Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mark Driscoll Ministries has the old Mars Hill Doctrine series from 2008, replete with the egregiously inaccurate bunk scholarship on the Targum Neofiti (misdated date, misrepresented content)

Yes, regular readers of Wenatchee The Hatchet probably know this already, but we've discussed the wildly irresponsible claims made by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears regarding the Targum Neofiti as allegedly presenting a Jewish proposal of a Trinitarian conception of Yahweh predating the birth of Christ by centuries, and we've done this before.

However ... since Mark Driscoll Ministries has seen fit to bring back the old debunked garbage it's worth revisiting.  The MDM team has had at least a year to fix this and hasn't, obviously.  So ... since Drsicoll let the posse bring back the content the same way it was presented back in 2008 ...

Starts about 23:00 in


Now, what I want to share with you now is super exciting to me ‘cause I’m a total – I’m kind of a geek. And I really like – I really like the Bible and I like learning things I did not know. And I learned something this week that I did not know. It comes from Dr. Gerry Breshears, who’s a dear friend of mine and my co-author on Vintage Jesus and some other books. He’s the head of theology at Western Seminary in Portland. And what he showed me was – he sent this to me, it’s called the Targum Neofiti. It’s from roughly 200 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Now, let me tell you what a targum is, okay? A targum was an accepted Jewish translation and reading of the Old Testament, okay? And the Jewish scholars would translate, read the Old Testament and they would write them down as accepted targums. Now this targum – again, think is through – is 200 years before the birth of Jesus, more than 200 years before the Christian church in its present form came into existence, 500 years before something we’ll get to call the Council of Nicea where the Christian theologians officially declared the doctrine of the Trinity as true orthodoxy. Hundreds of years prior, here is the Targum Neofiti.

Genesis 1:1-2, it declared, “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – who’s that? That’s Jesus. That’s the same language we find in the New Testament. Paul says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and he is the firstborn – that’s preeminence. That’s prominence. That’s rulership over all creation. “In the beginning, by the Firstborn” – Jesus – “God” – that’s the Father – “created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” I can show that there were Jews who were waiting for the coming of Jesus Messiah who loved and studied the Bible – 200 years before the coming of Jesus interpreted Genesis 1, the opening line of the Bible, and Genesis 2 to be Trinitarian. That the Father through Jesus Christ, the preeminent firstborn Son, along with the Holy Spirit created everything. Trinitarian.

To all that the scholars Robert Cargill, Christian Brady, and Scott Bailey could be said to have replied "No", "No" and "Hell no" respective to their usual blogging tones. Brady, in particular, as an Aramaic targum scholar, has been in a good position to point out that Driscoll (and Breshears) claim the rabbinical commentary on Genesis was written in the second centure BCE when it is generally accepted as written in the second century CE.  I.e. 2 centuries BC is four centuries too early for something scholars agree was written in the 2nd century AD, for folks who are old school.  Driscoll opens out the gate misrepresenting (at best) or lying (at worst) when the commentary on Genesis was written. 

Brady closed his friendly post with:

Feel free to offer other comments on the video. For the first time I have actually left comments on a YouTube video because I think this is so egregious. And for those who don’t know me as well and to be open and clear, I do believe in the Trinity, I just abhor bad sermons and errors.  [emphasis mine]

That Driscoll's been recycling stuff is hardly a surprise, even if he at one point warned from the pulpit against those guys who only have a few years' worth of preaching in them, move on, and start recycling content.  But, even if we take the most generous approach here about his time away to get "healed up", he had time to cut out some of the most ridiculous, dishonest and irresponsible pseudo-scholarship in works published with his name on them.  Simply not providing a transcript of the sermon (anymore) is not the same as having retracted stupid pseudo-scholarship and admitting you said garbage that proved you didn't know what you were talking about.


Anonymous said...

You have written many times about the "Targum Neofiti."
What is that?

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

a rabbinic commentary on Genesis. Contra Driscoll, Robert Cargill has written to the effet that (if memory serves) the commentary ()targum) was composed to reconcile a perceived distinction between how God created everything in Gen 1 and how God created everything with wisdom in Proverbs. There's no Trinitarian or proto-Trinitarian element to the targum and scholars have contested that Breshears/Driscoll date the composition of the targum centuries earlier than dated by scholarly consensus.

It's almost like pretending that Star Wars episodes 1-3 were chronologically made first and that Anakin is the actual hero of all six films; for those who know that Episodes 4-6 came first and Luke Skywalker was the hero it's just too big a stretch to claim someone else is the "main focus". Driscoll/Breshears made a comparably absurd claim for Neofiti as what I just demonstrated by analogy with the Star Wars franchise.

That's about as simple as I can probably manage for the topic.