Passover & Crucifixion: Dissecting Daniel Gregg’s Comment

2895382892_405d364065Daniel Gregg is interested in and has done a lot of research on Biblical chronology. From the sound of it, and from this comment I am about to dissect, I would have to say I find his methodology suspect. I let a number of comments slide the last few days due in part to busyness (leading 11 seders in 2 weeks!) and in part to the fact that I did not feel I needed to have the last word.

Now, someone has commented with a pointed argument that I feel I should not ignore.

If you wonder what I am talking about, please read the original post, “Passover and Yeshua’s Crucifixion.”

I will respond to a few of Daniel Gregg’s comments and for reference will list his entire comment below.

First, Gregg says that it is only by circular reasoning that anyone (including nearly every scholar who has ever written on the gospels) could arrive at the conclusion that “Sabbaton” in the NT means “week.” Circular reasoning is pretty much the same as begging the question, which is logical fallacy of starting out with a pre-conceived notion and then proving that notion by repeating it again and again. For example, circular reasoning in this case would be, “Sabbaton in the New Testament often means “week,” a fact which we know because sabbaton means week.”

I don’t understand why Gregg thinks that I or anyone else arrived at the idea that Sabbaton means week (in many contexts) by circular reasoning. All Bible translators understand that Sabbaton is a Greek form of the Hebrew word Shabbaton, or Sabbath. The idea that it often means “week” in the New Testament is not something that was arrived at by circular reasoning. It is something that was arrived at by examining the contextual uses of the word. This is the right way to define a word (synchronically) and the wrong way is to insist on an ancient and unchanging root meaning (which is what Gregg is doing).

I have used as an example Luke 18:12 in which a Pharisee claims to fast twice a Sabbaton. I have said the idea that this could mean fasting twice on the Sabbath is ridiculous. One commenter said it means he skips 2 meals on the Sabbath. I have yet to see the concept of fasting defined as skipping a meal in the practices of Biblical times. How many meals could the person then eat? I could say I fasted today because I had three meals and only one snack instead of five.

Furthermore, I have said that Mark 16:2 makes no sense if Sabbaton means Sabbath. Mark 16:2 says, very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. According to Gregg’s translation it should be very early on the first of the Sabbaths they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. This means the first of the seven Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuot, he tells us.

Well, is Sabbaton plural? Or is it a Greek version of Shabbaton? Gregg decides it must be plural, but he doesn’t mention the other possibility which would detract from his theory. Further, how would the reader gather from “first of the Sabbaths” that this referred to the seven Sabbaths between Passover and Shavuot? Gregg is stretching to avoid a simpler and more consistent answer.

Gregg further says that in Luke 18:12 the word does not mean week either. He offers an explanation I cannot decipher:

…Luke 18:12 excepted, and ’sabbatou’ there does not mean ‘week’ either. It is just redacted Byzantine Greek to say so.

He can’t be saying that some later redactors in the Byzantine tradition changed an earlier word “week” to the word “Sabbath.” Or at least I hope that is not what he is saying. What possible motivation could they have to take a clear word and make it unclear (unless this is a conspiracy theory that the Byzantine scholars wanted to throw us off by making us think Sabbaton means week)? Besides, what clear word for week would they use? There was not a word.

Gregg says that there is a clear Greek word for week, the same one used in the Greek version of Daniel (hebdamos). Well, that word is related, as I understand it, to the word seven and is not strictly speaking a word for a time period called a week. Although the ancient Greeks could coin a word for a seven-day period, this was not a native concept.

Gregg argues that since Adam and Eve the whole world knew about the existence of and importance of a week.

This is far-fetched. It amounts to saying that the ancients all knew the Genesis story (though none referred to it except possibly in myths that contained shadows of the primeval past). Perhaps Mr. Gregg could provide some references from ancient literature to persuade us that they all knew about Adam and Eve and the idea of a week.

Conclusion
It is not circular reasoning to determine the meaning of a word from its context. The translators of the New Testament through the ages have not been unaware that Sabbaton means Sabbath. All of them have been aware of this. It is not new information. Nor was there a conspiracy to change the day of the Resurrection from Saturday to Sunday (anyone who says so, the burden of proof is on you and you need more than some internet research to prove your point). Note: It is a popular thing on the internet for people to pose as experts and have only enough knowledge to fool those with less knowledge — which renders internet research valuable only to the extent you know a writer to be reliable.

Rather, the translators of the New Testament found it quite natural and were quite aware in the early days of the use of Sabbath to mean Sabbath-period, which is a week.

Gregg’s alternative (the first of [the seven] Sabbaths) is what we call a forced answer to arrive at a desired goal: to be seen as a discoverer of “new” truth.

Appendix: Daniel Gregg’s Comment in Its Entirety

Hi Derek,

I am the author of the mentioned book. You mention that “sabbaton” means “week” in other NT passages. The problem is that this is a case of circular reasoning. For it is those very passages that pertain to the resurrection and which are mistranslated, Luke 18:12 excepted, and ’sabbatou’ there does not mean ‘week’ either. It is just redacted Byzantine Greek to say so.
Also, the words ‘mia’ and ’sabbaton’ mean the same thing in both classical and koine Greek, and actually even more so in koine. Also, most secular scholars read a lot of classical, but they they are compentent enough with koine. What they lack is the bias of Church tradition to tell them what the Greek must mean before they read it.
The Greeks do have a word for week. It is “ebdomados”. Did you know that Dr. William Mead Jones produced a chart of the week demonstrating the concept of the “week” in over 160 languages and cultures in the world? Daniel 10:2 uses “ebdomados” in the LXX for Shavuah, i.e. “week” or “a seven”. The concept of the week is not exclusive to the bible, but is as old as Adam and Noah and all of their descendents.
The Greek “mia ton sabbaton” means “first of the Sabbaths” and Sabbaths is in plural. Refer to Lev. 23:15 where it says to count 7 sabbaths after Passover. It does not mean the first point in one sabbath (i.e. Friday night) as you misunderstood, but the first Sabbath after Passover.

Daniel

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Holidays, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism, Passover, Yeshua. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Passover & Crucifixion: Dissecting Daniel Gregg’s Comment

  1. mpossoff says:

    Hi Derek,

    Only from the original linguistics we are able to discover what the text means.

    There are many other mis-interpretations in scripture into the English such as added words and the like. When one dives into the original linguistics one can discover these contradictions.

    I’m not implying that these were done as a conspiracy or intentional as it could be very well out of innocence.

    We have more tools today then Luther and King James did. And this is what I call Restoration of all things.

    I’m one to keep a very open mind, how about you?

    Marc

    • Marc:

      Your comment implies that I have not been addressing linguistics. I can only conclude you do not know what the word linguistics means. If I am missing something, please let me know.

      Derek

  2. tandi119 says:

    LINK DELETED…………

    I hope we can continue the conversation and hear from others on this topic. I would also like to clarify and support my comment about fasting on Shabbat (which is practiced by some rabbis to this day)……although I now tend to agree with Dan’s view, “I fast twice unto the Sabbath” (i.e., Mondays and Thursdays). Either way, comments from your readers, whatever the merit or lack thereof, are best not dismissed out of hand or labeled “ridiculous”….discouraging dialogue and participation. Respectful sharing of differing views should be encouraged. Iron sharpeneth iron!

    Shalom, Tandi

    • Tandi:

      I was unable to register and comment at Daniel Gregg’s forum for some reason. Several people there were speculating that I had rejected Daniel’s comment here at Messianic Jewish Musings. Not true. WordPress automatically sends to moderation any post that contains multiple hyperlinks.

      However, upon reading Mr. Gregg’s comment, I was glad to see that the moderation feature at wordpress had caught it, because his reply was rather uncharitable.

      No offense to my many Catholic friends, with whom I have no problem, but Daniel Gregg’s comment, which I invite him to make again in a different manner, referred to my position and, by implication, me, as a Catholic. He said and I quote, “Derek Leman is interested in arguing for the traditional Catholic Friday-Sunday chronology. Here I will dispose of some of his remarks in favor of a Torah based chronology.”

      I find it rather rude to label anyone with a religious affiliation they do not claim. I didn’t call Mr. Gregg a Pentecostal or an Episcopalian. I don’t know why he insists on the lame deduction that:
      A. The Catholic Church decided that the resurrection happened on Sunday.
      B. Derek thinks the resurrection happened on Sunday.
      C. Derek holds to a Catholic view of the resurrection.

      The fact is, point A is wrong. The thing we are debating is whether the New Testament says the resurrection was on Sunday. And the myth that Constantine or the Catholic church changed the date is just that — a myth.

      Further, what a cheap shot for Mr. Gregg to say that his method is Torah-based implying that somehow mine is not cognizant of Torah issues.

      As long as Mr. Gregg and his fans live in a world of make-believe and self-announced superiority, he and they will find few people interested in their opinions.

      Having some skills at theology and Biblical studies, however, I do hope Mr. Gregg and his group of devotees will move on to maturity and stop playing name-calling games. I’m sure that he and they have real contributions to make, but not in this way.

      Derek

      • I don’t think this topic has been touched in a while, but I figured I would add my comments in case the original poster or someone else reads this.

        I researched this very topic for about six months when I ran into Daniel Gregg’s article. He and I both independently concluded that mia ton sabbaton meant “one of the Sabbaths” or “first of the Sabbaths” and that it is in reference to the counting of Sabbaths from Passover to Shavuot. There are many ways to confirm this, but Daniel Gregg has done the best job using chronology in addition to the other research he has confirmed.

        You say there is not word for “week” in Greek but the word εβδομαδος (ebdomados, seven/week) is used in the LXX in several places where it is the exact one to one translation for שָׁבוּעַ (Hebrew for “week.”) We are all aware that the New Testament writers read from the Septuagint. They know what the word for “week” is and how it’s used in the Septuagint and they knew their audience who read the Septuagint would figure it out as well. Are you telling me that Paul would purposely use another word to mean “week” when there was already one in existence just so the lines between a Sabbath and a week are blurred.

  3. mpossoff says:

    Hi Derek with all due respect why the conclusion or assumption that I do not know what linguistic means?

    Doesn’t make me better than anyone else but at least I’m looking at all possibilites as I NEVER implied that I believe in a Sabbath resurrection 100%.

    I challenge all to dig into scripture and not believe what others have said, in other words let’s be Berean’s.

    Again I never said I believe in one or another.

    But you are so set and not even willing to consider other possibilites.

    Marc

  4. danielgregg says:

    Hi Derek,

    Sorry about your failed registration attempt. I tested it, and it seems the CAPTCHA visual confirmation was too difficult. I failed a test. So I’ve reset it to make it a lot easier.

    You may reply at the torahtimes forum if you want to reply there instead. I don’t know what was uncharitable about my post other than that it was impersonal, but that is because your post was impersonal — nothing more than scholarly style. If you read the Journal of Biblical Literature debate between Solomon Zeitlin and C.C. Torrey you will know what to expect. If there is anything else, you are welcome to point it out, and I’m writing this to let you know that I generally overlook ad hominum and rhetorical manauvers, even on my own forum since I find that none of that really deals with facts, and that such is a waste of time. However, if you have a specific complaint, I will weigh it to see if an apology is due.

    Dan

  5. danielgregg says:

    Hi Derek,
    Maybe the reason my post isnt up is that it was too long? At any rate Tandi provided the link to it, so at least people can know what we are talking about.
    Here is one of the statements you took issue with, “Derek Leman is interested in arguing for the traditional Catholic Friday-Sunday chronology.” That’s the only time the word “Catholic” appears in the entire post. I didn’t say that the Catholic Church decided anything.
    The other statement you took issue with is, “Here I will dispose of some of his remarks in favor of a Torah based chronology”. I meant to imply that your chronology is not Torah based. I knew you would disagree with it, but I believe it is the truth. You have no idea how errant and anti-Torah that most biblical chronology is. I should spell out what the “first of the sabbaths” is. Lev. 23:15, “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete” (KJV).
    I will include one more point, Luke 18:12, “I fast twice to the Sabbath”. If you see Jones’ chart of the week with my annotations:

    LINK DELETED…….

    You will see some of the basis for that there.

    Dan

  6. tandi119 says:

    I suppose we will just have to let readers determine who, if anyone, is being rude. I do not see anything in Dan’s comments that were out of line or insinuating anything. I wish we could discuss the important issues.

    As a former Catholic myself, I consider the Good Friday to Sunday scenario a Catholic teaching and am surprised it is gaining such momentum amongst Messianic leaders these days. This is the third time I have heard it advocated by those I had come to respect and whose writings I have read. (Does this make me a “devotee” of these teachers as well?)

    In the pagan past, Good Friday was called Black Friday or Blood Friday (Attis mythology for example). I have been in dialogue with former Christians and Messianics who have fallen away from the faith and are now atheists, partly due to the parallels with paganism and mythology that they have read about. My hope is that the Messianic movement will not compromise the truth wherever it may lead so that “the faith once delivered” can be restored (Jude) and that we will not continue to see defections to apostasy and atheism.

    These are my own personal comments and views. Assumptions should not be made that anyone’s comments represent the views of another. That said, I am very supportive of the Biblical Chronology research of Daniel Gregg and hope it will get some serious consideration. I also hold Dan in high regard personally. Count me a fan.

    Shalom

  7. tandi119 says:

    Since the links have been removed, I am re-submitting Daniel Gregg’s comments for reader consideration. I hope Dan (or Derek) does not mind, as I am doing this on my own initiative.

    –Shalom, Tandi

    Dan’s Response to Derek’s post:

    Derek Leman is interested in arguing for the traditional [] Friday-Sunday chronology. Here I will dispose of some of his remarks in favor of a Torah based chronology.

    “Sabbaton” is only translated “week” 9x in the NT (KJV), and 8 of those occurences fall right after Passover. The resurrection of Yeshua was on the first sabbath after Passover. The phrase “mia sabbaton” occures only in the context of the first sabbath after Passover. Includes Acts 20:7 and 1Cor 16:2.

    That leaves Luke 18:12 as the sole exception, and its not even “sabbaton” there. It’s sabbatou, and of course no “mia”. Of those 8 occurences, all of them refer to the “first of the sabbaths”, which is explained in Leviticus 23:15. Regarding arguments about what a majority of Church scholars think, I can’t help but remember “Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit” (Jer. 16:19).

    An examination of all uses of “Sabbaton” and “Shabbat” from the LXX to the MT and all uses in the NT will show that the word only means “sabbath” or “sabbaths” and make perfect sense in every context, and that it refers to the seventh day or a feast day on which rest was commanded.

    I did not make the argument for Luke 18:12, “I fast twice a Sabbath”. That is just what the text says in Greek. If one will see [link] one will see that in the footnote 450 that reverse translation into Hebrew gives the sense “I fast twice unto the Sabbath” which is what I believe was uttered by Yeshua. He does mean the bi-weekly fast on Mondays and Thursdays. While “week” might be a functional equivalent in this context, one does not determine the meaning of words by what particular dynamic equivalent might work to get the same idea across. The one who says “I fast twice unto Sabbath” wants us to notice his pious reference to the sabbath. It would have been easier to say “I fast twice a shavuah”. The meaning of “week” did not get stuck on sabbaton until after the first century.

    If one consults the Anchor Bible on Mathew 28:1 one will see that W.F. Albright and C.S. Mann were uncertain that the context supported the meaning “week”. Context is the right way to determine meaning, but the contexts simply do not support sabbaton meaning week.

    A Jewish reader familiar with Lev. 23:15-16 will recognize “first of the sabbaths”, “And ye shall count unto you from the time after the Sabbath, …. seven sabbaths shall be complete even unto the time after the seventh Sabbath, you shall number a fiftieth day …”

    In Mark 16:2, sabbaton is plural, no exceptions in any MSS. Of course the Church introduced its own meanings of Greek, which came into its own in the Byzantine period. There “sabbaton” does mean week, though apparently some Greeks like John Chrysostom had a hard time with it and thought it did refer to the sabbath. {By “redacted”] I mean that the Church added the meaning or changed it They edited the meaning of the word. Perhaps I should call it ecclesiastical Greek, but then John Calvin thought that Acts 20:7 was talking about a sabbath, so maybe there was no solid ecclesiatical meaning for sabbath as week either??

    On the designations for “week” in various languages one can see [link]. So many nations of the world use “seven” to mean week that it is very un-parsimonious to suggest that “ebodmados” is not the native Greek word for week. [Dr. William Mead] Jones’ chart is widely available. He was a Seventh Day Baptist.

    Of course the ancients knew of the week. It was only through rebellion that they lost it to varying degrees, but never completely as Jones Chart shows. Jones charts 160 languages and shows the relation to “sabbath” and “seven” for the 7th day of the week. Even “saturday” is related to “seven” because “saturn” was the seventh heavenly body. To say that the ancients did not know of the week is to claim that Adam and Noah never taught their descendants anything at all, hardly an Okcham’s razor assumption.

    It is circular reasoning to make up a meaning in contexts where it does not belong or make ultimate sense, and then to use those contexts to justify the meaning. It does not make sense because the chronology of Passion week breaks down into a pile of contradictions when the foreign meaning of “week” is introduced.

    Translators of the NT have been pushing the cutting edge of corruption from the time they began to translate the originals. Where are we at now? Peterson’s, “Message” with its “soup of nothingness” in Genesis 1:2. “First day of the week” is purely a corrupt translation tradition no different than those who translate Mark 7:15, “Thus he declared all foods clean”. And what about “faith”? Isn’t it “faithfulness”. Also the word “justified” and “law” are corrupted. In fact, every important word is corrupted. Even “baptise” is not translated for fear people would think that it mean “immerse”, and what about the word “church”. Doesn’t it really mean “congregation”?

    Leman’s answer depends entirely on tradition. And it is a tradition that is provably wrong based on biblical chronology. So look at the big picture. Can one reconstruct an accurate biblical chronology when one believes in a screwed up version of the most central event of history. I think not. I’ve already charted an accurate chronology that solves all the contradictions. The chronology verifies itself. I’ve got a great series of powerpoints at [link]……
    ——–
    [edits by Tandi]

  8. This phrase “first day of the week has been bothering me for some time. I have been prayerfully searching it out and sorting through the various theories. I believe I have sorted to the bottom and core of it and developed a theory that stands the storm. The phrase is not so uniform in Greek as it is in english. However, in seven of the eight times, the greek word translated “week” is plural. I propose that there is a day that would logically and properly be called “#1 day belonging to Sabbaths.” For those following the modern Hebrew calendar this may be a challenge, but hold with me: I believe that the day following the Sabbath of Passover may properly be referred to as the #1 day belonging to Sabbaths. This would be day one counting toward 50 days and counting toward 7 Sabbaths (hense the day in the context of plural Sabbaths). (NOTE: when God gave His instructions regarding the morrow of the Sabbath of Passover, the word “Sabbath” was not yet connected with the first day of Unleavened Bread; thus I suggest this instruction would naturally have been understood as speaking of the day after the weekly Sabbath. Moreover, If this day had been the day after the High Sabbath it would always be the same day of the month each year and G-d could have simply stated that date as well as the date of Pentecost. If not both this day of firstfruit/wave offering and Pentecost would be moving they would need to be somehow be connected to a day that was fixed in order to know when they occur. (I’m not saying G-d cannot have people count for no reason, but it is more logical this other way!) If we look at all the 7 passages where this phrase occurs, ALL of them are in the context of Passover/Pentecost, including the passage in Acts and 1 Corinthians. In Acts 20, in fact, we see that Paul planned to stay until after the Feast of Unleavened Bread! In this year, “the # 1day belonging to Sabaths” can be seen as falling on the last day of the Feast of Unleavened bread (accounting for their breaking bread) and it would be a sacred assembly (accounting for the gathering together). In I Corinthians we might want to consider within its context. 1) Paul’s frequent reference to “first fruits.” 2) that Paul gives this instruction to the Corinthians “in accordance with “#1day belonging to Sabbaths” 3) The OT instructions given about the offerings to be brought to the Levite to bring to Jerusalem for Pentecost (note the wording is almost identical to the instructions (according as the Lord has blessed you) 4) That Paul would be bringing the offering to Jerusalem. He speakes of the upcoming Pentecost.
    That is just a quick overview of it all. I would be happy to send anyone an e-mail copy of my thesis containing the Scriptural references. While I believe the Lord has truly enlightened me on this I acknowledge that I am not a scholar, just a student of the Lord and His Word. I believe that if it is true, it will stand up to the test of scholarly scrutiny. So, I welcome interaction on this.
    ~Sincerely, Sarah

  9. Pingback: The Jesus Covenant, Part 9: The Mysterious 2 Corinthians 3 | Morning Meditations

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