Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Protestantism - Salvation - Holy Bible

The juridical mentality of the West annuls Christ's sacrifice  //  "Redemption" from the curse of the Law   //     The significance of the “Antilytron”* // In defense of the Septuagint

Does Isaiah really teach the juridical theory of  a "demented god" who punishes one innocent in the place of sinners?

What do we notice from the differences between the ancient texts in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah?

We are once again obliged to.... storm open doors, on account of a Protestant persistence that is addicted to a corrupt and irrational perception of the Gospel and the Holy Bible.  This time, one more argument that they resort to is the prophecy in the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

* Antilytron, (Greek: anti (= in place of), lytron (= an offer for someone’s release/freedom)

1. An unexpected use of verses

The Orthodox Christian is often surprised when certain individuals (who want to support the cacodoxies that they were taught) point out Scriptural verses that he had never imagined could be seen with such a warped imagination. Even worse, when they omit to mention the full context of a passage, and especially when they direct him to corrupted translations and texts in their attempt to prove their theory.

One such verse that was brought to our attention recently was from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, and specifically verse 10, which, at first glance (of the Hebrew text) appears to support the blasphemous theory of "satisfying divine justice" with the punishment of one innocent in the place of the guilty.  A more careful and deeper examination will however reveal all those elements that are necessary for an orthodox perception and understanding of that verse, which not only does NOT support this blasphemous theory, but on the contrary, explains with exceptional precision the Orthodox position on the issue.

 

2. The two passages of Isaiah 53

The chapter of Isaiah that we are examining is perhaps the most impressive prophecy of the entire Holy Bible that refers to Jesus Christ, given that it describes His passions, more than half a millennium PRIOR TO His sacrifice!

We will therefore begin by quoting chapter 53 of Isaiah, in four parallel columns. In the first column is the original Greek text as translated by the Septuagint (LXX). Next to it (for easier visual comparison) in the second column is the much more recent Masoretic text (in a modern Greek version), which is the corrupted end product of the post-Christ, non-believing Jews, whose oldest available copies are about 1000 years more recent than the oldest and more reliable text of the Septuagint. In the third column is an English rendition of the Septuagint Greek, while the fourth column has an acknowledged English translation of the (not-as-ancient) Hebrew Masoretic text, again for easier visual comparison.

As our readers will see for themselves, it is upon that more recent, corrupted Masoretic text that the supporters of a "demented god" strive to base their theories regarding "the satisfaction of divine justice"...

Using bold print, we will focus on the points that the Westerners quote in order to support their theory, and we can then compare the columns below (visually also), in order to comment on them afterwards.  The English rendition of the Septuagint is ours, and for the needs of our research we have preferred to express it "verbatim" as much as possible - even if the expressions are not as "streamlined" as modern colloquial English - rather than translate it in freestyle, which usually affects certain aspects of its interpretation.  Though certain phrases of the (English) Septuagint may appear equally vague, we have preferred vagueness inasmuch as it leaves the text open to all potential interpretations of the verses as they appear in the original, rather than propose one single interpretation with precision, to the detriment of another interpretation that might have been either equally feasible, or co-existing as yet another interpretative level of that same prophecy. 

Septuagint text

(in Greek)

Masoretic Text

(in Greek)

Septuagint text

(rendered in English)

Masoretic Text

(in English)

1 Κύριε, τις επίστευσε τη ακοή ημών; και ο βραχίων Κυρίου τίνι απεκαλύφθη; 
 
2 ανηγγείλαμεν ως παιδίον εναντίον αυτού, ως ρίζα εν γη διψώση. ουκ έστιν είδος αυτώ ουδέ δόξα· και είδομεν αυτόν, και ουκ είχεν είδος ουδέ κάλλος·
 
 
 
3 αλλά το είδος αυτού άτιμον και εκλείπον παρά πάντας τους υιούς των ανθρώπων· άνθρωπος εν πληγή ων και ειδώς φέρειν μαλακίαν, ότι απέστραπται το πρόσωπον αυτού, ητιμάσθη και ουκ ελογίσθη.
 
4 ούτος τας αμαρτίας ημών φέρει και περί ημών οδυνάται, και ημείς ελογισάμεθα αυτόν είναι εν πόνω και εν πληγή υπό Θεού και εν κακώσει.
 
 
5 αυτός δε ετραυματίσθη δια τας αμαρτίας ημών και μεμαλάκισται δια τας ανομίας ημών· παιδεία ειρήνης ημών επ‘ αυτόν. Τω μώλωπι αυτού ημείς ιάθημεν.
 
6 πάντες ως πρόβατα επλανήθημεν, άνθρωπος τη οδω αυτού επλανήθη· και Κύριος παρέδωκεν αυτόν ταις αμαρτίαις ημών.
 
7 και αυτός δια το κεκακώσθαι ουκ ανοίγει το στόμα αυτού· ως πρόβατον επί σφαγήν ήχθη και ως αμνός εναντίον του κείροντος αυτόν άφωνος, ούτως ουκ ανοίγει το στόμα.
 
 
8 εν τη ταπεινώσει η κρίσις αυτού ήρθη· την δε γενεάν αυτού τις διηγήσεται; ότι αίρεται από της γης η ζωή αυτού, από των ανομιών του λαού μου ήχθη εις θάνατον.
 
 
9 και δώσω τους πονηρούς αντί της ταφής αυτού και τους πλουσίους αντί του θανάτου αυτού· ότι ανομίαν ουκ εποίησεν, ουδέ ευρέθη δόλος εν τω στόματι αυτού.
10 και Κύριος βούλεται καθαρίσαι αυτόν από της πληγής. Εάν δώτε περί αμαρτίας(+), η ψυχή υμών όψεται σπέρμα μακρόβιον· και βούλεται Κύριος αφελείν
 
 
 
11 από του πόνου της ψυχής αυτού, δείξαι αυτώ φως και πλάσαι τη συνέσει, δικαιώσαι δίκαιον εύ δουλεύοντα πολλοίς, και τας αμαρτίας αυτών αυτός ανοίσει.

12 δια τούτο αυτός κληρονομήσει πολλούς και των ισχυρών μεριεί σκύλα, ανθ‘ ων παρεδόθη εις θάνατον η ψυχή αυτού, και εν τοις ανόμοις ελογίσθη· και αυτός αμαρτίας πολλών ανήνεγκε και δια τας αμαρτίας αυτών παρεδόθη.

1 Τις επίστευσεν εις το κήρυγμα ημών; και ο βραχίων του Κυρίου εις τίνα απεκαλύφθη;
 
2 διότι ανέβη ενώπιον αυτού ως τρυφερόν φυτόν και ως ρίζα από ξηράς γής· δεν έχει είδος ουδέ κάλλος· και είδομεν αυτόν και δεν είχεν ώραιότητα ώστε να επιθυμώμεν αυτόν.
 
 
3 Καταπεφρονημένος και απερριμμένος υπό των ανθρώπων· άνθρωπος θλίψεων και δόκιμος ασθενείας· και ως άνθρωπος από του οποίου αποστρέφει τις το πρόσωπον, κατεφρονήθη και ως ουδέν ελογίσθημεν αυτόν.
 
4 Αυτός τωόντι τας ασθενείας ημών εβάστασε και τας θλίψεις ημών επεφορτίσθη· ημείς δε ενομίσαμεν αυτόν  τετραυματισμένον, πεπλη-γωμένον υπό Θεού και τεταλαι-πωρημένον.
 
5 Αλλ' αυτός ετραυματίσθη διά τας παραβάσεις ημών, εταλαιπωρήθη διά τας ανομίας ημών· η τιμωρία, ήτις έφερε την ειρήνην ημών, ήτο επ' αυτόν· και διά των πληγών αυτού ημείς ιάθημεν.
 
6 Πάντες ημείς επλανήθημεν ως πρόβατα· εστράφημεν έκαστος εις την οδόν αυτού· και ο Κύριος έθεσεν επ' αυτόν την ανομίαν πάντων ημών.
 
7 Αυτός ήτο κατατεθλιμμένος και βεβασανισμένος αλλά δεν ήνοιξε το στόμα αυτού· εφέρθη ως αρνίον επί σφαγήν, και ως πρόβατον έμπροσθεν του κείροντος αυτό άφωνον, ούτω δεν ήνοιξε το στόμα αυτού.
 
8 Από καταθλίψεως και κρίσεως ανηρπάχθη· την δε γενεάν αυτού τις θέλει διηγηθή; διότι εσηκώθη από της γης των ζώντων· διά τας παραβάσεις του λαού μου ετραυματίσθη.
 
 
9 Και ο τάφος αυτού διωρίσθη μετά των κακούργων· πλην εις τον θάνατον αυτού εστάθη μετά του πλουσίου· διότι δεν έκαμεν ανομίαν ουδέ ευρέθη δόλος εν τω στόματι αυτού.
10 Αλλ' ο Κύριος ηθέλησε να βασανίση αυτόν· εταλαιπώρησεν αυτόν. Αφού όμως δώσης την ψυχήν αυτού προσφοράν περί αμαρτίας, θέλει ιδεί έκγονα, θέλει μακρύνει τας ημέρας αυτού, και το θέλημα του Κυρίου θέλει ευοδωθή εν τη χειρί αυτού.
 
11 Θέλει ιδεί τους καρπούς του πόνου της ψυχής αυτού και θέλει χορτασθή· ο δίκαιος δούλός μου θέλει δικαιώσει πολλούς διά της επιγνώσεως αυτού· διότι αυτός θέλει βαστάσει τας ανομίας αυτών.

12 Διά τούτο θέλω δώσει εις αυτόν μερίδα μετά των μεγάλων και τους ισχυρούς θέλει μοιρασθή λάφυρον, διότι παρέδωκε την ψυχήν αυτού εις θάνατον και μετά ανόμων ελογίσθη και αυτός εβάστασε τας αμαρτίας πολλών και θέλει μεσιτεύσει υπέρ των ανόμων.

1 Lord, who has believed by hearing us, and the arm of the Lord - to whom was it revealed?
 
2  We announced (him) as a child before him; like a root in thirsty soil.  There is no appearance to him, nor glory; and we beheld him and he did not have appearance or beauty.
 
 
3. but (instead), his appearance was inglorious and shunned by all the sons of men; he was a man in injury and one (who was) seen to bear frailty, for his face was scorned; he was dishonored and was not held in regard.
 
4. He bears our sins and grieves for us, and  we thought him to be in pain and stricken  by God, and in affliction;
 
 
 
5 however he was injured for our sins, and was bruised for our iniquities;  an education of peace for us (was) upon him. By his bruising, we have been healed.
 
 
6 All of us have strayed like sheep; man had strayed on his path, and (so) the Lord delivered him unto our sins.
 
 
7 And he, being abused, did not open his mouth; like a sheep to the slaughter he was led, and like a lamb before its shearer (he was) mute; thus did he not open His mouth.
 
 
8 In (due to) his humiliation, judgment of him was lifted: Who shall narrate his generation? For his life is withdrawn from the earth; from the iniquities of my people, he was led to death.
 
9 And I shall deliver the wicked in place of his burial, and the rich in place of his death; for he did not commit anything unlawful, nor was any deceit found in his mouth,
 
10 and the Lord wants to cleanse him from that injury. If you (likewise) give something for sin(+), your soul shall see a long-living seed; and God shall want to take away  
 
 
 
11 from the pain of his soul, so that he may show him light and forge according to prudence, vindicate the righteous one who works good deeds to many, and their sins he shall remove..
 
12 For this, he shall inherit many and will distribute the plunders of the powerful, for whose sake his life was delivered to death and he (himself) was regarded as one of the lawless. And he bore the sins of many, and for their sins he was surrendered.
1 Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
 
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground he hath no form nor comeliness and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.
 
3 He is despised and rejected of men a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and we hid as it were our faces from him he was despised and we esteemed him not
 
 
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we did esteem him stricken smitten of God and afflicted
 
 
 
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed
 
 
6 All we like sheep have gone astray we have turned every one to his own way and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all
 
7 He was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he opened not his mouth he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he openeth not his mouth
 
 
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment and who shall declare his generation for he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people was he stricken
 
9 And he made his grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death because he had done no violence neither was any deceit in his mouth
 
 
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him he hath put him to grief when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand
 
 
11  He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many for he shall bear their iniquities
 
 
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great and he shall divide the spoil with the strong because he hath poured out his soul unto death and he was numbered with the transgressors and he bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors

(+) A technical term, referring to an "expiatory sacrifice for one's sins".

 

3. The points stressed by the followers of the juridical theory

The followers of the juridical theory of "satisfaction of divine justice" tend to stress the following points (as found in the Masoretic version in columns 2 & 4 respectively). These points have been coloured brown and are in bold print.

4 Αυτός τωόντι τας ασθενείας ημών εβάστασε και τας θλίψεις ημών επεφορτίσθη· ημείς δε ενομίσαμεν αυτόν τετραυματισμένον, πεπληγωμένον υπό Θεού και τεταλαιπωρημένον... 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet we did esteem him stricken smitten of God and afflicted.
5 ...η τιμωρία, ήτις έφερε την ειρήνην ημών, ήτο επ' αυτόν
5 ... the chastisement of our peace was upon him
6 ...και ο Κύριος έθεσεν επ' αυτόν την ανομίαν πάντων ημών... 6 ... and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all
8 ...διά τας παραβάσεις του λαού μου ετραυματίσθη... 8... for the transgression of my people was he stricken
10 Αλλ' ο Κύριος ηθέλησε να βασανίση αυτόν· εταλαιπώρησεν αυτόν. Αφού όμως δώσης την ψυχήν αυτού προσφοράν περί αμαρτίας... το θέλημα του Κυρίου θέλει ευοδωθή εν τη χειρί αυτού. 10 ... Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him he hath put him to grief when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin .... and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand

With the above verses (and mostly with verse 10) they want to convince us that "it pleased the LORD to bruise him, he hath put him to grief", because that was the way that Divine justice would be satisfied (given that "someone had to be PUNISHED" in place of the guilty) and so, through Christ's sacrifice "the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ", so that Christ would be paying the price for our sins.

Naturally, with a closer look, we will see that not even the Masoretic texts say anything of the kind. Moreso, when comparing them to the same verses (especially verse 10) of the Septuagint - which is 1000 years older - it says entirely different things!

We shall now examine below the reasons that prove Isaiah had never prophesied the juridical theory of a "demented god".

 

4. A debunking by Isaiah of the arguments that support the juridical theory

4.1. "We did esteem....  but..."

The first point that refutes the juridical theory is absolutely clear - not only in the Septuagint text, but ALSO in the Masoretic text itself!  This is a clear-cut statement which alone is enough to close the issue.  It is the clear-cut statement of verses 4 and 5, where the Masoretic text says: "we did esteem him stricken smitten of God and afflicted 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon him and with his stripes we are healed

This verse clearly says "we esteemed" (thought)!  "We (the Jews) thought He was injured and wounded and afflicted by God."  Then it continues with the word "But" !!!  This is the word that differentiates between the fact and what "we thought".  The "but" corrects "our" erroneous opinion, and gives us the correct status: "But he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities....."

This verse clearly and sufficiently negates the juridical theory, and it is a point that is also in full agreement with the Septuagint as seen in the respective columns above.

4.2. "The chastisement of our peace was upon him "

The second point that looks strikingly inappropriate and is nevertheless used by the "juridicals" is the word "chastisement/punishment" which appears in the Masoretic text, in verse 5: "But he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon him."   Since he was "punished" -they tell us- this is a clear indication that we have a "court case".  God "PUNISHES" the innocent one in the place of the guilty ones, so that the guilty ones may be saved (!!!)

Beyond the clear irrationality of this logic - as extensively explained in another of our articles, the first thing that we must mention is that this same passage in the (1000-year older) Septuagint text is actually different: "5 however he was injured for our sins, and was bruised for our iniquities;  an education of peace for us (was) upon him. By his bruising, we have been healed."

Here, we can see that the word "chastisement" or "punishment" is not present in the text. On the contrary, we notice the word "education".  In fact, (for those who want to perceive the word "education" in the sense of "punishment") the Septuagint text does not (grammatically) relate the "education" to Christ, but to "us".  It says : "an education of peace for us"  In other words, even if we wanted to see the word "education" (παιδεία) as implying a punishment (τιμωρία) that would educate someone, it would be OUR PUNISHMENT! It would be an educative punishment for US, not for Him!

Consequently, neither does this verse (not even in the Masoretic text) actually say that God the Father PUNISHED God the Son for our sake.  It may imply "punishment" (education), but NOWHERE does it specify that this punishment pertained to Christ. It says it was OURS.  In other words, according to Eusebius of Caesaria: "...therefore, although it was appropriate for us to suffer and be educated for our own sins, they (sins) befell Him, for the sake of our peace towards God" (όπερ γαρ εχρήν ημάς παθείν παιδευόμενος δια τας αμαρτίας τας ημετέρας, ταύτα επ΄ αυτόν ήλθεν υπέρ της ημετέρας ειρήνης της προς Θεόν). In short, this educative "punishment" that WE should have undergone, was finally undergone by Christ, for our sake.

Nowhere does it imply that God "wanted to satisfy His justice" with these words, or that He "punished Christ".  It was something that the Father had TOLERATED for our sake, because it was how we were going to escape the educative punishment that WE deserved!  What was normally deserved by us was borne by Christ - without this implying that it satisfied God's justice in any way!

 

4.3. "...and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all"

The next point that we need to examine is verse 6: "...and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ".

With this passage, the juridically-minded obviously want to tell us that "the Lord" was the one who "loaded" all our sins on Him, and therefore God's justice was thus "satisfied", by punishing an innocent in the place of all the guilty.

And yet, the 1000-year more ancient text of the Septuagint says something entirely different: "...and (so) the Lord delivered him unto our sins...."   Obviously, it is one thing to claim that God actually laid the sins of others onto Christ, and a totally different thing to "deliver" Him unto others, for the sake of our sins.  In the former instance (if we don't take the words metaphorically), God appears as the "moral perpetrator" of an injustice: punishing someone innocent in the place of the guilty.  In the second instance however, God is seen as ALLOWING the Innocent One to be wronged, because He knows that in this way, the others will benefit by it and be saved.

But even in the Masoretic text, it is not necessary to take the expression literally - rather, it is necessary that it be taken metaphorically, because it ACTUALLY IS a metaphorical expression!  How can someone actually "load sins" onto someone else, as though sins are objects that can be loaded and carried?  This phrase could only have a metaphorical meaning, therefore how can we possibly ascribe a literal meaning to it, just because it may suit our prejudices?

Therefore, even if we wanted to perceive the Masoretic text as the more correct version, we would still be obliged to perceive the phrase metaphorically, and understand that by "allowing" Christ to suffer what He did under the Jews, it is as though God was (in this metaphorical manner) "loading" all that weight onto Christ (which we were obliged to lift); a weight that was "removed" from us thanks to His Sacrifice.  But under no circumstance whatsoever was God "satisfied" with an outcome like that, nor did He regard the Sacrifice as a "just punishment" of an innocent for the sake of the guilty!

 

4.4. "for the transgression of my people was he stricken.." 

The next verse that the juridically-minded might highlight is verse 8, which, according to the Masoretic text says "...for the transgression of my people was he stricken...".   A statement like that in the minds of the juridicalists apparently seems to imply:  "...because the people had transgressions, the judge demanded that an innocent person be punished in their place..."  But an inference like that does not exist - not even as a suspicion!  There is not the slightest hint here that could indicate God as the one who wounded Him or had ordered that He be wounded.  People wounded Him, on their own initiative and responsibility.  Furthermore, there is no mention whatsoever that God was SATISFIED with that wound. 

What is implied in this verse is that Christ was ALLOWED to suffer a wound (as also mentioned above, that "God allowed" Him to suffer what He did), because both of them knew full well that the people would thus be saved from their sins. Nothing more.

 

4.5. "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him, he hath put him to grief"

Verses 10 and 11 say the following, according to the Masorites:

"10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him he hath put him to grief when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed he shall prolong his days and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand 11  He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many for he shall bear their iniquities.."

"Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him he hath put him to grief"  !!!!!   And this is where we can see the juridicalists' "heavy artillery" !!!

We can just imagine them, triumphantly bragging:

"What clearer statement could you want than this? Doesn't it say here - quite clearly - that the Lord was the one Who wanted to inflict torture and put Christ to grief?  God Himself, and not anyone else?  And doesn't it say that this was a "sacrifice", an "offering for sin"?  Who then was the recipient of sacrifices, if not God?"

"No! You are mistaken!" is our equally triumphant reply to them. Because in the Septuagint text - which is more reliable and more ancient by 1000 years - this verse says the exact opposite!  Observe what it says:

" 10 and the Lord wants to cleanse him from that injury. If you (likewise) give something for sin, your soul shall see a long-living seed; and God shall want to take away  11 from the pain of his soul, so that he may show him light and forge according to prudence, vindicate the righteous who works good deeds to many, and their sins He shall remove..

In simpler language:

"10 And the Lord shall want to cleanse him of the wound. If you (plural) make an offering (sacrifice) for sin, your soul will see a long-living seed, and the Lord wills to take away 11 from the pain of his soul, to show him light and to forge according to prudence, and shall vindicate the righteous (one) who does good deeds to many, and their sins he shall remove.."

In other words, the correct, older text not only DOES NOT STATE that "it pleased the LORD to bruise him he hath put him to grief" - not only does it NOT STATE that "the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all", but on the contrary, it says that the Lord was the One Who relieved him and vindicated him!!

How could it ever be possible for the theory of a "punisher-God and a torturer of an innocent"  (as per the Masoretic text) be correct, when quite clearly, BOTH TEXTS - the Masoretic and the Septuagint - have in previous verses stated clearly that:

"we did esteem him stricken smitten of God and afflicted, But ......."    (Masoretic)

we thought him to be in pain and stricken  by God, and in affliction;  however ....." (Septuagint)

Wouldn't that mean a blatant contradiction within the very same chapter?   Well, it is obvious in verses 4 and 5, where it is clarified that WE HAD WRONGLY "ESTEEMED that he was wounded/punished/chastised by God" !!! Quite clearly, the Masoretic text has been corrupted at this point !

Furthermore, there is also NO mention that the will of God is to punish one innocent for the sake of the many guilty.  Instead, it says:  "and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand" The "pleasure of the Lord" here is understood to mean the saving (salvation) of the guilty -thanks to the Sacrifice of the Righteous One- and NOT the injustice of punishing/chastising an innocent one...

 

4.6. The "recipient" of the sacrifice

As for the matter of the sacrifice, once again, we encounter the same issue that was mentioned earlier:  "How is it possible to want to perceive a metaphorical expression literally, for the sole purpose of accommodating our personal ideology?"  Because when speaking of a "sacrifice", it is obvious that we are referring to something along the lines of:  We have a victim, laid out on a sacrificial altar and the priest who is wielding a knife slaughters the victim and then burns it.  Well, is this what happened in the case of Christ?  Was He literally sacrificed on an altar by a ritual priest, with a knife, and then burnt as "an offering for sin" to God?

Of course not!  Even the juridicalists will comment here that Christ was the "representative offering" which had been prophetically symbolized by the sacrifices of the past - by the "sacrificial offerings" of the Law.  They will tell us that those sacrifices SYMBOLIZED Christ's eventual sacrifice, which is why in the case of Christ, the sacrificial altar was the Crucifix, the sacrificial knife was the centurion's spearhead, the priest was Christ Himself (who was offering Himself), and the sacrificial fire was symbolic, according to: "the zeal of your house has devoured me" (John 2:17)... and many more related details.

Therefore, they too admit that Christ's sacrifice is METAPHORICALLY related to the sacrifices of the Law.  So, is it appropriate to perceive a clearly metaphorical association literally, whenever it suits one's ideology?  Because, if they do not seek a literal "sacrificial altar" and a literal "sacrificial priest" and a literal "sacrificial knife" and a literal "sacrificial fire", then why do they seek to make God the literal recipient of the sacrifice?  Why don't they understand that in the same manner that God does not "feel pleasure" or "relish" the fragrance of literally sacrificed animals, He likewise feels no satisfaction with the UNFAIR death and torture of the Righteous One?  Why can't they understand that, just as God was metaphorically "satisfied" by animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, He was likewise metaphorically the recipient of Christ's sacrifice?

God was the "recipient" of the SALVATION of sinners, and not the demander of the sacrifice; God is the recipient of everything good and righteous, and not whatever is evil and unrighteous; He accepted the forgiveness of our sins, which ORIGINATED FROM the death and the resurrection of Christ, but He never demanded that sacrifice to take place for His own satisfaction.  He never regarded the death of the Righteous One for the sake of the unrighteous as something just. On the contrary, it was precisely because the death of the Righteous One was UNJUST that - along with the soul of the Righteous One - it was God's DEMAND that the souls of all those who had believed in Him also be liberated from the demonic potentates of Hades!  It is quite obvious therefore, that He did not pay them; HE PLUNDERED THEM!  He looted Hades - He did NOT "buy" it.  It is one thing to "set up" a sacrifice, and another thing to "accept it".  It is one thing to tolerate it, and another thing to impose it.  It is one thing to feel satisfaction with injustice, and another thing (on account of an injustice) to "demolish" the unjust authority of Hades and save its captives.

Yes, God was a recipient. But not a recipient of "satisfaction".  He was the recipient of forgiveness and salvation; the recipient of relief and of vindication. This is how all the points of the passage being examined should be interpreted, as should all the other passages that speak of "sacrifice", "offering", "vindication", "buying", "price", "ransom", "payment of ransom", and "saving from sins".

He was also the recipient of that very sacrifice, to which the Christians of our Church resort - through to the end of Time - by eating from His sacrificial altar (the Holy Altar) [Hebr.13:10] the Body and the Blood of the sacrificed Christ.  That is why it says in verse 11:  "If you (likewise) give something for sin, your soul shall see a long-living seed".  Those who partake of the Sacrifice of Christ shall be benefited by it.

 

4.7. Why do we insist on the Septuagint text?

So, why are we so sure that the correct text here is the Septuagint and not the Masoretic?

Without overlooking the fact that quite often, because of the Hebrew language, the Masoretic version has a more reliable formulation of many Hebrew terms, we will now mention several reasons why we believe that the specific passage has been altered and therefore why we insist on the Septuagint:

1. As we proved earlier, the Masoretic text in the specific chapter contradicts itself (verses 4 and 5 with verses 10 and 11), as opposed to the text of the Septuagint, which does not present such a problem.

2. The text of the Septuagint that we have at our disposal today is far older than the Masoretic by about 1000 years and as such, less tampered with.

3. While the text of the Septuagint had been prepared by Israelites who belonged to the people of God, the Masoretic text was prepared by Jews who had not believed in Christ and who had already fallen away from the faith.

4. The first Christian Church quoted mainly from the Septuagint text rather than other ancient texts of their time, as we can discern in the New Testament.

5. Furthermore, over Time, the Church also delivered the Septuagint text to us as an Ecclesiastic text, as opposed to the Protestants, who preferred the text that was composed by the non-faithful-to-Christ Jews.

6. The fact that the Masoretic text has removed 10 books from the Holy Bible makes it even less trustworthy than the Septuagint text.

7. But there is something even more important, which is ESPECIALLY associated to the specific passage that we are examining, and with regard to the trustworthiness of the Septuagint text rather than the Hebrew text of the Masorites. And this is the final and absolute criterion as to which of the two texts we should trust:

We would like to ask if the Apostles themselves had ever quoted from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah in the New Testament Gospels?  If so, which text did they use? The Septuagint, or something that resembled the Masoretic text?

Indeed, there is a passage in the Holy Bible which has been taken from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, and yes, it is a phrase that has been taken from the Septuagint, and not from something that resembles the Masoretic!

It is located in Acts, 8:32-33, and it is the passage that Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch were studying, when Philip was helping him to understand that the words of that verse were referring to Christ.

In the columns below, our readers can see for themselves AND COMPARE this excerpt with the Septuagint as well as the Masoretic texts, in order to verify which version the New Testament itself recommends us to select:

Book of Acts 
8:32-33
(Greek)
Isaiah 53:7-8
Septuagint   (Greek)
Isaiah 53:7-8
Septuagint (English)
Book of Acts 
8:32-33
(English)
Isaiah 53:7-8
Masoretic Text
32 η δε περιοχή της γραφής ήν ανεγίνωσκεν ήν αύτη·
 
 
 
 
 
".............ως πρόβατον επί σφαγήν ήχθη· και ως αμνός εναντίον του κείροντος αυτόν άφωνος, ούτως ουκ ανοίγει το στόμα αυτού.
 
 
33 εν τη ταπεινώσει αυτού η κρίσις αυτού ήρθη· την δε γενεάν αυτού τις διηγήσεται; ότι αίρεται από της γης η ζωή αυτού
 
 
 
 
7 και αυτός δια το κεκακώσθαι ουκ ανοίγει το στόμα αυτού· ως πρόβατον επί σφαγήν ήχθη· και ως αμνός εναντίον του κείροντος αυτόν άφωνος, ούτως ουκ ανοίγει το στόμα.
 
 
8 εν τη ταπεινώσει η κρίσις αυτού ήρθη· την δε γενεάν αυτού τις διηγήσεται; ότι αίρεται από της γης η ζωή αυτού
 
 
 
 
7 And he, being abused, did not open His mouth; like a sheep to the slaughter he was led, and like a lamb before its shearer (he was) mute; thus did he not open his mouth.
 
 
 
8 In (due to) his humiliation, judgment of him was lifted: Who shall narrate his generation? For his life is withdrawn from the earth
 
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this:
 
 
 
".................................He was led as a sheep to the slaughter and like a lamb dumb before his shearer", so opened he not his mouth 
 
 
 
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away and who shall declare his generation for his life is taken from the earth
 
 
 
 
7 He was oppressed and he was afflicted yet he opened not his mouth he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he openeth not his mouth
 
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment and who shall declare his generation for he was cut off out of the land of the living

We believe that by observing which textual quote the New Testament itself had used - from the Book of Isaiah - even the most distrustful will be convinced of the fact that the Septuagint text is the one that the Church delivered to us as the most reliable version for the understanding of the specific passage in Acts, and not the Masoretic version by the post-Christ, non-believing Jews that the Protestants are using today, and on which they have based their cacodoxy of "satisfaction of Divine Justice".

If the Holy Bible itself has "voted" in favour of the Septuagint as the more correct rendition of Isaiah 53, then who of the faithful dares to dissent?

 

4.8. Even if the Masoretic text was correct...

....nevertheless, we will take one more step towards convincing even the most persistent fan of the juridical theory. We shall imagine for one moment (for argument's sake) that there are no contradictions within this chapter; that we accept the Masoretic text as being more accurate in the specific passage, and will proceed to interpret that passage accordingly - along the lines of the corrupted verse.

Thus, even if the Masoretic text were correct, the passage would still be open to an entirely different interpretation to the one that the juridicalists desire to ascribe to it.  Observe the excerpt again:

10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him, he hath put him to grief ....."

The basic point here that should be comprehended properly, is the expression "it pleased the Lord".  If we can understand this, we will also be able to see the solution.  The inference here is about "divine will" or "divine pleasure", therefore the words that Christ addressed to His Father, a little prior to His Passion, immediately come to mind:

"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done...."  [Luke 22:42]

And this is where we need to pose the question:  Was Christ's sacrifice involuntary, or did He WANT to go through with it?

I do not believe there is a single Christian who would reply that Christ was forced into being sacrificed. Well then, if He was sacrificed of His own will and not compelled by anyone, then why does the Gospel verse above indicate that His will was different to that of His Father?  Why would He ask His Father to "remove from Him" the cup of torture, if Christ's will was the same as the Father's?

Naturally, it was Christ's human nature speaking, which, in view of the torture that it was to face, was desirous of avoiding it. But to Christ, the will of God was far more powerful than the will of human nature with its human weakness in the face of pain and suffering, and so He preferred to embrace the will of His Father - which however is also the will of His own Divine Nature, and which also explains why He willed to be sacrificed.

Having noted the meaning of Christ's "will", let us now examine the meaning of the Father's "will":

When we use the expression: "This was the will of God", what do we really mean with the word "will"?

When we say: "it pleased the LORD to bruise him he hath put him to grief...", does it mean that the Lord obtained SATISFACTION with Christ's death? Or that God "satisfied His sense of justice" with the death of an innocent, as the juridicalists maintain?

The answer to this question is given in Ezekiel, 18:23: "Have I actually any pleasure that the wicked should die? saith the Lord, and not that he should return from his ways, and live?"

As we can see from this verse, God DOES NOT WANT the death of anyone, not even of the wicked, therefore much less the death of the Righteous One! And yet, the wicked are put to death for their iniquities.  Does that mean that God cannot impose His will in the universe, seeing that by and large what He wants is not done?  If however He does want/will it, then why does He mention in verse 18:23 of Ezekiel that He does not want it?

Finally, one more verse that will help us in this detail is the excerpt from the Wisdom of Solomon, 1:13:

"...For God made not death: neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living...." 

If God therefore does not get any pleasure out of the destruction of the living, and if He did not create death, then how is it possible for Him to be "satisfied" by the death of the Righteous One, and DEMAND something like that in order to save the irreverent ones?

From the above, it is obvious that the expression "will of God" does not contain any inference to "pleasure" and "satisfaction" on God's part, for something that He merely ALLOWED to occur. By knowing in advance what the final outcome will be (and always for the purpose of edification and salvation), He makes allowance for death and pain and torture and sacrifice. The expression "will of God" has nothing to do with pleasure and satisfaction - it only implies "what He ALLOWS" to occur.

Observe what God says in regard to Job's sufferings:  "And the LORD said unto Satan: Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth - a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him to destroy him without cause?"  [Job 2:3]

And we ask: was it God Who brought all those torments upon Job, or Satan?  And yet, God is speaking in this verse as though He had personally inflicted all those sufferings on Job!  And why is that? It is because He was the One Who had MADE ALLOWANCE for them to occur. And when something is ALLOWED by God to occur, we say it was "the will of God" - even though He Himself feels no satisfaction for some of the things that He allows.  But He allows them to occur nevertheless, because He knows that somewhere down the line, those occurrences will benefit many, just as we are benefited today by Job's sacrifice which had taken place with God's concession (will), and just as the entire world is benefited by Christ's Sacrifice, which had likewise taken place with God's CONCESSION (will).

[ However, for those points of the Holy Bible where God is declared an "executioner" for the sake of a concession, we have composed another article (in Greek), where an interested reader can find further analyses on the topic, and the reason the Divine Will is formulated in such a manner in the Holy Bible. ]

The same applies in the case of the verse of Isaiah being examined. Even if we were to accept the corrupted formulation by the Masorites who state that "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him, he hath put him to grief", once again, we should not assume that God obtained any "satisfaction" or "pleasure", or that He had imposed any kind of "pressure" on Christ to accept that Sacrifice.  Given that God knew in advance that this was the way that mankind would be saved from Sin and Death, HE ALLOWED IT TO OCCUR, ALBEIT UNWILLINGLY. But, because He allowed it to occur, we say that "it was the will of God that it occurred" - just as God had UNWILLINGLY ALLOWED the Devil to torment Job, knowing that to the end of time, Job's sacrifice was going to be a most valuable example of salvation for us.

If we have now understood that even though Christ had clearly implied "I do not want" and yet we say that He WANTED to be sacrificed (and was), then let us understand in the same manner how the Father of Love had ALLOWED that sacrifice of the Righteous One for the sake of all the unrighteous.

That is why, "let no-one say 'I am being tested by God', for God is unaffected by evil things, and He tests no-one."  (James 1:13)

 

N. M.

 

Translation:  K.N.                                                                                                    

Article published in English on: 10-5-2010.

Last update: 10-5-2010.

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