Wednesday, February 13, 2013

3X-part 5 Paul and Isaiah

In this series, I am looking at Brevard Childs' The Struggle to understand ISAIAH as Christian Scripture.

This is the last of the sections on the NT and its use of Isaiah. Without looking at Childs, I know there is a major focus on bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles using Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah, in Romans 15. But the question is not what - but how does Paul use these texts?

Childs: "Paul's exegesis shares features with the Hellenistic synagogue of the diaspora such as the use of allegory, but not in a highly developed for akin to Philo. ... lacks the characteristic forms of rabbinic midrash ... only rarely is there a close parallel to the pesher approach of Qumran."

Here is a beginning of an attempt to name the method by which groups interpret the past as it is recorded in the Scripture. What is this allegory, midrash (Hebrew draw out, search), or pesher (Aramaic interpret, occurs frequently in Daniel)? These questions will arise over the next 1800 years with various answers and various terms.

Without going into great detail on all Paul's paraphrases, additions, omissions, and combining of texts, I have selected the texts on atonement to examine: Isaiah 53:9 to 11 in Romans 4:25 and 9:15, 19. Childs puts these forward as 53:9 and 10b (sic). And Romans 9:15 is from Exodus 33:19 and so adds nothing to a discussion of Isaiah. Romans 9:19 from Isaiah 29:16 and has little to do with atonement. Childs is too brief on these for me. There is certainly no allegory and only one word to link the passages from the Greek (that I can see).

It is clear that the Greek of Romans 4:25 has next to no relationship with Isaiah 10 LXX but has some words from 11. Paul is leaning on the Hebrew, but the Greek is not entirely off the mark. The cleanse is used as a sacrificial term implying purify, a theme important in the scheme of approaching the Holy.

καὶ δώσω τοὺς πονηροὺς ἀντὶ τῆς ταφῆς αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς πλουσίους ἀντὶ τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ ὅτι ἀνομίαν οὐκ ἐποίησεν οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦverse 9
And I will give the wicked instead of his burial, and the rich instead of his death; because he committed no transgression, neither was guile found in his mouth.
And one appointed his grave with wicked men, and with a rich man in his death; because he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
καὶ κύριος βούλεται καθαρίσαι αὐτὸν τῆς πληγῆς ἐὰν δῶτε περὶ ἁμαρτίας ἡ ψυχὴ ὑμῶν ὄψεται σπέρμα μακρόβιον καὶ βούλεται κύριος ἀφελεῖν10And the Lord desireth to cleanse him from his plague: if ye offer for sin, your soul shall see a long lived seed: and the Lord desireth to take (him) away from the trouble of his soul,
And the  LORD was pleased to bruise him; he laid sickness on him; if his soul should make a guilt-offering, he should see a seed, he should prolong days, and the pleasure of the  LORD should prosper in his hand. 
ἀπὸ τοῦ πόνου τῆς ψυχῆς αὐτοῦ δεῖξαι αὐτῷ φῶς καὶ πλάσαι τῇ συνέσει δικαιῶσαι δίκαιον εὖ δουλεύοντα πολλοῖς καὶ τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν αὐτὸς ἀνοίσει11To show to him a light, and to form him with under­standing, to justify a just one that serveth many aright, and their sins shall he himself bear.Out of the travail of his soul he shall see, he shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant make many righteous; for he will bear their iniquities
ὃς παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν καὶ ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶνRomans

I would interpret these passages according to human experience, as Rashi suggests in his understanding of Psalm 39 that one voice can speak on behalf of the people. Rashi interprets the psalm as a corporate psalm, the subject 'I' assuming the full weight of the trouble of Israel in exile. If Rashi is pointing in the direction of one person speaking for the elect, then Rashi himself is pointing to the efficacy of vicarious suffering and participation in redemption. A similar singular voice appears in the central chapter of Lamentations. It should not be difficult then to extend the TNK into an understanding of how one man could die for the people or give his life for the life of the world.