New Book on the Hebrew Gospel

Has anyone read this? Scot McKnight gives it major credence on his blog (notice the pun?). Anyone interested in reviewing this book for the MJ community?

James R. Edwards. The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition.
http://amzn.com/0802862349

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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4 Responses to New Book on the Hebrew Gospel

  1. Carl says:

    I skimmed through it a couple of weeks ago. It’s a highly technical book claiming that the gospel first circulated in Hebrew. It does not seem to claim that the synoptic gospels were originally written in Hebrew, but that they derive from this earlier source. In other words, he gives the Hebrew source the same place that higher criticism gives to “Q.”

    For those who adhere to the inspiration of Scripture (I’m not sure whether Edwards ), a consistent approach has to affirm at least the original “autographs” of the gospels. Hebrew and Aramaic may illuminate the gospels, as would the recovery of the sources that Luke used (see his intro). But it is not the sources but the process and product that are inspired (whatever mode of inspiration one adheres to). Luke’s sources are not Scripture; neither is “Q” or a Hebrew proto-gospel.

    Just to

    • Carl says:

      Just to throw another log on the fire —

      For many years I was vexed that the Brit Hadashah is in Greek. Even though I studied Koine Greek, I preferred to read the BH in one of the Hebrew translations. I have worked through the language issue and now have a different perspective.

      The “seventy sages” translated the Tanakh into Greek (the Septuagint), presumably in order to make it more accessible to the vast number of Greek-speaking Jews in the Diaspora who were not Hebrew literate. This was a huge and controversial step that was later rejected by our tradition (because the Septuagint has controversial readings that are cited in the Brit Hadashsha).

      It seems to me that the Holy One had a similar strategy with the Brit Hadashah — to make the gospel known to the nations in the most common written language of the time. (Today, that would be English.) The difference between the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah is between the particular and the universal.

      The Tanakh is designed as a book for the Jewish people in the language that was and is part of our religious culture. According to our tradition (and my opinion as well), while translation is legitimate and necessary for many Jews, there is no substitute for the original. The Hebrew Tanakh has a A PARTICULAR STATUS, A HOLINESS, in our tradition and for our people. Translations, even Onkelos, do not share that status.

      I suggest that, by publishing the Brit Hadashah in Koine Greek, the Holy One signaled its universal scope. By detaching the gospel from the particularist Hebrew language, it became accessible to the nations. By citing the Septuagint so many times, the Greek Brit Hadashah also legitimated translation. Thus, we have hundreds of translations of all or part of the Brit Hadashah and it is accessible to the nations. Although the underlying Greek text is the necessary basis for translation (duh!), IT HAS NO SPECIAL STATUS in any denominations (except the Greek Orthodox Church).

      In fact, the Hebrew Tanakh also has no special status in the denominations. If the Tanakh is read in a non-supersessionist way, it has to be admitted that it is essentially a book written for Jews. Still, it is extremely relevant to the Gentile ekklesia, especially when seen through the lens of the Brit Hadashah. The Brit Hadash is written for the nations (including national Israel), though certain portions are particularly relevant to Jews as Jews (most obviously, Hebrews).

      That is a very brief summary of my current orientation to the Hebrew Tanakh and the Greek New Testament.

  2. Carl:

    Carl :
    …while translation is legitimate and necessary for many Jews, there is no substitute for the original. The Hebrew Tanakh has a A PARTICULAR STATUS, A HOLINESS, in our tradition and for our people. Translations, even Onkelos, do not share that status…by publishing the Brit Hadashah in Koine Greek, the Holy One signaled its universal scope. By detaching the gospel from the particularist Hebrew language, it became accessible to the nations…Thus, we have hundreds of translations of all or part of the Brit Hadashah and it is accessible to the nations. Although the underlying Greek text is the necessary basis for translation (duh!), IT HAS NO SPECIAL STATUS in any denominations…

    Great observations.

  3. warland52 says:

    Don’t know this book…will take a look…but I have read and have been much influenced by two similar books by excellent scholars (one an OT; the other more of a classicist/philologist):

    The Hebrew Christ by Claude Tresmontant
    The Birth of the Synoptics by Jean Carmignac

    Carl – interesting observations and i can live with an original koine gospel…I am not so sure however that there were not original aramaic/hebrew gospels just based on the evidence of these two books. We’ll probably never know for sure. I also add that your argument also works even if there were original gospels or even sources in Hebrew. By the end of the first century, it was their koine translations that were spreading throughout the world because that was the lingua franca…doing the “work” you exactly suggest and for the reasons you suggest.

    Todd

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