top of page

The H3O/Art of Life Blog

  • Writer's pictureThe H3O/Art of Life Blog

Biblical History: It Ain't Necessarily So? Part 2

By Dr. Josef Ben Levi

Presented by Omni Virtual University

"And ye shall know the truth,and the truth shall make you free."

John 8:32 King James Version

For the same things uttered in Hebrew, and translated into another tongue, have not the same force in them: and not only those things, but the law itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language.”[1]

Without some knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you cannot satisfy yourself or those who look to you for help as to the changes which you will find in the Revised Old and New Testaments.

Without some knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek, you cannot be certain, in a single instance, that in your sermon based on a Scripture text, that you are presenting the correct teaching of that text.”[2]

The Masoretic text, upon which most of our Bible translations are based, was not produced until the 7th century CE. Now that does not mean that it is the oldest version of the so-called Old Testament. I say so-called Old Testament because the term “Old Testament “cannot be found in the text bearing that name!

In II Kings 18:1, we read that the child promised to come from the “young woman” was Hezekiah , the son of Ahaz, and in Kings 18:7 it says, “and the Lord was with him” or “God was with him” which is equivalent to the English phrase “Emmanuel”. Since the king represented the entire people, this is indicative of the statement, at least in the Hebrew text, that “God was with him” or Emmanuel.

So, that brings us to the Book of Matthew. When did such a book originate? This question was asked as early as the middle of the second century CE., but even then, it could not be answered with certainty. The earliest testimony comes from the Church Father ,Papias, who about 140 CE wrote a treatise of five books expounding the "sayings" of Jesus. Again, this is 140 years after the events it recounted, and Papias never mentions a virgin birth or Isaiah! [3]

His work, now known only in quotations, is cited by Eusebius, who wrote the official Church History as court historian to Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. He is the sole authority for the statement that, "Matthew composed the sayings of Jesus in the Hebrew dialect and each one interpreted"them according to his ability" (Eusebius, Hist., III, 39). Without mentioning the author for this opinion, Esuebius also says: "Matthew, after preaching to Hebrews, when about to go also to others, committed to writing in his native tongue the gospel that bears his name, and so by his writing supplied to those who wanted to hear his message.[4]

Clement of Alexandria, on the authority of the "Preaching of Peter," thinks Matthew did not leave Palestine until twelve years after Jesus' death, which would fix the date at about 42 A. D. (Clem. Alex., Strom., VI, 5). According to these witnesses the First Gospel was written originally in Hebrew (or Aramaic) by the apostle Matthew before the year 42 CE. [5]

Each approach that is used to harmonize what appears in both Isaiah and Matthew is met with hermeneutical obstacles. Context is key and determining the author’s intended meaning must be accomplished before proposing that a passage of Scripture could mean something in the future that it did not fully fulfill in the time of the original audience. “Ultimately, the difficulty in identifying the Emmanuel prophecy -with an eighth century fulfillment- is that this interpretation fails to link the prophecy with what Isaiah says elsewhere about the child” e.g., when Isaiah 8:8 references Immanuel having control over all the land. This passage raises the same question again: “Is Maher-shalal-hash-baz the initial fulfillment of the Immanuel prophecy?”

I must repeat what is said above. In II Kings 18:1, we read that the child promised to come from the “young woman” was Ahaz’s son Hezekiah and not a future messianic figure where it says, “and the Lord was with him” Since the king represented the entire people, this is indicative of the statement, at least in the Hebrew text, that “God was with him or Emmanuel.

("For we walk by faith, and not by sight":) 2 Corinthians 5:7 King James Version


In the first century of the Common Era, there appeared ,at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, a remarkable religious leader who taught the worship of a true God and declared that religion meant not the sacrifice of beasts but the practice of charity and piety and the shunning of hatred and enmity. He was said to have worked miracles of goodness, casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead. His exemplary life led some of his followers to claim he was a son of God, though he called himself the son of a man. Accused of sedition against Rome, he was arrested. After his death, his disciples claimed he had risen from the dead, appeared to them alive, and then ascended to heaven. Who was this teacher and wonderworker? Apollonius of Tyana was his name. He died about 98 c.e.* His story can be read in Flavius Philostratus’s Life of Apollonius as well as in Apollonius of Tyana by G.R.S. Mead [6].

Recommended Viewing

Blog Note

*CE (Common Era) is the secular equivalent of AD (Anno Domini)'which means " in the year of the Lord" in Latin.


***All references in the Hebrew language are derived from: Harold Fisch (Ed.) The Holy Scriptures.Koren Publishers, Jerusalem,Ltd. 1992

***All references in the Greek language are derived from: Brenton, Sir L.C.L.. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody:Hendrickson Publishers.(1851/1990).

[1] Charles, R.H. (Ed.) (1913/1978). The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

[2] Berry, G.R. (1897/1992). Interlinear Greek-English New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Ehrman, B.D. (2005). Misquoting Jesus: The story behind who changed the Bible and why. San Francisco: Harper-San Francisco.

[4] Maier, P.L. (2007). Eusebius: The Church History. Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University.

[5]Clement of Alexandra. Stromata: Miscellanies:Bottom of the Hill Publishing (2012)

[6] Mead, G.R.S. (1819/1980). Apollonius of Tyana. Chicago: Ares Publishers, Inc.

Recommended Readings (Continued)

Ancestor Dr. John G. Jackson, Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth

Ancestor Dr.John G. Jackson, Christianity Before Christ.

Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels

244 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Please Log in / Sign up to comment.

bottom of page