Monday, August 10, 2009

An exegesis of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart

From 1996 in Biblioteca Sacra.


Daniel Gracely said...

Hi Victor (and all),

Around May 1 of this year I commented on Chisholm’s article after arminianperspectives announced its appearance on SEA (Society of Evangelical Arminians). I took a contra position, arguing that the historical-grammatical hermeneutic ought to take precedence over Chisholm’s appeal to “literary features and genre considerations.” This latter, I argued, led (in Chisholm's particular case) to a pantheistic conclusion dressed up in Christianese (e.g. God as "Puppeteer").

As some of you may know, there are three Hebrew words used for “harden/ hardening” etc., in the Exodus narrative, and these three have separate etymological roots and lexical histories. In short, these three show themselves throughout the Old Testament to have consistent but very different meanings from one another. Why, then, have these three Hebrew words of different meanings been reduced to ONE concept—i.e., to harden/ hardening, etc., by the KJV and NAS? I think the answer can be traced to the Septuagint, which translated these three very different words to ONE concept, i.e., Gr. skleruno, which means “to indurate, to harden,” instead of maintaining their differences. (Perhaps the LXX took their cue from Paul’s use of skleruno in Rom. 9, which referred to but a single verse in Hebrew.) Thus the KJV appears to have mimicked the Septuagint’s mistake, when the latter prioritized “literary features and genre considerations” (so to speak) or took its cue from Paul’s use of skleruno in Romans 9, rather than allowing the normal spectrum of meaning of each of these three words (as shown throughout the Old Testament) to be the principal consideration in translation.

For anyone interested my comments can be read at:

Victor Reppert said...

I did think that even Chisholm's analysis of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart was rather unhelpful to the Calvinist project, since hardening is done subsequent considerable voluntary disobedience. One wonders, indeed, whether it required a miraculous action on God's part, or whether the hardening of Pharoah's heart was just God's providentially failing to prevent Pharaoh from hardening his own heart. If God performed some miracle in order to prevent Pharaoh from letting the people go, I wonder if that would his action would then even qualify for moral responsibility on most compatibilist theories of free will.

In any event, if he acted freely, he was responsible for getting himself to the place where his heart could be hardened, in much the way that a drunk driver can't be exonerated just because, in his state of intoxication, he can't avoid hitting the pedestrian in the middle of the road.

Anonymous said...

An exegesis of the hardening of Pharaoh's heart ?

You might as well apply the genitive differently:

An exegesis of Pharaoh's heart's hardening.

Or even better:

Pharaoh's heart's hardening's exegesis.

Good, no?

-Another Anonymous In America