Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Does the New Testament contain misquotes?

I'm on a quest to own some beliefs that I was really born into coming from a good, Christisn home. A good friend recently challenged me that if I was not able to argue for and against a particular position than I didn't truly own it. I don't want to just parrot someone else's beliefs no matter how much I might respect them. So it might take me years to do this but I will eventually own some core beliefs enough to be challenged by those of the opposite persuasion.

In my studies today I learned some things that I thought were too awesome not to share on my blog. I've read passages in the NT that were quotes from the OT. The only problem is that a good amountbifvthem were not at all exact quotes even though it would say, "as it is written". This perplexed me but I refused to go down the path that some do when met with supposed discrepancies and conflicts in Scripture. I've always believed that if there was a "problem" in the Word of God, it was my problems not God's. I still maintain that position. So what about these supposed misquotes?

A few months ago in my studies I learned about the Septuagint. This is a Greek translation of the Old Testament and was widely in use in the first century as its origin predated Yeshua. However most of our Bibles use the Masoretic text (much newer than the Septuagint) for the Okd Testament books. This is fine of course but when the apostles quote from the Septuagint in the NT books it can look like they are misquoting if we check them in our OT based off the Masoretic text cause they vary slightly in places. So this solved some of my questions but not all of them. There were still seemingly misquotes that were not resolved by looking at the Septuagint.

Today my studies took me to learning about the Targums. What are the Targums? They are an Aramaic translation of the OT that were written before Yeshua. Honestly, they are more like a paraphrase and not a word for word translation. It would be similar to our modern day New Living Bible. The authors of the Targums altered the text as needed to give clarity or understanding to the reader. First century Jews had no problem then with a "free" translation of a verse. As a result a free translation of a verse from the Hebrew bible did not present in their minds the problems it presents to us. We, in the twenty-first century, are much less tolerant of free translations. However, the quotations we have in the NT are not always word for word from the Hebrew Bible. They can be slightly different from the original in order to facilitate proper understanding. Amending the text to provide understanding was an accepted practice in the first century Jewish community and the NT is a first century Jewish document. It simply reflects the Jewish culture in which it was written.

So then, these "discrepancies" or "misquotes" as many call them are really nothing at all. We are two thousand years removed from this first century culture and mindset. If we are not careful, our twenty-first century Greek/Western mindset can get us into trouble. It has caused so many to walk away from their faith. Let this be a reminder to us all to study diligently and to include Hebraic culture, idioms and mindset into our studies for more accurate conclusions.