Epistles of Thomas

June 22, 2009

Mormon scholar to work on Biblia Hebraica Quinta

Brigham Young University is reporting that professor Donald W. Parry has been assigned to work on the book of Isaiah in BHQ which will replace BHS once it is complete. Parry makes the rather curious statement that “This work will impact virtually all translations of the Old Testament (including the King James Version) for many years to come, including all translations of all of the world’s languages.” Obviously the KJV was translated four hundred years ago and nothing can impact its form. This statement stems from the Mormon reliance on the KJV, which they believe is the closest to God’s intended revelation, although even it has errors such as excluding mention of Joseph Smith’s status as prophet. What does Parry mean when he claims that BHQ will impact the KJV? Is he suggesting that the LDS will be able to create a translation closer to God’s intended word? Does he imply that he will discover new things in Isaiah that will provide evidence for the Mormon view of doctrine and scripture?

Does it make sense to have a Mormon work on BHQ? As much as most of the disinterested scholars, I suppose. So far most of Parry’s published work deals with the Bible’s relation to Mormonism and the Book of Mormon. It will be interesting to see how his views are confirmed or changed through this process.

I read a summary of a lecture Don Parry’s made on the DSS thanks to the ping from heartissuesforlds (see comments). One of the comments on that summary quotes from Parry’s book Harmonizing Isaiah (FARMS, 2001) and demonstrates the bias Parry works with:

“translators who lived before the restoration of the gospel [i.e. LDS] believed doctrines and teachings that biased their translations. Likewise, translators since that time tend to be biased in similar ways. Like their earlier counterparts, they may embrace teachings that are not compatible with the doctrines of the gospel as revealed through Joseph Smith and other prophets of the latter days. Such false teachings include predestination, creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing), the Trinity as three in one, an immaterial God who cannot be seen by humans on earth, and a denial of living prophets of God, modern temple worship, the gifts of the Spirit, angels, and so on” (12-13).

All translators have some kind of theological bias but most are either within orthodox Christianity or are supposedly disinterested in proving any theological points. Parry works within an entirely different paradigm as this makes clear. Is he truly blind to the fact that he is biased towards ensuring that he embraces a translation that is compatible with the revelations of Joseph Smith? Whenever you accuse someone of bias you need to be aware of what bias is causing you to make that claim. Which bias is true? 😀

March 5, 2009

Stranger than fiction?

Filed under: Dead Sea Scrolls — Thomas @ 19:31
Tags: , ,

In the truth is stranger than fiction category comes two articles today.

First of all the son (Raphael Haim Golb) of an expert (Norman Golb, University of Chicago) on the Dead Sea Scrolls was arrested in New York, accused of trying to discredit Lawrence Schiffman of New York University. Schiffman believes that the scrolls are Essene, whereas Golb claims they were compiled by a number of different Jewish sects. Apparently Golb’s son felt his father’s case needed a little extracurricular augmentation. He may have lots of time in a small cell to think about it, much like the monks of old.

Secondly, there was the story of the auction of Ghandi’s personal possessions. The seller played the media hype expertly and netted $1.8 million! Not bad for a few possessions from a devout Hindu who dedicated his life to living simply. I’m sure Ghandi would have words for those who have $1.8 million to blow on his personal items. Do they want to remember him so they don’t have to live like him?

July 5, 2008

Gabriel’s Revelation?

In Sunday’s New York Times there is an interesting story about a tablet discovered that dates to the second century BC: Tablet Ignites Debate on Messiah and Resurrection. It reports that this MAY provide evidence of the pre-Jesus idea of the Jewish messiah dying and rising again after three days. There is some vital text missing from the stone but it seems to suggest that Jesus did not invent the idea of a suffering, dying, and resurrecting Jewish Messiah.

I can’t see this changing things though. Those who accept Jesus in the Christian sense will say that he fulfilled pre-existing expectations and died for the people of God, including both Jews and Gentiles, whereas those who do not believe will say that Christians co-opted an existing tradition and presented Jesus as this suffering, dying Messiah. Either way I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more about this next Easter if not in the coming months.

February 22, 2008

Qumran Library

Filed under: Dead Sea Scrolls — Thomas @ 22:31

The University of the Holy Land has an interesting virtual reality take on the Qumran library. Click on the .mov file name to check out what it looked like 2000 years ago. I know Lawell will want to have a look! Sorry but I don’t think it will let you pull out the scrolls and unroll them.

September 18, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls Symposium 2007

Filed under: Dead Sea Scrolls — Thomas @ 23:10

The Canadian Bible Society, the Canada Research Chair in Dead Sea Scrolls Studies, and Trinity Western University are sponsoring the Dead Seas Scrolls Symposium 2007. It will be held at TWU October 11-13. These three days are packed with lectures. The price is also packed: $180 or $75 for students. Several of the lecture topics sound quite interesting and two speakers will be talking about the Isaiah scrolls. For more information and a registration form visit the Canadian Bible Society.

September 13, 2007

Reading ancient scrolls without opening them

Filed under: Dead Sea Scrolls — Thomas @ 22:18

There was a fascinating article on BBC today about the development of a machine that can shine “light” through old scrolls and determine what the text is with needing to unroll them. ‘Super-scope’ to see hidden texts recounts that all you need to read your ancient scrolls is a £260m ($527m) synchrotron. The are currently practicing with their new toy but hope to be able to put it to use on things like some of the Dead Sea Scrolls which have been unable to be unrolled for fear of destroying them.

June 29, 2007

Modern Translations of Ancient Versions

Filed under: Dead Sea Scrolls,Septuagint,Translation — Thomas @ 10:10

Yesterday I mentioned the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS). This is hardly the first time the Septuagint has been translated into English but the most common translation in use today is by Lancelot C.L. Brenton and was published in 1851. The NETS is therefore a huge step forward for those who cannot read Greek but want to study the Greek Old Testament. There are many other ancient versions which have been translated into English. The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible was published by Harper Collins and translated by Martin G. Abegg Jr., Peter Flint, and Eugene Ulrich (0060600640). This translation contains all of the Old Testament which is found in the various Dead Sea Scrolls. Not all of the books survived in their entirety so this translation is missing some parts. Also the book of Esther was not found at Qumran so it is absent. George Lamsa translated the Syriac Bible and it was published as Holy Bible: From the Ancient Eastern Text by Harper Collins (0060649232). There are some problems with his translation however so handle with care. The Latin Vulgate has also been translated into English, most notably as the Douay-Rheims version. Available online: http://www.drbo.org. This is of interest in recognising why there are some fundamental differences between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

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