Laying a Foundation (Hebrews 6)
- Although the Greek version of the Epistle to the Hebrews has become
the standard text used in Christendom, the "Church Fathers" of
Christendom openly admitted that the Letter to the Hebrews had been
originally written in Hebrew and was later translated into Greek.
Eusebius in the fourth century referred to a now lost writing by
Clement of Alexandria wrote around the year 200 C.E. which Eusebius
cites as follows:
In the work called Hypotyposes, to sum up
the matter briefly he [Clement of Alexandria]
has given us the abridged accounts
of all the canonical Scriptures, the Epistle
to the Hebrews he asserts was written by Paul,
to the Hebrews, in the Hebrew tongue;
but that it was carefully translated by Luke,
and published among the Greeks.
(Clement of Alexandria; Hypotyposes (c. 200 CE) referred to by
Eusebius in Eccl. Hist. 6:14:2)
And Eusebius himself testifies:
For as Paul had addressed the Hebrews
in the language of his country;
some say that the evangelist Luke,
others that Clement, translated the epistle.
(Eusebius (4th Cent.); Eccl. Hist. 3:38:2-3)
Finally Jerome writes:
He (Paul) being a Hebrew wrote in Hebrew,
that is, his own tongue and most fluently
while things which were eloquently
written in Hebrew were more eloquently
turned into Greek.
(Jerome (4th Cent.); Lives of Illustrious Men, Book V)
Now as many of you may know, in 1537 Munster had published Hebrew
Matthew which he had obtained from the Jews (this Hebrew text was
very similar to the Hebrew Matthew published in 1553 by Jean
DuTillet). Twenty years later, in 1557, a second edition of
Munster's Hebrew Matthew was printed, this time also containing the
complete Hebrew text of the Letter to the Hebrews in an appendix.
This second edition went largely unnoticed and soon forgotten. The
lost Hebrew text of Hebrews has only been "rediscovered" since this
second 1557 edition of Munster's Hebrew Matthew has (in recent
months) come to our attention.
This Hebrew text of Hebrews (which had never before been translated
into English) served as the primary text of the Hebraic Roots Version
of the Letter to the Hebrews as published in the HRV complete
Sometimes I am asked in the Hebrew or Aramaic NT texts differ from
the Greek texts. I would like to give an example of such a
difference as found in Hebrews 6:1-2:
The KJV translates the Greek version of Hebrews 6:1-2 as follows:
Therefore leaving the principles of
the doctrine of Christ, let us go on
unto perfection; not laying again
the foundation of repentance from dead works,
and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of
baptisms, and of laying on of hands,
and of resurrection of the dead,
and of eternal judgment.
In Greek Hebrews it is layed out that one leaves the "principles of
the doctine of Christ" and "goes onto perfection" by "not laying
again the foundation" of a list of six "principles of the doctrine of
But Hebrew Hebrews reads somewhat differently in this passage:
Therefore it is time to leave the word concerning
the word of the beginning of the life of Messiah
for so we grow in maturity to move again to establish
a foundation of repentance from dead works by faith in
Elohim. [A foundation] of immersions, of teaching,
of laying on of hands, of resurrection from the dead
and from everlasting judgement.
In the Hebrew version of Hebrews one leaves the mere study of the
life of Messiah and moves onto maturity by establishing a foundation
of seven areas that move us on to maturity.
Now this is a big difference. The Greek text says that we
should "leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ" ?!?! while
the Hebrew only says that we should move beyond a mere study of the
life of Messiah.
The Greek points us to move on from a study of six items while the
Hebrew tells us we should continue in studying seven items. Of
course in the Scriptures seven is normally the number of perfection
while six is generally the number of man (created on the sixth day)
The Greek translator mistook the phrase "of immersions, of teaching"
as "of teachings of immersions" (i.e. of doctrines of baptisms) thus
leaving out "teaching/study" as one of seven foundational items that
help us move onto maturity.
The Hebrew points us in the direction of maturity while the Greek
tells us that the very things we need to grow in maturity are things
we should leave behind (and leaves out "teaching" entirely).
For more information on the HRV NT see the HRV Website at:
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