” …and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26b
Below is a series of posts I am creating that highlight some of the amazing revelations that are being made from a re-translation of the Gospel of John:
Uriel Ben Mordechai has made a number of ‘dynamic equivalence translations’ of selected NT letters and narratives based upon the earliest Greek manuscripts available e.g. Papyrus 46 [dating to between 170-200 CE] and Codex Sinaiticus [dating to about 350 CE].
These English translations, produced with a Jewish pro-Torah bias, have been published and distributed from the Eternal City just as the Prophet predicts… “…out from Tzion the Torah shall go forth, and out from Yerushalai’im, the Word of HaShem” [Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 2:3].
Uriel has now turned his attention to Papyrus 66. The manuscript contains John 1:1-6:11, 6:35b-14:26, 29-30; 15:2-26; 16:2-4, 6-7; 16:10-20:20, 22-23; 20:25-21:9, 12, 17. It is one of the oldest well preserved New Testament manuscripts known to exist.
The manuscript was found in 1952 at Jabal Abu Mana near Dishna (Egypt). There is debate over when this codex was produced with some arguing for as early as the middle of the second century (~ 150 CE), though most scholars now ascribe a date in the 3rd to 4th century (201 – 399 CE).
I would like to share a few details on Uriel’s translation of the first chapter of John’s Gospel (using the more appropriate terminology of “Yochanan’s narrative”).
Long before Uriel began this work a number of scholars including the late Professor David Flusser had argued for a very different translation of Yochanan 1:1.
Here is Uriel’s latest rendering of Yochanan 1:1-3 based on P-66:
Yochanan 1:1 “Essential for creation was the Torah, and the Torah was in the presence of G-d, and a godly object was the Torah”
1:2 “This object stood with high honor, in harmony with G-d.”
1:3 “All things came into existence because of IT, and outside of IT, not a single notion came into being that was fashioned.”
And with Uriel’s amplification for improved readability in square brackets:
Yochanan 1:1 “Essential for [or Before] creation [or With high honor] was the Torah, and the Torah was in the presence of [or befitting, or consistent in character with] G-d, and a godly [or godlike] object was the Torah [or the Torah was also a godly thing]!”
1:2 “This object [or element, i.e., the Torah] stood with high honor [or existed before creation], in harmony [or consistent in character] with G-d.”
1:3 “All things came into existence because of IT [i.e., on account of the Torah], and outside of IT [or apart from having the Torah in mind], not a single notion came into being that was [later] fashioned [by the hand of Ha’Shem].”
There is so much to unpack here in these 3 verses alone!Jewish Rabbi’s and scholars have long argued that it was the Torah that was with the Almighty before He created the Universe, that it was the Torah that was the blueprint for the Creation. Even Hellenistic Jewish philosophers like Philo (1st Century CE) argued for this understanding (for more on this also see my article here – https://goo.gl/CZUH2D).
I would love to hear peoples thoughts on these verses. For example, note that Uriel uses ‘IT’ in verse 3 where most modern translators have made what appears to be an unjustifiable inference and used ‘him,’ and even going so far in most cases as to capitalize ‘Him.’ The 1599 Geneva Bible however appears to have been more true to the original without introducing such inferences as this translation also used ‘IT’.
For those interested in observing Uriel’s progress as they translate P-66, I highly recommend consider joining him and his wife Adi, as they present their translation one verse at a time during their weekly LIVE webinar broadcasts from Jerusalem. To register for the class, use this link:http://ntcf.org/register.html.
Many of us in reading our English translations of the Bible without any deep knowledge of the underlying Hebrew language and Jewish approach and idioms can so easily be led astray and totally misunderstand many passages.
One example that I have dealt with at length in the past is the Augustine’s doctrine of Origin Sin and the associated doctrines of Calvin’s TULIP principles, that I believe lead to some very harmful consequences in life and especially relationships.
A section from the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans is often used to support these flawed doctrines of mainstream Christendom. That section is Romans 3:10-18 and especially verse 10 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one …”
I discuss this section in pages 51-59 of my book ‘The New Testament: The Hebrew Behind the Greek’ – https://www.amazon.com/new-testament-language-mindset-hellenistic-ebook/dp/B009XO0NQU/ (Also available as a free pdf @ circumcisedheart.info)
The quote in verse 10, a quote from the Tanakh is taken out of context by most when read as to be a blanket statement that no-one is or can be righteous.
There are many reasons for this error as I discuss in my book, but I wish to highlight just one for now.
The Hebrew can quite often leave out a word, especially an adjective, that in English may be necessary to communicate the correct understanding, but that is simply not there in the Hebrew.
For example if Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 7:20 is translated directly we get something like: “For there is no righteous man on earth who does good and does not sin.”
Yet, all the Jewish Sages (i.e., Rabbinic scholars) will translate this as “For there is no righteous man on earth who does [only] good and does not sin.” – see for example page 9 of ‘Gates of Repentance’ by Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona.
Some English versions do get this correct, such as the NET and CJB, but for example the KJV, NKJV, NIV, ASV and ESV do not.
Rather than re-addressing the issue of Romans 3:10 though, I wish to use this as an example to highlight the need for greater humility from Christian students of the Bible in approaching the text, and also perhaps a greater reverence for the underlying understanding and wisdom of Jewish scholarship, of those who have an in-depth knowledge of Hebrew and Jewish thinking.
One such person is the Jewish translator, Uriel ben-Mordechai. Uriel has great experience in this area having already re-translated a number of books of the New Testament working from the earliest extant versions but approaching them with a Jewish mindset and pro-Torah pre-suppositional perspective.
Thus I think his translations should be given serious attention from all who see themselves as humble, but zealous, seekers of Truth.
In this post I want to touch on just 3 verses that Uriel has very recently translated from Papyrus 66 and the first chapter of Yochanan’s narrative (John’s Gospel).
As I have already intimated a lot of flawed doctrines within Christendom are often birthed out of just one or two verses. One example of this is the flawed doctrine of pre-existence and the related deduction than ‘Jesus’ created the Universe.
This is seen for example in John 1:10 where most translations essentially have Jesus/Yeshua ‘making’ (creating) the world (‘… the world was made by him …).
For example, the KJV translates verse John 1:10-12 has
“10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.”
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
Uriel instead has:
“1:10 IT was present within the world, and even the world came into existence by virtue of IT, even though the world did not acknowledge IT
1:11 In the midst of this one special people, IT ended up being deposited, especially to this one chosen people; the same which they embraced.
1:12 As many as did take hold of IT, IT gave them prerogative to emerge as children of G-d; to those who are trusting in His Name,”
And his ‘amplified’ version for greater clarity (i.e. adding words to make greater sense of the direct translation):
“1:10 IT [i.e., the light of the Torah] was present within the world, and even the world [itself] came into existence by virtue of [or using] IT, even though the world did not acknowledge IT [i.e., the light of the Torah].
1:11 In the midst of [or Contributing to] this one special [or distinctive, or chosen] people, IT [i.e., the light of the Torah] ended up being deposited [or given], especially to this one chosen [or distinctive] people; the same [object, i.e., the light of the Torah] which they [readily] embraced [i.e., welcomed, or experienced].
1:12 As many as did take hold of IT [i.e., this illumination from the Torah], IT gave them prerogative to emerge as children of G-d; to those who are trusting in His [i.e., Ha’Shem’s] Name,”
Clearly there is no way this version of verses 10-12 could possibly lead to any implications of ‘pre-existence and the related deduction that ‘Jesus’ created the Universe’!
Please read and prayerfully consider. I look forward to your feedback as well.
If you really wish to dig much deeper and learn how Uriel goes about these translations and get a greater perspective on the Torah-centric reality of the New Testament, then you may wish to consider joining Uriel and Adi’s weekly LIVE webinar broadcasts from Jerusalem. To register for the class, use this link: http://ntcf.org/register.html.
In this the 3rd post in this series I want to touch on 4 verses that Uriel has recently translated from Papyrus 66 and the first chapter of Yochanan’s narrative (John’s Gospel) chapter 1:15-18.
First the translation and then an ‘amplified’ (i.e. some explanatory text in square brackets) version:
1:15 Yochanan was testifying concerning IT, and even shouted out, saying, “THIS was the very thing to which I had referred, which will go onward after me, has stood in existence before me. Because of that, IT has been most influential for me,
1:16 seeing that extending out from ITS abundance, each and everyone of us shall also express gratitude as a response to generosity,
1:17 in view of the fact that through Moshe this precious gift — the Torah — was given, AND THEN the age of truthfulness shall come to pass by way of Yeshua, Mashiach.
1:18 On G-d, not one has ever set eyes! G-d is unique! For the one who lives surrounded by the Father’s embrace — in that place He will reveal.”
1:15 Yochanan was testifying concerning IT [i.e., the Torah], and even shouted out, saying, “THIS [i.e., the Torah] was the very thing to which I had referred, which will go onward after [or subsequent to] me, has stood in existence [long] before me. Because of that, IT has [always] been most influential for me,
1:16 seeing that extending out from ITS [i.e., the Torah’s] abundance, each and everyone of us shall also express [or choose] gratitude as a response to [Ha’Shem’s] generosity [or goodwill],
1:17 in view of the fact that through Moshe this precious gift — the Torah — was given, AND THEN [the added benefit of] the age of truthfulness [or legitimacy] shall come to pass [or be realized] by way of [or as a result of] Yeshua, Mashiach.
1:18 On G-d, not one has ever set eyes [and lived]! G-d is unique [i.e., He is without equal, or unprecedented]! For the one who lives surrounded by [or absorbed in] the Father’s embrace — [there] in that place He will reveal [or poss. passive ‘…there He shall be fully revealed, explained and declared’].”
Clearly, the object being referenced here is not the same as in most translations, yet if considered without our common ‘Christian’ pre-suppositions I think it has an internal consistency and integrity. That is, if this was being read for the first time as a Jewish text written for, and to Jewish readers familiar with the G-d of Israel and His Torah, then it mostly gives a message well-known and well-understood, while at the same time adding something new as a result of the revelation of the life and resurrection of Yeshua.
So, to reiterate, Yochanan has first extolled the great grace provided to Israel through the Torah. The Torah has brought true freedom (please see my article ‘Freedom and the Law’ https://goo.gl/XYGC8t for details on this aspect).
It has given the people of Israel (AHM Israel), a great foundation to their history, their uniqueness and their trials and tribulations but most importantly the Torah; in defining the Way (Psalm 119); in defining how best to live; how to get the most out of your life through loving G-d and your neighbour, it has given them a past, a present and a future.
Yet something was missing. Two thousand years ago AHM Israel was failing on two counts. Firstly, they were not being the ‘light to the Gentiles’ (for more on this please see my article on Isaiah 49 – https://goo.gl/d3Vy8b) they were called to be. They were not, for the most part, introducing the pagan world to the Truth of the One True G-d and away from all the idolatry that the pagan Gentile world practiced.
And secondly, a large part of the reason for why this failure was occurring was the internal ‘hatred’ of Jew for Jew, or as the Rabbinic scholars have described it, the ‘baseless hatred’ that existed and was instrumental in the horror that was the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
So Yochanan was speaking into this reality with the ‘good news’ of the arrival of Yeshua to speak truth to AHM Israel, to call for their repentance and full return to the embracing of Torah so that they could in turn be that light to the Gentiles that was their central mission.
The Resurrection acted to convince and confirm to all open and willing to listen, that Torah really was ultimate Truth, the obeying the Torah because of a faithfulness (trusting) in the Almighty and His revelation was not only the Way to walk, but the way to convict the Gentile world of this Truth as well.
It seems to me that if the great majority of AHM Israel had been open to and heeded this message, then the Olam ha’Bah (The Coming Age, the Kingdom of G-d) truly could have fully dawned in the first century and the Temple could well have remained standing. Yeshua most clearly intimated such.
But Yeshua’s living example and his Resurrection instead may be viewed as a failure, if time were fixed and the future stopped.
However, hope still lives on, and the future still beckons. Yeshua, the suffering servant, the Messiah ben-Yosef still stands at the ready to return to our midst and, as Messiah ben-David, to usher in the Olam Ha’Bah.
Yochanan will be proven correct and “…the age of truthfulness shall come to pass by way of Yeshua, Mashiach.”
Please consider this translation – perhaps your path has at this very moment reached the place where your heart and mind is open to Yeshua’s call to return to; or to learn of Torah and The Way. Perhaps today is the day and now the hour for you to reconsider the doctrines of your youth and time within the walls of your church and reconsider what and where Yeshua preached.
Also, if you really wish to dig much deeper and learn how Uriel goes about these translations and get a greater perspective on the Torah-centric reality of the New Testament, then you may wish to consider joining Uriel and Adi’s weekly LIVE webinar broadcasts from Jerusalem.
To register for the class, use this link: http://ntcf.org/register.html.
Some years ago I wrote an article on this week’s Torah Portion [Vayishlach: Genesis 32:4-36:43], around the issue of being distressed by the loss of life – see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2012/11/30/distressed-by-the-tragedy-of-loss-of-life/
But I think this Torah Portion has a much more powerful message to share, and it’s that Jacob is really a great role-model for those going through struggles in the lives, which of course is all of us at some time!
And why is Jacob such a great role model in this regard?
I would suggest for two main reasons. Firstly, he epitomises fallibility and secondly, I think he epitomises someone with a diminished sense of self-worth.
As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks states Jacob was “…The man who, more than any other, epitomises fallibility is Jacob…. His life was a series of struggles. Nothing came easily to him…
There are saintly people for whom spirituality comes as easily as did music to Mozart. But God does not reach out only to saints. He reaches out to all of us. That is why He gave us Abraham for those who love, Isaac for those who fear, and Jacob/Israel for those who struggle.
Hence this week’s life-changing idea: if you find yourself struggling with faith, you are in the company of Jacob-who-became-Israel …“ and the father of the 12 Tribes.
So while his life was a life of struggle, both with man; with his brother and his family; but also with God Himself, ultimately he saw great reward and redemption in that all his children stayed within the faith.
Sacks: “’According to the pain is the reward’ – Mishnah, Avot 5:23. That is Jacob.”
So while Jacob struggled he was eventually triumphant. This should encourage all who struggle – don’t give up, there is light at the end of the tunnel; it will be worth it; the pain will one day pass; the Olam HaBah (the Kingdom of God) will one day appear!
And how does a low sense of worthiness come into it?
I think that Jacob may well have had some sense of unworthiness, after-all he really knew that he was the 2nd born and that he had stolen the birthright of his older brother Esau. Not only did he pay a heavy price for this deception, his mother did as well, and surely this would have impacted him.
How does this impact and exacerbate the life of struggle?
I discuss this in my blog post ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ which highlights the work of the social researcher, Brene Brown.
Her argument is that those who don’t feel worthy are more likely to fall for addictions; to feel dis-connected (which is not at all the same thing as enjoying solitude), to struggle to find joy and happiness. Someone who feels worthy is more easily able to be vulnerable, and in turn such people are more easily able to ‘hear’ the lessons that God gives us every day and grow from them.
A lack of a sense of worthiness in turn leads to placing barriers and walls which not only lead to disconnection but inhibit any openness to growth and learning.
Perhaps Jacob also struggled in this way, and yet he persevered and broke through. You can too!
Please find below a developing series of Facebook Live sessions exploring in some more depth, the Ten Happiness Principles.
First things first though – thanks Danny!
I decided to do these FB Live recordings after encouragement from Danny, a good friend who is an entrepreneur, Social Media wiz, Life Coach and International Businessman
– check him out below:
I created a Udemy Course on the Ten Happiness Principles a couple of years ago – accessible here
So I will post below the series of Facebook Live recordings as I work through presenting again, The Ten Happiness Principles!
This weeks Torah Portion, Ki Tetzei (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) has some very challenging passages – at least when first read on a fairly superficial level, but even perhaps still challenging after deeper reflection!!
It starts off with the narrative about the beautiful woman captured in wartime (Deut 21:10-14).
Thus those who dismiss the Tanakh and it’s teaching because of their rejection of a text they take in a very literal and simplistic manner are really shown to be both ignorant and arrogant in their approach.
I have also written briefly on this Torah Portion in an earlier blog post, ‘Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness’ here.
Dysfunctional Relationships by Rabbi Ari Kahn: http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/54308942.htl
Thanks to a great insight from author Shalom Denbo:
In Genesis 17 we read where God and Avraham have made a covenant and Avraham has just been circumcised and the Almighty comes to comfort him.
So we read in Genesis 18:1 “YHVH appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest time of the day.”
Surely, most of us would consider a personal visit from YHVH, where He appears to us and talks with us would be the greatest thing that could ever happen to us!
Consider a less dramatic analogy:
Some great and famous person such as your country’s President or Prime Minister, or your greatest sportsman or guru comes to visit you and is sitting with you in your lounge. Surely, the honour and prestige would be so great that you would not get up and leave him/her?
Yet, this is exactly what Avraham does, and not just to the President, but to the Creator of the Universe!!
He gets up and leaves Him when he sees 3 strangers walking by; 3 strangers who may just be vagrants or poor travellers.
Read on from verse 1 to verses 2-5:
“2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing across from him. When he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant.
4 Let a little water be brought so that you may all wash your feet and rest under the tree.
5 And let me get a bit of food so that you may refresh yourselves since you have passed by your servant’s home. After that you may be on your way.” “All right,” they replied, “you may do as you say.” – NET
Avraham doesn’t just leave God ‘standing’, he runs from Him!!
I had never seen this before or thought of what it signifies.
Is Avraham so ‘familiar’ with the Almighty that he can do this; or is he simply not aware of the great and awesome honour bestowed upon him to have YHVH in his presence, communing with him?
Denbo suggests another option.
He argues that we learn from this text that Avraham wishes to emulate the Almighty, that is to be godly.
To be godly is to wish to be like God and to take responsibility for the world.
Avraham sees the 3 strangers and cares for their welfare as they travel exposed to the heat at the hottest time of the day.
Avraham desires to help these strangers, to offer them refreshment and shelter for a moment from the heat of the day.
Avraham sees being like God s more important that being with God!
What an amazing lesson!
This is surely what God wants from all of us. Not to wish that the peak of our existence is to commune with Him, but the peak of our being is to be as much like Him, as godly as possible and as a result to undertake ‘tikkun HaOlam’, that is, to undertake to repair the world, to take responsibility to do all within our power to impact the world for the better.
To be Godly, to be Holy!
This insight from “7 Traits: How to Change Your World” by Shalom Denbo.
In Uriel Ben Mordechai’s new translation of Romans (principally from the earliest extant version we have, Papyrus 46 – circa 170 CE), we see the use of the Hebraic understanding of our nature consisting of two ‘hearts’, that is, of a fleshly heart and a spiritual heart; an evil inclination (the Yetzer haRa), and a good inclination, (the Yester HaTov).
I discuss Flusser’s approach unique and revolutionary approach in my book ‘The New Testament: The Hebrew Behind the Greek’. This excerpt summaries his approach:
… A significant part of Flusser’s approach as a linguist fluent in over 9 languages including Greek and Hebrew, was to translate the Greek versions of Luke, for example, back into Hebrew. When he did this, he was able to show how good a fit such ‘reverse-translations’ were, as well as highlight small but significant portions where this does not work.