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Diachronic Deadends

This is part six of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

Continuing in his literal interpretation of the texts and disregarding the context of the ‘Angel’, Daniel begins his presentation of the story of the birth of Samson as follows:

In Samson’s birth narrative (Judg 13:3–23) the interlocutor is described as an angel of Yahweh throughout, but when Manoah realizes to whom he has been speaking he laments, like the others, “we shall surely die, for we have seen God.” Now, the comment could be translated “for we have seen a deity,” in reference to an angel, but, again, this is not what Exod 33:20 says, and the allusion is clearly to that text.

Daniel continues to reiterate the same point he made in the previous passages. He assumes that mistakes have been left behind by a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor. In this case he is stating that the hypothetical editor forgot to insert the ‘Angel’ in Judges 13:22. What is his main argument that this is a mistake? Primarily he continues to be confounded by the subject change from ‘Angel of the Lord’ to ‘Elohim’, for the implication seems to be that the titles are synonymous which must be a mistake because this could never make sense; could it?

Scholars with radical critical viewpoints study the various Biblical passages for years, and have a particular viewpoint of the Jewish Scriptures. For them, Hebrew words, phrases, declarations of speech,  etc. are the “evidence” left behind which apparently  points to theoretical editorial “schools”. Instead of considering the possibility that the Biblical  stories are singular original units they impose diachronic analysis upon the texts. Their understanding of how these texts came together is shaped by their hypothetical timeline of when each of these theoretical “schools” existed. In the case of the Birth of Samson narrative, Daniel is focused on the ‘dying from seeing God’ idea which he anchors to Exodus 33:20, and thereby makes a theoretical Deuteronomic connection. Is this connection a solid conclusion? Can any other possibilities be considered?

It is entirely possible that Exodus 33:20 is not the product of a hypothetical Deuteronomic school. It is also possible that the ‘dying from seeing God’s face’ idea in Exodus 33:20 predates the text of Judges 13:22 by just over one hundred years. This could explain the reference. Instead the critic is so bound by the theoretical Deuteronomic timetable that they place Exodus 33:20 somewhere around the mid to early 7th century BC during the time of King Josiah.

Daniel however is not too focused on the theoretical Deuteronomic school but more specifically on the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editors. Based on their name, “Post-Deuteronomist”, this places them after the hypothetical Deuteronomist; this would possibly be in the 6th century BC or later. Essentially Daniel is saying that the ‘Angel’ was interpolated into all these texts in the books of Genesis through Judges somewhere around the 6th century BC or later.

Not only does Daniel claim that the ‘Angel’ was written into the text, but also claims indirectly that Judges 13:22 never existed in the original text. This is the “logical” outcome because anything labeled as a Deuteronomic idea by the critics is dated to a later period than the internal context which the story indicates. In this case the book of Judges has internal content which covers a time period from about 1367-1050 BC, so conservatively it could have been completed around 1050 BC. For the critic, however, Judges could be entirely pieced together by the theoretical Deuteronomic “school” in the 7th century BC, and then later cleaned up by the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editors from maybe the 6th century BC and possibly later.

It is very important to understand the timeline of this diachronic viewpoint because if we do not then we are likely to assume incongruous scenarios with regard to the Scriptures. I believe the critics themselves have lost sight of their own timeline at times, and it seems that the tail is wagging the dog in some cases. In my opinion, the critical stance on the Samson birth narrative happens to be one of these cases.

The questions regarding this conundrum are not so straightforward so they will need to be addressed one facet at a time. The first part of this issue deals with the dating of the ‘dying from seeing God’ idea which is attributed to the theoretical Deuteronomist in around the mid 7th century BC. It would have been at this time period or later which the critics claim that Exodus 33:20 is alluded to in Judges 13:22. This is one of the theoretical Deuteronomic ideas about a very specific kind of monotheism which does not allow anyone to see God’s face. In other words, for the critic, this idea never existed in Hebrew thought prior to the 7th century BC. It is possible that some critics may even feel that Judges 13:22 was inserted by a theoretical Post-Deuteronomist in the 6th century or later.

The next piece of this unsubstantiated puzzle is the ‘Angel’ in Judges 13. Daniel suggests that this ‘Angel’ was interpolated by a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editor which places the supposed editing around the sixth century BC or later. In other words, prior to the 6th century BC, in the mind of the critic, there was no ‘Angel’ in Judges 13.

Based on Daniel’s article the text of Judges 13 could be viewed with at least 3 hypothetical versions if not more, but for the sake of not going down rabbit trails the three are sufficient to examine. The three theoretical versions are as follows:

  1. The original without the inserted ‘Angel’ thereby showing Manoah speaking directly with God. There possibly is no verse 22 as the idea of ‘dying from seeing God’ supposedly didn’t exist yet for the Hebrews.  This version is dated by the critics some time prior to the theoretical Deuteronomic period; this is prior to the 7th century BC.
  2. There is a possible 2nd theoretical version which could have been edited during the hypothetical Deuteronomic period in which Judges 13:22 was supposedly inserted. In this version there would still be no ‘Angel’ but the theoretical Deuteronomist would be making an attempt to insert their supposed specific monotheism. This would have been around the mid 7th century.
  3. The third possible theory would be that the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editor inserts the ‘Angel’ or that Judges chapter 13 remained in its supposed original form, and the Post-Deuteronomist inserts both the ‘Angel’ and  verse 22. This would be dated by the critic to the 6th century BC or later.

It should be pointed out that the same verse which Daniel uses to allude to Exodus 33:20 is also the verse he uses to state:

“…the interlocutor is described as an angel of Yahweh throughout, but when Manoah realizes to whom he has been speaking he laments, like the others, ‘we shall surely die, for we have seen God.'”  

In other words,  if it was not for Judges 13:22 what other clue would we have to give us that Manoah was speaking specifically to God and not to God through a Messenger?

One implication of this critical viewpoint is that the idea of Judges 13:22 was not original to the text, but was this not the same verse used to decry of the supposed change in interlocutor? In others words, first the Angel is the interlocutor then in verse 22 God is the interlocutor, so there seems to be an assumption that verse 22 is original to the text by virtue of the mention of God. Daniel then turns around and states that verse 22 alludes to Exodus 33:20.

I submit that Daniel has placed Judges 13:22 in two different theoretical Documentarian time periods. By his assumption of it containing the original interlocutor he has dated this prior to the theoretical Deuteronomic period of before the mid 7th century. Then by his statement that it alludes to Exodus 33:20 he has indirectly dated this to the theoretical Deuteronomic or Post-Deuteronomic Period of the mid 7th century or later. If this truly is the case then which one was it because the effect does not bring about the cause and the cause should not follow the effect?

Since the claims of the critics are that editors changed the original message of the texts they tend to explain inconsistencies with more claims of theoretical modifications, but regarding Daniel’s presentation of Judges 13:22, two conclusions can be discerned. Either verse 22 was original to the text or not. There is no getting around the structure of the sentence of verse 22 in which Manoah states that he and his wife saw God (Elohim). If the critic is true to their own understanding of the structure they might be persuaded to think that the verse is actually an insertion of theoretical Deuteronomic theology which left in the supposed Elohist name of God. So which is it? Both? I don’t think so because Daniel seems to lead his argument with the “fact” that suddenly in verse 22 the interlocutor is God.

If we take the premise that verse 22 was original to the text then we are struck with the theological implications of this verse. The burden is on the critic to explain why a “Deuteronomic” theology was original to the text and pre-existed the hypothetical Deuteronomic period. If the critic states the opposite and claims that it is in fact “Deuteronomic” then we could conclude that the title ‘Elohim’ was added by the theoretical Deuteronomist or Post-Deuteronomist,  and was not original to the text.

In the first scenario verse 22 is presented as original to the text and in the very next point Daniel states:

“…but, again, this is not what Exod 33:20 says, and the allusion is clearly to that text.”

In effect by stating that the text is alluding to Exodus 33:20 it appears he is saying that verse 22 was possibly added by a Deuteronomist. Just so that I am not jumping to any conclusions about Daniel’s views I will also consider that he possibly thinks that the allusion to Exodus 33:20 was original to the story. If that is the case then the critics must ask themselves if this was original to the text then was the entirety of the Samson story produced during the theoretical Deuteronomic period? If so then why would a Deuteronomist leave so many references to the Lord as the interlocutor effectively leaving a whole section which the later theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor had to supposedly correct by inserting an ‘Angel’ into the text? One begins to have questions in regard to this hypothetical editor. Even if a theoretical Post-Deuteronomist was savvy enough to insert the ‘Angel’ 12 times between verse 3 and verse 21 the editor suddenly and supposedly has this huge lapse of concentration by forgetting to insert the ‘Angel’ in verse 22!

It is a very simple problem. If verse 22 is Deuteronomic then the reference to ‘Elohim’ could be considered added during the Deuteronomic period. In this case the claim that the original interlocutor was ‘Elohim’ is based on a Deuteronomic addition, and not on original content. It is hard to consider a scenario in which verse 22 is considered Deuteronomic without realizing that the verse could not have been just modified a tiny bit, but the sentence structure points to its cohesiveness. In my opinion, if I was a critic, it is either prior to the theoretical Deuteronomic period or after. I would not support ‘Elohim’ as the original interlocutor if it is dated after this period because then the word “Elohim” could be considered a Deuteronomic addition, and thereby invalidate it as original to the text. I only state this from a critical perspective as I believe the word “Elohim” was original to the context along with the ‘Angel’ references as well.

Moving on to another topic, Manoah realizes whom he has been speaking with in Judges 13:21. Daniel glosses over this verse as in his view he is reading a reconstructed narrative. He is so convinced of what the “original” story looked like that he is not concerned with what verse 21 actually states. Note his words again:

“…the interlocutor is described as an angel of Yahweh throughout, but when Manoah realizes to whom he has been speaking he laments, like the others, ‘we shall surely die, for we have seen God.'”

He notes that Manoah realizes to whom he has been speaking but in referencing verse 21 Daniel speaks as though Manoah realizes it is God appearing to him, but what does verse 21 actually state?

“The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.” NRSV

Manoah realizes that it is the Angel of the Lord appearing to him, but Daniel doesn’t point this out as in his view the ‘angel’ is an interpolation.  In addition,  by not mentioning that it is the Angel whom Manoah realizes appeared to him, Daniel saves himself the trouble of explaining how in the very next verse the theoretical Post-Deuteronomist forgets to insert the ‘angel’. If we compare this verse to Judges 6:22, the story of Gideon,  we see that Gideon also realizes that it is the Angel of the Lord and proclaims:

“…Help me, Lord God! For I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” NRSV.

Both Judges 13:21,22 and Judges 6:22 are of similar structure. In both cases the men realize that they have seen the Angel of the Lord with the difference that Manoah describes the experience as seeing God. In Gideon’s case he states:

“For I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face.”

In Manoah’s case he states:

“…we shall surely die for we have seen God.”

Another question for the critic might be:

If both stories were theoretically modified by a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomist then how dense could they have been to allow such “doctrinal” contradiction within each story and between each story in the very same book? Could it not also be possible that the book of Judges was written by one individual who is making a point about the nature of the ‘Messenger’?

Daniel’s whole message seems to be opposed to the idea of a theophany in the Hebrew worldview, but perhaps I am jumping to conclusions. Daniel has repeatedly stated that the ‘angel’ is nothing more than an interpolation, and that in all cases it was the Lord originally appearing and speaking, but does Daniel state anything about the Lord appearing as a man? What about the Lord appearing as fire or a cloud? Are not these appearances theophanies the same as the ‘Angel’/’Messenger’ could be considered? Instead of seeing supposed omissions of the ‘angel’, what is the grievous sin of interpreting the text from a synchronic viewpoint? Well, therein lays the critical mindset in that all texts should be subject to diachronic analysis.

There is another alternative which the critics are not considering. It is that the whole Samson Birth story is the product of one writer. Perhaps the story should be studied from a synchronic viewpoint? Even Daniel admits that in his view certain texts are considered “original”.  Cannot the critic consider that entire passages are original content? Alas, no, for in their pursuit to find more “evidence” in order to try to substantiate their Documentarian theories, they are bound to diachronic analysis, and refuse to consider what seems to be the obvious interpretations of the texts. In my opinion, the critic should not rule out the possibility that the early Hebrews understood the concept of the Lord appearing as the Messenger.

If we do not restrict our examination of the texts to diachronic analysis then the texts can be seen as evidence supporting an early Hebraic understanding of theophany. In the case of Judges 13:21,22 Manoah can be seen to understand that the Lord appeared to them as the ‘Messenger’, and his statement that they have seen God can be understood as seeing God as the ‘Messenger’. This is one of the traditional ways of interpreting the text but for the critic they only see confusion and conflation.

Regarding Daniel’s mention of the minority translation of “Elohim” as “a deity” in Judges 13:22, there is not much to comment on as I agree with his assessment that the correct translation is “God” and not “a deity”. Daniel seems to feel a need to address this issue, not because of conservative arguments, but because of a few liberal interpretations of the text. Daniel correctly points out that the allusion is to Exodus 33:20. The difference is where Daniel would date Exodus 33:20, as mentioned previously, because critical thought is bound up in Documentary theory on this text.

Daniel continues:

V. 19 also provides an interesting problem. It states that, on the angel’s orders, Manoah offered a meat offering on a rock “to Yahweh. And [?] did wonders/wondrously.” There is no subject attached to the participle מפלא, “to be wonderful.” Many translations assume the angel is understood, since he is overseeing the sacrifice (thus, “the angel did wondrously”), while others believe the statement refers to Yahweh, and want it to act as a relative clause (thus, “to Yahweh, to him who works wonders”). The most straightforward reading would probably be, “to Yahweh, and he did wondrously.” This would identify the one who commanded the sacrifice as Yahweh.”

Daniel states that if we translate the phrase as, “to Yahweh, and he did wondrously,” that ‘Yahweh’ is the one commanding the sacrifice, but this point, which he identifies as an interesting problem, is not much of an issue. Certainty the Lord is commanding the sacrifice through His Messenger and ‘Yahweh’ can do wondrously through the ‘Angel’. Only when one has come to reject the ‘Angel’ in the texts do they begin to ignore the obvious context of the story. Furthermore the context is what assists translators in coming to a consensus on what the Hebrew means. It would seem that the critics would favor translations based on hypothetical interpolations or theoretical modifications. Until these theories can be shown to be true then to speculate on possible translations still does not prove Documentarian theories. In the case of verse 19, even the translation which Daniel offers can be interpreted as the Lord doing wondrously through the ‘Angel’, so the point seems moot.

Daniel concludes this section on Samson’s birth narrative with these words:

“This is further supported by the actual command in v. 16, where the text states, “The angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, ‘If you detain me I will not eat your food, but if you want to prepare a burnt offering, offer it to Yahweh.’ (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of Yahweh).” There is only one scenario in which I can see the narrator providing the explanation if the angel is not actually Yahweh himself, and that’s if the angel is promoting sacrifices to a specific deity to which Manoah otherwise wouldn’t have offered his sacrifice (“‘Oh, and make sure you offer it to Yahweh specifically’ [and Manoah didn’t know that the guy actually worked for Yahweh]“). To me it makes much more sense that the narrator is explaining that Manoah didn’t know he was speaking to Yahweh himself, since it would sound weird for Yahweh to say “offer a sacrifice to Yahweh” if he knew he was speaking to Yahweh.”

The translation of verse 16 which Daniel is using seems to be a popular rendering. The translation in this case is a complicated combination of Hebrew words to translate. They are problematic not just from a literal rendering, but also from an approach of paraphrasing the text. In order to understand the issues, a detailed analysis of both approaches to verse 16 will need to be presented in a painstaking manner. This will prove to be rewarding for those who wish to gain a wider understanding of the text rather than the narrow view which Daniel assumes is the singular understanding.

What is Daniel’s view of verse 16? He suggests that this verse is further proof of his argument that Manoah is speaking with ‘Yahweh’ in person and that the ‘Angel’  is an interpolation. He explains why in his view that the interpretation of the verse only has a couple of possibilities. First, either Manoah is speaking with ‘Yahweh’ in person, or second, if he is speaking with the ‘Angel’ then the verse supposedly hints at Manoah being a worshiper of multiple gods. Somehow Daniel reasons that this only makes sense in the context of Manoah speaking to ‘Yahweh’ in person. These are the only two options which Daniel considers and any other views outside this matrix simply do not exist to him. Well, by this point one must realize that many other possibilities can exist for the Biblical text other than a radical critical viewpoint and I will proceed to go over some of those now.

Beginning with the literal translation of Judges 13:16 the first issue which presents itself is how the punctuation should be determined. When does one thought end and another begin? Hebrew being without lower case letters, we cannot always easily determine which word starts the sentence. There are no commas or periods in the Hebrew to guide us. There is an editorial symbol in the early Hebrew codices which designates the end of a verse. It is called a colophon which looks the same as a colon in the English language, but even with this we cannot always determine the end of a sentence as one verse can have multiple sentences and the colophon only designates the end of the entire verse. This is why the content of the text is so important in judging where the English punctuation makes the most sense.

In looking at an image of the Alleppo Hebrew codex of Judges 13:16, I can see one reason for the more popular translation.  It has to do with the spacing of the words on the page. There are three columns on each page. The verse starts at the bottom of the right column and continues to the top of the middle column. The starting word of the middle column is “La-Adonai” (לַיהוָה), which translates, “for the LORD”. The assumption is that the sentence begins with, “For the Lord…” In this case the sentence could be translated,  “For the Lord you are to offer it (the sacrifice),” but keeping in mind that since there are no small letters in Hebrew we can’t assume that this is the start of the sentence as all Hebrew letters are in capital forms. The phrase can also be interpreted to carry over to the next line and column.

The Hebrew phrase, “…if you prepare a burnt offering for ‘Yahweh’…” can be viewed as contiguous. Transliterated in my rough spelling of the Hebrew it reads:

…Veh-EEm Tah-AhSeh OhLah La-Adonai(YHVH)…

“…and if you will make a burnt offering for Adonai…”

After looking at the Hebrew I have considered the following two literal translations:

New English Translation (NET)

The Lord’s messenger said to Manoah, “If I stay, I will not eat your food. But if you want to make a burnt sacrifice to the Lord, you should offer it.” (He said this because Manoah did not know that he was the Lord’s messenger.)

Lexham English Bible (LEB)

The angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, “If you keep me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering for Yahweh, you can offer it (for Manoah did not know that he was an angel of Yahweh).”

Notice that with these two translations the thought ends with “for the Lord” rather than beginning with it. The ‘Angel’ can be paraphrased as saying, “I won’t be eating, but, if you are planning on offering a goat to the Lord, then by all means, go ahead and offer it.” This understanding of the text is just as plausible, and it excludes Daniel’s conclusion of an assumed polytheism.

The next challenge in the translation has to do with the tense of the verb. In Hebrew there are only two tenses: The perfect and the imperfect. The perfect designates actions which are complete and the imperfect shows them incomplete. In this case the verb we are focused on is “עָלָה” (alah). It means to lift up, but in the context of verse 16 it is in reference to offering up (an offering). It is also in an imperfect form so it is describing an action which has not yet occurred. In Hebrew we aren’t always clear how that incomplete action should be voiced. It could be rendered one of numerous ways. Here are a few examples:

….you will offer up…

….you should offer up…

…offer up…

…you can offer up…

Aside from these variations one must also take into account that in Hebrew the word order does not always translate into English into the same sequence. This is because in Hebrew most times the word which appears first signifies that it is to be given more importance in the sentence than the words which follow. If we make the assumption that in verse 16 “For the Lord” should begin the sentence then we can translate this Hebrew phrase various ways.

לַיהוָה תַּעֲלֶנָּה

  • Unto the LORD you should offer it up.
  • You can offer it up unto the LORD.
  • You may offer it to the LORD.
  • To the LORD, you are going to offer it.

Notice that in English the word sequence does not always follow the Hebrew.

Now let us consider some paraphrased versions of Judges 13:16.

New Living Translation (NLT)

“I will stay,” the angel of the Lord replied, “but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the Lord.” (Manoah didn’t realize it was the angel of the Lord.)

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Even if you keep me from leaving, I will not eat your food. But if you want to prepare something, offer a burnt offering to the Lord.” (Manoah did not understand that the man was really the angel of the Lord.)

Living Bible (TLB)

“I’ll stay,” the Angel replied, “but I’ll not eat anything. However, if you wish to bring something, bring an offering to sacrifice to the Lord.” (Manoah didn’t yet realize that he was the Angel of the Lord.)

New Century Version (NCV)

The angel of the Lord answered, “Even if I stay awhile, I would not eat your food. But if you want to prepare something, offer a burnt offering to the Lord.” (Manoah did not understand that the man was really the angel of the Lord.)

At this point one should be starting to realize the immense importance of the context and its role in translating verse 16. This is just one example of how not just a literal or paraphrased approach is fully sufficient in giving a more detailed idea of what the words mean. This is why we must consider the preceding verses to clue us in on more options for the translation. Let us consider Judges 13:15.

Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” (ESV)

It seems the whole point of the context is that Manoah wishes to celebrate and feast, and he invites his guest to dinner!

In this context it becomes more plausible that the ‘Angel’ is offering one of two things:

  • A substitute activity. Rather than a feast he suggests a burnt offering to the Lord.
  • Or it could be that Manoah was already going to offer the goat as a type of fellowship offering to the Lord and the ‘Angel’ states that he will not be eating any of it, but not to let that stop Manoah from offering up the burnt sacrifice.

Moving on to Daniel’s comments with regard to the ending phrase of verse 16 which reads:

…(For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of Yahweh).

Daniel states that he can only think of one reason, if the ‘Angel’ was original to the text, that the writer of Judges would explain that Manoah did not know he was talking to the ‘Angel’. His reason, polytheism, however he quickly states that this would not be the case if the original text is only ‘Yahweh’. Well, seeing as how there are many other possible translations of verse 16, Daniel’s assertion that Manoah was a polytheist suddenly seems a far reach whether one reads the text with the ‘Angel’ omitted or not!

The argument does not seem to flow well. He seems to imply that if Manoah was only speaking with ‘Yahweh’ in person, that the comment, “…offer it to Yahweh,” would not apply in the same way? I do not see how this is so, but as there are various plausible interpretations of verse 16, I believe I have demonstrated that the implied polytheism vanishes if we understand Manoah’s guest is not specifying a choice of gods to worship, but suggesting an alternative to dinner or a fellowship offering.

Daniel’s reason why the text should not contain the ‘Angel’ seems to be that he leans toward a monotheistic interpretation, but as I have pointed out, this is only dependent on the translation of the text which in this case is doubly compounded in Daniel’s reckoning since he is trying to reason away the ‘Angel’ as an interpolation. In this light there simply is no reason to consider the ‘Angel’ an interpolation because we can still interpret the text as monotheistic based on a few other very plausible translations.

Essentially Daniel is stating that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor must have messed up yet again by mistakenly allowing a possible polytheistic interpretation, therefore Daniel’s claim is that the ‘Angel’ in the text does not make sense. He then states that it makes more sense if Manoah is speaking directly with ‘Yahweh’, but perhaps I am missing something? It seems that Daniel fails to adequately explain why it makes more sense that Manoah is speaking directly with ‘Yahweh’. Is this because if Manoah is speaking in person with ‘Yahweh’ that the polytheism is precluded, because clearly it is not? In the case of verse 16, just because the person speaking changes, it does not change the words being spoken. If Daniel is suggesting that because ‘Yahweh’ spoke, “…offer it to the Lord,” that because ‘Yahweh’ spoke it then somehow we can see the text as more legitimate  and implied to support monotheism, but Daniel is unclear and I cannot discern his line of reasoning here. Again, in the end, it matters little how Daniel came to his conclusion because as I have shown he bases his line of reasoning on implied polytheism which can be dismissed by a few other very plausible translations of the text.

Viewed from another angle we could understand the reason for the writer of Judges mentioning that Manoah does not recognize that he is speaking to the ‘Messenger of the Lord’ as an equating of sacrifice to the Lord with sacrifice to the ‘Messenger  of the Lord’!

Daniel then ends this section stating:

“To me it makes much more sense that the narrator is explaining that Manoah didn’t know he was speaking to Yahweh himself, since it would sound weird for Yahweh to say “offer a sacrifice to Yahweh” if he knew he was speaking to Yahweh.”

Yes, it would sound weird, but at this point Daniel has already dismissed the ‘Angel’ and is trying to justify the text without the theoretical interpolation. If the text doesn’t seem to make sense perhaps it has something to do with the translation and nothing to do with hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic  interpolations? The weirdness which Daniel refers to vanishes once we simply let go of the unsubstantiated critical guesses upon the text. The whole argument is reliant upon a translation which in all likelihood was never meant to convey any hint of polytheism in the first place!

This ends part six of this eight part response series. As always, Keep Ceeking Truth!  I look forward to my next post and Peace be with you all. :-)

This is part five of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

In this post I will be responding to Daniel’s comments on Gideon’s Call (Judges 6:11-24). As in Daniel’s previous observations he continues to categorize both the Names of God and the ‘Angel of the Lord’ as remnants of earlier or later hypothetical editors. There is really no other way in which a Documentarian can interpret scripture because they are bound to their views on source theory. This continues to be their issue as they simply will not even entertain the possibility that the texts are the result of singular cohesive units.

Daniel starts by stating, “…the angel comes to Gideon, who appears not to recognize him…“. Actually according to the chapter content it is very clear that Gideon surely does not recognize the ‘Angel’, but Daniel seems to be suggesting that Gideon possibly did recognize Him. Verse 22 of Judges chapter 6 reads:

“Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord.” ESV

All throughout the section up to verse 22 it seems clear that Gideon first believes he is speaking with a man but slowly begins to suspect a Divine Presence. At verse 17 Gideon exclaims:

“If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me.” ESV

At this point Gideon wants to be sure that this ‘Man’ is who He has presented Himself to be. The point being is that verses 17 and 22 seem to adequately address that Gideon certainly did not recognize the ‘Angel’ up to verse 16. I don’t know if this was an oversight on Daniel’s part or if he is considering certain verses as possible additions by later theoretical editors, but he does not specify, and he seems to ignore the clear context of the section.

Most likely Daniel is suggesting that Gideon did recognize the ‘Man’, not as the ‘Angel’, but as the Lord. Daniel is reconstructing the section by omitting each reference to an angel but this does not account for Gideon not recognizing the ‘Man’ as ‘Yahweh’. Even if as Daniel theorizes that there was no ‘Angel’ in the original, Gideon still does not recognize the ‘man’ unless verse 17 which has no mention of ‘angel’ is also considered a later addition. What reason does Daniel give to explain verse 17? He leaves it as it is because there is no mention of an angel. The point being is that first Daniel states Gideon, “appears not to recognize him“, but later he states, “In v. 17, Gideon actually asks for proof that he is speaking specifically to Yahweh.” Daniel is stating in so many words that Gideon did not recognize ‘Yahweh’ because he asks for proof.

It would appear that Daniel’s reference to Gideon appearing not to recognize the ‘angel’ also appears to be a reference to something which Daniel appears to acknowledge after he has appeared to explain it away. Perhaps Daniel actually does understand that Gideon begins by not recognizing the ‘Man’, but uses the wrong wording to explain his position? Whether this was an ‘Angel’ or ‘Yahweh’, Gideon clearly did not recognize this person from their first meeting based on verse 17.

Next Daniel turns his attention to the interchangeably of the titles of  ‘Angel of the Lord’, and ‘Lord’. He states:

In vv. 11, 12, 21, and 22 the text has “angel of Yahweh,” but in vv. 14 and 16 Gideon is represented as speaking directly to Yahweh.

Once again we are being told in so many words that verses 14 and 16 were original to the text while all references to the ‘angel’ are likely interpolations because the text makes no sense according to the critics. It is difficult to figure which claim supports the other. Does the interpretation that the texts do not make sense lead one to consider that the ‘angel’ is interpolated or does the Interpolation Theory lead one to narrowly interpret the texts as nonsensical? Perhaps these twin claims uphold each other because without one the other cannot stand?

Daniel is held captive by the idea that Gideon is speaking directly with ‘Yahweh’ in verses 14 and 16. This is simply because he has prejudged the texts and interpreted them based on his stationary viewpoint. In his mind the reason for everyone’s incorrect interpretations are due to the imaginary ‘angel’. He has dismissed the possibility that the ‘Angel’ (Messenger) is speaking on behalf of ‘Yahweh’ and bringing a message in the first person. Instead of stating, “Thus saith the Lord”, the messenger is the mouthpiece of ‘Yahweh’ whereby whatever the ‘Angel’ speaks is the Will of ‘Yahweh’. It can certainly be the case that Gideon was speaking directly to ‘Yahweh’, that is, through the ‘Angel’.

The point of Daniel’s article was to explain away the most prevalent view of the ‘Angel’. He started his presentation by stating,  “The most prevalent view is that the angel, as a divine messenger, represents his patron so completely that he may be referred to and even described as the patron”, which Daniel quickly dismisses as most likely due to conflation or confusion. However,  couldn’t it be possible that the perceived conflation or confusion is only the result of a narrow interpretation based on the Interpolation Theory itself?

There remains a third view which Daniel ignores due to his assumption of the Interpolation Theory. This is not that the ‘angel’ is described as his Patron but that the ‘angel’ is the Lord’s Messenger and acts as His Mediator. As His vessel the ‘angel’ acts as the Lord wills and speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece. Likewise, when speaking, the ‘angel’ is referred to as the Lord based on the ‘angel’s’ mediating nature.

It is unfortunate that the ‘angel’ passages are dismissed as interpolations because once again this points out, if true, how flipshod a job that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor performed in trying to align the text to their hypothetical theology.  If all they had to do was insert the word ‘Malach’ before every instance of “Lord” how hard could that have been? Also, in regard to the four letter Name of God, it seems highly unlikely that any hypothetical editor would simply miss verses 14 and 16 which contain the Lord’s Name, but the Documentary critic insists that these are mistakes which were not covered up completely.

Next Daniel states, “In v.  17, Gideon actually asks for proof that he is speaking specifically to Yahweh.” Now this of course is based on Daniel’s interpretation which springs forth from the theoretical ‘angel’ interpolation. Without this theory it can be interpreted within the larger context. Instead verse 17 can be interpreted as Gideon asking for proof that ‘Yahweh’ is speaking to him through the angel. That is not too hard of an explanation at all and one reason Daniel excludes this possibility is due to the Interpolation Theory,  and so we can clearly see how this theory affects one’s ability to consider other possibilities of the texts.

Next Daniel addresses verse 20 which uses the title ‘Malach Elohim’ which translates ‘Angel of God’. He states,

In v. 20 it is “angel of God.” This is peculiar, and the only other uses of “angel of God” in Gen-Judg also appear in places where the identity of God is mixed up with that of an angel (Gen 21:17; 31:11; Exod 14:19; Judg 13:6, 9).

His claim will need to be addressed for each of these four examples.

Gen 21:17:

“And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” RSV

Daniel is stating that the identify of God is being mixed up with the ‘Angel of God’ but I have read Gen 21:17 in a few Bible versions and do not see how this is the exclusive interpretation.  It seems just as easily understood as the ‘Angel’ speaking on behalf of God. It seems odd that Daniel points out in the start of his article that the Hebrew for ‘Angel’, ‘Malach’, is more accurately translated,  “Messenger”, and yet Daniel is resisting the idea that the Messenger speaks the Message of God.

Gen 31:11 (12,13)

“11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ 12 And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that leap upon the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go forth from this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” RSV

Again the simple understanding of the Messenger of God is that He speaks God’s message. This is a very likely interpretation but it is excluded.  It should also be noted that the ‘Angel’ speaks to Jacob in a dream so another question would be what reason would a Post-Deuteronomist have in adding ‘Malach’ in front of ‘Elohim’? If this was a dream then ‘seeing’ God would not have been an issue, would it?

At this point it should be considered that the Lord never communicates without His Messenger and that the Hebrews understood this basic nature about the Lord. Even when the ‘Angel’ is not specifically mentioned in the text it could be understood that God always speaks His Message through His Messenger. Also in other passages the interlocutor is described as ‘The Word of the Lord’, such as, “Then the Word of the Lord came to…”.

The only way to arrive at the critical viewpoint is to first assume that the early Hebrews spoke directly with ‘Yahweh’ and stood ‘face to face’ with God. Then one begins to interpret the texts in light of this assumption.  As far as the ‘Angel’ passages are concerned,  they lend more evidence towards the Hebrews not ‘seeing’ God. The only way to think otherwise would be to dismiss all references to the ‘Angel’, and this is where the critic finds the Interpolation Theory fits with their assumptions. Still missing, however, is whether one can determine if their assumptions are supporting the theory or if the theory is supporting their assumptions?

Ex 14:19 (& v.24)

19 “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.”…

“24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.” NASB

This passage is different in that the Lord is not speaking through the ‘Angel’ but acting and moving in the pillar of fire and cloud. Also distinguishing this passage from others is the interchangeably of the titles, “Malach Elohim” and “Adonai” (‘Yahweh’). Now the critic must make a decision on how they think this section arose because they would never consider it a singular unit in its “original” form. Here are some questions for the critics to consider:

What reason would a Post-Deuteronomist have to insert “Malach” in front of Elohim if they were more inclined to ‘Yahwism’? Why not also simply change “Elohim” to ‘Yahweh’ along with the addition of ‘Malach’?

Why would not the Post-Deuteronomist simply insert a ‘Malach’ in front of “Lord” in Exodus 14:24? How could they simply miss the Name of the Lord thereby creating the assumed identity confusion?

These two questions would also apply to Judges 6:20, 21 with the difference that ‘Malach Elohim’ and ‘Malach Adonai’ are used interchangeably. A third question arises in Judges 6:20, 21 which is:

Why are not ‘Malach Elohim’ and ‘Malach Adonai’ considered by the critics to be two different angles due to the titles?

Daniel doesn’t discuss this but he accepts the ‘Angel of Elohim’ as another name for ‘Angel of Adonai’. It is an easy thing to gloss over but should be addressed.  The point is that Daniel refuses to interpret all these passages as the Lord speaking through the ‘Angel’ but then loosens his strict adherence to the word for word interpretations when it comes to comparing ‘Angel of Elohim’ and ‘Angel of Adonai’. They are considered both the same ‘Angel’, and they should be considered this way, but this is mostly a conservative view which Daniel accepts without considering its implications. By acknowledging that these two ‘Angels’ are the same he has demonstrated how the Names of God are interchangeable. In the end I am sure that he not interested in this as in his mind both ‘Angels’ are a made up mechanism used by the theoretical Post-Deuteronomist.

Judges 13:6, 9

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.

9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. NASB

In Judges 13:6, 9 the same conditions apply as the three previous examples. What Daniel reads as a mixture of identities can just as easily be read as two identities with the ‘Angel’ acting as the intermediary. There are no clear indications of personalities being mixed except for those who would read this into the text. Yes, God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the ‘Angel’ goes to his wife again but none of the texts ever spell out the nature of the ‘Angel’ as indistinguishable from the Lord.

As a tangent, my own belief is that the ‘Angel’ is the Pre-Existent Word, and that the ‘Word of the Lord’ is His own person despite His oneness with the Lord. They are two persons yet one with each other. In no way does this belief require the texts regarding the ‘Angel’ to be interpreted as a mixture of personalities. On the contrary the texts make more sense when we interpret the personality of the ‘Angel’ as separated from God as His Messenger.

Daniel states that the title, ‘Malach Elohim’ only appears in those texts which mix up the identity of God with that of the ‘Angel’. This conclusion always excludes the interpretation in which the ‘Angel’ is the Lord’s vessel of communication or mediator of salvation. The critics seem more satisfied with viewpoints which do not make sense, but this is due to their own refusal to allow alternative interpretations of the texts within context.

Daniel states, “As with other stories, Gideon’s angel speaks as God in the first person with no messenger formula to indicate it is a mediated message.” The messenger formula which Daniel is referring to are the titles, ‘Malach Adonai’ or ‘Malach Elohim’. Daniel seems unwilling to entertain the idea of a Messenger which speaks in the first person on behalf of God. Is not this a plausible understanding of the texts? Isn’t it possible that the ‘Angel’ is the Lord’s vessel while retaining His own distinct personality? Perhaps this is why the ‘Angel’ is given the special title of ‘Malach Adonai’? Maybe it is through Him the Lord communicates all His messages? If we allow the context to influence the surrounding verses which do not contain the “formula” then we could deduce that not only does the Messenger of ‘Yahweh’ speak in the first person but also acts as a representation of the Lord to mankind by mediating His Glorious Presence.

Next Daniel comments on Judges 6:22:

Again we have the allusion to Exod 33:20, but here Gideon laments, “Help me, O Yahweh God, for I have seen the angel of Yahweh face to face!” Exod 33:20 does not place a restriction on seeing the angel of Yahweh, however, it explicitly states that no human can see God himself (and specifically his face, given the context).

Why is Daniel so intrigued by Gideon’s response? Apparently Gideon was wrong to be afraid of seeing the ‘Malach Adonai’ face to face because clearly Exodus 33:20 does not state that seeing the ‘Angel’ would be fatal. Despite what Exodus 33:20 states, Gideon’s response seems normal for anyone who has encountered a Being Who projects a degree of the Divine Glory and speaks as the Lord’s mouthpiece.

For the critic, Gideon is encountering the Lord in bodily form yet not as the ‘Angel’ but as Himself, and this is the reason they believe Gideon is struck with fear because he thinks he has seen God. This is problematic in that the concept of ‘not seeing God’ clearly is part of the underlying message of Gideon’s story. Gideon did not recognize the Lord when he first saw Him, but why? Certainly it is because the Lord is appearing to Gideon in the less glorious form of a mere man, so what is the difference if He appears as an angel in the form of a man or as a just a man? The texts can be understood in this way when we exclude the word “angel” from the story and so the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic editor wouldn’t have needed any ‘angel’ to make this point if the Lord appeared not as His Glorious Presence but as a simple man.

The issue continues to be presented by Daniel as the “original” stories portraying the Lord Himself appearing rather than the ‘Angel’ and including an allusion to Exodus 33:20, but with the story of Gideon we also have his non-recognition of the Lord. This is the hard part for the critics because Gideon’s non-recognition of the Lord basically gives the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor an explanation that the Lord did not appear in His most Glorious form and so what need is there to insert an ‘Angel’ into the story at all! Yet the story of Gideon does contain the ‘Angel’ so we could consider it original to the text based on this line of reasoning.

The problem continues to be compounded when we realize that a reconstructed version of the story of Gideon not only allows the Lord to appear as a man but that this understanding essentially substitutes for the Lord appearing as the ‘Angel’! It could be regarded as a matter of semantics in which the reconstructed narrative arrives at similar conclusions which the unaltered story does! In one case Gideon is afraid to have seen the ‘face of God’ but we understand by his initial non-recognition that the Lord appeared in a less glorious form, so this why Gideon does not die. In the other case Gideon is afraid to have seen the ‘face of the Angel of the Lord’ but we can deduce that Gideon is struck with the awesome presence of God’s Messenger and supposes that he could die if the Lord Himself speaks through this Angel.

In both cases there remains a glaring interpretive possibility. This is that the Lord appears in different forms! Wasn’t this the whole point of the hypothetical theology of the theoretical Post-Deuteronomic school? Is not this the whole reason which Daniel claims the ‘Angel’ was invented! Daniel states that an angel was needed to make the “original” stories fit with Exodus 33:20, but clearly as I have stated previously that even if the ‘Angel’ did not exist in the Biblical texts we still can come to the conclusion that the Lord appears in less Glorious forms and thereby align it with Exodus 33:20! In effect I believe I have demonstrated how the reconstructed story of Gideon can also be aligned with Exodus 33:20 despite Daniel’s insistence that the ‘Angel’ was needed to accomplish this!

Daniel concludes this section on Gideon by stating:

Gideon’s lament is completely unique, and the story fits perfectly with the other reconstructed narratives if we simply remove each instance of “angel.”

In other words Daniel is stating if we suppose that the texts are not original in context and the result of various theoretical schools then we can assume that there is conflict with the various hypothetical theologies and furthermore that in order to reinterpret these texts a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor inserted the word “Malach” in key texts to remove the theoretical conflict of hypothetical earlier theology (catching my breath). Well, I disagree, and I do not think that Daniel demonstrated the hypothetical need for an “angel” in order to align Gideon’s story with Exodus 33:20, but you can judge for yourself.

This concludes part five of this eight part series. As always, Keep Ceeking Truth and I look forward to the next post. Peace be with you all!

Presuming Preemption

This is part four of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

In this post Daniel’s statements on the story of Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3) will be examined. Daniel starts with,

The angel is only mentioned in v. 2, and afterward God himself is the interlocutor.

There is a trend with some people to give less significance to words which appear less frequently in scripture than others. In this case the Documentarian view is focused on the one occurrence of the word, “Malach”(messenger), as if the mathematical formula of ‘less is less true’ and ‘more is more true’ is the code by which he will discern the “real” text.

Daniel has also convinced himself at this point that the ‘Angel’ is not speaking on behalf of God. It appears he has wholly excluded the possibility that the reason the ‘Messenger’ is called the ‘Messenger of the Lord’ is because He speaks a message on behalf of the Lord. Daniel has identified the words as spoken directly by the Lord based on the phrases such as, “…God called to him out of the bush…” but it is entirely possible to interpret phrases such as these as God calling out to Moses through the Messenger. This is the whole point of the Lord’s Messenger. The Angel serves as a mediator between God and man in order that the Lord’s Presence does not overcome man.

Daniel gives the following reasons for determining that only God is the interlocutor:

  1. In v. 6 God even states, ‘I am the God of your father . . .'”
  2. Moses even lowers his gaze because he is afraid to look upon God.”
  3. “…v. 2′s statement “and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush” does not fit the narrative. It preempts Moses’ noticing the bush (which follows “and he looked, and behold!”) and his moving close enough to it for the entity to speak out of it…”

Before I answer the first reason I need to point out how easily Daniel excludes verse 2 along with other Scriptures in the Bible.  This is because he is a Biblical Minimalist. He is not really interested in all of the texts but only those which support the Documentarian worldview. At the same time he excludes texts he also vehemently defends certain narrow interpretations of others. The problem with this approach is that the Documentarian, by trying to arrive at one correct interpretation, does not consider any other interpretations.

The first reason given to exclude verse 2 is verse 6 where God states, “I am the God of your father…”. Daniel has essentially refused to reconcile these two verses by simply acknowledging that the Messenger speaks on behalf of God, and so only the strict narrow interpretation of verse 6 is considered. He has prematurely dismissed verse 2 in his consideration of verse 6, and so his interpretation of verse 6 is out of context. He is basically stating that exhibit A is a fabrication because exhibit B does not seem to line up with exhibit A but this is only if we pretend that exhibit A does not influence how we understand exhibit B. Daniel is attempting to prove away the existence of the ‘Angel’ but all he has really stated is that verse 6 does not fit into one narrow interpretation of verse 2.

The second reason he gives is that Moses lowers his gaze because he was afraid to look at God. It continues to intrigue me how devoted some Documentarians are to certain interpretations while they ignore all others. Clearly Moses was afraid to look upon God but this still does not mean that it was not the Angel which Moses was afraid of. If the Lord was using the Angel as His mouthpiece and likeness then a portion of the Lord’s Presence is manifested and Moses most certainly would have been afraid. Moses is likely afraid of the Lord no matter what form He assumes. Whether the Lord appears in a cloud or the Angel of the Lord appears in the fire. It is also entirely possible that Moses understands later after the appearance that this was the Angel of the Lord, but these interpretations are not allowed by Daniel because they include verse 2 in their consideration.

At this point I should reiterate that the existence of the ‘Angel’ as well as the idea of the ‘Angel’ is not dependent on the Hebrew word, “Malach”. It is entirely possible that even if the word never existed in Scripture that religious thinkers and men of faith would have come to understand that the Lord uses mediation and a mediator to communicate with mankind. In this case even if verse 2 did not exist in Exodus chapter 3, the entire section could be interpreted as Moses encountering God through an intermediary, but Daniel has chosen to take a hard-line on this and is suggesting that without verse 2 there is only one correct interpretation.

In his final reason for dismissing verse 2 Daniel concludes that the verse preempts the chapter. The basic definition of “preempt” is to appropriate, seize, or take for oneself before others. In other words verse 2 messes up the “correct” interpretation. Stated another way he is saying that verse 2 affects the interpretation of the chapter. Well, this seems obvious because that is what words do. They give us context and key us in on overall meaning. In this case he has only given the reason that it does not fit into the Documentarian interpretation of chapter 3, therefore it does not belong.

He continues by stating in so many words that it makes no sense because Moses saw the bush first and not the ‘Angel’ therefore it cannot be correct. If I had a nickel every time a critic said the Bible didn’t make sense I’d be a rich man. Daniel notes that the phrase, “…and he looked and behold!” does not fit with the first part of verse 2 because first Moses apparently sees the Angel and then ‘behold!‘, he sees the burning bush. Notice how tightly Daniel holds onto his interpretation that Moses saw the Angel prior to seeing the burning bush. No other understanding of verse 2 is considered! Again we are to believe that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor made a glaring mistake and left a mess of jumbled non-sense. I brought this point up previously but it needs to be revisited again.

Apparently the hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic school was such an inept collection of scribes that they could not edit their theology into one coherent sentence!  Yet despite the supposed poor sentence structure, over many centuries for all to see, only now the Biblical critics have discovered this alleged mistake.

The problems are very likely not the Hebrew but how verse 2 is translated and/or interpreted. These problems can occur when a poor or a difficult translation into English is interpreted a certain way based on the most common grammar rules of English without consideration of the textual context. The majority of verses in the Bible which don’t seem to make sense can be attributed to either improper or incomplete translation or interpretation, and I believe this is the case with verse 2.

An alternate interpretation of verse 2 could be that it is an introduction to the event before it transpires.  This would be similar to the Creation accounts given in Genesis which incidentally most critics also incorrectly interpret as two creation accounts. The  New International Version of the Bible translates Ex. 3:2 with this interpretation in mind:

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.”  NIV

In this translation the first part of the verse serves as a type of explanation of the story to follow.

There is another very likely interpretation of verse 2 and that is in regard to the nature of the appearance of the Messenger of the Lord. The assumption by the critics is that the Messenger appeared in bodily form in the flames but the Hebrew text does not say this. In fact, based on the context of the story, it is clear that Moses does not see anything other than a burning bush which he turns to go investigate.

Daniel is tied to the words, “and the angel of Yahweh appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush“, and he says in so many words that the Angel appeared to Moses first but the narrative conflicts by showing that Moses saw the fire first. I would suggest that it is possible that the correct interpretation is that the ‘Malach Adonai’ is not appearing in the form of an ‘angel’ but the Messenger of the Lord is appearing in a non corporeal form in the flames of the fire, and this is why Moses only sees the burning bush from a distance. This interpretation seems to line up well with the other places in Exodus where the ‘Angel’ appears as a Cloud by day and a Fire by night (Ex. 14:19). Consider also a later understanding in Psalm 104:4:

“Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:” KJV

It would seem from this understanding that angels or in this case the ‘Angel’ can appear as a spirit (wind) or a flaming fire, so it could be very likely that the ‘Angel’ in the fire of the burning bush not only appears in the fire but appears within the fire as the fire. This would certainly explain why Moses saw the fire first and seems to be a very plausible interpretation.

Daniel concludes this section by stating:

The most likely reason is that the statement is a late interpolation meant to contextualize the comments that followed. Without the statement, it is God himself speaking to Moses.

He has essentially dismissed Exodus 3:2 in this sweeping statement which assumes only one narrow interpretation of the text. Above I have offered a few plausible interpretations which reconcile verse 2. If one is to find  the Documentarian view more to their liking then they should do the responsible thing and offer reasons why the interpretations I have presented are not just as likely. If as I predict no one can fully disprove anything I have written in this post then what Daniel has presented as a likely interpolation suddenly seems not as likely.

This ends part 4 of this 8 part series.  I look forward to the next and as always Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

Part 1 – Critically Conflated

Part 2 – Interpretations of Interpolations

Part 3 – Saying and Seeing

Saying and Seeing

This is part three of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

The next area of focus is on the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. Daniel is focused on one particular part of the passage. It is where the LORD is reported as speaking to Abraham in Genesis 22:16. He states, “In v. 16 we have Yahweh speaking, but the phrase ‘says Yahweh’ appears. This does not necessarily indicate reported speech, though, and is unlikely to be original.”

There are three things to address from Daniel’s statement on his perception of this phrase:

  1. The phrase taken at face value is, “Yahweh speaking.”
  2. Daniel points out that the phrase, ‘says Yahweh’ can be understood as reported speech and he states in so many words that it could be the inverse, which is direct speech.
  3. Daniel concludes that the phrase is unlikely to be original whether or not it is reported speech or the LORD directly speaking.

Now in regard to the phrase, “…says Yahweh,” Daniel is not content to merely credit it as a Post-Deuteronomic addition but is driven to mention that it does not necessarily indicate “reported” speech. To state more simply, the Angel is not necessarily speaking on the LORD’s behalf (reporting the LORD’s words), and the phrase is Adonai Himself speaking. The issue which Daniel is trying to address does not seem clear. Could it be related to his possibly answering views of other critical conclusions which he does not agree with?  I could be wrong but without researching this particular passage on every Documentarian view, I would guess that at least one other critical scholar believes that the phrase, ‘says Yahweh’ is original to the text. Perhaps I am giving too much weight to Daniel’s choice of words which may have been used to convey simpler ideas, but I am persuaded to give Daniel more credit for thinking about these things in broader ways.

The basic idea which Daniel is promoting is that in all these ‘angel of the Lord’ stories it was originally only the LORD (Yahweh) as the participant and later on a Post-Deuteronomic editor added the Hebrew word “Malach” into the text thereby creating the ‘Malach Adonai‘ (Malach Yahweh)(Angel of the LORD). In the case of Gen. 22:16 Daniel seems also to be suggesting that the phrase, “says Yahweh” was also an addition by a Post-Deuteronomic editor and he further seems to state that the phrase was unfortunately vague and could be understood as either direct speech or reported speech. As Daniel does not state these things directly, I could be misinterpreting his own presentation, but he seems to indicate that the “correct” interpretation of the phrase, ‘says Yahweh’ could be that the LORD is actively speaking. One should keep in mind that another interpretation is possible. It is that the angel could be identified as a non-specific angel who is speaking on the LORD’s behalf and not a theophany. Daniel does not explore this perspective, but dismisses it.

In his second point he states in so many words that it doesn’t really matter if it is reported speech because the phrase is likely not original. So it would seem that Daniel is favoring an “original” theoretical Elohistic authorship which was later modified by a hypothetical Yahwist and then changed by an unsubstantiated Post-Deuteronomist. Well, I could be mistaken in this assessment but one thing is clear which is that Daniel understands that in order for the Interpolation theory to be more likely,  he needs to address the phrase “says Yahweh”.

In his radical critical approach there are certain things that don’t quite fit into a clean logic of Documentarian theories. Why would a Post-Deuteronomic editor either add or allow a verse which reads, “says Yahweh” in Gen 22:16? Daniel seems to suggest that the hypothetical editor knew they could use vague words in order for the text to match their theology.

What evidence is given that the phrase “says Yahweh” in Gen. 22:16 is likely not original? He states,  “It (the phrase) appears nowhere else in Genesis and it never appears anywhere else associated with any angel of Yahweh.” Again, it must be noted that one must first be persuaded that the Biblical texts should be interpreted by diachronic analysis in order to speculate as to why certain phrases appear in some places but not in others.

Daniel’s point seems focused on the Hebrew word pair “Naum Adonai” which in Gen. 22:16 is translated, “says Yahweh”.  The word “Naum” is more frequently translated as “declared” in most of the Scriptures such as, “declares the LORD”.  It is used mostly by the prophets. His point being that this is the only passage in which this word pair is used with the appearance of the ‘Angel’ and so it must certainly be an insertion at a later date. Well, I suppose anything is possible but again, it is all still speculation.

If we do not limit ourselves to the word pair “Naum Adonai” then there are examples to be found which also convey the same basic understanding as “says Yahweh” in connection with the ‘Angel’. For example, Gen. 16:13. This verse in context is the story of the ‘Angel’ appearing to Hagar.  It reads:

“So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’” ESV

The Hebrew in the first passage transliterated reads, “VaTi-keRah Shem Adonai HaDoh-bear ELeiYah Atah”.  The verb used to convey how the LORD spoke in this verse is “Dabar” which has been conjugated to “Dohbear” and preceded by “Ha”.  The words, “Shem Adonai” are translated,  “the Name of the LORD which is followed by “HaDoh-bear” which is “who spoke”.  I should point out again for the beginner student of scripture study that the Name of the LORD is the sacred four letters in Hebrew which most scholars refer to as ‘Yahweh’.  In this case I have used, “Adonai”. In plain English it reads, “The Name of ‘Yahweh’ spoke”. This is not much different from, “says Yahweh”. The exception is that instead of the Hebrew word pair, “Naum Adonai” the verb “Dabar” is used. By not limiting ourselves to counting how many times a word pair occurs we can be open to other similar verses.

The speculation is entirely dependent upon considering the phrase,  “Naum Adonai” as late hypothetical Deuteronomic language,  but this seems to be based on the number of times it occurs in each book. This is problematic as one cannot be certain if this phrase originated in Genesis earlier and then later became more frequently used in other scriptures. If this was a “Deuteronomic phrase” one could also speculate why this phrase is not used more in the book of Genesis if indeed the Book is filled with Deuteronomic theology?

Moving on to Gen. 22:14 Daniel states:

In v. 14, the explanation of the name of the mountain could be “On the mountain of Yahweh it shall be provided,” or “On the mountain of Yahweh he will be seen.” In both these stories the notion of seeing God appears to have been obscured to hide God’s own presence.

His reference to both stories is in regard to the Angel appearing to Hagar and the story of Abraham offering up his only son. Daniel states that the notion of seeing God appears to have been obscured.  I suppose one could draw this conclusion only if they first are convinced that there is a notion to be obscured in the first place. The verses in question could be translated more than one way but this does not mean that the original Hebrew writer was trying to cover something up. It simply can be the case that they are difficult to translate due to the lack of understanding we have with regard to the use of certain Hebraic context which has been lost through the sands of time.

In Gen. 22 the context makes it clear that verse 14 is echoing verses 7 and 8 which reads:

  1. “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
  2. And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” KJV

The translation is difficult as it does not literally translate “God will provide”, but “God will see”. There is a possible idea of, “God will see-to-it”. Incidentally the literal translation can line up with the Christian theology of the LORD seeing Jesus as the sacrifice because one way of translating verse 8 literally is, “…God will see him a lamb…” which is what John the Baptist so simply stated in, “Behold the Lamb of God…”. The point being is that the focus of the ‘seeing’ or the ‘providing’ is the sacrifice.

Daniel’s statement that something is being obscured in verse 14 might just be a misunderstanding on his part because the Hebrew is there for all to examine and come to their own conclusions on how to translate it. While he is setting up two ideas against each other in the ‘providing’ and ‘seeing’ most who examine the Hebrew understand the ideas as two ways of explaining the same thing. In other words God will ‘see-to-it’. This is also a theme in Scripture in which the LORD sees the suffering of His people and rescues them (Ex. 3:7,8).

The basic understanding of Genesis 22 could be expressed in the following ways:

v.7  Where is the lamb (sacrifice)?

v.8  The Lord will see it (the lamb).

v.14  Abraham calls the place, “The LORD will see (it)”.

One could also translate it in another way:

v.7  Where is the lamb?

v.8  God will see him, a lamb.

v.14  Abraham calls the place, “The LORD will see (him)”.

So in both cases we can see that the object can be the lamb. If we go with the Documentarian translation preference it might convey something like the following:

v. 7  (No comment from Daniel) Possibly remains, “Where is the lamb?”

v. 8  (No comment from Daniel). Possibly remains, “God will provide”.

v.14  “On the mountain of Yahweh he will be seen.”

This point needs to made with regard to the possible “he” who is seen on the mountain.  Many would quickly make the assumption that this “he” is in reference to “Yahweh” while it can just as easily be referring to “it”, the sacrifice, but even if it should be “he” we wonder if Abraham is referring to the Angel of LORD or the LORD Himself, and in the end this still does not change the object of chapter 22 which is the sacrificial lamb. It was the sacrifice of Isaac which was stopped by the Angel and a substitute was provided to Abraham. It was in this context which Abraham named the place. In my opinion it is a stretch to consider verse 14 related to Daniel’s overall argument having to do with ‘seeing’ God especially when we consider the clear connection to verse 8 in the same chapter.

And even if we do translate verse 14 as “he” we are suddenly struck with the implication that “he” is the sacrifice in verse 8! And maybe this is one of those times when the Hebrew means both in two different verses? Perhaps Abraham was shielding Isaac from the fact that he would be the sacrifice in verse 8?  In this case the “he” is Isaac, but Abraham answered Isaac in such a way as it could mean “it”.  In the end, in verse 14, Abraham names the place after the phrase he used in verse 8 with Isaac except now it has taken on a new meaning of hope, which is summed up in a paraphrase such as, “God will see! (it)(everything)(your heart’s sacrifice and desire)..(and will rescue you by providing).”   It is an idea which encompasses all of what God is all about. He will see all things, provide for all things, and rescue us from all things. :-)

This ends part 3 of this 8 part series.  I look forward to my next post and remember to Keep Ceeking Truth!. :-)

Part 1 – Critically Conflated

Part 2 – Interpretations of Interpolations

This is part two of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

Daniel counted 36 occurrences of “Malach Adonai” and 6 of “Malach Elohim” from Genesis to Judges. His focus is on the word pairing “Angel of the LORD” and “Angel of God”. At first I was unsure of the reason he chose to not consider those occurrences after the book of Judges, but I believe his point was to only consider the earliest appearances of the ‘Malach’. Keep in mind that “early” for the critical scholar is the late 7th century BCE as this is the dating they assign to the theoretical Deuteronomic school which he is attributing to the creation of ‘Malach Adonai’ and ‘Malach Elohim’.

In researching this matter it was apparent that some critical scholars consider all of the historical books in their analysis. Most would consider Genesis through Kings as a type of Unateuch in which theoretical redactors peppered their theology throughout. Whatever Daniel’s reason for excluding the other instances of the ‘Malach’ in the rest of the historical books, I cannot discern, but in this blog series I will be considering some passages outside of Genesis through Judges so as to examine possible theoretical Post-Deuteronomic motives for hypothetical interpolations.

Daniel starts with the first occurrence of “Malach Adonai”  which is the appearance to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), but a distinction needs to be pointed out. This is the first occurrence of the word pair, “Malach Adonai”. This distinction needs to be emphasized so that we understand that the designation of ‘Malach Adonai’ is a separate matter in itself than interpreting the other appearances of the LORD as His Messenger or even as a theophany. This should be made clear. Daniel’s focus is solely on the word pairs “Malach Adonai” and “Malach Elohim”, and how he explains why there really is no angel of the LORD but only a likely Post-Deuteronomic interpolation. To understand Daniel’s focus we need to review some basics regarding the Documentary Hypothesis.

Most scholars who adhere to the ideas of the Documentary Hypothesis hold to the idea that the theoretical Deuteronomic school was the final school to solidly Israel’s idea of monotheism, and I suspect that this is how Daniel approaches the scriptures as well. The Sacred Name of God, LORD, (“Yahweh”) is a marker for critical scholars to identify scriptures which are possible Deuteronomic interpolations. This is because they see the book of Deuteronomy as reinterpreting the god who should be worshipped as Adonai (“Yahweh”), and why the word pair, “Malach Adonai”, is such a focus in this regard.

Now another point needs to be brought up pertaining  to polytheism and early Hebraic religion.  Daniel’s message is not particularly concerned with polytheism or even monotheism, but instead is built on an idea which states that no one can see the LORD and live. It is this idea which is attributed to the redactor, and to the redactor only, for the sake of reinterpreting the LORD’s appearance’s as not contrary to Deuteronomic theology. In other words a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic redactor is trying to cover up the theoretical theology of a hypothetical Yahwist or Elohist narrative.

Daniel states that just as Hagar asks how does she survive seeing God that, “This would echo sentiments found in our other angel of Yahweh pericopes (Gen 32:30…,” and he goes on to list others, but I need to point out that Genesis 32:30 is not an “Angel of Yahweh” passage! In fact nowhere in chapter 32 is the Hebrew word “Malach” found! Chapter 32 is where Jacob wrestles with a “man”, and yet Daniel has in a round about way admitted that this “man” is really an angel.

This may have been a mistake on Daniel’s part. In studying the different versions I noted that Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint interprets the English word “angel” in Gen. 32:32 in place of the Greek “he”. Clearly it is noted by brackets  or italics keying the reader in that it is not in the Greek. It would seem in this case that Daniel overlooked the fact that the Greek word for “angel” (aggelos) is not in the text of the Septuagint either!

I’m going to point out the obvious which is that Daniel’s claims are in regard to mainly Hebrew and Greek interpolations so when we see a word which has been interpreted into English we hold to what is in the original languages as a priority and not the opposite. This brings up an important point. Daniel is not just focused on the word “angel”, but also on those passages which state in so many words that someone saw the LORD and yet lived to tell the story.

Is Daniel’s argument consistent?  If a redactor interpolated an ‘angel’ to shield the people from seeing the LORD then why is there no “angel” in Genesis 32? If indeed it was only the LORD wrestling with Jacob in the “original” text then the radical critic must believe that the Name of the LORD was replaced with “man” before or during the theoretical Deuteronomic period, but if this was the case then why would a post-Dueteronomic redactor add a statement at the end about “seeing the LORD” yet living? If indeed the LORD’s Name was removed and replaced with “man” then what point would a Post-Deuteronomist have in stating that Jacob saw the LORD and lived if Jacob only saw a “man”? Furthermore the sacred Name is not even used in this passage, but instead the Name “Elohim”. In this instance regarding Genesis 32, one possible conclusion regarding the text about ‘Seeing God’ is that the text is not actually echoing anything but is original in context and not the handiwork of theoretical Post-Deuteronomic redactors.

The number of occurrences of the ‘Malach’ is quite important to Daniel as he counted 36 of ‘Malach Adonai’ from Genesis through Judges and makes a point to go over those passages which contain the word pair “Malach Adonai”, and ignores any of the other passages which are missing this “formula”. When it comes to identifying ‘Angel of the Lord’ passages however, Daniel breaks this “formula” and lists Gen. 32 as included in his examination.

The claims of interpolations seem to be invalidated in this particular case. If there is no word for ‘angel’ in Genesis 32 then it is not an “Angel of the LORD” passage in the definition which Daniel started with. In fact Genesis 32 is not included in Daniel’s reckoning of 36 occurrences from Genesis through Judges of “Malach Adonai” because the Hebrew word “Malach” does not occur in chapter 32 nor does the Greek word “Aggelos”, and yet he has identified Genesis 32 as an “Angel of the LORD” passage!

Consider the following in Genesis 32:22-32 where Jacob struggles with a “man”:  In this story there are some key points which the reader should ponder:

  1. There is no use of the LORD’s sacred Name.
  2. There is no use of the Hebrew or Greek word for messenger/angel.
  3. There is a reference to ‘seeing God’ ‘face to face’, but the Name “Elohim” is used and not “Adonai”.

Explained in another way, why do passages such as this exist at all if indeed there was such a thing as a Post-Deuteronomist? Well I can only try to surmise from a critical viewpoint to state that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomic editor really botched this one up. If indeed the Post-Deuteronomist represented the latest of redactors then they should have had all the texts at their disposal in order to “correct” these “problems”, but instead we are told to believe that we can see all the “mistakes” which they left behind.

My logic leads me to believe that the radical critics really do not hold the redactors in a very high regard. I could be wrong, but to me it seems that the Post-Deuteronomists are seen to have attempted to cover up perceived problematic passages but have failed miserably due to the passages which should have an interpolated ‘angel’.

If I believed in a Post-Deuteronomic school I certainly could not hold them in such a low esteem. I would think that if these were Hebrew scribes that their standards of textual analysis would be exceptional. Would they not study the Torah day and night and meditate on every word and phrase? If their idea of the LORD and centralization of worship was so clear then why do we find passages which are contrary to those ideas? If these politically motivated redactors really existed then why were they so careless so as to leave a trail of scriptures which contradict their main aims?

Perhaps the radical critic who believes in a Post-Deuteronomic school doesn’t realize the low standard they have assigned to this school? It sounds like the current state of high school education which is flailing in America. In other words this Deuteronomic school is so substandard that it cannot teach its students basic reading skills.

In speaking on the Hagar narrative Daniel is proposing that there never was a Messenger to begin with, so the argument is no longer about the interpretation of the ‘angel’ as a specific Angel of the Lord or a nonspecific angel. Instead the implied situation is that the confusion of the identity of the ‘angel’ is due to theoretical interpolations of the word “Malach”. It seems like an argument in which the Post-Deuteronomist is shown trying to support a specific type of strict monotheism, but it falls apart. This is because even without the mention of a Messenger in other passages, the texts are still interpreted within a framework of what the radical critics would call ‘Deuteronomic monotheism’. In those texts missing an ‘angel’ various religious communities interpret the interlocutor as either the LORD or an angel of the LORD. This is the case with the ‘Jacob wrestling a man’ passage which is later explained by the prophet Hosea in chapter 12 verse 4:

“Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed; He wept and sought His favor. He found Him at Bethel And there He spoke with us,…”

Hosea has revealed a Hebraic understanding of an earlier passage which makes no literal mention of a “Malach”, but it is clear that the “man” in Genesis 32 is understood to be ‘the angel’. One possible conclusion is that there was no need to identify the “man” because the Hebrews understood that this was either an angel or a theophany.

Of course the critical scholar could conveniently attribute this verse in Hosea to Post-Deuteronomic authorship, but in this case it really doesn’t matter who the verse is attributed to (although I would still hold to the idea that the verse is original in context), because it is proof to the fact that the word “Malach” did not need to exist in Genesis chapter 32 in order for it to be understood as a passage about an angel. I believe this is where the Interpolation Theory loses it’s wind. It seems to be focused on the Deuteronomic desire to cover up theoretical passages in which the LORD is appearing as Himself, but if the passage can be interpreted as an angelic appearance then what need is there to interpolate the angel?

In looking at the story of Hagar, consider the contextual interpretation of ‘angel’.  Since the Hebrew word for “angel” is also translated, “messenger”, we need to depend on the details of each story to determine if we are reading about a heavenly messenger or if the passages are in reference to an earthly messenger. The implication is that we could interpret an appearance of the LORD as a nonspecific angel or as a specific Angel which serves to give the LORD’s message. This is even when the passage does not contain the word pair “Malach Adonai”, might only contain the word “Malach”, or not contain the word “Malach” at all.

The point being is that the concept of the ‘Messenger’ is not dependent on the word pair “Malach Adonai”. Even if the word pair never existed in the Biblical texts the concept of it would have existed in commentary in one form or another (I state this only to make a point because I still believe that the texts more likely originally contained the title of ‘Malach Adonai’).

Now in getting back to the appearance to Hagar (Gen. 16:7), Daniel states that, “…This would echo sentiments found in our other angel of Yahweh pericopes (Gen 32:30…”  He is referencing a concept which he believes is proof that shows a pattern of Deuteronomic editorship which is this: Wherever you see in scripture places which describe the LORD appearing then you will also find words regarding seeing God yet living, and the ‘Malach Adonai’ as the mediator. It’s a theory which I believe is built on sinking sands as Daniel himself incorrectly identifies Gen 32:30 as one of those ‘Malach Adonai’ passages.

Daniel notes Hagar’s emphasis in verse 13 of the NRSV which states, “… for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” The critical scholar also thinks that this notion about ‘seeing God’ is an infused idea by a Deuteronomist, for it is thought that this idea is a later development. Daniel offers no support for the late development of this idea other than stating that it is most likely echoing Exodus 33:20, “…you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live,” which incidentally is also another verse the critics consider to be a Deuteronomic interpolation and is therefore dated by the critics to the hypothetical Deuteronomical period of the late 7th century B.C. or later. For more on the speculative dating of Deuteronomy and hence the Deuteronomic period I would refer the reader to the works of Gordon Wenham, but for the sake of this article it need only be pointed out that the late dating of Deuteronomy is still not substantiated in a full and complete manner by the Radical Biblical critics.

Daniel’s point seems to be that in Deuteronomic logic an angel can make an appearance but according to Exodus 33:20 the LORD’s appearance is fatal, so the word “Malach” was inserted to “fix” the “incorrect” concepts in the Torah. We know Daniel believes Exodus 33:20 is an interpolation because he wrote,

Exod 33:20, which states that no human will see God and live, is alluded to in each example.”

What evidence do we have to prove that a theoretical Post-Deuteronomist was alluding to a hypothetically interpolated theology? Couldn’t we just as easily assume that Exodus 33:22 is actually the writer of Exodus echoing these ideas from Genesis? Until I can find more convincing correlational evidence to support Deuteronomic allusions of Exodus 33:20, I will have to consider this point unsubstantiated.

And so Daniel states that the whole passage on Hagar makes more sense if we drop the word “Malach” so that as he states she is, “…speaking directly with Yahweh.” The critical line of thought assumes that an explanation is in order for what could appear to be a conflict of ideas. For how could Hagar see the LORD and live? Only the critic sees this as a problem because they have already built up ideas of a supposed  web of Deuteronomic influence. They are therefore confronted with problems which do not fit into their Biblical universe. The Angel of the Lord is one of those problems which Daniel is grappling with. When posed with the problems of identity confusion the critic sees “evidence” of story manipulation. Instead of considering that the Angel is either the LORD or a non-specific messenger, his answer is to do away with the angel altogether.

In regard to Exodus chapter 33 it becomes very clear that the LORD is not only referring to seeing Him, but in fact is responding to Moses inquiry after he asks the LORD in verse 18, “…Now show me your glory.” It seems an odd statement because Moses is assumed to be speaking face to face with the LORD as noted in verse 11, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend…” If Moses was speaking with the LORD face to face then would he not have seen His glory? Well, apparently not, hence Moses request, “…Now show me your glory.” What seems even more odd is the response which the LORD gives Moses in verse 19 which states that He would cause all His goodness to pass in front of Moses. It seems at this point that we could very easily interpret these verses as demonstrating that the LORD is fully able to present Himself in a less glorious form.

Finally we come to Exodus 33:20 which seems to be the center of Daniel’s presentation, but in light of the context of chapter 33 it suddenly sounds quite odd if simply taken out of context. The LORD states, “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live,” but in light of the preceding verses this statement can be understood as the face of the LORD’s full Glory, as stated in verse 19, “…all His goodness.” The implication is that Moses can speak face to face with the LORD (verse 11), but no one can stand before the face of the LORD when He shows His full glory (verses 18, 19, and 20). Now with the above very likely interpretation of Exodus 33:11-20, there is no need for the Interpolation of a ‘Malach’. Why? Because if the LORD is capable of appearing in less glorious forms such as a “man”, or a “fire”, or a “cloud” then there is no need to explain why people did not die at seeing Him in these less glorious forms.

It is very likely that Daniel is not convinced that Exodus chapter 33 should be read in a synchronic approach,  but in my estimation if a Deuteronomist actually infused their ideas into this chapter then they did the poorest of jobs. For instance why state that no one can see the LORD’s face in verse 20 when in verse 11 Moses speaks with the LORD face to face? If one accepts Exodus chapter 33 as it stands without placing upon it a theoretical diachronic viewpoint then the passage explains itself and does away with supposed “problems” in the other passages.

Regarding diachronic analysis of the Biblical texts, it is the method which Daniel uses in his approach to Scripture.  More simply put, viewing the stories as coming together over a span of time by multiple theoretical authors, rather than seeing them as distinct stories which represent themselves as being recorded in singular units. It is Daniel’s argument which states in so many words that holding a diachronic view of the texts is supported by the Interpolation Theory. Well, it would seem that this is what he is stating, but the Interpolation Theory is actually the result of diachronic analysis! By taking the diachronic viewpoint, Wellhausen, as well as others, laid the foundation to reinterpret the existence of the Biblical stories. This ultimately led to the theory of the Documentary Hypothesis which in turn spawned the Interpolation Theory.

The point is that one must first be persuaded by the hypothetical arguments of the Documentary Hypothesis or some form of it in order to adopt the belief that certain stories or ideas should be viewed with diachronic analysis to begin with. I do not intend to trail off into arguments against the Documentary Hypothesis. All that is necessary for the reader to understand is that these ideas are part of the Interpolation Theory. This is especially in regard to the theoretical Deuteronomic school as Daniel concludes in his article that the ‘angel’ is likely the interpolation of Post-Deuteronomic authorship.

Daniel concludes the section on Hagar by stating, “This particular story makes more sense with the word ‘angel’ removed from vv. 7, 9, 10, and 11, and with Hagar speaking directly with Yahweh.”  It certainly could make sense within a radically critical framework, but does that framework stand under the scrutiny of conservatism?

Does not the possibility that the LORD was actually appearing to Hagar in a less glorious form also remain a likely interpretation?  Does not the ‘Malach’ remain open for debate as to His specific or nonspecific nature?

The conservative is more interested in dealing with the text as it stands and does not see contrary ideas at play. If the LORD appeared to Hagar and she did not perish then explanations are in order, and there remain other very likely explanations besides the Interpolation Theory.

This ends part two of this eight part series.  I look forward to my next post. Peace be with all and Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

Critically Conflated

This is part one of an eight part blog response to a posting by Daniel O. McClellan entitled, “The Angel of Yahweh in Early Hebrew Bible Narrative,” which was dated June 16, 2011 on WordPress.

Daniel references two works which he uses to build his case. I certainly would not endeavor to respond to the referenced material but can only assume that he has presented the material from those books as he intended. I did my best to speculate why he shared certain things over others, and I clarified what I understood to be the most common critical claims on the ‘angel’. When I felt further explanation was needed from the critical viewpoint, I did my best to present those perspectives.

Daniel started by describing , “…two general approaches to explaining the angel…,”. The first and most prevalent view as he stated is, “…the angel, as a divine messenger, represents his patron so completely that he may be referred to and even described as the patron.” This is all he had to share regarding the first and most prevalent viewpoint.

It could be that Daniel simply intended to communicate that the first view does not take into account the possibility of interpolation of the word “angel”, but seems more likely to be a description of how the ‘angel’ is mistakenly identified as his patron. This viewpoint can be tied up in arguments about the non-specific identity of ‘an angel’ of the LORD versus ‘The Angel’, but since Daniel has forgone further explanation I will leave this and move to the next point.

The second view is, “…the word “angel” is simply an interpolation where it was originally Yahweh himself interacting with humanity.” In other words where the scriptures state, “Malach Adonai,” they supposedly originally referenced Adonai or Elohim alone. The Hebrew word for messenger or angel, “Malach”, is speculated to have been inserted in front of the four letter Name of the LORD, or as most scholars refer to the Name, “Yahweh.” As a side note, In this article my preference is to refer to the Sacred Name as, ‘LORD’ in all caps or ‘Adonai’ instead of “Yahweh”, as I consider “Yahweh” a technical name which I only use in describing the ideas of current critical scholarship.

In Daniel’s opening summary he explained how the person of the ‘angel’ is incorrectly identified in two general approaches. He referred to both views as, “…general approaches…where his (the angel’s) identity seems to be conflated or confused…” In other words there are two ways to misidentify the ‘angel’, and both ways seem to be the result of conflation and/or confusion. This is how I understand what Daniel is stating but I hesitate to conclude that this is what he was trying to convey. In the end it matters less about his view on the first and most prevalent view of the ‘angel’ as he spends the remainder of his article presenting the second view. As he stated, “In this post I’d like to explain why I find the latter view to be far more convincing.” That is to say he finds the view of the interpolated ‘angel’ more likely. He is not concerned with going into explanations about the most prevalent view or any other viewpoint. His focus is only on two ways to misidentify and he does not consider any other views outside of this scope.

He has identified two general approaches but both of them are in regard to conflating or confusing the identity of the ‘angel’. His opening summary does not seem to adequately separate the ‘two approaches’. It seems more likely that Daniel has divided the ‘two approaches’ simply for the sake of stating that some people believe the texts and some people do not. Those who hold the first and most prevalent view are associated from the start with being confused about the identity of the ‘angel’. He carefully inserts the keywords, “…seems to…” in regard to conflating or confusing. In this way he acknowledges that it is only a possibility, but his point seems to be about associating both views with confusion, and this is even only if it seems to be the case.

Now in regard to the concept of conflation. It is a word which negatively portrays the condition of the Biblical manuscripts, for if the texts are more reliable than speculated by some, then what is being called conflation could actually just be conservatively interpreting the texts. It is one thing to state that the identity of the ‘angel’ seems to be conflated and it is another to state that it is conflated. I applaud Daniel McClellan for correctly stating that it seems to be conflated because too many have begun to assume that this matter is settled.

This view which Daniel is more inclined to hold has simply come to be known as ‘The Interpolation Theory’ with regard to the Angel of the LORD. Now, I am not the first one to claim this as a theory, but it has been addressed as such in books on the topic for some time. Something else needs to be brought up with regard to the Interpolation Theory which is tied up in ideas of the Documentary Hypothesis. This is in regard to seeing the names of God as a means of dividing up stories of the Biblical Texts into schools which call God either by the name Elohim or Yahweh. Daniel stated, “…it was originally Yahweh himself interacting with humanity.” This is the hint which keys in the reader that the arguments of the Documentary Hypotheses are in play. How are these arguments part of the mix? Well the most simple explanation would be that there is a dependence on the ideas of a theoretical Yahwist or Elohist narrative which is being rewritten by a hypothetical Post-Deuteronomic redactor.

In Daniel’s concluding paragraph he makes it clear that the reasons for the most prevalent view are due to possible interpolations of the word ‘angel’. He has essentially used the second view as an explanation of why the first view might be incorrect. Of course if this was his intent then he has only truly presented us with one viewpoint on the matter which simply stated is only a possibility of an explanation of why another viewpoint is probably incorrect.

If the Interpolation Theory is to be considered more likely true, it should be shown in a number of ways with regard to multiple possibilities. This is so that the theory can be shown as plausible by taking into account other factors which also might be true as well. Most of these of factors have to do with questioning whether other likely possibilities exist, which if true, would invalidate the Interpolation Theory. It only needs to be shown that other possibilities are just as likely to be the case in order to point out that the Interpolation Theory still remains in the realm of a claim which is not well substantiated. It is my aim in the next seven blogs to show all of the other very likely possibilities and thus show that the Interpolation Theory falls drastically short of being a likely possibility in explaining the Angel of the Lord.

I look forward to writing part two of this series and wish you all the best. Peace be with you and Keep Ceeking Truth. :-)

This is the eighth article in a series which questions the assumptions of Markan Priority. In this article I will be covering the seventh point which is brought up in Mark Goodacre’s article on Synoptic Fatigue. The article appeared originally in, New Testament Studies 44 (1998), pp. 45-58, entitled, “Fatigue in the Synoptics.”

Mark Goodacre calls this the “Best Example” of Editorial Fatigue because Luke resets the scene in the city of Bethsaida and causes all sorts of problems. Well I’m sure you realize I disagree with his assessment, but I would also point out he only proceeds to discuss one problem which this passage in Luke seems to cause. I only draw attention to this because he states in his article, “…this causes all sorts of problems.” If there are further problems to discuss he doesn’t address them. Perhaps I am being too critical of Mark Goodacre’s choice of words, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk up these words, “all sorts of problems,” to a manner of speech which is possibly only in reference to the one supposed contradiction he proceeds to point out.

In my assessment of the Lukan account I wonder how Mark Goodacre arrived at his conclusion to begin with. He seems to be locked into a literal reading and never considers interpreting the passage by the overall context. As I studied the matter more fully I began to realize that his choice of this passage may have been motivated by another reason. It is in regard to the variant readings which exist in all of the available surviving manuscripts of the New Testament. Suffice it to say that it doesn’t matter in the end. This is because apart from the variant readings there are a couple of other interpretations we can accept as reasonable within the current consensus reading of Luke 9:10.

  • The first interpretation concerns the words, “withdrew” and “by Himself.” in verse 10.
    • It seems clear from Luke’s context that these words, “withdrew,” and “by himself” are in association with Jesus and his disciples trying to find solace from the crowds. Verse 11 begins with, “But the crowds were aware of this,” the basic understanding conveyed is that Jesus was trying to avoid the crowds, but they became aware of their location. The words, “by himself,” could be entirely removed from the sentence if we are assuming that they are in the city, for why else should Luke state, “by himself?” Perhaps Luke could have meant to state that He was “by Himself” in the city? We could also assume that “by Himself” was another way of saying that Jesus and his disciples withdrew away to a solitary place. Once again I am struck by the fact that this interpretation is never considered in order to resolve a supposed “apparent” contradiction.
    • The second point to bring up is in regard to a little word which Mark Goodacre missed. The word is, “to.” In verse 10 Luke states the disciples and Jesus withdrew by himself, “to the city…”
      • I’ll start with the most basic understanding which is that they withdrew to the city and presumably arrived at the city. The next possibility is that they withdrew to the city but had not yet arrived at the city. If you think I am stretching the possibilities in order to make a “difficult” reading make sense then I would point to the above words which Luke also used in verse 10, “withdrew,” and “by Himself,” and add to this the obvious declaration in verse 12 that they are in a desolate place.

        If you are still not convinced that this is reasonable I would point to the various meanings of the Greek word for, “to” (εἰς Strongs Greek 1519). Not only does it mean, “to,” but can also mean, “unto,” or “towards.” Incidentally, the word, “to” can be understood in the same way as “towards.” It doesn’t even need to be translated as, “towards,” in order to interpret it as such. In other words, the passage can be seen in the same sense as not coming to fruition. Jesus and his disciples withdrew to the city but Luke never directly stated that they arrived at the city. If one would take the words of Luke 9:10 out of context, then it is very easy to see how one would interpret them as arriving at the city of Bethsaida, but if you read it in context it can also be interpreted as nearby Bethsaida in a solitary place.

Context and perspective is everything. It would seem that the perspective regarding Luke 9:10 has been examined so closely by so many critics it has lost its context. I noticed this in both my articles on the healing of the paralytic and Jesus’ Mother and Brothers. A simple examination of the texts in context can account for “contradictions.” It is only when one assumes certain speculations regarding Markan Priority that ideas of Editorial fatigue begin to develop. Add to this the variant readings for Luke 9:10 and scholars began to debate which one was correct. Were the readings which clearly state that they were in a desolate place or the ones which leave out the words, “desolate place.” The perspective was suddenly shifted to one way or the other, but very few scholars I suppose considered that both readings could be understood in the same way.

Mark Goodacre also stated specifically that, “Luke…resets the scene in ‘a city…called Bethsaida’,” when in fact that is not the exact wording of the current Greek consensus reading. In fact the current consensus reading as I have demonstrated can be interpreted as, “near Bethsaida,” or, “in the wilderness of Bethsaida,” but what is quite clear is that Luke never stated they arrived at the city of Bethsaida. Mark Goodacre then proceeded to assume that Luke in staying true to Mark’s Gospel brings the setting back to a desolate place and hence exposes his editorial fatigue. This argument falls apart if we interpret Luke’s statement regarding Bethsaida by context instead of literally.

We should also consider that if Luke was so busy “copying” either Matthew or Mark’s account wouldn’t we wonder why does Luke “reset the scene” as Mark Goodacre suggests? And if indeed Luke did “reset the scene” to Bethsaida, then why only two verses later does he seemingly contradict that statement in verse 12? It seems like the worst case of storytelling and certainly a writer such as the physician Luke would have caught such a glaring “mistake” only two verses apart from its introduction. Doesn’t it seem just as plausable that Luke, who stated, “…it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you…,”(Lk 1:3), that Luke most likely interviewed an eyewitness who gave him the detail about the miracle occurring near Bethsaida?

Below I have listed five different translations of Luke 9:10, I could have listed more, but five are sufficient to show the variations.

  • And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. (KJV)
  • And the apostles, when they were returned, declared unto him what things they had done. And he took them, and withdrew apart to a city called Bethsaida. (ASV)
  • Upon their return, the apostles reported to Jesus all that they had done. And He took them [along with Him] and withdrew into privacy near a town called Bethsaida. (AMP)
  • On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. (ESV)
  • When the apostles returned, they described for Jesus what they had done. Taking them with him, Jesus withdrew privately to a city called Bethsaida. (CEB)

It should be clear from the above passages that there are two ways to translate the passage. One can either literally translate word for word or they can try to determine the message from the overall context of the passage. After all there are many words and phrases in languages which can mean many things and it is the job of the translater to paraphrase at times.

Since I feel I have adequately answered Mark Goodacre’s assumptions of Markan Priority over Matthew then there is no longer the surity of Mark over Matthew. Now because of this, it matters very little if Luke is assumed written after either Mark or Matthew because priority of Mark still cannot be established (See my previous blogs on this topic). Secondly, If we assume that Luke was suffering from editorial fatigue then we ignore the overall context of the passage and interpret the Greek words in the most literal sense thereby creating the “contradiction.” Only the critical scholars can “see” the “contradition” in Luke because they are already assuming Markan priority.

Below is a table of sources I compliled while studing Luke 9:10. If anyone has corrections or updates to add please let me know. As always, keep Ceeking Truth and Peace be with you and yours. :-).

Ms. Code Ms. Name Text Type Cent. Date (AD) Variant Translation
p75 Bodmer Papyrus Alexandrian Early 3rd ≈ 200 thru 250 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηδσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
‭א1 Codex Sinaiticus (First correction) Alexandrian 4th – 5th ≈ 350 thru 499 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
B Codex Vaticanus Alexandrian First half of 4th ≈ 300 thru 350 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
L Codex Regius Alexandrian 8th ≈ 700 thru 799 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
Ξ* Codex Zacynthius (first scribe) Alexandrian 6th ≈ 500 thru 599 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
33 Minuscule 33 (Codex Colbertinus 2844) Alexandrian 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
2542 Manuscript 2542 Caesarean (f1) partly and a few (pc) Byzantine 12th or 13th ≈ 1100 thru 1299 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
syrs Syriac Sinaiticus (Sinaitic Palimpsest) Western Late 4th ≈ 350 thru 399 ܠܬܪܥܐ ܕܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܕܡܬܩܪܝܐ ܒܝܬ ܨܝܕܐ to a city called Bethsaida
copsa Sahidic Coptic Manuscripts Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 eupoleis eSaumoute eros Je bhdsaida to a city called Bethsaida
copbo Bohairic Coptic Manuscripts Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 eoubaki eumouT eros Je bhqsaida to a city called Bethsaida
WH The Wescott and Hort Critical Greek Text Alexandrian 19th 1881 εἰς πόλιν καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a city called Bethsaida
D Codex Bezae (Greek) Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς κώμην λεγομένην Βηδσαϊδά to a town/village called Bethsaida
itd Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis (Old Latin) Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 vers un village dénommé Bedsaïda to a town/village called Bethsaida
א* Codex Sinaiticus (first scribe) Alexandrian 4th ≈ 325 thru 360 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a place desolate
‭א2 Codex Sinaiticus (Second correction) Alexandrian 7th ≈ 600 thru 699 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a place desolate
157 Minuscule 157 a bit Alexandrian 12th c. 1125 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a place desolate
1241 Minuscule 1241 Alexandrian 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 ἔρημον τόπον desolate place
syrc Syriac Curetonian Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 ܘܐܙܠ ܠܐܬܪܐ ܚܘܪܒܐ܂ to a place desolate
copbo(mss) Bohairic Coptic Manuscripts (Some) Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 Bohairic Text to a place desolate
Θ Codex Koridethianus possibly Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς κώμην καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά εἰς τόπον ἔρημον to a town called Bethsaida to a place desolate
1342 Miniscule 1342 Alexandrian 13th / 14th ≈ 1200 thru 1399 τόπον καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά τόπον place called Bethsaida place
itr1 Codex Usserianus Primus Western 6th / early 7th ≈ 550 thru 650 Latin Text to a town called Bethsaida to a place desolate
Ψ Codex Athous Lavrensis Byzantine 8th / 9th ≈ 750 thru 899 εἰς τόπον καλουμένην Βηθσαϊδά to a place called Bethsaida
ita Codex Vercellensis Western 4th ≈ 300 thru 399 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itaur Stockholm Codex Aureus Western 7th ≈ 600 thru 699 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itb Codex Veronensis Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itc Codex Colbertinus Western 12th / 13th ≈ 1100 thru 1299 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
ite Codex Palatinus Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itf Codex Brixianus Western 6th ≈ 500 thru 599 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itff2 Codex Corbeiensis II Western 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itl Codex Rehdigeranus Western 8th ≈ 700 thru 799 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
itq Codex latinus Monacensis Western 6th / 7th ≈ 500 thru 699 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
vg Vulgate Western 4th ≈ 300 thru 399 Latin Text to a place called Bethsaida
copbo(mss) Bohairic Coptic Manuscripts (Some) Alexandrian 3rd / 4th ≈ 200 thru 399 Bohairic Text place desolate
A Codex Alexandrinus Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
565 Minuscule 565 Caesarean 9th
800 thru 899
εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
l76 Lectionary 76 Byzantine 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 Εἰς ἔρημον τόπον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a desolate place a city called Bethsaida
C Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus Alexandrian a bit Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
W Codex Washingtonianus Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
Δ Codex Sangallensis 48 Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
Ξc Codex Zacynthius (first scribe correction) Alexandrian 6th ≈ 500 thru 599 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
205 Minuscule 205 f1 15th ≈ 1400 thru 1499 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
700 Minuscule 700 Caesarean 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place a city called Bethsaida
28 Minuscule 28 Like Western 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
180 Minuscule 180 Byzantine 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
597 Minuscule 597 Byzantine 13th ≈ 1200 thru 1299 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
892 Minuscule 892 Alexandrian a bit Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1006 Manuscript 1006 Alexandrian 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1071 Manuscript 1071 Caesarean 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1243 Manuscript 1243 f1739 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1292 Manuscript 1292 f2138 13th ≈ 1200 thru 1299 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1424 Minuscule 1424 f1424 9th / 10th ≈ 800 thru 999 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1505 Minuscule 1505 f2138 7th ≈ 600 thru 699 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
Lect Ninth Century Byz Lectionaries? Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
syrp Syriac Peshitta Byzantine 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Syriac Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
syrh Syriac Harclean Byzantine 7th 616 Syriac Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
arm Armenian Version Caesarean 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Armenian Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
eth Ethiopic Version Alexandrian 11th ≈ 1000 thru 1099 Ethiopic Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
geo Georgian Version Caesarean 5th ≈ 400 thru 499 Georgian Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
slav Old Church Slavonic Byzantine 9th ≈ 800 thru 899 Slavonic Text to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
ς Robertus Stephanus – Novum Testamentum Byzantine 16th 1550 εἰς τόπον ἔρημον πόλεως καλουμένης Βηθσαϊδά or Βηθσαϊδάν to a place desolate a city called Bethsaida
1010 Manuscript 1010 Byzantine 12th ≈ 1100 thru 1199 omit omitted
579 Minuscule 579 Mixed Alexandrian / Byzantine 13th ≈ 1200 thru 1299 omit καὶ παραλαβὼν… Βηθσαϊδά omitted
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