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Featured Isaiah 7:14 revisited

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by rlvaughn, Mar 3, 2018.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman′u-el. -- RSV

    In the Bible versions forum, Salty opened a thread about the Revised Standard Version. As was bound happen, its most controversial verse translation -- Isaiah 7:14 -- was brought up. We went a long ways down that rabbit trail before Moderator Cassidy pointed out how far away from the OP we had gotten. Thinking some might want to discuss it further while leaving Salty's thread for more apt discussion of the Revised Standard Version Bible, I decided to start a thread on Isaiah 7:14. Here's a taste of some of the talk over there.
     
    #1 rlvaughn, Mar 3, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  2. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Re Isaiah 7:14, in his commentary on The Prophecy of Isaiah (pp. 84-85) J. Alec Motyer, writes:

    "The translation virgin ('alma) is widely disputed on the ground that the word means only 'young woman' and that the technical word for 'virgin' is beṯûla. Of the nine occurrences of 'alma those in 1 Chronicles 15:20 and the title of Psalm 46 are presumably a musical direction but no longer understood. In Psalm 68:25; Proverbs 30:19; and Song of Solomon 1:3 the context throws no decisive light on the meaning of the word. In Genesis 24:43 and Exodus 2:8 the reference is unquestionably to an unmarried girl, and in Song of Solomon 6:8 the alamot, contrasted with queens and concubines, are unmarried and virgin. Thus, wherever the context allows a judgment, 'alma is not a general term meaning 'young woman' but a specific one meaning 'virgin'. It is worth noting that outside the Bible, so far as may be ascertained, 'alma was 'never used of a married woman'."

    "Genesis 24 is particularly important as providing a direct comparison of 'alma and beṯûla. Abraham's servant's prayer (24:14) is couched in terms of a 'girl' (naara) who is to marry Isaac. In verse 16 the approaching Rebekah is described as female (naara), of marriageable age (beṯûla) and single ('no man had ever lain with her'). The qualifying words indicate that by itself beṯûla is not specific. In the light of this accumulating knowledge of Rebekah, verse 43 finally describes her as 'alma, which is clearly a summary term for 'female, marriageable, unmarried'. There is no ground for the common assertion that had Isaiah intended virgo intacta he would have used beṯûla. 'alma lies closer to this meaning than the other word. In fact, this is its meaning in every explicit context. Isaiah thus used the word which, among those available to him, came nearest to expressing 'virgin birth' and which, without linguistic impropriety, opens the door to such a meaning."
     
  3. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    It is well to admit that interpreting the details of Isaiah 7:14 in its context cause difficulty and consternation. How was the virgin birth of Jesus a sign to a king who lived maybe 700 years before that happened? Most all conservatives agree on the remote fulfillment in Jesus born of Mary, a virgin, while wrangling over the immediate application (if there is one).

    The two main ideas I have seen regarding this as a dual prophecy are that the immediate Immanuel is:
    • Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, or
    • Maher-shalal-hash-baz, son of Isaiah
    These to have the following difficulties. The mathematics of Hezekiah's age when he became king shows he was already born before this time (He was 25 years old when he began to reign, and Ahaz's reign only lasted 16 years). God told Isaiah to name his second son Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which is not the same name and means something different than Immanuel. The rank assigned to Immanuel in Isaiah 8:8 also doesn't seem to fit Isaiah's son.

    Another interpretation (which I hold, but have not heard as often, and which is not without some difficulties of its own) is that (1) verses 14-15 concern Jesus, the Immanuel, God with us, and is a sign to the house of David (you, plural, v. 14), and that (2) and verse 16 concerns Isaiah's son Shearjashub, who Isaiah brought with him, and is a sign to Ahaz (thee, singular, v. 7). This includes an immediate sign that Ahaz can "read" (i.e., before Isaiah's son knows enough to refuse the evil and choose the good, two kings will be destroyed, verses 8-9, 16), and a future sign to the nation of the coming Messiah.
     
  4. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    A valid point, though I'd say we have the advantage of Matthew explaining that Jesus was Immanuel (and we know otherwise he was God, with us), while we have no such explanation regarding Isaiah's son.
     
    #4 rlvaughn, Mar 3, 2018
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  5. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    How much weight should we give the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation, which also chose to translate the Hebrew 'alma with the Greek parthenos?

    LXX, version used by Church of Greece:
    14 διὰ τοῦτο δώσει Κύριος αὐτὸς ὑμῖν σημεῖον· ἰδοὺ ἡ παρθένος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει, καὶ τέξεται υἱόν, καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ᾿Εμμανουήλ·
    L. C. L. Brenton English translation of LXX
    14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel.
     
  6. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    I don't have a problem with "virgin" as the translation, in fact, I prefer it. My problem is those who condemn the entire translation on one difference of opinion.
     
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  7. McCree79

    McCree79 Well-Known Member
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    Well said.....agreed

    Sent from my SM-G935P using Tapatalk
     
  8. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Aside from the debate over the RSV translation, it seems that some of the confusion comes from the discussion of whether Isaiah's "the virgin shall conceive" prophecy is a dual prophecy with both a remote fulfillment in the future and an immediate application in Ahaz's time, or just a prophecy about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. It is difficult to interpret any immediate application as a virgin birth.
     
  9. McCree79

    McCree79 Well-Known Member
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    That is certainly the case. That is why we need to keep an open mind about the possibilty that the more immediate application was to a young woman....who would not be a virgin. That does not contradict that Mary was a virgin. The Hebrew word almah would cover Mary in here situation as well as Isaiah's wife in her situation. This of course is assuming there is an Azah era fulfillment of this prophecy. While most of us would prefer "virgin" in Isaiah 7:14, the RSV's rendering is not groundless and driven by heretical purposes.


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  10. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    My pastor when I surrendered to preach and was ordained was a pretty good Old Testament scholar, and he held a view of dual prophecy here in Isaiah 7:14 (so I'm not interested in throwing anyone under the bus, so to speak). I think that was the first time I had heard that view espoused. In very conservative circles it is easy to be misunderstood as being soft on the virgin birth when defending that view. Even though the person may not be soft on the virgin birth, that is what the other person perceives (and some of that may go back to the 1950s debate over the RSV Bible).

    On the other hand, since I think 'alma is to be perceived as virgin here, then the dual prophecy -- a birth fulfilled by a young woman in Ahaz's day and a virgin in Mary's day -- doesn't work for me. I have lit on another interpretation which I mentioned above, but which may have been lost in the multiple quotes and posts I made. I have not heard this posited as often, and it has some difficulties of its own. But this idea is that (1) verses 14-15 are a prophecy about Jesus, the Immanuel, God with us, born of a virgin, and is a sign to the house of David (you, plural, v. 14), and that (2) verse 16 is about Isaiah's son Shearjashub, whom Isaiah brought with him, and is a sign to Ahaz (thee, singular, v. 7). This context then includes an immediate sign that Ahaz can see fulfilled (i.e., before Isaiah's son knows enough to refuse the evil and choose the good, two kings will be destroyed, verses 8-9, 16), and a future sign to the nation of the coming Messiah -- but the specific verse 14 only refers to one birth, that of Jesus.
     
  11. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    The same weight as all the many other quotes from the LXX that the NT writers used.
     
    #11 kyredneck, Mar 3, 2018
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  12. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    There you go again! You make statements that are completely wrong. Did you even bother to read the 6 or 7 examples that I have shown why this version is heretical?
     
  13. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    That is where you are WRONG. The RSV was with the intention, being based on the earlier RV of 1881, which had Unitarians like G Vance Smith in the UK, and Joseph Thayer (of the Lexicon), in the USA, on their committees. These made sure that texts like 1 Timothy 3:16, which read in the BEST authorities, "God was manifested in the flesh", to "Who was...". They also removed 1 John 5:7 on the Trinity, where my own study on the Greek grammar of the entire passage shows, that the disputed words DID form part of the original Epistle of John. In Romans 9:5, the RSV has made sure by their choice of punctuation, that Jesus Christ is not called "God over all". Matthew says that Isaiah 7:14 is a fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and that settles the meaning of "almah", which is "virgin". the Greek Old Testament version, the Septuagint, which predates the New Testament by about 200 years, uses "ἡ παρθένος" (the virgin), and not "νεᾶνις" (young woman), which is what this text was changed to in the "revisions" of the Septuagint, by the heretics, Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, for the reason that they opposed the Virgin Conception of Jesus Christ. It should be noted, that the Septuagint is a work of Jewish Hebrew scholars, who used "ἡ παρθένος" in Isaiah 7:14, whereas they could have used "νεᾶνις"
     
  14. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    There is no solid evidence that the New Testament writers actually quoted directly from the LXX. This is only a translation and therefore not Inspired as the Hebrew Old Testament is, and it causes the problem of having uninspired references in the divinely Inspired New Testament, especially when at times the LXX differs from the Hebrew. The LXX was made from Hebrew manuscripts of the time, as it is very probable, that the NT writers used this version, as they all would have understood the Hebrew language. The Dead Sea Scrolls are said to be nearer to the LXX than the Hebrew MT in many places.
     
  15. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    As I have already said. In quotations of OT Prophecy in the NT, the words before and after do not necessarily have anyting to do with what is quoted in the NT. Like Hebrews 1:5, which is quoted from 2 Samuel 7:14, where only the quoted words in the Hebrews text, actually refer to Jesus Christ. What follows on verse 14, could never do, which goes on to say, "When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men". Likewise for Isaiah 7:14, ONLY the words quoted by Matthew are to do with Jesus, nothing else.
     
  16. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    Are you saying that it is "difficult" for Isaiah 7:14 to refer to the Birth of Jesus Christ, or simply mentioning this as an issue for some?
     
  17. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    I do not think we are in any general disagreement, though my writing may not be clear. I believe that verse 14 is a prophecy of a sign to the people of Israel -- "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign..." "You" here is plural, meaning the sign in verse 14 is directed to the nation, not to Ahaz alone. I believe that what follows verse 14 is not referring to Jesus, but rather to the child that Isaiah brought with him, Shearjashub (v. 3 "Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son...").

    No, I do not think it is difficult for Isaiah 7:14 to refer to the birth of Jesus Christ. That is what I believe it refers to. When I wrote, "It is difficult to interpret any immediate application as a virgin birth" I mean that any child supposedly referred to as being born in the time of Ahaz (as is held in the dual prophecy theory) could not have been born of a virgin. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is an unique event, one of a kind.
     
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  18. kyredneck

    kyredneck Well-Known Member
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    There's quite a few that 'line up' with the LXX (Mt 1:23 being one) and it appears many were quoted 'off the cuff', not 'direct'.
     
    #18 kyredneck, Mar 3, 2018
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  19. Saved-By-Grace

    Saved-By-Grace Well-Known Member

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    Yes I know, but the LXX itself was made directly from Hebrew manuscripts that are different to the MT Hebrew text, but closer to the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is very probable that the NT writers used this Hebrew "version", than the LXX, which would have been identical.
     
  20. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    The NT writers were probably translating "on the fly" from the Vorlage Text, which differs from the Masoretic text, but seems to have been the source text for the so-called "Septuagint."
     
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