Bishop and Rector’s Journal
December 10, 2021
Dear Family and Friends of St. Philip’s, The Diocese of Florida had its Advent party last night. May Ruth and I attended. It was mostly clergy, diocesan staff, and spouses. We had a good time and ate very good food. I was sorry to miss the Men’s Club meeting at the same time. I will be at the January Men’s meeting. It has been a good week. Barbara Lee, Cedric Williams, and I are working on getting the Christmas Eve bulletin finalized. The service begins with Carols at 5:15 pm and the service at 5:30 pm. We will have a blessing of the creche after the children present the figurines. I understand that we are missing the three Wise Men and would appreciate someone giving to the parish “new Wise Men.” The three figurines need to be of similar style to the other creche figurines and of the same size. If you have Wise Men figurines that might work, contact Arlene Jones. Hopefully, what you have and the parish needs will be a fit. It is my plan to have the Wise Men in the back of the Church on Christmas Eve and then move them closer to the creche each Sunday with them arriving at the creche on January 6—Feast of the Epiphany.
Last week I wrote briefly about the Old and New Testament Canon. The Old Testament, sometimes called the Hebrew Scriptures, comes to us primarily from two sources. One is the Septuagint. The legend is that 72 Jewish scholars were charged by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (Also known as Ptolemy the Great of Egypt who lived 285-247 BC) to translate the Hebrew Scripture writings of the time into a Greek text. The Septuagint has four divisions: Law, History, Poetry, and Prophets. Some books of Hebrew Scripture outside the Canon of that time which we call the Apocrypha (the hidden word of God) were also translated into Greek. The other source is known as the Masoretic Text. This is the collection of the Jewish Scrolls handed down through the ages with extensive synagogue usage. It was put into final form by the Masoretes, a group of Jewish scholars who compiled the Scriptures from 800-1100 AD. The Masoretes even instituted vowel pointing under the Hebrew consonants, so the Hebrew words would be pronounced properly in the synagogues. The Masoretic Text has three divisions known as The Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. Only books of the Old Testament Canon are in the Masoretic Text. The Apocrypha Books are not included.
While the Septuagint predates the Masoretic Text by over 1000 years, the Masoretic Text is regarded by most scholars as the dominant version of the Bible. Our New Revised Standard Version of the Bible pays attention to the Septuagint but chooses the Masoretic Text if there is a difference. Below is a case in point, and it can tell you if the version of the Bible you are reading has an Evangelical or Protestant Main Line perspective: Look up Isaiah 7:14. Depending upon the Version you read it will say, “The Lord will give you a sign: “The Young Woman or The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.” Emmanuel means God is with us. The Septuagint uses “Parthenos” or Virgin. The Masoretic Text uses “almah” or Young Woman. The context of Parthenos can determine if the word means Virgin or Young Woman or both, so the Septuagint and the Masoretic Text are close. It is the translation of parthenos and alma into English that brings forth questions. Obviously, a young woman and a virgin can carry the same or very different meanings. It is from the Septuagint that Matthew picks up “a Virgin shall conceive” and uses it as a prophecy leading to our Blessed Virgin Mary as mother of Jesus. Check out this passage with your different Bibles. I promise the results will be interesting!
With my love and best wishes, I am, Your brother in Christ, Jay