The cry of Jesus at three o’clock (Mk 15:34-15:34)

“At three o’clock,

The ninth hour,

Jesus cried out

With a loud voice.

‘Eloi!

Eloi!

Lema sabachthani?’

This translated means.

‘Oh my God!

Oh my God!

Why have you

Forsaken me?’”

 

καὶ τῇ ἐνάτῃ ὥρᾳ ἐβόησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς φωνῇ μεγάλῃ Ἐλωῒ λαμὰ σαβαχθανεί; ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον Ὁ Θεός μου ὁ Θεός μου, εἰς τί ἐγκατέλιπές με;

 

This is almost word for word in Matthew, chapter 27:46.  Luke, chapter 23, and John, chapter 19, did not have these words of Jesus hanging on the cross.  Mark said that at three o’clock in the afternoon, the ninth hour (καὶ τῇ ἐνάτῃ ὥρᾳ), Jesus cried with a loud voice saying (ἐβόησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς φωνῇ μεγάλῃ), “Eloi!  Eloi!  Lema sabachthani (Ἐλωῒ Ἐλωῒ λαμὰ σαβαχθανεί)?”  This cry is slightly different than Matthew.  Then Mark explained what this meant with a translation (ὅ ἐστιν μεθερμηνευόμενον), since this was a mixture of the Hebrew and Aramaic word for God in the first verse from Psalm 22:1. “Oh my God!  Oh my God (Ὁ Θεός μου ὁ Θεός μου)!  Why have you forsaken, abandoned, or deserted me (εἰς τί ἐγκατέλιπές με)?”  This Psalm 22 was a psalm of David asking for help or deliverance from a serious illness or persecution, much like the suffering servant in Isaiah, chapters 52-53.  Thus, Jesus, the suffering servant, the son of David, quoted the first verse of this psalm as he hung on the cross.  Why was there no help coming from God?

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The tools for my New Testament project

After spending a little over 4 years on the Old Testament, it will be fun to study the New Testament.  I learned a lot about the Hebrew Scriptures.  I am now able to better understand the Jewish background of Jesus.  All my life I have tried to understand the Christian message of Jesus.  As an emeritus professor of religious studies, I began my retirement Bible project at the age of 74 in 2013.  Now in 2018, at age 78, I going to dive into the Greek New Testament aided by reading the Bible in French, La Sainte Bible: traduite en francais sous la direction du L’Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem, the 1961 edition of the Jerusalem Bible that I first studied in 1962.  As a guide to help me with this translation, I will use the New Revised Standard Version of the New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha: An Ecumenical Study Bible Completely Revised and Enlarged, the 1994 edition.  I will also use Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine by Eberhard and Erwin Nestle and Kurt Aland, the 1960 edition, that I used over fifty years ago.  To be more precise, the 1904 Nestle Greek edition is now on line as found at Bible Hub.  To help understand the Greek New Testament text, I will use The Jewish Annotated New Testament of the New Revised Standard Version, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, 2011.  As a further aid, I will use the Bible Concordance, Synopsis Quattuor Evavgeliorum, Locis parallelis evangeliorum apocyrphorum et pratrum adhibitis edidit Kurt Aland, the 1964 edition.  Finally, I will use that invaluable online web site of the Bible Hub. http://biblehub.com/.

The Christian Old Testament

Interesting enough, there is a dispute about the books of the Hebrew Bible among various Christians.  The English Christian Protestant Reform Bible used the Hebrew Bible texts for its translation of the King James English translation of the Bible.  Later 20th century translations, especially the New Revised Standard Version also used these texts.  However, the Roman Catholic or Orthodox Bible relied on the inspired Greek Septuagint, the 2nd century BCE version of the Hebrew inspired Bible.  This was best represented by the 4th century CE Latin translation of the Vulgate by Jerome.  Various translations during the 20th century, especially the Bible of Jerusalem, have used the structure of the Vulgate.

The people in Jerusalem (Jer 29:16-29:16)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning the king

Who sits

On the throne of David.

This concerns

All the people

Who live in this city.

This concerns

Your kinsmen

Who did not go out

With you into exile.”

This and the following verses are lacking in the Greek Septuagint translation, since they are like a comment on Jeremiah’s letter. Yahweh seems to be talking about the king in Jerusalem as well as the people who were not sent into captivity. These are the people who were left behind in Jerusalem, their relatives. They were the people favored by the Babylonians, since they were not sent to Babylon in the first purge and captivity of 598 BCE.

The library of Nehemiah (2 Macc 2:13-2:15)

“The same things are reported in the records

And in the memoirs of Nehemiah.

He also founded a library.

He collected the books about the kings and prophets,

And the writings of David.

He collected the letters of kings about votive offerings.

In the same way Judas also collected all the books

That had been lost on account of the war

That had come upon us.

Now they are in our possession.

So if you have need of them,

Send people to get them for you.”

We do have the book of Nehemiah. Whether there were other records or memoires that is mentioned in a library, we are not sure. Nowhere else is there a mention of a library, but Nehemiah and Ezra were 5th century BCE scholars who worked with the law. They may have been the first to have what might be called an unofficial canon of the Bible. He may have been the one who collected the works of the prophets and the books about the kings together with the Pentateuch to create the Hebrew Bible. Judas Maccabeus may have done the same thing. He may have gathered all the biblical books into a library since that is what the Bible means, a library of books. The other biblical moment would have been under King Josiah in the 7th century BCE, when they discovered the book of the law. These Jewish people were willing to lend them out. Alexandria was a major world library at this time. It was there in the 2nd and 3rd century BCE that the translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek Septuagint Bible took place. This is one of the few biblical occasions where someone is vaguely talking about the makeup of the Bible itself.

The response of King Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:17-4:22)

“King Artaxerxes sent an answer. ‘To Rehum, the royal deputy, and Shimshai the scribe and the rest of their associates who live in Samaria and in the rest of the province Beyond the River, greeting. Now the letter that you sent to us has been read in translation before me. So I made a decree. Someone searched and discovered that this city has risen against kings from long ago. Rebellion and sedition have been made in it. Jerusalem had mighty kings who ruled over the whole province Beyond the River, to whom tribute, custom, and toll were paid. Therefore issue an order that these people be made to cease. This city shall not be rebuilt, until I make a decree. Moreover, take care not to be slack in this matter. Why should damage grow to the hurt of the king?’”

The king had an answer. He had the letter read to him in translation. He had someone check the annals or records. Sure enough, there was a mighty king of Jerusalem who ruled beyond the river. This might have been a reference to King David or King Solomon. Therefore he told them to issue an order to make them stop building the wall. Nothing should be built without his decree. He warned them not to be slack in this matter.