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Thursday, 29 January 2009

Further fuzzifying the decriminalization of adultery

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, erstwhile evangelical pastor Ted Haggard says he doesn't consider himself gay, but rather "a heterosexual with issues."

Aren't we all. But what followed is the disturbing part:

"Haggard used to think the same-sex attractions that led to his downfall were demonic, but now sees them as part of who he is. He told Winfrey that while he believes Jesus accepts him and everyone as they are, he also believes that the Bible is God's Word, and that God's ideal is for 'heterosexual monogamous marriage'."

I believe that is God's ideal too, but the founders of this country that Ted, Oprah and I share did more than believe it: they wrote it into law. Conjugal relations outside of "heterosexual monogamous marriage" were excluded from the realm of legally permissible activities. These laws have slowly fallen into oblivion, with the only vestige being the universal prohibition in all 50 states against being married to more than one entity at a time. Surely this too, will fall.


Abraham, 1900 BCE:

"I believe God's ideal is for heterosexual monogamous marriage, but since my wife is infertile, I'm also taking on a concubine or two in order to produce heirs."

Lot's oldest daughter, 1900 BCE:

"I believe God's ideal is for heterosexual monogamous marriage, but since God killed our mom, my sister and I will get Dad to impregnate us in order to pass on our genes, even if we have to get him blind drunk to do it."

Solomon, 900 BCE:
"I believe God's ideal is for heterosexual monogamous marriage, but politics being what they are, I'm also taking on an extra 700 wives in order to promote peace in the region. And since nobody's stopping me, I'll also throw in another 300 women as concubines."

Hillel, 30 CE:
"I believe God's ideal is for heterosexual monogamous marriage, but if your wife burns the toast, you can toss her out and get another one. Remember, God accepts you just as you are."

Bill Clinton, 1998:

"I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman--depending on what your definition of 'is' is. Besides, Lord knows I have needs that Hilary can't meet."

Ray Boltz, 2008:

"I believe God's ideal is for heterosexual monogamous marriage, but since it didn't work out for Carol and me, I'm going to go with who I really am and get a man--or men--instead. Remember, God accepts me just as I am."


God, 1490 BCE:

"Thou shalt not commit adultery."

Jesus, 30 CE:

"[God] made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh.'
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. "

"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Postal System's monopoly loosens

So, for the first time in 62 years, Americans are spending less on postage. Not because the rates have dropped, of course--but because they've risen. The Postal Service has continued to pay more and more each year for the privilege of hiring workers who are less and less willing to endure cold, sleet, and the dark of night to get the mail through. The law of economics has kicked in: prices up, demand down.

Naturally, people like me, who have the option of using the Internet to communicate, have pretty much quit using the mails. Postal volume has gone down 5% since last year. But since the USPS is locked into the spiraling costs guaranteed in a collective bargaining agreement with the Postal Workers Union, it has to charge more and more to deliver fewer and fewer letters.

So, what's the solution, to keep the monopoly going? Postmaster General Potter says that mail delivery should be cut from six days a week to five. Great, I say. They want to work less, let them work less. There's less mail to carry, so--?

Once mail carriers are getting paid full time to work two or three days a week, hopefully Congress will realize the futility of it all and end the monopoly the USPS has on the delivery of mail.


Update March 21, 2009--AP
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Postal Service has already suggested dropping a day of mail delivery to save money. Now, with economic gloom everywhere, it's turning to early retirements, management cutbacks and office closings.

Not so long ago, the picture was far different. The USPS finished fiscal 2005 with a $1.4 billion surplus.

Postal officials were already struggling with a sharp decline in first-class mail as letters and many bills moved to the Internet. Then the flagging economy devastated advertising mail, which had become the agency's largest volume. At the same time, the number of delivery points - homes and offices where it must bring mail, was continuing to increase.

The Postal Service lost $2.8 billion last year and is facing even larger losses this year, despite a rate increase - to 44 cents for first-class mail - scheduled to take effect May 11. Update September, 2011: Two more years of heavy losses later, the USPS and Congress are still talking about the problem and not doing anything about it. All the more reason to cancel this loser's iron grip on the mail system.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Early Earth Timeline


The following is a collation of ancient dates in chronologies that date The Flood in terms of the age of the Earth--primarily the Bible and pseudo-Berosus (following the Hebrew Bible where they differ). I follow Clarke's chronology for the life of Jacob, which puts his wedding twenty years earlier than that of Ussher. An alternative Biblical chronology by Daniel Gregg can be viewed by clicking on the post title. I have made many changes to the end of this chronology based on his calculations.

As you can see, the two chronologies don't appear to mesh well. I'll add more as I find them.
UPDATE 2-20-09: My son pointed out that one reason why Isis may have lived so long was that, having been born to Ham in his old age, she was of a much earlier generation than her contemporaries. On the other hand, Joseph was born to his aged father and didn't live as long as his older brothers did--implying that he died prematurely, since other patriarchs born to aged fathers lived much longer; even Moses died prematurely at the age of 120.

Day 1 Creation of the heavens and the earth and separation of day from night
Day 2 Separation of land from sea
Day 3 Creation of plants
Day 4 Creation of the hosts of the heavens; stretching out the heavens
Day 5 Creation of sky & sea creatures
Day 6 Creation of land creatures

First Century Cain, his wife, and Abel born
By year 130 Cain kills Abel
Year 131 Seth born to Adam, age 130
Around year 130 Enoch born to Cain
Year 236 Enosh born to Seth, age 105
around 200 Irad Cainite born
326 Cainan born to Enosh, age 90
around 300 Mehujael Cainite born
396 Mahelaleel born to Cainan, age 70
around 400 Methushael born
461 Jared born to Mahelaleel, age 65
around 600 Lamech Caininte born
623 Enoch born to Jared, age 162
688 Methusaleh born to Enoch, age 65
around 700 Jabel (of Adah), Jubal (of Adah) and Tubal-Cain (of Zillah) born to Lamech Cainite
Around 700-900 Cain dies (killed by Lamech Cainite)
875 Lamech born to Methusaleh, age 187
Around 900 Jabel, Jubal, & Tubal-cain's children born
931 Adam dies, and Cain's line is no longer recorded
988 Enoch translated, age 365
1043 Seth dies, age 912
1057 Noah born to Lamech, age 182
1141 Enosh dies, age 905
1236 Cainan dies, age 910
1291 Mahelaleel dies, age 830
1423 Jared dies, age 962
1557 Japheth born to Noah, age 500
1559 Shem born to Noah, age 502
around 1561 Ham born to Noah, around age 504
1652 Lamach dies young, age 777
1657 Methusaleh dies, age 969; apparently, just prior to the Flood.
1657 Virtually everybody else, possibly including Tubal-Cain, dies in The Flood; Ice Age follows.
c. 1658 Comerus Gallus (Gomer)(Bedvig) first son of Japheth, born (on the ark)
c. 1658 Cush (Gregory: Zoroaster) born to Ham
1659 Arphaxad born to Shem, age 100
c. 1670 Caanan born to Ham, age around 109
c. 1670-90 Noah gets drunk, exposes himself to Ham, curses Canaan
1694 Salah born to Arphaxad, age 35 (unless to Cainan II)
1724 Eber born to Salah, age 30
1758 Tower of Babel; Peleg born to Eber, age 34 (Ice Age glaciers have lowered ocean levels and opened up land bridges, so people spread to the extremities of the continents within the next few centuries)
1788 Reu born to Peleg, age 30
1813 Nembroth (Gregory, from Orosius: Nebron) (Nimrod) born to Cush
1820 Serug born to Reu, age 32
1850 Nahor I born to Serug, age 30
1856 Samothes (Javan)(Meshech), fourth son of Japheth, becomes king of the Celts in Samothea.
1879 Terah born to Nahor I, age 29 (youngest father recorded to date)
1949 Haran born to Terah, age 70; Osiris (Mizraim) (Serapis) (Dionysius) (Bacchus) born to Ham & his extra wife Rhea
1958 Juno (Isis) born to Ham and Rhea; first year of Semiramis, Queen of Babylon
about 1979 Nahor II born to Terah, age around 100
1980 terminus ad quo for birth of Lot to Haran (age 31)
1987 Sumula-ilum begins Babylonian dynasty
1997 Peleg dies age 239, first postdeluvian patriarch to die, unless prematurely
1998 Nahor I dies prematurely at age 148
about 2000 Milcah born to Haran (age c. 51)
2007 Noah dies age 950, oldest man in the world by 500 years!
2009 Abra(ha)m born to Terah, age 130; more likely date for Lot's birth; Isis marries her brother Osiris
c. 2010 Hercules Lybicus (Lehabim) born to Osiris (Mizraim) and Isis
2019 Sarai (Sarah) born (to Haran, age 70)
about 2020 Nahor II marries Haran's daughter Milcah
2027 Reu dies age 239
about 2036 Abram, aged about 27, marries Sarai, aged about 17
2040-2060 terminus ad quem for the birth of Haran's (age 91-111) son Lot
2050 Serug dies, age 230
2075 Hammurabi becomes King of Babylon, reigns 43 years
around 2078 Haran dies prematurely at about age 129 in Ur of the Chaldes
2079 Terah takes his adopted son Lot, & son Abraham, to Haran (begin the 430 years)
2083 Terah dies age 205; Abra(ha)m adopts his nephew Lot, takes him along to the Promised Land
c. 2084 Abraham sojourns in Egypt; expelled by Pharaoh (Jerome identifies as 16th dynasty)
c. 2085 Lot (age 25-45) marries and moves out on his own; his flocks increase
c. 2090 Lot moves to Sodom; is captured by Hammurabi et al; liberated by Abraham
c. 2090 Abraham offers tithes to Shem in Jerusalem
2095 Ishmael born to Abraham and Hagar
2097 Arphaxad dies age 438 (this approximates the maximum extent of the Ice Age according to Oard)
c. 2084-2098 Nahor & Milcah have Huz, Buz, Kemuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, & Bethuel
2107 Lot's daughters get him drunk, so he impregnates them
c. 2015 Kemuel, around age 25, has Aram
2109 Isaac born to Abraham (age 100) and Sarah (age 90); Moab born to Lot; benAmmi born to Lot (age 48-68 or possibly as old as 128) (begin the 400 years)
2118 Hammurabi dies, succeeded by Samsu-Iluna
c. 2120 Job born in The East; however, the Babylonian Talmud states several other opinions.
c. 2125 Laban born to Bethuel (age c. 27)
2127 Salah dies, age 433
c. 2128 Rebekah born in Haran to Bethuel (age c. 30)
2146 Sarah dies at 127; Abraham buys the property at Machpelah Cave
2148 Isaac marries Rebekah in the Negev near Beer La Hai Roi
2159 Shem dies age 600 (in Jerusalem), oldest man in the world (unless Japheth [Jupiter] still living).
2169 Esau and Jacob born to Isaac and Rebekah after long barrenness
2184 Abraham dies age 175 in Hebron's environs; buried in Machpelah near Hebron
2188 Eber dies age 464, oldest man in the world, last recorded survivor of pre-Babel.
2208 Esau marries Hittite princesses Adah & Aholibama
c. 2211 Leah born to Laban, around age 86
c. 2213 Rachel born to Laban, around age 88
c. 2220 Job born in Uz in the waning years of the Ice Age
2225 Jacob steals the blessing from Esau and flees to Haran; meets Rachel (c. 13); Esau marries Mahalath (Basemath), daughter of Ishmael
2232 Ishmael dies age 137
2233 Jacob (64) marries Leah; and a week later, Rachel (daughters of Laban, age 113)
The following birth intervals are only precise to within a year:
2234 Reuben born to Jacob (65) and Leah (the other possibility is to move up the weddings
2235 Simeon born to Jacob (66) and Leah -by 6 years and add 14 years to all birth dates)
2236 Levi born to Jacob (67) and Leah (Hippolytus has Jacob at age 86, i.e. 20 years later)
2236 Dan born to Jacob (67) and Bilha
2237 Judah born to Jacob (68) and Leah
2237 Naphtali born to Jacob (68) and Bilhah; Jacob owns his wives free and clear
2238 Gad born to Jacob (69) and Zilpha
2240 Asher born to Jacob (71) and Zilpha
c.2240's Job's youngest son born
2247 Rueben finds mandrakes
2247 Issachar born to Jacob (78) and Leah
2248 Zebulon born to Jacob (79) and Leah
2248 Typhon, along with other giants, kills his brother Osirus; Isis laments him
2250 Dinah born to Jacob (81) and Leah
2254 Judah marries Shua's daughter
about 2255 Er born to Judah (25) and Shua's daughter
about 2258 Onan born to Judah (29) and Shua's daughter
2260 Joseph born to Jacob (91) and Rachel (47); Jacob begins working for wages
c. 2260 Job's trials in Uz
about 2263 Shelah born to Judah (43) and Shua's daughter
2266 Jacob (aged 97) returns to Canaan, chased by Laban (aged 147)
2267 Diana raped; Simeon & Levi massacre Shechem
2267 Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, dies in Bethel--aged at least 140
2267 Benjamin born to Jacob (98) and Rachel (54); Rachel dies
2271 Asher's son Beraiah born
c. 2273 Er marries Tamar, dies; Onan marries Tamar, dies.
c. 2275 Perez and Zerah born to Judah and Tamar
2277 Joseph sold to Egypt
2281 Hercules appoints his son Tuscus king over Italy
c. 2282 Kohath born to Levi (age c. 46; but see 2296)
2289 Isaac dies at age 180, first post-deluvian patriarch to outlive all his ancestors
2290 Joseph becomes governor of Egypt prior to 7 years of bumper crops (probably caused by midwinter flooding of the Nile--possibly from melting glaciers in Ethiopia)
c. 2291 Joseph begets Manaseh
2292 Asher's son Beraiah begets a son
c. 2293 Joseph begets Ephraim
2296 Hippolytus has Kohath born to Levi at age 40
2297 Perez has a son; beginning of famine for 7 years (probably due to climate change in East Africa)
2298 Joseph's brothers visit Egypt
2299 Joseph's brothers visit Egypt again. Benjamin by now has many sons.
~2300 Jacob (130) moves to Egypt with his clan, settles in Goshen. Babylonian Talmud relates an opinion that Job born now, living until the Exodus.
c. 2300 Job dies in Uz around the age of 180 (this approximates the last glacier of the Ice Age melting)
About 2309 Amram born to Kohath (age c. 29)
2315 Jacob puts the firstborn blessing on Ephraim and dies (age 147) in Goshen.
c. 2360 Hercules dies in Gibraltar
2370 Joseph dies prematurely in Egypt (age 110); Egypt considered it a ripe old age.
c. 2380 Jocabed born to Levi (age 135); unless she's a granddaughter (more likely)
2382 Levi dies in Egypt (137). Age exact; year a guesstimate
c. 2415 Kohath dies in Egypt, age 133; Hippolytus has 2429.
2424 Miriam born to Amram (114) and Jocabed (c 52)(if she's a granddaughter of Levi,
2426 Aaron born to Amram (116) and Jocabed (c 55) -subtract 20 years
2428 Moses born to Amram (119) and Jocabed (c 58) -from these ages)
No one born for the next 60 years survives to enter Canaan except Caleb & Joshua
About 2446 Amram dies in Egypt (aged 137)
About 2456 Joshua born to Nun in Egypt
2468 Moses flees to Midian
2470 Caleb born to Jephunneh in Egypt
2471 462 years after birth of Abraham: Gregory's date for the Exodus
2484 Dardanus founds Dardania in Phrygia; re-named Troy by his great-grandson Troas
2489 First ordinary person to enter Canaan born
2509 Babylonian Talmud relates an opinion that Job died now [aged 210, because his lifespan was doubled from 70] Or, that this was his lifespan, but he lived earlier.
2414 The Exodus (if sojourn was ½ of 430 years); Jerome says the Pharaoh was Cencris the 12th.
Tacitus writes, "Some hold that in the reign of Isis the superfluous population of Egypt, under the leadership of Hierosolymus and Iuda, discharged itself on the neighbouring lands: "
2528 Isis dies in Egypt aged 570 (Noah's last grandchild, oldest person in the world)
2548 Aaron dies on Mt. Hor, aged 122
2548 Moses dies prematurely at the border of Canaan, age 120 and in perfect health
2549 Jericho is destroyed
2568 Last ordinary survivor of the Exodus dies, age 77
2959 First year of judge Eli
2999 Death of Eli
3128 The Temple in Jerusalem is finished in Solomon's 11th year.
Gregory counts 2242 years to the Flood; 5185 years from Creation to the Passion
The following are from Newton's chronology, but counting back from 0 BC:
1100 BC Death of Eli
1043 BC Dardanus is the second king of Troy. Tros (reigned in 1015 BC) was his grandson.
904 BC Fall of Troy

. . . And if anyone is wondering, Ham might possibly have started out his life as a contemporary of Tubal-Cain, but over 800 years younger.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

[Zim] Dollars aren't even good for toilet paper

Robert Mugabe has presided over a rate of inflation almost unprecedented in history. In 1980, when he began his reign, one Zimbabwe dollar was worth almost half again as much as an American dollar. Since the dollar itself isn't even worth half what it was then, the Zim should be worth at least $3 by now. But it's lost value much faster than the US dollar has: The government has now had to come out with the $100 trillion-Zim note. At at the current rate of inflation, even that bill will be worth less than 1/1000 of a cent before the month is out.

A placard over a public toilet in Zimbabwe reads:

To be used in this toilet
No Cardboard
No Cloth
No Zim Dollars
No Newspaper

This is farther than any other fiat money system has gone in terms of digits printed on a bill, but in another way the situation in Zimbabwe is not uncommon.

No fiat money system has ever failed to eventually reach the stages of redenomination and/or hyperinflation. Even the relatively stable US dollar has lost 95% of its value in less than 95 years, and the vast majority of that has been in the past 48 years, since going off the silver standard. Redenomination of the currency is inevitable once the smallest bill--or largest coin--won't even buy a stick of gum. Already the US mint has had to reduce the level of silver, then copper, and soon nickel in the smallest denominated coins--and they have already reached the point of costing more to produce than they are worth (although the present deflationary depression has served to forestall the inevitable). Given the ongoing resistance to eliminate the penny, and the current propensity for denominating fiat money grants in billions or even trillions, the next move will probably be to eliminate coinage altogether--most likely by confiscation.

So prepare to bid good-bye to the contents of your piggy bank. And you might as well get used to the idea of a square of toilet paper being worth more than a million-dollar bill, because eventually it will.

Update January 29, 2009
Taking into account all the redenominations of the past 20 years, the Zim now retains only one sextillioth of its original nominal value. As an indication that the Zim has reached the point of no return, Mugabe's government lifted the last restrictions on usage of foreign currency. Rather than lug around boxes of Zim one hundred trillion dollar notes (February 6 update: these have again been redenominated with all the zeroes removed--but still just as worthless), Zimbabweans have reverted to the world currency of choice, the US dollar. But what currency will replace the dollar once it reaches fifteen digits?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The TNIV and she who dwells in Zion

In an earlier post, I stated that the TNIV translators' usual procedure is to retain all generic female references, but no generic male references.

I now stand corrected--to a point. My own research has turned up one instance in which the TNIV let stand the reading of the NIV which had turned a generic female reference into a generic neuter one.
It's in Isaiah 12:6, which both editions render:

"Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

The word "people" is a paraphrase, without even taking into account that it is neither in the same number or gender as the Hebrew, which reads yoshebeth (inhabitress). The KJV, it should be admitted, had relegated the literal reading to the margin, and translated yoshebeth as "inhabitant," earlier versions having read along the lines of "thou who inhabitest." So in a sense, the 1978 NIV was a return to the gender ambiguity of the 16th century; earlier 20th-century versions appear to have been the first to make the reference specifically feminine in the English text.

But why did this word escape the notice of the TNIV revisers? I'm increasingly convinced that this is just another case of "global search-and-replace" and, because no specifically male word was found by the committee's computers, no change to a neutered word eventuated.

Clearly, less thought and care went into the preparation of the TNIV than we would be led to believe.

It's not as if the Committee had any problem identifying the 'people' of Zion as female in any of these verses:

2 Kings 19:21
This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him: " 'Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee.

Psalm 9:14
that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation.

Song of Solomon 3:11
come out, and look, you daughters of Zion. Look [ Or interior lovingly inlaid / by the daughters of Jerusalem. / 11Come out, you daughters of Zion, / and look] on King Solomon wearing a crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.

Isaiah 1:8
Daughter Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard, like a hut in a field of melons, like a city under siege.

Isaiah 10:32
This day they will halt at Nob; they will shake their fist at the mount of Daughter Zion, at the hill of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 16:1
Send lambs as tribute to the ruler of the land, from Sela, across the desert, to the mount of Daughter Zion.

Isaiah 37:22
this is the word the LORD has spoken against him: "Virgin Daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee.

Isaiah 52:2
Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, Daughter Zion, now a captive.

Isaiah 62:11
The LORD has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: "Say to Daughter Zion, 'See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.' "

Jeremiah 4:31
I hear a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child— the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath, stretching out her hands and saying, "Alas! I am fainting; my life is given over to murderers."

Jeremiah 6:2
I will destroy Daughter Zion, so beautiful and delicate.

Jeremiah 6:23
They are armed with bow and spear; they are cruel and show no mercy. They sound like the roaring sea as they ride on their horses; they come like men in battle formation to attack you, Daughter Zion."

Lamentations 1:6
All the splendor has departed from Daughter Zion. Her princes are like deer that find no pasture; in weakness they have fled before the pursuer.

Lamentations 2:1
How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger [ Or How the Lord in his anger / has treated Daughter Zion with contempt] ! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.

Lamentations 2:4
Like an enemy he has strung his bow; his right hand is ready. Like a foe he has slain all who were pleasing to the eye; he has poured out his wrath like fire on the tent of Daughter Zion.

Lamentations 2:8
The LORD determined to tear down the wall around Daughter Zion. He stretched out a measuring line and did not withhold his hand from destroying. He made ramparts and walls lament; together they wasted away.

Lamentations 2:10
The elders of Daughter Zion sit on the ground in silence; they have sprinkled dust on their heads and put on sackcloth. The young women of Jerusalem have bowed their heads to the ground.

Lamentations 2:13
What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, Daughter Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, Virgin Daughter Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you?

Lamentations 2:18
The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord. You walls of Daughter Zion, let your tears flow like a river day and night; give yourself no relief, your eyes no rest.

Lamentations 4:22
Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion; he will not prolong your exile. But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom, and expose your wickedness.

Micah 1:13
You who live in Lachish, [ Lachish sounds like the Hebrew for team.] harness the team to the chariot. You were the beginning of sin to Daughter Zion, for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.

Micah 4:8
As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold [ Or hill] of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem."

Micah 4:10
Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.

Micah 4:13
"Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations." You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

Zephaniah 3:14
Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!

Zechariah 2:7
"Come, Zion! Escape, you who live in Daughter Babylon!"

Zechariah 2:10
"Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD.

Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Matthew 21:5
"Say to Daughter Zion, 'See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' " [ Zech. 9:9]

John 12:15
"Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." [ Zech. 9:9]

Not one of these references escaped the notice of the revisers: in each case, the NIV read Daughter of Zion and/or Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A Review of "Why Psalm 12:6,7 is not a promise of the Infallible Preservation of Scripture"

{1}Help, LORD; for the godly* man ceaseth*; for the faithful‡ fail‡ from among the children‡ of men*. {2} They‡ speak‡ vanity every one* with his* neighbour*: with flattering§ lips* and with a double heart* do they‡ speak‡. {3} The LORD shall cut* off all flattering§ lips‡, and the tongue* that speaketh* proud§ things§: {4} Who* have said‡, With our‡ tongue* will we‡ prevail‡; our‡ lips‡ are‡ our‡ own: who is lord over us‡? {5} For the oppression* of the poor‡, for the sighing┬║ of the needy‡, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth* at him*. {6} The words§ of the LORD are pure§ words§: as silver* tried* in a furnace* of earth*, purified* seven times‡. {7} Thou* shalt keep* them‡, O LORD, thou shalt preserve* them† from this generation* for ever. {8} The wicked‡ walk‡ on every side, when the vilest* men‡ are exalted*. -Psalm 12, KJV

all words in this Psalm which can be categorized by gender and number are flagged as indicated below:
* masculine singular
‡ masculine plural
┬║ feminine singular
§ feminine plural
† masculine singular or genderless plural; see text below

This passage is put forward by proponents of the King James Version to prove that God has specially and literally preserved His word down through history, most recently in the KJV. They always point out, in conjunction with this, that this promise is lacking in the very versions (most popular today) that reject this doctrine.

Doug Kutilek has written what appears to be the definitive rebuttal of this claim, usually accessible here. As is typical of Kutilek, it is well researched and carefully laid out. But as Proverbs 18:17 states (NIV),

"The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." (as an aside: has the English language really changed so much in 30 years that 'till' in the NIV can only now finally be replaced with 'until' in the TNIV?)

I here question just two of Kutilek's statements. I leave it to my readers to decide whether his argument can withstand these questions.

1. "When we turn to the Hebrew text of Psalm 12, the ambiguity of the English disappears."
This is claiming too much. While KJVO proponents may be the only ones making the claim for preservation from this passage now, it is not because any new information has driven away the clouds of ambiguity that once kept the true meaning of this passage in obscurity. The ambiguity inherent in the switching from masculine plural (them) to masculine singular (it or him) remains. It doesn't fit either antecedent! This is without even noting that leaving out the dagesh forte (located in the nu of the last pronoun in the Masoretic text) changes the meaning, to 'us'--as reflected in the Septuagint and the NIV (which, as Kutilek is evidently unaware, states in its preface that it doesn't footnote such details)*.

None of the commentators mentioned as being against the preservation interpretation accounted for the following:

1) The second alleged referent to the masculine plural antecedents is masculine singular.

2) This, rather than interpretive indecision, is the reason why many commentators split the referents according to number, rather than re-interpret the second one to mean the same as the first.

3) Synonyms for the words of the Lord are reported as antecedents for oppositely gendered plural substantives/pronominal suffixes in verses 111, 129, 152, and 167 of Psalm 119.

Many more pre-20th century interpreters than Kutilek listed could be mentioned as not finding it obvious that 'words' could not be the antecedent to either pronoun (with the present popular interpretation nonetheless having very deep roots):

19th century

Youngs Literal:
Thou, O Jehovah, dost preserve them, Thou keepest us from this generation to the age.

Thou, Jehovah, wilt keep them, thou wilt preserve them from this generation for ever.

16th century

Some understand here certain men, some others word.

Coverdale, Rogers:
Keep them therefore (O Lord) and preserve us from this generation for ever.

Martin Luther's Psalter:
Thy truth thou wilt preserve, O Lord, from this vile generation.

15th century

Michael Ayguan:
Keep them: that is, not as the passage is generally taken, Keep or guard Thy people, but Thou shalt keep, or make good, Thy words: and by doing so, shalt preserve him--him, the needy, him, the poor--from this generation.
2. "It is persecuted men, not written words, that occupy the psalmist’s attention and thought."
This is also claiming too much, and hinges, like the argument for KJV primacy, upon the word 'written'. There is a single mention of persecuted humans to support the one interpretation, whilst, in support of the other interpretation, nearly the whole rest of the psalm is given over to a contrast between the lips, tongues, and words of evil men, and the words of the LORD. Moving verse 7 from one column to the other does not shift the preponderance of evidence to the other side.

Doug Kutilek sets out to deny the King James Version proponents a key proof text, but in so doing he oversteps his goal and stumbles on the same points wherein he accuses them. In assaying to answer the fool, he has joined in his folly (Proverbs 26:4) of making inflated claims concerning a text of scripture.

Mr. Kutilek has released an updated version of his rebuttal, now incorporating mention that a dagesh forte would render 'him' as 'us.'  He still doesn't understand, though, that the NIV does not footnote variants within the pointed Hebrew text. And, while he admits that in some cases Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar points out that feminine nouns can serve as antecedents to masculine pronouns, he says that this passage is no example of that, because "the Book of Psalms is exceptionally regular on the matter of gender agreement, and no grammar or commentary that I have seen cites this passage as one of those exceptions." So, apparently he has not seen this review, because I  point out that the book of Psalms is far from regular in this matter, especially in reference to God's word.

An interesting translation of this verse emerges in Jerome's Epistle to Paulus, in which he refers to the writings of Fortunatianus as "the words of the Lord, pure words, even as the silver which from this earth is tried, and purified seven times in the fire."

In other words, not silver tried in a furnace of earth, but silver of the earth tried in a furnace.

This is indeed the Vulgate reading: "argentum igne probatum separatum a terra"
that is,  "as silver tried by the fire, purged from the earth"

Singing heresy

It is a curious characteristic of the ordinary Christian that he is able to lift his voice to God in song using the words of someone with whom he is at theological enmity. Thus Calvinists can ring out in the words of Wesley, "Jesus, Lover of my soul, let me to Thy Bosom fly," while anti-Calvinists can just as wholeheartedly repeat the words of Wesley's theological opponent Toplady, "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee;" and indeed, the two messages sound forth as one--at least in their opening lines.

Yet will the Calvinist still be singing when he reaches the words, "Leave, ah, leave me not alone," though his doctrine allows for no such eventuality. Likewise will the anti-Calvinist keep up the volume when arriving at "Thou must save, and Thou alone--" although he thinks of himself as playing some role in the receipt of that salvation.

Indeed, although every hymnbook probably contains at least one song that would be perceived as objectionable if sung in many of the churches whose pew racks contain it, few are the premillennialists who will seal their lips during the chorus of "We've a story to tell to the nations," for were they to fail to sing out the heresies of Postmillennialism, they must needs keep silent for the duration of at least three of the four stanzas.

Yet there are unmistakably some songs that a Calvinist will never be able to bring himself to sing--even some written by the beloved Wesley himself. At the very least he will seek respite in the subterfuge of Jean Fritz, who found herself, as the child of expatriate Americans, attending a British school in China. Loathe to sing "God Save the King" at the beginning of class each day, she discovered to her delight that "My country, 'tis of thee" could be vigorously mouthed to the identical tune, which became her undetected practice for the duration of her education there.

And yet, I'm thinking that my example above shows that Calvinists and anti-Calvinists are not yet at such a level of enmity. This brings me to my question: are there any songs of such rank Calvinist nature that no anti-Calvinist could sing them aloud? I suspect that songs from neither extreme of this musicological spectrum would ever find popular acceptance in either camp, but I welcome my readers to prove me wrong.