Re: Satan Re: [Slate] American Religious fervor, by the numbers

James Tauber (
Wed, 7 Jul 1999 19:42:41 +0800

> The most common assertions I've heard/seen are that the
> Pentateuch (OT) was scribed in Hebrew

Note that the Pentateuch is only a portion of the OT. All the rest is Hebrew
too except for the odd bit of Aramaic in the exilic prophets.

>since it was
> recorded by the Jews, and that the New Testament
> arrived in writing as Greek, being recorded by learned
> Gentiles.

Actually, almost all of the NT (Luke and Acts being the only exceptions) was
written by Jews.

> The translations since cause problems at each successive remove

We have the original language versions, though, so this is not an issue.

> I'm sure most everyone is familiar with the argument that the meaning of
the commandment
> is 'thou shalt not murder' rather than 'kill,'

This has nothing to do with successive translations. It is based on our
knowledge of the meaning of the Hebrew word "ratsach". Most modern
translations I've seen translate it "murder" but elsewhere the word is used
of an animal killing a human (something for which most English speakers
wouldn't use the word "murder").

> and that the original expression was 'sooner shall a
> camel's-hair rope pass through the eye of a needle,
> than a rich man enter the gates of Heaven.'

This is bogus! :-)

There is no evidence that the text was anything other than kamelon (camel).
Reading it as "rope" makes no sense in the context where the whole point is
*how difficult it is*. There is a later rabbinic parallel that talks about
an elephant passing through the eye of a needle.