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maklelan

When the New Testament Misreads the Hebrew Bible

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maklelan,

I think you have misread Hebrews 2. It does not interpret Psalm 8 as referring exclusively to Jesus.

"5 For he did not put the world to come, about which we are speaking, under the control of angels. 6 Instead someone testified somewhere: "What is man that you think of him or the son of man that you care for him? 7 You made him lower than the angels for a little while. You crowned him with glory and honor. 8 You put all things under his control." For when he put all things under his control, he left nothing outside of his control. At present we do not yet see all things under his control, 9 but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God's grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone. 10 For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Heb 2:5-10 NET)

Verse 5, in saying that it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, implies that, rather, it was to human beings that God subjected the world to come. (The Greek text begins with the words "not angels," making this emphatic.) This understanding is confirmed by the rest of the passage. The writer immediately quotes Psalm 8, which as you point out in context is referring to human beings generally. The juxtaposition of the denial in verse 5 with the affirmation in verses 6-8a (quoted from Psalm 8 ) strongly indicates that the writer understands Psalm 8 to mean that it was to mankind, rather than to angels, that God subjected the world to come. After his quotation from Psalm 8, the writer comments, "At present we do not yet see all things under his control, but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor..." (vv. 8b-9). I understand "him" in verse 8 to refer to the antecedent "man" (in verse 7). The connection between verses 8 and 9 is along these lines: Right now we do not see all things under the control of man; however, we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. That is to say, this exalted status is currently not evident in humanity as a whole, but it is evident in Jesus specifically. Having died for mankind, Jesus is the "pioneer" leading "many sons to glory," that is, making it possible for many people to have that glorious status over all things, over the world to come, that Psalm 8 says properly belongs to mankind. Jesus is crowned with glory and honor now; through our faith union with him, we who follow Jesus will also one day be crowned with glory.

Read in this way, Hebrews is not negating the original contextual meaning or worldview of Psalm 8.

More on the rest of your post later.

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maklelan,

I think you have misread Hebrews 2. It does not interpret Psalm 8 as referring exclusively to Jesus.

"5 For he did not put the world to come, about which we are speaking, under the control of angels. 6 Instead someone testified somewhere: "What is man that you think of him or the son of man that you care for him? 7 You made him lower than the angels for a little while. You crowned him with glory and honor. 8 You put all things under his control." For when he put all things under his control, he left nothing outside of his control. At present we do not yet see all things under his control, 9 but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God's grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone. 10 For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings." (Heb 2:5-10 NET)

Thanks for taking the time to respond, Rob. I'll start by saying I don't think your translation successfully transmits the various nuances of the Greek. The most important for this discussion is v. 9, which actually has the order rearranged in your translation. Literally, the Greek reads thus:

The one who, and, for a little while under the angels was put, we see, Jesus, through the suffering of death with glory and honor who was crowned

A good idiomatic rendering would be the following:

But he who was for a little while placed below the angels we see, namely Jesus, who was crowned with glory and honor through the suffering of death

Trying to attach the conjunction to "Jesus" changes the sense of the verse, and specifically toward a reading more in line with Psalm 8. The author, however, is not intending to contrast the human reading of the text with the Christological reading of the text, but rather the text as it currently applies to Christ with the text as it will apply to Christ. It is arguing that the fulfillment of the psalm is not yet entirely realized, but parts are.

Verse 5, in saying that it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, implies that, rather, it was to human beings that God subjected the world to come. (The Greek text begins with the words "not angels," making this emphatic.)

But this reading undermines the author's emphasis in Hebrews 1 and 2. His point is to show Christ's superiority over the angels (1:4, 5, 6, 7-8, 13-14; 2:2-4), not humanity's superiority. The "for it was not to angels . . ." of v. 5 is relative to the previous verses, which state that the declaration of angels is subordinate to the declaration of Christ. Why? Because it was Christ to whom God has subjected the world to come, not the angels. I don't see how there can be any connection between those verses if it is humanity to whom God has subjected the world to come.

This understanding is confirmed by the rest of the passage. The writer immediately quotes Psalm 8, which as you point out in context is referring to human beings generally. The juxtaposition of the denial in verse 5 with the affirmation in verses 6-8a (quoted from Psalm 8 ) strongly indicates that the writer understands Psalm 8 to mean that it was to mankind, rather than to angels, that God subjected the world to come. After his quotation from Psalm 8, the writer comments, "At present we do not yet see all things under his control, but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor..." (vv. 8b-9). I understand "him" in verse 8 to refer to the antecedent "man" (in verse 7). The connection between verses 8 and 9 is along these lines: Right now we do not see all things under the control of man; however, we do see Jesus crowned with glory and honor.

See my reading above. Your reading would have to mean that the author is contrasting Christ to the angels for all of chapter 1, briefly contrasting humans to angels, and then returning to contrasting Christ to the angels. Given the rhetoric on both sides of this quotation, and the omission of a portion of the psalm which is only problematic if applied to Christ, I see no reason to assume the referent is humanity here.

That is to say, this exalted status is currently not evident in humanity as a whole, but it is evident in Jesus specifically. Having died for mankind, Jesus is the "pioneer" leading "many sons to glory," that is, making it possible for many people to have that glorious status over all things, over the world to come, that Psalm 8 says properly belongs to mankind. Jesus is crowned with glory and honor now; through our faith union with him, we who follow Jesus will also one day be crowned with glory.

But this reading conflicts with the rhetorical purpose of the two chapters, which is to assert Christ's superiority over the angels.

Read in this way, Hebrews is not negating the original contextual meaning or worldview of Psalm 8.

More on the rest of your post later.

I look forward to it.

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maklelan,

You began by referencing your disagreement with James White's understanding of Psalm 82, and specifically with his view that Jesus' reading of the Psalm in John 10:34-36 should govern our interpretation. You comment:

This is the principle of univocality, or the notion that the Bible represents a single, unified worldview, from beginning to end. Because of this notion, interpreters will insist that when we have trouble exegeting a Hebrew Bible text, whatever additional details may be provided by a quotation or allusion from the New Testament can be confidently retrojected into the original context (after all, God's the author of it all). This post will draw upon two places where the New Testament demonstrably misreads the Hebrew Bible, whether on its own or through the mediation of a mistranslated Septuagint, in order to show that assumptions like univocality are precluded by an informed reading of the biblical texts.

I'm having some difficulty understanding your position, as it relates (if it does relate) to your LDS faith.

First, you claim to object to what you call "the principle of univocality." You refer this specifically to the Bible, but in past discussions you have admitted some relevance of this principle to the Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures as well. What you mean by this fifty-cent term is apparently the assumption that Scripture is internally consistent ("a single, unified worldview"). Apparently you view reading the Bible univocally as an abuse of Scripture -- as imposing an artificial, unwarranted assumption on Scripture. However, you illustrate this principle by claiming that "the New Testament demonstrably misreads the Hebrew Bible." The term "misreads" would seem to assign blame to the New Testament, not to the modern interpreter (such as James White), except insofar as he naively follows the New Testament's misreading. But now it seems that the "abuse" originates from within Scripture itself, not from modern readers, who merely perpetuate the abuse. That is, you seem to be arguing that the New Testament misunderstands the Hebrew Bible (since to misread a text would seem to presuppose a misunderstanding of the text). Furthermore, you seem to be arguing that to think otherwise is to impose an uncritical "principle of univocality" on the Bible.

Second, though, the broader application of your argument to the entire set of scriptures in LDS religion (the "standard works") raises a troubling question. It would seem to be the conventional and indeed the official view of the LDS Church that modern-day restorationist scripture illuminates, clarifies, and restores the true meaning of the Bible. However, if James White's assumption that the New Testament may be trusted to interpret the Hebrew Bible is hermeneutically invalid, then it would seem that the usual LDS assumption that D&C or Pearl of Great Price may be trusted to interpret the Bible is also invalid. In fact, we would have to say the same thing about the pronouncements of the living prophet: to take his statements as explaining the true meaning of scripture (whether the Bible or other scripture) would be, according to your hermeneutical standard, to commit the error of assuming the principle of univocality. That is, one would be erroneously assuming that canonical scripture and the statements of the living prophet are univocal. Having categorically rejected univocality, I do not see how you can avoid this conclusion.

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maklelan,

It doesn't matter whether the name "Jesus" comes toward the beginning of the clause in one's English translation of Hebrews 2:9, the exegesis of the Greek text is the same. The fact is that after referring back to the antecedent "man" five or six times using the masculine pronoun (auton, end of the quotation in v. 6; auton, first clause of v. 7; auton, second clause of v. 7; autou, first clause of verse 8; autw, second clause of verse 8 [twice in some manuscripts]), the author avoids that same masculine pronoun at the beginning of verse 9: "we see the one that [ti] for a little while was put lower than the angels--Jesus, through the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor...." The best and really only sound explanation for the avoidance of the pronoun is that "he" and "him" throughout verses 6-8 refer to a different subject than the indefinite pronoun ti in verse 9.

Your other objection is contextual: Hebrews 1-2 emphasizes the superiority of Jesus to the angels, not the superiority of man to the angels. However, this is a false dichotomy in the context of the argument in Hebrews 1-2. Jesus is the Son of God who became a man, a human being, and he has gone through the process of death and resurrection so that by his exaltation he may redeem human beings, i.e., restore them to God's intentions for mankind. Thus, the writer states that God's purpose was "to bring many sons to glory" (v. 10). And then there's his statement, "For of course he is concerned not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham's seed" (v. 16). In this context, taking verses 5-8 to refer to God's intention for mankind in Psalm 8 is perfectly coherent. The connection between verses 1-4 and verses 5-10 is not that "the declaration of angels is subordinate to the declaration of Christ," as you said. The connection is that neglecting the word of Christ is so much worse than neglecting the word mediated through angels because the word of Christ is a message of such great salvation: "how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (v. 3). After reminding his readers of the powerful ways in which the word of Christ came to them (vv. 3b-4), the writer expounds on this great salvation that is more than the angels ever knew and that was of course never intended for the angels. This great salvation has as its goal to restore mankind to God's created status in the world to come, a goal that will be realized through Jesus, who has already attained his exalted status for our benefit (vv. 5-10).

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Thanks for responding, Rob. I hope you don't mind if I respond to your second post now and your other post later tonight.

maklelan,

It doesn't matter whether the name "Jesus" comes toward the beginning of the clause in one's English translation of Hebrews 2:9, the exegesis of the Greek text is the same. The fact is that after referring back to the antecedent "man" five or six times using the masculine pronoun (auton, end of the quotation in v. 6; auton, first clause of v. 7; auton, second clause of v. 7; autou, first clause of verse 8; autw, second clause of verse 8 [twice in some manuscripts]), the author avoids that same masculine pronoun at the beginning of verse 9: "we see the one that [ti] for a little while was put lower than the angels--Jesus, through the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor...." The best and really only sound explanation for the avoidance of the pronoun is that "he" and "him" throughout verses 6-8 refer to a different subject than the indefinite pronoun ti in verse 9.

The ?? is part of the temporal phrase "for a little while." The Greek is literally "little bit some by the angels." It has nothing to do with the referent of the other pronouns. The articular participle ??? ??????????? very clearly links the subject with those earlier pronouns. It is literally, "the one who was made lower," referring to the same referent of ????? and the other pronouns.

Your other objection is contextual: Hebrews 1-2 emphasizes the superiority of Jesus to the angels, not the superiority of man to the angels. However, this is a false dichotomy in the context of the argument in Hebrews 1-2. Jesus is the Son of God who became a man, a human being, and he has gone through the process of death and resurrection so that by his exaltation he may redeem human beings, i.e., restore them to God's intentions for mankind. Thus, the writer states that God's purpose was "to bring many sons to glory" (v. 10).

Of course humanity is a peripheral concern in these two chapters, but when it comes to comparing the station of subject A to angels in Hebrews 1 and 2, Christ is unquestionably subject A. The discussion of humanity's salvation only enters the question insofar as it supports the author's argument for Christ's superiority over the angels and his being made lower than the angels. The main theme in the two chapters is Christ's superiority.

And then there's his statement, "For of course he is concerned not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham's seed" (v. 16). In this context, taking verses 5-8 to refer to God's intention for mankind in Psalm 8 is perfectly coherent.

I disagree. It would be coherent if all vv. 5-8 was doing was referring to humans and salvation, but they are not. They are comparing the hegemony of an individual with that of angels. Since the surrounding context is Jesus' hegemony over the angels, the individual can only be understood as Jesus. The fact that the author states God is concerned for human welfare rather than that of angels is secondary to that comparison, since it is only brought up to explain Christ's condescension and subsequent exaltation.

The connection between verses 1-4 and verses 5-10 is not that "the declaration of angels is subordinate to the declaration of Christ," as you said. The connection is that neglecting the word of Christ is so much worse than neglecting the word mediated through angels because the word of Christ is a message of such great salvation: "how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?" (v. 3).

I disagree. He's saying that the legalistic pronouncement of angels is subordinate to the gospel of Christ. If we accept their legalism, and we neglect Christ's salvation as a result, how can humanity escape judgment? It can't. We must be punished for every sin, and that's why we need to recognize the subordination of angels to Christ. The verses are stating that Christ's gospel overrules that legalism, and thus he is over the angels. It then moves on to another proof of that: Christ has authority over the world to come, not angels. Then it shares Psalm 8, where he is said to have been placed under the angels "for a little while." While we haven't seen the complete fulfillment of the psalm, we have seen Christ glorified and returned to his position of prominence over the angels. The "bringing many sons unto glory" is peripheral to v. 10's main point: God has exalted Christ through suffering. The rest of the chapter addresses the necessity of Christ's incarnation and being brought lower than the angels. The relationship of Christ to the angels is unquestionably the primary theme of all of chapters 1 and 2. The salvation of humanity is only a supporting consideration, and Psalm 8 does not fit into that supportive role when read as a reference to humanity's position in the hierarchy of being.

After reminding his readers of the powerful ways in which the word of Christ came to them (vv. 3b-4), the writer expounds on this great salvation that is more than the angels ever knew and that was of course never intended for the angels. This great salvation has as its goal to restore mankind to God's created status in the world to come, a goal that will be realized through Jesus, who has already attained his exalted status for our benefit (vv. 5-10).

Not only does this not fit the context, but it still insists the New Testament misread the Old Testament, since Psalm 8 very clearly presents humanity as already enjoying dominion over "all things," meaning the beast of the field, the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea. It also still does not account for the line that was taken out. The only reason that line would have been taken out is if someone didn't want the referent to be thought of as receiving dominion over someone else's creation.

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maklelan,

You wrote:

The ?? is part of the temporal phrase "for a little while." The Greek is literally "little bit some by the angels." It has nothing to do with the referent of the other pronouns. The articular participle ??? ??????????? very clearly links the subject with those earlier pronouns. It is literally, "the one who was made lower," referring to the same referent of ????? and the other pronouns.

I stand corrected regarding the word ti; thank you. However, the point I made still stands with that correction. After referring explicitly back to the same antecedent "man" five or six times with the masculine pronoun in three verses, the text of verse 9 does not use the masculine pronoun but instead uses the articular participle that you noted. In context this participle has as its grammatical referent the name Jesus, which appears in the book for the first time in this verse. Verses 8b-9 say, "but now we do not see all things subjected to him [man, v. 6]; but we do see the one made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, through the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor...." The meaning here is that Jesus' crowning with glory and honor is the first and decisive phase of God's redemptive plan to bring about his purpose for mankind expressed in Psalm 8.

You wrote:

I disagree. It would be coherent if all vv. 5-8 was doing was referring to humans and salvation, but they are not. They are comparing the hegemony of an individual with that of angels. Since the surrounding context is Jesus' hegemony over the angels, the individual can only be understood as Jesus.

I do not see any reference to an individual in verses 5-8. I see a reference to "man," which in context is generic, not specifically individual.

I didn't find your objection to my understanding of the relationship of verses 1-4 to 5-8 persuasive. The connection of the "so great a salvation" to the purpose of crowning humanity with glory and honor and placing them over all things is a natural connection.

I would suggest another wrinkle to this discussion that might help show that Hebrews is not misreading the Old Testament. Throughout Hebrews 1, the author has interpreted various statements in the OT, mostly if not entirely from the Psalms, as revelations of the Messiah's exalted, divine honors, nature, works, and status. His reading of these Psalms through a Messianic prism is warranted because David is a type of the Messiah, who is to be his descendant. The writer of Hebrews then quotes another Psalm (8 ) and finds its fulfillment in Jesus. He understands David's creation psalm within a Messianic framework to speak of the natural "dominion" that human beings exercise over nature as typologically anticipating the greater, eschatological dominion that the Son of David will exercise, to which he is now heir as the exalted Son of God seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews is not presenting an academic exegesis of Psalm 8, nor is it misreading Psalm 8; it is, rather, expounding the Messianic significance of Psalm 8 read in its larger canonical context as part of the "many portions and many ways" (1:1) in which God revealed through prophecy, foreshadowing, and types the coming of the Messiah.

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Thanks for another quick reply. I will have to postpone my response to your other post.

maklelan,

You wrote:

I stand corrected regarding the word ti; thank you. However, the point I made still stands with that correction. After referring explicitly back to the same antecedent "man" five or six times with the masculine pronoun in three verses, the text of verse 9 does not use the masculine pronoun but instead uses the articular participle that you noted. In context this participle has as its grammatical referent the name Jesus, which appears in the book for the first time in this verse.

The grammatical referent would be ?????, the object of the verb ????????? in v. 7. The name ?????? is just an appositive.

Verses 8b-9 say, "but now we do not see all things subjected to him [man, v. 6]; but we do see the one made a little lower than the angels, Jesus, through the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor...." The meaning here is that Jesus' crowning with glory and honor is the first and decisive phase of God's redemptive plan to bring about his purpose for mankind expressed in Psalm 8.

But redemption isn't the theme of these two chapters. Jesus' superiority to angels is the theme. Redemption is simply appealed to in support of that theme. I don't see any reason to read it into sections of the text where the main theme fits with much greater ease.

I do not see any reference to an individual in verses 5-8. I see a reference to "man," which in context is generic, not specifically individual.

In the quotation alone that is true, but the author immediately identifies the generic "man" as Christ when he says that Jesus was "the one who was made lower." Additionally, the phrase "son of man" is used several dozen times throughout the New Testament, and not once does it reference anyone other than Christ. The identification of the generic "son of man" could hardly have been in question.

I didn't find your objection to my understanding of the relationship of verses 1-4 to 5-8 persuasive. The connection of the "so great a salvation" to the purpose of crowning humanity with glory and honor and placing them over all things is a natural connection.

But the psalm very clearly identifies the honor and glory held by humanity as having dominion over the beasts of the field, the birds of the skies, and the fish of the sea. This is not a future honor and glory, this is one enjoyed since Adam. As I pointed out in my OP, v. 5 is only grammatically contrastive. Conceptually it is a parallelism. Their station just below the angels is the conceptual equivalent of being crowned with honor and glory (that station is a place of honor for such creations). If you read the honor and glory as a future state which results from Christ's redemption then the psalm is still being misread. However, I believe the overall theme of the chapter undermines that reading.

I would suggest another wrinkle to this discussion that might help show that Hebrews is not misreading the Old Testament. Throughout Hebrews 1, the author has interpreted various statements in the OT, mostly if not entirely from the Psalms, as revelations of the Messiah's exalted, divine honors, nature, works, and status. His reading of these Psalms through a Messianic prism is warranted because David is a type of the Messiah, who is to be his descendant.

I disagree. The notion of types and allegories in the Hebrew Bible was developed by Christians in order to appropriate Jewish scripture (allegorical interpretation was also developed by Jewish exegetes to align the texts with their ideologies). None of the psalms in question were written to convey any typological representation. Also, they do not all refer to David or any messiah. For instance, Heb 1:6 quotes LXX Ps 96:7 ("Let all his angels worship him"), which is a quotation of LXX Deut 32:43. Both texts are references to God and not to David. I agree that the author of Hebrews believes the psalm is Messianic, but he is wrong. Additionally, if you argue he's appealing to Messianic psalms, there is little warrant for insisting a double fulfillment in the quotation of Psalm 8 which suddenly shifts the focus on to human redemption (which is doubly misreading the psalm).

The writer of Hebrews then quotes another Psalm (:P and finds its fulfillment in Jesus. He understands David's creation psalm within a Messianic framework to speak of the natural "dominion" that human beings exercise over nature as typologically anticipating the greater, eschatological dominion that the Son of David will exercise, to which he is now heir as the exalted Son of God seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Can you give any other examples in the New Testament of an author citing a Messianic Old Testament text and providing both a natural and a typological reading (and without pointing out what he's doing)?

Hebrews is not presenting an academic exegesis of Psalm 8, nor is it misreading Psalm 8; it is, rather, expounding the Messianic significance of Psalm 8 read in its larger canonical context as part of the "many portions and many ways" (1:1) in which God revealed through prophecy, foreshadowing, and types the coming of the Messiah.

Reading it as typology is misreading it, though. It was never intended as typology, which is why the author must omit the stich which clearly does not refer to Christ. Given that none of the other texts he cites from the Psalms accompany a natural reading, given the fact that "son of man" exclusively referred to Christ in New Testament times, and given my other points, I see no reason to conclude this quotation is providing an accurate reading at all. Even within your reading the author must misread the order of events. When applied to humanity, the entire chapter refers to current conditions, but when applied to Christ, suddenly v. 4 must refer first to past and then to present conditions, and v. 5 must refer to future conditions. Where does one draw the line between typology and pure eisegesis?

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maklelan,

You began by referencing your disagreement with James White's understanding of Psalm 82, and specifically with his view that Jesus' reading of the Psalm in John 10:34-36 should govern our interpretation. You comment:

I'm having some difficulty understanding your position, as it relates (if it does relate) to your LDS faith.

I'm not really addressing this from an LDS point of view. My interest is purely academic. On the other hand, Mormons are not all the same, and trying to trap them between their argument and a desire to appear "orthodox" rarely works. :P (please forgive the use of an emoticon)

First, you claim to object to what you call "the principle of univocality." You refer this specifically to the Bible, but in past discussions you have admitted some relevance of this principle to the Book of Mormon and other LDS scriptures as well. What you mean by this fifty-cent term is apparently the assumption that Scripture is internally consistent ("a single, unified worldview"). Apparently you view reading the Bible univocally as an abuse of Scripture -- as imposing an artificial, unwarranted assumption on Scripture. However, you illustrate this principle by claiming that "the New Testament demonstrably misreads the Hebrew Bible." The term "misreads" would seem to assign blame to the New Testament, not to the modern interpreter (such as James White), except insofar as he naively follows the New Testament's misreading.

This is to some degree what my point is, although assuming univocality goes far beyond accepting NT readings of OT texts. It also includes attempts to harmonize disparate details within the OT or NT, and even within individual books and chapters, and attempts to interpret passages in light of the Bible's "overall message." As an example of the former, I would point to NIV Jer 7:22, where the translation has God say, "For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices." The text actually does not say "just." It simply says that God did not command Israel concerning sacrifices and offerings during the Exodus. That flatly contradicts the entire book of Exodus. That's fascinating from an academic point of view, but problematic from a conservative devotional point of view. What does the NIV do? Change the text to scratch out the disharmony.

But now it seems that the "abuse" originates from within Scripture itself, not from modern readers, who merely perpetuate the abuse. That is, you seem to be arguing that the New Testament misunderstands the Hebrew Bible (since to misread a text would seem to presuppose a misunderstanding of the text). Furthermore, you seem to be arguing that to think otherwise is to impose an uncritical "principle of univocality" on the Bible.

Second, though, the broader application of your argument to the entire set of scriptures in LDS religion (the "standard works") raises a troubling question. It would seem to be the conventional and indeed the official view of the LDS Church that modern-day restorationist scripture illuminates, clarifies, and restores the true meaning of the Bible.

I would say it provides contextualization that aids us in our personal journeys back to God. I believe it restores the original meaning in some places, clarifies in other places, illuminates even more places, and simply provides a reading that is relevant to our day in the most places. This is only troubling if someone is bringing a specific set of assumptions about what scripture is to the text.

However, if James White's assumption that the New Testament may be trusted to interpret the Hebrew Bible is hermeneutically invalid, then it would seem that the usual LDS assumption that D&C or Pearl of Great Price may be trusted to interpret the Bible is also invalid.

I don't personally make that assumption. In places those texts have proven valuable for just that, but I don't simply assume that to be the case in all instances. In some places it does not come down to that. For instance, the creation accounts in Moses and Abraham (and the Temple!) aren't conveniently synthesized with Genesis, or each other, but they certainly illuminate my contemplation of the meaning of creation. The Gospels aren't conveniently synthesized with each other either. I don't think the purpose of variety in the scriptures is to challenge us to make it all harmonize. We learn more from differences than from similarities, after all.

In fact, we would have to say the same thing about the pronouncements of the living prophet: to take his statements as explaining the true meaning of scripture (whether the Bible or other scripture) would be, according to your hermeneutical standard, to commit the error of assuming the principle of univocality.

That is, one would be erroneously assuming that canonical scripture and the statements of the living prophet are univocal. Having categorically rejected univocality, I do not see how you can avoid this conclusion.

I don't avoid that conclusion.

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maklelan,

I'm going to comment only on select statements because I think we've largely succeeded in setting forth our respective exegetical approaches to Hebrews 2. What little I will say on that involves some "clean-up."

You wrote:

But redemption isn't the theme of these two chapters. Jesus' superiority to angels is the theme. Redemption is simply appealed to in support of that theme.

I see this as a false dichotomy. The theme of the whole book is the superiority of the new covenant in Jesus to the old covenant. The old covenant was merely preparatory for the new covenant; Jesus is superior to the angels, Moses, and Aaron; his high priestly ministry is superior to the Aaronic priestly ministry because it brings a better sacrifice, better promises, and a better covenant; etc. Redemptive themes are not window dressing or augmentation for the argument of the book, but integral aspects of the total argument. Hebrews begins with a reference to the Son making purification of sins and sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high, and his enthronement is also noted at the end of chapter 1, immediately preceding the passage we are discussing. The greatness of the salvation (2:3) is therefore not supplemental or ancillary; it is basic to the whole argument of this part of the book and of the book as a whole.

You wrote:

Additionally, the phrase "son of man" is used several dozen times throughout the New Testament, and not once does it reference anyone other than Christ.

I'm not arguing that Hebrews 2 is an exception, since I agree that the writer applies what Psalm 8 says to Jesus. My point is that he does this only after speaking in more generic terms of mankind's created status. It is worth pointing out also that this seems to be the only place in the NT where the expression "son of man" applied to Jesus has any clear relation to Psalm 8. Most if not all of the other occurrences of the expression are more likely dependent on and reflective of the "one like a son of man" text in Daniel 7:13-14.

You wrote:

I disagree.... None of the psalms in question were written to convey any typological representation. Also, they do not all refer to David or any messiah.

I neither claimed that any psalm was written with the intention of being typological, nor that all of the psalms refer to David or any messiah.

You wrote:

I agree that the author of Hebrews believes the psalm is Messianic, but he is wrong.

At this point you part company not only with evangelicals like me but with virtually all of your fellow Mormons -- though apparently this doesn't bother you. Since my interest here is primarily to engage mainstream LDS views, I confess to having only limited interest in debating this question when virtually all of the other Mormons here will agree with me and disagree with you.

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maklelan,

You wrote:

I'm not really addressing this from an LDS point of view. My interest is purely academic. On the other hand, Mormons are not all the same, and trying to trap them between their argument and a desire to appear "orthodox" rarely works.

Although I agree that Mormons are not all the same, as I stated in my previous post I am here primarily to engage mainstream LDS views, and your views are definitely out of the LDS mainstream.

I had written:

Apparently you view reading the Bible univocally as an abuse of Scripture -- as imposing an artificial, unwarranted assumption on Scripture. However, you illustrate this principle by claiming that "the New Testament demonstrably misreads the Hebrew Bible." The term "misreads" would seem to assign blame to the New Testament, not to the modern interpreter (such as James White), except insofar as he naively follows the New Testament's misreading.

You replied:

This is to some degree what my point is, although assuming univocality goes far beyond accepting NT readings of OT texts. It also includes attempts to harmonize disparate details within the OT or NT, and even within individual books and chapters, and attempts to interpret passages in light of the Bible's "overall message."

Purely from an academic, exegetical perspective, I can understand someone challenging the assumption of the unity or coherence of the whole Bible. However, when you take this so far as to question the unity or coherence of individual books and even chapters in the Bible, you have left sound hermeneutical methodology even from a strictly secular stance. Surely the burden of proof is on anyone who would claim, for example, that John contradicts himself within the space of just a few sentences, or that Romans 3 contradicts Romans 4. Here the sober approach is to assume coherence unless proven otherwise. From a believing Christian perspective, I am unashamedly conservative in viewing Scripture as coherent across the entire canon. The evidence shows that Jesus held to this assumption with regard to what we call the Old Testament, and if that assumption is correct with regard to the Old Testament, I see no reason not to accept it with regard to the whole Christian canon of Scripture.

You wrote:

As an example of the former, I would point to NIV Jer 7:22, where the translation has God say, "For when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them, I did not just give them commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices." The text actually does not say "just." It simply says that God did not command Israel concerning sacrifices and offerings during the Exodus. That flatly contradicts the entire book of Exodus. That's fascinating from an academic point of view, but problematic from a conservative devotional point of view. What does the NIV do? Change the text to scratch out the disharmony.

This is a nice example of a hypercritical approach to the Bible. First, the fact that most English versions do not make this addition (e.g., KJV, NASB, HCSB, ESV, NET) despite the fact that their translators viewed Scripture as "univocal" (as you put it) shows that at least they didn't think such an addition was needed to "save" the unity of the Bible. Second, it is simply not credible that the writer of Jeremiah 7:22 (let's call him Jeremiah) was unaware that God instituted sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness. If we think that's what he was saying, we may well be missing something. Third, rather than follow the NIV rendering, we would do better to take the view that Jeremiah is referring to the specific occasion on which Yahweh spoke to the Israelites directly from Mount Sinai: "when I brought your forefathers out of Egypt and spoke to them." J. A. Thompson in the NICOT commentary on Jeremiah makes the following observations:

"The reference point is the time of the Exodus when, following Yahweh's mighty acts of deliverance from Egypt, Israel accepted him as their sovereign Lord, entered into his covenant, and accepted the covenant obligations with the words, 'All that Yahweh has spoken we will do' (Exod. 19:8 ). A reading of Exod. 19:3-8 makes it clear that the first step in the covenant ceremony was Yahweh's demand for the unconditional acceptance of the covenant. The Decalog is spelled out in Exod. 20:1-17, but at no point is the narrative concerned with cultic details. It was only after the covenant had been ratified (24:1-8 ) that the cultic details of the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the sacrifices were declared.... Jeremiah was really indicating that the order of revelation was indicative of the relative value of obedience and cultic observances.... Comparison should be made between this passage and other OT passages like Isa. 1:10-17; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21-25; Mic. 6:1-8. It is unlikely that any of these passages is to be understood as a clear rejection of the sacrificial system as such or as a statement that Israel did not practice sacrifice in the wilderness. Rather, such statements served to stress the point that God's essential demand was the keeping of the covenant stipulations and not the performance of rituals."--J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 287-88.

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maklelan,

I'm going to comment only on select statements because I think we've largely succeeded in setting forth our respective exegetical approaches to Hebrews 2. What little I will say on that involves some "clean-up."

You wrote:

I see this as a false dichotomy. The theme of the whole book is the superiority of the new covenant in Jesus to the old covenant. The old covenant was merely preparatory for the new covenant; Jesus is superior to the angels, Moses, and Aaron; his high priestly ministry is superior to the Aaronic priestly ministry because it brings a better sacrifice, better promises, and a better covenant; etc. Redemptive themes are not window dressing or augmentation for the argument of the book, but integral aspects of the total argument.

Your argument seems to me to be trying to dilute the narrowness of the discussion in chapters 1 and 2 by trying to pile the discussions of later chapters on top. These two chapters start off the book, and so they operate without that context. They are meant to be read in and of themselves, not immediately reread after later themes been established. Your reading is also appealing to another brand of univocality wherein you imply that the part has no rhetorical function outside that of the whole. I disagree. There's a reason he's talking about angels in the first two chapters. Based on these texts, Greco-Roman period Jewish literature, and early rabbinic texts, it's understood by many that angels were at this point often the objects of veneration. There is even an important publication from a few years back (here) that argues for seeing Christ as developing out of this veneration. Hebrews 1 and 2 are, in my reading, responding to this practice, using the opportunity to assert that Christ is superior to the angels, and therefore angels are not worthy of worship. That's the rhetorical purpose of these chapters and their main theme. Humanity's redemption in these two chapters is called upon to aid that argument. It is not central to it. A modern parallel is found in the Protestant objections to prayers offered to saints within Catholicism. I've heard many people respond to this practice using pretty much the same rhetoric about Jesus and God being superior to saints.

Hebrews begins with a reference to the Son making purification of sins and sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

And those are all subordinate clauses. They're hardly central to the theme of the chapter, which is very clearly expressed in main clauses throughout the chapter. Here's the entire chapter, with the rhetoric of Christ's superiority to the angels in bold and humanity's salvation underlined:

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. For to what angel did God ever say, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire." But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades." And, "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they will perish, but thou remainest; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end." But to what angel has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand, till I make thy enemies a stool for thy feet"? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?

Notice that the references to humanity's salvation are subordinate clauses in sentences where the main clauses are highlighting Christ's exaltation over the angels.

and his enthronement is also noted at the end of chapter 1, immediately preceding the passage we are discussing.

Which is a main theme in the discussion of his superiority to the angels.

The greatness of the salvation (2:3) is therefore not supplemental or ancillary; it is basic to the whole argument of this part of the book and of the book as a whole.

I still disagree, and I have made several important points that have gone unaddressed.

I'm not arguing that Hebrews 2 is an exception, since I agree that the writer applies what Psalm 8 says to Jesus. My point is that he does this only after speaking in more generic terms of mankind's created status.

But the only thing that the author does prior to applying the text to Jesus is cite the text. It's begging the question to say that the citation is being presented in the original sense if the only support is the citation itself, and all the author's words apply a Messianic reading. I don't see any place where the author at all indicates that Psalm 8 refers to humanity.

It is worth pointing out also that this seems to be the only place in the NT where the expression "son of man" applied to Jesus has any clear relation to Psalm 8. Most if not all of the other occurrences of the expression are more likely dependent on and reflective of the "one like a son of man" text in Daniel 7:13-14.

Interestingly, that section of Daniel draws upon imagery from the psalter. However, the Messianic use of "son of man" is drawn from the apocryphal book of Enoch (see here), who is the first to refer to the "son of man" in Messianic terms (he calls him "Righteous One," "Chosen One," and "Messiah"). There were more copies of Enoch found at Qumran than any other biblical book except for the Psalms and Deuteronomy. Jude doesn't quote Enoch for nothing.

You wrote:

I neither claimed that any psalm was written with the intention of being typological, nor that all of the psalms refer to David or any messiah.

You stated,

Throughout Hebrews 1, the author has interpreted various statements in the OT, mostly if not entirely from the Psalms, as revelations of the Messiah's exalted, divine honors, nature, works, and status. His reading of these Psalms through a Messianic prism is warranted because David is a type of the Messiah, who is to be his descendant.

While you do not explicitly state that every single quotation was read messianically, that does seem to be implied. You certainly don't qualify your statement either. Whether it was your contention or not, it does show that the author has misapplied LXX Ps 96:7 as well.

You wrote:

At this point you part company not only with evangelicals like me but with virtually all of your fellow Mormons -- though apparently this doesn't bother you. Since my interest here is primarily to engage mainstream LDS views, I confess to having only limited interest in debating this question when virtually all of the other Mormons here will agree with me and disagree with you.

I would invite other Latter-day Saint who are following to chime in so neither of us has to make assumptions about what Mormon in general believe.

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maklelan,

You wrote:

Although I agree that Mormons are not all the same, as I stated in my previous post I am here primarily to engage mainstream LDS views, and your views are definitely out of the LDS mainstream.

I had written:

Apparently you view reading the Bible univocally as an abuse of Scripture -- as imposing an artificial, unwarranted assumption on Scripture. However, you illustrate this principle by claiming that "the New Testament demonstrably misreads the Hebrew Bible." The term "misreads" would seem to assign blame to the New Testament, not to the modern interpreter (such as James White), except insofar as he naively follows the New Testament's misreading.

You replied:

Purely from an academic, exegetical perspective, I can understand someone challenging the assumption of the unity or coherence of the whole Bible. However, when you take this so far as to question the unity or coherence of individual books and even chapters in the Bible, you have left sound hermeneutical methodology even from a strictly secular stance.

I disagree completely. Literary seams can and often do occur within books, chapters, and even verses. For instance, consider 2 Kgs 18:13-20:21. The first four verses of this section of text reads as follows:

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, "I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear." And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of Yhwh and in the treasuries of the king

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maklelan,

I'm not staying on the Bible-discrepancy merry-go-round with you. You brought up an alleged inconsistency in Jeremiah. I answered it. You ignored my explanation and raised more alleged difficulties in other passages. We could play this game for months and it would get us nowhere.

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maklelan,

I'm not staying on the Bible-discrepancy merry-go-round with you. You brought up an alleged inconsistency in Jeremiah. I answered it. You ignored my explanation and raised more alleged difficulties in other passages. We could play this game for months and it would get us nowhere.

Rob you brought up two points in your previous post. In the first you argued that the burden of proof was on me to provide evidence that inconsistencies could be found within books, chapters, and verses. I did that. In your next point you addressed a few different aspects of my statement about Jeremiah. I responded to them. Your last point was that you didn't think Jeremiah's statement was contradictory. That is a complicated discussion, and I had already spent some time putting together a lengthy discussion of another example, so I didn't feel up to getting into it. I figured the discussion about Kings was weighty enough, too. I see how the Jeremiah text can be ambiguous, but in the case of Kings, it's inescapable that two contradicting traditions were juxtaposed. I'd prefer to focus on that issue, and I'm confident that it is not one that will result in endless volleying back and forth. It's pretty straight forward.

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