Tuesday, June 16, 2009

External Evidence for Hebrew Matthew

"Now, Matthew compliled the sayings (logia) in the Hebrew language, and then each one interperated them as they could"

Papias c.125 AD, recorded by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16 (c.325)

"So, Matthew, with the Hebrews, in their own language, published a writing of a gospel, while Peter and Paul were in Rome evangellizing and founding the church."

Irenaeus c.185, recorded by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 5.8.2

"as learned by tradition about the four gospels ... that, first, written was Matthew ... who published it for the believers from Judaism, composed in Hebrew letters;"

Origen c.182-251, recorded by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.25.4

... and their's loads more These are just the earliest and perhaps the most interesting. Check out Prologi Monarchianorum, Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.24.6, Ephraem Syrus' Comentary on the Diatessaron (attesting that Matthew was translated from Hebrew to Greek), Epiphanius in Panarion haer. 5.3, and Hieronymus in De viris inlustribus II.

So, all the guys back in the day thought Matthew was written first, and in Hebrew (or perhaps Aramaic). All the guys today think Matthew was writen after Mark, and nobody says peep about a Hebrew version. What's it mean? More later...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Fellowship with the Animals? (aka: you can't fake Hebrew)

There is a woman at my church who loves Animals. She has facilities to take care of rescue animals, and she also takes care of people's pets when they go on vacation for a business. This is all well and good. Here's what isn't:

My folks were at her house once to pick up the dog when they came back from a vacation, and the woman gave them a little piece of paper. This piece of paper was a commentary on Genesis 1:28, where God tells man to "have dominion" over all the animals. The paper claimed that in Hebrew the word for "have dominion" was, I quote YORADE. Which, according to the paper meant "to go down among," and therefore is an imperative to have fellowship with the animals. When my parents told me this, I tried to parse "YORADE." I was having trouble... There were a couple of verb forms that came to mind, but that "E" on the end doesn't really fit the mold for a Hebrew verb. It was clear enough, however, that she (or whomever she got the information from) was thinking it was some form of the root yarad, which means 'to go down.' I looked up the word in BDB. There are no listed cases in which it means 'Have fellowship.' Hmmm...

Anyway, I turned to the text. What it really says (and I ask those who know Hebrew to forgive the limited transliteration options of this format) is ReDU. Though it looks pretty different, this could legitimately be an imperative plural form of YARAD. The letter "y" at the beginning of words has a tendency to disappear in some verb forms, so it's legit. However, the exact same spelling is also the imperative plural form of RADA’ because the letter ’ (yes, it's the letter aleph, just bare with me) disappears at the end of words some times. Now, RADA’ means "Have dominion," like in the sense that Babylon or Persia has dominion over the nations. Not necessarily a positive thing. It is also used of God having dominion over the earth sometimes, so it's not all bad.

So, do we translate "Go down among" or "Have Dominion?"
Let's look in verse 26. God says "let's make man in our own image and likeness, and he will (have dominion over/go down among) the fish and the birds and the beasts etc."

Here, in Hebrew we find YIRDU. Now the animal loving hippy lady is stuck. YIRDU is only a form of RADA’. God created man to "have dominion over" the animals, not to "go down among" them, much less "have fellowship with" them.

Now, I do believe that we should take care of the Earth and the things in it, and that includes animals. At the same time, I also believe Hebrew is a helluva language, and you can't make too much of it unless you've studied it for real (I'm not claiming to be a master myself, but I've spent enough sleepless hours on it to have some idea of what's going on). There is only one appropriate response to this situation:

n00b!!1! U KANT HAZ HBREW!! lulz...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was considing my position about Q this morning, and I was struck by the irony of my skepticism about it for the lack of direct evidence, given that I wholeheartedly accept the existance of God, even with a lack of direct physical evidence.

Of coures, there is the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, affirming my faith from within, and I believe that some of the healings I've witnessed are of divine origin, etc...

Then again, I suppose there is significantly more data than can be construed as evidence for God than there is data that can be construed as evidence for Q.

I'm not overly troubled by this, just a little irony there.

Monday, June 8, 2009

There is no Q

That's right, I said it.

In Gospel studies, it's usually assumed that Mark (Mk) was the first gospel to be written, and Matthew (Mt) and Luke (L) used it and another source called Q to compose their gospels. Q is supposed to be a sayings-only source. This source is said to have contained primarily the sayings shared by L and Mt not found in Mk. Now, I don't totally disagree with the logic underlying this notion. I do think Luke and Matthew shared a non-extent source, and I might get to that in another post if you all behave well.

The problem is, nobody has ever seen this source, and no church fathers ever talk about it. Church fathers do talk about the Gospels, and they talk about other Gospels that didn't make it into the Bible (Thomas, Peter, etc...), but none of them fits the bill for what 'Q' is supposed to be. This hasn't stopped scholars from assuring us that Q is the only logical explination for the shared material in Mt and L. They point to the "subsantial verbative agreement" in the sayings, claiming it is 'proof.'

Be that as is may, there is no evidence oustside of the two Gospels for Q. Some of the sayings in Thomas are in the shared Mt and L material, but not all of them, nor does it run the other way. All this really proves is that three differnt writers tell us Jesus said some of the same things using similar translations. Some surprise that is. The idea of Q is plausible, but its content could not fully be known, and it seems suspicious due to the silence about it in the Church fathers.

So what am I ranting about if Q is plausable?

I'm reading a book about Jesus at the moment. The writer, like many Jesus scholars, operates under the assumption that Mark and Q are early, and Luke and Matthew are late, and often present corruptions of these texts, so they are corrupters, and are pretty much only useful for Jesus research as far as they give us a window to Q.

So what is the answer? They 'reconstruct' Q, trying to weed out Matthean and Lukan 'corruptions.' That's right; They try to reconstruct a document for which there is no direct evidence, and is absent from the historical record.

Now, for those scholars who think the Gospel of Thomas is an early source, at least contemporary with the gospels of the Bible (whom I would direct to Craig Evans' recent article in Exploring the Origins of the Bible), they can have even more fun. They note the differences in the three (Mt, L, and Thomas) among the Q sayings, reconstruct Q, and then go a step father, actually attempting to discover the development and editorial work inside of Q itself. The book I'm reading (which I may quit) is written by the foremost expert on Q.


Show me one document from before the ninteenth century that provides direct evidence about it. There are none, so don't waist your time trying. I am open to the possibility that a document like Q may have existed. Sounds reasonable enough, though I think there are more compelling solutions. It might be true.

But please, let's stop the madness. Let's all sit down and admit that we have no idea what this document might have looked like, and even less inclination as to the editorial process that went into its composition. Personally, I'll take one document that exits over ten that don't.

Now, I do believe that their are non-extent sources for the gospels, and I will probably talk about one of them soon, a source that is mentioned in the historical record; that is, the original Hebrew version of Matthew.

New Blog for me

Hey there. This is my latest try at the blog scene. I have one degree in Bible now, and I'm fixin' to get another, so I'm under the delusion that I know something. I'm also presumptuous enoughto think that something I know is worth other people knowing about.

My goodness, I've nearly convinced myself to cease and desist. nearly.

So here is the blog