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The New Testament in Chronological Order

THE NEW TESTAMENT  in Chronological Order

by Giuseppe Guarino

The following is the Introduction to the above version of the New Testament which has the 27 books arranged in chronological order.

We all know that the books in our Bibles are not arranged in any particular order. In particular, no discernable criteria can be distinctly identified in the way the New Testament books are presented.

Originally, the apostolic writings must have circulated  independentely. Every church must have had the letters addressed to them by the apostles. They must have had copies of letters addressed to other churches, too.

Paul himself promoted this habit among the churches.

And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16).

The epistles to the Thessalonians are the earliest written by Paul. It is noteworthy to read there,

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (20Thessalonians 2:1-2)

Some one must have tried to write a letter or letters and make believe they were written by Paul.

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

It looks like a negative thing. It is. But not entirely. In fact, for this reason the Church must have soon felt the importance to develop a critical spirit in order to identify the authentic and discard the spurious.

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand” (Galatians 6:11).

The matter with the Galatians was so important that Paul himself wrote this letter, so that there could be no doubt about the authorship of its content.

We understand that Paul must have dictated other epistles instead of personally write them. In fact he made sure to put his personal seal to confirm his authorsip. See  1 Corinthians 16:21, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon v.19.

Going back to our main theme, chronology, we must say that Mark and Luke must have been written very early. Though many still believe that Matthew was the first of the Gospels to be written. Many also believe the original version of this book was in Hebrew and that only later a Greek version appeared on the scene to complete the narrative of the other two gospels already mentioned. The three would be called Synoptics, because of the clear resemblances among them.

The other “books” came later.

Imitating the Canon of the Old Testament was inevitable. The Church had to have, like Israel, their own Scriptures to state and proclaim the Truth of the Gospel. It was natural for the Church to choose among the many writings produced in the first century and retain the authentic. It was very soon clear that the main characteristic of the Old Testament was true for the apostolic writings too, they are the inspired Word of God.

… even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:15-16)

Peter lists Paul’s epistles among the Scriptures!

I believe the apostles had a clear understanding of how to make sure the Truth could be preserved and handed down to future generations.

Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” (1lPeter 13-15).

The apostles took their ministry very seriously – they even paid their faithfulness to Jesus’ mandate with their lives, sealing their witness by their blood. They made sure their report would not be lost or corrupted by false witness, when they would go. Evidence of their love for Truth and wise conduct is in your hands every time you read the New Testament.

The early Church identified twenty-seven books as inspired.

In this edition of the New Testament, we plan to present the books arranged in a chronological order.

Though no exact criteria can be seen in the way the books are usually arranged, we believe it is as good as any other and it is by no means binding.

For the Old Testament, Christians and Jews adopt two different ways of collecting the books. The writings are the same, but arranged with a totally different logic. The Jewish canon has Law, Prophets and Writings[1]. The Christian canon has the Law, historical and poetical writings, and the prophets, major and minor.

Basically, somehow the same logic of the Christian Old Testament was imitated when arranging the books of the New.

The Gospels come first. They are followed by the Acts of the Apostles. Then we find the epistles of Paul and the so called general epistles by James, Peter, Jude and John. The book of Revelation closes the Christian canon and is the last book of the Bible.

Can we try to put these same books in a chronological order?

This will be very profitable for the epistles of Paul, even for exegetical purposes. So, this is where we start to look for the chronology of the books of the New Testament. Since, the book of the Acts of the Apostles and the details found in the epistles themselves give us a reliable starting point to determine when was written what.

This is the most probable order of composition of Paul’s epistles.

During the Second Missionary Journey -Acts 16:1-18:22
1 Thessalonians  52  AD from Corinth
2 Thessalonians
During the Third Missionary Journey – Acts 18:23
1 Corinthians Spring 57 AD from Ephesus
2 Corinthians Autumn 57 AD. from Macedonia
Galatians Autumn 58 AD from Macedonia
Romans 58 AD from Corinth
During Paul’s emprisonment in Rome – Acts 28:11-31
Philippians
Ephesians
Colossians
Philemon
During the imprisonment or the possible liberation
1 Timothy
Titus
2 Timothy

 

Of course, since the books of the New Testament were not dated, we cannot be dogmatic on our arrangement. What I propose here is a possible reconstruction.

My work is inspired by the ideas expressed by J. B. Lightfoot in his commentaries on the Greek text of Galatians and Colossians in particular.[2]

I also took into consideration internal evidence, using as best as I could my personal acquaintance with the New Testament. Of course, I took into consideration the writings of the so called Fathers of the Church and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History in particular. Modern authors were considered too, but, I am even sorry to say, I cannot agree with a liberal view and approach to the New Testament, or the date of its composition given by certain scholars.

Whatever some may say, like the liberal scholar John A. T. Robinson had to admit in his “Redating the New Testament”, no book of the New Testament could have been written later than 70 AD. This statement, to my knowledge, is the most probable ever made on considering the dates of composition of the New Testament books.

Concerning the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, I have been strongly influenced by the amazing work of Jean Carmignac, The Birth of the Synoptic Gospels. He is absolutely right in seeing how dependable the Synoptic were from the Hebrew language. I do not agree totally with all his conclusions, but the strong semitic element agrees with placing the composition of the Gospels at a very early stage of Christianity.

I wrote a book on cave 7’s Greek manuscripts at Qumran. 7Q5 is a fragment that Josè O’ Challagan first identified as the few lines surviving of a copy of the Gospel of Mark. Many other scholars followed in O’ Challagan’s footsteps. Thiede, Montevecchi, just to name two. If 7Q5 is really a copy of Mark, this means this Gospel cannot have been written later than 50 AD, which is the latest possible dating given by scholars for this fragment. For sure, historically speaking, it could have never been copied later than 68 AD, because by that time the site was abandoned because of the Romans attacks that led to the distruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

2 Corinthians 8:18 [3] identifies Luke as “the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches.” (KJV)

This passage can also be translated “the brother, whose praise is because of the Gospel throughout all the churches.” Some versions prefer not to be so literal and render the Greek as follows: “With Titus we are also sending one of the Lord’s followers who is well known in every church for spreading the good news.” (CEV) This is not a translation but an interpretation. Another version: “the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel.” (ESV).

The literal version is the correct one. Luke was never famous for the preaching of the Gospel. Nowhere in the New Testament we read of any specific ministry he had. He is said to have accompanied Paul in his journeys. On the contrary, Luke’s Gospel, written Gospel, was very famous among the Gentiles, to whom it was clearly addressed. The reason why some translations render this passage in a non-literal way is to avoid the possible understanding of an early date of Luke, usually dated by critics much later than the Christian tradition always affirmed. Also, another objection is connected to the possibility of such an early use of the word “gospel” to describe a written account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Well, this could as well just be evidence of an early accepted way of using this term.

In short, critics cannot determine interpretation or translation of a passage to suit their theories. But, theories must be formed giving the Bible the credibility it diserves. And the New Testament here says openly that the Gospel of Luke was already written and known among Christians.

The New Testament as we know it is the result of a close scrutiny of the early Church, which, it is true, was made of local, independent churches. But, at the same time, they were all well connected and able to carry out the task of preserving the Truth, isolating and rejecting the lies. Only the Church of the first centuries was in a position to successfully adopt as Canonical the authentic, inspired books of the new covenant and reject the spurious.

The statement we find at the end of our Bibles, somehow can be extended to the Scriptures in general:

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19).

For this edition of the New Testament we chose the King James Version, probably the most elegant and reliable version of the Bible in English ever printed. It is literal, which is very important. It was not influenced by this or that current of thought. I believe this is vital.

I understand the English of this Bible is not modern and some parts of it may be a little difficult to understand, obscure for today’s English speaking people. But it is worth the while to try to dive into it and enjoy a literary masterpiece, because that’s what it is. Eventhough I am not a native speaker, I love the English language and this version is an unsurpassed masterpiece.

I am sure God will bless the reading of His Word to those who approach it with a sincere heart, aware of its nature and purpose.

“…And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

 

NOTES

________________________________

[1] Infinity is reprinting the JPS Old Testament following the Jewish Canon.

[2] Both recently reprinted by Infinity.

[3] The original Greek text of this passage says: “τὸν ἀδελφὸν οὗ ὁ ἔπαινος ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ διὰ πασῶν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν”.

The Name of God in the English translations of the Old Testament

The Name of God in the English translations of the Old Testament by Giuseppe Guarino

The difficulties connected with the personal Name of God revealed to Moses (Exodus chapter 3) are as old as the need to translate the Old Testament in another language.

The oldest known version of the Hebrew Bible is the Greek translation, the Septuagint, LXX. This version – originally of the Pentateuch only – was sponsored in the third century BC by the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy Philadelphus to enrich the library of Alexandria. The name (meaning Seventy) derives from the legendary original number of translators engaged in this work.

There are controversial ideas as to which path the LXX took concerning the Name. Some argue that the translators preferred to keep the Tetragrammaton, God’s Name, in its original Hebrew form, and simply inserted it into the Greek text. Others argue that the original translation had Kyrios (ie “Lord”).

Whatever the initial choice of those translators was, the difficulty of transposing from the Hebrew into another language such a precious word as the Personal Name of God is evident.

What is the best choice?

Let’s look briefly at the Hebrew original.

When God appeared to Moses, he said to him,

“ ‘I am who I am.’ Then he said: ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘the I AM has sent me to you.’”

If God says in the first person that he is: “the I AM”, the others will have to turn to him calling him: “ י ה ו ה , the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.”

הוהי is the way in which the name revealed to Moses is represented in the Hebrew alphabet. It identified the God who sent him to his people to deliver them from Egypt.

Hebrew is read from right to left. So if we want to transliterate the Hebrew letters in our alphabet, we will have:

י  ה  ו  ה

    H   W  H   Y

Hebrew is written from right to left. So, applying our common sense of writing, we have: YHWH.

The four Hebrew consonants could also be transliterated with the following letters: IHVH, JHWH, or JHVH.

The “y” must be preferred to the “j” and “i” because the “j” has lost the original sound of “long i” in favor of the Anglo-Saxon valence of “g” and the “i” expresses the sound of the Hebrew letter but not the consonant valence, which instead happens with the “y”.

The “v” renders the phonetic value of Hebrew better than the “w” does, though “w” is a more correct way to transliterate.

So, the transliteration JHVH is not exactly the correct one, but has become, indirectly, in the use of Jehovah, the most popular form of transliteration of the Name.

Depending on the various texts that are consulted, one can find a version or another of the transliteration. The simple truth is that, as it is sometimes the case when translating from one language into another, no one can be dogmatic and different transliterations, for different reasons can be considered equally effective alternatives.

The four letters that together make up the Name of God in the Old Testament are commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton (from the Greek tetra grammaton, which means four letters).

In the Hebrew alphabet (we will say for simplicity) vowels are missing. It is made up of only 22 consonants. The discomfort that can follow is easily understood and the correct pronunciation of words is linked to the teaching of one generation to the next of the way a word must be read.

The 22 consonants of the sacred text were considered too holy to even evaluate the possibility to transliterate them into another alphabet. So, the Masoretes, Jewish scholars of the first centuries, added some symbols, which helped the pronunciation of words.

The was vocalized as follows:

יְהוָֹה

While in the vast majority of cases the symbols provided by the Masoretes would give the reader the necessary vowels to be added to the consonants in order to determine the pronunciation of the words, for the Tetragrammaton scholars speak of qere perpetuum, that is, of “permanent corrections, not shown in the margin but inserted in the text through an anomalous vocalization”[1].

This happened because when the Masoretes added their vocalization, the Orthodox Jews had long ceased to read the Tetragrammaton, preferring to pronounce in its place the word “Adonai”, corresponding to the English “Lord.” The vowels of Adonai were then those added to the consonants of the divine name for the vocalization.

In the 16th century, a German scribe who was transliterating the Bible into the Latin alphabet for the Pope simply interleaved the vowels with the consonants resulting in the reading  Iehovah.[2]

Later (in 1611) the King James Version of the Bible, introduced the reading Iehovah. This, with the evolution of the English language, became Jehovah by many still considered the pronunciation par excellence of the name of God. For sure, it is the most commonly known and used.

The affection that binds Anglo-American Christians to Jehovah has generated several attempts to systematically use it in biblical translations.

In 1901 the American Standard Version, used Jehovah in all the places where the Hebrew original of the Old Testament had the Tetragrammaton.

In the 1960s, Jehovah’s Witnesses produced their own translation of the Bible which introduced Jehovah into both the Old and New Testaments.

There have been versions of the Bible that have adopted various readings/transliterations, the most famous of which is probably Yahweh, that many scholars believe to be the correct way to pronounce the Name.

In Italy, my country, a translation of the early 1900’s, Riveduta Luzzi, came up with a peculiar solution. They translated the Name as “the Eternal” in a consistent way, throughout the Old Testament. I once thought this solution was totally crazy. But with a better knowledge of the original I have certainly changed my mind. The reasons are explained very well by Asher Intrater, in his book “Who ate lunch with Abraham?” Asher basically says – and he is a Jew and a Hebrew scholar – that  the three vowels e, o, a, added by the Masoretes for the reading of   הוהי are a verbal structure. The e (sh’va) indicates the future versal tense, the o (holom) the present and the a (patach) the past, giving the name YeHoVaH the meaning of “He will be, He is, He was,” in other words, the Eternal. I strongly suggest you get a copy of this great book. It is a masterpiece.

Today’s Italian version The New Diodati adopts this reading for the Old Testament occurrences of the Name.

“The Eternal” is a peculiar choice that seems to be exclusively and Italian phenomenon. The reason why I am calling this to the readers’ attention is that this use of the term “The Eternal” is not totally destitute of biblical foundation. I will say more later about this fascinating topic.

Anyway, the reading Jehovah and its variations, Yehovah or Yehowah, cannot be considered the right representation of the sound of the original Name, simply because the vowels inserted are those of a qere perpetuum that invite the reader to read out lout Adonai, Lord, when the Name of God is the the text.

We must be honest. Being often confronted with problems in translating from one language to another, I know: the translation of the Divine Name of Exodus 3 and following is a serious problem. Those who propose easy ways out do it only to please the public, but do not solve or even face the problem, they oversimplify the matter in order to achieve their own goals and follow their personal agenda.

What should we do when translating the Old Testament into another language?

We could just leave the original four Hebrew letters, as we find in some manuscripts of the ancient Greek version of the Septuagint. The problem, however, remains: how should we read it? Those who put the Name in the Hebrew alphabet in the LXX were – no question about it –  Jews and thinking of Jewish readers of the Sacred Text. Their purpose was not proselytism outside of the Jewish circles. Their text would be read by people who knew they should pronounce the Name Adonai.

No translation from one language to another, and this applies to 100% of the cases, will be able, in several points, to perfectly render all the nuances of one language into the language in which it is translated.

This is also the case with the Name revealed by God to Moses, as well as other names of God given in the Bible. For example, “Lord” is the way we translate the Hebrew אדני, Adonai. Yet, just like אלהים, Elohim, which we translate God, is a plural form. This is peculiar of the Hebrew language and can’t be rendered in English. Also “sky” and “water” just to name two other examples are plural in Hebrew, but translated in the singular in English – see Genesis 1:1.

The very idea of ​the “name,” of a person or a thing, in Hebrew is not the same as that which conveys the term “name” in our language.

Many, if not all, of those who call God Jehovah do so with the Western idea of ​​“name” in mind. That is why they are only incidentally bothered by the fact that Jehovah is not the real name of God, that it is not the way the Tetragrammaton was actually pronounced.

Although for us Gentiles, foreigners, is quite hard to swallow, הוהי is the exclusive patrimony of the original text of the Tanakh (the Old Testament), something that belongs to the Hebrew culture and language.

Most of the various attempts to recover in the translations the greatness of the biblical original of Exodus 3 and of the other references to the Tetragrammaton have merits, but they fail to convey the entirety of the meaning of the original to the reader who will not go to study firsthand the original languages ​​of the Hebrew Scriptures.

I may be quite unpopular to say this, when we use Jehovah, we cannot think of this as God’s Name. It is an English word created ex-novo to translate the Name and pronounce it in a way we can as we speak English. It is quite handy. Yet, we must be aware that it is as good as any other English word we can try to use to render the Name. I believe the same applies to Yahweh.

Personally, as a translator, I believe that if we use “Lord” or “LORD” we give credit to the choice made by the Jews themselves, who, out of respect for the holy Name of God, avoid its pronunciation – who are we Gentiles to judge them concerning this matter?

Using “Lord” we also follow the lesson of the first translation of Torah ever, the Septuagint, and we are perfectly aligned with the Greek New Testament use in quoting the Old Testament.

[1] Giovanni Deiana and Ambrogio Spreafico, Guide to the study of biblical Hebrew, Urbaniana University Press and British and Foreign Biblical Society, p. 20.

[2] Source, jewfaq.org/name.htm

 

This article is the Introduction to my new book, THE NAME OF GOD

Alessandro Magno e il libro di Daniele

Alessandro Magno e il libro biblico del profeta Daniele di Giuseppe Guarino

Qualunque sia l’approccio al libro biblico di Daniele, oggetto come pochi di controversie fra studiosi di varie fazioni, un solo dettaglio non è sfuggito a nessun commentatore: il fatto che il libro parli di Alessandro Magno. Lo fa in diversi punti e con descrizioni di sicuro interesse sia per lo studioso dei testi sacri sia per quello di documenti storici.

Nell’esame delle parole utilizzate da Daniele si rimane in bilico tra una possibile percezione del profetico nello storico e dello storico nel profetico. Vediamo perché.

Daniele visse fra la fine del settimo secolo a.C. e per quasi tutto il sesto secolo a.C. Ancora giovanissimo venne deportato in Babilonia in una delle scorrerie del re babilonese Nabucodonosor. Venne quindi inserito nell’apparato statale babilonese con un certo successo, che gli permise di continuare nelle importanti cariche ricoperte persino dopo la conquista persiana.

Secondo il testo biblico che tramanda le vicende di questo profeta, egli possedeva un dono simile a quello di un suo illustre predecessore, Giuseppe, quello cioè di poter interpretare i sogni. Un dono che si trovò molto presto a dover manifestare per il re babilonese.

Un sogno che turbò Nabucodonosor lo spinse a cercare chi lo potesse interpretare. Nessuno vi riusciva. Fu un giovane – probabilmente ancora adolescente – di stirpe ebraica ad ardire di stare alla presenza del re, dirgli cosa aveva sognato e darne l’interpretazione.

Nei suoi tormentati sogni notturni il re babilonese aveva visto una gigantesca figura umana, composta da diversi materiali. Daniele li elenca e interpreta al re il significato simbolico di ciò che vede.

Daniele 2:37, 38: “Tu, o re, sei il re dei re, a cui il Dio del cielo ha dato il regno, la potenza, la forza e la gloria; e ha messo nelle tue mani, tutti i luoghi in cui abitano gli uomini, le bestie della campagna e gli uccelli del cielo, e ti ha fatto dominare sopra tutti loro: la testa d’oro sei tu.

Il capo della statua in oro simboleggia Nabucodonosor e il suo regno.

Daniele 2:39:  “Dopo di te sorgerà un altro regno, inferiore al tuo”.

All’impero neobabilonese succederà sulla scena mondiale quello medo-persiano di Ciro. Il quale rimarrà per molto tempo a predominare la scena mondiale.

poi un terzo regno, di bronzo, che dominerà sulla terra”.

Ecco qui che compare il regno greco-macedone di Alessandro Magno. Subito colpisce la descrizione, davvero molto pertinente: “dominerà su tutta la terra”. Inarrestabile, il macedone riuscì a conquistare tutto il mondo allora conosciuto e  la leggenda dice che pianse perché non vi erano più terre da conquistare.

Daniele 2:40:  “poi vi sarà un quarto regno, forte come il ferro; poiché, come il ferro spezza e abbatte ogni cosa, così, pari al ferro che tutto frantuma, esso spezzerà ogni cosa”.

Daniele vede anche l’ascesa della potenza romana, riportando un dettaglio caratteristico di questo impero: la sua forza e inarrestabile avanzata.

Aver interpretato il sogno al re babilonese permetterà a Daniele, come fu per Giuseppe, di occupare presto un posto di tutto rilievo all’interno della corte.

Più avanti, nello stesso libro, sono descritte altre due visioni che completano la prima, arricchendola di dettagli che entusiasmano gli esegeti biblici, ma non meno gli storici.

Al capitolo 7 Daniele vede i medesimi quattro regni del sogno del re, ma stavolta nel simbolismo rappresentato da quattro diversi animali.

Il leone è Babilonia. L’impero persiano un orso. Il regno di Alessandro è visto come un leopardo.

Daniele 7:6: “Dopo questo, io guardavo e vidi un’altra bestia simile a un leopardo con quattro ali d’uccello sul dorso; aveva quattro teste e le fu dato il dominio”.

Sebbene con tipici connotati da vaticinio, la descrizione del regno di Alessandro e dei suoi successori è qui straordinariamente pertinente. Le ali d’uccello, infatti, descrivono la rapidità della inarrestabile conquista alessandrina: in soltanto dieci anni tutto il mondo era stato vinto. Le quattro teste il repentino smembrarsi dell’impero alla morte di Alessandro.

L’attenzione di questa seconda profezia di cui Daniele è ancora quasi passivamente depositario è, però, il quarto regno, quello di Roma. È invece nei capitoli che seguono, da 8 a 11 che il profeta si sofferma interamente sull’ascesa greca, dalla stessa figura di Alessandro, fino alle vicende delle monarchie elleniche che seguono, perché avranno un ruolo fondamentale per il destino di Israele, che si troverà proprio a metà strada fra due regni e le loro ambizioni, quelle dei tolomei e dei seleucidi.

In Daniele 8 leggiamo della nascita dell’impero greco-macedone. La stessa figura di Alessandro viene citata.

Daniele 8:5-7: “Mentre stavo considerando questo, ecco venire dall’occidente un capro, che percorreva tutta la terra senza toccare il suolo; questo capro aveva un grosso corno fra gli occhi. Il capro si avvicinò al montone dalle due corna, che avevo visto in piedi davanti al fiume, e gli si avventò addosso, con tutta la sua forza. Lo vidi avvicinarsi al montone, infierire contro di lui, colpirlo e spezzargli le due corna; il montone non ebbe la forza di resistergli e il capro lo gettò a terra e lo calpestò; non ci fu nessuno che potesse liberare il montone dal potere di quello.

Nella descrizione del profeta viene detto qualcosa di straordinario: una potenza occidentale, la prima della storia dell’umanità, compare sulla scena medio-orientale. Essa avanza su tutta la terra in modo tanto rapido che non tocca nemmeno il suolo. Quale modo più appropriato di descrivere la rapidità della conquista di Alessandro, che in appena dieci anni prese possesso di tutto il mondo conosciuto.

Il grosso corno, nell’antichità simbolo di potenza, è proprio Alessandro Magno. Egli riuscirà a prevalere sulla potenza medo-persiana qui vista come un montone, e lo farà in modo rapido e definitivo.

Circa l’identità di questi simboli profetici non abbiamo alcun dubbio. Poco più in là nello stesso libro, infatti, troviamo l’interpretazione che perfettamente combacia con il dato storico.

Daniel 8:20-21: “Il montone con due corna, che tu hai visto, rappresenta i re di Media e di Persia. Il capro irsuto è il re di Grecia; e il suo gran corno, fra i suoi occhi, è il primo re.

Da storico (dilettante) quale sono, mi sfugge il perché Daniele specifichi la presenza della componente dei Medi all’interno di un impero che certamente nella sua parte più eclatante vide senz’altro un deciso e netto prevalere dell’elemento persiano. Probabilmente, o la storia profana non ci permette di dare altrettanta rilevanza alla presenza dei Medi nell’impero o questa caratteristica viene esaltata per impedirci di confondere questo con qualsiasi altro regno che il lettore possa cercare di trovare nei simbolismi. Tale necessità è evidente nel fatto che qui venga dichiarata apertamente l’identità delle due potenze mondiali viste.

Giuseppe Flavio è uno storico giudeo vissuto a cavallo del primo millennio. Egli trasmette una lunga narrazione che getta ulteriore luce su alcuni dettagli, sul perché Alessandro risparmiò Gerusalemme, mentre dichiara indirettamente l’autenticità delle profezie di Daniele.

Antichità giudaiche, libro undicesimo: “E quando Alessandro ebbe preso Gaza, si affrettò verso Gerusalemme. […] Quando Alessandro fu in prossimità della città, il sommo sacerdote uscì in processione, con i sacerdoti e una moltitudine di cittadini. […] Essa raggiunse un luogo chiamato Safa, che, tradotto in greco (la lingua nella quale scrive lo storico, ndt) significa “prospetto”, perché da lì si ha una vista perfetta sia della città sia del tempio […] Quando Alessandro vide da lontano la moltitudine vestita di bianco, mentre i sacerdoti erano vestiti di lino, e il sommo sacerdote di porpora e scarlatto, con la sua mitra in testa che aveva la placca d’oro sulla quale era inciso il nome di Dio, egli si avvicinò e mostrò reverenza per quel nome e salutò il sommo sacerdote. E così fecero i giudei tutti insieme, con una sola voce, salutarono Alessandro […] Egli entrò nella città e quando salì nel tempio offrì dei sacrifici a Dio, secondo le direttive del sommo sacerdote, e trattò con onore sia il sommo sacerdote che gli altri sacerdoti. E quando gli venne mostrato il libro di Daniele, dove Daniele aveva dichiarato che uno dei greci avrebbe distrutto l’impero dei persiani, egli ritenne che si parlasse di lui”. Ho tradotto dall’opera The Works of Josephus, Complete and Unabridged, translated by William Whiston, A.M.

Purtroppo non solo la gloria di Alessandro, ma anche la sua altrettanto veloce caduta viene descritta in Daniele.

Daniele 8:8 Il capro si irrobustì ma, quando fu al culmine della sua potenza, il suo gran corno si spezzò; al suo posto spuntarono quattro grandi corna verso i quattro venti del cielo”.

Daniele 8:22 Le quattro corna, sorte al posto di quello spezzato, sono quattro regni che sorgeranno da questa nazione, ma non con la stessa sua potenza”.

Fu proprio così che accadde: al culmine della sua potenza e del suo successo, a trentatré anni, Alessandro morì, in Babilonia. Alcuni dicono per una febbre, altri sostengono per un complotto. Ad ogni modo, le parole di Daniele si avverarono alla lettera. Infatti non avendo eredi, furono i generali a spartirsi il grande impero, lasciandosi indietro, ovviamente, la magnificenza di quanto costruito da Alessandro. Ma, allo stesso tempo, continuando quell’opera da lui iniziata, l’ellenizzazione del mondo intero che ha determinato la cultura del mondo occidentale da allora fino ai nostri giorni.

 

 

Qui di seguito il libro che ho pubblicato anni fa su Daniele.

IL LIBRO DI DANIELE – Commentario  storico-profetico – di Giuseppe Guarino

Lo studio del libro del profeta Daniele è essenziale per una corretta comprensione delle profezie messianiche sia della prima venuta del Messia sia del suo ritorno. Il commentario raccoglie informazioni storiche che attestano l’affidabilità del testo biblico, prove patristiche dell’antichità dell’interpretazione dei brani messianici e collegamenti con le profezie del Nuovo Testamento.

libro: https://www.amazon.it/dp/B08735HDFR

ebook: www.amazon.com/dp/B086MNFXT5

 

 




Amore per la Verità

AMORE PER LA LIBERTA’ di Giuseppe Guarino

Quanto amiamo la Verità? L’amiamo a sufficienza da essere pronti a sopportare le conseguenze che essa spesso porta con sé?

Gesù non ci ha mai mentito. Non ha detto che la verità ci avrebbe reso ricchi e nemmeno felici, ma liberi. Gesù dice sempre la verità, a chi lo ascolta, a chi lo vuole seguire. Anche a costo di perdere questo o quel discepolo.

Noi esseri umani raramente diciamo tutta la verità e spesso per paura di perdere i nostri amici o persone care. Per non metterci in aperto contrasto con chi la pensa diversamente. La verità la perdoniamo solo quando viene dalla bocca dei bambini. Spesso se qualcuno ci dice le cose come stanno, anche se sappiamo in fondo in fondo che quella persona ha ragione, storciamo il naso e forse ci sentiamo addirittura offesi.

Essere pronti ad accettare la Verità significa essere pronti ad accettarne le conseguenze. La libertà, poi, da che mondo è mondo, ha comunque un prezzo.

Nell’antichità lo schiavo poteva pagare per la sua libertà, letteralmente acquistarla.

Per questo la Scrittura ci dice: “sapendo che non con cose corruttibili, come argento od oro, siete stati riscattati dal vostro vano modo di vivere tramandatovi dai padri, ma col prezioso sangue di Cristo, come di Agnello senza difetto e senza macchia” (1 Pietro 1: 18-19). Come vediamo è proprio con in mente il possibile riscatto dello schiavo che Pietro spiega il prezzo che Cristo  ha pagato per liberarci dalla schiavitù del peccato e per essere liberi di servire Dio.

Gesù stesso l’ha detto chiaramente: “Gesù rispose loro: «In verità, in verità vi dico: Chi fa il peccato è schiavo del peccato”.

Non facilmente l’uomo si accorge di essere schiavo del peccato. La più efficace catena è, infatti, quella che non si vede; e la più grande schiavitù è quella che riesce a darti l’illusione di essere libero.

Tempo fa uscì uno dei miei film preferiti, Matrix. Non so quante volte l’ho visto! Anzi, molto probabilmente, adesso lo andrò a rivedere. Una cosa che mi colpì furono i tanti riferimenti biblici, troppi per essere casuali. Riferimenti evidenti nei nomi dei protagonisti e non solo, ma anche meno evidenti nella narrazione stessa: un po’ una parabola della falsa libertà nella quale l’uomo odierno si vanta di vivere.

Il protagonista della storia a un certo punto incontra Morpheus che gli offre due opzioni: la pillola rossa o la pillola blu.

Sapere la verità ha un prezzo: rendersi conto che tutto ciò che fino a quel momento si pensava fosse vero, reale e libertà era invece soltanto una messa in scena, una schiavitù – a volte piacevole, ma pur sempre schiavitù.

In inglese c’è un detto: “Ignorance is bliss”. Noi in italiano diciamo: “beata ignoranza”. Ma in inglese è più incisivo: ignoranza è beatitudine.

In un certo senso lo conferma anche la Bibbia. Salomone fu un uomo saggio e sapeva: “Poiché dove c’è molta sapienza c’è molto affanno e chi aumenta la conoscenza, aumenta il dolore”. (Ecclesiaste 1:18)

Per questo dicevo all’inizio che bisogna amare la libertà per essere disposti a pagare il prezzo che comporta riconoscerla e accettarla.

Ma esiste UNA Verità? E, per essere ancora più diretti: esiste LA verità?

Pilato ebbe un dialogo con Gesù davvero significativo. Mi ha sempre affascinato e assume un ruolo non secondario nel Vangelo di Giovanni. Pilato aveva una mentalità “greca”, dipendente, come quella dei nostri giorni, da un sincretismo quasi necessario per adattarsi alla realtà multiforme che ci circonda. Eppure, sono convinto, che allora come oggi il nostro spirito in un certo senso si rifiuta di sentirsi acquietato dalla nostra razionalità e lotta per la ricerca di una Verità, insinuando sempre il dubbio che la Verità esista e sia conoscibile.

Pilato in tutta la drammaticità del rincorrersi degli eventi che seguono l’arresto di Gesù decide di avere un colloquio privato con lui. Lo interroga. “Per questo sono io nato, e per questo son venuto nel mondo, per testimoniar della verità; chiunque è della verità ascolta la mia voce”.[1]

Molto probabilmente questo dialogo si è svolto in greco ed è proprio la forza espressiva del greco che lo rende così intenso.

Pilato infatti chiede: “Cos’è Verità?” [2]

Gesù afferma di essere venuto nel mondo per testimoniare della Verità. La domanda di Pilato sembra mettere in dubbio che vi sia, che vi possa essere “una” Verità. Una maniera davvero attualissima di confrontare le affermazioni del Signore. Anche oggi, in un mondo intriso di sentimenti sincretisti e razionalità, la pretesa di Gesù e del cristianesimo viene mal vista. Eppure Gesù ebbe ad affermare con chiarezza: “Io sono la Via, la Verità e la Vita” (Giovanni 14:6), una frase che non sconvolgeva allora meno di quanto non sconvolga oggi.

Mi vanto di avere scoperto Egle Mirabella come scrittrice. Lo era prima di incontrarmi, sicuramente; ma non lo sapeva. Abbiamo studiato insieme un po’ di greco e quello che dice sulla Verità nel suo ultimo libro è davvero istruttivo: “La parola greca Aletheia greca è formata dalla “a” privativo e “Lethe” la dea del oblio, della dimenticanza”.[3]

(Il linguaggio di Egle è più complesso del mio. Lo spirito greco che guida la sua indagine è invece in me pragmatismo ebraico, mitigato da un universalismo greco che è l’espressione del mio desiderio di essere compreso e dal bisogno di rendere il messaggio evangelico il più comprensibile possibile.)

La parola greca “verità” ha in sé i due latenti significati: è qualcosa che ci priva dell’oblio. Ciò ci riconduce a quanto abbiamo detto all’inizio. Ma allo stesso tempo Egle ci segnala una cosa in più, la Verità ci fa ricordare chi siamo davvero, da dove proveniamo. La Verità ci riporta, ha in sé la forza di riportarci allo stato di libertà di cui godevano in quel primordiale giardino, quando Dio camminava con noi e nulla turbava il nostro stato di comunione con lui.

Gesù quindi disse in maniera lapidaria: “Conoscerete la Verità e la Verità vi renderà liberi” (Giovanni 8:32).

Quanto è grande il nostro amore per la verità? Lo è al punto di essere pronti ad affrontare le spiacevoli conseguenze che il sapere potrebbe comportare?

_______________________________________________________________

NOTE

[1] “ἐγὼ εἰς τοῦτο γεγέννημαι καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἐλήλυθα εἰς τὸν κόσμον, ἵνα μαρτυρήσω τῇ ἀληθείᾳ. πᾶς ὁ ὢν ἐκ τῆς ἀληθείας ἀκούει μου τῆς φωνῆς”.

[2] τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια;

[3] Egle Mirabella, Veritas, Aletheia, Apokalipsis, p. 112, Infinity Books, 2021.

 

 




Vangelo di Matteo – Capitolo 1

Note di Giuseppe Guarino

Questo il primo capitolo di Matteo, con le note al testo a seguire. Il Vangelo va letto con attenzione  e il commento è soltanto un aiuto e la comprensione la dobbiamo principalmente allo Spirito Santo e al suo perfetto ministero.

Capitolo 1

Genealogia di Gesù

 1 Libro[1] della genealogia di Gesù Cristo, figlio di Davide, figlio di Abrahamo[2].

 2 Abrahamo generò Isacco; Isacco generò Giacobbe; Giacobbe; generò Giuda e i suoi fratelli.

3 Giuda generò Fares e Zara da Tamar; Fares generò Esrom; Esrom generò Aram;

4 Aram generò Aminadab, Aminadab generò Naasson; Naasson generò Salmon,

5 Salmon generò Booz da Rahab; Booz generò Obed da Ruth; Obed generò Iesse.

6 Iesse generò il re Davide; il re Davide generò Salomone da quella che era stata la moglie di Uria.

7 Salomone generò Roboamo; Roboamo generò Abia; Abia generò Asa

8 Asa generò Giosafat; Giosafat generò Ioram; Ioram generò Ozia.

9 Ozia generò Ioatam; Ioatam generò Acaz; Acaz generò Ezechia.

10 Ezechia generò Manasse; Manasse generò Amon; Amon generò Iosia.

11 Iosia generò Ieconia e i suoi fratelli al tempo della deportazione in Babilonia.

12 Dopo la deportazione in Babilonia, Ieconia generò Salatiel; Salatiel generò Zorobabel.

13 Zorobabel generò Abiud; Abiud generò Eliakim; Eliakim generò Azor.

14 Azor generò Sadok; Sadok generò Achim; Achim generò Eliud.

15 Eliud generò Eleazar; Eleazar generò Matthan; Matthan generò Giacobbe.

16 Giacobbe generò Giuseppe, il marito di Maria, dalla quale nacque Gesù, che è chiamato Cristo.

17 Così, tutte le generazioni da Abrahamo fino a Davide sono quattordici generazioni; e da Davide fino alla deportazione in Babilonia, quattordici generazioni; e dalla deportazione in Babilonia fino a Cristo, quattordici generazioni[3].

Nascita di Gesù

18 Or la nascita di Gesù Cristo avvenne in questo modo. Maria, sua madre, era stata promessa in matrimonio a Giuseppe, ma prima che iniziassero a stare insieme, si trovò incinta per opera dello Spirito Santo[4].

19 Allora Giuseppe, suo sposo, che era uomo giusto e non voleva esporla ad infamia, deliberò di lasciarla segretamente[5].

20 Ma, mentre rifletteva su queste cose, ecco che un angelo del Signore gli apparve in sogno, dicendo: “Giuseppe, figlio[6] di Davide, non temere di prendere con te Maria come tua moglie, perché ciò che è stato concepito in lei è opera dello Spirito Santo.

21 Ed ella partorirà un figlio e tu gli porrai nome Gesù, perché egli salverà il suo popolo dai loro peccati”.

22 Or tutto ciò avvenne affinché si adempisse quello che era stato detto dal Signore, per mezzo del profeta che dice:

23 “Ecco, la vergine sarà incinta e partorirà un figlio, il quale sarà chiamato Emmanuele che, interpretato, vuol dire: “Dio con noi”[7].

24 E Giuseppe, destatosi dal sonno, fece come l’angelo del Signore gli aveva comandato e prese con sé sua moglie;

25 ma egli non la conobbe, finché ella ebbe partorito il suo figlio primogenito[8], al quale pose nome Gesù[9].

NOTE

[1] Non è singolare che Matteo cominci la sua narrazione parlando di un “libro” della genealogia di Gesù, quasi che abbia inserito un documento indipendente all’inizio del suo resoconto sulla vita di Gesù. Non può essere una coincidenza che una simile affermazione a quella di Matteo la troviamo nel libro della Genesi quando viene elencata la genealogia – Genesi 5:1 – del “primo” Adamo. L’inizio di questo vangelo è quindi subito marcatamente ebraico.

[2] Gesù è “figlio” in senso ampio; noi oggi diremmo “discendente”. La precisazione dell’evangelista ha uno scopo ben preciso: Gesù porta a compimento le promesse fatte ad Abramo e quelle fatte a Davide, cioè per le loro progenie. Vi è un significato ancora più profondo. Essendo figlio di Abramo, egli è il sacrificio che Dio promise ad Abramo in sostituzione per il figlio che in un primo momento gli aveva chiesto di offrire. Ciò è già avvenuto durante la sua prima apparizione, ormai oltre duemila anni fa, quando Gesù offrì se stesso sulla croce quale perfetto sacrificio per la redenzione dell’umanità.

In quanto discendente di Davide, egli avvererà tutte le promesse fatte a quel grande re circa il suo trono, al suo glorioso ritorno come giudice e re.

Che Matteo intendesse esattamente questo quando quasi premettesse che Gesù è sia figlio di Abrahamo che di Davide è evidente dagli sviluppi della sua narrazione.

[3] Le tre divisioni della genealogia in gruppi di quattordici ci dà un totale di 42. Questo numero nella Scrittura lo ritroviamo riferito ai mesi della grande tribolazione e non è escluso che possa voler intendere il travaglio dell’umanità fino all’arrivo di Gesù, il Salvatore. Quattordici comunque è anche il numero del nome del re Davide in lingua ebraica, dove ogni lettera dell’alfabeto ha un valore numerico.

[4] La promessa di matrimonio ebraica era allora vincolante a tal punto che subito l’evangelista parla di Giuseppe come “sposo” di Maria. Potremmo paragonare la “promessa di matrimonio” qui citata ad un compromesso che precede un atto di vendita, dove sussistono tutti gli obblighi di legge per le parti senza che vi sia stata ancora la vendita vera e propria. L’inadempienza ad un compromesso provoca la risoluzione dello stesso con l’obbligo del risarcimento per la parte inadempiente. Quanto qui era successo a Maria era motivo sufficiente perché la promessa di matrimonio non si potesse perfezionare in un matrimonio vero e proprio. Ma quanto cresceva nel ventre di Maria non era opera di nessun uomo, bensì di Dio stesso, dello Spirito Santo che aveva concepito in lei il futuro re di Israele.

[5] La Legge di Mosè permetteva a Giuseppe, in questo caso parte offesa, di far valere ogni sua ragione. Ma Giuseppe, forse perché incredulo e quindi comunque convinto che qualcosa di nefasto potesse essere accaduto alla ragazza, voleva agire con discrezione.

[6] Anche qui “figlio” va inteso come “discendente”.

[7] La citazione è da Isaia 7:14. Uno dei motivi per i quali prediligo la Nuova Diodati come versione è la rispondenza in questa fra questa citazione che troviamo nel Nuovo Testamento con il verso citato di Isaia nell’Antico Testamento. Ciò non accade in altre versioni, quali la Riveduta e la Nuova Riveduta. Ma nel tradurre Isaia 7:14 non sarebbe saggio ritenere affidabile sia la lezione della versione greca dei LXX (Settanta) che l’interpretazione apostolica del brano, dove, nella parola ebraica originale, che è “giovane”, il senso è quello dell’età legata allo stato di purezza fisica? Ritengo la coerenza con l’insegnamento apostolico di gran lunga più importante delle critiche mosse da studiosi razionalisti e anticristiani.

[8] La parola “primogenito” manca in alcuni manoscritti, ma era certamente parte del testo originale di questo brano della Scrittura. La sua omissione è infatti facilmente motivata dall’eccessivo zelo di quegli scribi che immaginando che la parola implicasse che altri figli furono partoriti da Maria dopo Gesù, pensarono bene di toglierla dal testo eliminando ogni fraintendimento.

[9] In questo punto la vecchia Diodati offre una lettura piuttosto singolare: “ella gli pose nome Gesù”. La Nuova Diodati recupera nella sua versione di questo passo, in accordo con tutte le altre versioni, la lettura corretta.

 

 




Struttura del Vangelo di Matteo

Struttura del Vangelo di Matteo di Giuseppe Guarino

L’opera di Matteo segue una struttura precisa e lo si coglie molto bene nello schema che segue. Uno sguardo d’insieme infatti rivelerà l’intento di questo vangelo: dimostrare che Gesù è il Messia promesso a Israele.

E’ importante afferrare il senso della sequenza degli eventi descritti in questo meraviglioso scritto per carpire il profondo significato che hanno all’interno dell’economia della salvezza.

Una nota importante riguarda la cronologia. Noi occidentali del XXI secolo siamo ossessionati dalla cronologia. Ciò è visibile anche nell’uso dei nostri verbi, nella loro struttura – che finisce per influenzarci più di quanto non pensiamo. Nella cultura ebraica, e comunque per meglio dire, quella biblica, non è esattamente così. Gli scritti di Geremia, ad esempio, o di Daniele, per citare due casi, mettono avanti il senso degli eventi rispetto a quando questi si sono verificati. Lo stesso fenomeno accade in Matteo: non è una limitazione, ma stile.

 

 




In the Beginning… Amazing Bible Stories for Children

In the Beginning… Amazing Bible Stories for Children by Costantino and Giuseppe Guarino.

A collection of Bible stories from the Old and the New Testament told by a son and a father together to bless both young and old.

Buy it on Amazon:

Softcover: www.amazon.com/dp/B09NVBKNMS

Hardcover: www.amazon.com/dp/B09NZ5M94Y

e-book: www.amazon.com/dp/B09P6T1RRQ

PREFACE (from the book)

The Bible is an amazing book full of amazing stories. It is intended for adults, so it is our task as parents to teach our children the ways of God, introducing the Word of God in an appropriate way.

This is why I chose to write this book with the precious assistance of my younger son, Costantino. He helped me understand how the subject should be presented to a young mind. His contribution was so vital that his name had to be on the cover next to mine.

Some children will be attracted by David. Others by Samson. All the characters in the Bible teach us something, whether good or bad. Yet, it must be made clear that Jesus is the most important character and the subject of the entire Scriptures. This is why He is on the cover of this books. This is why His victory over death and sin ends this book. It is a message of Hope that our children need to learn from a very young age.

Jesus is our Lord – their Lord.

Jesus is our Savior – their Savior.

Jesus is our Hope – their Hope.

May God bless this book as it helps you parents in the most difficult task we are being confronted with, parenthood.

Giuseppe Guarino

June 23rd, 2021

 




The book of Daniel, the Prophet

The book of Daniel is a fascinating piece of evidence of the divine inspiration of the Word of God.

In our Bibles it is found after Ezekiel, between the major and the minor prophets. But it is not like any of  the other prophetic books of the Old Testament. No wonder the Jewish Canon lists it among the Writings.

Daniel’s prophecies speak both of the first and of the second coming of the Messiah. The kingdom of heaven proclaimed in the first pages of our Gospels is a direct quotation of a concept found in Daniel 2. Jesus himself refers to this wonderful book and its author in his prophetic sermon aiming at his second coming. If we are interested in end-times prophecies, Daniel is the book we need to start with.

My commentary will be both prophetical and historical.

The attacks against the authenticity and historical accuracy of Daniel by the liberals are outdated and untenable when considered in the light of archeological findings of the XX century – though some still turn a deaf ear to evidence and continue to rely on obsolete theories to discredit this wonderful book.

The truth is very simple and scary for some: in Daniel we find a powerful witness of the inspiration of Scriptures!

I pray this book will be a blessing to many and strengthen their faith as we see the day of his return so evidently near – nearer than ever!

You can buy the book on Amazon

Softcover: www.amazon.com/dp/1522735917

Hardcover

e-book: www.amazon.com/dp/B08CS3RTYS

 

from the book

DANIEL CHAPTER ONE

Daniel was a prophet, a true prophet of God.

He was born a Jew, from a noble or even royal family. His life of ease radically changed when, probably still a teen ager, in circa 606 BC, he was taken captive to Babylon by the great king of the empire, Nebuchadnezzar, to be trained and become a part of the State Administration of that great and ancient nation. He must have been chosen because of his qualities, that met the requirements for the Babylonian court. We know then that Daniel was quick to understand and gifted in all wisdom. Being faithful to God was another of his qualities. In fact, though in a foreign land, captive, Daniel did not forget about the God of his fathers and made up his mind to remain obedient to the Law of Moses, ready to face all the consequences.

The scared hostages were probably taken in procession through the city by the conquering king, along with the treasures looted in the temple of Jerusalem.

Daniel was not alone. Others were led captive with him. Children of rich, educated families; healthy, strong, good looking – the Babylonians would only take the best of everything back to their home. Three of his companions are mentioned: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

The first thing to do with the captives was to introduce them to the Babylonian culture and language. First of all: their names needed to be changed, probably to be more easily pronounced in the dialect of their new home. “ … Daniel, Belteshazzar; and Hananiah, Shadrach; and Mishael, Meshach; and Azariah, Abednego.

The change was also intended to glorify the pagan gods worshipped by the Babylonians. However, this and other attempts could not change the character of Daniel. He was immovable in his decision to follow God, his God, no matter what would happen to him. Then the three young Jewish men made up their mind they would not contaminate themselves with foods forbidden by the law, since it had been offered to idols. Daniel showed himself to be very wise too. He acted with sharp intelligence and convinced the chief of the eunuchs, Ashpenaz, that the king’s diet was not necessary for him and his friends.

Life has always been hard when you want to do right. Just like when you make up your mind to serve God and everyone else seems to want to test you, to see how far your faithfulness – and patience – can go.

Daniel is a great example for Christians. If a kid could make it, lost in a foreign country where he had been carried a prisoner, taking the risk of his own life to obey the Law of his God, Christians should have no right to complain. If he made it, with God’s help we can make it too, we can stay faithful when the trial comes.

We do not know what God has in store for us until we prove to be faithful servants. I am surely not the only one who would like to know in advance what the reward will be if I “do right.” Well, it does not work like this with God. And it makes sense, just as Jesus said: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10). As a matter of fact, it usually works like this both in everyday life as well as in the Kingdom.

Daniel was thus introduced to the Babylonian king and court. It was only the beginning of a long career. In fact, Daniel  continued to be (in the state administration) until the times of Cyrus, the Persian king.

The first chapter of Daniel always amazed me with the historical information it provides. It is evident how the vivid descriptions, the narrative, accurate to the smallest details, dates, people’s names, etc. can only be the result of personal experience. Those who fall victim to the deniers of this book’s authenticity need to know that increasing knowledge of the history of the time has always proven the case for Daniel.

Some believe there is a discrepancy between the dating of Daniel and that Jeremiah concerning the first siege of Jerusalem. It is called into question when referring to Daniel 1:1-2. The simple truth is that Jeremiah follows the Egyptian dating methods – because before Judah fell into the Babylonians’ influence, it was subdued by the Egyptians. And, as one would expect, Daniel follows the Babylonian calendar. No mistakes, no discrepancies.

 

 




Westcott and Hort: Their Theory and Text Today

by Giuseppe Guarino

Westcott and Hort

Their theory and text today

If we want to state in one sentence the meaning of the work of the two great scholars Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort, some could say that “they gave the final blow to the Textus Receptus.”

The Textus Receptus is the name with which the Greek critical text published by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1516 is commonly known and referred to. It was used as an original for the main versions of the New Testament up to the year 1881. In that year Westcott and Hort published their critical edition of the original Greek text of the New Testament. They explained their method and motivated the choices made with great skill and eloquence. Although for years the Textus Receptus had not been well regarded by the world of textual scholars, no one had previously managed to produce a theory that could so easily satisfy the scientific world on the one hand, and convince the average reader of the reliability of the new text on the other. Undoubtedly, they succeeded.

There are several points in favor of the two scholars. Their basic preparation, of course. Historical circumstances also played an important role in the success of their work.

The most significant argument in favor of their thesis, in fact, was provided by the two Codes dating back to the fourth century BC, the Vatican (abbreviated B) and Sinaitic (ℵ, Aleph, first letter of the Hebrew alphabet) manuscripts which became available in that period. These were two extraordinary witness to the Greek text of the New Testament that, given their unique characteristics of completeness and antiquity, jumped to the center of scholars’ attention. Presenting the testimony of B and ℵ already made Westcott and Hort’s text attractive enough.

Since believing that “older” corresponds to “the best” or “more faithful” is an easy concept to support and defend, the theories underlying the new Greek text convinced both scholars and the public. On the one hand, the enthusiasm of the believers was motivated by the fact that a text of the New Testament was finally presented based on documents old enough to silence the criticisms that had been attracted by the relatively late age of the manuscripts on which the Textus Receptus was based. Of course, the community of scholars was quite pleased to attend the funeral of the Textus Receptus .

Westcott and Hort’s claim to have traced a “neutral” text of the Greek New Testament is very convenient to accept. Yet, although their work was intended to be definitive and the two scholars were convinced that they had obtained the closest Greek text to the original that it was possible to retrace, unfortunately this was not the case.

It is my belief that a set of more or less fortuitous circumstances, sometimes only competing with objective merits, are at the basis of the fortune of some ideas and of the individuals who have promoted them.

The exposition of Westcott and Hort is truly captivating: the theories of the scholars are proposed in a convincing, clear, cultured, attentive way, with the right words and the right arguments.

Anyway, sometimes objective truths can be presented in a mediocre way and fail to be sufficiently incisive. But I believe more attention should be paid to substance than to form. When the gospel narratives were introduced to the sophisticated and educated Greek world, they seemed to be too simple and crude to be considered worthy of any consideration – literarily speaking.

Unfortunately, some erroneous theories manage to be well received thanks to the fame and reputation of those who promote them.

Even today the names of Westcott and Hort shine in the firmament of the history of textual criticism, eclipsing far greater scholars than them, less fortunate and less sensationalistic. Their theories are still studied and evaluated with admiration today although it is now clear that very little of what they maintained was based on objective evidence.

There are actually two merits of Westcott and Hort’s work. The first, I have already mentioned, having dethroned the Textus Receptus – if that can truly be called a merit. The second is to have brought to life the Alexandrian text of the New Testament, which was in circulation in Egypt from the second to the fourth century.

I shortly evaluate here some of the conclusions that led them to boldly present to the public the critical edition of the Greek text they published in 1881.

The fourth century official revision of the Greek New Testament. 

They supposed that in the fourth century an official revision of the Greek text must have given life to the “type of text” present in most of the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. Such presumption was essential in order to be able to nullify the testimony of all the enemies of the text of the oldest manuscripts.

Unfortunately there was and there is no historical evidence for such a revision.

Judging from the objective data of the differences in the text, from the fundamental absence of uniformity in the majority of the manuscripts of the New Testament, although this corresponds to a certain affinity and homogeneity, it is very difficult if not impossible to suppose that these manuscripts are all the result of a deliberate textual revision which took place in Antioch and from there, it was imposed to all Christianity.

To prove their conviction Westcott and Hort isolated eight passages in the New Testament – 8 passages only! – and marked them as the product of a deliberate process which they termed Conflation. These eight readings, are, in their opinion, evidence that the fourth century revisers of the Greek text took two short readings, one belonging to the Western text and another to the Alexandrian and combined them, giving life to a longer reading. The eight passages in question are Mark 6:33, 8:26, 9:38, 9:49; Luke 9:10, 11:54, 12:18, 24:53. Let’s see in practice what we are talking about by examining at least one case.

“And they were always in the temple, blessing God.” (Luke 24:53 – New Revision)

“And they were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen” (Luke 24:53 – New International Edition)

According to Westcott and Hort, the short text “blessing”, found in manuscripts P75, Codex Vaticanus (B), Codex Sinaiticus (ℵ), the uncial L, would be the original one. The supposed fourth century revision must have altered the original reading adding the other short reading of the Western text “”praising.” Doing so, the revisers gave rise to the Majority text,  Byzantine/TR reading that we find today in most manuscripts.

That a handful of manuscripts, evidently coming from one single tradition, that is, closely related with each other, may be right against the rest of the New Testament handwritten evidence is a paradox that is difficult to prove by virtue of any theory. The simple reality of the facts is that the long, original reading must have been independently abbreviated to give birth the two short versions of it found in the Alexandrian and Western manuscripts respectively. How can the latter statement be made? Simply because such official, phantomatic revision has left no trace in history and no actual, real evidence exists that it ever took place.

The discovery of several Papyri manuscripts (P45, P46, P66, P75) not available in the nineteenth century, forced twentieth century textual critics of the biblical text to revise some paradigms. These Papiry, which were older than ℵ and B, surprisingly showed traces of Byzantine readings at a time when, according to Westcott and Hort’s theory, they should not have existed.

Let’s see an example,

Luke 12:31

TR (KJV): “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.”

According to the witness of ℵ and B the reading was changed to,

“Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be yours as well.” (Revised Standard Version)

“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided to you.” (New American Standard Bible)

The supposed late, fourth century Majority/Byzantine/TR reading was later found in the newly discovered P45. It was also in A, W, 33 and other witnesses. That is why the traditional reading has been restored in newer editions of the New Testament.

Let us have a closer look at the manuscript evidence.

– Seek the kingdom – P75.

– Look for his kingdom – B and ℵ.

P45 significantly agrees with the Majority text. Bruce Metzger adds the testimony of P75 in favor of the Alexandrian reading, because “the scribe of P75 has a tendency to omit personal pronouns.” But he might as well have omitted “of God”, we can’t say for sure.

External, objective evidence is by far in favor of the traditional reading. The certainties in Bruce Metzger’s mind, with all due respect, are not convincing enough: “It is more likely that ‘his’ has been replaced by ‘God’s.’” Objective evidence cannot be discarded in force of personal considerations. Metzger supposes the traditional text is a harmonization of Luke with Matthew 6:33. However, in the Nestle Aland the words “of God”, are questioned and put within square brackets, because, as the note of the same scholar explains, the short reading, which is found in ℵ and B, “Explains better the origin of the others”. Using Rhetoric we can support any view or idea and sound convincing, but suppositions must leave the scene when evidence comes in, and in this case evidence is for the Byzantine reading.

There is another passage that had sufficient evidence during the days of Westcott and Hort, but that the two scholars failed to correctly evaluated because of their blind love for the two fourth century codex.

Matthew 6:33

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.” (WH – NASB)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (WH – NIV)

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (TR – NKJV)

Westcott and Hort’s reading is not the original one. It would be supported by ℵ and B were it not for the fact that at this point the two manuscripts do not agree on the same reading; therefore in reality the short reading is found only in the first of the two. This should have suggested the two scholars the simple fact that conflicting witnesses are not reliable.

Against the hypothesis of Westcott and Hort that the Byzantine text originated through revision, as I already mentioned, the fact that second-third century papyri P45, P66 and P75 show a good number of “Byzantine” readings, which, if the English scholars were actually right, could not have existed in the second and third century – long before the revision they imagine, describe, but cannot prove with objective, historical evidence. Today, it is clear enough: it never took place!

I looked in the Nestle-Aland and checked the critical apparatus concerning the Gospel of John.

In John 5:17, “Jesus” is omitted from P75, B, ℵ and of course not found in the Westcott and Hort text. But it is in P66, the oldest and most complete manuscript of John.

In John 5:19 the Greek word ὰν is the Vatican and Sinaitic reading and is therefore adopted by Hort. But the reading of the Majority text εὰν, is now also found in P66 and P75!

In John 5:29 the choice is between:

– οι – P66c, B. It is the reading adopted by Westcott and Hort.

– οι δε  – P75, ℵ. As with the previous reading, in the light of the new evidence, the reading of the Majority text made its way in the Nestle-Aland.

– καὶ οι – P66, W.

Wilbur Pickering collects a series of interesting observations in his book The Identity of the New Testament Text.

Observing 51 variants in the text, this is a table of the times they agree with ℵ, B, and the TR.

ℵ          B          TR

P45               21        25        33

P66               16        32        38

P75               11        36        33

If P45, P66 and P75 had been discovered in the nineteen century, quite probably there would have been no Westcott and Hort theory as we know it.

Even the name “Byzantine” conceived probably to  discredit the witness of the vast majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts, has been replaced today by the more appropriate – and neutral – adjective “Majority” (acknowledged today by all scholars).

Westcott and Hort were wrong, there was no official revision that gave birth to the text found in most of the New Testament manuscripts. The assumption that allowed them to set aside 90% of the handwritten evidence to make room for the supremacy of their Neutral Text mirage was mistaken and must be abandoned.

The Genealogical method applied to the text of the New Testament.

Having set aside the Majority text witness, Westcott and Hort applied the so called genealogical method in order to determine which was the original among the variant readings found in ancient manuscripts. In order for this method to actually give reliable results, some conditions had to occur. A major one is that the manuscripts at our disposal must be so closely related to each other as to allow us to trace the original text through the copying errors made. Furthermore, the text of the manuscripts should not have been polluted by voluntary variations.

The genealogical method is therefore inapplicable to the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and has never actually been applied. Colwell affirms it and Aland reiterates it.

Deliberate changes to the text are one of the main reasons for most of the variant readings we find in manuscripts, or, to say it more politely, it was an excess of self-esteem of the scribes that gave rise to many changes introduced into the text of the New Testament. The differences among the manuscripts belonging to the Alexandrian- Egyptian tradition are clear evidence of this fact.

Since trying to apply this method to New Testament textual criticism is no longer considered possible, it is not necessary to say more about it. Another fundamental practice behind the creation of the Neutral Text has been proved to be wrong, and if not wrong in itself, inapplicable to the Greek text of the New Testament.

Yet, Westcott and Hort’s fame has been left untouched and the results of their conclusions never radically questioned by the main stream of textual critics, who, basically, follow in their footsteps.

Text Types

For the sake of convenience, I often speak of types of text myself: Alexandrian, Western, Majority. But it is an artificial construction that does not correspond to the reality of the facts. In fact, the manuscripts of the Greek New Testament cannot, in a definite and scientific way, be placed within such artificial categories as what we define “text types.”

The truth is that, for the Greek New Testament we have too much manuscript evidence and that it is too heterogeneous to allow such a rigid classification. The text that Westcott and Hort imagined to have brought back to light was what they termed Neutral, the purest form, closest to the originals, that could be found in the manuscripts available. Hort stated: “We are convinced that (1) the readings of ℵ and B must be accepted as authentic as long as valid internal evidence proves the opposite, and that (2) no reading of ℵ and B can be definitively rejected…”

The theory of these two scholars is convenient. It would be easy to embrace and defend it for the plausibility it brings with it and which makes it seductive both for the believer and for the scholar: the oldest manuscripts are the most reliable, just follow them and we will have the original text. Unfortunately, the evidence and the love of textual truth cannot make right the wrong.

Let me be a bit more radical. There is just one text type, and that is the Majority Text. It is the result of the faithful copying tradition of the autographs down to the invention of moving type printing. All the other manuscripts which do not belong to this category, are simply editions, revisions and deviations from the reliable line of transmission of the text of the New Testament.

Western Non-Interpolations.

The Western Non-Interpolations are nine New Testament passages considered spurious by Westcott and Hort. They are omitted only by some manuscripts cataloged as witnesses of the “Western Text” but present in the rest of the New Testament manuscripts. They are Matthew 27:49, Luke 22:19b-20, 24:3, 6, 12, 36, 40, 51, 52.

This detail of the W-H theory and text is absurd. It shows how the two scholars overestimated their personal judgment as much as the (isolated) scribes who deliberately dared to manipulate the text of the Gospels. Supposing that a few, otherwise considered inferior manuscripts altogether, are the only recipient of the truth of the Gospel means to invalidate the reliability of the Greek New Testament manuscript evidence itself and goes beyond the boundaries of sound, objective textual criticism.

“…scholars have been critical of the apparently arbitrary way in which Westcott and Hort isolated nine passages… whereas they did not give similar treatment to other readings that also are absent from Western witnesses.” Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition, p. 165.

Westcott and Hort is not “apparently”, but totally arbitrary and the same remark can be made concerning their theory in general.

There are no signs of voluntary alteration of the text.

This is another false assumption on which the Westcott and Hort’s theory stands.

Objective evidence, coming from various patristic writings, but also by observing the variant readings of some manuscripts show that deliberate changes to the text are a fact the textual critic must seriously evaluate among the other causes behind the birth of differences among manuscripts.

But, we wonder: why did the two scholars come up with such a principle? Because if it is believed that there have been attempts to deliberately alter the biblical text, the genealogical method is no longer applicable to the New Testament and their whole theory falls apart.

The main reason for voluntary changes are doctrinal. What may seem absurd to one’s mind must have looked as necessary to another. The case of Origen, the famous father of the Church, is a clear example of this. He believed that Jesus could have never said, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23) and that therefore there must have been a primitive error in the manuscripts with this reading – which is, all! Origen was a textual critic too: would he not erase such phrase from the manuscripts he would copy?

There are also open accusations of early believers who write of heretics of corrupting the Scriptures in order to substantiate their wrong doctrines. The so called Western non-interpolations must have originated because of the beliefs of gnostics following the famous heretic Marcion, who did not believe in Jesus being a true man and actually suffering on the cross.

There are traces of peculiar attempts to alter the text in the manuscripts themselves.

P45 is a very ancient manuscript, but not so reliable. For reasons that we do not know the scribe of this papyrus shortened the text by removing here and there whatever he thought unnecessary, keeping, anyway, the readability of the text.

Intentional variations to the text introduce elements that disturb the practice of textual criticism, because they present us with modifications due to circumstances that we probably ignore. However, neglecting this possibility exposes you to trivial errors.

Colwell said it plainly, “Most of the variant readings in the New Testament were created for theological or dogmatic reasons… In the New Testament manuscripts most of the variations, I am convinced, were deliberately introduced.”

Conclusions

Nothing to argue about the objective merits of Westcott and Hort, their credentials and academic achievements. But time and new discoveries have proved the inconsistency of their textual theories for the Greek New Testament.

Their contribution still remains in history as the most glamorous and popular result of textual criticism. Yet, it is doubtful that their results meant a real progress in the search for the original text of Scripture. Much more correct were the observations of those who, already at the time of Westcott and Hort, less popular, defended the text of the majority of manuscripts. Pillars like Burgon, Scrivener, Miller are ignored and falsely accused of being blind defenders of the Textus Receptus in the academic circles.

The truth is that Westcott and Hort dethroned the Textus Receptus only to revive a less reliable “type” of text, a text fabricated in Egypt, influenced by the school of Alexandria. Their theory has fallen miserably against the weight of evidence, but their fame and, more important, their text still remains standing. It is a wrong that sound textual criticism of today’s many scholars who support the Majority Text (Robinson, Pierpont, Pickering, Farstad, Hodges) will, in time, I am sure, correct, giving new assurance of the reliability and accountability of the Greek text so well and miraculously preserved to both the average Bible reader and the diligent student of the Word.

 

This article is taken from my book on the Majority Text.

 

 

 

 




The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible

THE JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES’ BIBLE An Evaluation of the Text of the New World Translation by Giuseppe Guarino

The book can be bought on Barnes and Nobles

Giuseppe Guarino | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

And on Amazon

Softcover edition: www.amazon.com/dp/1070132063

Hardcover edition: www.amazon.com/dp/B09NR9XVR1

e-book edition: www.amazon.com/dp/B09NZS79PS

 

INTRODUCTION (from the book)

The New World Translation (NWT) is the official translation of the Bible released by the Watch Tower, the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Directive Body. The first English edition was presented to the public in 1950. The latest updated edition is the 2013’s, now available online.

It is a very peculiar version of the Bible.

In this book I will direct the readers’ attention to the evident mistakes that make of the NWT a unique literary phenomenon among the various attempts of translating the Bible. These mistakes are so many and so misleading on certain specific doctrines that I cannot help but wonder if we are looking instead of a translation at a deliberate attempt to manipulate the text of the Scripture. This the readers will judge by themselves.

In the first part of the book I  will focus my attention on the New Testament passages where the Deity of Jesus has been removed or made obscure, considering as simply as I can the grammar of the original Greek text of the New Testament.

In the second and fourth part I will discuss the critical text adopted by the NWT and its choice to include the name of God, Jehovah, in the New Testament.

The third part will be a quick look at passages in the NWT which still bear witness to the deity of Jesus.

My goal is to make this work a quick reference book and a tool in the hands of the believer whenever Jehovah’s Witnesses will knock on their doors so that he or she will be able to answer to their false pretenses on the New World Translation reliability.

The info I collected and used here comes from the very good official website that the Watch Tower has built, www.jw.org, which is absolutely very useful for quick access to information that in the past was very hard to collect.

May God help us not to be arguers only, but good witnesses of His grace.

 

INTRODUCING THE PROBLEM

In this first section I will discuss of those Bible passages which clearly teach that Jesus is God in the original Greek but that the Watch Tower has not translated accurately, altering the simple truth they reveal, in order to better substantiate their unscriptural position on the person of Jesus.

I will evaluate these passages in the light of my experience on the original text of the New Testament, quoting, when necessary, from grammars and manuals.

The critical text that I will use as a reference is the The Greek New Testament According to the Majority Text edited by Zane C. Hodges and Arthur L. Farstad, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville. Anyway, most of the passages I quote in this study are the same with the prestigious Nestle-Aland text, which the JW seem to be so fond of.

For the English text I will use the New King James Version as a constant reference, but honestly, concerning the Deity of Jesus, I might use any other Bible translation, both old and new.

One important detail is that, up until now, the Watch Tower has not released an official grammar for the New Testament Greek. This is why, absurd as it may seem,  they quote from grammars and texts that ultimately contradict or do not share their views.

It is incredible how they extensively quote Harner in a passage where, if read all, he affirms the divinity of the Son of God. Just like they quote Howard to motivate their inclusion of Jehovah in the New Testament – notwithstanding the fact that he has openly asked the Watch Tower to stop misusing his studies.