Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Found it! (Finally!)

Eureka! Eureka! Eureka!

No, I'm not running naked down the streets of old Syracuse.

Why so excited, Steve? Call it a little thing, but it always bothered me when Paul writes in Romans 3:10, "As it is written," and proceeds with a litany of accusations against the world that, with the exception of the rest of verse 10, is not found as a single passage anywhere in the Bible, yet it seems like he's quoting a single passage.

For eight verses, Paul is quoting Old Testament Scripture. But where is it found?

Some Bibles have references in the margins. Most Bibles reference the following verses, and have Paul bouncing all over the Scripture. Go ahead, look them up and compare. I'll wait.

Rom. 3:10b-12Ps. 14:1b-3
Rom. 3:13aPs. 5:9
Rom. 3:13bPs. 140:3
Rom. 3:14Ps. 10:7
Rom. 3:15-17Is. 59:7, 8
Rom. 3:18Ps. 36:1

You're back. Ok, that's a fairly decent compilation. So that solves the "where's it written?" question.1

Sort of. It's always bothered me that he treats this as one passage of scripture. In every other place where he compiles scripture together, he puts a divider between the quotes, such as "and again" (Rom. 15: 9-12; I Cor. 3:19, 20; Heb. 1:5, 6; 2:12, 13; 10:30), or "and in another place," (Heb. 5:5, 6).

So why not here? It's always struck me as though Paul is quoting from one passage. But since I couldn't find this as one passage anywhere, I figured, "Oh well, I guess not."

Now, I recently got hold of an English translation of the Septuagint (hereinafter referred to as LXX), which is well known to be the actual Scriptures used by the Greek-writing apostles for quoting Old Testament Scriptures, most of the time verbatim.

I've been reading my daily Psalms out of this translation this month. Since yesterday was the 3rd, I was reading Ps. 11-15, in the LXX numbering (it's off by one starting halfway through 9, since the LXX combines Ps. 9 & 10. For consistency, I will use the Hebrew numbering for this post, even when referring to the LXX. So, put that way, I was reading Ps. 12-16.)

I noticed that 14:3 is much longer than I was expecting! In fact, as I read it, I thought I had switched over to Rom. 3:10ff for a second. It was the whole passage, almost verbatim! Just to be sure, I checked my KJV (closest Hebrew translation Bible to hand), and sure enough, v.3 ends at "[there is] none that doeth good, no, not one." And v.4 reads just like the LXX v.4, so it's not like it's just that the verse numbering is different (as is the case in some passages).

(Now, it wasn't an exact match in English. Very close, but not precise.

But don't worry; just to be sure, I checked the actual underlying Greek of both passages, and it is, in fact, word-for-word2. And it's all one passage, just like I always got the impression it should have been. :) )

So what's my point?

Clearly, the Greek translators added these verses (or at the least compiled them into the Psalm from the other places listed above), some 300 years before Paul wrote Romans. The kicker is that Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, accepted this editing/adding as inspired Scripture.3

1) Therefore, those who would throw out, as not "inspired by God", the "additions" in the LXX to various Old Testament books, and the so-called "extra" books, have no ground for doing so, because, as Paul demonstrates by actual use,

2) the "All Scripture" he's got in mind in 2 Tim. 3:16 includes the "additions" in question, and he definitively says that this "all Scripture" is "inspired of God."

3) Those who object to the so-called "apocrypha" on doctrinal grounds, would do well to remember that

    a) these are included in the very same LXX that Paul says is "inspired", and "[is] profitable for doctrine...",
    b) and, therefore, we ought to judge our doctrine by those books, and not those books by our doctrine.

4) Furthermore, those who claim to practice "Sola Scriptura", would do well to include "all Scripture" in that claim, including the "additions" that they so blithely threw out during the Reformation, just because they didn't agree with their preconceived dogmas (see point 3 above).

5) Finally, to those who are "KJV Only", even if you don't agree with some of these conclusions, remember that, at the very least, your KJV is missing a good chunk of fully inspired Scripture out of Ps. 14:3. I'm just sayin'. :)

Anyway, it's late, and I need to get to bed ("for he giveth his beloved sleep!")

1We take into consideration that Paul combines the phrase
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, [and] seek God.
with the obvious "and didn't find any" conclusion, and then (for parallelism, one would assume?) just says,
There is none that understandeth,
there is none that seeketh after God.

If this is merely a compilation, Paul appears to take similar liberties with the other verses, particularly Isaiah 59: 7, 8.

2Except for the parallelism adjustment from Ps. 14:2 to Rom. 3:11, mentioned in Footnote 1, which is, apparently, a separate issue.

3Some might say, "Then is the Book of Enoch also to be considered Holy Scripture, based on Jude 14?" Perhaps. But this is not clear. In my opinion, "no", since Jude does not use the introductory phrase, "it is written," which seems to me to be the key indicator that the writer (or speaker, viz. Jesus in Matt. 4) is about to quote what he considers to be inspired, Holy Scripture.

On the one hand, if merely quoting from an "extra-biblical" source puts said source into the "inspired" category, then the heathen Greek poets Epimenides (Acts 17:28, Titus 1:12) and Menander (1 Cor. 15:33) would also have to be considered inspired.

On the other hand, that Jude is relying on the book of Enoch as valid prophecy could mean that Jude considered the book of Enoch to be inspired.

So, when "it is written" is not used, it's not nearly as clear of an issue.

QOTD: On Living the Scriptures

From here.

St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 3:3) …”you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” This gives a new meaning to the “New Testament Church.” Now we can see that it means the Church which is the “New Testament,” and this same New Testament continues to be read in the Churches who have preserved that same faith.

It is simply not enough to study the Scriptures. We must become the Scriptures so that all might read Christ in our heart and know the Truth of the gospel. Talk about the gospel will not save the world. Only the gospel enfleshed in human lives can be said to constitute preaching. This is what Christians are ordained (Baptized) to do.