Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Into The Name"

     The phrase "into the name" (eis to onoma) occurs several times in the
New Testament. It occurs at least four times in connection with immersion.
Jesus told his apostles to immerse believers "into the name of the Father
and   of   the    Son    and    of    the    Holy    Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
Luke tells us the people of Samaria "had been immersed into the name of
the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:16) The same writer says about twelve men in
Ephesus "were immersed into the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5)
A variation is found in 1 Cor. 1:15. Paul asked the Corinthians if they had
been immersed into his name? (eis to emon onoma). The American Standard
Version-1901 consistently translates the phrase as "into the name" in all of its
occurrences in 1 Corinthians and the book of Acts. Other English versions
translate the phrase literally sometimes, and at other times they translate it with
the words "in the name." In the texts where they do not translate it literally, they
generally place the literal rendering in the margin or the footnotes. (RSV; NASB;

     What does it mean to be immersed "into the name" of someone? Adolf
Deissmann, in his book Bible Studies, in which he notes the contributions of
the papyri and inscriptions to the study of the New Testament, says, "Just as,
in the Inscription, to buy into the name of God means to buy so that the
article bought belongs to God, so also the idea underlying, e.g., the
expressions to baptise into the name of the Lord, or to believe into the
name of the Son of God, is that baptism or faith constitutes the belonging
to God or to the Son of God ." (page 146)

     J.H. Moulton and George Milligan state in their Vocabulary of the Greek 
Testament, page 451, that "The phrase eis to onoma tinos is frequent in the
papyri with reference to payments made "to the account of any one...The usage
is of interest in connexion with Mt. 28:19, where the meaning would seem to
be "baptized into the possession of the Father, etc." Bauer-Danker-Arndt-
Gingrich's Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament and Other
Early Christian Literature concurs. The lexicon says on page 713, "Through
baptism eis to onoma tinos those who are baptized become the possession
of and come under the dedicated protection of the one whose name they bear."

     This is certainly true when we consider Paul's use of a similar phrase in the
Corinthian letter. The Corinthians were claiming to be "of Paul; of Apollos;
of Cephas; and of Christ." Paul asks them, "Is Christ divided? Was Paul
crucified for you? Or were you immersed into the name of Paul? I thank God
that I immersed none of you, except Crispus and Gaius; lest any one should
say that you were immersed into my name." (1 Cor. 1:13-14)  Paul's point
is this: you cannot rightly claim to be "of" Paul because you were not immersed
"into" my name. And since you were not immersed "into" my name, you do
not owe your allegiance to me, for I do not possess you. You do not belong
to me, you belong to Christ! Therefore, to be immersed "into the name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" is to become their "property,"
having entered into relationship with them. Christians belong to the Father,
Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Copyright 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Did Yahweh Remove Their Chariot Wheels?

     The story of the children of Israel going into the midst of the Red Sea is one
of the great narratives in the Old Testament. It demonstrates God's love for and
protection of his people. It also demonstrates God's utter hatred of sin and the
destruction that awaits those who oppose God.

     There is a key difference among English versions within the context of
Exodus chapter 14. We learn that the Egyptians pursued the Israelites and
went in after them into the midst of the sea. "And in the morning watch Yahweh
in the pillar of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw them into
confusion." (Ex. 14:24)

     In verse 25, some translations say Yahweh "jammed the wheels of their
chariots. " (NET; TNIV; NIV-2011) Others read similarly by saying he
"clogged their chariot wheels." (RSV; ESV) The TANAKH (Jewish Publication's
Society's translation, 1985) says Yahweh "locked the wheels of their chariots."
Those translations follow the reading of the Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch,
and the Syriac instead of the Hebrew text. The translators believe the Hebrew
root is 'asar, meaning to bind, and could contextually carry the connotative
meaning, "to clog," perhaps by sinking into the wet sand of the Red Sea.

     The ASV reads, "And he took off their chariot wheels," followed by the
NIV which says, "He made the wheels of their chariots come off." The KJV
like the ASV says "And took off their chariot wheels." The KJV, ASV, and
NIV translate the Hebrew text as it stands. The Hebrew word in the traditional
text is wayyasar, meaning "to turn aside," (The NASB-71 and NASB-95
say "He caused their chariot wheels to swerve.") Wayyasar is likely used in
the sense of removing the wheels. The question is, which rendering is to be
preferred---'asar, jammed in the sense of clogging or locking their chariot
wheels, or wayyasar, removed their chariot wheels?

     Many of the translators and commentators who work with this portion of the
Hebrew text reason, "Would a wheelless chariot drive 'with heaviness,' or would
it just grind to a halt?' " (Exodus 1-18, page 500, W.H.C. Propp, Anchor Bible 
Commentary) Others see the phrase "removed their chariot wheels" as an
"interpretive translation of the Hebrew." (Exodus, page 343, Douglas K. Stuart,
The New American  Commentary)

     In response to the first statement, "Would a wheelless chariot drive 'with
heaviness?', the answer is a definite yes. A horse can  pull  a "wheelless" chariot
just as surely as he can pull a sled, wagon, and cart without wheels. And they
are driven with "heaviness." As to whether translating wayyasar as "removed"
or "took off" is an interpretive translation of the Hebrew. The Hebrew word
has a range of meanings, one of which is "to remove." (The Hebrew and
Aramaic Lexicon of the old Testament, volume 2, page 748)

     Translators need compelling reasons before they depart from the traditional
Hebrew text of the Old Testament. Amending the Hebrew text may be necessary
when there are legitimate grounds to do so, but in my judgment, such is not
necessary in Ex. 14:25. No insurmountable difficulties arise when wayyasar
remains in the text and is translated as "removed" or "took off."

Copyright 2011