Jump to: ISBEWebster'sConcordanceThesaurusGreekHebrewLibrarySubtopicsTermsResources
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
1. (n.) An inhabitant of Sodom.

2. (n.) One guilty of sodomy.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

sod'-om-it (qadhesh, feminine qedheshah): Qadhesh denotes properly a male temple prostitute, one of the class attached to certain sanctuaries of heathen deities, and "consecrated" to the impure rites of their worship. Such gross and degrading practices in Yahweh's land could only be construed as a flagrant outrage; and any association of these with His pure worship was abhorrent (Deuteronomy 23:17 f): The presence of Sodomites is noted as a mark of degeneracy in Rehoboam's time (1 Kings 14:24). Asa endeavored to get rid of them (1 Kings 15:12), and Jehoshaphat routed them out (1 Kings 22:46). Subsequent corruptions opened the way for their return, and Josiah had to break down their houses which were actually "in the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 23:7). The feminine qedheshah is translated "prostitute" in Genesis 38:21, 22 Hosea 4:14; in Deuteronomy 23:17 "prostitute" (the King James Version margin "sodomitess," the Revised Version margin transliterates). The English word is, of course, derived from Sodom, the inhabitants of which were in evil repute for unnatural vice.

W. Ewing


1. The Jewish Priesthood

2. The Priesthood and High-Priesthood of Jesus Christ

3. The Priesthood of Believers

1. The Jewish Priesthood:

In the New Testament hierateuma (1 Peter 2:5, 9), "priesthood," is not found with reference to the Jewish priesthood, but hiereus, and archiereus, "high priest," frequently occur. As until the fall of Jerusalem the activities of the priests were carried on in careful accordance with the prescriptions of the Old Testament, there naturally is nothing new or striking in the numerous New Testament references to their work. Perhaps the information of the greatest interest is found in Luke 1:5-9 to the effect that Zacharias was of the course of Abijah, the 8th of the 24 courses into which the priests were divided (compare 1 Chronicles 24:7-18), and that in these courses the priests divided their work by lot. In the Gospels the archiereis are mentioned oftener than are the hiereis, the power of the priesthood seeming to have been absorbed by a sort of priestly aristocracy. As under the political pressure of that time the office of high priest could seldom be retained until the death of the holder, there might even be several living at the same time who had for a longer or shorter time held this office which made a man the head of the nation, not only ritually, but also politically, since the high priest was ex officio presiding officer of the Sanhedrin. Not only would these ex-high priests naturally retain the title belonging to their former dignity, but probably the name had come to include as well other members of the same families or of families of equal position, so that it seems that "chief priests" is a more exact translation of archiereis than high priests. In the singular, however, the reference of archiereus is usually, if not invariably, to the individual who at the time given was holding the unique office of high priest. The word hiereus is of course employed in its ordinary signification on the rare occasions when reference is made in the New Testament to corresponding ministers of other religions, as to the priest of Zeus (Acts 14:13) and also to Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:1).

2. The Priesthood and High-Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

Only in Hebrews is the activity of Jesus set forth as priestly and high-priestly, but in this Epistle great emphasis is laid on these aspects of His work. Interpreters seldom distinguish between these two aspects of His work, and it is plain that sometimes at least the author himself made no effort sharply to distinguish them. But certain considerations make it probable that they were not really confused or combined in the mind of the author himself. For example, it is to be noted that the priesthood of Jesus is declared to be after the order of Melchizedek, and consequently radically unlike that of the Levitical priests. On the other hand, the Aaronic high-priesthood is regarded as having been analogous to that of Jesus, so that in spite of its inferiority, comparison is frequently made with it. It is readily seen that the work of the high priest, both because of his entry into the Most Holy Place and because he bore the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment for a memorial before Yahweh continually, far more suitably than that of the ordinary priests typified the atoning and intercessory work of Jesus (Exodus 28:12, 15).

Attempting then to treat separately the priestly and high-priestly functions of Jesus, we note that most of what is said of the priestly functions is involved in the declaration that He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and this thought is handled in Hebrews 7 in such a way as to make plain the superiority of a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek, and thus to confirm the superiority of Christianity over Judaism, the great theme of the book. Historically, the blessing bestowed upon Abraham and the reception of tithes from him prove the superiority of Melchizedek to Levi, and still more to the priestly descendants of Levi (7:4-10). Further, Jesus became priest not on the ground of a "carnal commandment," i.e. in an order based on descent and inheritance, but by "the power of an endless life" (7:16), of which fact Melchizedek reminds us, since Scripture is silent alike as to his birth and his death. Again, unlike the Levitical priests, Christ is inducted into His office by the oath of God (7:20, 21; compare Psalm 110:4). Finally, while the priests of the Levitical line were hindered from permanence in office by their death, Jesus holds His priesthood untransmitted and untransmissible (7:23, 14). This discussion of the priesthood of Christ "after the order of Melchizedek" occupies almost all of Hebrews 7, but at 7:26 His high-priesthood is suddenly introduced, and after that point, while His work is more than once contrasted with that of the temple priests (8:4, 5; 9:06; 10:11), no further reference is in any way made to Melchizedek.

After having twice merely given the title of high priest to Jesus (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 3:1), the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews at 4:14 begins a statement of the resemblance between Jesus and the Jewish high priest, such "as was Aaron," finding the resemblance to reside

(1) in His divine appointment to His work (5:4, 5), (2) in His experience of suffering (5:7, 8; compare 4:15; 5:2), and (3) in His saving work suggested by the sacrificial activity of the ordinary high priest (5:9), which, however, it far transcends in value and effect. But

(4) later the work of the high priest and that of Jesus are contrasted as to place where done, the high priest going into the second tabernacle, i.e. the Holy of Holies (9:7), while Christ passes through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, "heaven itself" (9:11, 24). A similar contrast is

(5) drawn between the sacrifices respectively offered, the ancient sacrifices being the blood of goats and calves (9:12), Christ's being "himself" (9:14), "his own blood" (9:12), "the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God" (9:14). The author also accepts and urges without argument or even explanation

(6) the truly sacrificial character of this self-immolation of Jesus. Nor is this fact nullified by the emphasis which once is laid on doing God's will in an antithesis copied from the Psalm (10:5-9; compare Psalm 40:6;), for here the contrast drawn is not between sacrifice on one side and obedience on the other, but rather between the sacrifice of animals dying involuntarily and wholly unconscious of the sacrificial significance of their death, and the offering of Himself on the part of Jesus in intelligent purpose to carry out the will of God, by which will the body of Jesus Christ is the only acceptable offering (Hebrews 10:10). Further the author urges

(7) the actual effectiveness of Christ's work, his argument being that it would already have been repeatedly performed if this single offering had not been sufficient for all time, "once for all" (Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:26). Finally is asserted

(8) the intercessory work of Christ, which, though not explained, seems to be a figurative presentation of his idea that men are blessed because Christ died, i.e. that this was an indispensable condition of God's manifestation of His merciful love, and that the grace consequent on the death of Christ does not merely grow out of a fact, but that the divine love and providence for believers are exercised, neither automatically or impersonally, but in virtue of a constant personal sympathy for varying temptations and needs, a sympathy intensified by the earthly experience, temptation, suffering of Him who had been and is, not only the Divine Son, but also the Son of Man. Thus, the salvation of the believer is certain and complete, and the priestly and high-priestly work of Jesus reaches its consummation.

3. The Priesthood of Believers:

The priesthood of believers is an idea which finds formal expression less frequently in the New Testament than has been the case in Protestant theology. But it does not follow that there has been a corresponding divergence from the thought of the apostles. It only shows that a thought which according to apostolic conception was one of the invariable privileges of every Christian, and which found, if not constant, yet sufficiently clear expression in this figurative fashion, has come, in consequence of errors which have developed, to receive in the controversies of later centuries stronger emphasis than it did at first. It may well be noted first that this conception of the priesthood of believers, standing by itself, is in no way related to the various priestly activities which are also figuratively attributed to them. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who does not speak of the priesthood of believers, knowing no Christian priesthood but that of Jesus Himself, yet calls "praise," "to do good and to communicate," sacrifices (13:15, 16). So Paul bids the Romans present their bodies "a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1), and Peter calls Christians "a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices" (1 Peter 2:5). But this figurative usage is entirely distinct from the subject of the present paragraph. Also the conception of the Christian priesthood never in the New Testament attaches itself merely to the ministry of the Christian church, whatever may be held as to its orders or tasks. In no sense has the church or any church an official priesthood. Nor is it any part of the New Testament conception of the priesthood of believers that any individual should act in any respect for any other. Though the intercessory supplication of believers in behalf of other persons has of late often been represented as a priestly act, as being, indeed, that activity which is essential to any real priesthood of believers, the New Testament thought is quite different, and is to be thus conceived: In ancient times it was held that men in general could not have direct access to God, that any approach to Him must be mediated by some member of the class of priests, who alone could approach God, and who must accordingly be employed by other men to represent them before Him. This whole conception vanishes in the light of Christianity. By virtue of their relation to Christ all believers have direct approach to God, and consequently, as this right of approach was formerly a priestly privilege, priesthood may now be predicated of every Christian. That none needs another to intervene between his soul and God; that none can thus intervene for another; that every soul may and must stand for itself in personal relation with God-such are the simple elements of the New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. (Consult treatises on New Testament theology, and commentaries on the Epistle to the Hebrews.)

David Foster Estes




Limitation of the Discussion


1. Unity of the Two Dispensations

2. Biblical Movement Planned from the Beginning

3. The Old Testament Accepted as Authoritative

4. Issue Involved in Foregoing Principles of Reference


1. Introductory Formulas

2. Unity of the Two Dispensations

3. Prevision of Christianity in the Old Testament

4. Argumentative Quotations

5. Catena of Passages, Illustrating Principles of Quotation


I. Introductory.

Limitation of the Discussion:

There are, all told, approximately 300 direct quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament. The presence of so many citations, each of one of which involves an interpretation of the passage given a new context in quotation, opens many avenues of discussion and propounds many difficult and far-reaching problems. In every separate instance, in the long list of New Testament quotations, the principle of accommodation (see ACCOMMODATION) in some form is involved and, consequently, the question of historical and exegetical accuracy is unavoidably raised. In the present article we shall concentrate attention upon that which is of far greater importance than the question whether the writer is incidentally correct, according to modern scientific principles, in any specific citation. This more important and vital issue we take to be the general, guiding principles adopted by the New Testament writers in their use of the book of the older covenant. A review of these principles, together with certain outstanding and typical instances in which these principles are used and applied, will form the substance of the discussion.

II. Constructive Principles of New Testament Quotation.

1. Unity of the Two Dispensations:

In the first place, the New Testament writers regard the Christian religion as having its roots in the Old Testament. From the call of Abraham to the founding and expansion of the Christian church the men of the New Testament recognize a single organic movement. In their use of the ancient oracles in new setting they constantly and confidently rely upon the unity of the two dispensations, that recorded in the Old Testament and that in which they themselves were participants. Such a unity, taking for granted its existence, would remove to a degree the very distinction implied in the terms Old and New Testaments, and would involve a definite and organic relationship of all the books to each other. There are no longer two separate groups of books standing apart from each other and having bonds of union only within the group, but, on the contrary, two related sub-groups outwardly corresponding to contrasted phases of the historical movement, but inwardly conformed to the deep-lying principles which make the entire movement one. According to this idea the Book of Genesis is as really related to the Gospel of Matthew as it is to the Book of Exodus. On the surface, and historically speaking, the Book of Genesis leads immediately to the Book of Exodus, which is its companion volume and complement, but go more deeply into Genesis and just as really and just as directly it leads to Matthew, which is also its fellow and complement. And so throughout. The unifying medium is, of course, the history which is one in that it involves the same organic principles applied to successive areas of human experience. The books of the Bible are, therefore, like any group of books on a common subject, phases of each other, contrasted and yet intimately cognate. In quoting from the Old Testament the New Testament writers were simply obeying an impulse common to all thoughtful writers and accounting for all quotations, seeking for diversified expression of the same truths.

2. Biblical Movement Planned from the Beginning:

The second great constructive principle of New Testament quotation, and manifestly in close harmony with the first one, is that the movement from Abraham to Christ was not only organically one, but that it was from the beginning planned and prepared for. The Bible is one because the history out of which it grew is one. The history is one because God is in the history and God is one. According to the writers of the New Testament in this history as a whole we have the unfolding of an all-embracing plan of God, stretching out into the remotest future and coming to its culmination in the person and the kingdom of the Messiah. They maintain also that this plan was disclosed in part beforehand, by way of anticipation and preparation, in order that men might intelligently cooperate with God in the fulfillment of His purpose. This is the idea involved in prophecy and its fulfillment, and in the closely related idea of promise and its realization. One mind, one will, and one central purpose are operating throughout the entire history which is, on the divine side, the fulfillment of a plan complete in thought before it takes shape in events. On the basis of this conception, of the foreseen plan of God and its gradual revelation to men through messages of hope and warning set in the key of the great future and pointing the way thither, the greater part of the structure of New Testament quotation is reared.

3. The Old Testament Accepted as Authoritative:

A third principle which really involves a combination of the other two and is prominently brought forward in the use of quotation for purposes of argument is the recognition and acceptance of the Old Testament as authoritative, a real Word of God, in form occasional, but essentially applicable to all experiences, and hence, good for all time. It is evident that the belief in the continued authority of the Scripture of the old covenant over the men of the new, rests upon the unity of the two dispensations and the acceptance of the same divine mind and will as operating throughout all outward and historical changes. This is admirably expressed by Paul when he speaks of `the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him unto an economy of the fullness of the periods, to sum up all things in Christ' (Ephesians 1:9, 10), and by the author of He when he says: `God, having of old spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by various portions and in various ways, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son' (Ephesians 1:1, 2).

4. Issue Involved in Foregoing Principles of Reference:

The justification of these accepted principles of reference on the part of the New Testament writers lies beyond the scope of the present discussion. It is sufficient to emphasize the fact that any detailed discussion of New Testament quotations seriatim is meaningless and futile except upon the basis of an explicit and consistent determination of these antecedent questions. To the present writer the validity of these principles is beyond question. The denial of any one of the three involves one in difficulties of interpretation, both critical and historical, from which there is no escape. It is to be noted, therefore, that the establishment of the principles, in accordance with which the New Testament writers quote, carries with it in a general way the justification of their usage.

III. Typical Instances of New Testament Quotation.

1. Introductory Formulas:

With these constructive principles in mind we are prepared to pass in review typical instances in which general principles are embodied. At this point we shall be greatly assisted in the analysis and distribution of the complex material before us by giving careful heed to the formulas, more or less fixed and uniform, by which the writers introduce quotations and indicate their sense of the value and significance of that which is quoted. While these formulas exhibit certain verbal variations, they are practically reducible to three, which correspond with substantial accuracy to the three constructive principles already noted: the unity of the Old Testament and New Testament; the prevision of the New Testament in the Old Testament; the authority of the Old Testament as the Word of God intended for all time.

2. Unity of the Two Dispensations:

The unity of the two dispensations is asserted in all those passages introduced by a formula, in which fulfillment is asserted as a fact, and in which the operation of identical principles in two or more separate events in the field of history is implied. A suggestive example is in Matthew 13:14, where our Lord asserts, in connection with the parable of the Sower, that in the unbelief of the people of His day "the prophecy of Isaiah" is fulfilled. The prophetic words here quoted (Isaiah 6:9, 10) are not predictive in any immediate sense, but are susceptible of repeated application and realization because of the general principle which they contain. They apply to the prophet's own day; they also apply-and in that sense are fulfilled-to the time of Jesus, and by a legitimate extension of meaning, to stubborn unbelief in any age (compare John 6:45).

Another passage in which the same formula is used in a very exceptional way clearly sets forth the fundamental principle upon which this usage rests. James 2:23 asserts that the justification of Abraham in the offering of Isaac "fulfilled" the passage which affirms that his belief was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). This passage is not predictive in any sense, nor is there in the narrative any hint of a connection between the passage and the episode on Mt. Moriah. This use of the formula of fulfillment by James involves the principle that any event which realizes the meaning and truth of a Scriptural statement fulfils it. A vast number of quotations in the New Testament come under this head. Persons, events, doctrines, illustrate and confirm, or embody and concretely realize, principles which are taught in the Old Testament or implied in its history. We are warned by this passage and many others like it against a too rigid and literal interpretation of any formula implying fulfillment. While it may certainly be intended to imply literal prediction and an equally literal fulfillment, it may, on the contrary, be intended to intimate nothing more than a harmony of principle, fitting the passage to the person or event with which it is connected. In this connection it is to be remembered that a harmony of principle may extend all the way from a comparatively superficial illustrative resemblance to a profound assonance of thought. Not a few Old Testament quotations were made for purposes of illustration and literary embellishment. Herein lies the significance of Matthew's use (Matthew 2:17 f) of Jeremiah 31:15. A glance at this quoted passage indicates that it is a figurative and poetic expression in which Rachel (already for many years in her tomb) is represented as weeping for her exiled children and refusing to be comforted except by their return. There is no strictly predictive element in the passage, save only the promise of return, which is not used by Matthew. Its applicability to the massacre of the children of Bethlehem lies in its poetical appositeness, and there alone. Once again the voice of wailing motherhood is heard in Israel. The tender and beautiful imagery is applicable in this sense and is used with true insight, but with no intention of justifying a claim of prediction and fulfillment in the literal sense.

3. Prevision of Christianity in the Old Testament:

The prevision of events in the life of Jesus and in the history of Christianity is involved in all the quotations in which a necessary connection between the passage as predictive and the event is asserted, or in which a prophet is said to have been speaking or writing concerning the event or person in question. An examination of the Old Testament without reference to its use in the New Testament seems to justify the conclusion that its bearing upon the future may be particularized under four heads, which in turn, with sufficient accuracy and exhaustiveness will classify the pertinent New Testament quotations.

(1) The prophetic teaching of Israel embodied not only in the messages of the prophets, but also in laws, institutions, and rites, has a twofold dispensational application. Reference is made here only to those explicit references to a future era of especial blessing. For example, in Acts 2:17 ff; Peter interprets the Pentecostal experience in the terms of prophecy, referring to Joel (2:28;), who promises an outpouring of God's Spirit in a "great and notable day" of the Lord. The promise through Joel is an undeniable prediction (every promise is such), which in a measure would be fulfilled in any exceptional manifestation of God's Spirit among men. The only question which can possibly be raised in connection with Peter's use of this passage is whether the Pentecostal outpouring was the climactic realization of the promise: that is, the establishment of the era of blessing foretold by the prophet. Later in the same book (3:20-26) the same apostle sweeps the whole field of prophecy as centering in certain promises fulfilled in Christ and the Christian community.

He gives two instances: the prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15) and the promised inclusive blessing through Abraham (Genesis 12:3). He also includes (Acts 3:26) a hint of the Servant passages of Isaiah. This identification of the New Testament movement through two specific predictive promises is wholly justified by the prophetic character of Jesus, the range and richness of the blessings brought from Abraham through Him, and by the fact elsewhere emphasized that no other has measured up to the standard of the ideal servant. Negatively, it may be urged that if these promises were not fulfilled in Christ, history affords no possibility of discovering any fulfillment measurably adequate, either in the past or future. In Hebrews 8:8-12 reference is made to the promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah (31:31;) as a justification for believing that the Old Testament dispensation was not complete in itself and that in its very constitution it pointed forward to Christianity as its fulfillment. Combining this passage with that quoted above (Acts 2:17) taken from Joel, the strength of the case for this use of the Old Testament is at once seen. Distinctively Jeremiah's "new covenant" was to be inward and gracious rather than outward and legal. The promise through Joel is an awakening of prophecy through the free outpouring of God's Spirit. The distinctive feature of the gospel is its idea of justification by faith, through grace revealed in Christ and imparted by the Holy Spirit given according to promise at Pentecost. The "new covenant" foretold by Jeremiah was established at Pentecost through the outpouring of the Spirit promised through Joel. To deny this as fulfillment is to nullify the meaning of Christian history and to erase both promises from the page of credible prophecy.

(2) Contemporary persons or institutions are sometimes interpreted, not in the terms of present actuality, but on the basis of the ideal not revealed or realized until the coming of Christ. One striking example of this method is to be found in the so-called "Immanuel passage" (Matthew 1:23, quoting Isaiah 7:14). Undoubtedly the message of the prophet to Ahaz had an immediate and contemporary significance. But, like many another notable prophetic message it is set in the key of the Messianic King whose unworthy predecessor Ahaz was. "The Messiah comes, but the willfulness of Ahaz has rendered His reign impossible" (G. A. Smith, "Isaiah," Expositor's Bible, I, 134).

In Acts 2:24-36, passages representative of many others quoted, both the resurrection and ascension of Jesus are interpreted in the light of two quotations from the Psalms (16:8;; 110:1) as predetermined and therefore certain events in the plan and purpose of God. In both instances the argument is that the promises nominally made to David, or claimed by him, were couched in terms too vast to find fulfillment in his own experience, but were spoken of the greater King who was to come and in whose experience alone they were realized. In the former instance, a triumph over death was anticipated with assurance which not the Psalmist but only Christ attained; in the latter a royal ascendancy was promised that only Christ's ascension to the place of power could satisfy. An examination of the passages shows that Peter's interpretation is justified not merely by the wording of the promises, which point to a fullness of experience not realized by any Old Testament man, but still more clearly by the descriptive titles which identify the person who is the subject of the experience. In the first instance he is spoken of as Yahweh's "Holy One," in the second as "My Lord." The triumph over death which the speaker anticipates is grounded in a unity of purpose and will with God-a holiness which was ideal and still unrealized until Christ came. The logic of the psalm is: God's "Holy One" must not see corruption. The logic of history is: Christ is God's Holy One and He did not see corruption. The principle that triumph over death is the logical issue of holiness found its justification and proof not directly in the experience of the singer who first glimpsed it as a truth, but in the career of Christ who first realized it as a fact.

NOTE-The argument here is not affected if one accepts the variant reading "Holy Ones" for the preceding passage.

The second passage is particularly interesting because our Lord Himself first pointed out its implications as to the place and work of the Messiah. Such a passage as this entire psalm (Psalm 110) would have been impossible had not the powers and responsibilities of the Davidic King been keyed from the beginning at the Messianic level. The logic here is the same as in Psalm 16. The Messianic kingdom over all nations awaited the coming of the true Messianic King. The long-delayed triumph followed hard upon the coming of the long-expected King (compare Psalm 2:1, 2 Acts 13:32-34).

The same principle is involved in our Lord's use of the Servant passage (Isaiah 61:1) in His sermon at Nazareth. Here the issue as to Messianic prophecy is fairly joined at the center. It is central because it occurs in the Lord's own teaching and also because it concerns, not any external or incidental happenings in the life of Jesus, but the whole trend and movement of prophetic thought, together with the entire meaning and interpretation of His career.

Interpreted altogether apart from the New Testament, the passage has an unmistakable bearing upon the future. As one of the series concerned with the Servant (Isaiah 42:1), the quoted passage focuses attention upon the mission of Israel to the world, still to be carried out. "Ye are my witnesses, saith Yahweh, and my servant whom I have chosen" (Isaiah 43:10), "Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel, whom I have chosen" (Isaiah 44:1). It also involves the entire scope and meaning of the prophetic office through which Yahweh's will was made known to Israel and through Israel to the world. Both these considerations sweep out into the prophet's future and both point unerringly to Christ as the historical fulfillment of Israel's mission and as the actual realization of the ideal and ministry of prophethood. The very ambiguity of the reference in this chapter (Isaiah 61), whether to the Servant or to the prophet, and the questions raised as to whether Israel idealized is referred to or some person or personification, serve to make more clear and unmistakable the central fact that only in Christ is the conception embodied in the entire series of passages altogether realized. It thus becomes for sober thought a distinct revelation and portraiture in advance of what Jesus was in His person and work.

(3) In the course of Israel's training to receive the Messiah, certain external items were given as bearing upon the identification of Him when He should come. We shall instance three items, closely related to each other, and each intensely interesting in itself. These three items are

(a) His sonship to David (Acts 2:30, 31),

(b) His birth from a Virgin (Matthew 1:22 f),

(c) His birth at Bethlehem (Matthew 2:5).

Objection is offered at once to the interpretation of these Old Testament passages as predictive, and to the alleged fulfillments in the life of Jesus, on the ground mainly that being definite events (compare Matthew 2:15) they are not included within the legitimate scope of prediction; and, secondarily, that being items of this external kind it would be an easy matter to invent fulfillments. It may be granted at once that incidents of this kind could be indefinitely multiplied by fabricating coincidences, but the fact remains that, in the absence of any visible check upon invention, very few such instances are alleged by New Testament writers. Furthermore, there are suggestive variations between the events recorded and the natural interpretations of the Old Testament passages connected with them; that is, the fuifilments arrive by such devious routes as to make it difficult to suppose them to be due to the imaginative stimulation of the passages. For example, the birth at Bethlehem was brought about by circumstances not at all to the liking of Jewish patriots; and was obscured to contemporaries by the previous and subsequent residence at Nazareth. The kinship of Jesus to the house of David was made adoptive (unless Mary was of that house) by the virgin birth. The interpretation of Isaiah 7:14 as intimating a virgin birth was not compulsory to one familiar with the Hebrew text of the passage and would have been thought of in that connection only by one assured of the fact. The virgin birth (see IMMANUEL; VIRGIN BIRTH) is not an etymological but a providential commentary on Isaiah 7:14. One other consideration of primary importance remains. In the one point where the identification of Jesus with the Messiah by His followers can be tested most severely, they are most completely triumphant. It would be comparatively easy to invent incidents suggested by Old Testament prophecies, and to take dignities and titles wholesale from the same source-but given all these, to find one capable of realizing and fulfilling the expectations so aroused is the chief problem. Here fabrication is impossible. And here too the New Testament meets and answers the challenge of truth. In view of these considerations it is safe to assert that even in matters of historical detail the career of Jesus was foreseen and predicted. Such passages belong to the philosophy of preparation as a whole and should be studied in that connection.

(4) In certain instances the original passage and its reappearance in quotation indicate a process New Testament which is continuous throughout all history. For example, the use of Zechariah 13:7 (Mark 14:27) suggests a deeper view of the connection between prophecy and history, immediate and more remote, than we are often aware of. On the face of them such passages as those concerning the Smitten Shepherd and the scattered sheep are predictions, and the life of Christ stands as fulfillment. It simply cannot be contended that such passages as these do not find fulfillment and explanation in the career of Jesus as nowhere else in the history. Nevertheless, the connection is far deeper than mere foresight of an isolated event and its occurrence. We may well say that, in a sense, the event is foreseen because it is already a fact. The allegory of the Smitten Shepherd is, as has well been said, "a summary of the history of Israel." But it is more than that. The relationship of God with Israel, which involved a dealing of divine grace with men, their rejection of it and the consequent vicarious immolation of the Divine Friend and Shepherd, which came to its climax in the tragedy of the cross, was established in all essential factors in the early days. Therefore, Christ can say, as the outcome of the profoundest insight into the meaning of history, `That which concerneth me hath fulfillment' (compare Luke 24:44). He was more deeply concerned in the doings of an earlier time than being there foreseen. In a real sense, "the Lamb" was "slain from the foundation of the world," (Revelation 13:8). In this allegory of the rejected Shepherd and in the successive delineations of the Servant passages, we have the portrait of the Christ as He was-not merely as He was to be. In these quotations deep answers to deep. The only satisfactory interpretation of the tragedy of the cross is that in accordance with principles long operative in human history, "it must needs be." The only satisfactory interpretation of the passages cited is that they disclose the actual operation of the forces which in their culmination issued in the tragedy of the cross. This brings the passages in the original and in quotation into the framework of the same course of events. Peter in his sermon in Solomon's porch thus sums up the whole process: "But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled" (Acts 3:18).

4. Argumentative Quotations:

The argumentative use of the Old Testament involves exactly the same principles which have been dealt with in the foregoing discussion. These principles coalesce in the conception of the Old Testament as authoritative.

(1) Throughout the New Testament, in the teaching of our Lord Himself and in the apostolic writings, a clear-cut distinction is drawn between the temporary and permanent offices of the Old Testament. It is recognized that in essential principles the Old Testament is for all time, while in its outward form and in its actualization of underlying and essential truths it is preliminary and preparatory. There are different dispensations, but one economy. Whenever our Lord uses the Old Testament for purposes of argument (see Matthew 4:4, 7; Matthew 12:17 ff;; 19:18; Mark 10:19 Luke 19:46) it is on the basis of essential truth which is permanent and unchanging (Matthew 5:17-19). On the other hand, He never hesitates to annul that which had a merely temporary or preliminary value (Matthew 5:21, 33, 38; compare by way of contrast Matthew 5:27). He came not to destroy, but to fulfil, but fulfillment implies a new era-a new and higher stage in the delivery of truth.

(2) In like manner Paul and the other New Testament writers argue on the basis of an identity of principle which binds the two eras together. Paul contends for three great principles, the Messiahship of Jesus, justification by faith, the inclusion of the Gentiles in the plan of salvation (the doctrine of election is a detail of this last argument; see Romans 9:7, 9, 12, 13, 15, 17). We shall consider typical examples of Paul's use of the Old Testament in argumentation. Choice has been made of those which have provoked adverse criticism. Among these is the use of Genesis 13:15; Genesis 17:8 in Galatians 3:16. This is a leading example of Paul's alleged "rabbinical" method: "He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." The Hebrew word "seed" as applied to offspring (zera`) is singular. This, of course, means that a man's descendants are looked upon as organically one, inasmuch as they continue his life. The word would apply to any one of the family, but only by virtue of his belonging to the family. Etymologically Paul's argument would apply to Isaac as well as to Jesus-provided only the promise is looked upon as being fulfilled in him. But the promise which was fulfilled in Isaac, was fulfilled in a larger way in Israel as a whole, and was fulfilled in the largest way of all in Christ. The use of the singular word indicates that Abraham's children were looked upon as one in him-they are also one in Christ. The true children of Abraham are such in Christ. Historically the argument is fully justified. "The personality of Christ is in some sense coextensive with the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham" (Beet). "Christ is the organ of fulfillment" (Meyer).

The classical passage in the discussion of justification based upon an Old Testament quotation is Romans 1:17, quoting Habakkuk 2:4. The quoted passage seems to fail the argument because the literal translation would appear to be that "the righteous shall live by their faithfulness." A deeper view, however, amply justifies the quotation; first, because the stedfasthess demanded by the prophet is a persistent trust in God in view of the delay of the promised vision; second, the deepest principle common to the Old Testament and New Testament is that stability of character has its root in trust in Yahweh (Isaiah 28:16; compare Isaiah 26:1-3). Nothing could be more foreign to the thought of the Old Testament than that a man could be righteous without trust in God.

One further quotation argumentatively used by Paul may fitly close this section of our discussion. In Romans 11:26, 27 he quotes Isaiah 59:20, 21 as indicating the divine purpose to include the Gentiles within the scope of salvation. This passage is doubly significant because it is attacked by Kuenen (Prophets and Prophecy in Israel) on the ground that it is uncritically taken from the Septuagint version which in this instance does not correctly represent the Hebrew text. It may be remarked that a large percentage of the New Testament quotations are taken from the Septuagint.

Read Complete Article...





1. Jesus' Attitude

2. Paul's Attitude

3. Attitude of the Author of Hebrews


1. Teaching of John the Baptist

2. Teaching of Jesus

3. Teaching of Peter

4. Paul's Teaching

5. Teaching of Hebrews

6. Johannine Teaching


1. Redemption or Deliverance from Curse of Sin

2. Reconciliation

3. Remission of Sins

4. The Cancellation of Guilt

5. Justification or Right Standing with God

6. Cleansing or Sanctification

7. Sonship


1. Jesus' Teaching

2. Paul's Teaching

3. Teaching of Hebrews

4. Petrine and Johannine Teaching


1. Jesus' Teaching

2. Paul's Teaching

3. The Teaching in Hebrews


1. Universal in Objective Potentiality

2. Efficacious When Subjectively Applied


1. Consequence of Christ's Sacrifice

2. Christ's Death the Appeal for Christian's Sacrifice

3. Necessary to Fill Out Christ's Sacrifice

4. Content of the Christian's Sacrifice

5. The Supper as a Sacrifice


I. Terms of Sacrifice Epitomized.

The word "offering" (prosphora) describes the death of Christ, once in Paul (Ephesians 5:2); 5 times in Hebrews (Hebrews 10:5, 8, 10, 14, 18). The verb prosphero, "to offer," is also used, 15 times in Hebrews (Hebrews 5:1, 3; Hebrews 8:3, 4; 9:7, 14, 25, 28; 10:1, 8, 11, 12; 11:4). The noun prosphora occurs 15 times in the Septuagint, usually as the translation of minchah, "sacrifice." This noun in the New Testament refers to Old Testament sacrifices in Acts 7:42; Acts 21:26; to the offering of money in Acts 24:17 Romans 15:16. The verb anaphero, also occurs 3 times in Hebrews (7:27; 9:28; 13:15); also in 1 Peter 2:5.

The word "sacrifice" (thusia in the Septuagint translates 8 different Hebrew words for various kinds of sacrifice, occurring about 350 times) refers to Christ's death, once in Paul (Ephesians 5:2) 5 times in Hebrew (5:1; 9:23, 26; 10:12, 26). It refers several times to Old Testament sacrifice and 5 times to Christian living or giving (Philippians 2:17; Philippians 4:18 Hebrews 13:15, 16 1 Peter 2:5). The verb "to sacrifice" (thuo) is used once by Paul to describe Christ's death (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The blood (haima) of Christ is said to secure redemption or salvation, 6 times in Paul (Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9 1 Corinthians 10:16 Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13 Colossians 1:20); 3 times in Hebrews (9:12, 14; 10:19; compare also 10:29); 2 times in 1 Peter (1:2, 19) and 5 times in the Johannine writings (1 John 1:7; 1 John 5:6, 8 Revelation 1:5). Unmistakably this figure of the blood refers to Christ's sacrificial death. "In any case the phrase (en to autou haimati, `in his blood,' Romans 3:25) carries with it the idea of sacrificial blood-shedding" (Sanday, Commentary on Epistle to Romans, 91).

(lutron, "ransom," the price paid for redeeming, occurring in Septuagint 19 times, meaning the price paid for redeeming the servant (Leviticus 25:51, 52); ransom for first-born (Numbers 3:46); ransom for the life of the owner of the goring ox (Exodus 21:30, etc.)) occurs in the New Testament only twice (Matthew 20:28 Mark 10:45). This word is used by Jesus to signify the culmination of His sacrificial life in His sacrificial death.

(antilutron, "ransom," a word not found in Septuagint, stronger in meaning than the preceding word) occurs only once in the New Testament (1 Timothy 2:6).

(apolutrosis, "redemption," in Exodus 21:8, meaning the ransom paid by a father to redeem his daughter from a cruel master) signifies

(1) deliverance from sin by Christ's death, 5 times in Paul (Romans 3:24 1 Corinthians 1:30 Ephesians 1:7, 14 Colossians 1:14); once in Hebrews (9:15);

(2) general deliverance, twice (Luke 21:28 Hebrews 11:35);

(3) the Christian's final deliverance, physical and spiritual (Romans 8:23 Ephesians 4:30).

The simple word (lutrosis, "redemption," 10 times in Septuagint as the translation of 5 Hebrew words) occurs once for spiritual deliverance (Hebrews 9:12).

(exagorazo, "redeem," only once in Septuagint, Daniel 2:8) in the New Testament means

(1) to deliver from the curse of the law, twice by Paul (Galatians 3:13; Galatians 4:5);

(2) to use time wisely, twice by Paul (Ephesians 5:16 Colossians 4:5).

The simple verb (agorazo, meaning in Leviticus 27:19 to redeem land) occurs twice in Paul (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23) and means "to redeem" (in a spiritual sense). katallage, "reconciliation," only twice in the Septuagint) means the relation to God into which men are brought by Christ's death, 4 times by Paul (Romans 5:11; Romans 11:15 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).

(katallassein, "to reconcile," 4 times in Septuagint (3 times in 2 Maccabees)) means to bring men into the state of reconciliation with God, 5 times in Paul (Romans 5:10 twice; 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19, 20).

The words with the propitiatory idea occur as follows: (hilaskomai, "to propitiate," 12 times in the Septuagint, translated "to forgive") occurs twice (Luke 18:13 Hebrews 2:17); (hilasmos, 9 times in Septuagint, Numbers 5:8 Psalm 129 (130):4, etc.; "atonement," "forgiveness") occurs twice in 1 John (2:2; 4:10); (hilasterion, 24 times in the Septuagint, translates "mercy-seat," where God was gracious and spake to man) translates in the New Testament "propitiation" (Romans 3:25), "mercy-seat" (Hebrews 9:5).

Christ is called "the Lamb," amnos, twice by the Baptist (John 1:29, 36); once by Philip applied to Christ from Isaiah 53:7 (Acts 8:32); and once by Peter (1 Peter 1:19); arnion, 28 times in Re (5:6, 8, 12, 13; 6:1, 16; 7:9, 10, 14; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22, 23, 27; 22:1, 3).

The cross (stauros) is used by Paul 10 times to describe the sacrificial death of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:17, 18 Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12, 14 Ephesians 2:16 Philippians 2:8; Philippians 3:18 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:14) and once by the author of Hebrews (12:2). Jesus also 5 times used the figure of the cross to define the life of sacrifice demanded of His disciples and to make His own cross the symbol of sacrifice (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24 Mark 8:34 Luke 9:23; Luke 14:27, with contexts; compare John 3:14; John 12:32, etc.).

Though it is not our province in this article to discuss the origin and history of sacrifice in the ethnic religions, it must be noted that sacrifice has been a chief element in almost every religion (Jainism and Buddhism being the principal exceptions). The bloody sacrifice, where the idea of propitiation is prominent, is well-nigh universal in the ethnic religions, being found among even the most enlightened peoples like the Greeks and Romans (see article "Expiation and Atonement" in ERE). Whether or not the system of animal sacrifices would have ceased not only in Judaism but also in all the ethnic religions, had not Jesus lived and taught and died, is a question of pure speculation. It must be conceded that the sect of the Jews (Essenes) attaining to the highest ethical standard and living the most unselfish lives of brotherhood and benevolence did not believe in animal sacrifices. But they exerted small influence over the Jewish nation as compared with the Pharisees. It is also to be noted that the prophets Amos, Hosea, Micah and Isaiah exalted the ethical far above the ceremonial; even denounced the sacrifice of animals if not accompanied by personal devotion to righteousness (Amos 5:21 Hosea 6:6 Micah 6:6 Isaiah 1:11). The Stoic and Platonic philosophers also attacked the system of animal sacrifices. But these exceptions only accentuate the historical fact that man's sense of the necessity of sacrifice to Deity is well-nigh universal. Only the sacrifice of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem caused a cessation of the daily, weekly, monthly and annual sacrifices among the Jews, and only the knowledge of Christ's sacrifice of Himself will finally destroy the last vestige of animal sacrifice.

II. Attitude of Jesus and New Testament Writers to the Old Testament Sacrificial System.

1. Jesus' Attitude:

Jesus never attacks the sacrificial system. He even takes for granted that the Jews should offer sacrifices (Matthew 5:24). More than that, He accepted the whole sacrificial system, a part of the Old Testament scheme, as of divine origin, and so He commanded the cleansed leper to offer the sacrifice prescribed in the Mosaic code (Matthew 8:4). There is no record that Jesus Himself ever worshipped by offering the regular sacrifices. But He worshipped in the temple, never attacking the sacrificial system as He did the oral law (Mark 7:6). On the other hand, Jesus undermined the sacrificial system by teaching that the ethical transcends the ceremonial, not only as a general principle, but also in the act of worship (Matthew 5:23, 24). He endorses Hosea's fine ethical epigram, `God will have mercy and not sacrifice' (Matthew 9:13; Matthew 12:7). He also commends as near the kingdom the scribe who put love to God and man above sacrifice (Mark 12:33). But Jesus teaches not merely the inferiority of sacrifice to the moral law, but also the discontinuance of sacrifice as a system, when He said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:24 Matthew 26:28 Luke 22:20). Not only is the ethical superior to the ceremonial, but His sacrifice of Himself is as superior to the sacrifices of the old system as the new covenant is superior to the old.

2. Paul's Attitude:

Paul's estimate of the Jewish sacrifices is easily seen, although he does not often refer to them. Once only (Acts 21:26) after his conversion does he offer the Jewish sacrifice, and then as a matter of expediency for winning the Judaistic wing of Christianity to his universal gospel of grace. He regarded the sacrifices of the Old Testament as types of the true sacrifice which Christ made (1 Corinthians 5:7).

3. Attitude of the Author of Hebrews:

The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews discusses the Old Testament sacrifices more fully than other New Testament writers. He regards the bloody sacrifices as superior to the unbloody and the yearly sacririce on the Day of Atonement by the high priest as the climax of the Old Testament system. The high priest under the old covenant was the type of Christ under the new. The sacrifices of the old covenant could not take away sin, or produce moral transformation, because of the frailties of men (10:1-11), shown by the necessity of repeating the offerings (5:2), and because God had appointed another high priest, His Son, to supplant those of the old covenant (5:5; 7:1-28). The heart of this author's teaching is that animal sacrifices cannot possibly atone for sin or produce moral transformation, since they are divinely-appointed only as a type or shadow of the one great sacrifice by Christ (8:7; 10:1).

To sum up, the New Testament writers, as well as Jesus, regarded the Old Testament sacrificial system as of divine origin and so obligatory in its day, but imperfect and only a type of Christ's sacrifice, and so to be supplanted by His perfect sacrifice.

III. The Sacrificial Idea in the New Testament.

The one central idea of New Testament writers is that the sacrifice made by Christ on the cross is the final perfect sacrifice for the atonement of sin and the salvation of men, a sacrifice typified in the various sacrifices of the Old Testament, which are in turn abrogated by the operation of the final sacrifice. Only James and Jude among New Testament writers are silent as to the sacrifice of Christ, and they write for practical purposes only.

1. Teaching of John the Baptist:

The Baptist, it is true, presents Jesus as the coming Judge in the Synoptic Gospels, but in John 1:29, 36 he refers to Him as "the Lamb of God," in the former passage adding "that taketh away the sin of the world." Westcott (Commentary on John, 20) says: "The title as applied to Christ.... conveys the ideas of vicarious suffering, of patient submission, of sacrifice, of redemption, etc." There is scarcely any doubt that the Baptist looked upon the Christ as the one who came to make the great sacrifice for man's sins. Professor Burton (Biblical Ideas of Atonement, Burton, Smith and Smith, 107) says that John sees Christ "suffering under the load of human sin." 2. Teaching of Jesus:

There are recorded in the Synoptic Gospels two unmistakable references by Jesus to His death as a sacrifice (Mark 10:45 parallel Matthew 20:28; Mark 14:24 parallel Matthew 26:28 parallel Luke 22:20; compare 1 Corinthians 11:25). In the former He declares He came to give His "life a ransom." Thayer (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) says this word means "the price paid for redeeming." Hence, the idea in ransom must be of sacrificial significance. But if there could be any doubt as to the sacrificial import of this passage, there is a clear case of the sacrificial idea in Mark 14:24. Practically all writers of the New Testament theology, Wendt, Weiss, Stevens, Sheldon and others, hold that Jesus considered the death as the ratification sacrifice of the new covenant, just as the sacrifice offered at Sinai ratified the old covenant (Exodus 24:3-8). Ritschl and Beyschlag deny that this passage is sacrificial. But according to most exegetes, Jesus in this reference regarded His death as a sacrifice. The nature of the sacrifice, as Jesus estimated it, is in doubt and is to be discussed later. What we are pressing here is the fact that Jesus regarded His death as a sacrifice. We have to concede the meagerness of material on the sacrificial idea of His death as taught by Jesus. Yet these two references are unquestioned by literary and historical critics. They both occur in Mark, the primitive Gospel (the oldest Gospel record of Jesus' teachings). The first occurs in two of the Synoptists, the second in all three of them. Luke omits the first for reasons peculiar to his purpose. According to Luke 24:25, Jesus regarded His sufferings and death as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures.

3. Teaching of Peter:

Though the head apostle does not in the early chapters of Acts refer to Christ as the sacrifice for sin, he does imply as much in 2:36 (He is Lord and Christ in spite of His crucifixion); 3:18, 19 (He fulfilled the prophecies by suffering, and by means of repentance sins are to be blotted out); 4:10-12 (only in His name is salvation) and in 5:30, 31 (through whose death Israel received remission of sins). In his First Epistle (1 Peter 1:18, 19) he expressly declares that we are redeemed by the blood of the spotless Christ, thus giving the sacrificial significance to His death. The same is implied in 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 3:18.

4. Paul's Teaching:

Paul ascribes saving efficacy to the blood of Christ in Romans 3:25; Romans 5:9 1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13 Colossians 1:20. He identifies Christ with a sin offering in Romans 8:3, and perhaps also in 2 Corinthians 5:21, and with the paschal lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7. In other passages he implies that the death of Christ secured redemption, forgiveness of sins, justification and adoption (Romans 3:24-26; Romans 5:10, 11; 8:15, 17, etc.).

5. Teaching of Hebrews:

The argument of the author of Hebrews to prove the finality of Christianity is that Christ is superior to the Aaronic high priest, being a royal, eternal high priest, after the order of Melchizedek, and offering Himself as the final sacrifice for sin, and for the moral transformation of men (4:14; 10:18).

6. Johannine Teaching:

In the First Epistle of John (1 John 1:7; John 2:2; John 5:6, 8) propitiation for sin and cleansing from sin are ascribed to the blood of Christ. In Revelation 1:5 John ascribes deliverance (not washing or cleansing, according to best manuscripts) from sin, to the blood of Christ. Several times he calls Christ the Lamb, making the sacrificial idea prominent. Once he speaks of Him as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (13:8).

To sum up, all the New Testament writers, except James and Jude, refer to Christ's death as the great sacrifice for sin. Jesus Himself regarded His death as such. In the various types of New Testament teaching Christ's death is presented

(1) as the covenant sacrifice (Mark 14:24 parallel Matthew 26:28 parallel Luke 22:20 Hebrews 9:15-22);

(2) as the sin offering (Romans 8:3 2 Corinthians 5:21 Hebrews 13:11 1 Peter 3:18);

(3) as the offering of the paschal lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7);

(4) as the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 9:12).

IV. Relation of Christ's Sacrifice to Man's Salvation.

The saving benefits specified in the New Testament as resulting from the sacrificial death of Christ are as follows:

1. Redemption or Deliverance from Curse of Sin:

Redemption or deliverance from the curse of sin: This must be the implication in Jesus' words, "The Son of man also came.... to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45 parallel Matthew 20:28). Man is a captive in sin, the Father sends His Son to pay the ransom price for the deliverance of the captive, and the Son's death is the price paid. Paul also uses the words "redeemed" and "redemption" in the same sense. In the great letters he asserts that we are "justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation.... in his blood" (Romans 3:24, 25). Here the apostle traces justification back to redemption as the means for securing it, and redemption back to the "blood" (Christ's death) as the cause of its procurement. That is, Christ's death secures redemption and redemption procures justification. In Galatians (3:13), he speaks of being redeemed "from the curse of the law." The law involved man in a curse because he could not keep it. This curse is the penalty of the broken law which the transgressor must bear, unless deliverance from said penalty is somehow secured. Paul represents Christ by His death as securing for sinners deliverance from this curse of the broken law (compare Galatians 4:5 for the same thought, though the word "curse" is not used). Paul also emphasizes the same teaching in the Captivity Epistles: "In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Ephesians 1:7; compare Colossians 1:14). In the pastoral letters (1 Timothy 2:6) he teaches that Christ gave "himself a ransom for all." This is the only New Testament passage in which occurs the strong word antilutron for "ransom." In his old age the apostle feels more positively than ever before that Christ's death is the ransom price of man's deliverance from sin.

The author of Hebrews asserts that Christ by the sacrifice of Himself "obtained eternal redemption" for man (9:12). John says that Christ "loosed (luo) us from our sins by his blood" (Revelation 1:5). This idea in John is akin to that of redemption or deliverance by ransom. Peter teaches the same truth in 1 Peter 1:19. So, we see, Jesus and all the New Testament writers regard Christ's sacrifice as the procuring cause of human redemption.

2. Reconciliation:

The idea of reconciliation involves a personal difference between two parties. There is estrangement between God and man. Reconciliation is the restoration of favor between the two parties. Jesus does not utter any direct message on reconciliation, but implies God's repugnance at man's sin and strained relations between God and the unrepentant sinner (see Luke 18:13). He puts into the mouth of the praying tax-gatherer the words, `God be propitious to me' (see Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon, hilaskomai), but Jesus nowhere asserts that His death secures the reconciliation of God to the sinner. Paul, however, does. "For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son," etc. (Romans 5:10). There can be no doubt from this passage that Paul thought of the death of Christ as the procuring cause of reconciliation. In Ephesians 2:13, 14, 18 Paul makes the cross of Christ the means of reconciliation between the hostile races of men. Paul reaches the climax in his conception of the reconciliation wrought by the cross of Christ when he asserts the unifying results of Christ's death to be cosmic in extent (Ephesians 1:10).

The author of Hebrews also implies that Christ's death secures reconciliation when he regards this death as the ratification of the "better covenant" (8:6;), and when he plays on the double meaning of the word (diatheke, 9:15;), now "covenant" and now "will," "testament." The death of Christ is necessary to secure the ratification of the new covenant which brings God and man into new relations (8:12). In 2:17 the author uses a word implying propitiation as wrought by the death of Christ. So the doctrine of reconciliation is also in the Epistle to the Hebrews. John teaches reconciliation with God through Christ our Advocate, but does not expressly connect it with His death as the procuring cause (1 John 2:1, 2). Peter is likewise silent on this point.

3. Remission of Sins:

Reconciliation implies that God can forgive; yea, has forgiven. Jesus and the New Testament writers declare the death of Christ to be the basis of God's forgiveness. Jesus in instituting the memorial supper said, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). It is true Mark and Luke do not record this last phrase, "unto remission of sins." But there is no intimation that this phrase is the result of Matthew's theologizing on the purpose of Christ's death (see Wendt, Teaching of Jesus, II, 239;, who claims this phrase is not from Jesus; also Allen in "Matthew," ICC, in the place cited.). But Paul leaves no doubt as to the connection between man's forgiveness by God and Christ's sacrifice for him. This idea is rooted in the great passage on justification (Romans 3:21-5:21; see especially 4:7); is positively declared in Ephesians 1:7 Colossians 1:14. The author of Hebrews teaches that the shedding of Christ's blood under the new covenant is as necessary to secure forgiveness as the shedding of animal's blood under the old. John also implies that forgiveness is based on the blood (1 John 1:7-9).

4. The Cancellation of Guilt:

True reconciliation and forgiveness include the canceling of the offender's guilt. Jesus has no direct word on the cancellation of guilt. Paul closes his argument for the universality of human sin by asserting that "all the world may be brought under the judgment of God" (the King James Version "guilty before God," Romans 3:19). Thayer (Greek-English Lexicon, in the place cited.) says this word "guilty" means "owing satisfaction to God" (liable to punishment by God). But in Romans 8:1, 3 Paul exclaims, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.... God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin" (the English Revised Version and the American Revised Version margin "as an offering for sin"). The guilt, or exposure of the sinner to God's wrath and so to punishment, is removed by the sin offering which Christ made. This idea is implied by the author of Hebrews (2:15), but is not expressed in Peter and John.

5. Justification or Right Standing with God:

Right standing with God is also implied in the preceding idea. Forgiving sin and canceling guilt are the negative, bringing into right standing with God the positive, aspects of the same transaction. "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin (i.e. the sin offering; so Augustine and other Fathers, Ewald, Ritschl; see Meyer, Commentary, in loc., who denies this meaning) on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). In this passage Paul makes justification the divine purpose of the sacrificial death of Christ. This thought is elaborated by the apostle in Galatians and Romans, but is not expressed by Jesus, or in Hebrews, in Peter or in John.

6. Cleansing or Sanctification:

Jesus does not connect our cleansing or sanctification with His death, but with His word (John 17:17). The substantive "cleansing" (katharismos) is not used by Paul, and the verb "to cleanse" (katharizo) occurs only twice in his later letters (Ephesians 5:26 Titus 2:14).

Read Complete Article...


sak'-ri-fis, sak'-ri-fiz:




1. Theory of a Divine Revelation

2. Theories of a Human Origin

(1) The Gift-Theory

(2) The Magic Theory

(3) The Table-Bond Theory

(4) The Sacramental Communion Theory

(5) The Homage Theory

(6) The Piacular Theory

(7) Originating Religious Instincts


1. Maimonides

2. W.R. Smith and Others

3. Oehler

4. Paterson and Others

5. H.M. Wiener


1. In Egypt

2. In Babylonia

3. Nomads and Tribes of Arabia and Syria

4. The Offerings of Cain and Abel

5. Of Noah

6. Of Abraham

7. Of Job

8. Of Isaac

9. Of Jacob

10. Of Israel in Egypt

11. Of Jethro

12. Summary and Conclusions


1. The Covenant Sacrifice

2. The Common Altars

3. The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

4. Sacrifices before the Golden Calf

5. The Law of the Burnt Offering (`Olah)

(1) Ritual for the Offerer (Leviticus 1:3-17)

(2) Ritual for the Priest (Leviticus 1:3-17)

(3) General Laws for the Priest

(4) Laws in Deuteronomy 12:6, 13, 14, 27; 27:6

6. The Law of the Meal Offering (Minchah)

(1) Ritual for the Offerer (Leviticus 2:1-16)

(2) Ritual for the Priest (Leviticus 2:1-16)

(3) General Laws for the Priest (Leviticus 6:14-18 (Hebrew 7-11), etc.)

7. The Law of the Peace Offering

(1) Ritual for the Offerer (Leviticus 3:1-17)

(2) Ritual for the Priest (Leviticus 3:1-17)

(3) General Laws for the Priest (Leviticus 6:12 (Hebrew 5); 7:1;)

8. The Law of the Sin Offering

(1) At the Consecration of Aaron and His Sons (Exodus 29:10;)

(2) The Law of the Sin Offering (Leviticus 4:1-35; 24-30, etc.)

(a) The Occasion and Meaning

(b) Ritual for the Offerer (Leviticus 4:1-5, 13, etc.)

(c) Ritual for the Priest (Leviticus 4:1-5, 13, etc.)

(d) General Laws for the Priest (Leviticus 6:24-30)

(e) Special Uses of the Sin Offering

(i) Consecration of Aaron and His Sons

(ii) Purifications from Uncleanness

(iii) On the Day of Atonement

(iv) Other Special Instances

9. The Guilt Offering

(1) The Ritual (Leviticus 5:14-6:7)

(2) Special Laws: Leper, Nazirite, etc.

10. The Wave Offering

11. The Heave Offering

12. Drink Offerings

13. Primitive Nature of the Cult


1. The Situation at Moses' Death

2. In the Time of Joshua

3. The Period of the Judges

4. Times of Samuel and Saul

5. Days of David and Solomon

6. In the Northern Kingdom

7. In the Southern Kingdom to the Exile

8. In the Exilic and Post-exilic Periods

9. A Temple and Sacrifices at Elephantine

10. Human Sacrifices in Israel's History

11. Certain Heathen Sacrifices



1. Proverbs

2. The Psalms


1. A Gift of Food to the Deity

2. Expression of Adoration and Devotion, etc.

3. Means of Purification from Uncleanness

4. Means of Consecration to Divine Service

5. Means of Establishing a Community of Life between Worshipper and God

6. View of Ritschl

7. The Sacramental View

8. Symbol or Expression of Prayer

9. View of Kautzsch

10. Vicarious Expiation Theory; Objections

11. Typology of Sacrifice


I. Terms and Definitions.

zebhach, "sacrifice"; `olah, "burnt offering"; chata'ah, chatta'th, "sin offering"; 'asham, "guilt" or "trespass offering": shelem, shelamim, "peace offerings"; minchah, "offering," "present"; zebhach shelamim, "sacrifice of peace offerings"; zebhach ha-todhah, "thank offerings"; zebhach nedhabhah, "free-will offerings"; zebhach nedher, "votive offerings"; tenuphah, "wave offering"; terumah, "heave offering"; qorban, "oblation," "gift"; 'ishsheh, "fire offering"; necekh, "drink offering"; kalil, "whole burnt offering"; chagh, "feast"; lebhonah, "frankincense"; qetorah, qetoreth, "odor," "incense"; melach, "salt"; shemen, "oil":

Zebhach: a "slaughtered animal," a "sacrifice," general term for animals used in sacrifice, including burnt offerings, peace offerings, thank offerings, and all sacrifices offered to the Deity and eaten at the festivals. More particularly it refers to the flesh eaten by the worshippers after the fat parts had been burned on the altar and the priest had received his portion.

`Olah: a "burnt offering," sometimes whole burnt offering. Derived from the verb `alah, "to go up." It may mean "that which goes up to the altar" (Knobel, Wellhausen, Nowack, etc.), or "that which goes up in smoke to the sky" (Bahr, Delitzsch, Dillmann, etc.); sometimes used synonymously with kalil (which see). The term applies to beast or fowl when entirely consumed upon the altar, the hide of the beast being taken by the priest. This was perhaps the most solemn of the sacrifices, and symbolized worship in the full sense, i.e. adoration, devotion, dedication, supplication, and at times expiation.

Chota'ah, chatta'th: a "sin offering," a special kind, first mentioned in the Mosaic legislation. It is essentially expiatory, intended to restore covenant relations with the Deity. The special features were:

(1) the blood must be sprinkled before the sanctuary, put upon the horns of the altar of incense and poured out at the base of the altar of burnt offering;

(2) the flesh was holy, not to be touched by worshipper, but eaten by the priest only. The special ritual of the Day of Atonement centers around the sin offering.

'Asham: "guilt offering," "trespass offering" (King James Version; in Isaiah 53:10, the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "an offering for sin," the American Revised Version margin "trespass offering"). A special kind of sin offering introduced in the Mosaic Law and concerned with offenses against God and man that could be estimated by a money value and thus covered by compensation or restitution accompanying the offering. A ram of different degrees of value, and worth at least two shekels, was the usual victim, and it must be accompanied by full restitution with an additional fifth of the value of the damage. The leper and Nazirite could offer he-lambs. The guilt toward God was expiated by the blood poured out, and the guilt toward men by the restitution and fine. The calling of the Servant an 'asham (Isaiah 53:10) shows the value attached to this offering.

Shelem, shelamim: "peace offering," generally used the plural, shelamim, only once shelem (Amos 5:22). These were sacrifices of friendship expressing or promoting peaceful relations with the Deity, and almost invariably accompanied by a meal or feast, an occasion of great joy. They are sometimes called zebhachim, sometimes zebhach shelamim, and were of different kinds, such as zebhach ha-todhah, "thank offerings," which expressed the gratitude of the giver because of some blessings, zebhach nedhabhah, "free-will offerings," bestowed on the Deity out of a full heart, and zebhach nedher, "votive offerings," which were offered in fulfillment of a vow.

Minchah: "meal offering" (the Revised Version), "meat offering" (the King James Version), a gift or presentation, at first applied to both bloody and unbloody offerings (Genesis 4:5), but in Moses' time confined to cereals, whether raw or roast, ground to flour or baked and mixed with oil and frankincense. These cereals were the produce of man's labor with the soil, not fruits, etc., and thus represented the necessities and results of life, if not life itself. They were the invariable accompaniment of animal sacrifices, and in one instance could be substituted for them (see SIN OFFERING). The term minchah describes a gift or token of friendship (Isaiah 39:1), an act of homage (1 Samuel 10:27 1 Kings 10:25), tribute (Judges 3:15, 17 f), propitiation to a friend wronged (Genesis 32:13, 18; Hebrews 14:19)), to procure favor or assistance (Genesis 43:11 Hosea 10:6).

Tenuphah: "wave offering," usually the breast, the priest's share of the peace offerings, which was waved before the altar by both offerer and priest together (the exact motion is not certain), symbolic of its presentation to Deity and given back by Him to the offerer to be used in the priests' service.

Terumah: "heave offering," something lifted up, or, properly, separated from the rest and given to the service of the Deity. Usually the right shoulder or thigh was thus separated for the priest. The term is applied to products of the soil, or portion of land separated unto the divine service, etc.

Qorban: "an oblation," or "offering"; another generic term for all kinds of offerings, animal, vegetable, or even gold and silver. Derived from the verb qarabh, "to draw near," it signifies what is drawn or brought near and given to God.

'Ishsheh: "fire offering," applied to offerings made by fire and usually bloody offerings, but at times to the minchah, the sacred bread and frankincense placed on the tables as a memorial, part of which was burned with the frankincense, the bulk, however, going to the priest. The gift was thus presented through fire to the Deity as a sort of etherealized food.

Necekh: "drink offering," or "libation," a liquid offering of wine, rarely water, sometimes of oil, and usually accompanying the `olah, but often with the peace offerings.

Kalil: "whole burnt offering," the entire animal being burned upon the altar. Sometimes used synonymously with `olah. A technical term among the Carthaginians.

Chagh: a "feast," used metaphorically for a sacrificial feast because the meat of the sacrifices constituted the material of the feast.

Lebhonah: "frankincense," "incense," used in combination with the meal offerings and burnt offerings and burned also upon the altar in the holy place.


Qetorah, qetoreth: "smoke," "odor of sacrifice," or incense ascending as a sweet savor and supposed to be pleasing and acceptable to God.

Melach: "salt," used in all sacrifices because of its purifying and preserving qualities.

Shemen: "oil," generally olive oil, used with the meal offerings of cakes and wafers, etc.

Sacrifice is thus a complex and comprehensive term. In its simplest form it may be defined as "a gift to God." It is a presentation to Deity of some material object, the possession of the offerer, as an act of worship. It may be to attain, restore, maintain or to celebrate friendly relations with the Deity. It is religion in action-in early times, almost the whole of religion-an inseparable accompaniment to all religious exercises. Few or many motives may actuate it. It may be wholly piacular and expiatory, or an Offering of food as a gift to God; it may be practically a bribe, or a prayer, an expression of dependence, obligation and thanksgiving. It may express repentance, faith, adoration, or all of these combined. It was the one and only way of approach to God. Theophrastus defines it as expressing homage, gratitude and need. Hubert and Mauss define it as "a religious act which by the consecration of the victim modifies the moral state of the sacrificer, or of certain material objects which he has in view, i.e., either confers sanctity or removes it and its analogue, impiety."

II. Origin and Nature of Sacrifices.

The beginnings of sacrifice are hidden in the mysteries of prehistoric life. The earliest narrative in Genesis records the fact, but gives no account of the origin and primary idea. The custom is sanctioned by the sacred writings, and later on the long-established custom was adopted and systematized in the Mosaic Law. The practice was almost universal. The Vedas have their elaborate rituals. Some Semitic peoples, Greeks, Romans, Africans, and Indians of Mexico offered human sacrifices. It is unknown in Australia, but even there something akin to it exists, for some natives offer a portion of a kind of honey, others offer a pebble or a spear to their god. For this practically universal habit of the race, several solutions are offered.

1. Theory of a Divine Revelation:

One view maintains that God Himself initiated the rite by divine order at the beginnings of human history. Such a theory implies a monotheistic faith on the part of primitive man. This theory was strongly held by many of the Reformed theologians, and was based mainly on the narrative in Genesis 4:4 f. Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice, and, according to Hebrews 11:4, this was because of his faith. Faber makes a strong plea as follows: Since faith was what made the sacrifice acceptable to God, this faith must have been based upon a positive enactment of God in the past. Without this divine positive enactment to guarantee its truthfulness, faith, in Abel, would have been superstition. In other words, faith, in order to be truly based and properly directed, must have a revelation from God, a positive expression of the divine will. Fairbairn, in his Typology, goes further and holds that the skins wherewith Adam and Eve were clothed were from animals which had been slain in sacrifices. This is entirely without support in the narrative. The theory of a divine order cannot be maintained on the basis of the Biblical narrative. Moreover, it involves certain assumptions regarding the nature of faith and revelation which are not generally held in this age. A revelation is not necessarily a positive divine command, an external thing, and faith may be just as real and true without such a revelation as with it. That there may have been such a revelation cannot be denied, but it is not a necessary or probable explanation.

2. Theories of a Human Origin:

(1) The Gift-Theory.

By this it is held that sacrifices were originally presents to the deity which the offerer took for granted would be received with pleasure and even gratitude. Good relations would thus be established with the god and favors would be secured. Such motives, while certainly true among many heathen people, were obviously based upon low conceptions of the deity. They were either. Nature-spirits, ancestral ghosts or fetishes which needed what was given, and of course the god was placed under obligations and his favor obtained. Or, the god may have been conceived of as a ruler, a king or chief, as was the custom in the East.

Cicero vouches for such a view when he says: "Let not the impious dare to appease the gods with gifts. Let them hearken to Plato, who warns them that there can be no doubt what God's disposition to them will be, since even a good man will refuse to accept presents from the wicked" (HDB, IV, 331a). This view of sacrifice prevails in classical literature. Spencer therefore thinks it is self-evident that this was the idea of primitive man. Tylor and Herbert Spencer also find the origin of sacrifices in the idea of a gift, whether to the deity or to dead ancestors, food being placed for them, and this afterward comes to be regarded as a sacrifice. Such a view gives no account of the peculiar value attached to the blood, or to the burnt offerings. It may account for some heathen systems of sacrifice, but can help in no degree in understanding the Biblical sacrifices.

(2) The Magic Theory.

There are two slightly variant forms of this:

(a) that of R.C. Thompson (Semitic Magic, Its Origins and Developments, 175-218), who holds that a sacrificial animal serves as a substitute victim offered to a demon whose activity has brought the offerer into trouble; the aim of the priest is to entice or drive the malignant spirit out of the sick or sinful man into the sacrificial victim where it can be isolated or destroyed;

(b) that of L. Marillier, who holds that sacrifice in its origin is essentially a magical rite. The liberation of a magical force by the effusion of the victim's blood will bend the god to the will of the man. From this arose under the "cult of the dead" the gift-theory of sacrifice. Men sought to ally themselves with the god in particular by purifying a victim and effecting communion with the god by the application of the blood to the altar, or by the sacrifice of the animal and the contact of the sacrificer with its blood. Such theories give no account of the burnt offerings, meal offerings and sin offerings, disconnect them entirely from any sense of sin or estrangement from God, and divest them of all piacular value. They may account for certain depraved and heathen systems, but not for the Biblical.

(3) The Table-Bond Theory.

Ably advocated by Wellhausen and W.R. Smith, this view holds that sacrifices were meals which the worshippers and the god shared, partaking of the same food and thus establishing a firmer bond of fellowship between them. Sykes (Nature of Sacrifices, 75) first advocated this, holding that the efficacy of sacrifices "is the fact that eating and drinking were the known and ordinary symbols of friendship and were the usual rites in engaging in covenants and leagues." Thus sacrifices are more than gifts; they are deeds of hospitality which knit god and worshipper together. W.R. Smith has expounded the idea into the notion that the common meal unites physically those who partake of it. Though this view may contain an element of truth in regard to certain Arabian customs, it does not help much to account for Bible sacrifices. As A.B. Davidson says, "It fails utterly to account for the burnt offering, which was one of the earliest, most solemn and at times the most important of all the sacrifices."

(4) The Sacramental Communion Theory.

This is a modification of the table-bond theory. The basis of it is the totemistic idea of reverencing an animal which is believed to share with man the divine nature. On certain solemn occasions this animal would be sacrificed to furnish a feast. At this meal, according to men's savage notions, they literally "ate the god," and thus incorporated into themselves the physical, the intellectual and the moral qualities which characterized the animal. If the divine life dwelt in certain animals, then a part of that precious life would be distributed among all the people (RS2, 313). In some cases the blood is drunk by the worshippers, thus imbibing the life. Sometimes, as in the case of the sacred camel, they devoured the quivering flesh before the animal was really dead, and the entire carcass was eaten up before morning.

The brilliant work of W. R. Smith has not been universally accepted. L. Marillier has criticized it along several lines. It is by no means certain that totemism prevailed so largely among Semites and there is no evidence of its existence in Israel. Also, if an original bond of friendship existed between the god and the kin, there is no need to maintain it by such sacrificial rites. There is no clear instance of this having been done. If on the other hand there was no common bond between the god and the people but that of a common meal, it does not appear that the god is a totem god. There is no reason why the animal should have been a totem. In any case, this idea of sacrifice could hardly have been anything but a slow growth, and consequently not the origin of sacrifice. Hubert and Mauss also point out that W. R. Smith is far from having established the historical or the logical connection between the common meal and the other kinds of sacrifices. Under piacula he confuses purification, propitiation and expiations. His attempts to show that purifications of magical character are late and not sacrificial do not succeed. Smith's theory is mainly the sacramental, though he does recognize the honorific and piacular element. The theory may be applicable to some of the heathen or savage feasts of the Arabs, but not to the practices of the Hebrews (see Encyclopedia Brit, XXIII, 981).

(5) The Homage Theory.

This has been advocated by Warburton and F. D. Maurice. The idea is that sacrifices were originally an expression of homage and dependence. Man naturally felt impelled to seek closer communion with God, not so much from a sense of guilt as from a sense of dependence and a desire to show homage and obedience. In giving expression to this, primitive man had recourse to acts rather than words and thoughts. Thus sacrifice was an acted prayer, rather than a prayer in words. It was an expression of his longings and aspirations, his reverence and submission. There is much truth in this view; the elements of prayer-dependence and submission-enter into some sacrifices, the burnt offerings in particular; but it does not account for all kinds of offerings.

(6) The Piacular Theory.

This holds that sacrifices are fundamentally expiatory or atoning, and the death of the beast is a vicarious expiation of the sins of the offerer. Hubert and Mauss admit that in all sacrifices there are some ideas of purchase or substitution, though these may not have issued from some primitive form. The unifying principle in all sacrifices is that the divine is put in communication with the profane by the intermediary-the victim-which may be piacular or honorific. It is thus a messenger, a means of divination, a means of alimenting the eternal life of the species, a source of magical energy which the rite diffuses over objects in its neighborhood. Westermarck (Origin of Moral Ideas) makes the original idea in sacrifice a piaculum, a substitute for the offerer.

This view is the most simple, the most natural, and the only one that can explain certain sacrifices. Man felt himself under liability to punishment or death. The animal was his, it had life, it was of value, and perchance the god would accept that life in place of his. He felt that it would be accepted, and thus the animal was sacrificed. The offerer in a sense gives up part of himself. The beast must be his own; no sacrifice can be made of another person's property (2 Samuel 24:24 a). The true spirit of sacrifice appears in a willingness to acknowledge God's right to what is best and dearest (Genesis 12).

Objection is raised to this by A. B. Davidson (Old Testament Theology), Paterson (HDB, IV, 331) and others, on the ground that such an origin represents too advanced a stage of ethical thought and reflection for primitive man. We question seriously whether this be an advanced stage of moral reflection. On the contrary, it represents a very simple and primitive stage. The feeling that sin of some kind is never absent from human life, and that its true penalty is death, has been inseparable from the human heart's sense of sin. What could be more simple and natural than to take an innocent animal and offer it in place of himself, hoping that the Deity would accept it instead? Nor is there much force in Professor Paterson's objection that sacrifices were preponderantly joyous in character and therefore could not be offered as an expiation. This joyous character belongs to such sacrifices as peace offerings and thank offerings, but does not belong to the `olah and others. In most cases the joyous feast followed the killing of the animal by which the expiation was accomplished, and the feast was joyous because atonement had been made. In fact, many sacrifices were of the most solemn character and represented the deepest and most serious emotions of the heart.

(7) Originating in Religious Instincts.

Neither theory of an objective divine revelation, nor of a human origin will account for the universality and variety of sacrifices. The truth lies in a proper combination of the two. The notion of offering a gift to the Deity arose out of the religious instincts of the human heart, which in an early period had a consciousness of something wrong between itself and God, and that this something would mean death sooner or later. Added to these true instincts was the Omnipresent Spirit to guide men in giving expression. What could be more simple and primitive than to offer something possessing life? Of course the notion originated in simple and childlike ideas of God, and its real motive was not to gratify God by sharing a meal with Him, or to gain His favor by a bribe, but to present Him with something that represented a part of the offerer which might be accepted in his stead. Thus sacrifices became the leading features of the religious life of primitive man. Naturally other ideas would be added, such as a gift of food by fire to the Deity, the peace offerings, etc., to celebrate the friendly relations with God, the thank offerings, the sin offerings, etc., all of which naturally and logically developed from the primitive idea. It might be expected that there would be many corruptions and abuses, that the sense of sin would be obscured or lost among some peoples, and the idea of sacrifice correspondingly degraded. Such has been the case, and as well might we try to understand man at his best by studying the aboriginal tribes of Africa and Australia, or the inmates of asylums and penitentiaries, as to attempt to understand the Bible ideas in sacrifices by studying the cults of those heathen and savage tribes of Semites, etc.

III. Classification of Sacrifices.

1. Maimonides:

Maimonides was among the first to classify them, and he divided them into two kinds:

(1) Those on behalf of the whole congregation, fixed by statute, time, number and ritual being specified. This would include burnt, meal and peace offerings with their accompaniments. (2) Those on behalf of the individual, whether by virtue of his connection with the community or as a private person. These would be burnt offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings with their accompaniments.

2. W. R. Smith and Others:

Others, such as W. R. Smith, classify them as: (1) honorific, or designed to render homage, devotion, or adoration, such as burnt, meal and peace offerings; (2) piacular, designed to expiate or make atonement for the errors of the people, i.e. burnt offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings; (3) communistic, intended to establish the bond between the god and the worshipper, such as peace offerings.

3. Oehler:

Oehler divides them into two classes, namely: (1) those which assume that the covenant relation is undisturbed, such as peace offerings; (2) those intended to do away with any disturbance in the relation and to set it right, such as burnt, sin and guilt offerings.

4. Paterson and Others:

Professor Paterson and others divide them into three: (1) animal sacrifices, burnt offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings; (2) vegetable sacrifices, meal offerings, shewbread, etc.; (3) liquid and incense offerings; wine, oil, water, etc.

5. H. M. Wiener:

H. M. Wiener offers a more suggestive and scientific division (Essays on Pentateuchal Criticism, 200):

(1) customary lay offerings, such as had from time immemorial been offered on rude altars of earth or stone, without priest, used and regulated by Moses and in more or less general use until the exile, namely, burnt offerings, meal offerings, and peace offerings;

(2) statutory individual offerings, introduced by Moses, offered by laymen with priestly assistance and at the religious capital, i.e. burnt offerings, peace offerings, meal offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings;

(3) statutory national offerings introduced by Moses and offered by the priest at the religious capital, namely, burnt, meal, peace and sin offerings.

IV. Sacrifices in the Pre-Mosaic Age.

Out of the obscure period of origins emerged the dimly lighted period of ancient history. Everywhere sacrifices existed and sometimes abounded as an essential part of religion. The spade of the archaeologist, and the researches of scholars help us understand the pre-Mosaic period.

1. In Egypt:

In Egypt-probably from the beginning of the 4th millennium B.C.-there were sacrifices and sacrificial systems. Temples at Abydos, Thebes, On, etc., were great priestly centers with high priests, lower priests, rituals and sacrifices in abundance. Burnt, meal and peace offerings predominated. Oxen, wild goats, pigs, geese were the chief animals offered. Besides these, wine, oil, beer, milk, cakes, grain, ointment, flowers, fruit, vegetables were offered, but not human beings. In these offerings there were many resemblances to the Hebrew gifts, and many significant exceptions. Moses would be somewhat familiar with these practices though not with the details of the ritual. He would appreciate the unifying power of a national religious center. It is inconceivable that in such an age a national leader and organizer like Moses would not take special care to institute such a system.

2. In Babylonia:

In Babylonia, from the year 3000 B.C. or thereabouts, according to E. Meyer (Geschichte des Alterthums), there were many centers of worship such as Eridu, Nippur, Agade, Erech, Ur, Nisin, Larsa, Sippar, etc. These and others continued for centuries with elaborate systems of worship, sacrifices, temples, priesthoods, etc. Considerably over 100 temples and sanctuaries are mentioned on inscriptions, and several hundreds in the literature and tablets, so that Babylonia was studded with temples and edifices for the gods. At all these, sacrifices were constantly offered-animal and vegetable. A long list of the offerings of King Gudea includes oxen, sheep, goats, lambs, fish, birds (i.e. eagles and doves), dates, milk, greens (Jastrow, in HDB, V, 580, under the word). The sacrifices provided an income for the priests, as did the Mosaic system at a later time. It had long passed the stage when it was supposed to furnish a meal for the god. A sacrifice always accompanied a consultation with a priest, and was really an assessment for the services rendered. It was not a voluntary offering or ritualistic observance. The priests on their own behalf offered a daily sacrifice, as in the Mosaic Law, and likewise on special occasions, to insure the good will of the gods they served. It seems certain that in some of the larger centers of worship animals were offered up twice a day, morning and evening. At these sacrifices certain portions were consumed on the altar, the rest belonging to the priest. The similarity of much of this to the Mosaic institutions is obvious. That the culture and civilization of Babylon was known to Egypt and Israel with other nations is shown clearly by the Tell el-Amarna Letters. Special sacrifices on special occasions were offered in Babylonia as in Israel. As Jastrow says, "In the Hebrew codes, both as regards the purely legal portions and those sections dealing with religious ritual, Babylonian methods of legal procedure and of ritual developed in Babylonian temples must be taken into consideration as determining factors."

Read Complete Article...


1. New Testament Terms:

Two Greek words are translated "son," teknon, huios, both words indicating sonship by parentage, the former indicating that the sonship has taken place by physical descent, while the latter presents sonship more from the legal side than from the standpoint of relationship. John, who lays special emphasis on sonship by birth, uses teknon, while Paul, in emphasizing sonship from the legal side, as referring to adoption, which was current among the Romans but scarcely if at all known to, or if known, practiced by, the Jews, uses the word huios (John 1:12 Romans 8:14, 16, 19 Galatians 4:6, 7 1 John 3:1, 2).

2. New Testament Doctrine:

Men are not by nature the sons of God, at least not in the sense in which believers in Christ are so called. By nature those outside of Jesus Christ are "children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3), "of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2), controlled not by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14), but by the spirit of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2-4). Men become sons of God in the regenerative and adoptive sense by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (John 1:12 Galatians 3:26). The universal brotherhood which the New Testament teaches is that brotherhood which is based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as the divine and only Saviour of the world. And the same is true of the universal Fatherhood of God. It is true that all men are "his offspring" (Acts 17:28 f) in the sense that they are God's created children; but that the New Testament makes a very clear and striking distinction between sonship by virtue of creation and sonship by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, there can be no reasonable doubt.

Sonship is the present possession of the believer in Christ (1 John 3:2). It will be completed at the second coming of our Lord (Romans 8:23), at which time the believer will throw off his incognito, by reason of which the world may not have recognized his sonship (1 John 3:1, 2), and be fully and gloriously revealed as the son of God (2 Corinthians 5:10). It doth not yet appear, it hath not yet appeared, what we shall be; the revelation of the sons of God is reserved for a coming day of manifestation.

The blessings of sonship are too numerous to mention, save in the briefest way. His sons are objects of God's peculiar love (John 17:23), and His Fatherly care (Luke 12:27-33). They have the family name (Ephesians 3:14 1 John 3:1); the family likeness (Romans 8:29); family love (John 13:35 1 John 3:14); a filial spirit (Romans 8:15 Galatians 4:6); a family service (John 14:23; John 15:8). They receive fatherly chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-11); fatherly comfort (2 Corinthians 1:4), and an inheritance (Romans 8:17 1 Peter 1:3-5).

Among the evidences of sonship are: being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14 Galatians 5:18); having a childlike confidence in God (Galatians 4:5); having liberty of access (Ephesians 3:12); having love for the brethren (1 John 2:9-11; John 5:1), and obedience (1 John 5:1-3).

William Evans


The technical meaning attaching to the Hebrew terms is not present in the Greek words translated "stranger" and "sojourner," and the distinctions made by English Versions of the Bible are partly only to give uniformity in the translation. For "stranger" the usual Greek word is xenos, meaning primarily "guest" and so appearing in the combination "hatred toward guests" in The Wisdom of Solomon 19:13 (misoxenia). Xenos is the most common word for "stranger" in the New Testament (Matthew 25:35, etc.), but it seems not to be used by itself with this force in the Apocrypha. Almost equally common in the New Testament is allotrios, "belonging to another" (Matthew 17:25, 26 John 10:5 (bis)), and this is the usual word in the Apocrypha (Sirach 8:18; 1 Maccabees 1:38, etc.), but for some inexplicable reason the Revised Version (British and American) occasionally translates by "alien" (contrast, e.g. 1 Maccabees 1:38; 2:7). Compare the corresponding verb apallotrioo (Ephesians 2:12; Ephesians 4:18 Colossians 1:21). With the definite meaning of "foreigner" are allogenes, "of another nation," the Revised Version (British and American) "stranger" (1 Esdras 8:83; 1 Maccabees 3:45 (the King James Version "alien"); Luke 17:18 (the Revised Version margin "alien")), and allophulos, "of another tribe," the Revised Version (British and American) "stranger" (Baruch 6:5; 1 Maccabees 4:12, etc.) or "of another nation" (Acts 10:28). For "to sojourn" the commonest form is paroikeo, "to dwell beside," the Revised Version (British and American) always "to sojourn" (Judith 5:7; Sirach 41:19; Luke 24:18 (the King James Version "to be a stranger"); Hebrews 11:9). The corresponding noun for "sojourner" is paroikos (Sirach 29:26 (the King James Version "stranger"); Acts 7:6, 26 Ephesians 2:19 1 Peter 2:11), with paroikia, "sojourning" (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:10; Sirach 16:8; Acts 13:17 (the King James Version "dwelling as strangers"); 1 Peter 1:17). In addition, epidemeo, "to be among people," is translated "to sojourn" in Acts 2:10; Acts 17:21, and its compound parepidemos, as "sojourner" in 1 Peter 1:1 (in Hebrews 11:13 1 Peter 2:11, "pilgrim").

Burton Scott Easton




1. Legal provisions

(1) Principles

(2) Rules

2. Relation to Sacrifice and Ritual

3. Historical Circumstances



1. Marriage

2. Exclusion of Some Races from the Assembly


Four different Hebrew words must be considered separately:

(1) ger, the American Standard Revised Version "sojourner" or "stranger";

(2) toshabh, the American Standard Revised Version "sojourner";

(3) nokhri, ben nekhar, the American Standard Revised Version "foreigner";

(4) zar, the American Standard Revised Version "stranger."

I. The Ger.

This word with its kindred verb is applied with slightly varying meanings to anyone who resides in a country or a town of which he is not a full native land-owning citizen; e.g., the word is used of the patriarchs in Palestine, the Israelites in Egypt, the Levites dwelling among the Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:6 Judges 17:7, etc.), the Ephraimite in Gibeah (Judges 19:16). It is also particularly used of free aliens residing among the Israelites, and it is with the position of such that this article deals. This position is absolutely unparalleled in early legal systems (A. H. Post, Grundriss der ethnologischen Jurisprudenz, I, 448, note 3), which are usually far from favorable to strangers.

1. Legal Provisions:

(1) Principles.

The dominant principles of the legislation are most succinctly given in two passages: He "loveth the ger in giving him food and raiment" (Deuteronomy 10:18); "And if a ger sojourn with thee (variant "you") in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. The ger that sojourneth with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were gerim in the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19:33 f). This treatment of the stranger is based partly on historic recollection, partly on the duty of the Israelite to his God. Because the ger would be at a natural disadvantage through his alienage, he becomes one of the favorites of a legislation that gives special protection to the weak and helpless.

(2) Rules.

In nationality the freeman followed his father, so that the son of a ger and an Israelitess was himself a ger (Leviticus 24:10-22). Special care was to be taken to do him no judicial wrong (Deuteronomy 1:16; Deuteronomy 27:19). In what may roughly be called criminal law it was enacted that the same rules should apply to gerim as to natives (Leviticus 18:26, which is due to the conception that certain abominations defile a land; Leviticus 20:2, where the motive is also religious; Leviticus 24:10-22; see SBL, 84;; Numbers 35:15). A free Israelite who became his slave was subject to redemption by a relative at any time on payment of the fair price (Leviticus 25:47). This passage and Deuteronomy 28:43 contemplate the possibility of a stranger's becoming wealthy, but by far the greater number of the legal provisions regard him as probably poor. Thus provision is made for him to participate in tithes (Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 26:12), gleanings of various sorts and forgotten sheaves (Leviticus 19:10; Leviticus 23:22 Deuteronomy 24:19, 20, 21), and poor hired servants were not to be oppressed (Deuteronomy 24:14).

2. Relation to Sacrifice and Ritual:

Nearly all the main holy days apply to the ger. He was to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10; Exodus 23:12, etc.), to rejoice on Weeks and Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16), to observe the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29), to have no leaven on the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:19). But he could not keep the Passover unless he underwent circumcision (Exodus 12:48). He could not eat blood at any rate during the wilderness period (Leviticus 17:10-12), and for that period, but not thereafter, he was probihited from eating that which died of itself (Leviticus 17:15 Deuteronomy 14:21) under pain of being unclean until the even. He could offer sacrifices (Leviticus 17:8; Leviticus 22:18 Numbers 15:14 f), and was subject to the same rules as a native for unwitting sins (Numbers 15:22-31), and for purification for uncleanness by reason of contact with a dead body (Numbers 19:10-13).

3. Historical Circumstances:

The historical circumstances were such as to render the position of the resident alien important from the first. A "mixed multitude" went up with the Israelites from Egypt, and after the conquest we find Israelites and the races of Palestine living side by side throughout the country. We repeatedly read of resident aliens in the historical books, e.g. Uriah the Hittite. According to 2 Chronicles 2:17 (Hebrew 16) there was a very large number of such in the days of Solomon, but the figure may be excessive. These seem to have been the remnant of the conquered tribes (1 Kings 9:20 f). Ezekiel in his vision assigned to gerim landed inheritance among the Israelites (47:22). Hospitality to the ger was of course a religious duty and the host would go to any lengths to protect his guest (Genesis 19 Judges 19:24).

II. The Toshabh.

Of the toshabh we know very little. It is possible that the word is practically synonymous with ger, but perhaps it is used of less permanent sojourning. Thus in Leviticus 22:10 it appears to cover anybody residing with a priest. A toshabh could not eat the Passover or the "holy" things of a priest (Exodus 12:45 Leviticus 22:10). His children could be purchased as perpetual slaves, and the law of the Jubilee did not apply to them as to Israelites (Leviticus 25:45). He is expressly mentioned in the law of homicide (Numbers 35:15), but otherwise we have no information as to his legal position. Probably it was similar to that of the ger.

III. The Nokhri Ben Nekhar.

The nokhri or ben nekhar was a foreigner. The word is far wider than those considered above. It covers everything of alien or foreign character regardless of the place of residence. By circumcision a foreign slave could enter into the covenant with Abraham. Foreigners were of course excluded from the Passover (Exodus 12:43), but could offer sacrifices to Israel's God at the religious capital (Leviticus 22:25). The Israelite could exact interest of them (Deuteronomy 23:20) and the payment of debts in cases where an Israelite debtor was protected by the release of Deuteronomy 15:3. Moses forbade the appointment of a foreigner as a ruler (Deuteronomy 17:15, in a law which according to Massoretic Text relates to a "king," but in the preferable text of Septuagint to a ruler generally). Later the worship of God by foreigners from a distance was contemplated and encouraged (1 Kings 8:41-43 Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 56:3, 6 f; etc.), while the case of Naaman shows that a foreigner might worship Him abroad (2 Kings 5:17). A resident foreigner was of course a ger. The distinction between these three words is perhaps best seen in Exodus 12:43, 45, 48 f. in the first of these verses we have ben nekhar, used to cover "alien" generally; in the last the ger is contemplated as likely to undergo a complete naturalization; while in 12:45 the toshabh is regarded as certain to be outside the religious society.

1. Marriage:

In the earlier period marriages with foreigners are common, though disliked (e.g. Genesis 24:3; Genesis 27:46;; Numbers 12:1 Judges 14:3, etc.). The Law provides for some unions of this kind (Deuteronomy 21:10; compare Numbers 31:18), but later Judaism became more stringent. Moses required the high priest to marry a virgin of his own people (Leviticus 21:14); Ezekiel limited all descendants of Zadok to wives of the house of Israel (44:22); Ezra and Nehemiah carried on a vigorous polemic against the intermarriage of any Jew with foreign women (Ezra 10 Nehemiah 13:23-31).

2. Exclusion of Some Races from Assembly:

Deuteronomy further takes up a hostile attitude to Ammonites and Moabites, excluding them from the assembly of the Lord even to the tenth generation, while the children of the third generation of Edomites and Egyptians could enter it (23:3-8 (Hebrew 4-9)). From 1 Kings 9:20, 21, 24 1 Chronicles 22:2 we learn of the existence of foreign quarters in Israel.

IV. The Zar.

The remaining word zar means "stranger" and takes its coloring from the context. It may mean "stranger in blood," e.g. non-Aaronite (Numbers 16:40 (Heb 17:5)), or non-Levite (e.g. Numbers 1:51), or a non-member of some other defined family (Deuteronomy 25:5). In opposition to priest it means "lay" (Leviticus 22:10-13), and when the contrast is with holy, it denotes "profane" (Exodus 30:9).


Harold M. Wiener


tes'-ta-ment: The word diatheke, almost invariably rendered "covenant," was rendered in the King James Version "testament" in Hebrews 9:16, 17, in the sense of a will to dispose of property after the maker's death. It is not easy to find justification for the retention of this translation in the Revised Version (British and American), "especially in a book which is so impregnated with the language of the Septuagint as the Epistle to the Hebrews" (Hatch).




1. Autographs of the New Testament Writers

2. Papyrus Fragments of the Greek New Testament

3. Greek Copies or Manuscripts of the New Testament Text

4. List of Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament

(1) Uncials

(2) Minuscules

5. Vernacular Versions

6. Patristic Quotations

7. Lectionaries and Service-Books





The literary evidence to the text of the New Testament is vastly more abundant than that to any other series of writings of like compass in the entire range of ancient letters. Of the sacred books of the Hebrew Bible there is no known copy antedating the 10th century A.D. Of Homer there is no complete copy earlier than the 13th century. Of Herodotus there is no manuscript earlier than the 10th century. Of Vergil but one copy is earlier than the 4th century, and but a fragment of all Cicero's writings is even as old as this. Of the New Testament, however, we have two splendid manuscripts of the 4th century, at least ten of the 5th, twentyfive of the 6th and in all a total of more than four thousand copies in whole or in part of the Greek New Testament. To these copies of the text itself may be added the very important and even more ancient evidence of the versions of the New Testament in the Latin, Syriac, and Egyptian tongues, and the quotations and clear references to the New Testament readings found in the works of the early Church Fathers, as well as the inscriptions and monumental data in Syria, Asia Minor, Africa, Italy, and Greece, dating from the very age of the apostles and their immediate successors. It thus appears that the documents of the Christian faith are both so many and so widely scattered that these very facts more than any others have embarrassed the final determination of the text. Now however, the science of textual criticism has so far advanced and the textual problems of the Greek Testament have been so well traversed that one may read the Christian writings with an assurance approximating certainty.

Professor Eberhard Nestle speaks of the Greek text of the New Testament issued by Westcott and Hort as the "nearest in its approach to the goal." Professor Alexander Souter's student's edition of the Revisers' Greek New Testament, Oxford, 1910, no doubt attains even a higher watermark. It is the purpose of the present article to trace, as far as it can be done in a clear and untechnical manner, the process of connection between the original writings and this, one of the latest of the editions of the Greek New Testament.

I. Sources of Evidence for the Text of the New Testament.

1. Autographs of the New Testament Writers:

Until very recent times it has not been customary to take up with any degree of confidence, if at all, the subject of New Testament autographs, but since the researches in particular of Dalman, Deissmann, Moulton (W. F.) and Milligan (George), the task is not only appropriate but incumbent upon the careful student. The whole tendency of recent investigation is to give less place to the oral tradition of Christ's life and teaching and to press back the date of the writing of the Synoptic Gospels into the period falling between Pentecost and the destruction of Jerusalem. Sir William M. Ramsay goes so far as to claim that "antecedent probability founded on the general character of personal and contemporary Greek of Gr-Asiatic society" would indicate that the first Christian account of the circumstances connected with the death of Jesus must be presumed to have been written in the year when Jesus died" (Letters to the Seven Churches, 7). W. M. Flinders Petrie argues to the same end and says: "Some generally accepted Gospels must have been in circulation before 60 A.D. The mass of briefer records and Logia which the habits and culture of that age would produce must have been welded together within 10 or 20 years by the external necessities" (The Growth of the Gospels, 7).

The autographs of the New Testament writers have long been lost, but the discovery during the last few years of contemporary documents enables us to form fairly clear notions as to their general literary character and condition. In the first place papyrus was probably the material employed by all the New Testament writers, even the original Gospel of Matthew and the general Epistle of James, the only books written within Palestine, not being excepted, for the reason that they were not originally written with a view to their liturgical use, in which case vellum might possibly have been employed. Again the evidence of the writings themselves witnesses to the various literary processes followed during the 1st century. Dictation was largely followed by Paul, the names of at least four of his secretaries, Tertius, Sosthenes, Timothy, and Sylvanus, being given, while the master himself, as in many of the Egyptian papyri, appended his own signature, sometimes with a sentence or two at the end. The method of personal research was pursued, as well as compilation of diverse data including folklore and genealogies, together with the grouping of cognate matters in artistic forms and abundant quotation in writings held in high esteem by the readers, as in the First and Third Gospels and the Book of Acts. The presentation copy of one's works must have been written with unusual pains in case of their dedication to a patrician patron, as Luke to "most excellent Theophilus." For speculation as to the probable dimensions of the original papyrus rolls of New Testament books, one will find Professor J. Rendel Harris and Sir F. G. Kenyon extremely suggestive, and from opposite viewpoints; compare Kenyon, Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament; Harris, New Testament Autographs.

Comparatively few papyrus fragments of the New Testament are now known to be extant, and no complete book of the New Testament has as yet been found, though the successes in the field of contemporary Greek writings inspire confidence that ere long the rubbish heaps of Egypt will reward the diligent explorer. Of the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) somewhat more has come to light than the New Testament, while the papyrus copies and fragments of Homer are almost daily increasing.

The list below is condensed from that of Sir Frederick G. Kenyon's Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, 2nd edition, 1912, 41;, using Dr. Gregory's method of notation.

2. Papyrus Fragments of the Greek New Testament:

P1 Matthew 1:1-9, 12, 14-20. 3rd century. Found at Oxyrhynchus in 1896, now in the University of Pennsylvania.

See illustration under PAPYRUS.

P2 John 12:12-15 in Greek on the verso, with Luke 7:18; in Sahidic on the recto. 5th or 6th century. In book form, at the Museo Archeologico, Florence.

P3 Luke 7:36-43; Luke 10:38-42. 6th century. In book form. In the Rainer Collection, Vienna.

P4 Luke 1:74-80; Luke 5:3-8, 30-6:4. 4th century. In book form. Found in Egypt joined to a manuscript of Philo; now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

P5 John 1:23-31, 33-41; John 20:11-17, 19-25. 3rd century. An outer sheet of a single-quire book. Found at Oxyrhynchus and now in the British Museum.

P6 John 11:45. University of Strassburg.

P7 Luke 4:1, 2. Archaeological Museum at Kieff.

P8 Acts 4:31-37; Acts 5:2-9; 6:1-6, 8-15. 4th century. In the Berlin Museum.

P9 1 John 4:11-13, 15-17. 4th or 5th century. In book form. Found at Oxyrhynchus; now in Harvard University Library.

P10 Romans 1:1-7. 4th century. Found at Oxyrhynchus; now in Harvard University Library.

P11 1 Corinthians 1:17-20; 1 Corinthians 6:13-18; 7:3, 4, 10-14. 5th century. In the Imperial Library at Petersburg.

P12 Hebrews 1:1. 3d or 4th century. In the Amherst Library.

P13 Hebrews 2:14-5:5; Hebrews 10:8-11:13; Hebrews 11:28-12:17. 3rd or 4th century. Found at Oxyrhynchus; now in the British Museum.

P14: 1 Corinthians 1:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:3-8; 3:8-10, 20. 5th century. In book form; at Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai.

P15: 1 Corinthians 7:18-8:4 Philippians 3:9-17; Philippians 4:2-8. 4th century. Found at Oxyrhynchus.

P16 Romans 12:3-8. 6th or 7th century. Ryland's Library, Manchester.

P17 Titus 1:11-15; Titus 2:3-8. 3rd century. Ryland's Library, Manchester.

P18 Hebrews 9:12-19. 4th century. Found at Oxyrhynchus.

P19 Revelation 1:4-7. 3rd or 4th century. Found at Oxyrhynchus.

3. Greek Copies or Manuscripts of the New Testament Text:

Greek copies or manuscripts of the New Testament text have hitherto been and probably will continue to be the chief source of data in this great field. For determining the existence of the text in its most ancient form the autographs are of supreme value. For determining the content or extent of the text the versions are of highest worth. For estimating the meaning and at the same time for gaining additional data, both as to existence and extent of usage of the New Testament, the quotations of its text by the Church Fathers, whether as apologists, preachers, or historians, in Assyria, Greece, Africa, Italy or Gaul, are of exceeding importance. But for determining the readings of the text itself the Greek manuscripts or copies of the original autographs are still the principal evidence of criticism. About 4,000 manuscripts, in whole or in part, of the Greek New Testament are now known. These manuscripts furnish abundant evidence for determining the reading of practically the entire New Testament, while for the Gospels and most important Epistles the evidence is unprecedented for quantity and for clearness. They are usually divided into two classes: Uncial, or large hand, and Minuscule, or small hand, often called Cursive. The term "cursive" is not satisfactory, since it does not coordinate with the term "uncial," nor are so-called cursive features such as ligatures and oval forms confined to minuscule manuscripts. The uncials comprise about 140 copies extending from the 4th to the 10th centuries. The minuscules include the remaining manuscripts and fall between the 9th century and the invention of printing. Herewith is given a brief description of a few of the chief manuscripts, both uncial and minuscule, of the New Testament.

4. List of Manuscripts of the Greek New Testament:

(1) Uncials.

Codex Sinaiticus found by Tischendorf at Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai and now in the Imperial Library at Petersburg; 4th century. This is the only uncial which contains the New Testament entire. It also has the Epistle of Barnabas and part of the Shepherd of Hermas and possibly originally the Didache. The marks of many correctors are found in the text. It is written on 147 1/2 leaves of very thin vellum in four narrow columns of 48 lines each. The pages measure 15 X 13 1/2 in., and the leaves are arranged in quaternions of four sheets. The open sheet exposing eight columns resembles greatly an open papyrus roll. There is but rudimentary punctuation and no use of accent or initial letters, but the Eusebian section numbers are found on the margin of the Gospels.

Codex Alexandrinus (A), so named since it was supposed to have come from Alexandria, being the gift of Cyril Lucar, at one time Patriarch of that Province, though later of Constantinople, to Charles I, through the English ambassador at the Turkish court in 1627, and in 1757 presented to the Royal Library and now in the British Museum. It doubtless belongs to the 5th century, and contained the entire New Testament, lacking now only portions of Matthew, John, and 1 Corinthians, as well as the two Epistles of Clement of Rome and the Psalm of Solomon. It is written on thin vellum in two columns of 41 lines to the page, which is 12 5/8 X 10 3/8 in.; employs frequent initial capitals, and is divided into paragraphs, but has no marginal signs except in the Gospels. Several different hands are discovered in the present state of the MS.

Codex Vaticanus (B), since 1481, at least, the chief treasure of the Vatican Library, and universally esteemed to be the oldest and best manuscript of the Greek New Testament; 4th century. Written on very fine vellum, the leaves nearly square in shape, 10 X 10 1/2 in., with three narrow columns of 40-44 lines per column and five sheets making the quire. A part of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Pastorals, Philemon and Revelation are lacking. It is without accents, breathings or punctuation, though corrected and retraced by later hands. In the Gospels the divisions are of an earlier date than in Codex Sinaiticus. The theory of Tischendorf that Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus were in part prepared by the same hand and that they were both among the 50 manuscripts made under the direction of Eusebius at Caesarea in 331 for use in the emperor Constantine's new capital, is not now generally accepted.

Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C). This is the great palimpsest (twice written) manuscript of the uncial group, and originally contained the whole New Testament. Now, however, a part-approximately half-of every book is lacking, and 2 Thessalonians and 2 John are entirely gone. It belongs to the 5th century, is written on good vellum 9 X 12 1/2 in. to the page of 41 lines, and of one column in the original text, though the superimposed writings of Ephraem are in two. Enlarged initials and the Eusebian marginal sections are used and several hands have corrected the MS. See Fig. 2. Brought to Italy from the East in the 16th century, it came to France with Catherine de' Medici and is now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

Codex Bezae (D). This is the early known manuscript which Theodore Beza obtained in 1562 from the monastery of Irenaeus at Lyons and which he gave in 1581 to the University of Cambridge, where it now is. It is a Greek-Latin text, the Greek holding the chief place on the left-hand page, measuring 8 X 10 in., and dates probably from the end of the 5th century. Both Greek and Latin are written in large uncials and divided into short clauses, corresponding line for line. The hands of no less than nine correctors have been traced, and the critical questions arising from the character of the readings are among the most interesting in the whole range of Biblical criticism and are still unsettled. It contains only the Gospels and Acts with a fragment of 3 John.

Codex Washingtoniensis (W). The United States has now in the National Library (Smithsonian) at the capital one of the foremost uncial manuscripts of the Greek New Testament. It is a complete codex of the Gospels, in a slightly sloping but very ancient hand, written upon good vellum, in one column of 30 lines to the page, and 6 X 9 in. in size. By all the tests ordinarily given, it belongs to the period of the earliest codices, possibly of the 4th century. Like Codex Bezae (D), it has the order of the Gospels: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, and contains an apocryphal interpolation within the longer ending of Mark for which no other Greek authority is known, though it is probably referred to by Jerome. It has been published in facsimile by Mr. C. L. Freer of Detroit, who obtained the manuscript in Egypt in 1906, and is edited by Professor H. A. Sanders for the University of Michigan Press, 1911.

(2) Minuscules.

Out of the thousands of minuscule manuscripts now known only the four used by Erasmus, together with one now found in the United States, will be enumerated.

1. This is an 11th-century codex at Basel. It must have been copied from a good uncial, since its text often agrees with Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus.

1R. Of the 12th century, and now at Mayhingen, Bayaria: This is the only manuscript Erasmus had for Revelation in his editio princeps, and being defective at the end, 22:16-21, he supplied the Greek text by retranslating from the Latin; compare Textus Receptus of the New Testament and the King James Version. Generally speaking, this manuscript is of high quality.

2. This is a 15th-century manuscript at Basel, and was that on which Erasmus most depended for his 1st edition, 1516. It reflects a good quality of text.

2AP. Some have assigned this manuscript to the 12th century, though it was probably later. It is at Basel, and was the principal text used by Erasmus in the Acts and Epistles.

667. An illustration of a good type of minuscule of the Gospels is taken from Evangelistaria 667, which came from an island of the Sea of Marmorn; purchased in Constantinople by Dr. Albert L. Long in 1892 and now in the Drew Seminary Library at Madison, N.J.

5. Vernacular Versions:

Vernacular VSS, or translations of the Scriptures into the tongues of western Christendom, were, some of them, made as early as the 2nd century, and thus antedate by several generations our best-known Greek text. It is considered by many as providential that the Bible was early translated into different tongues, so that its corruption to any large extent became almost if not altogether an impossibility, since the versions of necessity belonged to parts of the church widely removed from one another and with very diverse doctrinal and institutional tendencies. The testimony of translations to the exact form of words used either in an autograph or a Greek copy of an author is at best not beyond dispute, but as evidence for the presence or absence of whole sections or clauses of the original, their standing is of prime importance. Such extreme literalness frequently prevails that the vernacular idiom is entirely set aside and the order and construction of words in the original sources are slavishly followed and even transliterated, so that their bearing on many questions at issue is direct and convincing. Although the Greek New Testament has now been translated into all the principal tongues of the earth, comparative criticism is confined to those versions made during the first eight centuries.

6. Patristic Quotations:

Patristic quotations afford a unique basis of evidence for determining readings of the New Testament. So able and energetic were the Church Fathers of the early centuries that it is entirely probable that the whole text of the Greek New Testament could be recovered from this source alone, if the writings of apologists, homilists and commentators were carefully collated. It is also true that the earliest heretics as well as the defenders of the faith recognized the importance of accurately determining the original text, so that their remains also comprise no mean source for critical research. It is evident that the value of patristic quotations will vary according to such factors as the reliability of the reading, as quoted, the personal equation or habit of accuracy or looseness of the particular writer, and the purity or corruption of the text he employs. One of the marked advantages of this sort of evidence arises from the fact that it affords additional ground for localizing and dating the various classes of texts found both in original copies and in versions. For general study the more prominent Church Fathers of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries are sufficient, though profitable investigation may be made of a much wider period. By the beginning of the 5th century, however, the type of text quoted almost universally was closely akin to that now known as the Textus Receptus.

7. Lectionaries and Service-Books:

Lectionaries and service-books of the early Christian period afford a source of considerable value in determining the general type of texts, together with the order and contents and distribution of the several books of the Canon. As the lectionary systems both of the eastern and western churches reach back to post-apostolic times and all are marked by great verbal conservatism, they present data of real worth for determining certain problems of textual criticism. From the very nature of the case, being compiled for a liturgical use, the readings are often introduced and ended by set formulas, but these are easily separated from the text itself, which generally follows copy faithfully. Even the systems of chapter headings and divisions furnish clues for classifying and comparing texts, for there is high probability that texts with the same chapter divisions come from the same country. Probably the earliest system of chapter divisions is preserved in Codex Vaticanus, coming down to us from Alexandria probably by way of Caesarea. That it antedates the codex in which it appears is seen from the fact that the Pauline Epistles are numbered as comprising a continuous book with a break between Galatians and Ephesians and the dislocated section numbers attached to Hebrews which follows 2 Thessalonians here, though the numbers indicate its earlier position after Galatians. Another system of chapter divisions, at least as old as the 5th century, found in Codex Alexandrinus, cuts the text into much larger sections, known as Cephalia Majora. In all cases the enumeration begins with the 2nd section, the 1st being considered introductory. Bishop Eusebius developed a system of text division of the Gospels based upon an earlier method attributed to Ammonius, adding a series of tables or Canons. The first table contained sections giving events common to all four evangelists, and its number was written beneath the section number on the margin in each Gospel, so that their parallels could readily be found. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Canons contain lists of sections in which three of the Gospels have passages in common (the combination Mark, Luke, John, does not occur). The 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th contain lists in which two combine (the combination Mark, John, does not occur). Canon 10 contains those peculiar to some one of the Gospels.

II. Necessity of Sifting and Criticizing the Evidence.

Criticism from its very nature concerns itself entirely with the problems suggested by the errors of various kinds which it brings to light. In the writings of the New Testament the resources of textual evidence are so vast, exceeding, as we have seen, those of any other ancient literature, sacred or secular, that the area of actual error is relatively quite appreciable, though it must be remembered that this very abundance of textual variety ultimately makes for the integrity and doctrinal unity of the teaching of the New Testament books. Conjectural emendation which has played so large a part in the restoration of other writings has but slight place in the textual criticism of the New Testament, whose materials are so abundant that the difficulty is rather to select right renderings than to invent them. We have catalogued the principal sources of right readings, but on the most casual investigation of them discover large numbers of wrong readings mingled with the true, and must proceed to consider the sources of error or various readings, as they are called, of which approximately some 200,000 are known to exist in the various manuscripts, VSS, patristic citations and other data for the text.

"Not," as Dr. Warfield says, "that there are 200,000 places in the New Testament where various readings occur, but that there are nearly 200,000 readings all told, and in many cases the documents so differ among themselves that many various readings are counted on a single word, for each document is compared in turn with one standard and the number of its divergences ascertained, then these sums are themselves added together and the result given as the number of actually observed variations." Dr. Ezra Abbott was accustomed to remark that "about nineteen-twentieths of the variations have so little support that, although there are various readings, no one would think of them as rival readings, and nineteen-twentieths of the remainder are of so little importance that their adoption or rejection would cause no appreciable difference in the sense of the passages in which they occur." Dr. Hort's view was that "upon about one word in eight, various readings exist supported by sufficient evidence to bid us pause and look at it; about one word in sixty has various readings upon it supported by such evidence as to render our decision nice and difficult, but that so many variations are trivial that only about one word in every thousand has upon it substantial variation supported by such evidence as to call out the efforts of the critic in deciding between the readings." The oft-repeated dictum of Bentley is still valid that "the real text of the sacred writings is competently exact, nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost, choose as awkwardly as you will, choose the worst by design, out of the whole lump of readings." Despite all this, the true scholar must be furnished rightly to discriminate in the matter of diverse readings.

From the very nature of the case it is probable that errors should be frequent in the New Testament; indeed, even printed works are not free from them, as is seen in the most carefully edited editions of the English Bible, but in manuscripts the difficulty is increased in direct proportion to the number of various copies still extant. There are two classes of errors giving rise to various readings, unconscious or unintentional and conscious or intentional.

1. First Class:

Of the first class, that of unconscious errors, there are five sorts:

(1) Errors of the Eye.

Errors of the eye, where the sight of the copyist confuses letters or endings that are similar, writing e.g. capital eta for capital sigma; capital omicron for capital theta; capital alpha for capital lambda or capital delta; capital pi (P) for capital tau and capital iota (written together, TI); PAN for TIAN; capital mu (M) for a double capital lambda (LL). Here should be named homoeoteleuton, which arises when two successive lines in a copy end in the same word or syllable and the eye catches the second line instead of the first and the copyist omits the intervening words as in Codex Ephraemi of John 6:39.

(2) Errors of the Pen.

Here is classed all that body of variation due to the miswriting by the penman of what is correctly enough in his mind but through carelessness he fails rightly to transfer to the new copy. Transposition of similar letters has evidently occurred in Codices E, M, and H of Mark 14:65, also in H2 L2 of Acts 13:23.

(3) Errors of Speech.

Here are included those variations which have sprung from the habitual forms of speech to which the scribe in the particular case was accustomed and which he therefore was inclined to write. Under this head comes "itacism," arising from the confusion of vowels and diphthongs, especially in dictation. Thus, iota (i) is constantly written as epsilon-iota (ei) and vice versa; alpha-iota (ai) for epsilon (e); eta (ee) and iota (i) for epsilon-iota (ei); eta (ee) and omicron-iota (oi) for upsilon (u); omicron (o) for omega (oo) and epsilon (e) for eta (ee). It is observed that in Codex Sinaiticus we have scribal preference for iota (i) alone, while in Codex Vaticanus epsilon-iota (ei) is preferred.

(4) Errors of Memory.

These are explained as having arisen from the "copyist holding a clause or sequence of letters in his somewhat treacherous memory between the glance at the manuscript to be copied and his writing down what he saw there." Here are classed the numerous petty changes in the order of words and the substitution of synonyms, as eipen for ephee, ek for apo, and vice versa.

(5) Errors of Judgment.

Under this class Dr. Warfield cites "many misreadings of abbreviations, as also the adoption of marginal glosses into the text by which much of the most striking corruption which has entered the text has been produced." Notable instances of this type of error are found in John 5:1-4, explaining how it happened that the waters of Bethesda were healing; and in John 7:53-8:12, the passage concerning the adulteress, and the last twelve verses of Mark.

2. Second Class:

Turning to the second class, that of conscious or intentional errors, we may tabulate:

(1) Linguistic or Rhetorical Corrections.

Linguistic or rhetorical corrections, no doubt often made in entire good faith under the impression that an error had previously crept into the text and needed correcting. Thus, second aorist terminations in -a are changed to -o and the like.

(2) Historical Corrections.

Under this head is placed all that group of changes similar to the case in Mark 1:2, where the phrase "Isaiah the prophet" is changed into "the prophets."

(3) Harmonistic Corrections.

These are quite frequent in the Gospels, e.g. the attempted assimilation of the Lord's Prayer in Luke to the fuller form in Matthew, and quite possibly the addition of the words "of sin" to the phrase in John 8:34, "Every one that doeth sin is a slave." A certain group of harmonistic corruptions where scribes allow the memory, perhaps unconsciously, to affect the writing may rightly be classed under (4) above.

(4) Doctrinal Corrections.

Of these it is difficult to assert any unquestioned cases unless it be the celebrated Trinitarian passage (King James Version, 1 John 5:7, 8 a) or the several passages in which fasting is coupled with prayer, as in Matthew 17:21 Mark 9:29 Acts 10:30 1 Corinthians 7:5.

(5) Liturgical Corrections.

These are very common, especially in the lectionaries, as in the beginning of lessons, and are even found in early uncials, e.g. Luke 8:31; Luke 10:23, etc.

III. Methods of Critical Procedure.

Here as in other human disciplines necessity is the mother of invention, and the principles of critical procedure rest almost entirely on the data connected with the errors and discrepancies which have consciously or unconsciously crept into the text.

Read Complete Article...



1. Invention of Alphabet

2. The Cuneiform

3. References to Writing in the Old Testament

4. Inscriptions after Settlement in Canaan

5. Orthography of the Period


1. The Old Hebrew Alphabet

2. Aramean Alphabets

3. The New Hebrew Script

4. New Hebrew Inscriptions

5. Summary


1. Various Theories

2. The Change in the Law

3. In the Other Books

4. Evidence of the Septuagint

5. Evidence of the Text Itself

6. Conclusion


1. Internal Conditions

2. External Circumstances

3. The Septuagint Version


1. Word Separation

2. Other Breaks in the Text

3. Final Forms of Letters

4. Their Origin

5. Conclusion

6. The Vowel-Letters

7. Anomalous Forms

8. The Dotted Words

9. Their Antiquity

10. The Inverted Nuns ("n")

11. Large and Small Letters

12. Suspended Letters and Divided Waw ("w")

13. Abbreviations

14. Conclusion


1. Yahweh and Baal

2. Euphemistic Expressions

3. "Tiqqun copherim"


1. Misunderstanding

2. Errors of the Eye

3. Errors of the Ear

4. Errors of Memory

5. Errors of Carelessness and Ignorance


1. Changes Made in Reading

2. Preservation of Text

3. Division into Verses

4. Sections of the Law

5. Sections of the Prophets

6. Poetical Passages

7. Division into Books


1. Antiquity of the Points

2. Probable Date of Invention

3. Various Systems and Recensions


1. The Consonants

2. The Vowels

3. The Accents

4. Anomalous Pointings


1. Meaning of the Term

2. The "Qere" and "Kethibh"

3. Other: Features


1. Manuscripts

2. Early Printed Texts

3. Later Editions

4. Chapters and Verses


I. Earliest Form of Writing in Israel.

The art of writing is not referred to in the Book of Genesis, even where we might expect a reference to it, e.g. in Genesis 23, nor anywhere in the Old Testament before the time of Moses (compare however, Genesis 38:18, 25; Genesis 41:44, which speak of "sealing" devices).


1. Invention of Alphabet:

About the year 1500 B.C. alphabetic writing was practiced by the Phoenicians, but in Palestine the syllabic Babylonian cuneiform was in use (see ALPHABET). The Israelites probably did not employ any form of writing in their nomadic state, and when they entered Canaan the only script they seem ever to have used was the Phoenicia. This is not disproved by the discovery there of two cuneiform contracts of the 7th century, as these probably belonged to strangers. There is only one alphabet in the world, which has taken many forms to suit the languages for which it was employed. This original alphabet was the invention of the Semites, for it has letters peculiar to the Semitic languages, and probably of the Phoenicians (so Lucan, Pharsalia iii0.22; compare Herodotus v.58), who evolved it from the Egyptian hieroglyphics.

2. The Cuneiform:

Of the literature of Canaan before the Israelites entered it the remains consist of a number of cuneiform tablets found since 1892 at Lachish, Gezer, Taanach and Megiddo, but especially of the famous the Tell el-Amarna Letters, discovered in Egypt in 1887. Although this non-alphabetic script was in use in Canaan when the Israelites entered it, they do not seem to have adopted it.

3. References to Writing in the Old Testament:

The earliest reference to writing in the Old Testament is Exodus 17:14. The next is Exodus 24:7, mentioning the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20-23). The Book of the Wars of Yahweh is named in Numbers 21:14. Other early references are Judges 5:14 margin; 8:14 margin. By the time of the monarchy the king and nobles could write (2 Samuel 11:14; 2 Samuel 8:17), but not the common people, until the time of Amos and Hosea, when writing seems to have been common.

4. Inscriptions after Settlement in Canaan:

The Phoenician script prevailed in Palestine after the conquest as well as in the countries bordering on it. This is shown by the inscriptions which have been discovered. The chief of these are: the Baal Lebanon inscription found in Cyprus (beginning of the 9th century); the manuscript of about the year 896 of the ordinary chronology; a Hebrew agricultural calendar of the 8th century; fifteen lion-weights from Nineveh of about the year 700; the Siloam Inscription of the time of Hezekiah; about a score of seals; and, in 1911, a large number of ostraca of the time of Ahab.

5. Orthography of the Period:

In this oldest writing the vowels are rarely expressed, not even final vowels being indicated. The only mark besides the letters is a point separating the words. There are no special forms for final letters. Words are often divided at the ends of lines. The writing is from right to left. The characters of the Siloam Inscription and the ostraca show some attempt at elegant writing.

II. The Two Hebrew Scripts.

1. The Old Hebrew Alphabet:

Two distinct scripts were used by the Hebrews, an earlier and a later. The Old Hebrew alphabet contained 22 letters, all consonants. The order of these letters is known from that of the Greek, taken in order of their numerical values, and later by the alphabetic psalms, etc., and by the figure called 'at-bash (see SHESHACH). In the acrostic passages, however, the order is not always the same; this may be due to corruption of the text. In the alphabet, letters standing together bear similar names. These are ancient, being the same in Greek as in Semitic. They were probably given from some fancied resemblance which the Phoenicians saw in the original Egyptian sign to some object.

2. Aramean Alphabets:

The development of the Phoenician alphabet called Aramaic begins about the 7th century B.C. It is found inscribed as dockets on the cuneiform clay tablets of Nineveh, as the Phoenician letters were upon the lion-weights; on coins of the Persian satraps to the time of Alexander; on Egyptian inscriptions and papyri; and on the Palmyrene inscriptions. The features of this script are the following: The loops of the Hebrew letters beth (b), daleth (d), Teth (T), qoph (q) and resh (r), which are closed in the Phoenician and Old Hebrew, are open, the bars of the Hebrew letters he (h), waw (w), zayin (z), cheth (ch) and taw (t) are lost, and the tails of kaph (k), lamedh (l), mem (m), pe (p) and tsadhe (ts), which are vertical in the old Aramaic, begin in the Egyptian Aramaic to curve toward the left; words are divided, except in Palmyrene, by a space instead of a point; vowel-letters are freely used; and the use of ligatures involves a distinction of initial, medial and final forms. There are of course no vowel-marks.

3. The New Hebrew Scripture:

After the Jews returned from the exile, the Aramaic language was the lingua franca of the Seleucid empire, displacing Assyrian, Old Hebrew and Phoenician. The Phoenician script also had given place to the Aramaic in Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt. In Syria it divided into two branches, a northern which grew into Syriac, and a southern, or Jewish, from which the New Hebrew character was produced.

4. New Hebrew Inscriptions:

What is believed to be the oldest inscription in the modern Hebrew character is that in a cave at `Araq al-`Amir near Heshbon, which was used as a place of retreat in the year 176 B.C. (Ant., XII, iv, 11; CIH, number 1). Others are: four boundary stones found at Gezer; the inscriptions over the "Tomb of James" really of the Beni Hezir (1 Chronicles 24:15 Nehemiah 10:20); that of Kefr Birim, assigned to the year 300 A.D. (CIH, number 17), in which the transition to the New Hebrew script may be said to be accomplished; and others have been found all over the Roman empire and beyond.


5. Summary:

The inscriptions show that the familiar Hebrew character is a branch of the Aramaic. In the 3rd century B.C. the latter script was in general use in those countries where Assyrio-Babylonian, Old Hebrew and Phoenician had been used before. The Jews, however, continued to employ the Old Hebrew for religious purposes especially, and the Samaritans still retain a form of it in their Bible (the Pentateuch).

III. The Change of Script.

It is now almost universally agreed that the script in which the Old Testament was written was at some time changed from the Phoenician to the Aramaic. But in the past many opinions have been held on the a subject.

1. Various Theories:

Rabbi Eleazar of Modin (died 135 A.D.), from the mention of the hooks (waws) in Exodus 27:10 and from Esther 8:9, denied any change at all. Rabbi Jehuda (died circa 210) maintained that the Law was given in the New Hebrew, which was later changed to the Old as a punishment, and then back to the New, on the people repenting in the time of Ezra. Texts bearing on the matter are 2 Kings 5:7; 2 Kings 18:26 Isaiah 8:1, from which various deductions have been drawn. There may have been two scripts in use at the same time, as in Egypt (Herod. ii.36).

2. The Change in the Law:

In regard to the change in the Law, the oldest authority, Eleazar ben Jacob (latter part of the 1st century A.D.), declared that a Prophet at the time of the Return commanded to write the Torah in the new or square character. Next Rabbi Jose (a century later) states (after Ezra 4:7) that Ezra introduced a new script and language. But the locus classicus is a passage in the Talmud (Sanhedhrin 21b): "Originally the Law was given to Israel in the Hebrew character and in the Holy Tongue; it was given again to them in the days of Ezra in the Assyrian characters and in the Aramaic tongue. Israel chose for herself the Assyrian character and the Holy Tongue, and left the Hebrew character and the Aramaic tongue to the hedhyoToth." Here Hebrew = Old Hebrew; Assyrian = the new square character, and hedhyoToth is the Greek idiotai = the Hebrew `am ha-'arets, the illiterate multitude. From the 2nd century on (but not before), the Talmudic tradition is unanimous in ascribing the change of script in the Law to Ezra. The testimony of Josephus points to the Law at least being in the square character in his day (Ant., XII, ii, 1, 4). The Samaritan Pentateuch was almost certainly drawn up in the time of Nehemiah (compare 13:28; also Ant, XI, vii, 2), and points to the Old Hebrew being then in use. So Rabbi Chasda (died 309) refers the word hedhyoToth above to the Samaritans. On the other hand, the Samaritan Pentateuch may have been the original Law, common to both Israel and Judah. In any case it is written in a form of the Old Hebrew character.

3. In the Other Books:

In regard to the other books, the old script was used after Ezra's time. Esther 8:9 and Daniel 5:8; must refer to the unfamiliar Old Hebrew. So the Massoretic Text of 5:18 implies the New Hebrew, but only in the Law.

4. Evidence of the Septuagint:

The Greek translation known as the Septuagint was made in Alexandria, and is hardly evidence for Palestine. The Law was probably translated under Ptolemy II (284-247 B.C.), and the other books by the end of the 2nd century B.C. (compare Ecclesiasticus, Prologue). The variations of the Septuagint from the Massoretic Text point to an early form of the square character as being in use; but the Jews of Egypt had used Aramaic for some centuries before that.

5. Evidence of the Text Itself:

The variations between parallel passages in the Massoretic Text itself, such as Joshua 21 and 1 Chronicles 6 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11, etc., show that the letters most frequently confused are "d" and "r", which are similar in both the Old and New Hebrew; "b" and "d", which are more alike in the Old Hebrew; "w" and "y" and several others, which are more alike in the New Hebrew. Such errors evidently arose from the use of the square character, and they arose subsequent to the Septuagint, for they are not, except rarely, found in it. The square character is, then, later than the Septuagint.

6. Conclusion:

The square character was ascribed to Ezra as the last person who could have made so great a change, the text after his time being considered sacred. This is disproved by the fact of the coins of the Maccabees and of Bar Cochba being in the old character. The Talmud permits Jews resident outside Palestine to possess copies of the Law in Coptic, Median, Hebrew, etc. Here Hebrew can only mean the Old Hebrew script.

IV. Preservation of the Text.

1. Internal Conditions:

Judaism has always been a book religion: it stands or falls with the Old Testament, especially with the Pentateuch. Although no manuscript of the Hebrew Old Testament is older than the 10th century A.D., save for one minute papyrus, we know, from citations, translations, etc., that the consonantal text of the Old Testament was in the 1st century A.D. practically what it is today. The Jews transliterated as well as translated their Bible. All the most important translations-the Septuagint, Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus-were made by Jews and aimed at a more literal rendering of the Hebrew-that of Aquila being hardly Greek. The Syriac (Peshitta) seems to be also by Jews or Jewish Christians. Great care was taken of the text itself, and the slightest variant readings of manuscripts were noted. One manuscript belonging to Rabbi Meir (2nd century) is said to have omitted the references to "Admah and Zeboiim" in Deuteronomy 29:23 and to Bethlehem in Genesis 48:7, and to have had other lesser variations, some of which were found also in the manuscript which, among other treasures, decked the triumph of Vespasian (BJ, VII, v, 7).

2. External Circumstances:

Religious persecution makes for the purity of the Scriptures by reducing the number of copies and increasing the care bestowed on those saved. The chief moments in which the existence of the Jewish Scriptures was threatened were the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple under Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C., in which the Book of Jashar and that of the Wars of the Lord may have been lost; the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, during which the possession of the sacred books was a capital offense (1 Maccabees 1:56, 57; Ant, XII, v), in which the sources used by the Chronicler may have perished; and the capture of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. By this time, however, the Law at least was known by heart. Josephus says Titus made him a gift of the sacred books (Vita, 75). It is also said that at one time only three copies of the Law were left, and that a text was obtained by taking the readings of two against one. However that may be, it is a fact that there are no variant readings in the Massoretic Text, such as there are in the New Testament.

3. The Septuagint Version: The only ancient version which can come into competition with the Massoretic Text is the Septuagint, and that on two grounds. First, the manuscripts of the Septuagint are of the 4th century A.D., those of the Massoretic Text of the 10th. Secondly, the Septuagint translation was made before a uniform Hebrew text, such as our Massoretic Text, existed. The quotations in the New Testament are mainly from the Septuagint. Only in the Book of Jeremiah, however, are the variations striking, and there they do not greatly affect the sense of individual passages. The Greek has also the Apocrypha. The Septuagint is an invaluable aid to restoring the Hebrew where the latter is corrupt.

V. The Text in the 1st Century A.D.

The Massoretic Text of the 1st Christian century consisted solely of consonants of an early form of the square character. There was no division into chapters or, probably, verses, but words were separated by an interstice, as well as indicated by the final letters. The four vowel-letters were used most freely in the later books. A few words were marked by the scribes with dots placed over them.

1. Word Separation:

The Samaritan Pentateuch still employs the point found on the Moabite Stone to separate words. This point was probably dropped when the books came to be written in the square character. Wrong division of words was not uncommon.

Tradition mentions 15 passages noted on the margin of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 30:11, etc.) in which two words are written as one. One word is written as two in Judges 16:25 1 Samuel 9:1, etc. Other passages in which tradition and text differ as to the word-division are 2 Samuel 5:2 Ezekiel 42:9 Job 38:12 Ezra 4:12. The Septuagint frequently groups the letters differently from the Massoretic Text, e.g. (see the commentaries) Hosea 11:2 1 Chronicles 17:10; Psalm 73:4; Psalm 106:7.

2. Other Breaks in the Text:

The verse-division was not shown in the prose books. The present division is frequently wrong and the Septuagint different from the Hebrew: e.g. Genesis 49:19, 20 Psalm 42:6, 7 Jeremiah 9:5, 6 Psalm 90:2, 3. Neither was there any division into chapters, or even books. Hence, the number of the psalms is doubtful. The Greek counts Psalms 9 and 10 as one, and also Psalms 114 and 115, at the same time splitting Psalms 116 and 147 each into two. The Syriac follows the Greek with regard to Psalms 114 and 147. Some manuscripts make one psalm of 42 and 43. In Acts 13:33, Codex Bezae, Psalm 2 appears as Psalm 1.

3. Final Forms of Letters:

Final forms of letters are a result of the employment of ligatures. In the Old Hebrew they do not occur, nor apparently in the text used by the Septuagint. Ligatures begin to make their appearance in Egyptian, Aramaic, and Palmyrene. Final forms for the letters k, margin, n, p, ts, were accepted by the 1st century, and all other final forms were apparently rejected.

4. Their Origin:

The first rabbi to mention the final forms is Mathiah ben Harash (a pupil of Rabbi Eleazar who died in 117 A.D.), who refers them to Moses. They are often referred to in the Talmud and by Jerome. The Samaritan Chronicle (11th century) refers them to Ezra. In point of fact, they are not so old as the Septuagint translation, as is proved by its variations in such passages as 1 Samuel 1:1; 1 Samuel 20:40 Psalm 16:3; Psalm 44:5 Jeremiah 16:19; Jeremiah 23:14, 23, 33 Hosea 6:5 Nahum 1:12; Zechariah 11:11; Ecclesiasticus 3:7. From the fact that the final forms make up the Hebrew expression for "from thy watchers," their invention was referred in the 3rd century to the prophets (compare Isaiah 52:8 Habakkuk 2:1).

5. Conclusion:

After the adoption of the square character, therefore, the only breaks in the text of prose books were the spaces left between the words. Before the 1st century there was much uncertainty as to the grouping of the letters into words. After that the word-division was retained in the copies, even when it was not read (as in 2 Samuel 5:2, etc.). At first the final form would occur at the end of the ligature, not necessarily at the end of the word. Remains of this will be found in 1 Chronicles 27:12 Isaiah 9:6 Nehemiah 2:13 Job 38:1; Job 40:6. When the ligatures were discarded, these forms were used to mark the ends of words. The wonder is that there are not more, or even an initial, medial and final form for every letter, as in Arabic and Syriac.

6. The Vowel-Letters:

The four letters, ', h, w, y, seem to have been used to represent vowel sounds from the first. They are found in the manuscripts, but naturally less freely on stone inscriptions than in books. The later the text the more freely they occur, though they are commoner in the Samaritan Pentateuch than in the Massoretic Text. The copies used by the Septuagint had fewer of them than the Textus Receptus, as is proved by their translations, of Amos 9:12 Ezekiel 32:29 Hosea 12:12, and other passages, The four letters occur on Jewish coins of the 2nd century B.C. and A.D.

7. Anomalous Forms:

In the 1st and 2nd centuries the vowel-letters were retained in the text, even when not read (Hosea 4:6 Micah 3:2, etc.). In the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy 32:13 seems to be the sole instance. The Pentateuch is peculiar also in that in it the 3rd person singular, masculine, of the personal pronoun is used for the feminine, which occurs only 11 times; Genesis 2:12; Genesis 14:2; compare Isaiah 30:33 1 Kings 17:15; Job 31:11. This phenomenon probably arises from the stage in the growth of the script when waw (w) and yodh (y) were identical in form; compare Psalm 73:16 Ecclesiastes 5:8. Frequently the 1st person singular perfect of the verb is written defectively (Psalm 140:13 2 Kings 18:20; compare Isaiah 36:5); similarly the "h" of na`arah (Deuteronomy 22). All this shows there was no attempt to correct the text. It was left as it was found.

8. The Dotted Words:

When a scribe had miscopied a word he sometimes placed dots over it, without striking it out. There are 15 passages so marked in the Old Testament, and the word naqudh, "pointed," is generally placed in the margin. The word may also be read naqodh, "speckled" (Genesis 30:32), or niqqudh, "punctuation." It is also possible that these points may denote that the word is doubtful. They occur in the following places: Genesis 16:5; Genesis 18:9; Genesis 19:33; Genesis 33:4; 37:12 Numbers 3:39; Numbers 9:10; Numbers 21:30; Numbers 29:15 Deuteronomy 29:28 (29); Psalm 27:13 2 Samuel 19:20; Isaiah 44:9 Ezekiel 41:20; Ezekiel 46:22. For conjectures as to the meanings of the points in each passage, the reader must be referred to the commentaries.

9. Their Antiquity:

These points are found even on synagogue rolls which have, with one exception, no other marks upon them, beyond the bare consonants and vowel-letters. Only those in the Pentateuch and Psalms are mentioned in the Talmud or Midrashim, and only one, Numbers 9:10, in the Mishna before the end of the 2nd century, by which time its meaning had been lost. The lower limit, therefore, for their origin is the end of the 1st century A.D. They have been, like most things not previously annexed by Moses, assigned to Ezra; but the Septuagint shows no sign of them. They, therefore, probably were inserted at the end of the 1st century B.C., or in the 1st century A.D. As four only occur in the Prophets and one in the Hagiographa, most care was evidently expended on the collation of the, Law. Blau thinks the reference originally extended to the whole verse or even farther, and became restricted to one or more letters.

10. The Inverted Nuns ("n"):

In Numbers 10:35 and 36 are enclosed within two inverted nuns as if with brackets. In Psalm 107 inverted nuns should stand before verses 23-28 and 40, with a note in the foot margin. These nuns were originally dots (Siphre' on Numbers) and stand for naqkudh, indicating that the verses so marked are in their wrong place (Septuagint Numbers 10:34-36).

11. Large and Small Letters:

Large letters were used as our capitals at the beginnings of books, etc. Thus there should be a capital nun at the beginning of the second part of Isaiah. But they serve other purposes also. The large waw (w) in Leviticus 11:42 is the middle letter of the Torah; so in the Israelites' Credo (Deuteronomy 6:4). Other places are Deuteronomy 32:4, 6 Exodus 34:7, 14 Leviticus 11:30; Leviticus 13:33 Isaiah 56:10, and often. Buxtorf's Tiberias gives 31 large and 32 small letters. Examples of the latter will be found in Genesis 2:4; Genesis 23:2 Leviticus 1:1 Job 7:5, etc. The explanations given are fanciful.

12. Suspended Letters and Divided Waw ("w"):

There are four letters suspended above the line in the Massoretic Text. They will be found in Judges 18:30 Job 38:13, 15 Psalm 80:14 (13). The last probably indicates the middle letter of the Psalter. The first points to Manasseh being put for Moses. The two in Job are doubtful. In Numbers 25:12 will be found a waw cut in two, perhaps to indicate that the covenant was in abeyance for a time.

13. Abbreviations:

Abbreviations are found on early Jewish inscriptions and on coins. Thus the letter shin stands for shanah = "year"; yodh sin = "Israel"; 'aleph = 1; beth = 2, etc. In the text used by the Septuagint the name Yahweh seem to have been indicated merely by a yodh, e.g. Psalm 31:7 (6), "I hate" = Septuagint 30:7, "Thou hatest" (compare 5:5), and the yodh of the Hebrew = "O Yahweh." In Judges 19:18 the Hebrew "house of Yahweh" = Septuagint "my house"; so Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 25:37. A curious example will be found Jeremiah 3:19. The great corruption found in the numbers in the Old Testament is probably due to letters or ciphers being employed. For wrong numbers compare 2 Samuel 10:18; 2 Samuel 24:13 1 Kings 4:26 with parallel passages; also compare Ezra 2 with Nehemiah 7, etc. Possible examples of letters representing numbers are: Psalm 90:12, "so" = ken, and kaph plus nun = 20 plus 50 = 70; 1 Samuel 13:1, ben shanah is perhaps for ben n shanah, "fifty years old"; in 1 Samuel 14:14, an apparently redundant k is inserted after "twenty men"; k = 20.

14. Conclusion:

Such was the Hebrew text in the 1st Christian century. It was a Received Text obtained by collating manuscripts and rejecting variant readings. Henceforward there are no variant readings. But before that date there were, for the Greek and Samaritan often differ from the Hebrew. The Book of Jubilees (middle of 1st century) also varies. The fidelity of the scribes who drew up this text is proved by the many palpable errors which it contains.

VI. Alteration of Principal Documents.

1. Yahweh and Baal:

For various reasons the original documents were altered by the scribes, chiefly from motives of taste and religion.

Read Complete Article...



































733. arsenokoites -- a sodomite
... a sodomite. Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine Transliteration: arsenokoites Phonetic
Spelling: (ar-sen-ok-oy'-tace) Short Definition: a male engaging in same ...
// - 6k

733a. arsenokoites -- a sodomite
... a sodomite. Transliteration: arsenokoites Short Definition: homosexuals. Word Origin
from arsen and koite Definition a sodomite NASB Word Usage homosexuals (2). ...
// - 5k

Strong's Hebrew
6945. qadesh -- a temple prostitute
... sodomite, unclean. From qadash; a (quasi) sacred person, ie (technically) a (male)
devotee (by prostitution) to licentious idolatry -- sodomite, unclean. ...
/hebrew/6945.htm - 6k

How Abram Fought with the Assyrians, and Overcame Them, and Saved ...
... CHAPTER 10. How Abram Fought With The Assyrians, And Overcame Them, And Saved The
Sodomite Prisoners, And Took From The Assyrians The Prey They Had Gotten. ...
/.../josephus/the antiquities of the jews/chapter 10 how abram fought.htm

Letter Lv. To Amandus.
... containing the following words: "ask him, (that is me,) whether a woman who has
left her husband on the ground that he is an adulterer and sodomite and has ...
/.../jerome/the principal works of st jerome/letter lv to amandus.htm

What the Lord Jesus did in the City of Nazareth.
... And when Jesus saw this, He said to him in a rage: Thou impious and ignorant Sodomite,
what harm have my works the fountains of water done thee? ...
/.../unknown/the gospel of thomas/chapter iv what the lord jesus.htm

But they Change their Ground and Endeavour to Vilify Our Faith in ...
... for the wickedness of those who were destroyed in the days of Noah had not yet burst
into a flame, nor had that terrible disease of Sodomite lawlessness been ...
/.../gregory of nyssa dogmatic treatises etc/chapter xxix but they change.htm

The Swift Destroyer
... Perhaps his wife, whom the story will not name, for pity or for horror, was a Sodomite.
To escape meant to leave all this and his wealth behind. ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture k/the swift destroyer.htm

Certain Prayers and Laws.
... He that is guilty of sins not to be named, a sodomite, an effeminate person, a magician,
an enchanter, an astrologer, a diviner, an user of magic verses, a ...
/.../various/constitutions of the holy apostles/sec iv certain prayers and laws.htm

On Helping the Poor.
... and an unjust judge, a subverter of causes, him that lies in wait for men, a worker
of abominable wickedness, a drunkard, a blasphemer, a sodomite, an usurer ...
/.../various/constitutions of the holy apostles/sec i on helping the poor.htm

An Exhortation to Theodore after his Fall. Letter I.
... the believers, and such as were well pleasing to God, but afterwards has become
a fornicator, adulterer, effeminate, a thief, a drunkard, a sodomite, a reviler ...
/.../chrysostom/on the priesthood/an exhortation to theodore after.htm

The Antiquities of the Jews
... CHAPTER 10. How Abram Fought With The Assyrians, And Overcame Them, And Saved The
Sodomite Prisoners, And Took From The Assyrians The Prey They Had Gotten. ...
// antiquities of the jews/

Chapter xiv
... A fugitive from the Sodomite catastrophe appears, "the fugitive" in Hebrew; generic
article; this may cover any number of fugitives (K..S.300 a). He informs ...
// of genesis volume 1/chapter xiv.htm

Sodomite (1 Occurrence)
... Noah Webster's Dictionary 1. (n.) An inhabitant of Sodom. 2. (n.) One guilty
of sodomy. Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia. SODOMITE. ...
/s/sodomite.htm - 101k

Sodomites (6 Occurrences)

/s/sodomites.htm - 8k

Whore (14 Occurrences)
... (KJV DBY). Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of
Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. (KJV YLT). ...
/w/whore.htm - 11k

Male (303 Occurrences)
... the devotee of this vice is a compound noun, arsenokoites, literally, "he who lies
with man," the abuser of himself with mankind, the sodomite (1 Corinthians 6 ...
/m/male.htm - 43k

Cult (7 Occurrences)
... Cult (7 Occurrences). Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no prostitute of the daughters
of Israel, neither shall there be a sodomite of the sons of Israel. ...
/c/cult.htm - 8k

Abuse (17 Occurrences)
... to make mock of" (1 Samuel 31:4). (2) Translated in the New Testament from arsenokoites,
literally, "one who lies with a male," "a sodomite" (1 Corinthians 6:9 ...
/a/abuse.htm - 13k

Shrine (34 Occurrences)
... Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither
shall there be a sodomite of the sons of Israel. (See NIV). ...
/s/shrine.htm - 18k

Sodom (49 Occurrences)
... The sin of sodomy was an offense against nature frequently connected with idolatrous
practices (see Rawlinson, History of Phoenicia). See SODOMITE. ...
/s/sodom.htm - 28k

Sodoma (1 Occurrence)

/s/sodoma.htm - 6k

Prostitute (83 Occurrences)
... (WEB). Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no prostitute of the daughters of Israel,
neither shall there be a sodomite of the sons of Israel. ...
/p/prostitute.htm - 33k

What does the Bible say about anal sex? What is sodomy according to the Bible? |

Is God evil? Is the Bible evil? |

Sodomite: Dictionary and Thesaurus |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Top of Page
Top of Page