[b-hebrew] elohim versus aggelous, Psalm 8:6[5] MT verses LXX

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Tue Sep 30 01:19:00 EDT 2003

Dear Rolf:

First, XWH [chet waw hey] is used only six times in Tanakh according to Lisowsky, not once indicating worship. Its meaning seems to be “to declare”. Are you sure that’s the word you meant?

Your other comments on “God” noted (somewhat redfaced, as I remember reading them) so I spoke too quickly.

You blame Christian dogma for our misunderstanding in this question, but I wonder if that blame really belongs to translator bias rather than to dogma per se? There are other words where translators used “theological” terms, which is often acceptable, but can obscure the true meaning of passages.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: furuli at online.no

> Dear Karl,
> See my comments below:
> >Dear Rolf:
> >
> >I wonder if words have changed meaning, or our understanding thereof has.
> The notion "worship"  is for the most part construed on the basis of
> the context. Take for instance the verb XWH which often is translated
> by "worship".  The word indicates to be prostrate before someone.
> When you bow down before YHWH, the only reason for that is to worship
> him. When you bow down before a king, you are in the most cases doing
> obeisance. Thus "worship" is not a semantic part of the word, it is
> pragmatically construed (exactly the same is true with the Greek word
> >
> >Where in Tanakh is )LHYM used for something other than an object to
> >be worshipped? My understanding is that that never happens, though
> >the term is used for false gods worshipped ineffectually. Could this
> >be a post-exilic understanding of the term?
> On the basis of what is said above, I would say that "worship" is no
> part of )LHYM, even though, as you imply, worship is the rule in
> connection with )LHYM.  In Psalm 82:1,6 human judges are referred to
> as )LHYM (note how Jesus applies these words, John 10:34) and  in
> Exodus 4:16 and 7:1 Moses is said to be "God" for Aaron and Pharao
> respectively.  The word )LHYM is a generic count-noun, and the
> context must tell us its reference, and whether worship is connected
> with it or not.  The angels are called "gods" and "sons of God," but
> there is no indication in the Tanakh that they should be worshiped.
> >
> >Or is it that aggelos had a broader meaning than our present fairly
> >restricted understanding? Or is this something peculiar to Jewish
> >understanding of the term?
> The same thing/person can be referred to by different words; "angels"
> and "gods" are two different ways of referring to the same creatures.
> The first word indicates that these creatures are sent from YHWH, and
> the second indicates that the have the same nature as their father.
> The real problem in connection with )LHYM/AGGELOS in my view, is the
> influence of Christian dogma. When studying the MT/LXX, we should try
> to look at the text apart from traditional religious views regarding
> God.  This applies to textual criticism as well; we should only
> consider variants in the text when there is textual evidence or
> strong philological reasons for such, not when it is required by
> religious dogma.
> Best regards
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
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