help a pastor out! :-)

the computer I have Bibleworks on is having “issues” so I am not able to use it at the moment til I can get it fixed (I am also away from my BDAG and BDB and Holliday at the moment) – so those who do have it or who are well read in the biblical languages and exegesis help me out.

I working on Isaiah 42:1-4 for this Sunday and it is quoted in Matthew 12:15-21 – my main focus will be on verse 4 of the OT text which is verse 21 of the NT text but they read differently in the NIV (not sure if they are the same in the LXX):

Matthew 12:21 of the 2010 NIV reads: 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.

The last line of the 2010 NIV Isaiah 42:4 reads: In his teaching the islands will put their hope.

Why would they go with “the islands” for the Isaiah verse?  Why “in his teaching”?  Did Matthew reinterpret the verse?  He couldn’t have possibly made a mistake could he??!! lol!

Seems kind of odd though I suppose that immediately means “the nations” in some sense.

Very interestingly, the Isaiah text of the NASU reads: And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law;

The same in the ESV reads: and the coastlands wait for his law.

The NLT reads: Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.

Uh oh…. has the NIV botched this reading if the others and even the NLT got it differently?

I am intrigued by the Isaiah text in the CEV:

4He won’t quit or give up until he brings justice everywhere on earth, and people in foreign nations long for his teaching.

Well, this is the kind of stuff biblical exegesis is made of – and what students deal with in exegetical papers – figuring what the reading should be and what it means and why, etc.

So, help me work it out!  🙂

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12 responses to “help a pastor out! :-)

  1. I needed to remember Matthew was quoting whatever version of the LXX he had at the time – so I was getting confused why the OT text was talking about “teaching” and “islands” while the NT text was talking about “his name” and “the nations.” I may keep the same emphasis for my sermon but make the text Matthew instead of Isaiah since I am wanting to emphasis Jesus as the hope of the nations and our need to live this out (in hopeful expectation of the coming of Jesus) for the first week of Advent.

    But now I am curious as to why the supposed more literal translations are fairly different than the NIV – since even the NLT is more like the more literal versions – the NIV is saying that the nations will put hope in his teaching – whereas the others talk about nations or islands or coastlands waiting expectantly for his law – is this just another way of saying the same thing as the NIV or is there a difference?

    Also, now I wonder if the LXX translators interpreted “isles” or “coastlands” (again, I am away from my language stuff) as the gentiles or the nations?

    Does this make sense?

    • Well, there’s a translation issue here that is fairly interesting, or at least so I’ve been told by students. The question is whether you accommodate the NT quotations of the Old so that they don’t look like contradictions. Personally, I think that the translation is the wrong place to deal with that issue. If Matthew quoted the LXX of a passage, I’d go with it. It would be the job of a pastor or teacher, such as you, to deal with any questions raised by the issue.

      I don’t see that the LXX or the text in Matthew 12:21 gives much justification for the alternate translations, unless one is accommodating one’s translations of Isaiah and Matthew to avoid the question of why the quotation is different from the original.

      The LXX uses onoma and ethnos where the Hebrew uses “torah” and “‘iy” (citing lexical forms with relaxed transliteration).

  2. I’ll probably go with the Matthew passage, might be a stretch, but there isn’t anyone one in my congregation who’d call me out on this, or even be concerned about the differences so I am all the more responsible to be as faithful to the text as I can and go from there. My congregation is one that needs hope and they need it bad – so that is why I do things like Advent to instill that in them the best I can.

  3. Brian, the answer is the difference between meaning and significance. The Hebrew word in Isa 42:4 means “island.” In many contexts, like this one, its significance is the far reaches of the earth. The same concept is present in Zeph 2:11.

  4. Bob, thanks for commenting – that is a huge thing isn’t it – even those to the ends of the earth are awaiting (a hopeful expectation?) the coming of Jesus into their lives and nations and societies. When he comes either through the proclamations of a missionary or by his literal presence), they will bow down to him. WOW. Am i missing anything with what you are saying? This is deeply moving to me. lol!

    Henry, so you’d go with the NIV over the other translations I have noted? Perhaps this speaks to the background of the folks who put forth these literal translations (in regard to your comment about needing to avoid seeming contradictions)?

    • Yes, I’d just go with the NIV, barring you’re doing your own translation, and not bring in the translation issue if that works with your sermon topic. There’s also the question of what version most of the congregation will be using. Even if nobody questions the OT quotation, they might question the difference between their version and the one you use. So you might want an answer to that if someone asks.

      For me, Matthew’s use of the quotation from the LXX, attributing it to Isaiah, is quite enough warrant for me to do the same.

  5. Since pretty much all the NT quotations of the OT quote the LXX instead of Hebrew, there’s lots of variations on quotes. In this case however…

    //Uh oh…. has the NIV botched this reading if the others and even the NLT got it differently? //

    This is the NIV you’re talking about. Of course its going to be botched a bit.

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