May 16, 2011

Minor Prophets XCIV: The Shepherd-King Messiah II

When we reach Zechariah 11 we have a continued allusion to the Shepherd-King Messiah. We also have what appears to be an improper chapter division. Cardinal Hugo de Sancto Caro did this 1244 to 1248 A.D. He did this while creating a concordance of the Latin Vulgate, in order to help people look up verses of the Bible. But the typical modern chapter divisions were apparently devised by Stephen Langton, who was an Archbishop of Canterbury in England. He started to do this around 1227 A.D. The Wycliffe English Bible did use them, as it was circulated in 1382. They should've done a little bit better job of dividing the passage up as it is incongruent.

There is a dispute as to whether Zechariah 11:1-3 are the conclusion to chapter 10 or the introduction to chapter 11. Let's go look at it ourselves, shall we?
This poem in Scripture is fraught with theological and hermeneutic landmines if one is not careful on how it is explained or understood. It is not sure whether this is the conclusion to Chapter 10 or the intro to 11. It is dependent on the interpretation of the poem itself. Some understand this to be a taunt song describing the lament over the destruction of the nations’ power and arrogance in Chapter 10 represented by the cedar, pine and oak. Their kings are pictured as shepherds and lions (v.3). Understood in this context it is a conclusion to Chapter 10.

The other point of view using figurative language, interpret this piece more literally as a description of Syro-Palastine due to the rejection of the Messiah and the Good Shepherd (v.4-14) which would move this portion forward to be included as the introduction to Chapter 11. All things considered, because of the mention of Lebanon, Bashan and Jordan, the second explanation is preferable.

Regardless, we must understand that, although the Scripture was inspired. Verse numbering and chapter divisions are not and should be viewed as non-inspired, non-divine divisions in the text to help orient and aid man in the in their understanding of Scripture since they are limited and finite beings. This confusion in chapter division was caused by man not God.

We then see a mention of "two shepherds" in Zechariah 11:4-14 and 11:15-17.

This portion of Scripture is allegory. If we understand (v.1-3) to be calamity that befalls the people and this portion explains why. The people in (v.4-14) reject the Messianic Shepherd-King. This portion parallels the servant songs in Isaiah in that the they are rejected. This portion dramatizes that rejection of the Messianic Shepherd-King and it ends in their judgment. With the true Shepherd-King out of the picture a worthless one replaces Him in (v.15-17). God is going to raise up a shepherd who will not do what a shepherd should do. As a matter-of-fact, he will destroy the sheep.

Wiersbe, Warren W.. "Messiah Rejected By His People." The Bible exposition commentary . 1. print. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor, 2001. 468-469. Print.


snsar asiejd said...

First, there were too many typo's but that is really just to bring it to your attention. It's not a big deal.

Second, I don't know if the chapter and verse divisions should be considered un-inspired. Some questions should make us think.

1. Has God preserved His Word to us? or should we also doubt other possible scenarios where man's fallibility has corrupted the text?
2. If Jesus is the Word of God and the Bible is the Word of God, then what are the divisions and numbers?
3. Do the divisions have God's signature on them?

#1 We know that God does preserve His word? Does that mean that the divisions are inspired? It at least means that they do not hinder. So the numbers can't be a corruption.

#2 Maybe they are like clothes. Jesus wore clothes. The clothes were not God. Maybe the numbers aren't either. Which brings up a new question. Did the clothes bring us meaning? Were Jesus' clothes inspired? Well, the woman was healed by touching the garment, so maybe.

#3 The very middle of the Bible is in Psalm 118. The shortest chapter in the Bible is Ps. 117 and the longest chapter is Ps. 119; all right there in the three center chapters of the Bible. There is the middle, the shortest and the longest. The shortest comes first in the beginning, the middle is in the middle and the longest is at the end. It is a very meaningful division.

Was this done on purpose by Stephen Langton? I highly doubt it.

Does it implicate God in the doing? yes.

Is it chance? If we were talking about another subject then it is possible but we are considering the book authored by God, dictated through men and addressed to men. God used men to make it. A man put in the divisions. God allowed this.

This alone is not conclusive. But are there more meaningful numbers? I know of quite a few… like Genesis 9:11 where God promises to not flood the Earth again. I can see the meaning in the number. There are more of course but my purpose is not to prove something here. Just food for thought. This should at least change your mind from declaring definitively that the chapters and verses are not inspired; unless you have some reasoning better than this to the contrary, that I am not aware of.

Andy Pierson said...

You are correct. Typos and grammar errors galore. Apparently I forgot to proofread this one. Apologies.

“unless you have some reasoning better than this to the contrary, that I am not aware of”

This statement is troubling if you are Christian and believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture and the Inspiration of Scripture.

Clothes are not inspired as they convey no cognizance of being. The work of God through people and even through Christ is based in faith and obedience to the will of God and was imparted by the Holy Spirit. It is not the clothes that healed the woman…it was her faith, not the garment or the touch (faith healers will have you believe this).

As for the inspiration of verse and chapter view is that they are not inspired as they are not part of the original autographs (or first manuscript actually authored by Paul, Peter, etc). Inspiration in evangelical circles only attributes inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the autographs through original 1st writers. God allowed the divisions in later centuries as they are still with us BUT they are not inspired. The truth be told… there were not even spaces, punctuation or proper line breaks in either the Greek or the Hebrew. Case-in-point: Paul’s letter of Ephesians, chapter 1 from verse 3-14 were originally all one sentence with no punctuation and only one main imperative verb. It was a prayer called a Berakah or a doxology. 202 words with no punctuation, improper breaks in the middle of words at the end of a line of text. So…what we would consider a “run-on” sentence in today’s understanding in the original manuscripts…was deemed inspired by God. We are not in a position to say Paul’s sentence was wrong unless we impose on the text.

The issue with the Psalms around 118 is pure coincidence. More has been made of this than needs be. If we want to get hung up on the possibility of the chapter divisions being inspired we then need to address the issue brought up in this post and also in places like the break between 2 Kings 6 and 7 should come after chapter 7:2; that is to say, 7:1, 2, should probably be 6:34, 35 where the division is clearly breaking a periscope of thought or unit of thought. The break between Isaiah 8 and 9 is also highly unorthodox even from a human perspective. In the same way Romans 6 ought to run on, and end with 7:6, which concludes the subject. The commencement of 7:7, "What shall we say then?" would thus correspond with 6:1, etc, etc….

Showing improper chapter and verse division do not lend themselves well to the idea that a God of perfect order could not perfectly divide up and segment his Word in an orderly manner. It shows that God could be fallible. This is not acceptable. Divisions in the text are not inspired.

The verse and chapter divisions are a later addition a millennium or more after the fact. I do not believe man's incursion into the text has altered anything doctrinal nor theology. The pattern of inspiration and dictation warrants against it. God would not allow bad theology to be passed on in posterity. Sorry about the long-winded response, you had valid points that needed to be addressed.

Andy Pierson said...

The word I meant to type above is pericope not periscope.

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