Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Does the Bible say thou shalt not kill or thou shalt not murder?

Here is an article on it by a prominent Jewish professor of religious studies at the University of Calgary.

His qualifications are here. He is an expert in Hebrew language.

Excerpt:

Those of us who are familiar with the original Hebrew text of the Bible find frequent occasion to whine about inaccuracies and misleading expressions in the translations that are in use among non-Jews. Many of these discrepancies arose out of patently theological motives, as Christian interpreters rewrote passages in the “Old Testament” so as to turn them into predictions or prefigurations of the life of Jesus. Some of the mistranslations, though, are harder to account for.

For me, one of the most irksome cases has always been the rendering of the sixth commandment as “Thou shalt not kill.” In this form, the quote has been conscripted into the service of diverse causes, including those of pacifism, animal rights, the opposition to capital punishment, and the anti-abortion movement.

Indeed, “kill” in English is an all-encompassing verb that covers the taking of life in all forms and for all classes of victims. That kind of generalization is expressed in Hebrew through the verb “harag.” However, the verb that appears in the Torah’s prohibition is a completely different one, ” ratsah” which, it would seem, should be rendered “murder.” This root refers only to criminal acts of killing.

It is, of course, not just a question of etymology. Those ideologies that adduce the commandment in support of their gentle-hearted causes are compelled to feign ignorance of all those other places in the Bible that condone or command warfare, the slaughter of sacrificial animals, and an assortment of methods for inflicting capital punishment.

Not that I don’t agree with this guy about his comments on abortion. I think abortion IS murder, and that Jews always considered it murder. Consider this post at Reason to Stand.

Excerpt:

“The law enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind.” -Josephus, 1st century Jewish historian

Regarding the KJV and its translation of the text as “Thou shalt not kill”. The KJV is a poor translation of the Bible. If you know the history of Erasmus and the Textus Receptus, you’ll know it was a rush job done in 1611, and that newer and more manuscripts have emerged since 1611.

Get an NASB. That’s the most literal translation available, except for the original Koine Greek itself. Here’s the relevant verse from Exodus 20 in the NASB. If you want something readable, go for an NIV or and ESV. But to make your case, use an NASB.

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What does the Bible say about capital punishment?

Note: This post has a twin post which talks about the evidence against capital punishment from science.

First, let’s take a look at what the Bible says in general about capital punishment, using this lecture featuring eminent theologian Wayne Grudem.

About Wayne Grudem:

Grudem holds a BA from Harvard University, a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a PhD from the University of Cambridge. In 2001, Grudem became Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary. Prior to that, he had taught for 20 years at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he was chairman of the department of Biblical and Systematic Theology.

Grudem served on the committee overseeing the English Standard Version translation of the Bible, and in 1999 he was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society. He is a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is the author of, among other books, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, which advocates a Calvinistic soteriology, the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, the body-soul dichotomy in the nature of man, and the complementarian (rather than egalitarian) view of gender equality.

The MP3 file is here.

A PDF sermon outline is here.

Topics:

  • what kinds of crimes might require CP?
  • what did God say to Noah about CP?
  • what does it mean that man is made in the image of God?
  • is CP just about taking revenge?
  • what does CP say about the value of human life?
  • does CP apply to animals, too?
  • could the statements supporting CP be understood as symbolic?
  • one purpose of CP is to protecting the public
  • another purpose of CP is to deter further wrongdoing
  • but the Biblical purpose of CP is to achieve justice by retribution
  • does the Pope make a good argument against CP?
  • what is the role of civil government in achieving retribution?
  • do people in Heaven who are sinless desire God to judge sinners?
  • should crimes involving property alone be subject to CP?
  • is the Mosaic law relevant for deciding which crimes are capital today?
  • should violent crimes where no one dies be subject to CP?
  • is CP widespread in the world? why or why not?
  • what are some objections to CP from the Bible?
  • how do you respond to those objections to CP?
  • should civil government also turn the other cheek for all crimes?
  • what is the “whole life ethic” and is it Biblical?
  • what do academic studies show about the deterrence effect of CP?
  • how often have innocent people been executed in the USA?
  • should there be a higher burden of proof for CP convictions?

You can find more talks by Wayne Grudem here.

What about the woman caught in adultery?

Some people like to bring up the woman caught in adultery as proof that Jesus opposed capital punishment. But that passage of the Bible was added much later after the canon was decided.

Daniel B. Wallace is an eminent New Testament scholar who also teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary, an extremely conservative seminary.

About Dr. Wallace:

Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

  • Professor of New Testament Studies
  • B.A., Biola University, 1975; Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979; Ph.D., 1995.

Dr. Wallace influences students across the country through his textbook on intermediate Greek grammar. It is used in more than two-thirds of the nation’s schools that teach that subject. He is the senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible and coeditor of the NET-Nestle Greek-English diglot. Recently his scholarship has shifted from syntactical and text-critical issues to more specific work in John, Mark, and nascent Christology. However he still works extensively in textual criticism, and has founded The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, an institute with an initial purpose to preserve Scripture by taking digital photographs of all known Greek New Testament manuscripts. His postdoctoral work includes work on Greek grammar at Tyndale House in Cambridge and textual criticism studies at the Institut für Neutestamentliche Textforschung in Münster.

And Dr. Wallace writes about the passage in John on Bible.org.

Excerpt:

One hundred and forty years ago, conservative biblical scholar and Dean of Canterbury, Henry Alford, advocated a new translation to replace the King James Bible. One of his reasons was the inferior textual basis of the KJV. Alford argued that “a translator of Holy Scripture must be…ready to sacrifice the choicest text, and the plainest proof of doctrine, if the words are not those of what he is constrained in his conscience to receive as God’s testimony.” He was speaking about the Trinitarian formula found in the KJV rendering of 1 John 5:7–8. Twenty years later, two Cambridge scholars came to the firm conclusion that John 7:53–8:11 also was not part of the original text of scripture. But Westcott and Hort’s view has not had nearly the impact that Alford’s did.

For a long time, biblical scholars have recognized the poor textual credentials of the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53–8:11). The evidence against its authenticity is overwhelming: The earliest manuscripts with substantial portions of John’s Gospel (P66 and P75) lack these verses. They skip from John 7:52 to 8:12. The oldest large codices of the Bible also lack these verses: codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, both from the fourth century, are normally considered to be the most important biblical manuscripts of the NT extant today. Neither of them has these verses. Codex Alexandrinus, from the fifth century, lacks several leaves in the middle of John. But because of the consistency of the letter size, width of lines, and lines per page, the evidence is conclusive that this manuscript also lacked the pericope adulterae. Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, also from the fifth century, apparently lacked these verses as well (it is similar to Alexandrinus in that some leaves are missing).The earliest extant manuscript to have these verses is codex Bezae, an eccentric text once in the possession of Theodore Beza. He gave this manuscript to the University of Cambridge in 1581 as a gift, telling the school that he was confident that the scholars there would be able to figure out its significance. He washed his hands of the document. Bezae is indeed the most eccentric NT manuscript extant today, yet it is the chief representative of the Western text-type (the text-form that became dominant in Rome and the Latin West).

When P66, P75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus agree, their combined testimony is overwhelmingly strong that a particular reading is not authentic. But it is not only the early Greek manuscripts that lack this text. The great majority of Greek manuscripts through the first eight centuries lack this pericope. And except for Bezae (or codex D), virtually all of the most important Greek witnesses through the first eight centuries do not have the verses. Of the three most important early versions of the New Testament (Coptic, Latin, Syriac), two of them lack the story in their earliest and best witnesses. The Latin alone has the story in its best early witnesses.

[…]It is an important point to note that although the story of the woman caught in adultery is found in most of our printed Bibles today, the evidence suggests that the majority of Bibles during the first eight centuries of the Christian faith did not contain the story. Externally, most scholars would say that the evidence for it not being an authentic part of John’s Gospel is rock solid.But textual criticism is not based on external evidence alone; there is also the internal evidence to consider. This is comprised of two parts: intrinsic evidence has to do with what an author is likely to have written; transcriptional evidence has to do with how and why a scribe would have changed the text.

Intrinsically, the vocabulary, syntax, and style look far more like Luke than they do John. There is almost nothing in these twelve verses that has a Johannine flavor. And transcriptionally, scribes were almost always prone to add material rather than omit it—especially a big block of text such as this, rich in its description of Jesus’ mercy. One of the remarkable things about this passage, in fact, is that it is found in multiple locations. Most manuscripts that have it place it in its now traditional location: between John 7:52 and 8:12. But an entire family of manuscripts has the passage at the end of Luke 21, while another family places it at the end of John’s Gospel. Other manuscripts place it at the end of Luke or in various places in John 7.

The pericope adulterae has all the earmarks of a pericope that was looking for a home. It took up permanent residence, in the ninth century, in the middle of the fourth gospel.

As this debate between Peter Williams and Bart Ehrman shows, there are only TWO disputed passages in the entire NT that are theologically significant. The long ending of Mark and this adultery passage. A good case can be made for the long ending of Mark, but it’s best not to assume it in a debate. The adultery passage is practically impossible to defend as authentic. Dr. Wallace talks about both passages in this Parchment & Pen article. Wallace has also debated Bart Ehrman in the Greer-Heard Forum. What that debate showed is that the New Testament text is actually quite reliable except for those two passages, but it’s important to be honest about the two places that are not well supported.

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Boehner announces select committee to investigate the Benghazi cover-up

From the Daily Caller.

Excerpt:

South Carolina Republican congressman Trey Gowdy claimed he has evidence of “a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress” about the Benghazi attacks and alleged White House cover-up.

Gowdy spoke with Fox News’ Greta van Susteren about Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Friday decision to form a select committee on Benghazi. The congressman explained that the committee will allow a more complete investigation into the issue, unburdened by the jurisdictional restraints that often plague other committees.

“If you want to have Greg Hicks and the station chief from Tripoli and Hillary Clinton all sitting at the same table, you need to have a committee that has the power to do that,” Gowdy said. “And a select committee would have that power.”

Gowdy — widely viewed as a frontrunner to chair the new committee — later told Susteren he supports Congress’ subpoena of Secretary of State John Kerry in order to get documents they have long awaited from the State Department.

He then added he has proof that documents relating to Benghazi and the alleged Obama administration cover-up have been deliberately withheld from Congress.

“Well, I have evidence that not only are they hiding it, there is an intent to hide it,” he claimed. “I can’t disclose that evidence yet, but I have evidence that there was a systematic, intentional decision to withhold certain documents from Congress.”

And guess what? Boehner has now announced the formation of a special committee. And Gowdy is one of the candidates to lead it.

Excerpt:

House Republicans moved on two fronts Friday to dig for answers on Benghazi, with Speaker John Boehner announcing a special committee to investigate and a key panel subpoenaing Secretary of State John Kerry to testify.

In a significant shift, Boehner announced that the House will vote on establishing a select committee to investigate, on the heels of newly released emails that raised additional questions about the White House’s response.

[…]The committee is expected to be bipartisan, and Fox News is told Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is among those being considered to lead it. 

Gowdy should be picked to lead it. It is a former prosecutor and he knows how to cut through the baloney.

In addition, Darrell Issa has sub-poena’d John Kerry to explain why documents the GOP has requested have not been received:

On the heels of those documents, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also announced Friday that it has issued the subpoena for Kerry to testify at a May 21 hearing. The chairman of that committee has accused the administration of hiding records following an earlier subpoena.

“The State Department’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack has shown a disturbing disregard for the Department’s legal obligations to Congress,” Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to Kerry.

He added: “Compliance with a subpoena for documents is not a game. Because your Department is failing to meet its legal obligations, I am issuing a new subpoena to compel you to appear before the Committee to answer questions about your agency’s response to the congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack.”

So we are going to finally get some answers. This recent shift from Boehner comes as a result of the e-mails that surfaced last week, implicating the White House in the Benghazi cover-up. I would like to know exactly who was responsible for inventing the YouTube video story.

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E-mails: Susan Rice prepped to lie about Benghazi by White House

From Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

Newly obtained emails on Benghazi show then-U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was coached by a key White House aide to lie and ignore the facts known and reported on the ground to make the administration look good.

The fish rots from the head, as the saying goes, and no further proof is needed than a Sept. 14, 2012, email from Ben Rhodes, an assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, contained in more than 100 pages of documents released by Judicial Watch and obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request.

That email, with the subject line: “RE: PREP Call with Susan: Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET,” was sent to other key White House staffers such as then-Communications Director David Plouffe and Press Secretary Jay Carney the day before now-National Security Adviser Susan Rice made her whirlwind tour on five Sunday news show appearances to specifically and emphatically blame an Internet video for the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other nationals were killed.

One of the goals listed in the emails was the need for Rice “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure or policy.” She was also to “reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges.” Her job was not to tell the truth, but to put lipstick on the Obama administration’s Benghazi pig.

The documents include a Sept. 12, 2012, email from Payton Knopf, a former deputy spokesman at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, in which Knopf informs Rice that senior officials had already dubbed the Benghazi attack “complex” and planned in advance. Yet Rice would still insist on her TV tour that the Benghazi terrorist attacks were “spontaneous.”

In early April, former deputy CIA director Michael Morell, who was heavily involved in editing the now infamous talking points, told lawmakers it was Rice, on the Sunday shows, who linked the video to the Benghazi attack and that the video was not part of the CIA analysis.

The Rhodes email was not part of the 100 pages of emails released by the administration last May, and we can see why. As we noted at the time, that email package showed a successive pattern of edits with White House involvement designed to remove any hint of terrorist involvement to fit the administration’s campaign narrative that the war on terror was over and won.

Those emails show that Rhodes and National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor were alerted that the intelligence community was drafting talking points that as late as 3:04 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, still included references to extremists tied to al-Qaida and an “attack.”

The terms “al-Qaida” and “attack” were stripped out by 4:42 p.m., and shortly afterward Vietor thanked colleagues for revisions and said they would be vetted “here,” as in the White House. He then forwarded “edits” from John Brennan, the current CIA chief who then was a White House counterterrorism adviser.

In a White House meeting on Saturday morning, Sept. 15, the CIA, at the direction of the State Department and White House, drafted the final version of the talking points from which all references to al-Qaida and security warnings in Benghazi before the attack were deleted.

The question of how the video story was concocted out of whole cloth, by whom and why, and why it was trumpeted by Rice, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama himself with such fervor at the United Nations has remained unanswered until now.

I was talking to my Dad on Skype when this came out, and I told him about it. He said “that’s it for Hillary Clinton”. But I really wonder about that. After all, we knew a lot of things about Obama’s past before he was elected – like his votes against a born alive infant protection bill. But that didn’t stop people from voting for him.  I am not sure if truth still matters to the American people. In a different time, this cover-up by the White House would be an impeachable offense. But all of his scandals – IRS targeting Tea Party groups, Fast & Furious gunrunning to drug cartels, NSA wire-tapping, Benghazi cover-up, etc. – seem to have just rolled off him.

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Benghazi hearings: CIA director altered talking points from “attack” to “demonstration”

From the Wall Street Journal, a summary on the Benghazi congressional hearings.

Excerpt:

Last week’s encounter between former acting CIA Director Michael Morell and the House Permanent Subcommittee on Intelligence may have brought us a bit closer to the truth of how four Americans came to be killed at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, and how their countrymen came to be lied to about it. But the progress toward truth was probably not made in a way that Mr. Morell intended. The encounter on Capitol Hill also made clear that the forum that will take us all the way to the truth must be something other than a congressional hearing.

[…]Critics of the government’s performance on Benghazi have charged that Mr. Morell’s revisions principally although not exclusively involved changing the description of the violence and its perpetrators, and removing the suggestion that they might have had ties to a terrorist organization. These changes, it is argued, enabled Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the time, to promote the discredited and since abandoned narrative that the violence was a reaction to an anti-Muslim YouTube video produced by a probationer in Los Angeles.

The acting CIA director’s changes to the talking points did indeed enable the blame-it-on-the-video fiction, which served the interest of a president seeking re-election based in part on having put al Qaeda on the run, although in fairness it is not clear that was Mr. Morell’s motive. Thus he edited out a description of the warnings that the CIA had provided to the State Department of earlier terrorist attacks on the British embassy and on the Red Cross that caused them to withdraw their personnel, and a description of an attack that blew a hole in the U.S.’s own installation—events that might have suggested that Sept. 11, 2012, was not an isolated event.

Morell believed “analysts” who are desk employees, and disregarded statements of the station chief, who was on the scene, and in contact with the eyewitnesses:

He substituted “demonstration” for “attack” despite the direct statement by the CIA’s Libya station chief in Tripoli that there was no demonstration; Mr. Morell changed “terrorist” to “extremist.” His explanation is that he relied on the CIA’s analysts, who he said had comprehensive information available to them, rather than on the CIA’s station chief, who relied on the testimony of eyewitnesses who arrived soon after the attack started. 

The directorate of intelligence functions according to a protocol whose rigidity we more often associate with the military. So analysts whose deductions put them at odds with those on the scene wouldn’t have considered, and apparently didn’t consider, simply ringing up those on the scene and getting their input. To the contrary, analysts deal only with information that comes in the prescribed way. The CIA station chief’s communication to headquarters came in an email and did not get circulated within the intelligence community as it would have if it had been contained in a cable.

There was plenty of information disconfirming his “demonstration” lie:

There was, as it happens, other information available. A private company, Agincourt Solutions, had followed the Twitter, Facebook and other social media in the vicinity of the U.S. installation attacked in Benghazi. The company found no evidence of a “demonstration.” There were video cameras trained on the front gate of the consulate that showed no demonstration. Days before the attack, al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri had been calling for an attack to avenge the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior al Qaeda member who was, as his name suggests, a Libyan. And Sept. 11 is a date of highly symbolic value to people who set great store by symbols.

The last two data points were certainly available to the CIA analysts, and the camera feed should have been. But all this was discounted, apparently in favor of their consensus view that the attack at Benghazi had started with a demonstration that drew inspiration from violence inflicted on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo—allegedly as part of a protest against the video.

Both Obama and Clinton blamed the Youtube video for a “demonstration”, and denied that there was a terrorist attack:

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton told the grieving families that the producer of the video would feel the weight of the law. It was one promise they kept: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested in the middle of the night in the glare of TV lights for a probation violation—the only arrest thus far growing out of the Benghazi attack, even though the identity and whereabouts of the principal suspects, one of whom is an alumnus of Guantanamo Bay, have long been known.

The Obama administration blamed the Youtube video in order to win the 2012 election. They were afraid if the real story came out, people would know that they had screwed by underestimating the threat and ignoring the warning signs and the requests for additional security. Democrats can’t do national security – they just give speeches about spending taxpayer money.

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