A scholarly response on what the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible says concerning LGBTI people.
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Deuterocanonical Books (Part 1)
There is good reason to believe that the eight so called Deuterocanical books are inspired. The books I am referring to are Wisdom, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Yeshua the son of Sira (Greek pronunciation: Jesus Ben Sirach), Tobit, Judith and 1st & 2nd Maccabees. These books were accepted as inspired by the Aramaic, Greek and Ethiopian speaking Jews. Also, content in some of these books are either referenced or in agreement by undisputed Scripture. Some of them contain prophecy fulfillment.
There is also good reason to believe that 1st Enoch is inspired and should be regarded as Scripture. The Book of Enoch is quoted by Yudah (Jude) and eluded to in (2 Pet. 2:4, 11); and hence regarded as Scripture. 1st Enoch was clearly written before the New Testament and has prophecy concerning Yeshua - as the Lamb, etc. It was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Pseudo Jonathan Targum of Gen. 5:24 has some added commentary about Enoch. It says: "And Enoch truly served before YHWH, & behold he was no more with the inhabitants of the earth; for he was snatched (drawn away) and he ascended into the firmament (expanse) by the saying before YHWH. And He called his name Metatron, the great scribe (writer)." - This sounds like the Jewish writer knew Enoch wrote a book. - Also, Ethiopian Jews regard 1st Enoch as Scripture.
What I don’t believe are inspired are the additions to Esther and Daniel. Though it is true that both the Aramaic and Greek translations of the Old Testament contain these additional words, it should be noted that these canons and translations are not perfect. Cultural forces probably influenced these additions to be added to the books of Esther and Daniel.
The above stated additions are not in the original text of either Esther or Daniel. For Esther, the Aramaic translation has a commentary on the additional parts and states that they are not in the original Hebrew text but are in the common (or universal) codex and are also written down in the language of the Greeks. There is no commentary for the additions to Daniel, but they are probably forgeries. Biblical stories appear to be in chronological order. However, a younger Daniel in the additional story about Susana appears at the end of the Book of Daniel (i.e. chapter 13 out of the 14 chapters); breaking the chronological cycle. The additions appear to be just put in with the original text to give more details about the prior chapters. Also, Dead Sea Scroll (Daniel 3:23-24) shows that the additional content (the prayer and praises of the three young men & their miraculous deliverance) was not part of the original content of the book of Daniel. There is no gap in the manuscript or missing words. Verse 24 is just that; it's not verse 91. Furthermore, these additions can’t be joined together into a single work (or book). There are no connecting words leading to the next events in the following story.
"... Behold, the LORD comes with ten thousands of the saints, that He shall execute judgment upon all, and to reprove all the souls (everyone) who did wickedness on account of all of those deeds, and on account of all of those harsh words which wicked sinners have spoken." (Jude 1:14-15 Crawford Aramaic Text). Yehudah (Jude) quotes from (Enoch 1:9-10) in paraphrase. We know Jude quotes 1st Enoch instead of 1st Enoch quoting Jude because the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls proves Aramaic 1st Enoch existed before the New Testament was written. Part of verse nine "... ten thousands of his saints ..." survived decay in manuscript [4Q204 (4QEn ar) 4QEnoch ar]. 1st Enoch 1:9-10 is also found in Greek 1st Enoch and Ethiopic 1st Enoch. Since Jude quotes from 1st Enoch, the book of Enoch may be inspired and part of Scripture.
It's my belief that 1st Enoch was originally written in Aramaic. This can be seen by the Aramaic names of the fallen angels and what they teach (1 Enoch 8:3). Barq-el (lightning of God) taught the omens (divinations) of the lightnings (bar-qin). Cow-ich-wel (star of God) taught the omens of the stars (cow-ich-win). Shim-shi-el (sun of God) taught the omens of the sun (shmish). Say-ri-el (moon of God) taught the omens of the moon (sayr); and so forth. It's clear that the Greek transliterations of the angel names came from Aramaic Enoch and not from a Hebrew Enoch. Ethiopic 1st Enoch is a translation from Greek 1st Enoch. Also, the Qumran Community had religious writings (the Dead Sea Scrolls) in their original language; of either Hebrew or Aramaic. Since all the manuscripts of 1st Enoch were found in the Aramaic language, we should view this book as being originally written in Aramaic. In other words, if 1st Enoch was originally written in Hebrew or Ethiopic, then they would have 1st Enoch manuscripts in one of those languages. Ge'ez, the dialect of Ethiopic Enoch, is also a late 5th century B.C. script. That script doesn't date all the way back to Enoch. However, the Aramaic grammar and script of 1st Enoch does.
Note: Sun is pronounced "shim-sha" and moon is pronounced "say-ra" in the Peshitta Old Testament; which was translated from the Hebrew text much later. Again, 1st Enoch has older Aramaic grammar (spelling of words, conjugation, and plural endings) than the Aramaic found in the books of Ezra, Daniel and Jeremiah.
Approximately ten and a half designated manuscripts of the book of Enoch have been found at Qumran (see The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition Volume 1 by Florentino Garcia Martinez and Eibert J.C. Tigchelaar). The other one and a half manuscripts contain pseudepigraphal text ascribed to Enoch (i.e. "Astrological Enoch" and "The Book of the Giants"). Some of those manuscripts are made up of three or more fragments; and hence some would give a different number for the amount of manuscripts / fragments found for 1st Enoch and the Pseudepigrapha.
The Book of Enoch has been divided into five sections (or books) by modern scholars. Chapters 37 -71 (The Book of the Similitudes), which contain one of the titles of Jesus (i.e. son of man), are missing among the manuscripts. Those chapters are also not found in Greek 1st Enoch, which ends with chapter 32. Some have speculated that a (so-called) Christian added those verses to 1st Enoch and hence those chapters are additions to 1st Enoch. That's one theory (opinion), but it isn't known for sure. Both Aramaic and Greek 1st Enoch have lost text and some of the letters of Aramaic Enoch couldn't be deciphered due to the natural deterioration of time. So the missing text could be just that, lost text. Additionally, many fragments containing a lot of the text for the later chapters (76-79, 82, 86, 88-89, 91-94, and 104-107) of Aramaic Enoch have been found. Greek 1st Enoch can't be shown to contain those chapters but Aramaic 1st Enoch surely had those chapters. So Ethiopic Enoch could be a very good witness to the full content of Aramaic 1st Enoch. Ethiopic 1st Enoch ends with fourteen verses in chapter 108. This suggests Aramaic 1st Enoch was just as long because Ethiopic Enoch ends just fourteen verses later. And hence that text is now lost from the Aramaic text.
Reasons to believe in the Deuterocanical Books:
"Wisdom of Solomon" (Greek Name) or "The Book of Great Wisdom" (Aramaic Name):
- This book is considered Canonical by Ethiopian Jews; so it surely was written before the New Testament.
This book contains a Messianic prophecy that is fulfilled in Yeshua the Anointed (i.e. Jesus Christ) at Wisdom 2:12-20.
"Let us hinder (or prohibit, prevent, detain) the righteous one, because he is not pleasant (or kind, gentle) to us; for he stands against our deeds, and reproaches us for transgressions of the law and reminds (or mentions) against us our bold (presumptuous) follies (foolish deeds, offences) . And He supposes to have the knowledge of God and says concerning himself, I am the Son of God. He has become a Reprover of our thoughts. It is grievous to us and also [even] to see him [it is grievous, hard] , because his manner of life is not like others, and his ways are different. We are reckoned by him as unclean things. And he departs afar (abandons, separates) from our ways as [if] from uncleanness. And He blesses the destiny of the righteous ones and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see if his words are true; let us test him by putting him to death (Lit. at his departure, death). For if the righteous one is the Son of God, He [ will be ] accepting (receiving) him and [ will be ] saving him from the hands of those who rise up against him. We shall interrogate him with disgrace (or dishonor, revilement, insult) and torture that we shall know the diligence of his humility. And we will examine (inquire about) him [to see] if there is no evil in him. Let us plan (purpose) for him a disgraceful death. For an inquiry of his words shall be upon him." (Peshitta).
I underlined the word the in the translation where the Greek Text has the following word indefinite. The Greek text says "a child of the Lord" (verse 13) and "a son of God" (verse 18). The Aramaic text uses the word "son" twice and it is most likely definite by how it is written. But since there isn't a verb in those statements, where an indefinite noun would be placed before it instead of after it, it's possible "son" is indefinite, though less likely. Additionally, the Greek text of verse 22 could make this verse refer to any righteous person instead of a particular Righteous One. However, the Aramaic text says something significantly different and hence the Messianic prophecy is maintained.
Wisdom 2:22 (Peshitta) says: "And they didn't know the secret things (counsels, plans, deeds) of God, and neither hoped (or trusted) on the reward (or wage) of the pious one (holy one) and they didn't discern that the souls of the elders [were] unblemished (or faultless, flawless, perfect)."
The “breastplate of righteousness” is also spoken of in the book of Wisdom.
“And he shall put on the breastplate of righteousness; and put on his head the helmet of judgment without falsehood. And he shall take the buckler (round shield) of holiness that he shall not be overcome” (Wis. 5:19-20 Peshitta / Wis. 5:18-19 NAB) [see also Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:13-17; & 1 Thess. 5:8]
The “gates of Sheol” are referred to in both Wisdom and Matthew:
“Because you have power over death and life; and you are causing to descend to the gates of Sheol, and causing to ascend.” (Wis. 16:13 Peshitta)
“…I will build my church; and the doors (gates) of Sheol shall not shut upon it (prevail over [subdue] it) .” (Matt. 16:18 Lamsa)
"The queen of the south (i.e. Sheba) shall rise in the judgment with this generation (race, family) and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth so that she might hear the wisdom of Shelomoh(Solomon) ..." (Matt. 12:42). Maybe Yeshua is referencing the content in the book: "The Wisdom of Solomon" (see Wis. 9:7-8; Eccl. 1:12).
Baruch & Letter of Jeremiah:
“For you provoked Him who made you, the everlasting God, because you sacrificed to demons (devils) and not to God.” (2nd Letter of Baruch 4:7 Peshitta / Baruch 4:7 NAB).
The Apostle Paul may have been referring to the above verse when he said: : “But what the pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God; and I would not have you in fellowship with devils.” (1 Cor. 10:20 Lamsa).
Textual Error Rebuttal: The Aramaic text of "the Letter of Jeremiah the Prophet" is only one chapter and corresponds to Baruch chapter six in Catholic Bibles. So the Aramaic text of Baruch 6:2 and Jeremiah 25:11, in Hebrew or Aramaic, both say that the Jews will be in Bawel (Babylon) seventy years. So the problem is only with the Greek text of (Baruch 6:3 LXX / 6:2 NAB) which says that the Jews will be in Babylonia seven generations (approximately 700 years). The following is what the Aramaic text says.
"And when you have entered Bawel (Baḅel), you shall be there many years and a long time, even unto seventy years, And after seventy years I shall bring you out from there in peace." (Baruch 6:2 / Letter of the Prophet Yirmeyahu [Jeremiah] 1:2 Peshitta)
1st Note: Baruch (Chap. 1-5) and the Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch Ch. 6) along with the Book of Jeremiah the Prophet and Lamentations were reckoned as One Book by some Jews to get their mystical 22 Book Canon.
2nd Note: The Aramaic canon has an additional small book by Baruch, titled: “the First Letter of Baruch the Scribe.” Since it wasn’t received as canonical by the Alexandrian Jews or any other canon that I am aware of, I view it as apocrypha for now. I also don't agree with its numbering. The wrongly (so-) called "2nd Book of Baruch" came first and should be called 1st Baruch. That book was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and not the other one (i.e. the First Letter of Baruch the Scribe).