"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sunday Meditation: The Wedding Feast at Cana

Another of my favorite passages, and not just because I love wine.


There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,

and the mother of Jesus was there.

Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

When the wine ran short,

the mother of Jesus said to him,

“They have no wine.”

And Jesus said to her,

“Woman, how does your concern affect me?

My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servers,

“Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,

each holding twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus told them,

“Fill the jars with water.”

So they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them,

“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”

So they took it.

And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,

without knowing where it came from

— although the servers who had drawn the water knew —,

the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,

“Everyone serves good wine first,

and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;

but you have kept the good wine until now.”

Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee

and so revealed his glory,

and his disciples began to believe in him.  

-Jn 2:1-11


This is a great explanation of the passage by Dr. Brant Pitre, whose book on the Virgin Mary I will be posting on shortly.


Friday, January 14, 2022

In Memorial, Alice von Hildebrand

I don’t know how many people who come here know of Alice von Hildebrand.  She’s probably better known as the wife of the more famous 20th century philosopher, Dietrich von Hildebrand, but she was a philosopher in her own right.  She taught at Hunter College in New York City where in an age of relativism and deconstructionism insisted on the philosophic principle that objective truth existed.  She passed away today.  This is a fine article from Aleteia, Alice von Hildebrand, Catholic philosopher and critic of moral relativism, dies at 98.”  Here is how they describe her relationship within the left wing academy:

She found it difficult to get a teaching position, even at Catholic colleges, which told her at the time that they did not hire women to teach philosophy. Finally hired at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, she became the first woman to teach philosophy there. She also found herself in a secular world for the first time. Her dedication to objective truth raised the hackles of professors who were materialistic, liberal and communist, she said.

I went to a couple of City University of NY colleges and I know from personal experience they were filled with left wing radicals.  And still are!  Here from the article is what I would say is at the heart of her philosophy:

“The crucial question in teaching philosophy is whether there is an objective truth and whether man’s mind can find it,” she said in a 1996 interview with Catholic New York, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York. “Relativism and subjectivism inevitably block the way to God, who is truth itself. … The moment you recognize that there is an objective truth, independent of man’s mind, you look for it, and, if you’re honest, you find God.”

Here she describes the seed that perhaps shaped her heart for life.  Jourdain was her maiden name:


Growing up in Belgium, French was Alice Jourdain’s mother tongue. She wrote that at the age of 11, she discovered Blaise Pascal while taking a course on 17th-century French literature. His Pensées overwhelmed her, especially “with the beauty of his style. [He] awakened in me a profound philosophical interest. I started memorizing many of his most beautiful thoughts, and I recall reciting them over and over again as I walked along the Belgian seashore where my parents had a summer home.”

I assume she considered herself a conservative.
  When I searched on line for some of her notable quotes, they all have a conservative bent.  Here are a few.

A woman by her very nature is maternal -- for every woman, whether ... married or unmarried, is called upon to be a biological, psychological or spiritual mother -- she knows intuitively that to give, to nurture, to care for others, to suffer with and for them -- for maternity implies suffering -- is infinitely more valuable in God's sight than to conquer nations and fly to the moon.

By the way, Alice did not have any children herself.  But I wonder if this next quote is an amplification of the above:


Do you think that the Lord gave them to me for a decoration?

LOL, I’m guessing at what she’s referring to.  But I love this quote:


The diabolical work that has taken place since the legalization of abortion is that it has destroyed, in those tragic women who have allowed their child to be murdered, their sense for the sacredness of maternity. Abortion not only murders the innocent; it spiritually murders women... the wound created in their souls is so great that only God's grace can heal it. The very soul of a woman is meant to be maternal.

She held such a high value to femininity that it led to this quote:

By living up to their calling, women will succeed in guaranteeing a proper recognition of the unique value of femininity and its crucial mission in the world.

And she had a fighting spirit in defending that femininity, as in this challenge to feminists:


Unwittingly, the feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men.

And finally one more on her faith and her perspective of the transitory nature of this life:


One thing is certain: When the time has come, nothing which is man-made will subsist. One day, all human accomplishments will be reduced to a pile of ashes. But every single child to whom a has given birth will live forever, for he has been given an immortal soul made to God's image and likeness.

May her immortal soul be now with God and her beloved husband.   Eternal rest grant unto this good woman, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen

The Development of the Bible, Post 4

This is the fourth post based on my discussion of the development of the Bible.  You can read Post #1 here.  

Post #2 here.  

Post#3 here.  


A continuation of my conversation with St. Augustine.

Saint Augustine:

The real question is what word [virgin/young woman] was used in the original Hebrew.  The Masoretic Text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the LXX, the Vulgate, and other things are all clues to what the original Hebrew was.


None of them is itself a perfect witness to the original Hebrew.


How do you know?  As far as we know, the Masoretic was constructed in 900 AD.  The Septuagint in 300-200 BC.  How could the Septuagint not be more authoritative?  It most certainly is.

St. Augustine:

In this case, the Masoretic is correct.  Alma is a word that can mean “virgin,” but the word was referring to the wife of Isaiah, who was no virgin when she had his baby.  (See chapters 7 and 8 of Isaiah.)


The word also refers to Mary, and the LXX translation/interpretation is also correct.


One word can refer to two people.  That happens a lot in OT prophecy. Indeed, that happens a lot in the OT.  Indeed, that is what the OT is. Every person and event in the OT is pointing to Christ, so in some capacity or other every word pointing to each of them is pointing to Christ.


Completely disagree.  The specificity of “virgin” is critical to the theology.  Christ was born of a virgin.  Christianity partly hangs on that concept.  It’s absolutely critical.  To strip it away is to (1) undermine Christianity and (2) reduce the evangelical power of the OT prophesying the NT.  Early Christians were converted by the power of this prophesying.  Jesus on the road to Emmaus “opened the scriptures” for those two apostles.  It was prophesies such as this that He was opening.  Jews who come to the Christian faith over the centuries still cite this as one of the main reasons.  This is why the Masoretes distorted their translation.

Saint Augustine:

Who’s stripping it away?  Of course it specifically means “virgin.”  I just said that.  Should I say it a third time?


No it doesn’t.  The specific word in Hebrew is “bethula” put forth by the video I linked and substantiated at this Translation Question website




Is there a Hebrew word which means woman but not includes the meaning of a virgin. For example in English, a woman can mean a married woman or a virgin, but in Hebrew does the word woman also include virgin in it’s meaning or is specific to a married woman only.

Hipolito Mojica, III



Unfortunately I don’t have a Hebrew font installed, so I will write the English transliterations of the Hebrew words:


‘Isha’ is the Hebrew word for woman, and is a general term, referring to women of any age, whether a virgin or not, although it can also be used to mean ‘wife’ – ‘my wife’ in Hebrew would translate literally as ‘my woman’…


‘Bat-Zog’ also means ‘wife’ or ‘spouse’.


‘Bakhoura’ is a young girl (a maiden, perhaps, in English), and in some contexts implies virginity or innocence…


‘Batolah’ is the “technical” word for a virgin…


Hope this helps you :-)




“Batolah” = “Bethula”  It depends how you transcribe the sounds. 


St. Augustine:

Ok, so using your language, no, it does not specifically mean virgin.


It means young woman, and it could mean young virgin or something else.


It means both.


If it doesn’t mean both, then the Bible made an error. Do you think the Bible made an error?


What are you talking about?  Where in a pre-Christian era text does it say alma?  You are going with alma because the Masoretic text wrote alma.  The Septuagint says “virgin” in Greek and they obviously took it from the Hebrew that existed. 


And the Septuagint translation was inspired, even according to Jews before Christ.  It was a miraculous translation if you read how it came about.  It was only after Christ that it came into question. 


I fail to see what I have not addressed.  Put together a comment with the specific list of questions you feel I still need to address and I’ll give it one final shot.  But the question has to be complete in itself and not refer to some other comment.


So St. Augustine put together a series of questions to finally reach a conclusion to this wild discussion. 

What exactly is your point about the Masoretic Text, and with whom are you disagreeing?

My point about the Masoretic text is that it is not more authentic than the Septuagint and that the Masoretes intentionally undermined Christianity in its creation.  It should be suspect to Christians and should not be used as the basis of the OT translation.  It is 1100 years older than the Septuagint, and altered by time and the changes to Judaism as a result of the destruction of the Temple.  I am disagreeing with the Bible translators who use the Masoretic text as the basis of the OT.

I don’t think the NT is based on the LXX. Do you have some reason I should, other than that the NT quotes from the LXX?

Well everywhere I read it says so.  When 90% of the references to the OT match the Septuagint and only 10% match the Masoretic, then I am convinced.  You want to disagree fine. 

I think the NT actually does not even quote from the LXX–much. Do you have some reason I should think otherwise?

I’ve given clear examples.  Look at my three egregious distortions from the Masoretic.  You are bucking the general consensus.  You prove the consensus is wrong.  I rest with the consensus.  We’ll just have to disagree.

Your only reason I can discern is that the NT is usually like the LXX rather than the Masoretic text where they differ. But you yourself acknowledged that it also tends to be like the Dead Sea Scrolls in these situations, and that when writing in Greek the NT authors can also be quoting from the Hebrew. So all you have shown is that the NT does not use the Masoretic Hebrew. Is it not possible (I would say most likely) that the NT is actually quoting from a Hebrew text which the LXX, Masoretic, and Dead Sea Scrolls are all representing?

The NT could not have used the Masoretic Hebrew because the NT was written 900 years before the Masoretic.  The 10% of the NT that seems to match the Masoretic text is mostly coincidence of dealing with the same material.  If there was a strong link to the Masoretic then it would have been well above the 10%.  I don’t acknowledge anything about the Dead Sea Scrolls.  I did not see any evidence it was closer to the Septuagint.  I only saw a claim it was closer.  Yes, it is possible the Dead Sea Scrolls could have represented the same Hebrew as what the Septuagint used.  It could be the very original for all I know.  Unfortunately we only have fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and I think only one complete book of the OT.

Since we agree the original Hebrew OT text is inspired, do we not need to know what it says?

Because the Septuagint translated it while it still existed.  The Septuagint is the inspired OT.  Translate it back to Hebrew.  You seem to fail to understand that the Holy Spirit led to the creation of the Septuagint.  The Holy Spirit led to the apostles use of it in the NT, led to the canonization of the Septuagint by all the Apostolic Churches [Council of Rome (382 AD), Synod of Hippo (393 AD), Council of Carthage (397 AD) and the Council of Carthage (419 AD)].  The Holy Spirit allowed the original Hebrew to be destroyed.  1100 year passed before any challenge to the Septuagint, firmly integrating it into the faith.  I do not believe the Holy Spirit led non-Christians to create another OT.  The Masoretes didn’t even believe in the Holy Spirit as God and had every reason to undermine the prophesies of the coming Christ.  You seem to have become a skeptical scholar and not a devout Christian.

And how do you think we should figure out the original Hebrew text?

I don’t know.  Let the scholars try but frankly it won’t mean anything.  The Septuagint was created, canonized, and survived.  Are you aware that the Septuagint was also found among the Dead Sea Scrolls?  That means at least some Jews at the time considered canonical.    Without finding an actual OT written 2500 years ago, “reconstruction” of an OT will always be suspect to devout Christians.  Until then the Septuagint is it.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Sunday Meditation: The Baptism of the Lord

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? 


After all the people had been baptized

and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,

heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him

in bodily form like a dove.

And a voice came from heaven,

“You are my beloved Son;

with you I am well pleased.”     

-Lk 3:21-22

 It wasn’t that he needed purification.  It was so he could consecrate the water for all time. 


Saturday, January 8, 2022

Notable Quote: Léon Bloy on Life’s Only Tragedy

I know almost nothing of Léon Bloy except that he was a French writer and novelist from the end of the 19th and into the early years of the 20th centuries.  He was passionately Catholic and apparently driven to anger which caused him to be an outsider in the French literary scene of his day.  From Wikipedia:

Bloy's first novel, Le Désespéré, a fierce attack on rationalism an those he believed to be in league with it, made him fall out with the literary community of his time and even many of his old friends. Soon, Bloy could count such prestigious authors as Émile Zola, Guy de Maupassant, Ernest Renan, and Anatole France as his enemies

Still I find he is often quoted, despite not knowing anything of his work.  My knowledge of French literature is limited.  Pope Frances actually quoted him in his first homily as Pope.  Again from Wikipedia:

In 2013, Pope Francis surprised many by quoting Bloy during his first homily as pope: “When one does not confess Jesus Christ, I am reminded of the expression of Léon Bloy: ‘He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.’ When one does not confess Jesus Christ, one confesses the worldliness of the devil.”

I like that, and I love this quote I came across quote which I wish to highlight as notable.


"There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint."


To provide a fuller context, what sainthood essentially means is someone who is in heaven.  The Church applies the title of “saint” to those who it feels confident by their lives have made it to heaven.  With prayer, humility, contrition, and love we can all hope to avoid this tragedy.

That mustache could use a little trimming.  ;)

Thursday, January 6, 2022

M-W 2021 Word of the Year: Vaccine

I guess that should not be a surprise.  Vaccine is the Word-of-the-Year chosen by Merriam-Webster Dictionary.  According to Merriam-Webster the word “vaccine” shot up in usage this year and defined the year as a word, driven by two phenomena: the savior of society from the coronavirus (or Covid-19, whichever term you prefer for the agent of the pandemic) and the politics associated with vaccination, either from those who embraced vaccination and those who resisted.  It is true.  The word “vaccine” was on our lips and in our ears throughout the year. 

First a definition.  

1a preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body's immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease: such as


aan antigenic preparation of a typically inactivated or attenuated (see ATTENUATED sense 2) pathogenic agent (such as a bacterium or virus) or one of its components or products (such as a protein or toxin)trivalent influenza vaccineoral polio vaccineMany vaccines are made from the virus itself, either weakened or killed, which will induce antibodies to bind and kill a live virus. Measles vaccines are just that, weakened (or attenuated) measles viruses.— Ann Finkbeiner et al.… a tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine might be recommended for wound management in a pregnant woman if [greater than or equal to] 5 years have elapsed … .— Mark Sawyer et al.In addition the subunit used in a vaccine must be carefully chosen, because not all components of a pathogen represent beneficial immunological targets.— Thomas J. Matthews and Dani P. Bolognesi


ba preparation of genetic material (such as a strand of synthesized messenger RNA) that is used by the cells of the body to produce an antigenic substance (such as a fragment of virus spike protein)… Moderna's coronavirus vaccine … works by injecting a small piece of mRNA from the coronavirus that codes for the virus' spike protein. … mRNA vaccine spurs the body to produce the spike protein internally. That, in turn, triggers an immune response.— Susie Neilson et al.The revolutionary messenger RNA vaccines that are now available have been over a decade in development. … Messenger RNA enters the cell cytoplasm and produces protein from the spike of the Covid-19 virus.— Thomas F. CozzaViral vector vaccines, another recent type of vaccine, are similar to DNA and RNA vaccines, but the virus's genetic information is housed in an attenuated virus (unrelated to the disease-causing virus) that helps to promote host cell fusion and entry.— Priya Kaur

NOTE: Vaccines may contain adjuvants (such as aluminum hydroxide) designed to enhance the strength and duration of the body's immune response.

2a preparation or immunotherapy that is used to stimulate the body's immune response against noninfectious substances, agents, or diseasesThe U.S. Army is also testing a ricin vaccine and has reported success in mice.— Sue Goetinck Ambrose… many of the most promising new cancer vaccines use dendritic cells to train the immune system to recognize tumor cells.— Patrick Barry

Notice that 1b sub definition: “a preparation of genetic material (such as a strand of synthesized messenger RNA) that is used by the cells of the body to produce an antigenic substance…”  Those are the new vaccines addressing Covid-19 that have been in controversy.  That definition of vaccine was updated this year to include that sub definition.  Until this year with these Covid vaccines I had no idea of this concept, but as I understand it these forms of vaccines have been in development for a while.  In their announcement for Word-of-the-Year, Merriam-Webster described the definition change and the controversy surrounding the word:


In everyday use, words are useful tools that communicate assertions, ideas, aspirations, and uncertainties. But they can also become vehicles for ideological conflict.


This is what happened to vaccine in 2021. The promising medical solution to the pandemic that upended our lives in 2020 also became a political argument and source of division. The biggest science story of our time quickly became the biggest debate in our country, and the word at the center of both stories is vaccine.


Hopes for cures and treatments of COVID-19 began as soon as the disease began to spread. Research into a new kind of vaccine containing messenger RNA, or mRNA, genetic material rather than an inactivated form of the virus was accelerated. After decades of studies conducted for application to diseases such as influenza, Ebola, and rabies, this new type of mRNA vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus was rapidly developed, tested, and manufactured for broad use, with the first doses being administered in the U.S. in December 2020.


The use of a vaccine that triggers an immune response in an entirely new way required that Merriam-Webster revise and expand its entry for the word, which the company did in May. The definition, which formerly read “a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease,” was replaced with the following:

So did you choose to get vaccinated?  Were you forced to get vaccinated?  Or have you been rebellious and fought to be exempt?  From what I read, vaccines have been lifesaving.  The hospitals are full of the unvaccinated.  We at my family have all chosen to be vaccinated.  I wrote a post about a number of friends who succumbed to the virus, “Covid-19, My New York Experience” before the vaccines.  Since then I had one of my closest friends, Joe, pass away as well, but Joe was vaccinated.  But Joe was rather vulnerable given all his other health issues. 

Here’s a video on the M-W Word of the Year. 


So how did vaccine register so high in Merriam-Webster’s awareness?  They explain from their announcement:


Interest in the definition of this word was intense in the past year: lookups for vaccine increased 601% year-over-year from 2020. But interest in the word has been high since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with much discussion of the funding, development, testing, and ultimate distribution of the vaccines occurring in 2020. The prominence of the word vaccine in our lives in this era becomes even more starkly clear when we compare 2021 to 2019, a period in which lookups for the word increased 1048%.


Lookups of vaccine, already very high all year, jumped by 535% in August, long after discussions about vaccines began taking place in the press and widespread distribution in parts of the world were well underway. A number of stories in August show that discussions about policy, approval, and vaccination rates—rather than the vaccine itself—sent people to the dictionary. During this period, New York and California instituted vaccine mandates for health care workers; a federal mandate was announced for nursing home staff; an announcement of plans for booster shots for the general public in the U.S. prompted condemnations of inequities in vaccine distribution; and full FDA approval for Pfizer’s vaccine was granted.


This new higher rate of lookups since August has remained stable throughout the late fall, showing not just a very high interest in vaccine, but one that started high and grew during the course of 2021.

Other words which came up high on their list in 2021: Insurrection, Perseverance, Woke, Nomad, Infrastructure, Cicada, Murraya, Cisgender, Guardian, and Meta.  Their announcement goes through each one as to why it had heightened searches this year.  I guessed why for several but was surprised for the others. 

I leave you with one more video on the Word-of-the-Year, one that is more visual, from Asianet Newsable.


So if 2020’s Word-of-the-Year was “pandemic,” and 2021’s was “vaccine,” will 2022’s be “booster”?  Seems like the trend.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The Development of the Bible, Post 3

This is the third post based on my discussion of the development of the Bible.  You can read Post #1 here.  

Post #2 here.  



This is what I learned about the Masoretic test, and ultimately why I am convinced it is wrong as a canonical Bible, maybe even heretical, for Christians to base their Old Testament on it.

Saint Augustine:

Ok. But who does that?


Protestants for sure, but even our current Catholic English translations base the OT on the Masoretic Text.  Heresy!

Saint Augustine:

All you know is that they are not quoting from some Hebrew textual tradition that differs much from the LXX.


I agree in that over the tens of thousands of words of the 73 books it does not differ much, but where it does is super critical.  Now I can understand you scholars using all the various texts, especially when you understand the differences.  But for the average Christian sitting in the pew and going home to read his Bible, he is getting wrong information in critical places.  He doesn’t know any of this.  To learn of this might even undermine his faith.  To the average pious Christian, this is explosive stuff.

Saint Augustine:

Hey, I’m fine with all this.  We get to the original Hebrew text using the Masoretic text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the LXX, with some other help from things like Patristic quotations, the Vulgate, the Torah texts the Samaritans had, etc.


But you’re a scholar as I said above.  The average Christian (Protestant, Catholic, etc.) isn’t (1) aware of Septuagint, Masoretic, Dead Sea scrolls, and other texts too; (2) doesn’t care, and (3) the jumble could even undermine his faith.  Protestants especially, since they put so much faith in scripture alone.  How do you think the average church goer who reads his Bible thinking the OT was written 2000 years ago will feel when he learns it wasn’t? 

I thought Protestant OT was based on the Masoretic.  I’m pretty sure common translations use the Masoretic for the OT.  At least I noticed Catholic Bibles footnote the Septuagint when the difference is critical.  But I had no idea of the totality of this context.  I’m sure the average Christian doesn’t.  We don’t take this up in college.


Are you saying the NIV, KJV, ESV, EHV, and a whole bunch of others are not Protestant Bibles? And they do not contain the OT?

St. Augustine:

Of course they’re not Protestant Bibles.  They’re just translations of the Bible that Protestants often read.


What actually is a Protestant Bible?


And what do you think these texts are based on?  They’re based on the Masoretic, Dead Sea Scrolls, and LXX.


(The KJV, of course, predates the Dead Sea Scrolls.  It might be all Masoretic for all I know.  But I don’t know that its translators ignored the LXX.)


But those Bibles do not include the deuterocanonical books.  Only the Protestant leave them out.  So they would have to be considered written for Protestants in mind.  I’ll have to check out the ESV.  I’ve never really looked at that.



Let me provide the most egregious examples of the Masoretic undermining Christian theology.  This is from the embedded video, where they gave six examples but I want to present three here in case people don’t watch the video.  This will take more than one comment box, so watch the “continued.”


First, from Deuteronomy 21, verse 23:


St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians quotes that verse:

‘It is written, “Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.” (Gal: 3:13)


Let’s go to that verse in the OT:

Based on the Masoretic, from the NKJV:

“He who is hanged is accursed of God.”


From the Septuagint (Brenton):

“Every one that is hanged on a tree is cursed of God.”


Underlined are my emphasis.  One could be hanged in multiple ways, but the Septuagint specifically predicts Christ on the cross.


Second, from Psalm 22, verse 16:

Septuagint (Brenton):

“For many dogs encompassed me: the assembly of the wicked doers has beset me: they pierced my hands and my feet.



“For dogs have encompassed me: a company of evildoers have enclosed me: like a lion they are at my hands and my feet.”


Now you will not find the Masoretic in most Christian Bibles except as a footnote.  This was so egregious that even back when the put together the King James, those translators went with the Septuagint.  Still how can a Christian believe the accuracy of anything from a Masoretic translation when alterations were made like that?


This is not one of my top three egregious differences, but I feel obligated to mention Psalm 22:20 since it seems all the translations use the Masoretic and usually without a footnote. 


From Masoretic:

“Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of these dogs!”


From Brenton Septuagint:

“Deliver my soul from the sword; my only-begotten one from the power of the dog.” 


That altered adjective “my only begotten” foreshadows the phrasing of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son.” 


Why was “only-begotten” left out of all the Christian translations and without even a footnote?  I have some suspicions, but that will sidetrack me, so I’m just going to leave it that it should be in all the Christian Bibles.


Third, Isaiah 7 verse 14:

Most translations have one of two options:

“The Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the [virgin/young woman] will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel.”


The Masoretic translation uses “young woman;” the Septuagint uses “virgin.”  The difference is huge.  Remember the Septuagint is writing this some three hundred years before Christ’s virgin birth.  All translations has Matthew’s Gospel say some variation of “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman′u-el.”  All specifically say “virgin.” 


The video makes a point of the original languages:

Masoretic Hebrew:  alma = young woman

Hebrew for Virgin: bethula

Septuagint Greek: parthenos = virgin


There could not have been a mistake made or a blurring of terms.  As the person speaking in the video, “virgin” when in the context of a woman giving birth would have not made any sense, and yet that is what how they translated it.  The miracle of a virgin birth was a conscious decision.


Now, most of today’s translations have done a double change.  Initially all Bibles went with the Septuagint.  Then in the 1950s when everyone started to become ecumenical the RSV (including the Catholic edition to my horror) went with “young woman.”  There was such an uproar that second edition of RSV (and thank God my Catholic edition) reversed course and went back to “virgin.”  Most of today’s translations that I scanned seem to use “virgin.” 


So no harm done, right?  Well, maybe not.  Let me tell you a story.  I came across this distinction many years ago.  I don’t remember if I was in college or a young man out of college, but it was around that time, almost forty years ago now.  Whatever I was reading—I don’t remember what—but I do remember the author making the point that “virgin” appears to have been a mistake and that the original text must have had “young woman.”  I don’t remember my reaction to that but I do remember accepting it.  It seemed logical and at the time I was at best an agnostic, and this probably reinforced my skepticism.  This is the perfect ammunition for Liberal professors to indoctrinate students.  Yes it does make a difference. 


St. Augustine:

Ok, so a “Protestant Bible” is defined as one that does not include the Deuterocanon/Apocrypha?


I don’t know of any official definition.  I see “Catholic Editions” to certain Bibles, and so I assume the non-Catholic are for Protestants.  Certainly if they don’t contain the deuterocanonical books it could not be intended for Catholics or the other Apostolic Churches.  I hope you don’t think I was using it as a slur.  I wasn’t.  I do refer to the Protestant Bibles on occasion, just to check out a different translation.  I do listen to the NIV audio Bible for the OT.  Unfortunately I have not found a good Catholic audio Bible of the OT. 

St. Augustine:

And you understand that (not counting the KJV) most or all of them rely on the Masoretic, Dead Sea Scrolls, and LXX?


In this learning exercise I have just gone through, it does seem like the newer translations do integrate the Masoretic and Septuagint.  I have not seen anything integrating from the Dead Sea Scrolls, but I’ll take your word for it.  I’m not for it though.  Why?  The NT was based on the Septuagint.  That’s what should be canonical for Christians. 

St. Augustine:

I have no idea what your point is.


My point is that the average churchgoer – Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, etc.. – doesn’t know the history and the variations.  I was completely surprised about the Masoretic text, and I’m a fairly knowledgeable Christian.  These variations, even if footnotes explain, can alter the faith of people.  If Jews want to use the Masoretic text, that’s their prerogative.  Christians should have translations that don’t undermine their theology.  Even for scholars, isn’t it better to have clearly defined texts rather than a blurring of the two or three or more?