It was simply out of place. When I ran into the “Acts 1-15 was written in Hebrew” paragraph in the second edition of What Love is This? it just seemed strange. And now I’m starting to figure out why.
It is not that Hunt hadn’t already demonstrated a very sad willingness to not only pontificate upon topics he does not understand (proclaiming the NWT’s horrific rendering of Acts 13:48 the “best” translation when he admits he cannot read a word of Greek anyway) but to utilize the worst forms of argumentation available (scatter-gun arguments that form no coherent whole, ignoring syntax, grammar, or not even understanding the actual point being made in the source he’s using) and, when refuted, to refuse to honestly interact with his own error. The fact that his tradition, in his mind, is equated with the Word of God, and that he refuses to see the role tradition plays in his thinking, results in the contorted reasoning and dogged refusal to face facts that marks his crusade against Calvinism, and, sadly, casts a very long shadow across the entirety of his work. But there was just something out of place about this wacky paragraph. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Hunt had never given credence to anything even remotely like the wild-eyed theory inherent in this paragraph. So what happened?
Once I began discussing this paragraph, I was contacted by folks “in the know.” Seems Hunt’s editor on this new edition of WLIT? is big into some form of Messianic Judaism and, most importantly, thinks the Synoptics and other portions of the New Testament were written in Hebrew originally. Hence the origin of this paragraph. In a sense, it is obvious Hunt is not really responsible for it. He hasn’t a clue what is involved in the claims being made, nor how those claims are so utterly incongruous to his entire theological system expressed in the body of his writings over the years. But, at the very same time, the name on the front of the book is “Dave Hunt,” and it is sadly indicative of his priorities that finding a way around repeated refutation is more important to him than carefully handling the Word of God.
This new example of the desperation of TBC is truly incredible. The list of “scholars” and sources being sent out by TBC came directly from “Yahweh’s New Covenant Assembly.” You will in fact note that there is a copyright of 1996 on the web page itself (referenced below). Taking a list like that without referencing it’s source is, sadly, classic TBC. The nature of a source is irrelevant, as long as the source supports our theory. This explains the grossly unfair use of original sources in Hunt’s work on Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, etc., which is why his work is not seen as challenging by the leading apologists for those religions. Because of the complete control his tradition exercises, he sees only what his tradition allows him to see on a page. Hence, the nature of the source, or the context of the statements, is irrelevant. So who cares if the end result of promoting this wild theory about a Hebrew original of Acts 1-15 is utterly inconsistent with Hunt’s own professed view of inerrancy? The end justifies the means, and besides, consistency in theology is for elitists anyway.
And so TBC is now sending out a 1996 list of “sources” as if this list defends the wacky claims being made in WLIT? This means Hunt’s chief means of research is called “Google.” And didn’t whoever pulled this thing up notice what was printed before this list of “scholars”? Well, even if they did, as I just noted, they wouldn’t care. What does it matter that the source is completely out to lunch theologically, as long as the readers of TBC can be convinced this source supports their leader? But how could they have missed red flags like this one on the very same page:
Beyond just names, churchianity itself is tained with Greek thinking, Hellenized creeds, and unscriptural practices derived from Greco-Roman infusions through a Greek-translated New Testament.
Of course, Hunt has never read this page, I can pretty much guarantee it. Just clip the source at the bottom, hope it will work, and send it out. Maybe no one else has heard of Google? Yeah, it is surely a big secret.
Now, let’s not forget, this list is only slightly relevant to the claims made by Hunt in this paragraph. Why? Simple. 1) Hunt claimed the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written prior to Acts, discussed the authorship of Acts. This list does not substantiate such an assertion. Of course, I have already anticipated the excuse: “No, no, I didn’t say they mentioned Acts, I said they indicated that Acts would have been written in Hebrew, that is, they indicated Hebrew was spoken in Palestine at that time.” Yeah, that proves the point alright. 2) The paragraph likewise indicates that early Christian writers mentioned this Hebrew original of the first 15 chapters of Acts. We are given two references to patristic sources by this list: both having to do solely with the common assertion of a Matthean original. Nothing about Acts. In fact, the vast majority of this list has one thing in common: there was a belief prevalent in certain circles in the early church that Matthew was written originally in Hebrew. That’s pretty much it. Now in case Dave Hunt hasn’t considered this, theorizing about a “Hebrew original” of Matthew is not considered sufficient ground for creating a mythical Hebrew original of Acts 13:48 and then making claims about what it would mean. And the very fact that such an argument could appear in this book speaks volumes, does it not?
Aside from the usual suspects in the “Hebrew original” dispute (Black, Blizzard, Bullinger), this wonderful list includes such giants as Edward Gibbon, George Lamsa, and Hugh J. Schonfield. Has Hunt checked these sources? Of course not.
So, what can we conclude about TBC’s newest effort at damage control and anti-Calvinism? “TBC: Where There is No Limit to How Far We Will Go to Maintain Our Traditions.” Can’t really get around Acts 13:48? Make up a Hebrew text (which you can’t read); create “scholars” (nameless, of course) to “translate” it in a fashion contradictory to all committee-done translations of the canonical Greek text; claim it was discussed, prophetically, evidently, by the DSS and by patristic sources; when challenged, swipe a listing from a copyrighted page from Yahweh’s New Covenant Assembly (do not reference your source); don’t bother to look up the sources yourself, just send it out. There ya go!
Behold the power of tradition!