they appear simple. Probably this is one of those cases.

Sure, I believe you that the chapter you mentioned would be helpful, because you are an Orthodox author, and more information and/or analysis on the topic from our Orthodox perspective would naturally be helpful.

It sounds new and interesting to read in the review you linked to about your book that you discuss:
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the Shekhinah-the Jewish understanding of the presence of God-and its rich potential for understanding the Incarnation.
I only have some vague idea about what this means. I remember for example, that the ancient Israelites believed that God's presence was in the Ark of the Covenant. But I am not sure what much else the Jewish understanding of this was.

Also, I'm unsure about the statement:
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To follow Christ is to desire to know Him.
It seems for example that following Christ could also mean obeying Him, following His example. It makes sense that people who intentionally follow Him desire to know Him. But I am unsure how the two ideas are exactly the same.

You got a very good and attractive-sounding review:
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"As soon as I began to read this great book, I was unable to bring my reading to an end. The blessed son of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Daniel Fanous, has succeeded in guiding my inner senses into the times of the ancient people of God, through his engaging style of writing.

Another reviewer commented:
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to understand the Gospel we must understand the Jewish concepts and customs in which the events took place.
but I doubt this is an absolute statement about all of the Gospel, because some of it, like the Sermon on the Mount, seems pretty clear.

This sentence in the review seemed strange to me:
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In the fourth chapter he explains the different names of God and how He revealed Himself to the Jews in the Old Testament.
I only know of God's name Jehovah, or Yhwh. There were other titles in the scriptures for God, like Adonai, which means Lord, and El, which means God. But I don't remember other names for God. Plus, I think that Jehovah is what God specifically told Moses that His name was. So it seems that the reviewer here means names as in words that were used to refer to God, like "Lord."

I'm also confused by the reviewer's words
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"The author also showed an of awareness of the use of primary sources as he was careful in his use of the Jewish books of the midrash, the Talmud, and Mishnah, etc. as they were written after the destruction of the temple at 70AD (i.e. after the death and resurrection of Jesus) therefore were highly influenced by the Christian ideology of the Messiah and the fulfilment of the prophesies."
It isn't clear whether he means influenced in the direction of conforming their ideas of the Messiah to Christian ideas, or away from Christian ideas.
That is, the Judaic texts could have reacted against Christianity and separated themselves further from ideas similar to Christianity, or they could have been influenced to think more in Christian terms because they became more aware of such ways of looking at ideas of the Messiah.

Also, I'm confused by the reviewer's words:
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Finally in the epilogue, the author reveals the mystery of "the One" and applies the argument he used for the messianic concept in the first century Palestine to the Christian church today. He makes one point clear that, "the messianic kingdom is still to come, it comes everyday and it will come in its fullness at the end of the times."[underlined by me]
, specifically, what he means that the kingdom is still coming everyday, unless of course he means that it's coming closer. Plus, it isn't clear how the 1st century messianic concept would be applied to the church today, except that the church still believes in it.

Health to you!
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« Reply #29 on: April 02, 2011, 10:23:27 PM »

My Commentary on the Hebrew Yeshua v. the Greek Jesus.

Introduction

The opening statement in the written introduction says:

"An astonishing realization has recently gripped the Christian world: "Jesus Christ" was not a blond-haired, blue-eyed Gentile." This sounds sarcastic, because Christian art rarely depicts Him this way, with some exceptions perhaps like Da Vinci's Last Supper.

"Yeshua's teachings, which supposedly form the basis for Western Christianity, are now filtered through 2000 years of traditions born in ignorance of the land, language, and culture of the Bible." I think that's an overstatement. The Biblical translators from Hebrew to Latin, and Hebrew to English knew Hebrew. Plus, the Churches had significant contant with followers of Judaism in their countries. And for a significant part of the 2000 years that land was controlled by Christian or Western-oriented governments.

I think this varies alot among Christians, so it's an overgeneralization: "The issues over which Yeshua wrestled with the Pharisees are simply not understood by modern Christians; nor are his most important instructions followed by those who claim to be his disciples."

I have doubt about this statement, because I have doubt about whether all of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew: "Gordon's research reveals that the more "modern" Greek text of Matthew... depicts "another Jesus" from the Yeshua portrayed in the ancient Hebrew version of Matthew."

One possibility is that part was written in Hebrew and the Greek version took parts from the Hebrew one and wrote others firsthand, in which case it is hard to say that one translation is merely the more modern version of the same thing.
I'm confused about the term schemed here: "Gordon explains the life-and-death conflict Yeshua had with the Pharisees as they schemed to grab the reins of Judaism in the first century". I doubt that the pharisees were scheming with Jesus, because they had a conflict. More likely it's saying that the Pharisees were scheming to take the reins from the Saducees, who had more control. I don't think that the gospels talk about much scheming by the pharisees. It seems more likely that the Saducees lost control later after the Temple's destruction.
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« Reply #30 on: April 02, 2011, 10:29:50 PM »

The article "Why Nehemiah Gordon Is Wrong about Matthew 23:3" (http://www.torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/Matt23.3Gordon.pdf) makes a rebuttal to Gordon's ideas.

The rebuttal admits that "it seems clear that Yeshua's teaching and example regularly sought to unburden the Torah from its man-made encasements, and bring it back to the people as the gracious and vibrant teaching of the Almighty for His people."

One problem with the rebuttal is that I think it doesn't show whether it was ok for the pharisees to equate their teachings with that of God's written torah. Deuteronomy 4:2 and Isaiah 29:13 appear to condemn equating the two, as Gordon pointed out. The rebuttal says that Christ equated His teachings with the Torah in making them eternal, but that's irrelevant if one accepts in Christianity that Christ saw Himself as God's Son who would be eternal.

The rebuttal does a good job though mentioning some pharisaic practices Jesus encouraged his disciples to follow, like avoiding fasting in the presence of a bridegroom.

The rebuttal strongly weakens Gordon's claim that Matthew 23 says to follow Moses' seat instead of the people who sit on it. The rebuttal says that alot of other copies of the Shem Tov and another Hebrew copy of Matthew called the Even Bohan match the Greek gospel's use of the plural, as in "do what they say."
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« Reply #31 on: April 02, 2011, 11:00:01 PM »

My Commentary on the "Hebrew Yeshua v the Greek Jesus" is attached in pdf form. The movie had many new, challenging ideas, and many new, challenging ideas bring many comments. Smiley
In this case, there were so many, it would be better to post them in minimum-sized pdf form.
Regards.
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