DID YESHUA THE MESSIAH

Have a Pre-Carnal Existence? - Chapter 3

 

Part II – The Enhanced Public Debate Presentation

 

By Larry Acheson

 

A Response to Chuck Henry’s book

Trinity, Oneness, Duality, and Pre-Existence

 

 


 

III. Misapplying and Mis-Defining “Textual Criticism”

 

 

 

I

N our March 2019 warm-up debate, Chuck defended allowing a New Testament verse to influence his interpretation of Micah 5:2 by dubbing it “Textual Criticism.” In his estimation, this literary device, combined with his (questionable) interpretation of I Peter 1:20, gives him free license to squeeze the word “ordained” into the interpretation of Micah 5:2.  Chuck expounded on how he feels justified in appealing to “textual criticism” as follows:

  

I would point out that all of us are called from time to time to explain our interpretation of Scripture. Let me give you a couple of examples – just as an aside and we'll return here to Micah 5 – but consider for example Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” This requires explanation.  The plain text, with no explanation, sounds as if we are not under the law according to Torah, and this is indeed what the masses tell us. And so, we have to say it means you are not under the penalty of the law.  Well, someone might, then, accuse me of, in my interpretation, adding to the text of Scripture. But I do not believe that's accurate when you are explaining what a Scripture means according to its context, then that is what you are doing.  You are not adding to the text of Scripture. 

 

Another example is Colossians 2:16-17: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Messiah.” In fact, Larry later mentioned that it's up to us to attempt to determine what the writers originally meant; and I agree with that.  To determine what the writers originally meant in the text that they wrote, it is called “Textual Criticism,” and that is something that differs from the “Higher Criticism” that some of us have talked about before where scholars basically just sit around and make up theories. But “Textual Criticism” is what we're after. We need to attempt to determine what the writers originally meant.[1]

        

        Please notice that Chuck stated, “Someone might, then, accuse me of, in my interpretation, adding to the text of Scripture.  But I do not believe that's accurate when you are explaining what a Scripture means according to its context, then that is what you are doing.  You are not adding to the text of Scripture.  The phrase “according to its context” is more important than I think Chuck realizes.  In the example Chuck cited from Romans 6:14, from the very context of this passage we know the Apostle Paul could not have been teaching the Romans that we are no longer under the jurisdiction of the law.  When you’re under “grace,” you’re not under the “penalty”; hence, if we’re not “under the law, but under grace,” we’re not under the penalty of the law, but under grace (un-deserved pardon).  That’s context.  Chuck needs to explain how the context of Micah 5:2 validates the understanding that the coming Ruler’s origin is “ordained” from of Old instead of His origin actually being from of Old as stated in the text.  He offers no explanation.  The context makes no such implication or allowance; thus, the only reason for teaching that “ordained” belongs in the interpretation is to justify a doctrinal belief.

         I addressed Chuck’s justification of “Adding to the Word by Interpretation” as it applies to the interpretation of verses such as Romans 6:14 and Colossians 2:16-17 in Part I of our study.  He incorporated this same reasoning into the public debate we had three months later, but without using the words textual criticism, possibly because he knew by then that he was misappropriating the term “textual criticism.”   Regardless of what you call Chuck’s approach, the results are the same.  Let us now direct our focus towards his application of “Textual Criticism” as he applied the term during our warm-up debate.  According to BlueLetterBible.org, Chuck's definition and explanation of “Textual Criticism” is incorrect.  Here's what we read on Blue Letter Bible’s “Study Resources” page in response to the question, “What is Textual Criticism?  Why is the Textual Criticism of the Bible necessary?”:

 

The science of attempting to reconstruct the text of documents is known as “textual criticism.”  The person who practices textual criticism is known as a textual critic. While the word “criticism” usually carries the idea of finding fault with something, this is not the case here. Rather, the term is used with the idea of weighing and evaluating the available evidence to come up with the original wording of a text. Textual criticism collects and examines the evidence about written works in an attempt to recover the original text. Therefore, textual criticism is not criticizing the Bible.[2] 

        Let’s summarize how Chuck defines “Textual Criticism” and compare his definition with the actual meaning of the term.  According to Chuck, “Textual Criticism” is the attempt to determine what the writers of Scripture originally meant. According to Blue Letter Bible, “Textual Criticism” is the attempt to determine what the writers of Scripture originally wrote.  It’s the science of reconstructing the original wording of a text.  Equipped with the proper understanding and definition of “Textual Criticism,” when examining the text of Micah 5:2, Chuck needs to demonstrate that the original text actually reads, “....whose origin is ORDAINED from of Old, from ancient times.”  Chuck knows he can’t do that, so he does what he feels is the next-best thing:  He adds the word “ordained” by interpretation, explaining that it’s what Micah actually meant.  Even though the addition of this one word completely changes the meaning of the verse, Chuck is persuaded that it better fits the context.  The truth of the matter is, it better fits his doctrinal view. 

        As we can see from the above, not only does Chuck reinterpret Scripture, but he also inserts words in order to suit his desired objective.  He’s careful to not insert his added words into a Bible translation of his own making, so he does it by means of expounding on the controversial Bible texts.  Those who are gullible fall for his approach without asking themselves, “Is that what Scripture really says?”  Of course it doesn’t, so the next question is, “Is that what the author truly meant?”

 

 

Does Chuck Achieve His Goal?

 

        Within Chuck’s commentary on “Textual Criticism,” he concluded with the following statement:

 

I feel it necessary to carefully point out that my goal is to provide sound interpretation according to the context and scope of Scripture. In so doing, I provide evidence and interpretation, but I do not insert my words into the place of the actual text of Scripture. I do sometimes insert commentary, but when I do so, I use the convention of square brackets to clearly distinguish it from the words of the actual Biblical text.  I also occasionally, as you have seen today, insert words from the Hebrew or Greek text, using the same convention.[3] 

 

        I submit that not only does Chuck not meet his stated goal of providing sound interpretation according to the context and scope of Scripture, but in addition to distorting the interpretation of Scriptural texts, he mis-defines the very label he attributes to his method.  On top of that, he allows an interpretation of a New Testament text to influence his interpretation of an Old Testament prophecy.  As we will see later, even his interpretation of the New Testament text in question, 1 Peter 1:18-20, is flawed.

        There are many verses in the Bible that, in my opinion, validate believing that Yeshua had a pre-carnal existence.  Micah 5:2 is only one of many.  I wish I had time to address all of them in this presentation, but regrettably, I do not.  If you’re a speed reader, you can read seven of those verses in the slide displayed below.  They’re John 1:10[4], John 1:15[5], John 6:38-51[6], John 17:5[7], Micah 5:2[8], John 8:58[9] and Hebrews 1:2[10]. In his book, Chuck uses 1 Peter 1:20 as a “go-to” proof text at least seven times in an attempt to refute the plain reading of these seven verses, so this one New Testament verse is obviously pretty important to Chuck’s premise.  However, it can be shown that a key word in the King James Version’s translation of 1 Peter 1:20 is incorrectly translated, and this mistranslated word then becomes the springboard for how Chuck interprets any verse that conflicts with his view of when Yeshua came into existence. 

        Displayed below is a corrected version of a slide I displayed within my debate presentation.  In my debate presentation slide, I mistakenly included John 1:1 in my list of texts to which Chuck refers his reading audience to 1 Peter 1:20 for the “interpretation key.”  I should have placed a zero after the verse number because it’s actually John 1:10, not John 1:1.  Here’s the amended slide:

 

      Now that we see 1 Peter 1:20 is Chuck’s “go to” verse for any passage validating Yeshua’s pre-carnal existence, let’s examine it.  Displayed below is a screen capture of one of the slides I used during the debate.  For context, I actually read verses 18-20:

       What is so ironic about Chuck’s frequent reliance on 1 Peter 1:20 is the fact that if you read and examine this verse in context and with the correct translation from the Greek text, you will see that 1 Peter 1:20 was actually written in support of Yeshua’s pre-carnal existence.  Please allow me to explain.

     Chuck believes 1 Peter 1:20 is relevant to his case that Yeshua did not have a pre-carnal existence because he interprets it as meaning that the Most High Yahweh, lonnnnng before the creation of this world, foreordained that thousands of years after Creation, He would beget a Son Who would live a sinless life and become the ransom for the sins of mankind, ultimately becoming the Savior.  This, according to Chuck, is the proper understanding of 1 Peter 1:20.  Now don’t get me wrong:  I agree the Most High Yahweh pre-determined that His perfect and sinless Son would indeed be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, but that’s not the point Peter is making in 1 Peter 1:20.

        Is Chuck’s interpretation of 1 Peter 1:20 a valid one?  Is the Apostle Peter conveying that the Most High Yahweh pre-determined eons before Creation that He would one day father a Son who would be conceived in Mary’s womb and be born in Bethlehem?  I’m afraid the answer is no, that’s not what Peter is saying here, and for at least two reasons:

         First, even a basic reading of I Peter 1:20 in the King James Version begs the question, “If the Most High Yahweh foreordained eons ago that Yeshua would one day be the Savior of mankind, couldn’t Yeshua have been present at His ‘foreordainment’ to be the Savior of the world?”  Yes, He certainly could have been there.  Chuck assumes that Yeshua couldn’t have been present for His “foreordainment.” 

     But think about this:  King David was foreordained to be king of Israel by the prophet Samuel.  David was present for the anointing ceremony, but he didn’t become the actual king of Israel until at least 15 years later. 

    In the same way, Yeshua could have been present for His “fore-ordainment,” assuming that’s what is meant by the word translated “foreordained,” but Yeshua wasn’t revealed to humanity until His birth as a flesh and blood human being.  

        My second point is, the Greek word translated “foreordained” in the King James Version is not even the correct translation of the Greek word in the original text.  In other words, it’s a mistranslation.  You see, the Greek word proegnosménou, which is word #4267 in Strong’s Concordance, does not mean “foreordained” at all!  The Greek word commonly translated “ordain” is kathistemi, word #2525 in Strong’s, and kathistemi does not form any part of the Greek word in I Peter 1:20. 

        The fact that translating the Greek word proegnosménou as “foreordained” is not an accurate translation is freely admitted within such Bible commentaries as The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges commentary, published in 1890:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      According to The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, the Greek word proegnosménou literally means “foreknown.”  You can ask any Greek professor, or anyone who actually knows Greek, and they will tell you this commentary is correct when it says the Greek word proegnosménou literally means "foreknown.” 

      In fact, this Greek word found in 1 Peter 1:20, proegnosménou, could have been translated “known” or “KNOWN BEFOREHAND.”  After all, that’s the way this same Greek word is translated in Acts 26:5 in a statement the Apostle Paul made about himself.  If this Greek word had been translated “known” in I Peter 1:20, would it have been Chuck’s “go to” verse to justify believing Yeshua’s existence is what was “foreordained”?  If we were to read in I Peter 1:20 that Yeshua was known before the foundation of this world, would it have been Chuck’s “go-to verse” used so often to validate his belief?

 Let’s read the text of Acts 26:4-5 as taken from the King James Version:

 

4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

5 Which knew [#4267] me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 

      So -- all the Jews knew the Apostle Paul from the beginning. Does this mean they “foreordained” him before he existed?  Of course not!  Again, the word translated “knew” in Acts 26:5 is the same Greek word translated “foreordained” in I Peter 1:20.  They are both forms of the same Greek word, which means “to know beforehand,” and just as Paul was known beforehand by the Jews referenced in Acts 26:5, in the same way, Yeshua was known beforehand by His Father, Yahweh, before the foundation of this world was laid.  Again, the Greek word used in I Peter 1:20 has nothing to do with any “ordaining” or “foreordaining.”

       My pointing out that I Peter 1:20 should have been translated so as to show that Yeshua was known before the foundation of this world is not some desperate attempt to make the verse mean what I want it to mean.  Here’s how the Berean Study Bible renders this same verse: 

Berean Study Bible
20 He was known before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in the last times for your sake.
 

      Question:  If Yeshua was known before the foundation of this world, if He was known THEN, could He have then existed before the foundation of this world?  He was known THEN, but revealed to mankind in the flesh in these last days. 

        Compare the translation from the Berean Study Bible with what we read about the Son of Man in the Book of Enoch:      

Berean Study Bible, I Peter 1:20

20 He was known before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in the last times for your sake.

 

 

Book of Enoch, chapter 61

 

10. Then shall the kings, the princes, and all who possess the earth, glorify him who has dominion over all things, him who was concealed; for from the beginning the Son of man existed in secret, whom the Most High preserved in the presence of his power, and revealed to the elect.

 

       By the way, I might point out that the Book of Enoch is quoted by Jude in the Bible and fragments of the Book of Enoch have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, so belief in a pre-carnal, anointed Being has a historical background, and that is very important.  In fact, according to a 3rd century theologian named Tertullian, one of the primary reasons that Judaism rejects the Book of Enoch is because of its many obvious references to Yeshua.[11]

      To conclude this portion of my presentation, I have demonstrated that Micah prophesied about the coming Ruler’s ORIGIN in the distant past, an origin that is from of Old.  Micah did not prophesy about His ORIGIN having been ordained from of Old.  I should add that I have shown how 1 Peter 1:20 proves Yeshua was known before the foundation of this world was laid, which means — He was THERE He had a pre-carnal existence!

      When properly translated, 1 Peter 1:20 goes “hand in hand” with The Book of Enoch 61:10.  Yeshua was known before the foundation of this world was laid [literally: known beforehand], but His identity as Yahweh’s firstborn Son wasn’t revealed until “the last times”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Needless to say, I have a serious problem with Chuck Henry’s application of “textual criticism” when it comes to determining what the prophet Micah meant with his prophecy in chapter 5:2, not to mention how he allows a New Testament verse to clue him in to what Micah “really meant.”  I wish I could say Micah 5:2 is the only verse Chuck subverts, but as we will see as this study progresses, it’s merely the “tip of the iceberg.”

  

Some additional slides from the presentation:

      I realize incorporating all the slides from my presentation would prove too much of a distraction for some folks; when I determined to put all this together into a study, including all the slides I compiled for my PowerPoint presentation, I didn’t realize I would be fighting Microsoft Word for spacing that incorporates both text and visual aids that are actually visual without the two competing with each other!  To those who feel the excessive use of visual aids is too distracting, all I can say is, “I apologize for the inconvenience.”  Nevertheless, I would rather have too many visual aids than too much “boring black text”!  What follows are some “overflow” visual aids that are nevertheless too important to skip: 

1.    Biblical Unitarians that I have met do not uphold the Book of Enoch as a text worthy of consideration due to its clear references to Yeshua the Messiah, even though this book is quoted by Yeshua’s brother, Jude.  It was certainly in use during the 2nd century CE and scholars such as Tertullian considered it as part of the canon of Scripture:

 

 

2.      The only way to discern that the prophet Micah referenced the Messiah’s having been “ordained” from of Old is to insert that word into the text.  Biblical Unitarians of Chuck’s persuasion know that would be unethical, so they do it by interpretation instead, which they find completely appropriate and justifiable.  Interestingly, the debate videographer, who (in my opinion) deliberately omitted my PowerPoint presentation from his “final cut,” inadvertently captured the bottom two lines of this slide.  Those lines are the “bottom line” of my premise:

 

 

3.     Many of the slides in this study are incorporated from the presentation I delivered with the “warm-up” debate I had with Chuck Henry in March 2019, and this is one of them.  Frankly, I think I could have just ended my presentation with my commentary on Micah 5:2 because the only way you can derive “non-pre-carnal existence” from that verse is by adding to the Word.  It’s a certainty that Biblical Unitarians want and need a word such as “ordained” positioned before the words “of Old” in Micah 5:2.  Nevertheless, what they can’t find within the text, they either add it outright (The House of Yahweh, Abilene, TX), or they add it by interpretation (Chuck Henry, Trinity, Oneness, Duality, and Pre-Existence).  We’re not supposed to do that and that’s why I think this slide should truly have ended the debate:

       We have thus far seen strong evidence from what is known as the Old Testament that a Ruler was prophesied to come from out of Bethlehem Ephrath, but not just any ruler.  This Ruler’s origin is from of Old, from ancient times.  According to Biblical Unitarians, it’s not His origin that’s from ancient times; no, His origin was only ordained from ancient times.  Actually, when you think about it, your origin was also ordained from ancient times.  So was mine and so was everyone else’s.  I’m pretty sure Biblical Unitarians would agree.  Yahweh knows all and He knew what kind of people we would turn out to be long before we were even born and long before this entire universe was created.  So what makes the prophecy of Micah 5:2 so special to Biblical Unitarians cannot be that a certain Ruler’s origin was ordained from of Old; rather, it’s that He was to rule Israel and come out of Bethlehem.  I can assure you, there’s way more to it than that!

 

 

Up next:  Chapter 4          [Previous chapter]          [Back to Intro]

 


[1] From the original “warm-up” debate I had with Chuck Henry on 03/09/2019.  This particular commentary from Chuck began at the 4:28:50 mark.

[2] Cf., Blue Letter Bible web site, Excerpt from Question 2: “What Is Textual Criticism? Why Is the Textual Criticism of the Bible Necessary?” https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/stewart_don/faq/words-bible/question2-what-is-textual-criticism.cfm

[3] From the original “warm-up” debate I had with Chuck Henry on 03/09/2019.  This particular commentary from Chuck began at the 4:30:59 mark of the videoed presentation.

[4] Chuck Henry, Trinity, Oneness, Duality & Pre-Existence, H.V. Chapman & Sons Bookbinders, Abilene, TX, 2018, pp. 384-385.  Note:  In the debate, I referenced John 1:1; I meant to reference this one, John 1:10.

[5] Ibid, p. 388.

[6] Ibid, pp. 267-273.  Chuck takes us through a maze of Bible verses in this section of his book; 1 Peter 1:20 is “linked” as an explanation for Yeshua’s being “sent” and “coming down from heaven,” as well as James 1:17.

[7] Ibid, pp. 33-35.

[8] Ibid, pp. 362-363.

[9] Ibid, pp. 411-419.  (Note:  That’s right, Chuck needed nine pages to explain that “Before Abraham was, I am” doesn’t mean He was actually “before Abraham”).

[10] Ibid, p. 476.

[11] Tertullian, in De cultu foeminarum (On the Apparel of Women), Book I, ch. 3.  An English translation of this work, authored circa 200 CE, may be read online at the following link: www.newadvent.org/fathers/0402.htm).

 

First Publication, June 28, 2020

Edited August 16, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

A Truth Seekers Publication

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This is the name of our Creator, Yahweh, sometimes called the Tetragrammaton.  It is given here in (A) the Phoenician script, (B) the Ivrit Kadum (Paleo-Hebrew) script, and (C) the Modern Hebrew script (a stylization of Aramaic).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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