Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The GA 763 New Testament manuscript and my observations about this

The GA 763 is a 14th century manuscript which is now in Athens Greece although there are copies at CSNTM

I  prepare reports about the texts I see in the manuscript and what I don’t see in the Greek Bible that we use.

First, even if you study Biblical Greek, you will surely be surprised the big difference in style between the scribes’ style of writing the manuscript and the Greek text of the Bible that we use. 

Here are some of them and the comparison that I made. 

Second, there were texts omitted in the manuscript that you can find in the Greek Bible. 

Here are a few that I noticed:

In Matthew 1:11, the Greek phrases, Ἰωσίας δὲ ἐγέννησεν τὸν Ἰεχονίαν.

In Matthew 1:17, the Greek phrases,  καὶ ἀπὸ Δαυὶδ ἕως τῆς μετοικεσίας Βαβυλῶνος γενεαὶ δεκατέσσαρες were omitted in this part of the manuscript because we can see the in this part of the manuscript because we can see after the second δεκατέσσαρες the Greek words  Τοῦ δὲ in Matthew 1:18

In Matthew 1:18, the Greek phrase Χριστοῦ was omitted.

In Matthew 3:11, the Greek phrases καὶ πυρί were omitted.

Does this mean the scribe committed a big mistake in GA 763?

As I see it, the scribe of GA 763 was a trained scribe but it does not mean that he does not make a mistake in writing. 

It is inevitable given the fact that all scribes, even trained ones, were human, and therefore bound to make mistakes. However, such scribes tended to make certain predictable errors related to poor eyesight or harmonization to familiar wording. On the other hand, the differences we  see might not be errors, but rather reflections of a different exemplar text.

Third, I noticed some duplicate words like the duplicate preposition in this verse.

Let us not forget this scribe is also human and like us in this modern times, we also encode duplicate words while using the computer for typing or encoding. Is this intentional on our part? Of course, not!

Fourth, we will notice in this manuscript that there was Nomina sacra or Sacred Names. Other people think, we can only read Nomina sacra in uncial manuscripts. 

You will notice Nomina sacra not only in Uncial Manuscripts like Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae but also in GA 763. It is a later manuscript which contains Nomina sacra like God, Father, Mother, and Israel. 

Fifth, in GA 763, you can notice Ekthesis or Ornamented Letter like what you can see below where there are large letters.  

Sixth, there are also words which are not quite clear and could not be read in the Greek Bible, but if you understand Greek grammar, you will find out why Greek scribes wrote these like this below:

This is in the middle of the Greek words, αὐτὴν and δειγματίσαι

It reads like this: thelōn autēn paradeigmatisai

In the Greek bible, we can read the Greek word,  δειγματίσαι right after αὐτὴν.
Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν. (Matthew 1:19)
It is the prefix παρα to the word παραδειγματίσαι meaning "punish publicly."

Note: The images of the manuscript in this article are owned by The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Kecharitomene (Luke 1:28), the Kecharitomeno (Sirach 18:17), and the Pleres Charitos (Acts 6:8)

I read an article by a non-Catholic saying if “full of grace” is the correct translation of κεχαριτωμένη, why is “full of grace” not the translation of κεχαριτωμένῳ in Sirach 18:17? Instead, the Greek word, κεχαριτωμένῳ was translated as "Gracious."  Others also compared Acts 6:8 to Luke 1:28 to prove there is no difference between the situation of Stephen and Mother Mary since it also said Stephen is “full of grace.”

Before I start clarifying this issue, I just wanted to share what one of my mentors in Biblical languages said more than two years ago. I mentioned to him how a person was inclined to look for individual words and give their own interpretation. They often presume that their understanding of Greek is correct simply because they were able to read interlinear and lexicon. 

Here is what he told me more than 2 years ago:
"It seems that people you talk to have a "fortune-cookie" approach to Scripture. They hold preconceived beliefs/opinions and then seek an individual word or a single verse that can be interpreted to "prove" it. But CONTEXT is essential"
Eugene Ulrich, M.Div., Ph.D.
In analyzing the verse, lexicon or interlinear are not enough. It is vital to know Greek grammar and the context of the verse that you are reading. 

I will discuss the three verses that were mentioned. 

In Luke 1:28 - Passive participle with a feminine ending. In Acts 6:8 - adjective plus genitive of noun "charis." In Luke 1:28 Mary was conceived full of grace. In Acts 6:8, the Greek adjective, "full" is used.  It refers to the time when Stephen was performing great wonders and signs.

In Luke 1:28, the Greek uses perfect passive vocative participle referring to Mary. She was addressed directly. It is in the perfect tense, which is the present time. It is a past action that extends to the present. In Acts 6:8, Stephen was full of grace at the time mentioned in Acts.

In Luke 1:28, the suffice "mene" is a passive participle. Mary [the subject] is acted upon. It shows she did not bring herself into this state. This was the action of God. The prefix "ke" is in the perfect tense which implies the action [Mary's being graced] was completed in the past with continuing results. 

The gender of participles is a function of the nouns that they modify in their context. Κεχαριτωμένη in Luke 1:28 is said to a woman and thus is feminine.  κεχαριτωμένῳ  in Sirach 18:17 modifies ἀνδρὶ, which is masculine.

In general words don’t have a single, absolute meaning. Their meaning is determined by the context in which they are used. The context in Luke suggests that Mary is “graced” or “favored.” Sirach 18:17 says “ls not a word better than a gift? But both are with a man κεχαριτωμένῳ.” Which should probably be translated “who has been been favored.” 

"Hail, full of grace" is a somewhat free but legitimate translation. "Χαῖρε" is a normal Greek form of greeting, with possible translations as "hello," "greetings," "hail." "κεχαριτωμένη" means "favored" or "graced" (woman). The New Revised Standard Version translates: "Greetings, favored one!" Since in Luke it is a formal greeting by an angel, any of these are legitimate: "Hail, favored one," or "Greetings, graced one," or "Greetings, woman who has been given grace," or a bit freely, but OK in context: "Hail, full of grace."

The participle κεχαριτωμένη, is derived from the word charis, “grace” or “favor”. The genitive of that noun is charitos, which provides the stem for the verb. It does not mean specifically “full of grace.”

If someone wants to translate that into Hebrew, one possible free translation (not word-for-word) is: habat roochama "graced daughter."

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Truth about the Inquisition requires extensive research on reliable sources

Protestants attacking the Catholic Church often use the Holy Inquisition. This allegedly proves the Catholic Church does not belong to God but to the devil since the church killed many people through the Inquisition. 

According to an expert, Professor Diane Moczar in her book, Seven Lies About Catholic History: Infamous Myths about the Church’s Past and How to Answer Them on page 96:
“By the thirteenth century, the task of confronting heresy had devolved upon the new mendicant religious orders founded by St. Dominic and St. Francis, which were mainly dedicated to preaching the Faith. The aim of these Dominican and Franciscan inquisitors was the conversion of the heretic, not his extermination (in either of its meanings).” 

It is clear that the Inquisition has a different purpose. It was not made to kill people. 

Professor Moczar also clarified the Church does not kill. 
"One of the most famous inquisitor, Jacques Fournier (the future Pope Benedict XII), who interviewed some 930 suspected heretics during his career, never used torture; he got all the information he needed through skills andnot force. He assigned various penalties to those judged guilty, ranging from making a pilgrimage or wearing a cross to exile or imprisonment. Forty-two heretics he turned over to the secular authority for execution. (The Church itself did not execute; when a crime was judged worthy of death, the criminal was turned over to the state with a request for mercy. Since the crime in most such cases challenged secular authority in some way or was even considered high treason, the request for mercy was usually ignored.) (Seven Lies About Catholic History: Infamous Myths about the Church’s Past and How to Answer Them, Diane Moczar, Tan Books (September 1, 2010),  pp.88-89)

Thus, our Protestant friends must become honest just like the Protestant Professor Rodney Stark. In his book, Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History, we will learn that what others say about the Inquisition is not true.
In popular culture, the term “Inquisition” is nearly a synonym for torture. As John Dowling (1808–78) explained, “Of all the inventions of popish cruelty the Holy Inquisition is the masterpiece…. It was impossible for even Satan himself to conceive a more horrible contrivance of torture and blood.” Thus, as noted above, it has been taken for granted that many more poor souls died in the Inquisition’s prisons and torture chambers than survived long enough to go to the stake.
This may be the biggest lie of all!
All the courts of Europe used torture, but the Inquisition did so far less than other courts. For one thing, Church law limited torture to one session lasting no more than fifteen minutes, and there could be no danger to life or limb. Nor could blood be shed! There are, of course, very painful techniques that can be applied within these rules. But even so, torture was rarely used, perhaps because the “[i]nquisitors themselves were sceptical of the efficacy and validity of torture as a method of conviction.” (Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History by Rodney Stark)

The Holy See set up an office at the time of the Reformation, to review and pass judgment on the orthodoxy of religious statements and practices throughout the Church - the distant ancestor of our Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  This did not have a lot of political or police power to enforce judgments.  Then, in the early 16th century, one of the kings of Spain (Ferdinand?  Philip II?)  set up an independent Spanish version, operated by the royal government.  There, in the wake of the new unification of Spain as a "Christian kingdom," with the attempt to expel Jews and Muslims from the peninsula going on, some officials were concerned that some people were claiming to be Christians or converts, who were really not genuine.  So the government decided it needed its own, tougher version of the Inquisition, to ensure religious unity for political purposes.  Most of the violence of the Inquisition is attributed to them.  (Our Jesuit founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. John of the Cross, among others, were both imprisoned several times by the Spanish Inquisition.)

St. Ignatius tells in his Autobiography about his own experience after his conversion, being harassed by the  inquisitors and imprisoned by them, in Alcala and Salamanca, because he was preaching and giving people catechetical instruction, without yet having a degree in theology and while still a layman.  You can find the Autobiography in any collection of St. Ignatius's works.  For St. John of the Cross, this would be in any biography of him; there is a new book by Fr. Thomas Dubay on Teresa and John of the Cross called Fire Within, which should tell you something about this experience.  

Saturday, May 16, 2020

If Repeated Prayers are Forbidden by Jesus (Matthew 6:7), why did Jesus Repeat His Prayers (Matthew 26:44)?

Let us look at the original text of Matthew 6:7:
Προσευχόμενοι δὲ μὴ βατταλογήσητε ὥσπερ οἱ ἐθνικοί, δοκοῦσιν γὰρ ὅτι ἐν τῇ πολυλογίᾳ αὐτῶν εἰσακουσθήσονται.
For those who studied Biblical Greek, you will see the greek word Battalogeō.

Battalogeō (verb, subjunctive, aorist, active, 2nd person, plural).

What does this mean?

This was mentioned on page 329 of The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament by Spiros Zodhiates:

If we study closely Matthew 6:7, Jesus condemned the Babbling prayer of pagans.
“He condemns the babbling prayer of the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. He is not criticizing persistence in prayer (see 7:7–11) or repetition, which is biblical and pleasing to God (Dan 3:52–68; Ps 136; Rev 4:8). Rather, Jesus condemns a common pagan practice of reciting divine names and formulas to implore the gods to act on their behalf.” (The Gospel of Matthew (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) page 105 by Edward Sri , Curtis Mitch)
Even Protestant scholars who made an analysis understood the historical background of Matthew 6:7. 

This is what a Baptist Pastor and President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, John Broadus, in his book, Commentary on Matthew:
“This well represents the practice common in the public worship of some of the heathen, as when the priests of Baal continued from morning until noon to cry: “o Baal, hear us I”, (1 Kings 18:26) and the multitude in the theatre at Ephesus for two hours shouted, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.”

Even a Protestant scholar, Craig Evans said in his book on page 143 of the New Cambridge Bible Commentary:
“We may have here an allusion to the story of the prophets of Baal crying out all day to their god – who never responded. Evidently they thought that he eventually would heed their prayer if they made enough noise and repeated themselves often (cf. 1 Kings 18:26–29, “they . . . called on the name Baal from morning until noon . . . and no answer . . .and they raved on . . . but there was no voice”).

Aside from Evans, this is what Craig S. Keener, another Protestant scholar said in his book:
“But Jesus not only warns against the “ hypocrites’ “ prayers that invite human rather than divine attention; he criticizes pagan prayers designed to manipulate their deities.” (The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, Craig S. Keener, page 212)

Isn’t the understanding of John Broadus, Craig Evans and Craig Keener regarding Matthew 6:7 far from the thinking of other Protestants? 

Many often use Matthew 6:7 against Catholics praying the Rosary. However, this is far from what Catholics do based on references mentioned earlier. In the books of Protestant scholars, they mentioned the prayers of those who worshiped Baal during ancient times. In other words, Jesus condemned the “babble” prayers or those that are worthless and often repeated.  

Are all Repetitive Prayers useless or called “Babble”? 

Here are what Protestant scholars said: 

“Not all repetition is babble. While in spiritual agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Himself ‘prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Matt. 26:44) (Exegetical Commentary on Matthew, page 54, Spiros Zodhiates).

"(1) Babbling-tautology. It is not all repetition in prayer that is here condemned, but babbling. Christ himself, prayed, saying the same words (ch. 26.44), out of a more than ordinary fervour and zeal, Luke 22.44" (Zondervan NIV, Matthew Henry, Commentary).

"Jesus is not condemning prayer any more than he is condemning almsgiving (v.2) or fasting (v.16). Nor is he forbidding all long prayers or all repetition. He himself prayed at length (Luke 6:12), repeated himself in prayer (Matt 26:44; unlike Ecclus 7:14!), and told a parable to show his disciples that “they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1)" (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 166 by Matthew by D.A. Carson).

According to the analysis of Protestant Bible scholars, it showed that Jesus also repeated His prayers (Matthew 26:44) and not all repetition is Babble.

It is traditional for Jews to repeat the Shema at least twice a day (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

According to Rabbi Professor Herbert Basser and Marsha B Cohen in their book, The Gospel of Matthew and Judaic Traditions on page 182:
“Mishnah Menaḥot concludes with a very fine exegesis in which it is said that the burnt offering of a large animal, the burnt-offering of a small bird, and the meal offering, in spite of the difference in cost and quality of each, nonetheless have in equal measure a “savor pleasing to God” (Lev 1:9, 1:17, 2:9); for which reason the exegesis concludes with this exhortation: “It is all the same whether one does much or little, only let a person direct his mind  to heaven” (m. Menaḥ. 13:11). Prayer came to be known as “service of the heart.”25 B. Taʿanit 2a finds the biblical injunction “You shall serve God with your whole heart (Deut 11:13)” to refer to prayer.” 

You can repeat prayers as long as they do not go against God’s teachings. Jesus warned against praying to impress others or using “vain repetition.”  Don't pray like the hypocrites because Jesus knew that they were not praying from their hearts. 

Remember, God rejects lip service. Jesus reminds us to engage our "hearts" when we pray. 
"This people honors me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me"(Matthew 15:8)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

5 Books of well-known non-Catholic Bible scholars that prove the Pope is not the Beast in Revelation 13:18 but Nero Caesar

Various sects have long been criticizing the Pope of the Catholic Church using Revelation 13:18. 

"This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six"(Revelation 13:18)
They say the Pope is the fulfillment of what is written in Revelation 13:18 that the Pope is the beast. 

Actually, there is no logical scholar even from the Protestants who will say the  Pope is the fulfillment of 666 in Revelation 13.

The Protestants who say this are only those who attack the Catholic Church and do not analyze properly. 

Here is what the books written by notable non-Catholic Bible scholars:

1.) Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation by Bruce Metzger

Who is the satanic beast, symbolized by the number 666? Over the centuries a very great deal of ingenuity has been expended in attempting to answer this question. A further complication arises from the fact that some ancient manuscripts of the book of Revelation give the number as 616 instead of 666. Among the names and titles have been proposed to solve the cryptogram, the most probable candidate is the Emperor Nero. If we add the numerical values in the Hebrew spelling of the name Neron Caesar we obtain 666; on the other hand, since his name can equally well be spelled without the last N, if we omit the final N, the total will be 616” (Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, Bruce Metzger, pp. 76-77).

2.) The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener

But one of the most popular proposals among scholars is “Nero Caesar.” Although his name comes out to 1,005 in Greek (which would have been obvious, because a familiar wordplay on that number of his name had circulated throughout the Empire’s graffiti), his name comes out to “666” if transliterated into Hebrew” (The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, Craig S. Keener, p. 757).
3.) The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) by Robert H. Mounce

The solution most commonly accepted today is that 666 is the numerical equivalent of Nero Caesar. It is held to be supported by the variant reading 616, which also yields the name of Nero when the Latinized spelling is followed” (The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce, p. 262).

4.) Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology by Thompson, Green, and Achtemeier

When Nero Caesar is written in Hebrew characters, their sum is 666, so that he is that person. Other descriptions of the beast recall the legends of Nero’s mysterious death and expected return. According to 13:3, “One of its heads seemed to have received a death blow, but its mortal wound had been healed,” a cryptic statement referring to the expectation that Nero would return and the empire would continue to exert its power and influence” (Introducing the New Testament: Its Literature and Theology, p 570, by Marianne Meye Thompson, Joel B. Green, Paul J. Achtemeier).

5.) A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament by Philip Comfort
Through gematria (a method whereby letters of an alphabet signify various numbers), the Hebrew translation of “Caesar Nero” is signified by “616,” and “Caesar Neron” is signified by “666.” Caesar Nero persecuted Christians. Those who received his “mark” were exempt from this persecution” (A Commentary on the Manuscripts and Text of the New Testament, p. 411, Philip Comfort ).
Through the comments of non-Catholic Bible scholars, whom shall we believe the non-Catholics who gave their own opinions or the scholars who carefully analyzed and have credibility in explaining the sacred scriptures? 

Was Jesus Crucified on a Cross or Stake?

 1.) According to Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Lord Jesus was crucified on a torture stake and not the cross.  Their view is not based on the la...