The historical events of the
Tanakh (Old Testament) end with the book of Nehemiah around 440 BC. The
last book of the Tanakh to be written and edited was Chronicles. In I
Chronicles 3 there is a genealogical list that continues some 10
generations after Zerubavel, which would date it to approximately 350 BC.
In 333 BC Alexander the Great conquered the Middle East, and imposed Greek
culture and language on the people living there.
Between 280 and 130 BC, Greek-speaking rabbinic scholars translated the
Tanakh into Greek, known as the Septuagint. This became a very popular
translation among diaspora Jews, and is the version most often quoted in
the New Covenant. In the Holy Land a dynamic tension developed between the
international Greek culture and the local Hebrew-Aramaic culture. This
tension at times worked for good and at times for bad.
The Maccabean revolt started in 166 BC and the Hashmonean Empire in Judea
lasted until the area was conquered by Rome under Pompey in 63 BC. By the
time Yeshua was born, the Holy Land was ruled by Herod (an Idomean-Greek
Jewish convert), who was appointed under the auspices of the Roman Empire.
The apostle Paul (Saul) was educated in both Jewish and Greek studies. He
used the name Saul in the Israelite Hebraic culture and the name Paul as
part of his commission to take the gospel to the Greek international
community. The authoritative text of the full Bible is written in Hebrew in
the Tanakh and Greek in the New Covenant.
The tension between Hebrew and Greek was apparent in the early community of
faith in Jerusalem. On Pentecost morning, the 120 Hebrew-speaking disciples
preached the gospel to a crowd of 3,000 people of primarily international
background (Acts 2:9-11). The number of disciples grew among both Hebrew
and Greek speakers.
"As the number of disciples grew, the Greek-speaking Jews began to
complain against the Hebrew speakers, because their widows were being
neglected" (Acts 6:1).
The clash of the two culture groups caused problems in communication,
finances and administration. A committee was appointed from among the Greek
speakers to make sure the logistics were being handled properly (Acts 6:5).
The identity issues continued with the development of the international
church (ecclesia). The order of the gospel is to the Jew first, then the
Greek (Romans 1:16, 2:10); and yet Jews and Greeks have the same spiritual
standing before God (Galatians 3:28).
We experience similar tensions in the body of Messiah in Israel, as we are
a Hebrew-speaking nation, yet the number of non-Hebrew speaking new
immigrants and international guests is larger than the Hebrew-speaking
core. There is a perfect balance between the universal international
aspects of the faith and the Israelite covenantal aspects of the faith.
About the time the Tanakh was translated into Greek, the Jewish people
stopped pronouncing the name of YHVH. Ultimately the pronunciation was
forgotten and forbidden. Instead of YHVH, the term "Adonai" began to be
used, which is the plural form of the word "lord." In the Septuagint, the
name YHVH was translated to the term "Kurios," which also means "lord."
So at approximately the same period in history, the name YHVH stopped being
used and was replaced by Adonai in Hebrew and Kurios in Greek. By the time
of Yeshua, there is no YHVH in use, but only Adonai and Kurios. All of the
citations of YHVH in the Septuagint and New Covenant translate YHVH to
Kurios. Kurios means Adonai and YHVH.
Amazingly, in the New Covenant, Yeshua is referred to as Kurios. This is
more than to call Him, "Lord". This is to call Him Adonai. It is a bold and
unavoidable declaration of His divinity. Yeshua is Kurios-Adonai. This
declaration of faith was shocking both to Hebrew speakers and to Greek. To
call Yeshua Lord-Kurios-Adonai was a monumental explosion in the history of
faith, religion and revelation.