Studies with Heloise


Heloise is my dear friend.  She is deaf.  I met her in 1989.  She taught me sign.  When we realized we were both Christians, she asked me about things in Bible.  We had fun discussing different things.

Then she moved to Arizona and later my husband, Barry, and I moved to Oregon.  Very far away!  But over a year ago we ‘found’ each other again and our friendship came back fast!  My husband, Barry, and I studied Bible many years.  Heloise has questions and she wants to know what we learn.  So several mornings, every week, Heloise and Barry and I do a Bible study on Skype! 

We thought fun to share with other deaf what we discuss.  So here, in simple English, I will type what we discuss.  Some of you know Heloise and talk to her on video phone and on Skype.  You can read this and then you can ask her questions!  If she does not know answer, she will ask us.  If we do not know answer, we will research, try to find answer.  Or you can email us and ask us questions and we will try to answer.

Many times both deaf and hearing people misunderstand Bible meaning.  Why?  Because Bible’s first language is Hebrew.  Hard to translate Hebrew to English same hard to translate English to sign.  Same reasons:  idioms!  Hebrew has many idioms.  Also another problem:  tradition.   We tend to believe what other people believe.  They believe what other people believe.  Since long time continues same!   BUT, if we go back to Hebrew words and look at meanings, sometimes we find out tradition wrong – maybe since long time some people misunderstand.

Barry and I study long time and Barry also is science researcher.  We have learned  Bible is fully true.  Need excuses none.  Bible is true.  We are excited to share with Heloise and share with other deaf things we have learned.  Big, most important lesson:  you can trust Bible, trust God. 

Helen (Penny) Setterfield

Note: if you are comfortable reading regular English, we are doing the Bible study with our hearing friends here at our house once a week. I am putting the material we cover on the 'Scripture' site of our webpage, here.


First Study: October 23, 2008
-- Why Different Bibles?
-- Who Wrote Genesis?

Second Study: October 28, 2008
-- Different Ideas About Genesis

First study: October 23, 2008

Why different Bibles?

Why many different Bibles?  Why not only one?  Many reasons:

  1.  Many languages.  Translators make sure every language has Bible
  2. Languages change.  People who can easily read English today have very hard time reading, understanding English people used 500 years ago.  The language changed a lot. 
  3. Biggest change …. Masoretic text.  Here is the story:

Two thousand years ago, Romans controlled Israel, controlled the Jews.  The Jews knew old prophecies seemed to tell them the Messiah will come during their time:  two thousand years ago.  They were looking for Messiah.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, riding a donkey, the people were full joy and excitement.  Jesus was Messiah!  He was King!  But Jesus never tried to become king!  He did not preach against Romans.  Old prophecies said Messiah will conquer world, free Israel.  Jesus did not do that.  The Jewish people became angry and a few days later they wanted Jesus to die. 

After Resurrection, many Jews believed Jesus was Messiah, but most Jews refused Jesus.  They wanted strong King who will conquer Romans and establish Israel to become ruling nation.   They rejected Jesus.  They did not understand Isaiah 53 – prophecy that Messiah will be suffering servant before He returns to be King.  They did not understand Psalm 22 points to Crucifixion and then, later, to victory.  They wanted King NOW.

In 100 A.D., a Jewish man named bar Kokhba led a rebellion against Rome.  Called “bar Kochba’s Rebellion.”  Many Jewish leaders thought bar Kokhba was Messiah.  They supported him with money and people. 

One rabbi was very sure bar Kokhba was Messiah.  Rabbi Akiba.  Rabbi Akiba summoned many Jewish leaders together.  This was Council of Jamnia.  They supported bar Kokhba to be Messiah.  But big problem:  the Christians used the Jewish Scriptures (the Old Testament) to show many passages proved Jesus was Messiah.  The Council of Jamnia did not want Christians to use Jewish Scriptures to show Jesus was Messiah.  They wanted people to accept bar Kochba as Messiah.

So the Council changed some words in the Scriptures.  They also changed some numbers.  They did not want prophecies to show Jesus was Messiah, so they changed words in some prophecies.   The changed Old Testament from Council of Jamnia is called “Masoretic Text.”  Today, when we look at New Testament, we see Jesus and New Testament writers often quote verses from Old Testament.  But when we look in Old Testament, the verses are not there, or they are different.  That is because when the Council of Jamnia changed the words, they collected all other Scriptures and burned them.

Years later, when translators wanted to translate Old Testament , they translated Masoretic text.  All our Old Testaments today are from Masoretic text, including King James.

Can we find old Scriptures?  Yes, we can. 

Three hundred years before Christ, Egypt controlled most Middle East.  The common language everyone spoke was Greek.  The Egyptian king, Pharoah Ptolemy, wanted people to understand the Hebrew Scriptures, so he summoned seventy Hebrew scholars to translate the ancient Hebrew writing into Greek.  The Hebrew scholars met in city Alexandria and worked there.  Their translation is called “Alexandrian Septuagint.”  Word ‘septuagint’ means ’70.’  So often the Alexandrian Septuagint is called Alexandrian LXX  (LXX is Roman numbers for 70).    (When we signed “Alexandrian Septuagint” with Heloise, we decided to sign AXLXX to make it short!)

We still have AXLXX today.  Barry and I have English translation with Greek also.   It is very interesting to see some differences.  We will use AXLXX many times during our studies to find out what old Hebrews said the words and verses meant.  Sometimes it is very different from our tradition and our modern Bibles! 

Example of verse changes:  Look at Hebrews 1:6.  Hebrews writer uses quote “Let all God’s angels worship him” (talking about Messiah).  Where is quote in modern Old Testament?  It should be Deuteronomy 32:43.  Look at verse in Deuteronomy.  The quote is not there.  But the quote is in the AXLXX.  Here is the quote in the ancient Scriptures:  “Rejoice, ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God worship him; rejoice ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of his sons, and he will render vengeance, and recompense justice to his enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.” (Simple English:  Let the heavens rejoice with him.  Let all God’s angel’s worship him.  Let the Gentiles rejoice with the Jews and let all the believers find strength in him.  Why?  Because he will pay back those who hurt and killed his sons [the believers], and he will pay back his enemies.  He will give them justice and the people who hate him will get what they deserve.  The Lord will clean up his people’s land.)


It is important to understand that ALL our translations today, including King James, are from Masoretic text for Old Testament.  They ALL have the changes the Council of Jamnia made.  The Scriptures Jesus and the Apostles used were same as AXLXX.  That is why all quotes in New Testament fit perfectly with AXLXX Old Testament. 

Very important to understand that no matter what translation we use, God kept important message the same.  Creation, sin, God’s character, Jesus, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Jesus coming again – all Bibles have same true message for us from God.  But when we want to study more and more, then it is important NOT depend tradition, but look at old Scriptures and find meanings of Hebrew words.  So we will do that.


Who wrote Genesis?

The first five books in the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy – are called “the books of Moses.”  We know Moses wrote the last four books, but did he also write Genesis?  Moses was alive during happenings in last four books, but Moses was not alive during happenings in Genesis.  But Genesis is first ‘book of Moses.’

About 150 years ago, some people noticed something strange about Genesis.  Different parts written different ways.  Picture:  if you only see hands signing something for deaf and do not see person, and then you see different hands, you see little different sign.  Everybody little bit different.  Writing is the same.  Everyone writes little bit differently.  Genesis shows several different writings.  People also noticed something else:  some words and some phrases in Genesis seemed to be from Egyptian language!  So these people decided Genesis was story that four different people wrote many, many years after everything in Genesis happened.  They called the four ‘authors’ J, E, P, and D.   But Genesis has exact conversations.  Genesis shows exact memories.  How can people write these things more than a thousand years later?   They cannot.  So many people began to believe Genesis is imaginary story, a myth.

But others believed  Genesis is true story.  Maybe God instructed Moses what to write in Genesis.  Many people believe that.  Maybe that is true.  But there is something else that is maybe true.

In the 1930’s, a scholar named P.J. Wiseman was studying ancient tablets at Ur.  Ur is very, very old city where Abraham lived when he was young.    Ur has ancient library with many old tablets in it.  Most tablets are same as our ‘essays’ today.  Top, title and author’s name.  Then writing after title and author’s name.  But the VERY oldest tablets different.  Writing first, then ‘title’ and author’s name at end!  Wiseman looked at them.  He looked at Genesis.  Genesis was very, very old.  Was Genesis same as old tablets?  Wiseman decided yes, Genesis same as ancient tablets.   

Barry and I agree.  Many others agree, too.  Genesis seems to be series of eleven writings.  The authors signed their names at the bottom of each writing:
Genesis 5:1 --  This is the written account of the history of the origin of Adam (this is the straight translation.  Adam used word ‘sepher’ which means ‘written account.’  Many Bibles translate Hebrew word ‘toledot’ to mean ‘generations.’  It means ‘history,’ which includes ‘generations.’)
Genesis 6:9 --  This is the history of Noah
Genesis 10:1 --  This is the history of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.
Genesis 11:10 --  This is the history of Shem
Genesis 11:27 – This is the history of Terah

There are eleven times in Genesis when we read this 'signature.'

What about first tablet?  It begins:  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The first tablet ends where?  It ends at the first part of Genesis 2:4:  This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

The second tablet starts: When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens….
The second tablet looks back to the first tablet.  This is how Adam showed his tablet was second, after the creation tablet.
The second tablet ends when Adam ‘signs’ it, “This is the written account of the history of the origin of Adam.”

The third tablet starts, “When God created man, He made him in the likeness of [in the image of] God.”  This is Noah’s tablet, and he begins his tablet looking back to tablet #2.  So Noah showed his tablet belongs after Adam’s tablet.
Noah ends his tablet saying, This is the history of Noah, in Genesis 6:9.

Then Noah’s sons write about the ark and the flood.  They begin their tablet talking about Noah:  Noah was a righteous man…”  So we know this tablet comes after Noah’s tablet.

When Noah’s three sons finish their tablet, they ‘sign’ it, “This is the history of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

Each tablet begins writing looking back at tablet before.  This is how they showed us which is first, second, third, fourth, etc. 

In our Bibles, we see end of one tablet and beginning of next tablet in same verse.  Why?  Because translators decided about chapters and verses.  When people wrote the Bible, they did not put in chapters or verses.  They wrote same as essay or long letter.  They wrote what they knew.  Hundreds years later other people divided writings into chapters and verses.  This makes it easy to find something, but remember that the chapters and verses are from other people, not the authors.  This is why one tablet end and next tablet beginning are same verse.

So we strongly believe Genesis is a series of eyewitness accounts.  People who lived then wrote about what happened in their lives.  They remembered exact conversations.  They remembered what happened.

Then what about the Egyptian words and phrases? Through early history, the tablets would be guarded by the people's leader. Noah had Adam's tablet and then Noah and his sons wrote their tablets. They told what happened to them. The leaders took care of the tablets. Then Jacob had them. We read in Genesis that ten of Jacob's sons were jealous of Joseph, another son, and they sold Joseph to be slave to Egyptians. When Joseph was in Egypt, God helped him and Joseph became a strong leader. He helped Pharoah save Egypt. Pharaoh told Joseph to bring his whole family to Egypt. When Jacob and the whole family arrived in Egypt, they had the precious tablets. The tablets probably stayed safe in the royal library in Egypt, because Pharaoh loved Joseph very much.

Four hundred years later, the tablets were still in the library. Moses became a prince in Egypt, and he was an Israelite. He knew they were his people. Probably when Moses was a prince, before he had to run away, he ordered his scribes (a scribe is professional writer) to combine all tablets to make a scroll. Moses added a few extra things to help people understand the ancient history: he added a few names and some short explanations. Did Moses give the scroll to the Israelite leaders before he had to run away for forty years? We don't know. But after that time, people said Genesis was Moses' book. He did not write it, but he put it all together and added some words and explanations. That is why some Egyptian words and phrases are in the ancient writings.

If that is true, who wrote Genesis 1?  Who was there?  Only God!  In Exodus we read God wrote Ten Commandments on stone tablets himself.  God knows how to write!  Maybe God Himself wrote Genesis 1 or maybe He told Adam what to write.  But God tells us what happened during creation week in Genesis 1.

Many Old Testament professors today are starting to look carefully at Genesis. They are beginning to believe maybe Wiseman was right: people wrote what they knew in their own lives. Then they signed their names to what they wrote. These eyewitness writings all together are Genesis. We also believe this is true.


Second Study, October 28, 2008

Different ideas about Genesis

Gap Theory
Day-Age Theory

Confusion easy.  Why?  Because in school people learn world is more than four billion years old.  But Bible says world not yet ten thousand years old.  Who is right?  Christians and Jews want to believe teachers, but also want to believe Bible.   Often people try to combine both.  Here are some ideas people have when they try to combine four billion years on earth with Bible:

1.  “Gap theory” 

Word ‘gap’ means ‘empty space in the middle.’  For example if you have tooth missing, you have gap in your teeth.  If you read a book and one page missing, the book has a gap in it. 
The Gap Theory says many billions years happen between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  People who think Gap Theory true think Genesis 1:1 tells about first creation.  Then, because of Satan, first creation destroyed and many billions years happen.  Finally, in Genesis 1:2, God creates earth again.  Why people believe Gap Theory?  Several reasons:  1) radiometric dating says world is over 4 billion years old; 2) evolutionists say evolution requires several billion years. 
What are problems with Gap Theory?  1) At end of creation week, God says everything ‘very good.’  If Satan finish fall before creation week, how ‘very good?’  2) in Exodus 20:11 (Ten Commandments) God Himself tells Israelites He created heavens, earth, sea, and everything in them in six days.  No gap in creation.  3) The Hebrew language does not allow gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  English language not clear, so people think maybe gap.  But Hebrew language clear:  no gap.

2.  “Day-Age theory”

Many people think each ‘day’ in Genesis 1 really means many, many years.  “Many many years” is word ‘era.’   It also means ‘age,’ but not same as “what age are you?”  “Age” has other meaning:  many, many years.  Why do people think each day is an ‘age’ or ‘era?’    Same reasons above:  radiometric dating says world over 4 billion years old and evolution requires several billion years.
What are problems with Day-Age theory?  1) Hebrew word meaning ‘day’ is ‘yom.’ Hebrews have another word for ‘era.’  2) Eras do not have evenings and mornings.  The days in Genesis 1 have evenings and mornings.  3) Genesis 1 says plants grow on day 3.  Sun starts giving light on day 4.  Can plants grow for an era without sun?  4)  Evolution says some dinosaurs changed, became birds.  Genesis 1 says birds on day 5 and land animals on day 6, after birds. 

3. Allegory. 

An ‘allegory’ is a story that shows a truth, but story itself is not true.  Some people believe Genesis is allegory, meaning true God created everything, but Genesis story itself false.  People made-up Genesis stories to try to show truth, but stories themselves not true.  Why do people think Genesis allegory?  Because they believe earth billions years old and believe evolution true, so Genesis must be false.  They agree God created everything, but disagree about Genesis story.

What are problems with allegory?  Every foundation doctrine for Bible begins in Genesis 1-11.
If Genesis not true, why believe other parts in Bible?  Jesus and Apostles and Bible writers all talk about Genesis.  They believe Genesis true history.  If Genesis is allegory, then Jesus, Apostles, and Bible writers all wrong and we cannot believe them!

4. Myth. 

Some people believe Genesis is fully made-up story.  Myth.  Truth none.  They believe someone copied other stories from other cultures and put the stories down in Genesis.  They believe Genesis fully false. 

Before we discussed JEPD idea.  Heloise asked about the letters.  The letters only remind people about different parts in Genesis – people who think four different authors write Genesis after Moses lived. 

The “J” refers to where Genesis calls God “Jehovah.”
The “E” refers to where Genesis calls God “Elohim.”
The “P” refers to “priests”  -- because they thought priests added writings later
The “D” refers to “Deuteronomist” meaning person who wrote Deuteronomy (they do not believe Moses wrote Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy) also added more laws and stories. 

All different ideas about Genesis – why?  Because people want to combine Genesis with science interpretations.   People often say “sure, God created everything, but not same as Genesis story.”  These people believe in “theistic evolution.”  “Theo” means ‘God.’  “Theology means “word about God.”  In John 1, we read “In the beginning was the Word.”  “Logos” is “word.”  When a word ends in “ology” it means ‘word about……”    So  ‘biology’ is ‘word about life’ (bios is life).  ‘Geology’ is ‘word about earth’ – rocks and dirt.   Archaeology is ‘word about ancient life.’   When we see ‘theistic’ in ‘theistic evolution,’ the meaning is ‘God and evolution’ or ‘evolution with God.’  Many years ago, Barry and I both believed theistic evolution true.  We learned in school about evolution but we both believed God real, so we thought God created through evolution! 

God showed us we were wrong when we studied different things.  We learned Genesis fully true.  Genesis tells us true history.   But theistic evolutionists try to believe God and also believe against God, same time.  English picture:  sitting on a fence; one foot on each side.  When English says someone is ‘sitting on fence,’ this is idiom meaning person cannot make up mind about which side true.  So person tries to believe both sides true.  People who believe theistic evolution are ‘sitting on a fence.’