The Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM) has not only been around a while, but it has gained steam. There are many blogs, video conferences, and even now a seminary to train pastors in the HRM. Why has this movement gained so much headway? In part, I think it is because the church has failed to preach the true gospel, and has transitioned to moral therapeutic deism. Also, with the rise of progressivism, Christians believe that there needs to be something in place to stem the tide. They think to find that in obedience to Old Testament civil and ceremonial laws. To build on R. Scott Clark’s categories for a moment, it is a quest for illegitimate religious certainty (QIRC). It comes from a desire to live by sight and not by faith, especially in opposition to the shifting sands of progressivism. I dare say many HRM proponents would not agree with this assessment of the situation. They just want to be obedient. Of course, in desiring to answer these points of the HRM, we must be very careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The moral law of the 10 Commandments still applies today, not in order to obtain or keep salvation, but as our expression of gratitude for the salvation we have received.
…Today I want to address one particular issue, the name of Jesus. HRM proponents almost always call Him “Jeshua.” They believe that when the NT became Greek (they think it was originally written in Hebrew), that Hellenism took over and distorted the message of the NT. While there have been a fair number of scholars who have believed the NT was originally written in Aramaic (read Isaiah 36-39 to see that Aramaic and Hebrew are not the same language, despite being about half cognate), very few reputable NT scholars of which I am aware believe the NT was originally written in Hebrew. For one thing, there are absolutely zero Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament that have any antiquity, whereas we have Greek manuscripts that date to the second century A.D.
One of the main problems here for the HRM on this point is Pentecost. At the very least, the Cretans of Acts 2:11 would have spoken Greek. The Holy Spirit didn’t have any problems with translating the gospel into all of these languages. Why would Greek only be the problematic language? It was the lingua franca of the day. HRM proponents use many languages today. Why are modern languages any better than the supposedly devilish Greek language? Iesous is a direct transliteration of “Yeshua.” The two names mean exactly the same thing: “The Lord saves.” Matthew 1:21 explicitly ties Jesus’ Greek name with the salvation God brings. One thing the HRM proponents have never done is explain how the meaning of the Hebrew name and Greek name is supposedly so vastly different that it is somehow almost heretical to call Jesus “Iesous.” I am thinking James Barr’s The Semantics of Biblical Language has escaped their attention. If Pentecost proves that the gospel may and should be translated into all languages, then Greek cannot be the exception. I don’t believe for one second, incidentally, that the New Testament was originally written in anything other than Greek. Read More»
Lane Keister | “Hebrew Roots Movement, Part 1” | December 28, 2022
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