Thursday, August 26, 2010

Episode 5: God Man

Episode 5 of the Theopologetics Podcast is available to download, in which I discuss the historic Christian doctrine which teaches that Jesus Christ is God, and I’ll address some of the challenges leveled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who teach that Jesus is a created being and is not God.


  1. Hey Chris, finally got around to listening to this and thought you did an excellent job in overviewing this doctrine. What I appreciated most is that you addressed not only JW counter-arguments, but went the extra step and address some counter-arguments of their counter-arguments, if that makes sense.

    As an example, I liked that you addressed their objections to the arguments pertaining to Heb. 1:10-12. I've searched the net high and low, and practically no one addresses the LXX background to this text. Though most JW's aren't aware of or use this argument, some of the more knowledgeable ones do. In particular, i'm thinking of David Barron (author of, who I also debated on my blog), who poses this argument in his book, "God and Christ."

    As far as your argument to counter this, i'm not so sure I fully agree. You cited Bruce, but Bruce (as far as I can tell), doesn't deny the possibility that YHWH is speaking to "another" in saying, "You Lord, in the beginning..." If you get a chance, check out Lane's commentary on Hebrews (from the Word biblical commentary) as well as Bacon's paper on this (i'd be happy to email you both).

    My view is that this is indeed YHWH speaking to "another." But in Jewish monotheistic thought, it is inconceivable that YHWH would attribute creation to someone other than Himself. So, I believe it is YHWH speaking to His wisdom. And wisdom is something that is not separate, but is intrinsic to Himself. This is why I put "another" in quotations. Thus, I view the LXX here just as I would view Pr. 8, where wisdom is attributed the act of creation.

  2. Hey, Mike. Thanks so much for listening! (In case anybody else is reading this, check out Mike's blog, The Apologetic Front. I highly recommend it.)

    I agree that it seems virtually nobody address the argument JW's and others make from the Psalm in the LXX. Like you, I think it's important that we have a sound response.

    I did cite Bruce, and yes I know he thinks YHVH is speaking to "another" in the Psalm. But those who rely on his commentary will say that the attributes of creation YHVH attributes to this other are speaking metaphorically of the Church founded by Christ, rather than the creation of the universe, or something along those lines. So their argument, as best I can understand it, is that whereas Jewish thought wouldn't conceive of attributing creation to the work of someone other than God, that's not what the psalmist depicts YHVH as doing.

    If you get a chance, check out my blog entry, "You, LORD, in the Beginning." What I argue there is that Bruce had it wrong. Bruce's case for understanding these words as being addressed by YHVH to another, rather than the psalmist toward YHVH, is based on what I think is a really horrible understanding of the words, "Bring me not up in the midst of My days." While I agree that the LXX depicts YHVH rebuking the psalmist in verse 23 for insisting earlier that the "time to have mercy upon [Sion] come," I think it's absolutely clear that in verse 24 it is the psalmist who responds in fear and trembling, saying, "Take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations," confirming the Masoretic text's depiction.

    I don't want to restate my case in its entirety, so do check out what I wrote there and let me know what you think. I'd greatly appreciate your thoughts.

  3. Hey, Mike. I read Barron's use of Lane in the book you sent me, and here's what Lane says:

    "In the LXX, however, a mistranslation of the unpointed Hebrew text opened the door for the christological appropriation of the passage. The radicals hN[/ -n-h in v 24 (EV v 23), ‘he afflicted,’ were translated ‘he answered’ (!;%13<$-, Vg respondit), with the result that vv 23–28 become the response of Yahweh. Consequently, Ps 102:25–27 must refer to the creative activity of divine Wisdom or of the Messiah, not of God (cf. B. W. Bacon, ‘Heb 1, 10–12 and the Septuagint Rendering of Ps 102, 23,’ ZNW 3 [1902] 280–85)." (emphasis mine)

    Notice that what Lane is doing is assuming that because verse 23 depicts YHVH answering the psalmist, therefore it must continue to be YHVH who speaks. Lane's, and indeed's Barron's, case seems to rely upon this presumption, and yet, I explained in my blog post that this is not true. Such a presumption requires that one completely ignore what the words "my days" in verses 23 and 24 refer to consistently throughout Scripture--one's lifetime. When in verse 24 the speaker says, "Take me not away in the midst of my days," it is proof, I think, that it is once again the psalmist who is speaking. Anyway, I'll look forward to seeing what you think about my explanation in that blog post, even if it turns out we disagree :)

  4. I'll definitely look into that. And I may even invite Barron to participate, just out of fairness.

  5. Yeah, that'd be cool. Whether or not I'm equipped to engage will remain to be seen :)

  6. As for Bacon, here is what he says:

    "Instead of understanding the verse as a complaint of the psalmist at the shortness of his days which are cut off in the midst, LXX and Vulg. understand the utterance to be [YHVH]'s "answer" to the psalmist's plea that he will intervene to save Zion, because 'it is time to have pity upon her, yea the set time is come' (v. 13). He is bidden acknowledge (or prescribe?) the shortness of [YHVH]'s set time, and not to summon him when it is but half expired." (emphasis mine)

    Like Bruce, Bacon appears to be claiming that "my days" in verses 23 and 24 is a reference to God's appointed time for the salvation of Zion, and that God's saying "take me not up" or "bring me not up" means "not to summon him." This despite what I said in my blog post, that "take me not up in the midst of my days" is clearly an appeal to God that He not cut short the psalmist's life--which is evident from the uses of these phrases elsewhere in Scripture. He offers up one bit of evidence in support of this reading, and I'll take a closer look and respond to it later tonight (hopefully).

  7. Ok, so, basically what Bacon does is cite the Epistle of Barnabas, in turn citing 1 Enoch, in which it is written, "The final stumbling-block (or source of danger) approaches, concerning which it is written, as Enoch says, 'For for this end the Lord has cut short the times and the days, that His Beloved may hasten; and He will come to the inheritance.'"

    The "cutting short" of "the times and the days" is a reference to a hastening of the coming of the Lord, and Bacon's case appears to be that so, too, is the speaker's appeal in Psalm 102:24 in the LXX, "Take me not away" or "Bring me not up" "in the midst of my days," the words of God saying "Don't summon me up before the days I've appointed are finished." Something along those lines. Is that about right?

    The problem, it seems to me, is that while the phrase "the days" might be, in a few isolated instances, be a reference to days God has appointed for something to happen, the phrase "my days" is never used that way. As far as I can tell, the phrase "my days" is, without fail, a reference to one's lifetime. So basically what Bruce, Lane and Bacon are doing is assuming that the translators of the Septuagint had something different in mind in Psalm 102:23-24 in terms of the phrase "my days" then the way it is used everywhere else in Scripture.

    It seems far more reasonable to me, however, to read the phrase "my days" as meaning what it means everywhere else in Scripture. This is particularly the case since doing so makes the LXX and the Hebrew text from which it is translated say essentially the same thing: the psalmist is rebuked, either having his days shortened (as per the Hebrew text) or told, rhetorically, to tell God how short His lifetime is (in the LXX), and the psalmist responds in fear and trembling, pleading with God that He not cut short the psalmist's lifetime.

    Which is more likely? That the translators of the Septuagint translate the Hebrew text in such a way as to read fundamentally differently than the original, even using the phrase "my days" differently than it is used everywhere else in Scripture? Or, that they translated the Hebrew into Greek in such a way as to read fundamentally the same, using "my days" in the same way it is used everywhere else in Scripture?

  8. Chris, I read your post very carefully and am very inclined to agree with it. So, let me make sure I understand the basic gist of your argument:

    "[YHWH] answered him in the way of his strength: tell me the fewness of thy days.”
    (Psalms 101:23 LXX)

    This is as explicit as it could be that YHWH is the one asking this. And the question is completely legitimate, as the Psalmist will go on to answer.

    “[The Psalmist answers], Take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are through all generations.”
    (Psalms 101:24 LXX)

    First, even if "my days" means "appointed time," it is inconceivable that a finite man could "take away" anything from a sovereign God. But I agree that the semantic range of "my days" is very narrow. And it would seem that the context even supports it, given that the previous verse is clearly speaking of the extent of one's lifetime.

    But what is even more inconceivable is for YHWH to saying to the Psalmist, "your years are through all generations." As you argued, this is very likely to be an answer to YHWH's rebuke. And to answer YHWH's question, the Psalmist continues to prove YHWH's unchanging nature with, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth..."

    Overall, this does seem like a very compelling argument, though i'd like to see it "field tested" to see if it can stand up to scrutiny. So far, I really can't think of a legitimate objection. So kudos to you, my friend, for leading me to rethink my position!

  9. You've boiled it down far better than I have, my friend! I have a tendency to be overly... verbose. Your presentation is much more easily digested :)

    Yeah, I would also like to see it "field tested," and as inadequate as I often feel, I look forward to Barron or someone else responding.

  10. Mike,

    Thank you for bringing this thread to my attention. I appreciate the opportunity to comment.

    I’d like to begin with addressing the matter of “Lord,” which you, Chris, highlighted in light of vs. 1 as identifying Jesus as Jehovah if your argument holds true. I’m uncertain if you are aware that to a Second Temple Jew this would not substantiate your case. Their view of exalted agents accommodated granting even God’s name to the agent (Ex. 23:21), so that in the case of the heavenly Melchizedek (The Coming of Melchizedek, 11Q13) Psalm 7:7-8 is applied to him wherein the divine name was found. Quite similarly, the Apocalypse of Abraham finds God’s name to be a combination of Yahweh and Elohim so to be Yahoel, and yet this is the name given the angel who is said to carry God’s name.

    One of the certain difficulties with what you have argued is the psalmist claims God has answered “him,” an unidentified third party. The response is not directly to the psalmist, but to the one, we can assume, who will carry out His work in bringing Zion mercy and rebuilding her.

    I don’t find it necessary to take “my days” in v. 24 as anything other than a reference to God’s own lifetime, for he would simply be saying not to ever bring up the matter in his days, which are eternal. God’s has appointed a time for everything, so do not raise the issue with him, ever. The time will come he has appointed. I cannot help but call to mind the following:

    Zech. 1:12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "O LORD of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?"

    The psalm could almost contain God’s response to this appeal.

    Finally--and perhaps most critically--nothing suggests the necessary speaker change. The psalmist does not indicate a response from himself or the unnamed addressee. We see no reason to suspect a sudden outcry by the psalmist either. The text itself, giving no indication of such a change, is most naturally understood to present the same speaker continuing in his statement.

    Laus Deo

  11. Chris,

    I accidentally posted my preceding under two threads. Please keep the one here and not the other, as it was unintentional.


  12. Thanks, Dave, for chiming in. I sincerely appreciate it.

    I will delete the comment from the other thread, and replace it with a comment directing readers here. And I'll respond soon.

    Thanks again!

  13. I'm sure there's a limit to how much text I can include in one comment; unfortunately blogspot is not the best place for debates. So I'll break up my response into several comments, each addressing a particular point. If you would kindly wait until I've posted my last one before you respond, I would appreciate it—and I'll make clear when that final comment has been posted.

    First, regarding your claim that exalted agents were called by God's name, the passages to which you've pointed don't, I think, support your case. As I'm sure you're aware, many believe that those who encountered the "angel of the Lord" spoken of in Exodus 23, Exodus 3 and elsewhere, identified that figure as YHVH Himself. If you like, we can go into detail on this point, but before we do, I'd like you to point me to biblical evidence that one who is clearly a created being is ever called by the name YHVH, for there's no evidence of that in Exodus 23.

    As for Melchizedek, before I comment on that, would you please provide me with a link to, and relevant quote from, the Apocalypse of Abraham? That is a work with which I am unfamiliar and would like to research that before commenting further. Until then, I see no evidence that anybody but God Almighty Himself was referred to as YHVH.

    (Continued in next comment...)

  14. Now, as for the "him" addressed by God in verse 23 in the LXX, you claim that this must be some unidentified third party, rather than the psalmist himself. The problem with this, it seems to me, is that there is nothing in the context of this psalm whatsoever of such an unidentified third party. Furthermore, the Greek word rendered "answered" is a conjugation of ἀποκρίνομαι (apokrinomai), and the word rendered "him" is a conjugation of αὐτός (autos). Whenever these are used in conjugation with one another, the answerer is responding to the one who spoke or acted (or failed to do so) previously.

    Such is the case in Matthew 3:15; 11:4; 12:39,48; 13:11,37; 14:28; 15:3,15,23,28; 16:2,17; 17:11; 19:4,27; 20:13; 21:21,24; 22:1 (responding to those at the end of the previous chapter),29,46; 24:4; 25:26,37,40,44,45; 26:33,63; 27:14,21; Mark 3:33; 6:37; 7:6,28; 8:4,29; 9:12,19,38; 10:3,5,20,24,51; 11:14,22,29; John 19:7; 20:28; 21:5; Acts 4:10; 5:8. Now, those are are just some of the occurrences in which we read "answered him/them/her" or "answered and said unto him/them/her" combining apokrinomai and autos. In each case, the one being answered is the one who had just been said to have spoken, acted, been silent or done nothing.

    Though I could spend another hour or two exhaustively examining the rest of them, what I would like you to do is show me some examples where apokrinomai and autos are used in conjunction with one another in which the one being answered is not the one who had just been said to have spoken, acted, been silent or done nothing. Until then, it is unreasonable to assume that the "him" addressed in Psalm 102:23 in the LXX is anyone other than the psalmist who had just prayed to God.

    (Continued in next comment...)

  15. Now, as for "my days," I'm glad that you, unlike Bruce and others, recognize that it is a reference to one's lifetime. However, in so doing, it seems to me you remove the very foundation upon which this interpretation of the LXX hinges, or at least one plank of it. You see, the argument is, or so I understand it, that "bring/take me not up in the midst of my days" means "don't summon me before the days I've appointed have completed." But if you recognize that "my days" is a reference to God's lifetime, then "don't summon me" doesn't fit the context, since it is no longer the appointed time for Israel's restoration, but God's lifetime. Insisting God do something before the time He has appointed for it to happen would be deserving of rebuke, to be certain. But anybody who calls upon God, or "summons" Him, is doing so in the midst of His lifetime, and there's nothing wrong in doing so.

    So this argument just seems untenable to me. By combining apokrinomai and autos, the LXX clearly depicts God as answering the one who had just spoken, namely the psalmist. And when the speaker says "take me not up in the midst of my days," it seems obvious that the speaker is asking that his life not be ended. This is especially clear when one simply realizes that the translators of the LXX were not writing a separate work, but were instead translating the Hebrew text, which has the psalmist speaking to God in verses 24 and following. To suggest they fundamentally changed the direction of speech in the Hebrew rendition of those verses is, in my opinion, unreasonable.

    But two questions remain. The first, which you didn't ask, but I could certainly anticipate one asking, is: Why did the translators of the LXX alter the reading of verse 23? I simply don't have the answer to that question, but it is clear that they returned to the Hebrew reading in verse 24. The second, which you allude to in your comment, is: Why should we understand the speaker as once again being the psalmist in verse 24 without an explicitly stated change of direction of speech? Well, I'll reiterate first that the words cry out that the direction of speech is once again from the psalmist to God. Neither "Don't summon me in the midst of my lifetime," nor "Don't kill me in the midst of my young life," are things God would say. This demands we recognize that the direction of speech has changed.

    Now, I doubt that such implicit shifts in direction of speech are all that uncommon in Scripture, and I'll try to find some examples. But you don't have to wait for those to respond. I look forward to your response to my arguments above.

  16. Psalm 2 is one example of an implicit change in the source of speaking. The Hebrew reads,

    "7 I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, you shall shatter them like earthenware.' 10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning, O judges of the earth. 11 Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with (U)trembling."

    Now, verse 7 begins with the psalmist speaking and ends with YHVH speaking, who continues to speak through verse 9. Then, without explicitly stating so, the psalmist begins speaking again. The LXX reads similarly,

    "7 declaring the ordinance of the Lord: the Lord said to me, 'Thou art my Son, to-day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth [for] thy possession. 9 Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces as a potter's vessel.' 10 Now therefore understand, ye kings: be instructed, all ye that judge the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice in him with trembling."

    Again, the LXX has the psalmist introducing the words of YHVH in verse 7, which ends with YHVH speaking, who continues to speak through verse 9, and then the psalmist implicitly resumes speaking in verse 10.

    In the same way, the Hebrew renders Psalm 4 in this way:

    "6 Many are saying, 'Who will show us any good?' Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! 7 You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety."

    In verse 6 the psalmist quotes the "many, and later in that verse implicitly resumes speaking. Similarly, the LXX rendition of this psalm reads:

    "6 Many say, 'Who will shew us good things? the light of thy countenance, O Lord, has been manifested towards us.' 7 Thou hast put gladness into my heart: they have been satisfied with the fruit of their corn and wine and oil."

    The entirety of verse 6 appears to be the words of the "many," and in verse 7 the psalmist resumes speaking without explicitly stating that he's doing so.

    I won't end with these examples, and will find some more.

  17. Chris,

    The argument generally presented in asserting the angel of Jehovah is Jehovah ontologically is quite circular in that it is based upon the use of God’s name for him. You may have other lines of evidence, but I question whether they fall outside the norm of divine agents in Second Temple thought. If I can provide unambiguous examples (and I have given a couple of clear ones) of others who are not God and are yet given his name, the very basis for arguing this one is Jehovah himself is removed. Passages as the one I cited in Zechariah do much to demonstrate he is only Jehovah by way of carrying the name as His agent, for he lacked certain knowledge and inquired of God (something that can not here be attributed to humanity as Trinitarians will often do with Jesus).

    The work on Melchizedek I cited is 11Q13, which is among the Dead Sea Scrolls. I would again remind you also of The Apocalypse of Abraham, a key Second Temple work where God’s name Yahoel is indwelled within an angel, who identifies himself as and is addressed as the same. Second Temple Judaism not only granted exalted agents the titles and very name of God (Philo, for example, relates how the people had called Moses “the god and king of the whole nation” – On Moses 1:158), but they also found such ones carrying out roles otherwise limited to God (11Q13 presents Melchizedek as the “God” who is the eschatological judge at Psa. 82:1).

  18. I find your response concerning “answered him” unconvincing because you’re comparing entirely different works, written from entirely different perspectives. This account is a psalm, written by a psalmist from a 1st person perspective, appealing to God directly. What you have cited in response are narratives, written generally from a third person perspective. The statement of giving a response is part of the psalm itself, not a third person narrative.

    I fail to see your argument respecting “my days” inasmuch as the context would have this related to the immediate event in view. In other words, “Don’t bring me to trial [for this] even into eternity.” God has appointed the day in which he will act, he has decreed to himself when it will be. While you are awaiting and desiring it, do not take issue with him over the matter, for it will come when he determined.

    The examples you cite for indicating a speaker change don’t quite parallel, for in these we find the first addressed to others, presenting what God said to him. The second is an address to God, presenting what others have stated. You’ve yet to substantiate that God even spoke to the psalmist so to have him reply. The psalm in question is, according to you, an exchange between God and the psalmist. We would not expect the psalmist to relate a speaker change in such a context, just as you or I would not in quoting another person to each other. However, if I was relating an exchange I’d had with another, quoting my words, then his and then my own response, it would be entirely anticipated for me to define when such changes occurred.

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  20. You argue that the words “cry out” for a speaker change, but I, as well as a number of respected commentators and scholars clearly do not find as much necessary. The early Jews were not nearly as particular in their use of language or interpretation generally, so to be much more liberal in what could be stated. I would encourage you to begin reading as much Second Temple literature as you can get your hands on and observe how early Jews looked at language, interpretation and the scriptures. This, in turn, will allow you to look at them as even the New Testament authors would have rather than from a modern perspective. What is there will prove quite revealing and undoubtedly surprising (and other times, extremely boring :-D )!

    Laus Deo

  21. The argument that the angel of YHVH is YHVH is based on more than merely His being called as such, but as I said, I would like to see an "unambiguous example...of others who are not God and are yet given His name." I have not seen you offer any. The mal'ak of YHVH certainly doesn't serve as such. And Moses being called the "god and king" is irrelevant, since the word "god" is used of others besides YHVH. As for 11Q13 and The Apocalypse of Abraham, if you could link to and quote the specific texts to which you're referring, that would be helpful for me.

    As for "answered him," I did more than compare works of different natures. For one, I demonstrated that everywhere (that I've seen) that apokrinomai and autos are used in conjunction with one another, the one being answered is the one who had just been said to have spoken or acted (or explicitly to have done neither). If you can provide an example where that's not the case, please do so. In the meantime, the presence of both these words make clear that the "him" being answered is the psalmist. So yes, I have substantiated that God spoke to the psalmist.

    As far as what those psalms demonstrate, I'll offer up more examples as I come upon them (I've been busy since the last one I offered). However, in the meantime, your argument simply holds no merit. Both the LXX and Hebrew renditions of this text do more than portray simply a conversation between the psalmist and God. Verse 15 is the last verse in which the psalmist address YHVH directly, and in verse 16 begins referring to Him in the third person. It is within this context, no longer a conversation between the psalmist and God, that we come to verse 23, where the psalmist quotes God. Yes, he resumes speaking directly to God in verse 24, but that's not a problem. We do things like that in modern language, too.

    It is not uncommon that whether speaking or writing to someone else, I'll interject and begin addressing to God directly. As an example, I might be writing to a friend who is suffering and be consoling and comforting her, writing:

    "Hang in there, Jane. The Lord's will for your life can be trusted, whatever that might be. He may not ease your suffering, but through your suffering He will draw you nearer to Him, and will glorify Him through you. The Lord once told me in a time of suffering, 'Do not worry, Chris. My will for you is trustworthy, and in your suffering will draw you close to Me.' Whatever your will, draw my friend closer to you and use her suffering to bring you glory, Lord, and to edify your people."

    Now, despite not explicitly saying that I am speaking to God after quoting Him, the reader will not find it difficult to know that's what I'm doing. So the lack of such an explicit transition in speech is no argument against this interpretation of the text, particularly since the Hebrew text lines up with it.


  22. So, as for your claim that 2nd temple Jewish literature allows for referring to a created being with the name YHVH, I'll look forward to the links to the Dead Sea Scroll to which you referred, and The Apocalypse of Abraham, and the particular quote I should be looking for. In the meantime, the biblical testimony allows for no such thing. Yes, some respected commentators and scholars do not find as much, but the mere fact that some interpret it in this way does not mean that the text is not clear.

    Since a) apokrinomai and autos together always (so far as I've seen, but as I've said, please point me to examples where this is not the case) depict one answering the one who had just been said to have been acting or speaking (or explicitly said to have been doing neither), b) it makes no sense to understand God as saying "don't call upon me in the midst of my lifetime" or "don't kill me in the midst of my lifetime," and c) since the Hebrew text from which the LXX was translated likewise depicts verses 24 and following as the psalmist's words toward God, the shift in direction of speech is, indeed, clear.

  23. Here's another example of such an implicit shift in direction of speech:

    "1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your wrath...5 For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks? 6 I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. 7 My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries. 8 Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, for the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my supplication, the LORD receives my prayer." (Psalm 6:1,5-9, Hebrew)

    "1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath, neither chasten me in thine anger...5 For in death no man remembers thee: and who will give thee thanks in Hades? 6 I am wearied with my groaning; I shall wash my bed every night; I shall water my couch with tears. 7 Mine eye is troubled because of my wrath; I am worn out because of all my enemies. 8 Depart from me, all ye that work iniquity; for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The Lord has hearkened t my petition; the Lord has accepted my prayer." (LXX)

    Here the psalm is solely the words of the psalmist toward YHVH from verses 1 through either verse 5 or verse 8, and then without explicitly saying he's speaking to the reader, he says, "Depart from me, all you who do iniquity." Here's another example, one which I think is the most powerful yet:

    "1 I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. 2 I will be glad and exult in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High...10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. 11 Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion; Declare among the peoples His deeds. 12 For He who [c]requires blood remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 13 Be gracious to me, O LORD; See my affliction from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death, 14 that I may tell of all Your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in Your salvation." (Psalm 9:1-2,10-14, Hebrew)

    "1 I will give thanks to thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will recount all thy wonderful works. 2 I will be glad and exult in thee: I will sing to thy name, O thou Most High...10 And let them that know thy name hope in thee: for thou, O Lord, hast not failed them that diligently seek thee. 11 Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Sion: declare his dealings among the nations. 12 For he remembered them, [in] making inquisition for blood: he has not forgotten the supplication of the poor. 13 Have mercy upon me, O Lord; look upon my affliction [which I suffer] of mine enemies, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: 14 that I may declare all thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion: I will exult in thy salvation." (LXX)

    Again, the psalm is the words of the psalmist toward YHVH from verses 1 through 10. Then, in verse 11 he begins speaking to those who dwell in Zion, speaking of YHVH in the third person in verse 12. But look what happens in verse 13: The psalmist again begins speaking to YHVH, without explicitly saying, "I said." An implicit shift in direction of speech, returning from speaking to the reader to speaking to YHVH.

  24. Now, one might respond saying, "Yeah, but the psalmist says, 'Have mercy upon me, O Lord.' The 'O Lord' serves the same purpose as 'I said.'" To such I would respond saying, I agree! And such is true in Psalm 102 as well when the psalmist says, "thou, O Lord." Granted, there's a verse prior to this, but the text of the original was not broken up into verses like we have today, so that's irrelevant.

  25. Not to belabor the point, but here's another powerful example:

    "1 May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high! 2 May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion! 3 May He remember all your meal offerings and find your burnt offering acceptable! Selah. 4 May He grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your counsel! 5 We will sing for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions. 6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. 7 Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God. 8 They have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stood upright. 9 Save, O LORD; May the King answer us in the day we call." (Psalm 20, Hebrew)

    "1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee. 2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and aid thee out of Sion. 3 Remember all thy sacrifice, and enrich thy whole-burnt-offering. Pause. 4 Grant thee according to thy heart, and fulfill all thy desire. 5 We will exult in thy salvation, and in the name of our God shall we be magnified: the Lord fulfil all thy petitions. 6 Now I know that the Lord has saved his Christ: he shall hear him from his holy heaven: the salvation of his right hand is mighty. 7 Some [glory] in chariots, and some in horses: but we will glory in the name of the Lord our God. 8 They are overthrown and fallen: but we are risen, and have been set upright. 9 O Lord, save the king: and hear us in whatever day we call upon thee." (LXX)

    Here the psalmist is speaking to his readers, the ones who are offering sacrifices and burnt offerings. Then, in verse 9, the psalmist begins speaking to YHVH, without saying, "I said." He does begin that verse, saying, "O Lord," which is precisely what the psalmist does in Psalm 102:25, even though he first pleads with God not to kill him in the midst of his young life. There simply is no argument to be made that the absence of "I said" or something along those lines in the LXX means that verse 24 continues to depict God speaking to the psalmist.

    One interesting point, too, is that some translations of the Hebrew text, such as the NASB which I cited, render verse 6 as saying, "He [God] will answer him [God's anointed]." When I read this, I was concerned that perhaps this would serve as your example of apokrinomai and autos being used in conjunction to refer to the answering of someone other than the one who's been speaking. However, such is not the case. The Greek word is ἐπακούσεται, and I'll admit that not being a student of Greek, I can't the definition of the word being conjugated. However, it's not ἀποκρίνομαι, or even the suffix of that compound word. Consequently, the English translations of the LXX I have at my disposal render this, "He shall hear him," referring to the anointed one whom the psalmist just said the Lord would save.

  26. Ok, one more:

    "22 I will tell of Your name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. 23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. 24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; nor has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard. 25 From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him." (Psalm 22:22-25, Hebrew)

    "22 I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church will I sing praise to thee. 23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye seed of Jacob, glorify him: let all the seed of Israel fear him. 24 For he has not despised nor been angry at the supplication of the poor; nor turned away his face from me; but when I cried to him, he heard me. 25 My praise is of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him." (LXX)

    Through verse 22, the psalmist is speaking to YHVH. Then, the psalmist shifts, speaking to the descendants of Israel. Then, in verse 25, the psalmist again speaks to YHVH.

    I began in psalm 1 and am a mere 22 psalms in, and have already provided several examples of implicit shifts in direction of speech.

  27. Chris,

    For example: “And about him [Melchizedek] he said: Above it return to the heights, God will judge the peoples.” (11Q13 2:10-11) What is “said” is a quote from Psalm 7 where “God” = YHWH. Similarly, consider the 1st chapter of ApocAbra with 17:13.

    You have succeeded in demonstrating (perhaps) that “answered him” is only used within third person narratives when an addressee is responding. You have not shown this true within a first person account. You can continue to maintain otherwise, but your argument is demonstrably invalid insomuch as you have not provided an example in support of your supposition in comparable writing. You are arguing for something unnatural and indeed, ungrammatical. You do not, in speaking in the first person, say somebody “answered him” when it was you being addressed. If you want to make a case for this, you must show an actual parallel.

    That God is spoken of in the third person does not indicate it is not part of continuing prayer in address to God. Throughout the psalms God is addressed in the third person as part of an ongoing address to him (Psa. 44:8; 56:1).

    Your latest round of efforts is of no further assistance to your claim. Psalm 6 presents a change in the addressee, not the addressor. This isn’t being argued for. This proves true with Psalm 9 and 20. You’ve begun arguing for support of one thing by something entirely different and unrelated. I’m not saying you can not change whom you are addressing without so specifying, I’m saying you generally don’t record an account in the first person, recording the interaction, and not make it clear when the one answering you stopped speaking and you again started.

    Chris, there are reasons that scholarship rests on my side with this matter. I’m not one to appeal to authority, but I have to ask why scholars, some if not many of whom are theologically inclined to agree with you, don’t?

    Laus Deo

  28. I'll take a closer look at the extrabiblical sources you've cited, but since you haven't given me links to the online text, it may take me some time to find.

    At best, you can say that Psalm 102:16-23 might depict the psalmist speaking directly to God, rather than to the readers. Either way, I look forward to you providing an example of apokrinomai and autos used in conjunction in a way other than to depict one answering the one who just spoke. The LXX follows the same convention. In 1 Samuel 23:4 the LXX uses "ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ" when portraying the Lord answering David who had just enquired. The mere assertion that "answered him" must refer to a third party carries no weight when the Greek construct is everywhere else used to refer to the one who had just spoken.

    I do now understand, however, what you mean regarding the psalms I've offered up, the difference, that is, between a change in addressor rather than addressee. I think that's a legitimate criticism of the examples I've offered up, and I will give examples as I find them (this may have to wait until later, as I will be away from any computer for pretty much the rest of the night).


  29. As for your question regarding scholarship which agrees with me theologically but disagrees with me concerning this passage in the LXX, as Mike and I have noted there has not yet been a lot of focus on this passage as depicted in the LXX on the part of those on our side of the theological fence--at least not so far as I can tell. In the recent debate on Unbelievable? between James White and Anthony Buzzard, James White sidestepped the argument altogether, instead appealing to the Hebrew text. This suggested to me he hadn't yet fully examined the issue. As the question is examined more closely, I think my side of the debate will in time agree.

    Why does the scholarship come to the conclusion that the translators of the LXX drastically changed the direction of speech in verses 24 and those that follow? I haven't the faintest. It defies reason that 70 Jews would so fundamentally change the text of the very original they were translating. I've explained how the reading of the LXX does, in fact, agree with the Hebrew. You, on the other hand, dismiss the semantic range of the phrase which includes apokrinomai and autos, and have not yet explained how God could say, "Do not call on me in the midst of my lifetime" or "Do not kill me in the midst of my lifetime."

  30. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to chime in earlier, as I had a lot of things going on today. But it did give me a chance to sit back and read the arguments. Allow me to make a few observations.

    Concerning 2nd temple Judaism. This entire area is very new to me, as my Christological studies never considered much beyond the Hebrew Scriptures (even to the exclusion of the LXX in many cases). It took going beyond "pop apologetics" and looking deeper to discover this important background information. This is why i've taken a huge step back in my public arguments for the deity of Christ and such; not because my opinions are not well founded, but because there is much I need to look into.

    Dave, I know you aren't appealing to authority, but you should concede Chris' point on this: that there is a very minimal amount of research that has been done on this text. I have about 8 of the most in-depth Hebrews commentaries available on my booshelf and at least 5 more electronically. Lane and Bruce are the only two that discuss this issue at any depth. If anything, their references to this are almost in passing. Bacon's article is many decades old. Thus, one is completely within their rights to offer a fresh perspective on this. Also keep in mind Dave, that there are plenty of scholars who disagree that Christ was created, as long as we are talking about scholars who believe the Bible :-)

    Anyway, to the argument. I am willing to grant that in 2nd temple Judaism, that exalted agents were given the names/titles "God" and "YHWH" in that they were representing YHWH. But this can only go so far. In these cases, are they attributed these because of demonstration, or because they are carrying out the will of another? That is, if Jesus fulfills the requirements of identity with regards to YHWH, then it would go beyond agency. In the case of Psalm 102, it would seem very difficult to see a Jew viewing "the Lord who founded the earth, stretched out the heavens, etc." to be in reference to an exalted agent in the likes of Melchizedek. Yes, we can view this as agency, but I think it reaches beyond this and into identity.

    But I don't think this is absolutely crucial to the main argument. Dave, what I have a hard time understanding is this: how can YHWH say these words to anyone?

    “Take me not away in the midst of my days: your years are through all generations.”
    (Psalms 101:24, LXX)

    Aside from the grammatical arguments above, it simply doesn't follow for me how the sovereign Lord of the universe could think that anyone could take away something from him, especially His life! This is clearly one comparing their finite existence in comparison to the eternal nature of the one being spoke of . In other words, "I am temporal and perishable; you are imperishable and eternal." In fact, this is exactly what the Psalmist is saying in the Hebrew!

    The reference to "years throughout all generations" seems to be a strong parallel to the following:

    “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
    (Psalms 90:1–2)

    “But You, O YHWH, abide forever, And Your name to all generations.”
    (Psalms 102:12)

    Especially noteworthy is the last reference, since it is in the same Psalm. I'll look forward to your comments Dave. And thank you for taking the time to participate. Always a pleasure.

  31. Mike,
    I am more than willing to concede the existence of relatively little scholarship on this particular passage. This may also provide indicative of little disagreement. With scholars, if they disagree, there is a tendency to make it known! I am not saying more will not appear in the future expressing disagreement on this issue, but at this point it does go in only one direction.

    Now I see you going down Bauckham’s path with the whole ‘divine identity’ thing. One of the most significant difficulties with this is the whole giving/granting aspect of what Jesus has, with everything from his authority to God’s throne. For example, Bauckham discusses Jesus on God’s throne without similarly acknowledging that Christians will find themselves on that very same throne (Rev. 3:21; 12:5)!

    I would not anticipate the statement of Psalm 102 to be in reference to heavenly Melchizedek, but neither was that my point. My appeal to him was only in granting of the divine name. However, such language could and even would be used of personified Wisdom/Logos. Now this gets complicated because I would not argue Second Temple Judaism to see Wisdom/Logos as a person, but only a personification of divine attributes. With the apostles’ pens comes the revelation that what had been understood as only an attribute is indeed a person! This proved to be quite the paradigm shift.

  32. I don’t want to go off tangent too much, so I’ll stop there with these other aspects and get back to the fundamental issues of Psalm 102. With respect to the translation you’ve cited, there are indeed difficulties. I believe Bruce was quoted above with one that was somewhat different and focused on another use of anagw, referring to the bringing before trial. This brings resolution to such issues.

    There are certainly parallels between what is said of Jehovah and what we find in the latter portion of Psalm 102, but I would venture to say, of course there is! We do have to keep in mind that the Psalm originally applied to him fully, and only with the LXX did this change. I can’t say that the change was even intentional, but such a glaring difficulty seems to have demanded correction were it necessary and the language could not find application to whomever “he” might have been. That it did find application to Wisdom/Logos seems to resolve such difficulties, however.

  33. The idea of "bringing before trial" simply makes no sense once concedes, as indeed one must do once one sees the semantic range of the phrase, that "my days" is a reference to one's lifetime. God's saying "don't bring me before trial in the midst of my lifetime" is utterly nonsensical. That's why Bruce and others understand "my days" to be a reference to the appointed days for the restoration of Israel.

  34. Dave, i'm going to resist going down the road of "divine identity." Though I certainly saw some dilemma's within Bauckham's perspective, it seems to be far more defensible than ontological Christology. What i'd like to see is an equally scholarly work which would argue otherwise. Got plenty on my reading list, so i'm sure i'll get to McGrath and others in time, as well as the DSS.

    You may want to elaborate more on the "translation difficulties" with the LXX translation I cited, which is Brenton's. If you can establish a better rendering of a translation both grammatically and lexically, then i'll concede the change. But this still raises the question Chris just brought up: how can God say "don't bring me before trial in the midst of my lifetime" or "Take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are through all generations." Regardless of the translation, both seem extremely problematic if this is God speaking. Also consider; if this is God speaking to His divine wisdom, how would this make sense in Jewish thought?

  35. Thanks, Mike, for raising a point there at the end of your comment that I had intended to make but had forgotten about. The insistence that the "him" is a third party, the Messiah, makes no sense given what it is God is alleged to be saying to him.

    It is problematic for at least two reasons. First, it is not this hitherto unmentioned third party who is pressing YHVH to act, who is demanding that the time is now for Israel to be restored. Rather, it is the psalmist himself. So to suggest that God is speaking to said third party when He admonishes him not to "bring me to trial" or "summon me" or whatever "in the midst of My lifetime" just makes no sense.

    Second, as you rightly ask in your question, how would YHVH's words make sense if speaking to His divine wisdom? Why would the wisdom of God, the Messiah, be admonished not to "bring me to trial" or "summon me" or whatever "in the midst of My lifetime?" As problematic as that phrase is to begin with, and as problematic it is to suggest that He is admonishing a third party, it seems to me to be the height of absurdity to suggest that He is issuing this admonition to His divine wisdom.

  36. Oh, and by the way, I didn't have any time after my last comment yesterday to continue to search for biblical precedent for a change in addressor, but I will attempt to do so today.

    In the meantime, I still contend that the phrase, "answered him," which includes both apokrinomai and autos, cannot be anything other than an answer to the one just depicted as having spoken. In fact, I doubt that a single example could be found in Scripture in which autos is used by itself to refer to a figure other than one already in view. If I happen upon one, I'll cite it.

  37. Chris, I neglected to address this too. Even if you can't find an example where this occurs in a first person account, this would to me demonstrate one thing: this is a unique occurrence. Because even from Dave's perspective, I don't know of any examples where a first person account where "answered him" occurs in relation to a third party. If Dave can show an example, it wouldn't prove his whole case here (as we'd still have to discuss the content of v. 24), but it would definitely make me scratch my head a little.

  38. Here's an example that's admittedly somewhat dissimilar, but illustrates something:

    1 Then Zophar the Naamathite answered, 2 "Shall a multitude of words go unanswered, and a talkative man be acquitted? 3 Shall your boasts silence men? And shall you scoff and none rebuke? 4 For you have said, 'My teaching is pure, and I am innocent in your eyes.' 5 But would that God might speak, and open His lips against you." (Job 11:1-5, Hebrew)

    1 Then Sophar the Minaean answered and said, 2 "He that speaks much, should also hear on the other side: or does the fluent speaker think himself to be righteous? blessed [is] the short lived offspring of woman. 3 Be not a speaker of many words; for is there none to answer thee? 4 For say not, 'I am pure in my works, and blameless before him.' 5 But oh that the Lord would speak to thee, and open his lips to thee!" (LXX)

    Now, I recognize the difference between this passage and Psalm 102, and I will continue looking. Nevertheless, what we see here in Job 11:5 is an implicit change in addressor. Zophar is speaking to Job in verses 2 and 3, then the addressor becomes Job in verse 4, and then in verse 5 Zophar resumes speaking without explicitly stating that he is the one speaking. Neither the Hebrew nor the Greek contains quotation marks, so the text reads, "you have said i am pure in my works and blameless before him but oh that the lord would speak to thee and open his lips to thee."


  39. How do we know it is Zophar speaking again, and not a continued quote from Job? Your argument would seem to require that Zophar say, "But I say, 'oh that the Lord would speak to you.'" Such is not necessary, however, because a) the words he quotes from Job are brief, and b) the meaning of the words which follow make clear that Zophar has resumed speaking.

    In the same way, Mike and I are contending that the words which the psalmist attributes to God in the LXX are brief, a short quote, "Tell me the shortness of My days." And then the meaning of the words which follow make clear that it is again the psalmist speaking.

  40. Oh, one more thing about the above passage which bears mentioning. Yes, I recognize it is not actually Job who speaks in verse 4; it is Zophar quoting Job. But that actually lends support to Mike's and my case regarding Psalm 102.

    Let's assume that the psalmist is still speaking to YHVH by verse 23 when he writes, "He answered him in the strength of His way, 'Tell me the shortness of My days.' Take me not away in the midst of my days." Since the "He" is the "You" to whom the psalmist is speaking, then the phrase "He answered him" is equivalent to Zophar's "For you have said." The psalmist is quoting YHVH, and just as Zophar can briefly quote Job and implicitly resume speaking, so, too, can the psalmist briefly quote YHVH and then implicitly resume speaking to Him.

  41. Here's another example:

    1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite responded, 2 "Can a vigorous man be of use to God, or a wise man be useful to himself? 3 Is there any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous, or profit if you make your ways perfect?...13 You say, 'What does God know? Can He judge through the thick darkness? 14 Clouds are a hiding place for Him, so that He cannot see; and He walks on the vault of heaven.' 15 Will you keep to the ancient path which wicked men have trod, 16 who were snatched away before their time, whose foundations were washed away by a river?" (Job 22:1-3,13-16, Hebrew)

    1 Then Eliphaz the Thaemanite answered and said, 2 "Is it not the Lord that teaches understanding and knowledge? 3 For what matters it to the Lord, if thou wert blameless in [thy] works? or is it profitable that thou shouldest perfect thy way?...13 And thou has said, 'What does the Mighty One know? does he judge in the dark? 14 A cloud is his hiding-place, and he shall not be seen; and he passes through the circle of heaven.' 15 Wilt thou [not] mark the old way, which righteous men have trodden? 16 who were seized before their time: their foundations [are as] an overflowing stream." (LXX)

    Here Eliphaz is speaking to Job in verses 2 through 12, and then the addressor becomes Job by means of quotation in verses 13 and 14, and then Eliphaz implicitly resumes speaking again in verse 15. A similar implicit change in addressor occurs in verses 18 and 21. Again, I recognize the difference between this passage and the psalm in question. Nevertheless, we have biblical precedent for implicit changes in addressor, so long as a) the quotation is brief enough, and b) the words which follow make clear that the speaker has resumed speaking.

  42. Another:

    8 "Surely you have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard the sound of your words: 9 'I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. 10 Behold, He invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy. 11 He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.' 12 Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, for God is greater than man." (Job 33:8-12, Hebrew)

    8 "But thou hast said in mine ears, (I have heard the voice of thy words;) because thou sayest, 'I am pure, not having sinned; 9 I am blameless, for I have not transgressed. 10 Yet he has discovered a charge against me, and e has reckoned me as an adversary. 11 And he has put my foot in the stocks, and has watched all my ways.' 12 For how sayest thou, 'I am righteous, yet he has not hearkened to me?' for he that is above mortals is eternal." (LXX)

    Elihu is speaking to Job directly up until verse 8, at which point he quotes Job through verse 11, and then implicitly resumes speaking in verse 1. And the LXX depicts Elihu again quoting Job and again implicitly resuming speaking in verse 12. And just as Psalm 102 is a conversation between the psalmist and God, this passage is a conversation between Elihu and Job. Indeed, Elihu is quoting the words Job had spoken to him and the others earlier. So this passage seems to be very relevant to our discussion concerning Psalm 102.

  43. I won't quote them, but examples of this continue in Elihu's words to Job leading up to God's rebuke. Then, when YHVH rebukes Job, in chapter 40 we read, "Then the LORD said to Job" and "Then Job answered the LORD" and "Then the LORD answered Job." I find this interesting, and powerful support for Mike's and my case. Here's why.

    The recent examples I've provided, particularly these ones in Elihu's words, are examples of the person speaking quoting the one being spoken to. In fact, the words quoted were directed to the one doing the quoting. And then we see an implicit shift in addressor as the speaker finishes the quote and resumes speaking as himself to the one whom he just quoted. This is exactly what we see in Psalm 102. The psalmist speaking to YHVH, then quoting Him, then implicitly resuming speaking as himself to YHVH.

    Your insistence that the psalmist should have included, "I said," or something along those lines, would make sense if, as is the case in Job 40, a narrator is portraying a conversation between two parties. But as you yourself have argued, such is not the case in this psalm. The psalm is not an example of a narrator portraying a conversation between two parties; it is a record of the psalmist's words toward YHVH, just as the examples I've provided are a record of Elihu's words toward Job. And in both cases, the speaker briefly quotes the addressee, then implicitly resumes speaking as himself.

  44. And if I may, I'd like to offer up one final example, and then await your response:

    1 Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. 2 Take hold of buckler and shield and rise up for my help. 3 Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me; say to my soul, "I am your salvation." 4 Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me. (Psalm 35:1-4, Hebrew)

    1 Judge thou, O Lord, them that injure me, fight against them that fight against me. 2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and arise for my help. 3 Bring forth a sword, and stop [the way] against them that persecute me: say to my soul, 'I am thy salvation.' 4 Let them that seek my soul be ashamed and confounded: let them that devise evils against me be turned back and put to shame. (LXX)

    Just as the case with Psalm 102, this psalm is the words of the psalmist spoken to YHVH (and not a narrative). Verses 1 through 3a are the psalmist's words toward God, and then the psalmist quotes God--in the sense that he requests God say the words quoted--and then implicitly resumes speaking to YHVH in verse 4. This is the same thing we see in Psalm 102, where speaking to YHVH the psalmist quotes YHVH in verse 23 and then implicitly resumes speaking in verse 24.

  45. Chris and Mike,

    Let me begin by giving a proper example of an exchange that in two ways exemplifies what I’m referencing. First, the text is written in the first person and the author refers to himself properly with “me,” and second, the author explicitly defines who is speaking. This is not, I confess, an exact parallel, but it does sufficiently demonstrate the normal way such things are related.

    Jeremiah 1:4 “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying… 6 Then I said… 7 But the LORD said to me…”

    The above is unquestionably an interaction between the author and a third party, one related in the first person. We do not find, “the Lord came to him saying,” because in a first person address this would indicate interaction between the speaker and a third party. This is exactly what we find in Psalm 102.

    With respect to “bring me up,” I see no issue of the days in view, be it his own or those of Jerusalem. If the language is understood to reference a judicial matter, the days in view during which he is not to be brought up are not significant, it is the matter for which this is done.

    I considering how the psalm may have been understood and why “him” would be provided and undefined. Perhaps better stated, I was contemplating whether “him” is actually undefined! In light of this one being designated “Lord,” and because there is no indication that the speaker has changed, the “him” Jehovah is speaking to may be within the LXX “the Lord” spoken of in 16-22. While there is no direct issue with referencing God in the third person within the psalms, it would make quite good sense to see the translators here taking this to be another, the Messiah. The language certainly suites him.

  46. Dave, can you help me understand why the examples I gave don't apply? Such as Elihu's conversation with Job in chapter 33, in which Elihu is speaking in the first person to Job, quotes Job briefly and then returns implicitly to speaking as himself? And Psalm 35 in which the psalmist is speaking in the first person to YHVH, quotes YHVH briefly and then returns implicitly to speaking as himself? This, it seems to me, is exactly what we see in Psalm 102, in which the psalmist is speaking in the first person to YHVH, briefly quotes Him, and then returns implicitly to speaking as himself.

    As for "bring me up," the idiom "my days" is clearly a reference to God's lifetime, and it seems that the insistence that He not be "brought up" hinges upon the fact that it is in "the midst of My days." This doesn't really make any sense from a judicial perspective, but it makes perfect sense if the psalmist is pleading that God not take his life away in his youth.

    As for the notion that the "He" beginning in verse 16 is a third party, this seems highly problematic, since the Hebrew text indicates that this is YHVH Himself: "For YHVH has built up Zion; He has appeared in His glory." He is again identified as YHVH in verses 18 and 19, and again in verses 21 and 22. In each of those verses the LXX includes the translation of YHVH. The notion that the translators of the Septuagint would render the "He" in these verses as anything other than YHVH to whom they refer in the Hebrew, seems absurd to me.

  47. Furthermore, look at what the "He" does. He builds up Zion, as in Psalm 147:2 when YHVH builds up Jerusalem. He has regard for the prayers of the lowly, and does not despise their petition, as is the case with YHVH in Psalm 22:24. He shall look down to earth from heaven, from the height of His sanctuary, as does YHVH in Psalm 14:2. It seems clear that the "He" in verses 16ff in Psalm 102 is YHVH Himself.

  48. Chris,

    The difference between what you have provided and my example should be abundantly clear. Wherein your writings provide a single quotation by a speaker, mine is the writing of another wherein he is recalling an exchange between himself and another. Jeremiah distinguished between when he spoke and when Jehovah spoke, something that is quite normal in recalling a conversation. Your examples find the author providing a quote from another, without a reply, so the need to distinguish. One would really never say, “So and so said, ‘blah, blah.’ Now I will continue speaking…” One would say, “So and so said, ‘blah, blah,’ then I said, ‘blah, blah.’

    I continue in failing to see your point with “bring me up.” The very commentary provided supports my notion, while BDAG also provides this notion for anagw. Your objection is based upon time in which this should not take place, which is not significant to the connotation of the expression itself.

    As I pointed out earlier, that Jehovah is used in the text is not an issue with my argument, for I would anticipate texts with God’s name to be used of his exalted agents as with Melchizedek. That the LXX translators took to even adding “Lord” within the disputed portion provides all the more indication of this notion, for it clarifies the “him” responded to was “the Lord” referenced prior.

    Unless you can show me something within the text that would not be suited for Wisdom/Logos/Jesus, I find no trouble in the language also applying to Jehovah. The Hebrew text certainly applied it to him, but the LXX translators modified the text and apparently gave it a Wisdom/Logos/Messianic fulfillment. This is entirely consistent with my understanding.

  49. I didn't ask about the differences between my examples and yours. I asked you what the differences are between the examples I provided and Psalm 102. In Elihu's first-person words spoken toward Job, he quotes Job's words directed at him, then implicitly resumes speaking from the first person. The same is true of the psalmist's words in Psalm 35, a parallel far closer to Psalm 102 than even your example: he's speaking to God, quotes God as speaking to him, then implicitly resumes speaking.

    In fact, your example from Jeremiah is not a parallel at all. It is a narrative. Jeremiah is narrating his conversation with YHVH. In Job, however, Elihu is speaking directly to Job, not narrating a conversation, and in Psalm 35 the psalmist is speaking directly to YHVH, not narrating a conversation. Such is likewise true of Psalm 102. So my examples lend support to my position, and your example is irrelevant.

    Now, clearly we're going to continue to repeat ourselves concerning "bring me up," and at this point I guess it is for the reader to decide. Mike and I have both illustrated how clear that phrase is, and you have given the alternate interpretation. Readers are welcome to decide which they feel is a better understanding of the text.

    It is interesting that you concede that the Hebrew text depict the words as being toward YHVH, but that the translators of the Septuagint fundamentally altered the meaning of the text for virtually half the psalm. I find the notion inconceivable.

  50. For my readers' sake, here's a summary of where we're at so far: Because I've refuted the argument that the psalmist's failure to say, "I said," means verse 24 cannot be him speaking to God, demonstrating that in fact this perfectly normal, ultimately your entire case hinges upon one tiny objection: that "answered him" requires we understand God as speaking to someone other than the psalmist. And I've pointed out that everywhere "answered" and "him" are used together, the "him" answered is the one depicted as just having spoken; indeed "him" is never used when the third party has not already been introduced. As such, "answered him" is more problematic for your case than for mine. And as Mike has pointed out, the idea that God would admonish Wisdom/Logos/Messiah in such a fashion, even going so far as to tell this third party not to "bring me up in the midst of my days," seems nonsensical.

    Despite the difficulty in understanding "him" as referring to anybody but the psalmist, it is based on this tiny objection that this case hinges, and instead proposes that the translators of the Septuagint so fundamentally altered the meaning of the text as to depict what is in the Hebrew the words of the psalmist to YHVH as being the words of the psalmist to some unidentified third party, and later as the words of YHVH to that third party. Which then requires an awkward understanding of "bring me up in the midst of my days," and has God admonishing His Wisdom.

    Mike, is this the impression you get as well?

  51. Chris,

    While the psalm as a whole is not a narrative, the statement in question is narration. That is why we find a parallel. The psalmist is speaking, then he informs us what God said. You’re having him respond to God without indicating he ever actually did. So I don’t see how your example is a better parallel. None of your examples contain this exchange.

    The interpretation I’ve given for “bring me up” is the same as the commentary you’ve provided, so I’d hardly call it “alternate.” As the text itself indicates God continues speaking, you are the one reinterpreting it as the psalmist. You’ve not given me a reason to reject this idea.

    Contrary to your supposition, you’ve in no way refuted the idea of the psalmist indicating his own words. Not one example, as you have well admitted, parallels the text in view. There are significant differences in them, as I have observed. Your argument on “answered him” has entirely rested upon arguments where “him” is one other than the author or a presentation in the third person. You’ve failed to provide a single example where “him” is used when the response is to the author wherein the author writes in the first person. This is simply ungrammatical.

  52. To your argument of “him” being not introduced, I’ve noted that ‘he’ is in fact introduced, something I had previously overlooked. This one is “the Lord” spoken of in the third person. Regardless of this, to claim it more problematic for me is quite absurd. Even without an identification, my position is at least grammatical, unlike your understanding.
    With respect to my position being nonsense, there has not been any reason for this position. I have noted that the language is used for this very thing, and the commentary you cited supports that idea. Your only objection has been related to the period in which this could not occur, but this is contra only the commentary you cited, not my position. The period is unrelated to the meaning itself.

    There is nothing difficult about “Do not bring me up in the midst of my days,” when “bring me up” is understood in the legal sense of trial. That such challenges have been brought to God, as I demonstrated prior, this is entirely appropriate.

  53. As I said, the reader is left to decide. One thing still perplexes me, though. As I've said repeatedly, I can't conceive of the translators of the LXX so fundamentally changing the meaning of the Hebrew text and for such a large portion thereof. Can you give me any comparable examples elsewhere in the LXX where such is the case?

  54. Psalm 35 is exactly the kind of parallel I'm claiming it to be. In Psalm 102, the psalmist is directing his speech toward God, then the LXX depicts him as saying, "He answered...Tell Me the shortness of My days," and then, as is my contention, he resumes speaking as himself. In Psalm 35 the exact same thing is true: The psalmist is speaking to God, then he quotes God as speaking to him (insofar as he requests that God say those words), and then he resumes speaking as himself. The same is true of Elihu's words to Job in 33: Elihu is speaking to Job, quotes Job's words to himself, and resumes speaking. The parallels are obvious.

  55. And as for the claim that my interpretation is ungrammatical, I would agree, insofar as I believe the translators made a mistake. This, to me, seems far, far more likely than the notion that they dramatically and fundamentally changed the meaning of half the psalm in the Hebrew text. So, please do give me an example elsewhere in the LXX where such is the case. That will help me be more open to the possibility that they did not, in fact, make a scribal error.

  56. Chris,

    There are numerous changes throughout the Septugint. Admittedly, this is one of the more drastic, but they routinely put their interpretation into the text (as a brief example, when elohim is understood to be angels this is often translated so explicitly).

    If we take the difference to have been purely accidental, we must then ask how it would have been understood by the 1st century reader. Based upon my research both into this text and other early Jewish writings, I find my position far more probable.

    There is a significant difference between recounting what one said to you to the person who said it, and recounting to a third party. I spoke to the difference above and illustrated my point. God is not addressed in the presentation of his response at Psalm 102, having been spoken of in the third person.

    Having said that, I too am happy to leave it to the reader. I would again mention that theologically it doesn't much matter to me. Unless Mike has anything further to contribute we can leave it at this.

    I appreciate the discussion. It brought me to spend more time with the psalm that I had only planned for some future time before now.

  57. I think it is clear for all the reasons I've given that the 1st century reader would have understood the LXX version of the text in the same way they would have the Hebrew. The mere presence of "him" would not lead them to do otherwise, and in fact, as I've explained, would have prevented them from doing so.

    I still fail to understand how Psalm 35 and Job 33 do not parallel Psalm 102. The speaker in both cases is quoting the words of the very party being addressed. Likewise, the speaker in Psalm 102 is quoting the words of the very party being addressed.

    I, too, have appreciated the discussion, and look forward to scholarship better understanding this passage in the future, as it is examined more closely than it has in the past. I do not think it will be long before the obvious is increasingly acknowledged.

  58. And although you haven't raised this particular argument, I want to point out for my readers that the fact that the author of Hebrews understands Psalm 102 as having been spoken of the Son by no means lends support to your reading of the LXX. The author of Hebrews also sees Psalm 97 as having been spoken of the Son, and neither the LXX nor the Hebrew text have any identity in view other than YHVH.

  59. Dave, I know we said we'd let our positions stand and let the readers decide, but there is one question Mike raised to which I haven't seen you respond. It is very likely that I have merely overlooked it; we have, after all, written an enormous volume of text :)

    Putting aside Mike's and my claim that "bring me up in the midst of my days" makes no sense if God is speaking, can you explain how these words could be directed toward God's Wisdom/Logos/Messiah? Even assuming "bring me up" in a judicial sense, in what way would one expect Wisdom/Logos/Messiah to bring God to court?

  60. Chris,

    Is the above the question to which I haven't responded? I'm not quite clear. The sense would be, I believe, simply appealing to him to act before his appointed time in the matter before them. As I'd said before, he has determined when these things will be and he shall not change, so the matter should not be raised.

    By the way, I would point out that it is not necessarily accurate to say that the original passages had reference or exclusive reference to the Messiah. There are clear examples (such as in Heb.2 from Isaiah) where the original texts had no relation to the Messiah and the author presents a midrash. There does not seem to be a consistent methodology in his use of OT quotations.

  61. So much happens in this discussion in so little time. Can't ever keep up with you guys! Anyway, i'm ok with concluding our thoughts on this, though I think we should bring information forward as we find it.

    1. I don't want to rule out the possibility that the LXX rendering was a mistake, simply because the change is so subtle. But as we know from unintentional scribal mistakes in the NT, small changes can lead to drastically different meanings. As for what the ancient readers would have seen, I see either interpretation as "possible," but mine as Chris' as more probable, given that ours is far more consistent with the Hebrew.

    2. I'm still a bit hung up on "he answered." Though this is grammatically awkward or incorrect (who says the scribe who made the change knew his grammar or even thought any of this through?), it makes no sense to me that God "answered" someone who had not, up to this point, made any requires or inquiry. In my opinion, poor narrative grammar makes more sense to me as a likelihood than this. Maybe this could be a future project, but i'd be willing to bet that plenty of NT textual variants could be found whereas the change was intentional, but incorrect grammatically. Yet, the grammatically incorrect variant survived for centuries. Certainly lots to consider here.

    3. Perhaps i'm repeating what has already been said, but I still don't find "bring me to trial" or something other than "take me away" as being the best translation here. The reason is based on the Hebrew. Exegetically, the Hebrew has the Psalmist contrasting his frail finite existence with the eternal infinite existence of God. However, if "bring me to trial" is the correct translation, then how can this be a contrast? I submit that it is not a contrast, given that the contrast already occurred in v. 12. Thus, consistency would demand the same contrast here. If it can be established that "bring me to trial" makes contextual sense here, then i'll be happy to concede. But it can't be denied that i'm in good company with pretty much every LXX translator that i've been able to find. I'm not appealing to authority here, but it certainly is worth considering.

    4. Grammatically, we need to find a valid criteria. As far as I can tell, the Job 33 account seems to be pretty close. In it, you have Elihu quoting Job as referring to Elihu as "him/he." Though this account flows much better than the Psalm, we have to keep in mind that the Psalm account was changed! So expecting a perfect grammatical scenario shouldn't necessarily be expected. Again, let me remind that many NT textual variants, whether purposeful or not, might have made little grammatical sense. What would clear the whole thing up is this: establish a grammatical criteria for this text. That is, if the criteria for mine and Chris' interpretation of the Psalm is x, y, and z. Then it would follow that if we find another text which meets this, then it is established. So, specifics are very necessary here; not a "I can't see how this isn't a valid parallel."

    5. Last, at the end of the day, neither view changes my perspective theologically. If you read Lane's commentary, he clearly states that this "must refer to...not God." Yet, he still concludes that the Psalm is referring to the "eternal, unchangeable nature of the Son." And maybe with the exception of Buchanan, i've not found any Hebrews commentators who disagree with this conclusion.

  62. Well, it's the one to which I hadn't seen a response, yes. But as I said, I may have simply overlooked it.

    As for your response, you don't have to answer my follow-up, as I don't want you to feel like you're repeating yourself, but here's why that explanation does not seem feasible to me.

    First, it was the psalmist, not the alleged third party, who was insisting God act in his timeframe. What indication is there that there was a danger that this third party would, in fact, attempt to summon God to act before the appointed time? And, I find it strange that one would anticipate God's Wisdom/Logos/Messiah summoning God before the appointed time.

    Second, the "before the appointed time" understanding seems to based on "my days," but as we've established the semantic range of that phrase is restricted to "my lifetime." So which text lends itself in support of your "appointed time" understanding?

  63. And as for your second paragraph, I don't disagree. My point was not that Psalm 97 referred to the Messiah. My point was that the author of Hebrews applies it to the Son in Hebrews 1, despite both the LXX and Hebrew text speaking of YHVH. I was just demonstrating that the author's application of Psalm 102 to the Son cannot be used to argue against my interpretation of the LXX. That's all.

  64. Chris,

    If what is written in 16ff is taken in reference to W/L/M, he would be seeing and hearing what the people were going through. The "answer" would be in response to what he had observed.

  65. Do any of the commentators who share your understanding of 23ff agree with your newfound conclusion (or at least proposal) that the "He" in 16-23 is this third party, and not YHVH Himself?

  66. I'm not aware of any commentaries on the psalm that address the LXX with any detail. I've looked through several better ones as well.

  67. I understand that, but of those that do deal with it, do any of them share your view of 16-23?

  68. When I say "with any detail," I've not yet found any that discuss this variation at all respecting meaning. So I only have silence to go by.

  69. I understand. I was just curious.

  70. I have NOT read this whole thread but it is only anyone's inference that the angel of the Lord is Jesus.Who is the angel of the Lord in these texts?

    (Mat 28:2-7) And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. ... 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

    (Luke 2:9-11) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

    There are more I could cite,but proof that this angel of the Lord isn't the OT one,clearly a separate being from Jesus would be appreciated.

  71. Micheygirl66, I'm not sure I understand what you're asking, but let me clarify what I said about the "angel of the LORD." What I meant was that while angels are definitely created beings, there is a recurring figure in the OT called "the messenger of the LORD" (the word is mal'ak which means "messenger") in places like Exodus 3 and the burning bush who, for a variety of reasons, is believed by many to be God Himself and yet sent by God.

    I don't want to get into a debate about this on this particular thread; I will blog about it in the future. But my point is just that this is believed by myself and many others to be, not a created angel (as are all angels), but a "theophany," a preincarnate manifestation of the divine Jesus.