Thursday, July 24, 2014

"You are My Witnesses and I am also a Witness" (Isa 43,10 LXX)

In my last sermon at my former place of ministry, I expressed one regret in my 6 years as lecturer, that is never given the chance to teach Septuagint Greek, the Christian Bible for the first 350 years in the East and West until Jerome's translation of the Hebrew to Latin (the Vulgate) began to influence the Western church from mid 5th century onwards. But the LXX remains the Christian Old Testament until reformation when more of the OT began to be translated from Hebrew into the vernaculars like German and English, the later King James version (1611) is a famous example.

No matter how you see it, whether you are an OT or NT scholar, the Septuagint should be the mainstay of every biblical scholar. For the OT scholar, he or she must know Greek because the Bible (our OT now) of the early Church was in Greek. I am astonished to find that some OT scholars have little idea of the LXX, that only shows the shallowness of their scholarship. For the NT scholar, the LXX is equally important because the Bible of most of the NT authors including Matthew and Paul was the LXX as they invariably quoted from the LXX rather than the Hebrew MT when they cited Scripture though I have no doubt both Matthew and Paul were proficient in Hebrew.

I read this interesting text from LXX Isaiah 43 yesterday. Instead of the Hebrew MT which states, "You are my witnesses and the servant whom I have chosen", the LXX has "You are my witnesses and I am also a witness...", giving the sense that the Lord himself is also a witness. This theme is especially important in John's Gospel and Revelation where Jesus is protrayed as a witness and in fact in the fourth Gospel, God the Father is also a witness when Jesus has this to say, "the Father has also witnessed about me" (John 5,37) and "in your law the testimony of two witnesses is true" (Jesus and the Father) as the foundation of Jesus' ministry, being conscious of the fact that it was God witnessing to Himself and to His Son in and through the teaching and mighty works of the Son.

As for me, I am also called to be a witness. I can only share what I hear from Christ revealed to me by His Spirit. I resolve to be a true witness whose sole task is to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. I witness to what I see and what I hear from the Lord and often it is through the medium of the written Word.

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