All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me. Psalm 56:5
Surely the Word of God can't be Anti-Semitic !? (or to use a more accurate terminology; Anti Jew and Anti-Israel)
No; but.... The writing of the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and must be read in a similar manner in order for God to communicate to us. Man can get in the way of this process, if we allow a translator or expositor to colour what the original revelation said.
There is no problem with the Word of God, but there may be problems in the printed book that you are reading; it is an interpretation of God's word. Our friend Amnon observes that, "Reading the scriptures in a translation (from Hebrew) is like kissing your bride through a handkerchief." Strive to get as close to the original as you can.
You might also be reading your Bible through cultural spectacles. By this I mean understanding the meaning of what you read through ways of thinking or methods of interpretation that you have grown up with.
There are several possible areas to consider. Remember, most of the Bible (Old and New Testament) was written originally in Hebrew. Even that which was written in Greek was written by Jews (and, possibly, one proselyte) who thought in Hebrew idioms and word patterns (which can still be discerned in the Greek). Church History shows that the Church wilfully rejected its Jewish roots and adopted Replacement Theology and Greek philosophy.
Here are a few problems which you may find in your Bible if you do not use it wisely.
This was relatively harmless nonsense when it was first published, since until the state of Israel came into being, the area was known as Palestine. But, the area once known as Palestine is now history and the land shown in this map is Israel.
There was no Palestine in Jesus' time. Jesus lived in Galilee, Judea and Samaria.
The land was not given the name "Palestina" until the Romans coined it in 138CE, in order to deny the Jews' roots in the land.
But, sadly, this error slips easily into belief in the present day myth created by the Palestinian Authority, that the land historically belongs to the Arabs who, since 1967, have branded themselves "Palestinians.
This map appears in an RSV Bible - published in 1971, when any Christian should have known the title was dangerous nonsense..
In 2018, the latest edition of the NIV (New International Version) perpetuates the same error / falsehood / bias.
The map entitled "Palestine in the time of Jesus" in the latest NIV Bible. There was no Palestine in the time of Jesus.
Look carefully at the block of text at the top of this plate from The Action Bible, recounting the story of the return from the Babylonian exile with Nehemiah. "... THE JEWS FOLLOW THE SAME ROUTE THAT ABRAHAM ...WHEN HE OBEYED GOD'S COMMAND TO LEAVE UR AND MAKE A NEW NATION IN PALESTINE" You and I may know that the name "Palestine" was not coined by the Romans until 135CE but the young readers of the Action Bible will buy into the post 1967 Palestinian fiction that there has been a nation of Palestine since Before the time of Abraham. Notice also how the error/lie has crept from an appendix, as the maps above, into the body of what purports to be the Bible!
The Action Bible, illustrated by Sergio Cariello is published by David C. Cook, and written for children aged 9 to 12. Former Marvel and DC Comics illustrator Sergio Cariello retells 215 Bible stories in colorful comic-book format.
The first people to translate the Bible into English chose to change the Hebrew names of people and places into names which sounded English. (via Greek) (the same is true for other languages)
This might sound harmless, but tends to mask the Jewish identity of the people in the Bible, and the location of the events in Jewish territory. It certainly obscures the connection between the Bible narrative and the people and places of present day Israel. Most unfortunate is the conversion of Yeshua to Jesus (via Iosus in Greek), which hides his Jewish identity and takes the meaning out of Matthew 1 v21 and Luke 2 v30 . (Yeshua means Yah is salvation)
When you read a Bible which uses transliterations of the Hebrew names, you will notice the continuity between the Bible and present day Israelis, who still use the same names. The characters in your Bible were Israelites; not Englishmen! (see the Complete Jewish Bible)
The same is true of the place names. It is much easier to deny the Jews' connection to the land of the Bible if the place names have all been modified.
You may well have been taught that Saul of Tarsus changed his Hebrew name to the Greek name Paul. This fits conveniently with replacement theology viewpoint that Paul ceased to be Jewish when he became a "Christian" and enables people to interpret Paul's teachings in terms of Christ having done away with "the Law".
The truth, as explained by Dr David Stern, in his notes on the Complete Jewish Bible, is that Sha'ul (Hebrew name usually known as Saul) would have had two names, as did many Jews living outside Israel then as now. He had a Greek name for use in his Gentile home town, but he also had the Hebrew name which he received at his circumcision. Sha'ul never ceased to be a Jew – he merely became fulfilled in Yeshua.( a follower of "the Way"; not a Gentile Christian)
Acts 18 v18 tells of Paul/Shaul fulfilling a Nazirite (Jewish) vow. He had not cast off the Torah!
Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.
If you look at the Greek text where James is mentioned, it is clear that he actually had the Hebrew name Jacob ( Jaakov in Hebrew OT - Iakobos in Greek NT). His name was translated as James to flatter King James, the patron of the translation. James has been accepted since then.
A casual reading of John's gospel will suggest that life was continual confrontation between Jesus and the Jews. Because Jesus is so clearly and approachably presented in the Gospels, and possibly because of Sunday School representations, we may feel Jesus is one of us, in conflict with "alien" or "foreign" Jews. Anti-Semites can read this gospel whilst maintaining their identification with a Gentile Jesus who is battling against those wicked Jews. But this is nonsense, since Jesus and his followers were all Jews. All the disputes in these gospels are between Jews and Jews, but they are between those open to God and the religious who were locked in legalism. John's labels (as we receive them in English) might not be very helpful to us, but would not have been an issue until his readership had been exposed to hellenisation and antipathy to Jews. David Stern devotes several pages to this issue in his Jewish New Testament Commentary. (pages 157-161) He refers to the people Jesus disputed with as the "Judeans", meaning the city sophisticates and religious rulers, as distinct from the common country people like himself.
Interestingly, an Israeli friend points out that Judas Iscariot (in English) would have been "Yehuda ish kyriat"; the Hebrew for Judas the city man - to distinguish him from the country men (Galileans)
You might hear people who can read Greek referring to "the original Greek texts", but actually they are referring to the oldest surviving manuscripts. Nehemiah Gordon's researches suggest that much of the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew. Unfortunately it is possible that a Greek bias and prejudice had already crept in to this first translation. Translators can only do their best to recapture the full meaning as penned by the (Jewish) author. David Stern's Complete Jewish Bible captures so much better the Jewish flavour and meaning, as well as steering clear of the anti-Jewish biases of many translators and expositors.
The same can easily be thought of Acts if verses are taken out of context. There are references to "the Jews" where Luke must be referring to the Jews who rejected the Gospel, since nearby verses indicate that other Jews accepted the message. See Acts 14 v1 and 18 v6-8 for instance.
CJB - Act_14:1 In Iconium the same thing happened — they went into the synagogue and spoke in such a way that a large number of both Jews and Greeks came to trust.
Act_14:2 But the Jews who would not be persuaded stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers.
KJV - Act 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
Act 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
Acts 18 v6-8 But when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, "Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles."
Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
Surely the synagogue ruler and his family were Jews!
Acts 14 v2, read in isolation in the KJV, could be read to infer that all the Jews were unbelieving.
In Revelation 2 v9 Jesus says,
I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Many Christians have assumed over the years that Jesus is condemning the Jews in general as a "synagogue of Satan" and this has led to the use of the phrase “synagogue of Satan” as an anti-Jewish slander.
There is no justification for this idea as
1 - David Stern discussed in JNTC ( p795 ). Unbelieving Jews are never called non Jews in the New Testament.
The most sensible understanding of this verse is the obvious one; Jesus is referring to Gentiles who were claiming to be Jews and trying to persuade Jesus’ followers to join them.
Paul had to write to the Galatians to warn against such people (The Judaizers and their adherents) and remind the Galatians of the truth of the Gospel. Even today there are Gentiles who are pretending to be Jews. Anyone doing this and leading Christians away from true faith in Jesus merits Jesus’ description in Revelation 2 v9. (See JNTC page 560-563 in Galatians 5)
2 - David Pawson points out that those slandering the church could well be the Jews in the synagogue in that particular town. (not all Jews everywhere) Remember, Paul explains in Romans, that not all Israel is the Israel of God. Jesus could well have meant that those persecuting his church were not real, trusting Jews although they were ethnically Jewish.
David Stern points out (Page 97 of his Jewish New Testament Commentary) that Mark 12 v38 is usually translated into English in a way that makes it appear that Jesus is condemning all teachers of the Law.
KJV - Beware of the scribes, which......
RSV - "Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes....."
NIV - As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces,
That comma after the word scribes makes the warning apply to all teachers, but if it was not there it would be clear that Jesus was only warning against the scribes that do these things. The construction of the Greek text does not support that comma! The NIV appears to have taken the error one step further by using a full stop and a new sentence.
Notice how David Stern translates it. See the difference!
CJB - As he taught them, he said, "Watch out for the kind of Torah teachers who like to walk....."
The same problem arises with 1 Thessalonians 2 v14-15 (NIV)
You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.
David Stern explained in JNTC p 618 that the original Greek text has no comma and there are no grounds for inserting a comma.
With the comma it reads that it was the Jews (all of them) that killed Jesus, while without the comma it reads that the Jews being referred to are only those who killed Jesus. The usual translation is thus anti-Semitic. Just read the sentence aloud with and then without the comma.
The power of just one word to distort God's covenant promises.
From Torah Pearls 33 by Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson.
In the KJV, Leviticus 26 38-42 says,
And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them. Lev 26:40 If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
Whereas the CJB translates it as
Lev 26:38 And among the nations you will perish; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who remain will pine away in the lands of your enemies from guilt over your misdeeds and those of your ancestors. Then they will confess their misdeeds and those of their ancestors which they committed against me in their rebellion; they will admit that they went against me. At that time I will be going against them, bringing them into the lands of their enemies. But if their uncircumcised hearts will grow humble, and they are paid the punishment for their misdeeds; then I will remember my covenant with Ya`akov, also my covenant with Yitz'chak and my covenant with Avraham; and I will remember the land.
Nehemia points out that that “If” is just is not there in the Hebrew.
It is part of the prophecy that, after all these things have happened, Israel will confess.
"If they will confess" opens the door for replacement theology (or was put there to open the door to replacement theology.)
"If" allows the possibility that God will be entitled to shut out the Jews for failing to repent; in spite of all his covenant promises to never give up on Israel.
KJV - Romans 11:15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
CJB - Romans 11:15 For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead!
( "Them" and "they" and "their" refers to the Jews - the subject of this chapter )
There is quite a dramatic difference here - why?
David Stern explains the issue on page 412 of his Jewish New Testament Commentary. The issue revolves on the Greek apobole avton, that literally translates as "their rejection". There are two possible translations; does it mean they (the Jews) have been rejected by someone or they have rejected something or someone? (the objective genitive or the subjective genitive)
The first, common, translation supports Replacement Theology; but does it make sense? V2 says unequivocally that "God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew." Therefore Paul would not later say that God had cast them away, merely that, (v8) "God hath given them the spirit of slumber"
So the second interpretation is demonstrably true, in that the majority of Jews rejected Yeshua as their Messiah and caused Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles, (reconciling the world) But look at the promise of life from the dead when the Jews receive Yeshua as their Messiah. This makes the progress of the Messianic Jewish movement really exciting. ( see Zechariah 12 )
It would appear that traditional, ingrained outlooks on the Jews cause translators to pick translation 1, whereas translation 2 makes much more sense.
Some argue that Christ had done away with the Law, the Jewish Torah, quoting, "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." Romans 10 v4 NIV. This argument comes close to Anti-Semitism and demeans the first five books of our Bible - Jesus' scriptures!
This is due to the rendering of the Greek word "Teleos" as "end", in the sense of termination. Teleos is used 42 times in the New Testament, and in the great majority of cases it means, "aim, purpose or goal to which a movement is directed" (Teleology is the branch of philosophy dealing with goals and purposes)
The original reader of the KJV might have understood "end" in the sense of goal (as in "the end justifies the means") but it understood by today's reader as termination. All major English translations follow the KJV, but David Stern translates teleos as "the goal at which the Torah aims." See JNTC p 395
John 19 v19 & 20 in the NIV read,
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.
Nearly all the European language translations render the Greek word "Hebraisti" as "Hebrew." This seems the obvious translation, so why do the NIV, ESV, NIVRR and TNIV translations opt for Aramaic? Does someone have a problem with acknowledging the Jewish language?
Then there is in John 20:16
Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).
The expression, "In Aramaic" is just not there in the Greek. (Neither is "in Hebrew" - JNT)
Why the compulsion to teach that Jesus spoke to his friends and disciples in a language other than Hebrew? Do the translators have an agenda re Hebrew?
It could be that "Rabboni" is an Aramaic word but, apparently, the linguistic clues suggest that the translation of ancient copies of John may have been made from Aramaic, and that "Rabboni" was merely used from that language..
Also, "rabbi" is Hebrew, and "my rabbi" would have come out something like "rabboni" - in the same way that Adon (lord) becomes Adonai for "my Lord."
See the KJV with Strongs Greek references, from E-Sword.
John 20:16 JesusG 2424 saith G3004 unto her, G846 Mary. G3137 She G1565 turned G4762 herself, and saith G3004 unto him, G846 Rabboni; G4462 which is to say, G3739 G3004 Master. G1320 - -
G4462 - Rabboni - of Chaldee origin - corresponding to G4461 : - Lord
Other claims about Aramaic
"Abba" is Aramaic - "Abba" is used to this day by Hebrew speaking children, as their equivalent to Daddy - as opposed to "Avi" for Father. Anyway, as you know there is very little difference between "vuh" and "buh" / B and V in Hebrew; just one dot and that is seldom used.
"Talitha cumi" is Aramaic -
"Cumi" means arise in Hebrew anyway and calling a girl "talitha" meaning "little lamb" could just as easily be another affectionate term that was used in both languages.
Jesus' cry "my God, My God" was in Aramaic - "Eloi, Eloi" is not much different from the Hebrew "Elohi, Elohi" and since Yeshua was always quoting scriptures that people would hook on to and recall a whole passage from which they come, I would be surprised if (in Jerusalem on a high holy day) he would make this awesome statement in any language other than Hebrew. (see observations above about Aramaic translations being used for the Greek translation.)
Many teachers, who are able to understand Greek, speak of "the original Greek" when working on a difficult point because that was how they were trained in theological college. Unfortunately, this facititates to continuance of errors like Replacement theology and hides the true meaning intended by Jesus when he was speaking to Hebrew speakers and using Hebrew turns of phrase.
But emerging scholarship is showing that Matthew* and John* were originally written in Hebrew. The, so called, original Greek sources are actually only the oldest surviving manuscripts, and not proof that the original was Greek. In fact, Hebrew scholars can identify Hebreaisms in the Greek text that have no meaning until they are translated back into Hebrew.
The oldest surviving Hebrew manuscript of Matthew dates from the fourteenth century, and was copied out by a rabbi in preparation for the Disputations* that took place in Spain, so that Jews could engage with the Christians against whom they had to defend their faith.
So why, one might ask, are there not more and older surviving Hebrew manuscripts?
Why would there be?
The Jews who did not believe that Yeshua from Nazareth was / is the Messiah would have no interest in preserving books about him. Indeed they were content to explain him away as a historical blip in the Jewish story, and most references were a curse on his name and on his followers.
The Church set about distancing itself from all things Jewish and made Jews who did believe in Yeshua into Gentile Christians and fitted them into a Greek church. Church History shows how Greek philosophy replaced Hebrew thinking and anti Semitism became policy. So the Church had no interest in preserving Hebrew manuscripts of New Testament books.
We have to remember that the mindset of the time was not the same as that which is struggling to emerge in our day.
* The Disputations were part of the 15th century persecution and expulsion of Jews from Spain. Representatives of Jewish communities were summoned to debate their faith against Christians. If they lost, the Jewish community had to convert or leave. If they won, it would be worse as they had insulted the state religion. See The Hebrew Yeshua vs the Greek Jesus by Nehemia Gordon for a fuller explanation. (page 38) see also The Jewish Gospel of John by E Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, available as a free pdf download
While we are looking at the NIV, let's consider at its translation using "envy" and "envious" in Romans 11 vs11 and 14
Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
.....in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
David Pawson points out that if I look longingly at someone else's wife I am guilty of envy. But if someone stole away my wife I would be jealous. It is good to be jealous for what is my own but bad to be envious of what is someone else's. ( God is jealous )
Paul is speaking of making the Jews jealous because we Gentiles have now received the blessing that was originally theirs alone! To suggest the Jews will be envious of some special Gentile blessing that we have is arrogant, and not what Paul was suggesting at all!
In "WHY CARE ABOUT ISRAEL" Sandra Teplinsky points out another issue with the NIV; the Greek word pleroma. Pleroma appears seventeen times in the New Testament and the King James Version translates every occurrence as fullness. The NIV translates it the same way every time except for Romans 11v25 where it translates pleroma as "full number".
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, ..............NIV
For brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine that you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el until the Gentile world enters its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra'el will be saved. ..............CJB
Why the odd translation to change the meaning to purely numerical?
We all know we are not to add to God's word or subtract from it but .....
What about the section headings added in many translations? They can be useful for finding a section but some folk read the headings as part of "the Word" in church services. If these reflect prejudices held by the publishers they can seriously influence our understanding.
It is said that one early English translation of Romans 11, which says, "I ask then: Did God reject his people?", was headed "Israel rejected," even though Paul answered his question straight away with, "God forbid."
David Pawson points out the problems with having a commentary built into your Bible in parallel with the text (or at the foot of the page). He found that some people quoted from commentaries, but didn't realise they were only quoting the opinions of a man; they thought they were quoting scripture.
This author prefers not to even underline in his Bible, since this action connects a passage to a truth revealed on one particular occasion. What if God wanted to reveal something else nearby at some future occasion?
Some Jews have accused the New Tesament of being Anti Semitic - we discuss this.
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