Reply to Robert Turkel
TILL James Patrick Holding is the pseudonym used by a would-be apologist whose real name is Robert Turkel. Perhaps I should say that Holding has SAID that his real name is Robert Turkel, but I have no way to confirm this. Holding-Turkel has a web site on which he posts responses to the articles of various skeptics. I first became aware of him when someone sent me a copy of something that he had written about me (even though he now says that I am not worthy of a reply). I learned that the name he used (James Patrick Holding) was not his real name, so I informed him that I would respond to him only if he would agree to publish under his real name. I even offered him space in The Skeptic Review but only if he would drop his pseudonym and use his actual name. He declined on the grounds that he believed that revealing his real identity would pose a threat to him and his grandmother, whose last name was the same as his. The justification that he gave for this fear was that he was employed at a penal institution and felt that if he published defenses of the Bible under his real name, some of the inmates upon release might seek to harm him or his family. This was about as lame an excuse as I had ever heard for anonymity. If the situation had been reversed and Turkel were publishing materials of the type that I specialize in, I could have agreed that the use of his real name could possibly jeopardize his safety. Having been employed for many years by a college that provided educational services for a local prison, I could not remember any staff members associated with the prison program who had ever felt a need to conceal their identity. Although I had not taught at the prison, I did have the responsibility of grading writing tests of the inmates to determine whether they could enroll in freshman composition, and I had always used my real name in attaching notes to their papers. Furthermore, I have many inmate subscribers to *The Skeptical Review* who are incarcerated in various prisons across the country, and personal mail from them indicates that even in prison, they cannot escape from the born-again Christians who seek to evangelize. In a word, I could not accept Turkel's excuse for his demand for anonymity, and so I refused to respond to his materials. After all, whoever heard of a Christian in this country posing a threat to his safety by writing pro-Biblical articles? Several months ago, I learned from him (in a moment of anger at me, I suspect) that his real name is presumably Robert Turkel. Upon learning this, I have since engaged in responding to his material about me. His most recent posting was an 89K file, which I will be responding to in divided postings to keep the replies reasonably short. The following is his introduction, which I have already posted. I will reply to it first and then later to his counterarguments (such as they were). A full and complete response to Turkel, which I intend to do over time, may take as many as 20 postings like this one. I have a dozen of them completed and will plan to post one of them per day until I have sent those that I have already finished. Meanwhile, I will be working to complete the series and will eventually get around to posting a full response to what he has posted on his website about me. I apologize to all of those who asked me several months ago to respond to Turkel's article, but the delay was unavoidable. Because of various other obligations, I had to work on these responses as time permitted.
TURKEL > Till We Meet Again > Jostling Through the Jehu Jam-U > In the past month, in counteraction to our AJINOD >Chapter 1 posted in December of last year , this author >has received a series of replies and reactions from the >author of the *Jury, Chapter 1,* Farrell Till, regarding >AJINOD Chapter 1. The objective of this treatise, and a >shorter one that accompanies it, is to reply to these >reactions. The reactions from Till were received via >e-mail as cc's from his own "errancy" discussion list, >and are not (to my knowledge) publicly posted anywhere in >association with the Secular Web. TILL Turkel is correct. My replies to his response were posted only on Errancy and another internet list. Jeff Lowder wanted to post them on the Secular Web but would do so only if I would allow him to edit out Turkel's name in order to respect his request for anonymity. I refused to allow this, because I will not cater to his excuse for secrecy. It smacks of phoniness, and so my opinion remains the same. If he doesn't have the courage to come out into the open and use his real name and show a willingness to face whatever embarrassment his materials result in, I will not assist him in his secrecy.
TURKEL >Let it first be said that Till's reply is no surprise. >This seasoned skeptic, as predictable as the sunset, is >widely known to be of such self-aggrandizing nature that >he could by no means allow any criticism of himself or >his work to remain unanswered. TILL This comment is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. I have had a lot of experience debating biblical inerrantists, but I have yet to see one whose pedantry and egotism even comes close to equaling Turkel's. As a debater, I enjoy a bit of bantering sarcasm myself and personally believe that a debate gets to be a little dull without at least some of it; however, Turkel's most striking debating characteristic is constant sarcasm and insults. He seems to labor under the impression (as readers will notice as I post his materials prior to my responses) that poor logic and weak arguments can be hidden by continual barbs and slurs directed at his opponent. He apparently thinks that if he says that Till's scholarship is "superficial," his mindset "immature," and his "strategy rather diluted" and that Till desires to be "the biggest fish in his own pond," and so on ad infinitum, someone might actually mistake this for argumentation and believe that Turkel is shellacking his opponent. As I said, I enjoy a bit of sarcastic bantering myself when I debate, but after this initial response, I will try to direct my replies to Turkel's arguments rather than to him personally. Therefore, I will hurl my final insult at him by simply saying that whenever I read something that Turkel writes, I'm always reminded of a saying that was used when I was growing up, which kids would say about those who seemed to have inflated opinions of themselves: "I'd like to buy him for what he's worth and sell him for what he thinks he's worth." With that said, I'll now try to ignore his insults and ad hominem comments as I work my way through Turkel's material and confine my remarks to his arguments. TURKEL >To affront Till by even implying that he MIGHT somehow be erroneous >on some point is tantamount to desecrating the Arc D'Triomphe or the >pyramids of Egypt with spray paint. It was therefore only a matter >of time before the sleeping god awoke from slumber; and well indeed has >he made his displeasure known. TILL All I need do here is point the readers back to my pot-calling-the-kettle-black comment above. Well, there is one other thing I will say that readers should keep in mind as they go through my replies. "Arc de Triomphe" is the correct spelling of the French monument. Articles and prepositions are contracted in French only when they precede words that begin with vowels or the unaspirated "h," as in "l'ange," "l'anglais," "l'homme," "d'entre," etc. "Triomphe" obviously begins with a consonant, so the preposition "de" does not contract. I point this out, because readers are going to notice that Turkel fancies himself as a linguist and especially an expert in Hebrew. His writing, however, shows that he certainly is not a linguist and has much to learn even about his own language, especially punctuation. Whenever I encounter an apologist who tries to argue that I would understand this or that so much better if I only knew Hebrew or Greek, I can't help wondering about his qualifications in dead languages when he shows a decided lack of understanding of his own language. TURKEL >Replying to Till, however, presents something of a >conundrum. On the one hand, to reply would be to >insinuate that his work is somehow worthy of reply, which >we have implied previously is not the case; TILL I can only wonder why Turkel ever bothered to write his first reply to the writings of someone whom he did not even consider worthy of reply. I suspect that anyone who can see through cellophane will recognize this as an example of what I pointed out above. Turkel seems to believe that if he says often enough that I am "superficial," "immature in my mindset," or in this case not "worthy of reply," someone might actually believe him. The truth is that Turkel has taken the time to reply to me, because he considers me someone who should be responded to. I will give him more credit than he is willing to give me. I consider him worthy of reply, because I have seen on the internet that he has a lot of Christians convinced that he is a top-rate apologist, and so someone who knows better needs to show the deluded ones that he is just someone who knows how to quote Bible commentaries, locate concordance entries and other quotations (probably through web searches or computer software), cut and paste everything together, and call that apologetics. As I will show, however, when I get to his actual arguments, his logic is quite weak. I wouldn't even call it "superficial," because even this term would imply a depth that goes beyond the actual shallowness that pervades his writing from beginning to end. But there I go, reneging already on my resolution to keep the debate a cut above his level. It's just that he makes such a tempting target. TURKEL >we are thus hesitant to dignify his material with a response. TILL Of course, he is. That's why he wrote his first response to me several months ago when he tried to reply to an article in *The Skeptical Review,* at which time I had personally had no contacts with him. TURKEL >On the other hand, to ignore him is to allow for him the >presumption of "victory" and to have accusations levelled >that we reply not, because we can not, because Till is >right. TILL "Cannot" should be spelled as one word. That's just a basic fact that of spelling. I point this out only to remind readers to look for the recurrent indications from Turkel that he considers himself a biblical linguist, so he is a biblical linguist who seems to have trouble writing even his own native language. TURKEL >Neither of these options is satisfactory, so we >therefore pursue that which shall benefit our readership >most: We will write a rebuttal as part of our new series >of *Skeptical Profiles,* with the point of proving that >there is really no depth to Farrell Till's scholarship, >and thus no warrant to offer his work further attentions. >As is typically the case, Till considers it sufficient >argument to offer his own "plain reading" of a given >text, using a minimum of sources (consisting in the main >of various translations of the Bible) and standing mostly >upon his own authority as only Farrell Till, Shouter-Down >of the Unwashed. TILL What I try to do is avoid the fallacy of the appeal to authority, which is probably the chief logical flaw in Turkel's debating approach. He seems to believe that if he quotes several Bible commentaries and other references that agree with his position, he has proven his case. However, anyone who has even a smattering of religious knowledge knows that no belief is too irrational that one cannot find books to quote that agree with it. I seek to keep this to a minimum in my debating and to present arguments of my own construction. We will see that Turkel obviously doesn't. He would be lost without the crutches of Biblical reference books to quote. As we go through his "arguments," I hope readers will ask themselves where Turkel would be if he could not constantly say, "McCominsky put it like this," or, "Provan thinks thus and so...." This approach to persuasion is a sign of one's inability to formulate his own arguments, and those who resort to it reveal only that they have nothing substantial to offer, and so they can only regurgitate what others have said. On the errancy list, we have most recently seen this approach used by David Conklin, but the beating that he took from those who constantly reminded him that one can find support for just about any religious view, especially an inerrantist opinion, in the myriads of apologetic books that have been published showed that he was fooling no one but himself. Rather than a "scholarly" approach to apologetics, it is an amateurish, Josh-McDowellian method that will convince only the very gullible. Admittedly, Turkel will have no difficulty finding those who are religiously gullible. TURKEL > We see no reason to dignify Till's >machinations by devoting further significant time and >server space to refuting him. It is no sport to continue >the attack upon an enemy too impenetrable to realize that >he has been beaten. It will be enough to here show in >one instance the insufficiency of his work, so that our >readers may know that Till offers no threat whatsoever to >the facts of the Christian faith--and that he may be >safely ignored in future works from his keyboard as one >who has little or no comprehension of the ground he >treads. TILL So what Turkel is doing here is preparing his readers in the event that he takes a good pounding in the replies that I will be posting. If it happens, he can always say, "Well, I told everyone that I have whipped Till, and so I see no need to respond further to him." It's a familiar tactic that biblicists use. Those who have been on the Errancy list for any time at all will be able to remember various inerrantists, who came onto the list, took their licks, and then withdrew amidst unilateral declarations of victory. TURKEL Therefore, know this: Should Till deign to reply to what we offer here, we will not offer another counter - unless Till demonstrates sufficient understanding and scholarship to make such reply worthwhile. If we remain silent after this, it will only be because we do not consider what Till says to be worth the effort. TILL Sure, I understand, but in case others don't understand, I will translate the statement for them. TRANSLATION: I expect to take a beating when Till responds, so I am preparing for it now by pretending that he is not worth any additional comments from me. TURKEL > Our material shall follow to a greater degree an >outline set forth by Glenn Miller in his own exposition >on this subject. Let us recall that the basic argument >is that Jehu exceeded the commands of the Lord and that >this, if anything, is the reason for Hosea's condemnation. >Miller offered a listing of eight actions taken by Jehu. >Some of these were within the parameters of Jehu's commission; >others were not. In those others, Jehu exceeded the command >to destroy only the house of Ahab. > TILL As I showed in my other responses to Turkel, Jehu was commissioned to do to the house of Ahab what had been done to the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha (2 Kings 9:7-10). The Bible claims that the destruction of these "houses" was so extensive and so complete that the instructions to Jehu would have allowed him to kill almost anyone without "exceeding" his commission. I have clearly demonstrated this, but Turkel continues to quibble his way around this problem in his "explanation." Although my arguments were detailed and inclusive of enough evidence to convince any open-minded reader, I will expand them when I address Turkel's quibbles point by point in making my way through his rebuttal by personal tirade. At this point, I will note that Turkel's and Miller's claim (which is really only an inerrantist claim that they are parroting) that Jehu exceeded "the command to destroy only the house of Ahab" is a claim that they should but cannot sustain. In the first place, they cannot find the word "only" in the command that was given to Jehu in 2 Kings 9:7-10. As I will show again,, the instructions were sufficiently inclusive to include almost anyone who had been even remotely connected to Ahab, Jezebel, and Joram, but I will have more to say about this as I respond to Turkel's quibbles and point out details in my arguments that he conveniently left unanswered. In other words, I will show that his silence about my arguments that he didn't address is very suggestive of a recognition that they cannot be rebutted. Certain textual facts are insurmountable obstacles in Turkel's path. The writer of 2 Kings clearly praised Jehu for (1) having done well in executing that which was right in Yahweh's eyes and (2) having done to the house of Ahab ALL that was in Yahweh's heart [10:30]. The writer made this statement IMMEDIATELY after having detailed the acts (atrocities) that Jehu had committed at Jezreel. For someone to argue that this kind of commendation would have been given to Jehu when the writer knew that he had "exceeded" his instructions and thereby angered Yahweh so much that one day Yahweh would exterminate the house of Jehu for the offense places too much strain on common sense. This is doubly true, since the writer TWICE stated (verses 29 and 31) that Jehu didn't depart from the sin of Jeroboam and allowed the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan to continue. In other words, the praise of Jehu in doing ALL that was right in Yahweh's sight in the matter of the house of Ahab was sandwiched between two statements that Jehu had done wrong by not abolishing the worship of the golden calves. If Yahweh had considered that Jehu had "exceeded" his command to exterminate the house of Ahab and that this offense was so bad that the house of Jehu would have to be exterminated too, who can believe that the writer of this text would not have taken notice of it? So what Turkel and Miller are arguing is that the writer of 2 Kings praised Jehu and in so doing took notice of an offense that wasn't bad enough for Yahweh to wipe out his lineage [allowing worship of the golden calves to continue] but did NOT take notice of an offense that WAS bad enough for his lineage to be exterminated [exceeding Yahweh's orders to exterminate the house of Ahab]. Who can believe such nonsense? Turkel's "explanation" is also inconsistent with the pettiness of Yahweh (documented numerous times in the OT) that brought swift and immediate punishment to people for rather trivial offenses. After all, we are talking about a god who struck Uzzah dead on the spot for touching the ark when Uzzah's intention was only to prevent a sacred relic from falling off a cart and sustaining probable damage (2 Sam. 6:7). We are talking about a god who sent fire out to consume Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, who had made the horrible mistake of using "strange fire" in their censers (Lev. 10:1-2). We are talking about a god who caused the earth to open up and swallow Korah and his followers for presuming to question the leadership of Moses (Num. 16:31-33). We are talking about a god who sent instant plagues to consume the people for having complained of hunger (Num. 12:33-34). We are talking about a god who... but there is no need to continue this. The point has been made. The OT is filled with tales of immediate vengeance that this deity Yahweh extracted for the pettiest of offenses, yet Turkel and Miller expect us to believe that Jehu's conduct at Jezreel was offensive enough that Yahweh had to exterminate his lineage but didn't even mention it in the divine record of Jehu and then waited four generations to execute the punishment. Again I will ask, "Who can believe it?" Furthermore, I haven't even discussed what the OT presents as Yahweh's attitude toward idolatry as opposed to his attitude toward the killing of a few people. This god Yahweh simply would not tolerate idolatry. He issued a stern injunction against it in his famous "ten commandments" and warned that he was a jealous god, who would visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children even until the third and fourth generations (Ex. 20:4-6). When the Israelites worshiped idols while Moses was on Sinai (before this commandment was even made known to them), Yahweh was so angry that he threatened to "consume" the entire nation (Ex. 32:10) but didn't because the more cool-headed Moses was able to talk him out of it (if anyone can believe such fanciful yarns as this). Yahweh eventually settled for the killing of three thousand for their idolatrous offense (Ex. 32:28). Yahweh was so angered by idolatry that he commanded that the people should kill even friends and relatives who were guilty of it (Dt. 13:6-11; 17:2-7). On the other hand, Yahweh seemed not to have any scruples at all against killing people even by the thousands. The first 11 chapters of Joshua drip with the blood of the Canaanites who were killed in compliance with Yahweh's command that the Israelites leave alive nothing to breathe (10:40; 11:11, 15, 20) in their conquest of the "promised land." This is the god whose cause Turkel and Miller have taken up, and they expect us to believe that such a god as this would be so inconsistent that he would overlook Jehu's refusal to stamp out the worship of the golden calves but was so angered at Jehu's excesses in eradicating the house of Ahab that Yahweh later exterminated Jehu's lineage. I'm sorry, fellows, but this is a bit too much for reasonable people to believe. Since when did Yahweh object to killing anyone who was even remotely connected to those who had rubbed him the wrong way? You're desperately looking for some way to deny that inconsistencies are in the Bible, and this is apparently the best you have been able to come up with. Desperate people will grasp for desperate solutions. TURKEL > Till does not deal with Miller's point #5 (the >piling of the heads of the princes of the house of Ahab >outside the gates of Jezreel), apparently not finding it >relevant; we would disagree, for it is clearly an action >of bloodshed that went beyond what God had explicitly >ordered, done solely for Jehu's own political purposes. >But we will not press the issue here, for the remaining >citations (2, 6, 7) are more than sufficient for >consideration. > TILL I have to wonder if Turkel has even read what the Bible says about the so-called commission that Jehu received to destroy the house of Ahab. Here again, for Turkel's benefit, is that commission: >2 Kings 9:6 So Jehu got up and went inside; the young man [the son of the prophets sent to anoint Jehu king of Israel] poured the oil on his head, saying to him, "Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: I anoint you king over he people of Yahweh, over Israel. >7 You shall strike down the house of your master Ahab, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of Yahweh. >8 For the WHOLE HOUSE OF AHAB shall perish; I will cut off from Ahab EVERY MALE, BOND OR FREE, in Israel. >9 I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. > This was merely a repetition of the original curse or condemnation of the house of Ahab that the prophet Elijah spoke directly to Ahab. >1 Kings 21:20 Ahab said to Elijah, "Have you found me, O my enemy?" He answered, "I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of Yahweh, >21 I will bring disaster on you; I will consume you, and will cut off from Ahab EVERY MALE, BOND OR FREE, in Israel; >22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin. > The "commission" was to "cut off" [a biblical expression that meant "to kill"] from Ahab EVERY MALE. That being so, how can Turkel and Miller quibble that in killing Ahab's grandsons Jehu exceeded his orders when his orders were to cut off EVERY MALE from the house of Ahab? The fact is that if Jehu had left Joram's sons alive, this would have constituted, in biblical terms, an act of disobedience. To show this, we have only to look at the case of Saul, the first king of Israel, who lost his kingdom because he did not kill every last Amalekite when Yahweh had commanded him to go and "utterly destroy" the Amalekites and spare them not but to kill both male and female, infant and suckling (2 Sam. 15:3). The story relates that Saul "utterly destroyed" the Amalekites with the sword except for Agag their king (vs. 8-9). For this, Yahweh sent Samuel to tell Saul that the kingdom would be taken from him because of his disobedience and given to another (vs. 17-23). Samuel then called for the Amalekite king to be brought before him, after which Samuel hacked him to pieces with a sword "before Yahweh in Gilgal" (v:33). The moral of this story obviously appeared to be that when Yahweh gave orders to kill everyone, he meant for everyone to be killed. That being true, how can Turkel and Miller argue that in killing Ahab's grandsons Jehu exceeded his orders when his orders were to "cut off EVERY MALE, bond and free, from the house of Ahab"? Leaving 70 grandsons of Ahab alive would, in the biblical way of evaluating events, have been a flagrant violation of a clear command. Furthermore, the passages quoted above show that Jehu was commissioned to "make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah." I have already discussed the thoroughness with which the house of Jeroboam and the house of Baasha were exterminated. These massacres are related in 2 Kings 15:25-30 (the house of Jeroboam) and in 2 Kings 16:6-14 (the house of Baasha). I have already shown that the extermination of the house of Baasha, which occurred after Baasha's death, included the massacre of his son Elah and "ALL the house of Baasha." Zemri, the executor, "left him [Baasha] not a single man-child, neither of his kinfolks, nor of his friends" (v:11), and the passage claims that all this was done "according to the word of Yahweh, when he spoke against Baasha by Jehu the prophet" [a different Jehu from the subsequent king of Israel]. All that Turkel has been able to say in response to this is to quibble that the word translated "friends" in this passage was a different Hebrew word from the one translated "friends" in reference to the "familiar friends" of Joram whom Jehu massacred in 2 Kings 10:11. That would be somewhat like a person's arguing that a newspaper report in English that said John Doe and his "friends" were killed would not be comparable to a report that said Joe Smith and his "companions" or "pals" were killed. This quibble will be addressed later when I come to that part of Turkel's response, but at this point, I want to emphasize that Jehu was ordered to "cut off from Ahab EVERY MALE, bond and free," and to make the house of Ahab "like the house of Jeroboam... and like the house of Baasha" (2 Kings 9:8-9). So Turkel and Miller have to explain how that Jehu could have cut off from Ahab EVERY MALE if Jehu had left Ahab's 70 grandsons alive. Turkel has to explain how that if EVERY MALE was killed in the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha, Jehu could have made the house of Ahab LIKE the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha if he had left Ahab's 70 grandsons alive. To keep the postings reasonably short, I'm going to post this rebuttal point by itself so that if Turkel ignores it, his silence will be so obvious that even his admirers can't help but see it. Oh, I forgot. He won't be responding to me anyway, because he doesn't consider me important enough to answer. TURKEL > Before continuing, however, a word of clarification. >Till makes much over our allusion to his Jury Ch. 1 >essay's lack of mention of the slaughter of the priests of Baal. >Till took our reply to be an indication that the Baal-bashing-fest >ought to be awarded #9 status on Miller's list, and then >proceeded to fill a great deal of space replying to this idea. >The effort was an indulgence: No such argument was advanced >by this writer at all. > > What was our point in mentioning the Baal-bash, >then? Let us first look at the verses under consideration: > > 2 Kings 10:29-31 However, (Jehu) did not turn away >from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had >caused Israel to commit--the worship of the golden calves >at Bethel and Dan. > > The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well >in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done >to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your >descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the >fourth generation." Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the >law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. >He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he >had caused Israel to commit. > > And now the original context of our remark: > > From 2 Kings, verses 10:1-17 are those that report >the Jezreel massacre. Verses 10:18-29, which Till reports >not a peep about, tell the story of how Jehu trapped and >killed a number of priests of Baal. THEN comes verses >30-3, where God gives Jehu the promise. > > > To this, Till replies: > > To Miller's list, I will add Jehu's massacre of the >Baal worshippers.... I will now examine these 9 points to >show that they do nothing to alter the obvious >inconsistency in the two views of Jehu's massacre at >Jezreel. > > > However, let it be pointed out that it was not >argued in AJINOD Ch. 1 that the Baal-bash should become a >ninth point in Miller's list. The argument we wished to >bring across is that within the literary context of 2 >Kings, verses 10:29-31, the "done well" comment applies >to the actions taken by Jehu regarding the Baal-bash, >whereas the "in accordance" refers only to what was done >to the house of Ahab--with no direct comment on what was >done extracurricularly. Although he eventually posits >that it does refer to the deeds done to the house of >Ahab, Mullen [Mull.DynJehu, 198-9] notes that "the >stylized nature of the phrase makes it difficult to >define `what is right' in specific terms...." We suggest, >then, along with Provan [Prov.12K, 216] that another >interpretive option is available. > TILL I'll inject a quick comment here and then come back later to respond to the general thrust of Turkel's quibble. For now, I just want everyone to notice how he seems to think that quoting what Mullen and Provan think about this is somehow sufficient to prove that his position is correct. If, however, I should quote scholars who see this as a case of undeniable Yahwistic approval of Jehu's actions, I'm sure that would carry much weight with Turkel. He seems to labor under the impression that the opinions of his scholars should be considered definitive but that all others should be viewed with suspicion. TURKEL > Verses 30-1 operate as a fully independent literary >unit in context; they act as a summary of what has gone >on before. The "done well" response has nothing to do >with Jehu's political actions whatsoever. The literary >form of the passage, as well as the literary separation >of the actions relative to the house of Ahab, indicates >that the "done well" praise is in reference ONLY to >Jehu's Baal-bashing coterie, for this is a significant >event in the preceding material that had nothing to do >with the house of Ahab. Our point, then, was that in >failing to mention this extensively-recounted incident, >Till left the impression that the "done well" phrase >followed IMMEDIATELY behind the accountings of Jehu's >political executions. But this is not the case, and the >literary form here makes all the difference. Jehu is not >praised for having "done well" because of his actions >related to the house of Ahab. He is praised for having >"done well" in regards to the Baal-bash. > > TILL I have kept this rather lengthy section intact with just the one short interjection of my comments, because if we look at this section as a whole, I think that readers can better see the quibbling that Turkel resorted to in order to make a dubious point about "the literary form of the passage." If Turkel wants to discuss literary form, I think I will find myself very much at home in such an exchange, having taught college literature for 30 years before I retired. Let's look at verse 30 as it was rendered in the American Standard Version. The italics used in this version will be represented by printing the italicized word in uppercase letters and enclosing it in brackets: >And Jehovah said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that >which is right in mine eyes, [AND] hast done unto the house of Ahab >according to all that was in my heart, thy sons of the fourth generation >shall sit on the throne of Israel. Let's notice that the conjunction "and," which connects what Turkel argues were two separate actions, is not in the Hebrew text. Hence, if Turkel wants to talk about the "literary form" of the passage, he should consider that the absence of the conjunction in this verse is a very strong indication that the second statement was intended as an appositive of the first. Appositives are linguistic equivalents of that which was said before them. If I should say, "John Smith, the superintendent of schools, is my brother-in-law," the expression "the superintendent of schools" would be in apposition to John Smith. In other words, John Smith is the superintendent of schools, and the superintendent of schools is John Smith. The two are the same. Appositives can at times be more complex than this simple example and can even take the form of separate clauses. If someone should ask a friend what she bought at the mall yesterday, the friend might say, "I didn't buy anything, didn't spend a dime." In such a scenario, who would think that the friend was relating two separate actions? Anyone with common sense would know that the last statement was in apposition to the first. The friend didn't buy anything; the friend didn't spend a dime. So it is in the verse above where Turkel apparently tried to put all of his eggs into one basket of "literary form," and it has blown up in his face. The literary form of this verse makes it far more likely that the two statements were intended as one and the same thing, and I'm surprised that someone who prides himself so much on his apologetic talents as Turkel does would not be aware of how much parallelisms (a type of apposition) are a part of the Hebrew literary form. I will be talking more about parallelisms in Hebrew as I continue my response to Turkel, but for now I want to concentrate on the probability that verse 30 in this passage meant what is best reflected by the following rendition that omits the conjunction "and" as the original Hebrew text did. >And Jehovah said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that >which is right in mine eyes, hast done unto the house of Ahab according to >all that was in my heart, thy sons of the fourth generation shall sit on >the throne of Israel. The probable sense of the passage would be accurately represented if it read like this: "And Jehovah said unto Jehu, 'Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes BY DOING unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, thy sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." This is the case, because Turkel's "literary-form" quibble demands that the two clauses be separated by a coordination junction. Since there is no coordinate conjunction in the original, it is more probable that the writer intended for the last clause to be a restatement of the first in order to emphasize the extent of Yahweh's approval of what Jehu had done. In other words, Jehu's having done well in executing that which was right in Yahweh's eyes was the same as his having done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in Yahweh's heart, and having done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in Yahweh's heart was the same as having done well in executing that which was right in Yahweh's eyes. The latter expression was an appositive to the first one. It's an example of parallelism that was widely characteristic of the Hebrew "literary form." Is this just Farrell Till, atheist and Bible skeptic, talking? Well let's look at what some other translations think. YOUNG'S LITERAL: And Jehovah said unto Jehu, "Because that thou has done well, to do that which is right in Mine eyes--according to all that is in My heart thou has done to the house of Ahab--the sons of the fourth generation do sit for thee on the throne of Israel." JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY: The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have acted well and done what was pleasing to Me, having carried out all that I desired upon the House of Ahab, four generations of your descendants shall occupy the throne of Israel." We see more and more in Turkel's "apologetic" works that his defense of the Bible depends on unlikely, strained interpretations of passages that are rather plain in their meaning, and in appeals to the authority of those like Mullen and Provan, who go out of their way to find some way to reconcile the Bible with their desire to believe that it is divine in its origin. Such apologetic efforts as these make the god of Christian apologists look as dumb as a dodo, because in defending their view of the Bible, they have to paint a picture of a god who was too linguistically ignorant to say exactly what he meant in language that could be universally understood. In the case of verse 30, look how easy it would have been for an omniscient, omnipotent god to have inspired the writer to record the statement in a way that could be understood only as Turkel is now straining to make it mean: >And Yahweh said to Jehu, Because you have done well in executing against >the worshipers of Baal that which is right in my eyes and have also done to >the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the >fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. See how simple it would have been. Turkel's apologetic efforts create a god who wasn't nearly as linguistically adept as that mean old atheist Farrell Till, who isn't worth the time it would take Turkel to reply to his arguments. TILL Turkel has strained to make a point about "literary form," so I want to make one more observation about his quibble. The probable meaning of a statement can best be determined by examining it in context. When Yahweh's praise of Jehu's actions at Jezreel are considered in context, it is easy to see that the meaning that Turkel strains to give to it is unlikely. Let's look at 2 Kings 10 from the point of Jehu's massacre of the Baal worshipers through the praise that he received for doing that which was right in Yahweh's heart. >2 Kings 10:18 Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, "Ahab offered Baal small service; but Jehu will offer much more. >19 Now therefore summon to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers, and all his priests; let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal; whoever is missing shall not live." But Jehu was acting with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal. >20 Jehu decreed, "Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal." So they proclaimed it. >21 Jehu sent word throughout all Israel; all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was no one left who did not come. They entered the temple of Baal, until the temple of Baal was filled from wall to wall. >22 He said to the keeper of the wardrobe, "Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal." So he brought out the vestments for them. >23 Then Jehu entered the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Rechab; he said to the worshipers of Baal, "Search and see that there is no worshiper of Yahweh here among you, but only worshipers of Baal." >24 Then they proceeded to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside, saying, "Whoever allows any of those to escape whom I deliver into your hands shall forfeit his life." >25 As soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guards and to the officers, "Come in and kill them; let no one escape." So they put them to the sword. The guards and the officers threw them out, and then went into the citadel of the temple of Baal. >26 They brought out the pillar that was in the temple of Baal, and burned it. >27 Then they demolished the pillar of Baal, and destroyed the temple of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day. >28 Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. >29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit--the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. Notice that after Jehu's massacre of the Baal worshipers is related, the writer appended a "but" statement to the story. Jehu wiped out Baal worship in Israel, BUT he did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam, who had set up golden calves in Bethel and Dan for the people to worship. >30 Yahweh said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." Was this statement intended in the sense that Turkel claims? Did the writer mean for readers to understand that Jehu's having "done well in carrying out what [Yahweh] consider[ed] right" was a reference to the massacre of the Baal worshippers? Well, we have already seen that the "literary form" of the passage favors the interpretation that the second statement was in apposition to the first. In other words, the absence of the conjunction "and" in the Hebrew text is an indication that the two statements were the same. As I showed before, that is very evident in Young's Literal Translation: > And Jehovah said unto Jehu, "Because that thou has done well, to do that >which is right in Mine eyes--according to all that is in My heart thou has >done to the house of Ahab--the sons of the fourth generation do sit for >thee on the throne of Israel." Let's just suppose, however, that the absence of the conjunction "and" doesn't mean anything and that Young's rendition is wrong and Turkel is right: the first statement referred to the massacre of the Baal worshipers and the second statement referred to Jehu's destruction of the house of Ahab. That would mean the writer meant for readers to understand that Yahweh had actually said the following to Jehu. 1. Jehu had done well in doing to the Baal worshipers that which was right in Yahweh's eyes. 2. Jehu had done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in Yahweh's heart. So now with that concession, what has Turkel gained? The passage is still stating that what Jehu did to the house of Ahab was according to all that was in Yahweh's heart. In other words, the writer of 2 Kings was still praising Jehu for massacring the house of Ahab. So Turkel has gone to extreme lengths in his quibbling over "literary form" to gain exactly nothing. He could be right, and those who see 2 Kings 10:30 as a statement inconsistent with Hosea 1:4 will have lost nothing. So now let's look at the immediate context in which the praise of Jehu appeared. >29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he caused Israel to commit--the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. >30 Yahweh said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in carrying out what I consider right, and in accordance with all that was in my heart have dealt with the house of Ahab, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." >31 But Jehu was not careful to follow the law of Yahweh the God of Israel with all his heart; he did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he caused Israel to commit. > I have made this point before and will have to address it again in responding to the next section of Turkel's article, but apparently he needs to hear it again and again in order for it to sink in. The statement of praise is sandwiched between two verses that expressed the same negative criticism of Jehu's reign: He did not turn aside from the sin of Jeroboam, who had caused the Israelites to worship the golden calves at Bethel and Dan. Under the law, idolatry was an offense punishable by death (Dt. 13:6-11; 17:2-7), yet Yahweh apparently did nothing to Jehu for allowing to continue an idolatrous practice that was begun by Jeroboam. Nevertheless, Turkel et al expect us to believe that Jehu's actions in purging the house of Ahab went so far beyond what he had been commanded to do that Yahweh thought it necessary to destroy the house of Jehu too, YET HIS INSPIRED WRITER MADE NO MENTION AT ALL OF THE SERIOUSNESS OF JEHU'S EXCESSES! In other words, we are asked to believe that Yahweh thought that Jehu's approval of the golden calves warranted condemnation twice within the space of three verses but that an excessive massacre that would result eventually in Yahweh's destruction of the house of Jehu wasn't worth even hinting at. Such are the extremes that biblicists are driven to when they undertake to defend that colossal joke called biblical inerrancy. The most likely meaning of 2 Kings 10:30 remains that the writer of this passage thought that Jehu had pleased Yahweh in all that Jehu had done at Jezreel, and Turkel has said nothing to show that this is not the probable meaning of the passage.
TURKEL > At this point, another objection by Till may be seen >to kick in, to wit: > >> Obviously, the writer was upset with Jehu's failure >>to stamp out the worship of false gods completely. How >>reasonable is it, then, to believe that this writer in a >>context in which he expressed disapproval of some of >>Jehu's actions would not have mentioned at all an offense >>so grievous that Yahweh would someday destroy the house >>of Jehu for it. > TILL I went over this point at the end of my 5th response to Turkel, so my position should be clear on it. By the time I finish this part, readers should see that Turkel's quibbles do nothing to remove this as a legitimate objection to his apparent belief that the writer of 2 Kings objected to Jehu's conduct but just didn't mention it. TURKEL > By the same logic, we may ask why Hosea, if he was >indeed displeased with Jehu's actions, was not more clear >and detailed about it himself! (See below.) TILL What was so unclear about Hosea's condemnation of Jehu's actions? "(A)nd the LORD instructed him, 'Name him Jezreel; for, I will soon punish the House of Jehu for the bloody deeds at Jezreel and put an end to the monarchy of the House of Israel' (Hosea 1:4, version of the Jewish Publication Society). This statement pronounces judgment on the "house of Jehu" and gives "the bloody deeds at Jezreel" as the reason for the condemnation. Obviously, the writer of this statement did not think that Jehu had done all that was right in the heart and mind of Yahweh in the matter of Jezreel. TURKEL >Even so, the answer is found in the style of the Kings' writer. >Our writer is of a dry and disconnected nature--he reports >atrocities and beneficences with equally flat sentiment. >"The writer of 2 Kings was not concerned to pass judgments >of a political or sociological nature on the events he is describing." >[Hobb.2K, 119] It is not his nature to comment, except for >the monotonous, summary repetition of whether a king did good >or evil in the eyes of the Lord which was applied to all >of the kings evaluated, and he generally lets the data >speak for itself without need for further explanation. TILL Turkel calls himself an apologist? He would do well to do a little literary analysis of the biblical text himself before swallowing everything he reads in Bible commentaries that fits the mold that he wants to force the Bible into. To say that the writer of 2 Kings was not "concerned to pass judgments" and that it was "not his nature to comment, except for the monotonous, summary repetition of whether a king did good or evil in the eyes of the Lord" is to show an incredible ignorance of this book. Let's look at what this writer said about the reign of king Manasseh of Judah. >21:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign; he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. >2 He did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh, following the abominable practices of the nations that Yahweh drove out before the people of Israel. So did the writer of 2 Kings settle just for this "monotonous, summary repetition" of Manasseh's having done that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh? Hardly! He went on to give a pretty thorough catalog of Manasseh's sins. >3 For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he erected altars for Baal, made a sacred pole, as King Ahab of Israel had done, worshiped all the host of heaven, and served them. >4 He built altars in the house of Yahweh, of which Yahweh had said, "In Jerusalem I will put my name." >5 He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of Yahweh. >6 He made his son pass through fire; he practiced soothsaying and augury, and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of Yahweh, provoking him to anger. >7 The carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which Yahweh said to David and to his son Solomon, "In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever; >8 I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander any more out of the land that I gave to their ancestors, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them." If we itemize Manasseh's offenses, we see that this writer (whose style Turkel said was to give just monotonous, summary repetitions of whether the king had done good or evil) named 10 specific sins: 1. He rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had destroyed. 2. He erected altars for Baal. 3. He made a sacred pole, as Ahab had done. 4. He worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 5. He built altars (obviously pagan) in the house of Yahweh. 6. He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of Yahweh's house. 7. He made his son to pass through fire or, in other words, sacrificed his son as a burnt offering. 8. He practiced soothsaying and augury. 9. He dealt with mediums and wizards. 10. He set a carved image of Asherah in the house of Yahweh. These were just the religious offenses of Manasseh of whom the writer went on to say... >9 But they did not listen; Manasseh misled them to do more evil than the nations had done that Yahweh destroyed before the people of Israel. I would say that this last statement was much more than just "a monotonous, repetition" of whether Manasseh had done evil. It was a ringing indictment of his evil. But there is still more. >10 Yahweh said by his servants the prophets, >11 "Because King Manasseh of Judah has committed these abominations, has done things more wicked than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has caused Judah also to sin with his idols; >12 therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. >13 I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line for Samaria, and the plummet for the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. >14 I will cast off the remnant of my heritage, and give them into the hand of their enemies; they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, >15 because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their ancestors came out of Egypt, even to this day." Turkel could say, of course, that the foregoing passage was merely a repetition of what Yahweh had said about Manasseh through the prophets, but the following statement clearly expresses the view of the writer himself. >16 Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he caused Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. >17 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, all that he did, and the sin that he committed, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? >18 Manasseh slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the garden of his house, in the garden of Uzza. His son Amon succeeded him. Saying that a king had shed "much innocent blood, until he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another" is certainly more than a "monotonous, summary repetition" of whether the king had done evil. Even though Manasseh was dead and gone before the writer finished this chapter of his book, he wasn't finished with Manasseh. After relating the reign of righteous Josiah (whose righteous acts, by the way were detailed in far more specific terms than just a "monotonous, summary repetition" of whether Josiah had done that which was right), the writer returned to heap more scorn on Manasseh. >24 Moreover Josiah put away the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of Yahweh. >25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to Yahweh with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. We should notice that in describing Josiah's righteous reign, which I will return to in a separate posting, the writer listed several of his specific acts of righteousness and went on to say that there had been no king like him, before or after, who turned to Yahweh with all his heart, soul, and might. This is certainly more than a "monotonous, summary repetition" of whether Josiah had been righteous. But the writer then turned immediately to the reign of Manasseh and let him have it again. >26 Still Yahweh did not turn from the fierceness of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. >27 Yahweh said, "I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel; and I will reject this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there." >28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah? > But the writer was still not finished with his denunciation of Manasseh. In chapter 24, he blamed Manasseh for the damages that Judah was suffering from bands of Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites who were raiding the land of Judah. >24:3 Surely this came upon Judah at the command of Yahweh, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, for all that he had committed, >4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and Yahweh was not willing to pardon. > So three times, the writer of 2 Kings raged against the sins Manasseh had committed and the innocent blood he had shed. He even resorted to hyperbole to describe the blood shed as so excessive that it had filled Jerusalem. This is hardly a "monotonous, summary repetition" of Manasseh's evil doings; it was a very positive denunciation of his actions. I could continue this and show how that the writer of 2 Kings did in other cases either praise or denounce kings in more than just a "monotonous, summary repetition" of whether they had been good or evil kings, but I am going to limit myself to one more posting on this aspect of Turkel's article. That additional posting will analyze the reign of Josiah to show that the writer of 2 Kings was not the impassionate writer that Turkel is claiming in order to quibble that this writer disapproved of Jehu's conduct at Jezreel but just didn't say so because it wasn't his style. This is the kind of absurdity that the biblical inerrancy doctrine drives its defenders to. TILL As noted in my reply #6 [above], Turkel claimed that the style of the writer of 2 Kings was to speak only in "monotonous, summary repetitions" of whether a king had been good or evil. I have shown that such a statement as this, gleaned evidently from the works of an apologist named Hobb, is contrary to literary fact. Turkel went on to make the following statement. TURKEL >That being so, we should not expect any such explicit >condemnatory comments as Till ,suggests. For the Kings' >writer, readers are intelligent enough to understand >(especially living as they did in the same religious and >socio-political world) that Jehu's piling of his enemies' >heads in front of the city was an unwarranted tactic of >terror; they did not need it spelled out for them (as >some skeptics seem inclined to insist!) that Jehu went >beyond God's orders in certain of his actions; they did >not deem it necessary at the conclusion of events to >recap by saying, "Jehu was told to do A, B and C; but he >did A, B, C, D and E, which was more than he was supposed >to do, and that was wrong." No, they did not need such >superfluous Howard Cosell commentary; no more than we >need a narrator of World War II films featuring visions >of Auschwitz reminding us that what we are seeing, by the >way, is bad. Certain skeptics, I have noted, tend to >assume that all readers, especially those of Biblical >times, are stupid, and are required to have their >obligatory reactions spelled out for them on cue cards, >or like some manner of ancient laugh track advising them >that what they are seeing is funny. They may be right in >many cases. However, very few are or were so dense as to >not clearly understand the crystalline message of the >Kings writer. > TILL Well, I have shown that in the case of Manasseh, this writer whose style was so reserved listed 10 specific religious sins that Manasseh had committed before going on to talk about all of the blood he had shed, and this was just one case of many that I could have cited. In 2 Kings 16, this writer was very specific in listing the sins of Ahaz of Judah, which Turkel may read about himself if he wishes to enlighten himself on a subject in which he is obviously very misinformed. Passages like this one and the example of Manasseh, which I have already cited, are sufficient to show that it would have been entirely consistent with the style of this writer to specifically state what Jehu had done wrong in the matter of Jezreel. The fact that he did list specific offenses of other kings but didn't state any specific "sins" of Jehu beyond his failure to end the worship of the golden calves is reasonable evidence that Turkel is simply grasping for straws in this matter in order to defend a cherished belief. Further evidence that Turkel's assessment of the style of the 2 Kings writer is way off base can be found in his account of Josiah's reign. Josiah was presented as a king who "did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh" (22:2), which according to Turkel's assessment is as far as his "monotonous, summary repetition" should have allowed him to go, but he went on and said much more of a very specific nature. First of all, he said that Josiah "walked in all the ways of David his father and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left" (v:2). The writer devoted two full chapters to record the reign of Josiah (approximately the same amount of space that he took to tell Jehu's story), and in doing so, he mentioned the following specific acts of Josiah: 1. When workers in the temple "found" the book of the law in the temple, Josiah tore his clothes upon hearing the book read in his presence, because he knew that the people had not been keeping it (v:11). 2. He sent messengers to inquire of Yahweh concerning the words of the book (v:13). 3. He gathered all of the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to the temple and had the book of the law read to them (23:1-2). 4. He made a covenant before Yahweh to walk in his ways and to keep his commandments and statutes with all of his heart and soul (v:3). 5. He commanded that all of the vessels made for Baal, the Asherah, and the host of heaven be brought out of the temple and burned (v:4). 6. He "put down" all of the priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places to Baal, the sun, the moon, the planets, and all the host of heaven (v:5). 7. He brought the Asherah out of the house of Yahweh and burned it at the brook Kiddron (v:6). 8. He broke down the house of the sodomites that were in the house of Yahweh where women wove hangings for the Asherah (v:7). 9. He brought all of the pagan priests out of the cities of Judah and defiled the high places where they burned incense (v:8) 10. He destroyed the altar of Molech in the valley of Hinnom so that the sacrifices of children could not continue (v:10) The list of Josiah's specific acts of righteousness continued on through 20 more verses, but these are sufficient to show that Turkel is wrong in saying that it wasn't the style of the writer of 2 Kings to go into details about the right and wrong that kings did except to speak in "monotonous, summary repetitions" of whether the kings did good or evil. All anyone has to do is actually read this book to see that the writer was quite often very specific in recording the righteous and unrighteous acts of kings. Hezekiah "did that which was right in the eyes of Yahweh, according to all that David his father had done" (18:3). Then the writer listed these specific acts of righteousness: (1) He removed the high places. (2) He broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. (3) He broke into pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made, because the Israelites were burning incense to it. (4) He clung to Yahweh and departed not from following him but kept his commandments, which Yahweh had commanded Moses. To continue this thread is unnecessary. Turkel's statement about the literary style of the writer of 2 Kings is nonsense that has been hatched up in order to quibble about a point of embarrassment in 2 Kings 10:30. TURKEL > With that, we now turn to the specifics of Till's case for disharmony: > Hosea the Condemner? > > The first aspect of our analysis attacks the issue from the rear, >so.to speak. Our subject verse is Hosea 1:4: > > Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, >because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the >massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom >of Israel." > > > A word is in order, first, about a potential argument which we will not >pursue for lack of necessity and lack of direct evidence. It has been >assumed by all sides and by many commentators that Hosea here is >specifically referring to the events of 2 Kings 10. But the fact is >that there is NOTHING in the verse above that requires this connection at >all. It has merely been assumed that since 2 Kings is the only other place >in the OT that describes suitable events located at Jezreel, that this >must be, necessarily, what Hosea is referring to. However, the fact is >that there is nothing in Hosea that connects this reference to the specific >actions of Jehu in 2 Kings. Allegedly condemned here is the "house of >Jehu"--but this "house" consisted of several kings and their respective >ousemates (see below), all but one of which had sufficient time to commit >ome objectionable (but otherwise >unrecorded) atrocity or series of atrocities in Jezreel. In the end, >e is no >certainty that Hosea is indeed referring to the events recorded >n 2 Kings 10, >which may make the entire discussion pointles. > TILL Not much needs to be said about this except that it is a variation of the old same-name-different-person argument that inerrantists sometimes resort to in order to try to wiggle out of situations that are damaging to their inerrancy position. An example would be the inerrantists who actually argue that the Amram who was listed in Exodus 6:18 as the son of Kohath was not the same Amram mentioned two verses later as the father of Moses and Aaron. They so quibble in order to avoid a chronological discrepancy between this genealogy and other OT passages. If, for example, the Amram who was the father of Moses and Aaron was the same Amram who was the son of Kohath, then this would have made Aaron and Moses the great-grandsons of Levi, who was one of the sons of Jacob who came into Egypt in Genesis 46, so if only four generations separated Levi and Moses, this would hardly have allowed enough time for the 430-year sojourn in Egypt claimed in Exodus 12:40. Furthermore, a wilderness census taken of the Kohathites (Num. 3:28) indicated that there were 8,600 of them who were classified as Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites (named after the four sons of Kohath). If we allow for an approximate distribution of the 8,600 within the four "families," this would mean that Amram had about 2,150 descendants at the time of the exodus, a population that would not have been possible if the Amram who was the father of Aaron and Moses was the same Amram who was Kohath's sons. Hence, inerrantists argue that this is a case of the same name but a different person, even though the two verses in Exodus 6 that trace Kohath's descendants to Aaron and Moses don't even hint that there were two Amrams intended. Inerrantists, however, will resort to all kinds of desperation to keep from admitting that discrepancies are in the Bible, and this is just one example of the tactics they will use. In effect, this is what Turkel is attempting to do in this case. The OT records two cases of bloodshed at Jezreel: (1) the murder of Naboth when Ahab coveted his vineyard [1 Kings 21], and (2) Jehu's massacre of the royal family of Israel [2 Kings 9-10]. Since Jehu was not involved in the first act of bloodshed, we can reasonably exclude this as the one that Hosea was referring to, and since Hosea clearly associated the bloodshed at Jezreel as something that should be "visited" on the house of Jehu, it is pure speculation to suppose that the "blood of Jezreel" referred to another atrocity at Jezreel that happened not to be recorded in the Bible. In addition to being a variation on the same-name-but-different-person quibble, it is also a resort to the kind of argumentation that we see inerrantists using to explain why no one can find prophecies in the OT such as the one that Matthew claimed in saying that it had been prophesied that Jesus would be called a Nazarene (Matt. 2:23). They will argue that Matthew said that the prophets had "spoken" this, so this could be a case of something that prophets spoke but never actually wrote down. Since Turkel did nothing but assert the possibility that Hosea 1:4 was referring to an atrocity that wasn't recorded in the OT, there is really no argument here to answer. If Turkel would like to present one, let him do it. Then I can decide if he is "worthy" of any more of my time. Obviously, the more reasonable interpretation of Hosea 1:4 would be to assume that the prophet was referring to the bloodshed in Jezreel, committed by Jehu, which is recorded in the OT. If this wasn't what he meant, this would be just another case of confusion in a book that was presumably verbally inspired by an omniscient, omnipotent deity. TILL > That said, we will nevertheless assume, for the sake >of argument, that Hosea did indeed have in mind the >events recorded in 2 Kings, where, it is our position to >state that Jehu overstepped the orders of the Lord TILL I have already shown that the Bible claims that Yahweh ordered Jehu to destroy the house of Ahab as thoroughly and completely as the houses of Jeroboam and Baasha had been destroyed. The orders extended to all males BOND AND FREE in the house of Ahab, so, as the story is told, Jehu did exactly as he was ordered and was praised for doing so. He would have, in fact, disobeyed his divine orders had he not killed EVERY male that belonged to the house of Jehu. I will return to this point later as I address Turkel's quibble that "friends" in the account of the destruction of Baasha's "house" was a different word in Hebrew from the "friends" of Jehoram of Ahab that Jehu massacred. We will see that this quibble is completely without merit. TURKEL > Our argument in this regard ran as follows: > > Many commentators of all stripes have suggested, >based on structure and parallelism, that Hosea 1:4 is >better read to express the idea that the bloodshed of >Jezreel will be visited on the house of Jehu--which is to >say, the verse should read, not "punished for the blood >of Jezreel," but "punished by"--the reference is to the >mode of punishment, rather than the cause of it > > Till's reply to this has been most peculiar. He >insists that our "language is ambiguous" and offers >several rhetorical questions of the effect, "What does he >mean by...?" etc. "Who knows?" he concludes, what I >mean. > TILL Well, actually, I didn't suggest that "our language" is ambiguous but that Turkel's language was ambiguous. I don't blame him for hiding behind the pedantic "we" throughout his rebuttal, but I hope that readers will not let this affected writing style cause them to forget that Turkel was the one who wrote the articles, so it was HIS language that was ambiguous and his arguments that failed to resolve the discrepancy under consideration. After wading through his 80K response a couple of times, I think I finally understood what he was trying to say, but that doesn't remove the fact that his language was ambiguous. As I come to them in my reply, I will address his attempts to show that he knows more about how the OT should read than did the many translators who collaborated in producing the versions that I have quoted, but at this point, just let me suggest that when someone's defense of the Bible depends on the claim that all of the hundreds of translators who cooperated in producing the KJV, ASV, RSV, NRSV, NKJV, NAB, NIV, etc., etc., etc., etc. got it all wrong, that's a pretty good sign that the debater knows that his case is weak, and so he has to resort to trying to find books written by biblicists who were aware of the problem under consideration and resorted to far-fetched, what-it-could-have-meant explanations to try to show that there really isn't a discrepancy. TURKEL > Who knows? Everyone except Farrell Till, evidently, >who is thus far the only one to complain. TILL Hmmm, then I wonder why when I asked others if they understood what Turkel was trying to say, they said that they weren't sure they understood what he meant either. I spent 30 years of my life reading freshman compositions, many of them ambiguously written in places, but I could almost always figure out what they meant. I finally figured out what Turkel meant (I think) in saying that the house of Jehu would not be punished FOR the blood of Jezreel but BY the blood of Jezreel, but it took some time and rereading and rereading to do it. It isn't my fault that Turkel can't express himself clearly at times. Lapses in clarity happen to all writers at times. When it happens in my writing, I see no disgrace in admitting it, but Turkel apparently sees weakness in even acknowledging that his own writing isn't inerrant. TURKEL >Apparently Till feels that he can convince his readers that a given >reading is vague if he says so; TILL No, I found that I didn't have to tell them that the statement was "vague"; they had already recognized it themselves. Of course, I probably made the mistake of asking people who hadn't twisted themselves into verbal pretzels from years of trying to find a way out of the consequences of face-value readings of biblical texts; hence, they had had limited experience in trying to find innovative ways to make a text not mean what it plainly says. TURKEL >this may work well for the persuasion of his adoring fold, but >those of us who still maintain our own entitlement of independent >thinking need not be swayed so easily. TILL I just can't let this pass without comment. When I read a text in the Bible, I have an "entitlement of independent thinking" that will allow me to decide that the statement may be historically accurate. Turkel and his inerrantist cohorts are the ones who have no such entitlement. Turkel isn't free to make the opposite decision. Since he is a biblical inerrantist, he has to look for ways to make the text "historical" even if it obviously isn't, and that is because his position leaves him no freedom to exercise "independent thinking." Such statements as his comment above may sound good to his "adoring fold," but those of us who know that biblical inerrantists always approach the Bible with the assumption that whatever it says is historically accurate know that Turkel is not free to think independently. Perhaps it is envy on his part of those of us who do enjoy such intellectual independence that leads him to make such ridiculous statements, because one thing that Turkel absolutely is NOT is an intellectual independent. He is, in fact, an intellectual slave to his preconceived notion that a collection of superstitious writings, produced by superstitious men, in superstitious and prescientific times, is the "inspired word of God." TURKEL >Even so, for the sake of those in thrall to Till's persuasion, let us >restate our position in terms that might more easily be >comprehended by Mr. Till. The argument involves two >aspects - a) concerning the word translated >"punish/avenge," and b) the word translated "massacre. > TILL So now we get to hear Turkel boast that he knows much more about Hebrew than the hundreds of scholars who gave us the various English translations of the OT. He may not say it directly, but between the lines, we will see him suggesting that it is a pity that these translators didn't know as much about Hebrew as he does. > TURKEL The first argument a) is that Hosea's words indicate >that the house of Jehu will be punished, not BECAUSE of >the blood of Jezreel, but IN THE SAME WAY as occurred at >Jezreel--which is to say, as Jehu at Jezreel destroyed >his enemies, so shall now the house of Jehu be destroyed > TILL And no doubt the various translators rendered the verse as it will be found in English versions simply because they wanted to mislead readers by incorrectly translating Hosea 1:4. I have already posted several translations of the verse to show that there is general accord among translators about its meaning, so this time I will just cite the one translation of the Jewish Publication Society: "Name him Jezreel; for, I will soon PUNISH the House of Jehu FOR the bloody deeds at Jezreel." Of course, it is ridiculous to think that Jews translating their own writings might know more about the meaning of this verse than a non-Jewish biblical inerrantist working on the assumption that the Bible is inerrant and motivated by a desire to explain away a discrepancy. TURKEL > Let's look again at this verse. The NIV reads, "I >will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at >Jezreel..." The KJV reads, "I will avenge the blood of >Jezreel upon the house of Jehu...." The key here is the >Hebrew term which emerges in our translations as >punish/avenge. The Hebrew word in question is "paqad." >Let us look at the definition from Strong's Concordance > > > 6485. paqad, paw-kad'; a prim. root; to visit (with >friendly or hostile intent); by anal. to oversee, muster, >charge, care for, miss, deposit, etc.:--appoint, X at >all, avenge, bestow, (appoint to have the, give a) >charge, commit, count, deliver to keep, be empty, enjoin, >go see, hurt, do judgment, lack, lay up look, make X by >any means, miss, number, officer, (make) overseer have >(the) oversight, punish, reckon, (call to) remember >(-brance), set (over), sum, X surely, visit, want > > > Note well the applicable meanings: We see avenge >and punish; but also bestow, remember, set (over), visit. >If this verse is read, "I will visit the blood of Jezreel >upon the house of Jehu..." or "apply the bloodshed of >Jezreel" [t]hen we have something entirely different than >what Till has argued, and which matches what we have >stated previously: The matter is one of punishment by >type and method, and has nothing to do with retribution >for the actions of Jehu. It is saying no more than, "I >will bring upon the house of Jehu the same type of >judgment that they brought about at Jezreel" - i.e. >extermination of the totality of the house > TILL Another observation about Turkel's linguistic knowledge is in order here. He apparently doesn't know what homographs are. A fairly common misconception is that words like "bear,"and "bear" or "mean," "mean," "and mean" are the same words, which are sometimes used in different senses, but they are actually different words derived from different etymological sources. "Mean" in the sense of signify, for example, was derived from an OE word "maenan," which meant "to tell of," but "mean" in the sense of "average" was derived from the Latin word "medianus," which meant "middle." "Mean" in the sense of unkind or spiteful was derived from the OE word "gaemene," which meant "common." All three homographs came to be spelled and pronounced alike in English, but they are all different words. We have many homographs in English, which are loosely referred to as homonyms, a word that implies they are the same words with different meanings. I am not a linguistic expert in Hebrew, but I would consider it very unlikely that "pqd" in Hebrew was always the same word, since this homograph had so many different meanings. Nevertheless, what is true of English must have also been true of Hebrew, and so the meaning of a homograph is determinable by the way that it is used. If I should say, "I saw a bear in the woods," no person fluent in English would think that this was any word except the one, which meant "brown one"; hence, the word in this sentence would be the homograph that designated the animal from the Ursaidae family, which is most often brown in color. A study of "pqd" as it was used in the OT can also determine its probable meaning in Hosea 1:4. I am not going to play the game of my-scholars-against-your-scholars, and so I am just going to say at this point that my research into "pqd," when it was used in a sense most often translated as "visit" or "punish," showed that the word has no exact parallel in English but that it connoted the idea of "remembering" in either a positive or a negative sense. That a word in one language may not have an exact parallel in another doesn't mean that the sense or meaning of the word cannot be translated into another language. I think immediately of the word "chez" in French. If one should say in French, "Je suis chez mon frere," he would mean that he is at his brother's home or house, even though the word "home" or "house" is not actually in the sentence he used. To translate this sentence as, "I am at my brother's house" would be an accurate representation of what the speaker meant. To say that an accurate translation of "pqd" in Hebrew isn't possible would be a strange position for a biblicist to take, because he would be arguing that his god inspired the writing of the Bible in a language that cannot be deciphered. As I mentioned above, in its sense of "visit," the word "pqd" denoted the idea of "remembering," but whether the "remembering" was positive or negative could be determined by context. If an English speaker should encounter an insult or a spiteful deed from someone, he might say, "Okay, I'll remember that." The statement would carry the sense of a threat or payback, which anyone fluent in English would understand. On the other hand, if a good deed were done to a person, he might also say, "I'll remember this," but here he would be speaking in a positive or favorable sense. The idea of a payback would be understood in the statement, but the person it was said to would understand that it was a promise to return the favor when the opportunity presented itself. No one fluent in English would experience any problems understanding what was meant in either situation, so it is reasonable to assume that the same would be true of "pqd" in Hebrew. the contexts would clarify meaning. Here are some statements where PQD was translated "visit" in the KJV but used in obvious positive or favorable senses. >Genesis 50:24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit [PQD] you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. >25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit [PQD] you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. > >Exodus 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit [PQD] you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. > >Genesis 21:1 And Yahweh visited [PQD] Sarah as he had said, and Yahweh did unto Sarah as he had spoken. >2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. > >Exodus 3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. >16 Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited [PQD] you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: > >Exodus 4:31 And the people believed: and when they heard that Yahweh had visited [PQD] the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped. > >Ruth 1:6 Then she [Naomi] arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited [PQD] his people in giving them bread. > >1 Samuel 2:21 And Yahweh visited [PQD] Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before Yahweh. > >Psalm 106:4 Remember me, O Yahweh, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit [PQD] me with thy salvation; >5 That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance. > In these and other examples that I could cite, the context in which PQD was used easily enables readers to determine that a "visiting" or "remembering" in a positive or favorable sense was intended. Since we have homographs and homophones in our own language, it should not surprise us to know that in other languages the meanings of homographs or homophones can be easily determined by the context in which they are used. Only someone who is looking to shore up a pet theory would argue that the meaning of a word like PQD was so mysterious that we can't really be sure how a writer intended it to be understood. Anyone reading the passages above can see that what was done or said at the time of the "visiting" or "remembering" enables the reader to see that the word was being used in a positive or favorable sense. Now here are some biblical passages in which the context easily shows that a PQD (visiting or remembering) in a negative or punitive sense was meant. >Leviticus 18:25 And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit [PQD] the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. >Psalm 89:30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; >31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; >32 Then will I visit [PQD] their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. > >Jeremiah 14:10 Thus saith Yahweh unto this people, Thus have they loved to wander, they have not refrained their feet, therefore Yahweh doth not accept them; he will now remember their iniquity, and visit [PQD] their sins. > >Amos 3:3 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, >14 That in the day that I shall visit [PQD] the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit [PQD] the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. >15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith Yahweh. > >Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I Yahweh thy God am a jealous God, visiting [PQD] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; > >Lamentations 4:22 The punishment of thine iniquity is accomplished, O daughter of Zion; he will no more carry thee away into captivity: he will visit [PQD] thine iniquity, O daughter of Edom; he will discover thy sins. > As in cases where PQD was used in the sense of a positive remembering or visiting, the sense or meaning of PQD is also easy to determine by context when it was used in a negative or punitive sense. The linguistic formula was invariably to state that a PQD (visiting or remembering) would occur and then to follow that with the reason for the PQD. When applied in a negative way, PQD denoted a "visiting" or "remembering" of sins or iniquities, and one would have to be desperate for a straw to grasp in order to argue that the sense of PQD in such cases was not intended to convey that Yahweh would "visit" or "remember" these sins and iniquities in the sense of administering punishment for them. This is exactly the type of context that we find in Hosea 1:4. >4 And Yahweh said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge [PQD] the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. > Yahweh first stated that he would bring about a PQD (visit or remembrance) and then gave the reason for it, i.e., the blood of Jezreel. There is no significant difference here from the passages above in which Yahweh said that he would PQD (visit or remember) and then stated the reason for the "visit," i.e., the sins and iniquities of the parties being "visited" or remembered. A good way to determine how a particular writer probably intended a word or expression to be understood is to note other statements in which he used the same word. If we do this, in the case of Hosea, we find the following examples. >2:12 And I will destroy her [Hosea's wife of "whoredom," symbolically Israel] vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. >13 And I will visit [PQD] upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD. > >4:9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish [PQD] them for their ways, and reward them their doings. >10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. >11 Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart. >12 My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. >13 They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. >14 I will not punish [PQD] your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall. > >8:13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but Yahweh accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit [PQD] their sins: they shall return to Egypt. > >9:7 The days of visitation [PQD] are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. >8 The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God. >9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit [PQD] their sins. > >12:2 Yahweh hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish [PQD] Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him. > >So SEVEN other times, Hosea used PQD, and in EACH case, the word carried >the sense of remembering sins and iniquities and punishing for them. Is it any >surprise that PQD is translated in the sense of "punishment" in other >versions of the OT? Here are the renditions of the Jewish Publication Society: > >2:15 (verse 13 in KJV): Thus I will punish [PQD] her for the days of >the Baalim. > >4:9, Therefore the people shall fare like the priests: I will punish [PQD] it for its conduct, I will require it for its deeds.... >14 I will not punish [PQD] their daughters for fornicating nor their daughters-in-law for committing adultery; For they themselves turn aside with whores and sacrifice with prostitutes.... >8:13-15, When they present sacrifices to Me, it is but flesh for them >to eat: The Lord has not accepted them. Behold, he remembers their >iniquity, He will punish [PQD] their sins: Back to Egypt with them! > >9:7-9, The days of punishment [PQD] have come for your heavy guilt; >The days of requital have come--Let Israel know it. The prophet was >distraught, the inspired man driven mad by constant harassment. Ephraim >watches for my God. As for the prophet, fowlers' snares are on his paths, >harassment in the House of his God. They have been as grievously corrupt as >in the days of Gibeah. He will remember their iniquity, he will punish >[PQD] their sins. > >12:3 The Lord once indicted Judah, and punished [PQD] Jacob for his conduct.... A check of other translations will show that most of them were rendered to carry the sense of punishment wherever Hosea used PQD. Except for the damage that this translation does to his pet inerrancy theory, Turkel would see no reason to disagree with them, but when inerrancy is on the line, an inerrantist must deny the obvious in order to defend his position. Turkel went on and on about how PQD should have been translated in Hosea 1:4, but this posting is long enough. I'll reply to his other points later. TURKEL'S discussion of "PQD" continues: > The question, of course, is whether we are justified >in deferring to the bestow/visit interpretation upon this >word, in preference to the avenge/punish interpretation. TILL For the sake of argument, let's just assume that Turkel's interpretation of Hosea 1:4 is correct. This is how he interpreted the verse: "It is saying no more than, 'I will bring upon the house of Jehu the same type of judgment that they brought about at Jezreel" - i.e., extermination of the totality of the house.'" Turkel, of course, needs to establish that this is undeniably what Hosea meant or he has no case, but let's just suppose that this really was what Hosea meant. The fact that the prophet selected this particular event from Jehu's past as his example of what would happen to the house of Jehu would surely indicate that he considered it a despicable event. In other words, to find something appropriate to compare to the impending fate of the house of Jehu, Hosea looked back and selected Jehu's complete extermination of the royal family of Israel. Would he have done that if he had thought that Jehu's actions at Jezreel were praiseworthy? Turkel may think so, but to so argue would certainly require a resort to some peculiar principles of literary interpretation. The death of those who fought at the Alamo is considered an example to be greatly admired, and so the men who died there are thought of as exceptional heroes. If the ignominious end of some despicable person should be compared to an event like the fall of the heroes at the Alamo, anyone could see the inappropriateness of it. Let's suppose, for example, that a prophet of today should pronounce impending doom upon Saddam Hussein by saying, "God will visit upon Saddam Hussein the death of those who died at the Alamo." Who would not be able to see the incongruity in the comparison? Anyone could see that a far better analogy would be to compare Hussein's fate to the atrocity that he administered on the Kurds within his own country when he used nerve gas to wipe them out. So even if Turkel's strained interpretation of Hosea 1:4 is correct, the text would still indicate that the prophet disapproved of the massacre at Jezreel. All that I have argued in this matter is that the writer of 2 Kings approved Jehu's actions at Jezreel, whereas the prophet Hosea disapproved. Therefore, it is at least very doubtful that the Bible is completely unified in its themes, as Josh McDowell claimed in ETDAV. TURKEL >In answer to one of my arguments about this verse Till >made the observation that: > > Whenever Biblicists are cornered on an issue, they love >to start talking about the "Semitic mind" and nuances in >the original language. > > ...and from there, Till proceeded to list some 20 >English translations of the Bible, 2 of which offer the >"visit" interpretation, but the rest of which use the >punish/avenge interpretation. TILL A comment is in order here. Even the two translations that offered the "visit" interpretation were clear in conveying that Hosea was saying that Yahweh would "visit" the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu in the same sense as when he said in many other passages that he would "visit" or "remember" the sins and iniquities of people. When used in that way, even the word "visit" carried the connotation of punishment or vengeance. So when I find that ALL of the translations that I have access to rendered this verse in a way that conveyed that Yahweh intended to wipe out the house of Jehu FOR the blood of Jezreel, what should I do? Should I reserve judgment on the likely meaning of the passage until I have heard from Turkel what he thinks that it means. Turkel, of course, ridicules the fact that I have cited over 20 translations that support my interpretation of this verse, but I suspect that if he could find even a fraction of this many translations that support his innovative interpretation, he wouldn't hesitate to quote them. After all, we have seen how fond he is of saying, "Proven says," or "Hobbs believes," or "In Coogan's opinion," etc., etc., etc., so are we supposed to think that he wouldn't quote translations if they supported his opinion? TURKEL >This, so he feels, earns him a victory lap. > TILL And why wouldn't this be a more impressive victory lap than just quoting people who have written books that express agreement with one's religious view? Anyone can find writers who bend over backwards to try to explain difficulties in the Bible, but one can't always find translations that support those innovative explanations. So what Turkel is actually arguing is that the hundreds of Hebrew scholars whose efforts went into the KJV, ASC, RSV, NRSV, NASV, NIV, NAB, etc., etc., etc. don't deserve nearly as much consideration as the opinions of men who have written books that labor to defend of the Bible. TURKEL > Let it be said that here we have a classic example >of the sort of superficial scholarship that is common to >Mr. Till's presentations. TILL Well, sure, go ahead and let it be said. Meanwhile I will continue to wonder why Turkel didn't just say, "We have here a classic example of the sort of superficial scholarship that is common to Mr. Till's presentations." Perhaps that just didn't sound pretentious enough to suit him, but, anyway, I don't wonder about his stilted style of writing nearly as much as I wonder how someone who considers himself a first-rate biblical apologist would argue that the obvious opinion of hundreds of Hebrew scholars, who worked on the various committees that produced the many translations I quoted, would represent "superficial scholarship." What is really superficial is the amateur apologists, like Turkel, who lift a fragmented quotation from this book, another from that article, another from this book, another from that article, etc. and string them all together in a "treatise" that says, "Metzger thinks..." "Coogan believes..." "Provan says..." etc., etc., etc., and consider that "in-depth" scholarship. Most of the time, those who use this approach don't even quote enough from their sources to give readers any basis for determining if their opinions are credible. Yes, indeed, talk about superficial scholarship! TURKEL >One suspects that Till's >reaction to arguments related to Semitisms and the >original language are a hint that he is aware that to >take such a turn would put him out of his capabilities >and place the argument beyond his reach. TILL I'll say here what people have heard me say on the internet and in public speeches many times. I took Greek and Hebrew in college, but I don't consider myself anywhere close to being a biblical-language scholar or even a biblical scholar, period. I didn't continue my studies in Greek and Hebrew, as I did in the Bible, and so my ability in biblical languages is limited to enough knowledge to use lexicons and interlinear Bibles. I suspect that this puts me somewhere on the level of Turkel. I think I can recognize a pseudoexpert when I see one, and I seriously doubt if Turkel has any special skills in Hebrew. I'm so sure of this that I am going to call his bluff. I know people who are very knowledgeable in Hebrew, and one of them has devised a test to expose the phoniness of those who pretend to be experts in it. I wonder if Turkel would be willing to submit to the test. If so, I will be glad to make the arrangements for him to show us his stuff. This is a good place to interrupt this posting, because if Turkel ignores the challenge, it will be obvious for all who are following our exchanges. TURKEL >Given Till's apparent zeal for listing and copying translations in >English (and even one in French), one is constrained to >ask why he did not bother to consult a single source >relative to the Hebrew, which is (we hope) certainly >within his wherewithal. > TILL As I explained in my posting just before this one, I did study Greek and Hebrew in college (over 40 years ago), but I don't consider myself a scholar in biblical languages. Having studied the languages, however, I can assure Turkel that it is within my "wherewithal" to consult sources in Hebrew. The fact is that I did consult Hebrew sources in my other sources, because I looked at the Hebrew text to see, the best that my recollection of my limited studies in Hebrew would permit, if there was any reason to think that Hosea 1:4 did not mean what the various translations indicate that it meant. I could find none. I also consulted a person who grew up in Israel, speaks Hebrew fluently, and taught it to Jewish immigrants in Israel before he came to the United States. His opinion was that Hosea was saying that Yahweh would "visit" the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu in the sense that he would remember this event in a punitive way. I have resisted taking the time to post again all of the translations of this verse that I posted before, but Turkel's lengthy complaints about my policy of consulting various translations to support my interpretative opinions tell me that it might be a good idea to let everyone see those translations again. So here they are, as posted before, with a few more thrown in for good measure. >KJV: And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. > >ASV: And Jehovah said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease. > >RSV: And the LORD said to him, "Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel." > >NASV: And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. > >NKJV: Then the LORD said to him: "Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel." > >NRSV: And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel." > >NIV: Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. > >REB: "The LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, for in a little while I am going to punish the dynasty of Jehu for the blood shed in the valley of Jezreel, and bring the kingdom of Israel to an end." > >NAB: Then the LORD said to him: Give him the name Jezreel, for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezreel and bring to an end the kingdom of the house of Israel. > >AMPLIFIED: And the LORD said to him, Call his name Jezreel [or God-sows], for yet a little while and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel and visit the punishment for it upon the house of Jehu, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. > >JB: "Name him Jezreel," Yahweh told him, "for it will not be long before I make the House of Jehu pay for the bloodshed at Jezreel and I put an end to the sovereignty of the House of Israel. > >GNB: (T)he LORD said to Hosea, "Name him 'Jezreel.' because it will not be long before I punish the king of Israel for the murders that his ancestor Jehu committed at Jezreel. I am going to put an end to Jehu's dynasty." > >NWT: And Jehovah went on to say to him: "Call his name Jezreel, for yet a little while and I must hold an accounting for the acts of bloodshed of Jezreel against the house of Jehu, and I must cause the royal rule of the house of Israel to cease." > >CONFRATERNITY: Then the LORD said to him: Give him the name Jezrael, for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezrael and bring to an end the kingdom of the house of Israel. > >NCV: The LORD said to Hosea, "Name him Jezreel. This is because soon I will punish the family of Jehu for the people they killed at Jezreel. Then I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel." > >CEV: Then the LORD said, "Hosea, name your son Jezreel, because I will soon punish the descendants of King Jehu of Israel for the murders he committed in Jezreel Valley." > >LAMSA'S (Peshitta): And the LORD said to him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. > MOFFATT'S: "Call him Jezreel," said the Eternal, "for it will not be long before I avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu and put an end to the kingdom of Israel." > REVISED BERKELEY: "Call his name Jezreel," the LORD told him, "for after a little time now, I will punish the house of Jehu because of the blood of Jezreel, and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel." > JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY: And the Lord instructed him, "Name him Jezreel; for, I will soon punish the House of Jehu for the bloody deeds at Jezreel and put an end to the monarch of the House of Israel." BRENTON'S TRANSLATION of the Septuagint: And the Lord said to him, Call his name Jezrael; for yet a little [while], and I will avenge the blood of Jezrael on the house of Juda, and will make to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. >YOUNG'S LITERAL: (A)nd Jehovah saith unto him, "Call his name Jezreel, for yet a little, and I have charged the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and have caused to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel." > >HENDRICKSON'S INTERLINEAR: And said Jehovah to him, Call his name Jezreel for yet a little [while] and I will visit the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and will make cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. > >HENDRICKSON'S MARGINAL: And Jehovah said to him, Call his name God Will Sow, for yet in a little while I will visit the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease. > I have even checked Segond's French translation and found that it says (if my personal rendition of the French can be trusted), "And the Eternal said to him, 'Call him by the name of Jezreel, for yet a little time, and I will intervene against the house of Jehu because of the blood shed at Jezreel; I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.'" Here are 25 different translations of Hosea 1:4, and they all clearly say the same thing: Yahweh was going to punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel. Even the two that used "visit" instead of "punish" did so in a way that showed the contextual meaning of the statement was that Yahweh would "visit" the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu in the same way that he would "visit" the sins and iniquities of the fathers upon succeeding generations. As I asked when I posted these translations before, are we to assume that the "(m)any commentators of all stripes," whom Turkel referred to know more about the meaning of this verse than the various translation committees that put together the versions quoted above? I suspect that these "(m)any commentators of all stripes" are actually believers in biblical inspiration who, being aware of the conflict between 2 Kings 10:30 and Hosea 1:4, are looking for a way to plug a big hole in the traditional claim that the Bible is a work of perfect harmony. In the translations quoted above, which are all of the translations I have in my personal library, there is obviously a general agreement that Hosea claimed that Yahweh would punish the house of Jehu for something that their ancestor had done at Jezreel. Turkel may ridicule this approach to biblical interpretation all that he wishes, but the length of his protest reminded me of a quotation from *Hamlet*: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." I suspect that the principle stated here applies to Turkel's complaint about my citing various Bible translations in support of my opinion. He can see the force of this method of argumentation, and so he complains at great lengths about it as if he hopes that someone might actually believe him if he says often enough that this is a sign of "superficial scholarship." The scholarship behind over 25 translations of the OT have said that Hosea 1:4 means what is indicated in the quotations (above) from those versions. Now it is Turkel's burden to prove that all of these translators were wrong, and he is right. Before I stop this installment of my response, I will notice the continuation of his complaint and let the readers decide if the gentleman doth protest too much in this matter. TURKEL > Any OT schoolboy, however, knows that simply listing >translations is insufficient scholarship. TILL Well, I didn't just list them; I quoted them. So as I said above, it is now Turkel's burden to prove that the hundreds of translators who collaborated in completing these English versions of the OT were wrong, and he is right. TURKEL >Further, let it be pointed out (again!) TILL Well, okay, "let it be pointed out (again)." If he points it out enough, perhaps some of his "adoring fold" will even begin to realize that his incessant complaining about quoting translations is a probable indication that he knows this is a compelling argument against his position. TURKEL >that we are not engaging any sort of special pleading here: TILL No, of course, not. All Turkel is saying is that it is "superficial scholarship" of an opponent to search through all the versions of the OT available (over 25 in this case) and find that they ALL agree with the opponent's position. But that's not special pleading, of course. TURKEL >It is no less legitimate to appeal to the "Semitic mindset" and >the nuances of Hebrew when considering the OT than it is to appeal to >the "medieval mind" and the nuances of Elizabethan >English when considering the works of Shakespeare! TILL In doing so, one should certainly present evidence that he is qualified to speak with authority on the "Semitic mindset" and the "nuances of Hebrew," but Turkel has certainly presented no such evidence; thus, there is no reason for us to think that he knows any more about the "Semitic mind" or the "nuances of Hebrew" than I or anyone else on this list. In all probability, he is just parroting something that he copied from commentaries and other books. It sounds impressive, and so he passes it along to us. I will be very interested in seeing if Turkel is confident enough in his knowledge of Hebrew to submit to the test that I proposed in an earlier posting. If he ignores the request, that will speak volumes about how much he really knows about the "nuances of Hebrew." TURKEL >Even the most basic anthropological work (such as Matthews and >Benjamin's *Social World of Ancient Israel*) makes >it quite clear that there is a world of difference >between our way of thinking and that of members of >Eastern Mediterranean society - and that these >differences must be taken into account when considering >the Old and New Testaments. TILL Oh, I have no doubt at all about the truth of what Turkel has said here. I lived five years in a foreign country and learned its language with reasonable fluency, but I don't think I ever learned much about the Gallic mind. I sincerely doubt if Turkel has studied Mideastern history and ancient Hebrew sufficiently to speak with any authority on the "Semitic mind" or the "nuances" of Hebrew. He tries to sound impressive, but there's a world of difference in sounding impressive and in speaking with authority on a subject. TURKEL >Once again, Till fails on the same point as always, reading the >text of the Bible through his jaundiced, 20th-century Western eyes and >wondering why the text does not conform to his own chauvinistic expectations. > TILL Of course, we are all expected to believe that Turkel understands the "Semitic mind" so thoroughly and the "nuances of Hebrew" so completely that when he reads the OT it is as if a Jew living in Palestine 2500 years ago was reading it. I'll look forward to seeing just how much confidence Turkel has in his understanding of Hebrew and the "Semitic mind." His reply to the challenge to put his understanding of Hebrew to the test will, as I said, speak volumes about how much he really knows about it. TURKEL > More will be said on the general matter of mindset >in our second essay. TILL In OUR second essay? Hmmm, I wonder who Turkel's cohorts were in the writing of these essays? TURKEL >For now, a word about these sources >we will be using. We point out that our solution from >Hosea is reckoned by "commentators of all stripes." Till >here throws a few useful polemics in the ring > TILL We, we, we--yes, I do wonder why Turkel feels the need to hide behind a pseudonym and the constant references to the pedantic "we." Does he think that exposure of weakness and downright absurdity in his arguments will be less embarrassing to him if his "apologetic" efforts are hidden behind anonymity and an obviously phony "we"? He once again presents his claim that his position is "reckoned" by "commentators of all stripes," but as I will show later when I reply to a longer comment that he made about his "commentators of all stripes," he doesn't really give us enough information to determine if the "commentators" whom he quotes truly represent a cross section of biblical scholarship. For the sake of argument, let's just assume that Turkel's claim is accurate and that his "commentators" do indeed run the gamut from conservative to moderate to liberal biblical scholarship. How would this prove that his position in this matter is correct? His argument seems to be this: Some conservative, some moderate, and some liberal biblical scholars interpret Hosea 1:4 as I do; therefore, my position must be correct. Does Turkel know what non sequitur means? If so, he should be able to see that this is a fallacious line of reasoning, which can easily be demonstrated by applying it to other areas of theological controversy. In the question about the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, one can find conservative, moderate, and liberal scholars who all agree that Jesus was an actual historical person, but this fact alone would certainly not prove the truth of what this spectrum of scholarship thinks on this particular matter. One could find conservative, moderate, and liberal scholars who agree that the Marcan appendix is a late addition to the gospel of Mark, but I doubt if Turkel would accept this as conclusive evidence that this part of the gospel is spurious. In the same way, the citing of "commentators of all stripes" is insufficient to prove that Hosea 1:4 did not meant that the prophet was saying that vengeance would be brought upon the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, so Turkel will have to defend his case with much more than a claim that "commentators of all stripes" agree with him. This argument could be applied to issues of... well, issues of "all stripes."
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