Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Question for James (and FFOZ)

So I actually tried to comment just now on James' blog but I couldn't figure out how to log in to the comments system.  I use my email but then it needs a wordpress log on (which I don't use anymore and can't remember)'s a whole big thing.  Anyway!  I had a question for him...several questions.  James, if you are reading this, maybe you'll answer.

James, do you believe that Yeshua is G-d?  I'm not interested in debating the doctrine of the Trinity.  I just want to know where you stand.  Also, does Boaz believe that Yeshua is G-d?  Does that lady...what was her name, Jordan Levy?  Does she believe that Yeshua is G-d?

Why do I ask?  Because I got a funny feeling while reading your morning meditation today. 


  1. The Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels translation of John 8:58, by Vine of David, should have made more people upset than it did:

    Yeshua said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, before the existence of Avraham, I was."

    1. Yes, that is very disturbing indeed! It represents a complete distortion of the Greek source text.

  2. Someone kindly forwarded me the link to the blog and asked that I respond. I would not want our silence on this issue (your post) to be misinterpreted. FFOZ’s position on this matter is clear and articulated in our statement of faith. Last year we added to our statement of faith (that has not change since the inception of our ministry in 1992) an amendment by adopting the UMJC statement of faith. That full statement can be found here:

    I do not intend to participate in this blog beyond this statement as I am sure some will use this opportunity to pick apart every aspect of our biblical foundations. I trust that HaShem will strengthen each of us to serve him whole-heartedly to the best of our abilities and knowledge for the sake of his kingdom.


    1. Boaz,

      It was a relief to read, in your statement of faith, the statement, "There is one God, who has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

      If you think that this doctrine is important, you might want to see where your partner-in-teaching, James Pyles, stands on the matter. He has publicly intimated on Leman's blog that he rejects the doctrine of the Trinity.



    2. James is not my nor FFOZ's "partner-in-teaching" any more than any other blogger out there that comments on, draws from, or reads FFOZ materials. James is pretty clear on his blog that his comments represent his own views, journey, and struggles with faith and the text. Please do not link his or any other bloggers views with ours.

    3. Boaz,

      He writes for your publications, yes?

    4. He wrote for this one:

  3. I asked Aaron Eby to address the comment on John 8:58 here is his response.

    People might be surprised by the DHE translation of John 8:58:

    Yeshua said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before the existence of Avraham, I was.”

    The reason this is surprising is because most translations use the present tense, “I am” rather than the past tense, “I was.” The ESV translation reads,

    Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

    People naturally associate the statement “I am” with the sacred name of God, based on Exodus 3:14:

    God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’“ (Exodus 3:14 ESV)

    In other words, people interpret Yeshua’s words as if he meant, “Before Abraham was, I am HaShem.” Why then does the DHE translation change Yeshua’s words from “I am” to “I was”? Is this a covert attempt to cast doubt on Yeshua’s divinity on the part of First Fruits of Zion or Vine of David?

    For anyone who knows Hebrew, the answer should become clear by looking at the Hebrew text on the facing page:

    וַיֹּֽאמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם יֵשֽׁוּעַ אָמֵן אָמֵן אֲנִי אֹמֵר לָכֶם בְּטֶֽרֶם הֱיוֹת אָבְרָהָם אֲנִי הָיִֽיתִי׃

    The last two words represent the phrase in question. These two words, אני הייתי (ani hayiti) are not the same as what is found in Exodus 3:14:

    ויֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים אֶל מֹשֶׁה אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה תֹאמַר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶהְיֶה שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם׃

    The phrase translated “I AM” by the ESV here is the single word אהיה (ehyeh).

    The difference between these two phrases is clear. In Delitzsch’s version of John, the first-person pronoun is included, and the verb is in the perfect tense. Typically, the perfect tense in Hebrew corresponds to past tense in English, but there are a few translation options depending on the context. However, “I am” is not a valid translation of אני הייתי in this context. The only sense that אני הייתי could mean “I am” is in the sense of “I have become” (and therefore I have been ever since). Compare Psalm 109:25 in various translations.

    That’s all there is to it. There is no better way to translate what Delitzsch wrote than “I was.”

    Even if the DHE had erroneously translated אני הייתי as “I am,” the resemblance to Exodus 3:14 would be superficial, as the Hebrew is completely different. The result would be dishonest and fail to represent Delitzsch’s work.

    For the record, the DHE follows the eleventh edition. Previous editions of the Delitzsch New Testament rendered it instead as אני הוא (ani hu). If the DHE had followed an earlier edition, then the translation would have been “Before Avraham was, I am he.”

    One can take issue with the choices that Franz Delitzsch and his editors and advisors made in the translation. But the philosophy of the DHE translators is clearly stated: “Our goal for this book is not to produce the perfect New Testament or to correct Delitzsch’s errors, but merely to provide readers with his access to excellent scholarship.” The translator’s preface records numerous cases where the translation team disagreed with Delitzsch’s choices but translated faithfully according to what he wrote.

    The translators chose faithfulness to Delitzsch’s Hebrew over their own theological biases, because had they translated it the way they wished Delitzsch would have written it, it would have defeated the purpose of the book. People who accuse First Fruits of Zion or Vine of David of injecting poor theology into the DHE translation of John 8:58 should consult their nearest Hebrew tutor.

    1. Re: "The translators chose faithfulness to Delitzsch’s Hebrew"

      The translators ought to choose faithfulness to the Greek source text! This strikes me as political and makes me feel very uneasy.

  4. Aaron Eby is right about the Hebrew. "Before Abraham was, I am" can only be translated as הייתי -I was.

    ""The translators chose faithfulness to Delitzsch’s Hebrew"

    Not in all cases.

    1. He's right about Delitzsch's Hebrew; he's wrong about the Greek source text. To translate in English as "was" conflicts with the earliest textual witnesses we have. It's more important to convey the original meaning of the text.

    2. Peter,

      They translated Delitzc's Hebrew to English, they did not translate his Greek to English....

      Yes they have some inconsistencies, like translating אניה as a boat, not a they followed the Greek...But let it go, it is not very important. A more important issue to discuss is how an organization that have a majority of Gentiles can introduce themselves as a Jewish organization. that goes for MJ and FFOZ....

    3. Dan,

      "Source text" is an academic term referring to the early Greek witnesses (manuscripts) from which all other translations (including the Delitzsch Hebrew) are based.

      RE: "But let it go, it is not very important."

      I'll let it go but only because you asked. I think this verse is extremely important to be translated correctly.

  5. This entire transaction is sad in so many ways that I can't even begin to describe it. Peter, you continually try to bait me so that we'll engage and you'll "win" and I'll "lose." I believe I laid all that out in this blog post.

    I've done some contract work for FFOZ, but I've also written for O'Reilly, McGraw Hill, and a number of other major publishers. It doesn't mean we always share the same point of view and the opinions and perspectives I express on my blog are my own.

    You might do well to pay attention to your own house and your own relationship with God rather than continually playing the victim card and pointing fingers at others.

    Consider reading Rabbi Kalman Packouz's Dvar Torah (scroll down) on this week's Torah portion. In part, he says "a person who worries about how others view him will have no rest."

    Good night, Peter.

    1. James,

      My little girl will grow up and potentially be influenced by the heresies that you promote. So I have a duty to her to confute false teachings that are being promoted publicly.


      We can take James' response as "No, I don't believe that Yeshua is G-d."

      That's heresy and a total distortion of the Good News.

  6. Now you're putting words in my mouth, Peter. I said no such thing and you know what happens when you assume (warning...some "language").

    You can take my answer at face value which is how I intended it. Also, I hope you realize that I and my personal beliefs are not accountable to you just because you "call me out" on your blog.

    In addition, I hardly think I have any influence whatsoever on your daughter, so that's a straw man argument. My original assessment of your motivations and my recommendations to you stand.

    If what I write is offensive to you, simply cease to read my material.

    Have a nice morning.

    1. James,

      Re: "You can take my answer at face value"

      What answer? You never answered the question. Your "response" was to dodge the question.

      Re: "I hardly think I have any influence whatsoever on your daughter"

      What straw man? You write for one of the biggest Messianic publishers in the world (if we can call FFOZ Messianic) and you have a popular blog--both of which affect lots of people. Are you an island? Hardly.

    2. James, I am really disappointed in you. I saw you as an honest person. As a journalist, I should remember the adage: Follow the money. So, you did some work for Chris Detwiler at FFOZ, and that is why you needed to delete my post, "to be careful," as you put it. I figured you just didn't want to offend a "friend." For the rest of you, I posted a link to FFOZ's online financials (showing they took in a record $2M last year) and Tim Hegg's financials, showing he made a small fraction of that amount. Hopefully the author of this blog is not on the payroll or speaker circuit for any golden egg laying goose or MessyWorld celebrity, and I suspect he is not. Gen. 12:3 for the fake Jews who think they can do a number on the real ones.

      Speaking of posting problems, I tried to use my Wordpress, and twice it said I didn't own the account. Must be some issue with Blogspot?

    3. JewishPrincess,

      Where is the link to FFOZ's financials?

  7. I am probably going to get in a lot of hot water for this but here it goes:

    I have verified at seminary that the second half of the phrase "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with G-d and the Word was G-d...", can indeed also translated as ...the Word was with G-d and what G-d was, the Word was..."

    Paraphrasing briefly would then give...the Word was with G-d and was G-dly....

    The implication I think is that it as not necessary to think of Yeshua as G-d ontologically that is in the absolute meaning of the term. Rather it is necessary to see him as the perfect expression of G-d's will.

    For example, the Torah is G-d's Word in written form and contains all the attributes of G-d/His will. In fact the Torah is the perfect written expression of G-d's will. But it isn't G-d ontologically.

    Likewise, Yeshua is G-d's Word in human form and is the perfect expression of G-d's will in human form. But not necessarily G-d in ontology.

    This perspective helps me to understand certain statements in the bible that are difficult to reconcile with a Jesus is G-d in the absolute sense.

    One last comment. The above in no way implies that Yeshua is merely human, he certainly is Divine and from above...but so is the Torah. Also, to all who may comment, please bear in mind that I am only suggesting the above as a possible alternative view that has explanatory value and I am not saying that I'm right and Trinitarians are wrong...


    1. Noah,

      In your opinion, what relationship do you think the Holy Spirit has, in relation to God?

    2. Zion,

      That is a very good question.

      I'll put it like this: If the Torah is the written expression of G-d's will and Yeshua is the human expression of G-d's will than I would have to say that the Holy Spirit is the Spiritual (invisible made visible) expression of G-d's will. Lame I know, but I don't really know how else to articulate it.

      The Spirit reveals G-d's will and empowers one to do G-d's will. This would seem to occur through direct interaction with our own human Spirit.

      The Spirit produced the human Yeshua through Miriam, and directed and empowered him through his earthy ministry.

      Putting it another way, there is G-d and there is His Word, which is His expressed or revealed will.

      The Torah, the Holy Spirit and Yeshua are all revealed expressions of the Word but in different forms. There all divine, perfect, expressions of the Will of G-d.

      They all work together so to speak. Yeshua, who had no sin nature, was empowered by the Spirit to both teach and live out the Torah perfectly.

      It is all three, Torah, Yeshua and the Holy Spirit, working together which perfectly reveal the Father, who is truly G-d.

      Not that this makes my case, but in Judaism it is said, "G-d's will and his wisdom are one, therefore G-d and his Torah are one because the Torah is the expression of G-ds will."

      That being said, Jews don't think the Torah is actually G-d.

      As a believer, I would say the same thing about both Yeshua and the Holy Spirit.

      But again, this is simply an alterative theological construction with certain explanatory advantages for me. I am totally cool with Trinitarian theology. I just think the above may be closer to a more accurate explanation of an ontology which is difficult to understand in the first place


    3. woops..."human Spirit" should be "human spirit"...didn't mean to capitalize there...


  8. Type in first fruit of zion/ boaz detwiler along with
    841233209 i think this is their filing #. You will need to click various taps to open full pdf. File, 22 pages in all

    you may also need to type first of zion/boaz detwiler. There is a tab that will open 22 page pdf. File. # is 841233209.

  10. 841233209
    You may also need to type in first fruit of zion/ boaz detwiler in the search engine. There should be a 22 page pdf. File. Boaz' father-in-law (treasurer) filed with the state of MI.