Walking to the Temple

What I Learned in Church Today: Romans 10:1-13

What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written,

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 9:30-10:13 (NASB)

This is almost “what I taught in church today,” since I went armed for Sunday school class with four books and a journal article. Dean normally teaches Sunday school, but he’s taking a few weeks off, so Charlie is filling in. Charlie was the Sunday school teacher when I first started going to this church and I have a real affection and admiration for him. I like Dean, but Dean is a teacher of “limited dimensions”. Charlie accesses less material but is willing to more deeply engage the text and has a more favorable approach to the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the centrality of Judaism in Christian salvation.

I met Charlie just outside the sanctuary just before services began and he noticed I was carrying a load of books. I complemented him on inspiring my studying diligently for his class since he asked questions that are not easy to answer, especially if you don’t have a traditionally Christian matrix of interpretation to go by. Charlie appreciated it a great deal and I’m thankful he didn’t mind me wanting to be “unconventional” in his class.

The Mystery of RomansJust so you have an idea of what I studied from. I accessed Brad Young’s The Parables: Jewish Tradition and Christian Interpretation, Mark Nanos’ The Mystery of Romans: The Jewish Context of Paul’s Letters, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Growth Through Torah, and Larry Hurtado’s How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus. I also took my copy of Messiah Journal issue 112/Winter 2013 to reference Jordan Levy’s article “The Crowning Jewels of the Nations”. I didn’t specifically quote from any of these sources during class but wanted them handy in case I needed them. I also wanted to dramatically illustrate what it is to actually study the Bible. Many people in class don’t even read over the notes.

I’m going to replicate Charlie’s study notes here and then provide the answers as I originally conceptualized them. I’ll also comment on some of the differences between what I was going to say in class and how it actually worked out.

From the introduction of the notes:

Paul has previously in chapter nine given the history of the people of Israel regarding God’s working as receiving “adoption as sons; the divine glory, the covenants, receiving the law, the temple worship, and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them the human ancestry of Christ.” (Romans 9:4,5).

Since everything that follows has to do with the “plan of salvation” or more accurately, the plan of redemption for Israel and for the people of the nations, I paid a lot of attention to “the covenants” and “the promises”. Anything we think we have as Gentile Christians comes from Israel, for it is only through the covenants and the promises that we can be grafted in to the root.

1. In chapter 10 verse 1 Paul states his heart’s desire and prayer for Israelites is that they might be saved. What does the term “saved” mean to you? Is this a good term to use today?

I might as well have referenced The Truncated Gospel or Scot McKnight’s book The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited to explain how I understand “saved.” Pastor Randy is out of town for several weeks, so he had a fellow named Mike substituting for him in giving the Sunday sermon, also based on the above-quoted scripture. I could barely stand listening to Mike’s message (and I’m sure he’s a very nice guy) because he very much seemed to think the plan of salvation is believing in Jesus so you can go to Heaven when you die. He missed the whole meaning of “raised from the dead” (Romans 10:9).

But what’s the big deal about being resurrected besides the fact that you live forever? Why is that our hope? Furthermore, why is it the good news for Israel first and then only afterward, for the Gentile? It has to do, not so much with God’s plan of salvation but His plan of redemption, especially the redemption of Israel. This is why you need to know about the New Covenant. This is why you need to know Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 among scores of other scriptures from the Prophets.

Up to JerusalemAt a later point in the class, people remarked that you can’t understand the New Testament without understanding “the Law” (Torah). They don’t know the half of it. The “being saved” Paul greatly desired for the Jewish people was the fulfillment of the covenants and the promise of complete and final redemption for the nation of Israel and all Jewish people, the raising of Israel to the head of all the nations, restoring the Jewish exiles to their Land, rebuilding the Temple, and then allowing the people of all the other nations (Gentiles, us) to come alongside Israel and be granted the blessings of forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to God, the resurrection, and a life in the world to come by worshiping God through Messiah.

Being saved is so much more than being a disembodied Spirit in Heaven, it’s the restoration, not just of people, but of all Creation with Israel at the center of all things and King Messiah at the center of Israel.

4. In verse 9, what does it mean to confess “Jesus as Lord”?

No, I didn’t forget how to count. Somehow this topic came up next. I brought the Hurtado book with me mainly because I approached the answer from the direction of Messiah’s divine nature, but here I missed a beat. After my rather long-winded answer, Charlie came up with a better answer.

What is it to have a “Lord” and “King”? We don’t really understand what an absolute ruler is in America. Even in most nations that have royalty, that King or Queen or whatever doesn’t really hold absolute authority over the lives of that nation’s citizens. In days of old, a King’s word was law and if a King wanted, for instance, a person to be put to death, there was no trial, no arguing for that person’s rights. The King said “die” and that person was put to death.

OK, that’s an extreme example, but hear me out. If Jesus is Lord of our lives, and we have “surrendered” everything to him, then that means we have no will for ourselves except the will of God. Jesus described his own relationship with God that way (John 5:19, 8:28, 10:30, 17:21). This is another illustration of what Jesus came to show us…how to properly relate to God as God and to Jesus as Lord.

Do you know how amazingly difficult that is to live out? That means ever single decision we make, every act, every thought, is expended to satisfy the desires of God. We have no lives of our own as such. Only lives that are lived out in service to the great King. We are servants. We are slaves. This was certainly Paul’s attitude (Romans 1:1). Apprehending this is extremely difficult and I wonder how we can be considered sons and daughters of the most high by adoption and still be the lowliest of thralls, completely and totally subject to the will of God? It seems as if sonship and servanthood on those levels would be almost mutually exclusive.

It makes me realize just how far away I am from being who God wants me to be. Every time that I make a decision based on what I want, right down to the choice of a meal, my job, my spouse, and even the color of socks I wear each day. I know some decisions have more impact than others, but just inventory all the decisions you’ve made over the last twenty-four hours. How many were made for the sake of Heaven and how many were to please some personal desire?

MacArthur in churchThis led into an interesting discussion about how many people in “the Church” are not “saved,” that is, have not truly turned their lives over to Messiah in absolute totality (is anyone capable of that level of commitment?). Then I asked, should we evangelize in the Church? Should we evangelize in the church I attend? What does this mean for our discipleship (or lack thereof) as a formal church responsibility? How should churches…how should my church bring up new believers to maturity?

I made a point that at the first “confession of faith” no one could possibly know all of the implications of what it means to be a disciple. It could take years (as in my case) to come to the point of understanding exactly what our faith asks of us.

2. According to verses 2 and 3 being “zealous for God” is not enough. Zeal without knowledge is inadequate. What does this mean? What are the implications for “American Christians” today?

In his commentary on Torah Portion Pinchas, Rabbi Zelig Pliskin in his book (pg 360) said, “Zealousness with negative motivations is a crime.” I didn’t express it as such when I spoke up, but I did mention something like, “Just because you say something with conviction doesn’t make it so.”

Others brought up different political and religious groups, all of which have zeal, with some of that zeal registering on a scale going from error to homicidal (speaking of the recent acts of terrorism against Israel). Paul said that some Jews were very zealous but lacked knowledge. Knowledge of what? I considered saying something about Young’s book which, in part (pp 206, 208) highlighted the importance of Torah study. It’s not like Jewish people lack for knowledge of God, but Paul was zealous against Messiah before his fateful encounter in Acts 9, in spite of his great learning. I think Paul must have been writing from his own experience. I think Paul acquired a knowledge after his first vision that he had lacked before.

I brought my copy of Messiah Journal in case the conversation turned from zealousness to jealousy, but it never went in that direction. Still, better to be prepared.

What about American Christians and zeal? I’ve said before that there are approximately 41,000 different Christian denominations if you count the national variants. Occasionally, you see some sort of statistic stating that most Americans consider themselves “Christians”. Given the state of our nation and the behavior of many people, that doesn’t seem right, but then how are these poll takers defining “Christian”?

I guess this goes back to the Lordship of Christ and whether or not our zeal is for the sake of God or for our own sake. My experience in the religious blogosphere tells me that everyone pushes their own theology and doctrine, presumably for the sake of Heaven, but attitudes I’ve encountered indicate that the motivation of at least some highly vocal bloggers might lie elsewhere. The trouble is, people, me included, have a terrific ability to delude ourselves. We can honestly think we’re serving God when in fact, we’re serving what makes us feel better. Being a servant, being a slave, isn’t about what makes us feel good but about what serves God’s interests among humanity. Sometimes, that might feel pretty uncomfortable, but when you’re a slave, you don’t ask for comfort, you just do what you’re commanded. That’s what obligation means. In essence, you have no rights.

Of course, God is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful, so He won’t abuse absolute authority and cause needless suffering (though it might feel otherwise sometimes).

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

If we act with zeal, we’d better be right. Pinchas risked much but as it turned out, his motives were only for God. R. Pliskin advises (pg 358), “A Torah scholar should be consulted whenever questions arise.” Translated into a more Christian-friendly context, I take it to mean that whenever we feel like going off half-cocked, we should check in with a wiser disciple of the Master, a friend or mentor, to verify that our motives are pure and that we are acting as servants and not our own masters.

3. In verse 4 what does it mean when it says “Christ is the end of the law”? If the law is no longer valid, then it has no effect on us, and why should we study it?

I didn’t like this part of Mike’s sermon at all since he was reading chapter and verse from the traditional supersessionist Christian playbook. No, Jesus didn’t abolish the law, but he fulfilled it, which, according to the aforementioned playbook, means the same thing.

In my Sunday school class to respond to this question, I relied heavily on Nanos and his book. The Greek word “Telos” which we translate as “end” can also be translated in a lot of other ways including “goal,” “aim,” “focus,” and “target.” During Mike’s sermon, I realized that Messiah being the focus or the target or the aim of the Torah can mean that it is only through faith in Messiah that observance of the mitzvot comes to completely fulfilling Torah’s meaning and purpose.

But performing the commandments simply for their own sake justifies no one before God. I do agree that we need to have faith as Abraham did and then approach the requirements of obedience. The psalm for last week’s Torah portion says in part:

“Hear, O My people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you;
I am God, your God.
“I do not reprove you for your sacrifices,
And your burnt offerings are continually before Me.
“I shall take no young bull out of your house
Nor male goats out of your folds.
“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
The cattle on a thousand hills.
“I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
“If I were hungry I would not tell you,
For the world is Mine, and all it contains.
“Shall I eat the flesh of bulls
Or drink the blood of male goats?
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”

Psalm 50:7-15 (NASB)

It isn’t just what we do but why we do it that matters. Sacrificing to God without proper intent and devotion was a meaningless act. I think this is what Paul was talking about when he said that many Jews of his day “have zeal for God” but are “ignorant of the righteousness of God.”

TorahThis was a difficult area for me to speak on since I had to explain that Paul wasn’t against performing the Torah mitzvot at all. After all, he was born, lived, and died an observant Jew. He never taught any Jew to disobey the Torah of Moses or to forsake circumcising their sons and testified many times under oath to that fact. However, he was against failing to have proper knowledge of God’s righteousness and acting our of that ignorance, as he had done previously. Righteousness is not by ethnicity only (Nanos, pg 182).

I think I got my point across, but if anyone realized I was saying that the Jews remained obligated to observe the Torah commandments while Acts 15 called Gentile disciples to a less stringent level of obedience, they didn’t call me on it. No one mentioned it to me after class either.

The general consensus of the class is that Jesus was the end of the Jewish people trying to justify themselves to God by their own efforts. The problem is, that isn’t why the Messiah came. He came to bring the good news of Israel’s redemption and proof that the New Covenant promises where literal and beginning to enter the world. It had nothing to do with whether or not some Jewish people felt that their ethnicity or their observance was the sole cause of their justification before the Almighty. As John the Baptizer said:

…and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

Matthew 3:9 (NASB)

It was at this point that class time ran out. Unlike Dean who needs to shoot through all of his prepared material in less than an hour, going a mile wide and an inch deep, Charlie doesn’t care if we cover all of his questions or not as long as we dig deeper and have a meaningful interaction.

Here’s the question we never got to:

5. Does anyone, or any group have any “special in” with God today, or is it “whosoever will may come?”

My answer was “Yes and No.” The Jewish people are born into covenant with God, frankly, whether they want to be or not. “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) so once God made a covenant with Israel, it’s permanent. In fact, the Sinai Covenant folds right into the New Covenant and Israel is subject to both of them. They define Israel as a people and a nation, define God’s relationship to His chosen nation, and ultimately, the later covenant defines how it is even possible for Gentiles to be “grafted in” (see Romans 11:11-24) to the root as “wild” olive branches alongside the “civilized” olive branches of Israel.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to address this question but in retrospect, I suppose it was all for the best. I’d have had to try to explain how, on the one hand, only a remnant of Israel would be saved (Romans 11:1-6 referencing 1 Kings 19:18), and on the other hand, how all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26-29, also see Jeremiah 31:34).

Everything goes back to the covenant status of Israel. Paul wasn’t rejecting the non-believing Jews and in fact, he bemoaned their lack of faith because he saw devotion to Messiah as the next “evolutionary” step in the development of God’s redemptive plan for Israel through the irrevocable promises of the Sinai and New Covenants.

In preparation for this class, I read the entire Epistle to the Romans and did something I usually don’t do. I took copious notes directly on the pages of the Bible (I usually use sticky notes so I don’t mar the pages). Romans is so much more clear to me when I read it in one shot rather than sampling little “sound bytes”. Paul’s intent seems so plain to me.

The Jewish PaulWhile I thoroughly enjoyed Nanos’ book The Mystery of Romans, in some ways, it made the letter seem so much more complicated (not that it isn’t complicated) than it needs to be. Maybe it’s because I’ve come to a point in my education and apprehension of the Bible, that I’m finally able to read Romans in a way that makes sense and that, within the larger Biblical context and from a “Messianic” point of view, doesn’t require the plan of God to “jump the tracks,” so to speak, and have God abandon “Plan A” to go to “Plan B”.

God doesn’t make mistakes. There’s always been one redemptive plan and it has been for Israel first and then for the rest of the nations. Knowing that, we can read Romans in a way that confirms God’s devotion to Israel and renders Paul as a Jewish Pharisee devoted to the Torah, to his mission to Israel and the nations, and to his service to Messiah as his Lord’s special emissary.

Addendum: Derek Leman wrote an excellent commentary this morning called How Your Bible Christianizes Paul. His points fit very well with that I tried to do yesterday in Sunday school class. Have a look at what Derek said.


17 thoughts on “What I Learned in Church Today: Romans 10:1-13”

  1. Here’s an analogy for, “Messiah is the end(goal) of the torah.” A student goes to university to study in order to obtain a degree, for the purpose of employment. Once the degree has been obtained, and the job secured, one doesn’t throw away the education; one fully uses and expands on the education.

    The first century Jews did not lack knowledge of God; but I believe most lacked knowledge of what he was saying and doing at that moment in time. Yeshua said that he only did what he saw his father doing.

    Perhaps Paul meant that only a remnant would be saved (made whole, healed, delivered, freed from bondage) in that time, but in the fullness of time, when the gentiles were made full in their own understanding, or full in his wrath, coming full circle, all Israel would enter into the place reserved from the foundation of the earth.

    You gave me an idea. Your, “What I Learned in Church Today,” gave me an idea. I should write a post, “What I Learned on Facebook Today,” a far more dystopian theme 🙂

  2. Thanks for the analogy, Chaya. It’s very helpful.

    Perhaps Paul meant that only a remnant would be saved (made whole, healed, delivered, freed from bondage) in that time, but in the fullness of time, when the gentiles were made full in their own understanding, or full in his wrath, coming full circle, all Israel would enter into the place reserved from the foundation of the earth.

    That is exactly what I think as well.

  3. Try these on:

    Peter 1:9 Receiving the end [telos] of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

    James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end [telos] of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

  4. Thanks, Steve. I don’t think most folks would see their faith and the Lord “ending” as they think they see Jesus being the “end” of the Torah.

  5. I like Chaya’s analogy. Another. If we “fill a glass full” of an appetizing and nourishing beverage, especially on a hot, mediterranean day, the last thing most reasonable sane people would do is throw it out. We’ll drink it, if we’re not ignorant or insane. Because we’re thirsty for it. We drink it, it nourishes us, becomes a part of us and then we live life more fully and share it because we are nourished and refreshed by it.

    So it is that it is wrong to teach that when Messiah came to “fill the Torah full” that we should throw it away. Unreasonable. Ignorant. Insane.

    And so it is that we have the Shoah. What was “filled full” was thrown away instead of consumed.

  6. Thanks for that, Chaya and James, on the remnant and all of Israel. I appreciate your sharing and agreement.

    [From Romans] ….for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” [All that was in italics when I read it above.]

    Not sure [I sorta skimmed the entry] if you said it, James (even if you didn’t I know you have the concept); it seems to me the confessing with the mouth is passing the news on, to keep it alive and resulting in more and more people believing until that full redemption [not for the purpose of hitting the ticky marks (believing and speaking) to get yourself “saved” as is usually taught].

  7. Be’Shalom

    The problem Shaul is facing in writing the Romans letter, is that he has to balance the teaching of the gentile’s obedience of faith while maintaining the truth of their equal standing through faith alone. (i.e., Gentiles do not have to become Jews to be saved, because, “G-d is One,” yet as new (gentile) members of the faith of Israel, they do have a relationship with G-d’s Torah that they did not have before.)

    There are heresies on “both sides of the aisle,” for Shaul to combat. The early problem was that some Jews were teaching that gentiles had to take on all the Torah first (become Jews) before being considered as true believers. Later, certain gentiles were entertaining the idea that they had no need for the Torah (or anything “Jewish.”) This latter falsehood is the one Shaul faces in Rome.

    Shaul’s desire in Romans is that the faithfulness of G-d to Israel would be followed by mercy of G-d to the gentiles. He knows that great numbers of gentiles coming to faith in the G-d of Israel would be proof to those Jews still “stumbling” over Yeshua, of the validity of His Messiahship (and of Shaul’s ministry!) The unbelieving Jews would then see that faith in Yeshua establishes Torah (Romans 3:31) and does not conflict with it. Shaul hopes that by this process, all Israel would be saved.

    If we were to outline Paul’s view of salvation history (past and future), it would look like this:

    Israel (Jacob’s sons – Moses – Sinai)
    Yeshua (Israel’s Messiah)
    Israel (… to the Jew first)
    gentiles (… then to the gentile)
    Israel/gentiles (together, for the benefit of non-believing Israel)
    Israel again (“all Israel will be saved”)
    the world (“if their [the Jews] rejection of the Gospel brings blessings to the world, how much more will their acceptance?”)

    With Romans 10:1 “Brethren” in this context are both Jewish and gentile believers in Yeshua. Although this chapter, as well as the ones before and after it, are focused on Israel, Shaul’s message is very much for the gentiles in the congregation, as he will later remind the gentiles of the “obedience of faith,” with particular regard to those Jews who do not yet believe in Yeshua. In chapter 11, Shaul will make it clear that his “ministry to the gentiles” is on behalf of Israel’s salvation.

    In regards to chapter 11:11-36:

    Key here is Shaul’s ministry itself. The “battle” (within the Jewish community), is over “who has the true message.” For Shaul to convince his Jewish brethren that his message of Yeshua being the Messiah is from G-d, the eschatalogical expectations from Torah that they hold, must be fulfilled.

    Of critical importance to this is the role of gentiles, for if Shaul’s teachings are true, then gentiles will come in great numbers to put their trust in the G-d of Israel. This includes a respect for Torah, and desire to learn and practice more of it, on the part of the gentiles (Acts 15:21). When this occurs, it will give credibility to his message of Yeshua. Shaul hopes his ministry will make unbelieving Israel jealous, so that some more of them may be saved.

    If the result of Shaul’s ministry is nothing more than gentiles practicing some new Torah-less religion, then his message of Yeshua being the promised Messiah is a false one. Thus, gentile “obedience to the faith,” is a critical part of this process. (See notes to Romans 1-17)

    The fact that gentiles are coming to the G-d and faith of Israel though Shaul’s ministry (and not that of the established Jewish leadership and evangelizing efforts), bears witness against those Jews who reject Yeshua. It shows they are the ones suffering from the eschatalogical curse, as per the prophet Isaiah:

    Isaiah 6:9-10 – And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

    Because of this importance of gentile “obedience to the faith,” for the sake of unbelieving Israel, Shaul now turns to those gentiles in the congregation who had mistakenly grown arrogant toward the stumbling of Israel, as though they had supplanted them in G-d’s plan.

    The gentiles in this congregation are told several things by Shaul, including:

    they are wild olive grafted in due to the stumbling of SOME of Israel
    they are not to be arrogant about this fact and are to SUPPORT unbelieving Israel
    the mystery of G-d’s commitment to Israel as shown in the Tanach, supersedes appearances to the contrary
    the Jews who do not yet believe in Yeshua, may appear to be their “enemies,” but are actually suffering in the service of their (gentile’s) salvation
    Israel’s stumbling and failure are linked to gentile salvation. Shaul will reiterate this in Romans 15:15-18, where he expresses the hope and expectation that the stumbling of Israel will see gentiles calling on the name of the Lord:, and obedient to Torah:

    Romans 15:15-18 – Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of G-d, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of G-d, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to G-d. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,


    Bruce (H” Gentile)

  8. You’re getting ahead of me, Bruce. I haven’t written about the parts of Romans you’re addressing yet. Yes, I agree that you can’t treat sentences and verses as if they stand alone, but on the other hand, if I were to produce a blog post commenting on all sixteen chapters of Romans, it would be a book (albeit a small one). 😉

  9. I’m also an advocate of Hebrew Learning for gentiles in Messiah and Franz Delitzsch has a very good transliteration NOT translation of the greek Apostolic Scriptures back into Hebrew. Very affordable $8.


    Also the publishing arm Vine of David has just a 4 gospels version of His Hebrew Transliteration with a good english version.


    If you search you can also download it in PDF as well as a Ginsburg and salkinson edition of the Apostolic Scriptures. It’s always good to compare the textual variants (something you can’t do and shouldn’t do with english bibles).

    Reading it in Hebrew you’ll loose those translator biases commonly found in english texts (not negating english btw, since its the greek of our day) but the Tanach and Apostolic Scriptures are not greek text with hellenistic ideologies.

    (early) Shabbat Shalom James


  10. Just a point of clarification, Bruce — When one reproduces a text in a language other than the one used as a source text, it is a translation. A transliteration is when one uses a second language’s character set to render phonetically the source text. For example, if the initial Greek words of the gospel of John are rendered in English characters, so that “Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος” becomes “En arche in o logos, kai o logos in pros ton theon, kai theos in o logos”, this is a transliteration of the Greek into English. If English words are used to reproduce the meaning of what it says in Greek, as “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, this is a translation of the Greek text into English. Franz Delitzsch produced a TRANSLATION of the Greek text of the apostolic writings into Hebrew. There would have been no purpose for him to produce a transliteration.

  11. @Proclaim Liberty: I completely forgot in all honesty. Toda Raba and (early) Shabbat Shalom

    Shalom uvracha

  12. I kinda like the idea of a transliteration (even though what Delitzsch himself did was translation). Is there one (a transliteration of part or all of what Delitzsch did)?

  13. Transliteration tends to be used to represent short passages or individual words. Anyone who is serious enough about reading the original text learns to read the characters of the language in which it is written. I doubt that anyone would produce a transliteration of the entire Delitzsch Hebrew translation, or even one of the source Greek text of the entire corpus of the apostolic writings.

  14. @Marleen & Proclaim Liberty –


    This (the above) is Franz Delitzsch full work of the greek text back into hebrew.

    Look up “Ezekiel Margoliouth” he compiled an entire version of the Apostolic Scriptures in Hebrew like Delitzsch but he compiled them with Cantillation marks [Delitzsch did not] You can find PDF’s of Ezekiel’s work here for download:


    Here is the Salkinson Ginsburg version of the “NT” back into Hebrew –

    These full Hebrew resources of the greek Apostolic Scriptures are priceless for those who choose not to read the greek language [not that there is anything wrong with greek]. Hebrew is the Holy Tongue the Tongue of Angels as Shaul mentions in his letter.

    Having the Masters words and the Disciples back into the language they spoke is amazing and profound to those who study/speak/read in hebrew.


    – Bruce

  15. Regrettably, Bruce, these Hebrew renditions are still merely translations from the Greek text that has been preserved — they are not necessarily perfect representations of the original writings. Even the Aramaic translations which exist cannot provide that, nor can the Ibn Shaprut text of Matthew preserved in his work “Even Bohan”. While we have the second-century testimony of Papias that Matthew did originally compose a Hebrew version, there are other apostolic books or letters that clearly were written for a Greek readership. Even the letter to the Hebrews demonstrates a high-quality Greek style that shows it to have been composed in that language for a Jewish audience that could appreciate it (perhaps the Hellenist/diaspora community). For books and letters like these, Hebrew translations are helpful to the Hebrew readership just as English translations are for an English readership, but we will not benefit from mystical invocations of the “Holy Tongue”. A more meaningful consideration is whether the translators managed to incorporate into their work any insights derived from other Jewish literature that resonates with Jewish thinking underlying the apostolic text. Delitzsch captured a Hebrew style comparable to that which is familiar from the siddur; but as far as I know he did not derive any special insights from other Jewish literature to influence his translation, but rather remained as faithful as possible to the Greek text except where familiar Hebrew idiom and expressions were already patent within it. I am not familiar with the translational principles employed by Margoliouth or by Salkinson and Ginzburg, but I suspect that further development is yet required to adjust these translations to reflect such insights in order to approach more closely to the Hebrew conceptual framework of the apostolic authors. I have an impression that the Margoliouth work is not an independent translation but is rather an amplification of the Delitzsch translation by the addition of cantillation markings. Perhaps another reader of this blog has more thorough knowledge of this work?

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