Did you know that “believe,” “faith,” and “faithful,” all come from the same word in the original language? They do. They come from the same word but in different parts of speech, namely a verb, a noun, and an adjective (πιστευω, πιστις, πιστος). And no English version consistently shows this original feature until now. The Good News of Mĕssiah (GNM) translates the verb, “to affirm faithfulness,” the noun “faithfulness,” and the adjective “faithful.” Here are a few texts of many texts: John 3:16, Romans 3:22, Galatians 3:9. Meanwhile almost all other translators have decided on the word “believe,” for the verb. For the adjective, some are putting “believer” (NASB) instead of “faithful,” and at least one even went so far as to render the noun “belief” (e.g. ISR, Gal. 1:23, 2:16), which reflects the common teaching that “faith” just means “belief” or “Creed.” The Good News of Messiah brings a much needed correction to this trend by returning us to the original sense of this trio of important words, “to affirm faithfulness” to Mĕssiah, to be one of the “faithful,” and to remain in “faithfulness.”
The Good News of Mĕssiah translates all personal names of Hebrew origin so that they may be pronounced as originally as possible. Also a few common place names are included. For practical reasons not every name or place name has been so treated, e.g. Herod is not rendered Hōrdōs since it sounds like a barbarism, and Egypt has not been rendered Mitsrayim because of the grammatical complications. Also for reasons of excessive strangeness the word Hebrew has not been rendered Īv̱ri̱t. The Good News of Mĕssiah is the first part of the English Hebrew Standard Version. The point will be to standardize proper names between the Law and Prophets (which work is in progress) and the Good News of Mĕssiah. Further the standard is Hebrew pronunciation, as this is an sign of the character of the Messianic Faith, and also a sign that Christians should return to the faith once delivered to the saints, which includes the Law and Prophets. The point is also that the Hebrew forms of proper names have significant meaning which easily surfaces when a person knows but a little Hebrew, e.g. Yitsḥaq, he laughs, or Yĕshūa̒, Yăhwēh is salvation. There is, therefore, every reason to make the pronunciation correspond to Hebrew, especially since English contains nearly all the sounds needed.
a a in father אָ or אַ e e in met or u in cup, יְ or יֶ ē e in they, אֵ ō o in note, וֹ ū u in flute וּ ̱i ee in feet אִי ḥ ch in Bach, ח ḳ ch in Bach, כ ’ glottal stop, א ‘ glottal stop, ע υ w or oo, ו ̱v v, ב ts ts in fits, צ q like k, ק r slight trill, not marked, ר
Seven sacred names and titles are marked with a symbol over one of the vowels, namely ă, ĕ, ĭ, ŏ. These are the words Yăhwēh, ’Adŏnai̱, Yĕshūa̒, Mĕssiah, Făther, Sŏn, Spĭrit. The marking is called nomina sacra, and reproduces the equivalent feature in the original texts of the Apostolic Writings. It signifies first and foremost, the divine status of the bearer of the name or title. It secondly signifies the liturgical substitution of Hebrew in the places where a non-Hebrew word is marked, e.g. where Ιησους stands in the Greek text with the middle letters omitted and a supralinear line over the remaining letters, then it is a nomina sacra, and the text is indicating that Yĕshūa̒ or Yehōshū‘a is to be pronounced in that place. This I have done for the reader, retaining the nomina sacra symbol in the case of the proper names. For the titles, the substitution is optional, according to the preference of the reader. These are for Mĕssiah, Mashi̱aḥ, for Făther, ’Abba’, for Sŏn, Bēn, for Spĭrit, Rūaḥ.
A lot of terms have been returned to their original sense. Therefore, εκκλησια is Assembly and not Church. Assembly is shorthand for the Assembly or Congregation of Yisra’ēl. Also the word αγγελος is messenger and not angel. And in cases were messenger is the Mĕssenger of Yăhwēh, i.e. Yăhwēh, an appearing of Yĕshūa̒, then the word is marked with the nomina sacra. The word βαπτιζω is translated immerse instead of transliterated baptize. Also αποστολος is rendered emissary and not transliterated apostle. The term αιωνας has often been rendered ages or time immemorial in imitation of the Hebrew word עוֹלָם.
In addition to the problem corrected with the translation of πιστευω as believe, the theological baggage of the words translated justified and justification have been corrected. In ordinary modern English, justified is a term that means proved right. According to the doctrine of Rome it means made righteous in an inward sense. And according to the doctrine of Luther it means declared righteous in a legal sense. In court it usually means acquitted. In Paul’s day, however, the term δικαιοω meant to serve justice on someone, or to bring someone or something to justice, and usually in a negative sense, hence to punish or chastise. Therefore the Good News of Messiah renders the term as to satisfy justice, or to have justice done, or to fulfill justice. A more literal sense would be to make a verb of the noun justice, that is “justiced.” Under normal circumstances then the lawless are justiced. On the other hand if Mĕssiah pays the penalty for us, then he is justiced for us, or in him, we have justice done, so that the divine penalty is satisfied. Thus rather than thinking that Mĕssiah’s work means a divine acquittal (justification), the Good News of Mĕssiah teaches that his work is a divine pardon coupled with payment of our punitive penalty.
The proof of the rightness of this can be seen apart from the fact that the contemporary Greek of Paul’s day meant to have justice done rather than the later sense imposed, declared righteous. It can be seen in the contrast between pardon and acquittal. An acquittal is when a person is found guiltless. A pardon is forgiveness after being found guilty. The fallacy of declared righteous is exposed when we consider that having legal perfection reckoned on the divine books for us as a basis for forgiveness is actually contrary to forgiveness. The notion implies that the Almĭghty is fully compensated for sin. But he is not. He imposed a punitive penalty for sin, paid by Mĕssiah. He did not impose perfect compensation for sin. There really is no such thing considering the eternal consequences of one person’s sin upon another person. For this reason the notion of being viewed as perfectly righteous in Yăhwēh’s sight is complete rubbish. Pardon or forgiveness after affirmation of faithfulness to Mĕssiah leads to a real and actual perfect righteousness in the age to come. This is not compensation, and there is no point to the Almĭghty viewing a person as perfectly righteous before he is. ’Av̱raham was counted as righteous. It does not say perfectly righteous.
Another term corrected by the GNM is the term δικαιουσυνη, which is almost always rendered righteousness in English versions. But the term actually means both justice and righteousness equally in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin based languages. For instance the word is justice in French translations. Now English presents a special problem, because in English righteousness is private and personal morality and justice is publically dispensing what another deserves by way of punishment or compensation. The original languages may mean both concepts. Therefore, translating righteousness when justice is meant in the context is misleading. This can be clearly seen in Romans 3:21 where the justice under consideration is divine punitive justice against our sin, as specified in vs. 19-20. This justice is satisfied because Mĕssiah was faithful to pay the penalty (vs. 22-26). Therefore, translating righteousness would confuse the issue in English. And even apart from English, the theologians are confused about this by the Catholic and Protestant doctrines of justification. The Good News of Messiah corrects this problem by rendering the word justice when it means punitive justice in the context.
Turning now to the word law, which in Greek is νομος, the Good News of Messiah is fundamentally more faithful to the original sense. Nomos in Greek is a norm that is regarded as proper because it is the status quo. Thus traditions, customs, habits, statutory laws, royal decrees, or judicial decrees are considered nomos. Even religous practices or customs are called nomos. It is custom or tradition hardening into law. The Greeks struggled between law as an evolutionary concept evolving from norms of nature into statutes vs. law as handed down by the gods. Due to the fickle nature of their gods, philosophy was either based on idealism (human reasoning by logic) or relativism. The Greeks, therefore, never approached a concept of absolute divine Law given by a perfectly just divine being. The word nomos, of course, does not mean any of this philosophy. What it does mean is that the term is not confined to statutory law as the term law is seen in English. Therefore, when Paul speaks of νομος in a negative sense, he is speaking of some norm or tradition or a legal tradition with which he either disagrees, or which he thinks does not apply to the situation, even if he might consider the legal tradition valid in another circumstance. Thus when he says that a certain justice of the Almĭghty is not according to the nomos (Rom. 3:21), he is not disparaging the Torah. He he only saying such justice as found in Mĕssiah is not according to the legal status quo, or the norm. For the nomos is that the sinner should suffer for his sins, and not that Mĕssiah should pay it. That norm, nomos, is still part of Torah, because Torah has one nomos for the wicked and another nomos for the forgiven. However, at other times, Paul could use nomos purely to refer to tradition, and this is seen in 1Cor. 9:20-21. These paradigms are accented time and again in this translation. Finally, I should remark that Judaism has a traditional law called the oral law, and the written law in the five books. Both are called law, but the one is really tradition distinct from the Torah, which was given by the Almĭghty. Nomos is an appropriate term for both, and only context can sort it out. Scholars are fully aware that nomos means “custom, norm, tradition, habit, practice, or statutory law,” and have sometimes times proposed or suggested the right ideas, but the few that do are easily forgotten when they are rolled over by the juggernaut of antinomianism inside and outside of Christianity, and this is usually only when they have just begun to suspect that the wheel and axle fit together. With the Good News of Messiah, the reader will finally find all the pieces put together consistent with sound teaching.
The Good News of Mĕssiah is based on Porter’s theory of Greek tenses and almost, but not quite the tense-less theory of Hebrew. This surfaces in a passage like Romans 8:30 and Ephesians 1:3. I have often imagined how the text would read in Hebrew or be thought of in Hebrew, and then have combined this with temporal logic to give a plain sense in English. This has resulted in making plain a lot of confusing passages, which were formerly explained by theological heuristics. Few are the translators that work in both Hebrew and Greek, and I must say the Hebrew work has helped greatly with understanding the thinking of Jewish authors bilingual in Hebrew and Greek.
I made the decision to do this edition and future editions of the Good News of Mĕssiah without footnotes. The goal then is to make the text plain enough on its own. This of course cannot be perfectly successful, largely due to erroneous theological paradigms readers interpret scripture by, but I have considered that if that is the problem then no amount of footnotes is going to correct the problem. Only the Spĭrit can prompt Christians in the right direction, and it is clear that things will be better if I say what I would say in footnotes as a means of bringing people’s attention to this work.
This translation is also infused with a lifetime of research on biblical chronology, and since it has no footnotes, and since someday this volume may be cut off from the internet and the online notes, I should make a few brief remarks, that will be permanent here. The 15th year of Tiberius was autumn AD 28 to autumn AD 29. Yōḥanan came preaching in the spring of AD 29. Yĕshūa̒ was immersed at almost 30 just before Tishri 1, AD 29. He began his ministry in AD 30 at the Passover mentioned in John 2. Now the Second Temple was destroyed 40 years later in AD 70, that is 40 years after the Jewish leadership first denied Yĕshūa̒ claims. Tradition holds that strange signs occurred in the Temple from this date forward until AD 70, and if so, this may be held to be divine disapproval of the leaders response to Yĕshūa̒. If we figure backwards from Yĕshūa̒’s 30th birthday in AD 29 in the fall, we arrive at Sept 1, 2 B.C. for his birth. The same date is Tishri 1, or the feast called Yōm Terūah, and this agrees with the sign in Rev. 12:1-2. Working back 266 days, Yĕshūa̒ was conceived on the new moon day Dec. 10, 3 B.C. This was the first day of the sixth month of E̕li̱shav̱a̒. Working back five months and one day puts the conception of Yōḥanan on the new moon of the 5th month, July 14th, 3 B.C. Working forward 266 days brings us to the first day of the second month in 2 B.C. for Yōḥanan’s birth. Now a reliable tradition has it that the first priestly course was on duty in AD 70 when the Temple was destroyed. Working backwards in rotations of 24 weeks from there brings the week of Zeḳaryah’s duty in the division of A̕v̱i̱yah to be from July 6 to July 13, 3 B.C. This works exactly, and leaves exactly 266 days for Yōḥanan and 266 days of Yĕshūa̒ from conception to birth in the alloted time. Working forward from AD 30, we find that Yĕshūa̒’s ministry was four full years (cf. Luke 13:6-9), from the Passover of AD 30 to the Passover of AD 34.
Now in AD 34, the preparation of the Passover, and so also the crucifixion was on a Wednesday, March 24. Three days and three nights, according to priestly reckoning for the daily offering (dawn to dawn) brings us to dawn on the weekly Sabbath, which is when the resurrection of Mĕssiah occurred. The translations will accord with this, the most enigmatic being Mat. 28:1, which is understood as “The late one of the Sabbaths,” i.e. a substantive adjective. The meaning is the second Sabbath coming after the first in Passover week, the same as mentioned in Luke 6:1 for AD 31. One may also figure back from AD 34 sixty two and then seven sabbatical years to 445 B.C. when the commandment to build the city was given by Artaxerxes I (cf. Daniel 9:24-25). The first of the sabbatic years is 445/444 B.C., and the final one is AD 32/33. Mĕssiah was cut off after the 62 sabbatic years. Ezra came after the seven sabbatic years.
Now by the loving kindness of our ’Adŏnai̱, Mĕssiah Yĕshūa̒, I Daniel have been granted the mercies to plumb the depths of these things for the sake of the kingdom and the house of Yisra’ēl and Yehūdah, even for the true faithful of many nations, and that many affirming faithfulness to Mĕssiah may come to a fully objective knowledge of the truth.
May Yăhwēh be with you as I commend this volume to you.
Daniel Gregg, 11 Elul, AD 2015