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How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

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How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-22-2001 at 04:19 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Last edited by Paul Younan on May-22-2001 at 04:50 PM (CT)

Shlama Akhay Kulkhon,

How did the variants in the Greek versions of Hebrews 2:9 happen?

When the question arises, "which one is the original?"....the answer is usually very biased. Advocates of the "Grace" reading have naturally had to claim that the change was not made on purpose (otherwise their favored text would almost certainly be the modification). By virtue of necessity, then, they have devised alternative scenarios to explain the origin of the more difficult reading ('apart from'.)

Most commonly it's simply supposed that since the words in question are so similar in appearance (xariti / xwris), a scribe inadvertently mistook the word "grace" for the preposition "apart from."

This raises the following questions:


  • Is a negligent or absent-minded scribe likely to have changed his text by writing a word used less frequently in the New Testament ("apart from") or one used more frequently ("grace," four times as common)?
  • Is he likely to have created a phrase that occurs only 1 other time in the New Testament ("apart from God") or one that occurs over twenty times ("by the grace of God")?
  • Is he likely to produce a statement, even by accident, that is bizarre and troubling or one that is familiar and easy?

The answer to the last question is most likely that it's the latter - readers typically confuse unusual words for common ones and make simple what is complex, especially when their minds have partially strayed.

Another favorite explanation is that the reading was created as a marginal note: a scribe read in Heb. 2:8 that "all things" are to be subjected to the lordship of Christ, but he wanted it to be clear, based on his knowledge of 1 Cor 15:27, that this did not include God the Father. To protect the text from misconstrual, the scribe then inserted an explanatory note in the margin, pointing out that nothing is left unsubjected to Christ, "except for God." This note was subsequently transferred into the text of a manuscript.

But again, this raises a multitude of questions:


  • Why are there no manuscripts that attest to both readings in the text (i.e., the correction in the margin or text of v8, where it would belong, and the original text of v9)?.
  • If a scribe thought that the note was a marginal correction, why did he find it in the margin next to v8 rather than v9?
  • Finally, if the scribe who created the note had done so in reference to 1 Corinthians, would he not have written "Ektos" as the Greek version reads there?

While a scribe could scarcely be expected to have said that Christ died "apart from God," there is every reason to think that this is precisely what the author of Hebrews said.

This less attested reading (at least, in the Greek versions) is also more consistent with the theology of Hebrews.

Never in this entire epistle does the Greek word grace (xwris) refer to Maran Eshoa's death or to the salvific benefits that accrue as a result of it. Instead, it is consistently connected with the gift of salvation that is yet to be bestowed upon the believer by the goodness of God (see esp. Heb. 4:16; also 10:29; 12:15; 13:25).

On the other hand, the statement that Maran Eshoa died "apart from God"--enigmatic when made in isolation--makes compelling sense in its broader literary context.

Whereas this author never refers to Maran Eshoa's death as a manifestation of divine "grace," he repeatedly emphasizes that Maran Eshoa died a fully human, shameful death, totally removed from the realm whence he came, the realm of God; his sacrifice, as a result, was accepted as the perfect expiation for sin.

Moreover, God did not intervene in his passion and did nothing to minimize his pain.

Thus, for example, Heb. 5:7 speaks of Maran Eshoa, in the face of death, beseeching God with loud cries and tears. In 12:2 he is said to endure the "shame" of his death, not because God sustained him, but because he hoped for vindication.

Throughout this epistle, Maran Eshoa is said to experience human pain and death, like other humans "in every respect."

Maran Eshoa's agony was not an agony attenuated by special dispensation.

The context of Hebrews 2:8-9 is that Mshikha lowered himself below the angels (i.e., became 'human') to share fully in our blood and our flesh, experience our own human sufferings, and die a human death for us.

"Apart from" simply makes more sense than "by the grace of" in the context of Hebrews 2:8-9.

The context focuses on Christology, on Christ's condescension into the transitory realm of suffering and death.

It is as a full human that Maran Eshoa experienced His passion, apart from any succor that might have been His as God. The work He began at His condescension He completes in His death, a death that had to be, necessarily, "apart from God."

There are good reasons to believe that the Eastern Peshitta reflects the original, and that the surviving Greek versions (including the Syriac Peshitto) were altered deliberately.

Fk^rwbw 0ml4

Peshitta.org

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Andrew Gabriel Roth
 
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1. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-23-2001 at 11:20 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #0
 
Shlama Akhi Paul:

I agree 100% with you here. This reading in Hebrews 2:9 is tremendously important and-- at least so far-- a very unique kind of smoking gun.

Let me explain.

Usually when we make a textual analysis between the Peshitta and the Greek, we find that two Aramaic words that look almost exactly the same have been confused for one another in Greek. Either that, or one Aramaic word has two different meanings and the wrong one of these is chosen in Greek.

For me, the classic example of what I call a "type 1 error" is in Romans 5:7, which says that hardly anyone would die for DIKHAYOS (a righteous man) but for AGATHOS (a decent man) some might die. This makes of course no sense. While these two Greek words share a middle ground, DIDKHAYOS can literally mean perfect or Christ-like, whereas AGATHOS never does (that's not just my view, Strong's agrees with me). And yet, no one is willing to die for the greater man, but some might be willing to do sofor the lesser? Surely in the context that the Messiah died for the ungodly, the Greek reading is tenuous at best.

Now I am summarizing this quickly, for it is a much longer proof, but let me just get this thought in. I believe the confusion lies in two Aramaic words, one means blameless or righteous and the other means wicked. In the Peshitta, the word for WICKED is used, and so it makes a lot more sense to say, "Hardly anyone would die for a WICKED man, but for a DECENT man some might die." This also means that the Peshitta cannot be a translation from Greek sources because otherwise it would not read this way.

At any rate, the difference between the word for WICKED and the word for BLAMELESS/RIGHTEOUS is that one ends with an AYIN (technically AIH, in Aramaic) and the other a NUN. ALL THE PREVIOUS LETTERS IN BOTH WORDS ARE IDENTICAL.

Now, in Hebrew, AYIN/AIH and NUN look very different. But in Aramaic they look almost the same. There is only a very slight difference in the angle of the slanted line to tell them apart, and the Greek scribe/translator who had Aramaic Romans must have made the mistake as he targummed it. It also proves a WRITTEN Aramaic document existed, because the two Aramaic words are pronounced differently, so if it was oral, the difference would have been picked up.


So that's a type 1. But, in the case of Hebrews 2:9, it's the opposite. There, the problem is that one Aramaic word is translated, AND SOMEHOW IN THE COOPYING PROCESS THE TRANSLATED GREEK WORD IS MIS-SPELLED! For anyone who knows about the problems of copyists in Alexandria though, this should hardly be surprising.

It was in Alexandria that the monophysites became strongest, and Alexandria where Origen had the mss. It was also in Alexandria where the revisions to the Peshitta began. In this case also, Akhi Paul is being a bit modest here. Origen actually says that he not only has this reading of Hebrews 2:9 BUT THAT THE MAJORITY OF HIS MSS SAY THE SAME THING. So, when the revised Greek mss that we now have were done later, it is clear the original reading-- a Greek translation supporting the Peshitta-- was suppressed.

At least, that is how I see it.

Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth

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2. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-23-2001 at 04:17 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #1
 
Shlama,
>
>So that's a type 1.
>But, in the case of
>Hebrews 2:9, it's the opposite.
>There, the problem is that
>one Aramaic word is translated,
>AND SOMEHOW IN THE COOPYING
>PROCESS THE TRANSLATED GREEK WORD
>IS MIS-SPELLED! For anyone
>who knows about the problems
>of copyists in Alexandria though,
>this should hardly be surprising.
>
>It was in Alexandria that the
>monophysites became strongest, and Alexandria
>where Origen had the mss.
> It was also in
>Alexandria where the revisions to
>the Peshitta began. In
>this case also, Akhi Paul
>is being a bit modest
>here. Origen actually says that
>he not only has this
>reading of Hebrews 2:9 BUT
>THAT THE MAJORITY OF HIS
>MSS SAY THE SAME THING.

Textual criticism has also revealed that volume is not always the best guide. If I 'xerox' 1000 copies of an error I have more of the same error.

Akh Paul's point 'the more difficult reading is preferred' is an axiom I accept. However I believe the more difficult reading is 'khariti' as 'khoris' is a preposition used by the Hebrews' author frequently.

Shlama,
Iakov

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Andrew Gabriel Roth
 
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3. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-23-2001 at 04:36 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #2
 
Akhi Iakov:

I don't think the Xerox analogy applies. When it's a minority reading on my side, then the Greeks say "not enough attestation", but when it's a majority reading with wide acceptance that rules against then it's "volume is not always the best guide"?

What about quality? What about the fact that Aramaic Christian factions who would never accept their rival's revisions (and didn't, as history shows) all AGREE on the originality of the Peshitta? What about 360 IDENTICAL mss, whereas no two Greek mss are alike?

Whatever may be common for the Greek writer I feel is largely irrelevant. How did what the Greek mss say creep into the Aramaic along the lines we have discussed with the copying problems in Alexandria and the similarity of spelling of the Greek words? How could that Greek work translate to "apart from" in Aramaic when no other mss has this reading? Do you feel the politics and Christological debates and other historical aspects we have discussed are irrelevant? Do you know that the earliest Church fathers even say that Hebrews was written IN THE HEBREW/ARAMAIC LANGUAGE BY PAUL AND TRANSLATED INTO GREEK BY LUKE?

These I feel are very important questions that need answering before a Greek primacist view on this verse can be established.

Shlama w'burkate
Andrew Gabriel Roth

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4. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-23-2001 at 09:50 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #3
 
Akh Andrew,

I will not allow you to draw me into a primacy debate. I said that I would not argu Gr. primacy. The more I say it you seem to inrease your defense. I thought we agreed you cannot change my mind any more than I can change yours.

I discussed early attestation to the mss as of AD 200. Everyone said it was after 431AD when 'khariti' appeared but P46 reveals otherwise.

Also it is a well known fact that the xerox analogy does apply since the transcribed errors would be used as source documents. Quality is important. That is why volume is thrown out in place of quality.

Yes, I read your post that early church attestation is given that Hebrews was penned in 'Hebrew'. It was translated into Greek by Luke.

I will read your book also. How can i get a signed copy?

My answer to this attestation is favorable. As I said before I always believed Papias statement that Matthew penned in Heb. Also it was said Paul penned Hebrews in Heb.

So out of all the NT, early church attestation is to only 2 Hebrew books out of 27 or 22. Their openness to point out that a particular book was written in a particular language implies the opposite for the remainder. This could cut 2 ways. Does that mean the remainder is in Aramaic or Greek?

Shlama,
Iakov.

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Andrew Gabriel Roth
 
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5. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-23-2001 at 10:36 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #4
 
Shlama Akhi Iakov:

I know I won't change your mind. I did not think I was doing primacy per se, only talking about scenarios given linguistics and history. However, since I view the Peshitta NT as sacred to me as the Hebrew Tenakh I may have "rebelled" against the Xerox analogy more than I consciously intended to. Sorry about that.

But, on the other hand, I was interested in seeing how you interpreted the same evidence. Was there, for example, some way that you saw the Greek reading being misread into Aramaic? Maybe one Greek variant was badly copied AND THEN PUT BACK INTO ARAMAIC, FOR EXAMPLE?

You saw my point on the midrash and interpreted it according to your view, so I wanted to see how the rest fit in also. That was my intent, but please know I meant absolutely no offense and am very glad you are back here with us. Please feel free to supply the Greek insights to this without worrying about a primacy "war".

Also thank you for your kind words regarding my book. It will be avaialable in late June and I will supply all the web info needed to order it. I don't know how to do the autographed part, except to say that if you or anyone else here buys it, you can send it to me, I will sign it to you directly and send it back if I get a little for the postage. I'll work on those details and get back to you.

Oh one other thing. The curious thing about the Church fathers is that I have never found where they said the other 25 books were in Greek! Maybe you know. To me, they seem mute on it, and the only time they mention a language original for a book it is Hebrew. But, as you point out, it is an open question. My feeling, if I may articulate it, is that these attestations underlay a pattern. For example, Romans 5:7 and Hebrews MAY point to a targumming tradition from Aramaic being translated into the local Greek vernacular by a synagogue official. Matthew also clearly underlies Mark and Luke in some fashion, and the nature and extent are points of debate of course. We may zero in on an Aramaic oral layer and differ on its transmission afterwards. That is fine, and I promise to try and be a little more subdued.

Shlama w'burkate and please be well

Andrew Gabriel ROth

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8. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-24-2001 at 01:13 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #5
 
Akh Andrew,

>But, on the other hand, I
>was interested in seeing how
>you interpreted the same evidence.
> Was there, for example,
>some way that you saw
>the Greek reading being misread
>into Aramaic? Maybe one Greek
>variant was badly copied AND
>THEN PUT BACK INTO ARAMAIC,
>FOR EXAMPLE?

On Hebrews?
If so, NO. As church attestation reveals it was written in Heb. by Paul. I'm saying the oldest extant text, though difficult, shows 'by grace'. The renderring of Aramaic as I understand from Akh Paul, reads as the later Greek texts 'apart from'. Which makes more sense and is less difficult.
And yes, I'm saying the extant Aram. text may not be the original rendering but a re-translation post 431 AD.

>I don't know how to
>do the autographed part, except
>to say that if you
>or anyone else here buys
>it, you can send it
>to me, I will sign
>it to you directly and
>send it back if I
>get a little for the
>postage. I'll work on
>those details and get back
>to you.

Perhaps I could send your publisher a check or something including postage?
>
>Oh one other thing. The
>curious thing about the Church
>fathers is that I have
>never found where they said
>the other 25 books were
>in Greek!

That is my whole point. What speaks louder silence or words? It is a curious thing they pointed out some books written in ANY particular language.

>For example, Romans 5:7 and
>Hebrews MAY point to a
>targumming tradition from Aramaic being
>translated into the local Greek
>vernacular by a synagogue official.

Luke translated Hebrews. And in Gr. Hebrews quotes are directly from LXX.

> Matthew also clearly underlies
>Mark and Luke in some
>fashion, and the nature and
>extent are points of debate
>of course. We may zero
>in on an Aramaic oral
>layer and differ on its
>transmission afterwards.

Yes. I think so, as Luke says he spoke to eye- witnesses. I think Mark depended upon Kepha and even perhaps other apostles. Certainly Matthew was first. Of course then you know I think Matt. became a source text for others but certainly oral tradition surrounded it transmission.

I'm very intrigued by 'maran-atha' and the similarity it has with the Gr. 'parousia' of Matt 24. "Our Lord come' if I translate it correctly, appears to be a phrase of encouragement in the early Church. Perhaps it originated from Matthai.

Shlama,
Iakov.

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6. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-24-2001 at 00:32 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #4
 
Greetings Akhi Iakov,

>I discussed early attestation to the
>mss as of AD 200.
>Everyone said it was after
>431AD when 'khariti' appeared but
>P46 reveals otherwise.

If I may jump in here a minute. I think one thing we have been forgetting is that the biggest christology controversy wasn't even centered around Nestorius, but around Arius. And that was earlier, and had been brewing for a LONG time(like, since Jesus' resurrection and ascension). Even at a date of AD 200, that doesn't rule out purposeful changes being made to back a certain christology... just a thought...

God Bless,

Dan

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Paul Younanmoderator

 
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7. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-24-2001 at 00:37 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #6
 
Akhi Dan!

That is brilliant.

Of course, extreme Monophysitism was a response to Arianism....which is why the 318 fathers convened at Nicea. Then the extreme Monophysitism led to the controversy with Nestorius.

The "grace of" reading, as you say, could have originated as a response to Arianism, and then championed by the Monophysites.

I love it when people think "outside" of the box!


Fk^rwbw 0ml4

Peshitta.org

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9. RE: How did Hebrews 2:9 happen?

May-24-2001 at 01:13 AM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

In reply to message #6
 
Greetings Akhi Dan,
>the biggest
>christology controversy wasn't even centered
>around Nestorius, but around Arius.
> And that was earlier,
>and had been brewing for
>a LONG time(like, since Jesus'
>resurrection and ascension). Even
>at a date of AD
>200, that doesn't rule out
>purposeful changes being made to
>back a certain christology...
>just a thought...

Point taken. It doesn't rule it out.

Shlama,
Iakov.

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