Sages in Context: 19th Century Messianic Jewish "Sages" in Context

By Rob Vanhoff

“And the New Testament, as the new Thora, the completive half of God’s revelation, must be translated into Hebrew; if we intend to make it a reading book for the Jews of all countries and a constituent part of the worship of the future Israel, who shall be saved after the entering in of the fulness of the Gentiles.”

– Franz Delitzsch1


To translate the New Testament into Hebrew was an ambitious goal for Delitzsch, one certainly motivated by theological and eschatological convictions.2 His Lutheran faith compelled him to reach Jews with the Gospel of the Messiah, “the new Thora,” in their traditional language.3


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1 The Hebrew New Testament of the British and Foreign Bible Society: A Contribution to Hebrew Philology (Leipzig. Dörffling & Franke.1883), p. 31. Did the “we” in Delitzsch’s statement include any Jews? Regardless, the artificial renderings in his Hebrew New Testament, among its other problems, make the work practically useless for today’s readers. Those interested will be better served studying the newer Modern Hebrew translation, available for free online at . See the brief but helpful history of Hebrew New Testament translation there as well.
2 Delitzsch, a German Lutheran, likely drew from Luther’s early criticisms of the Church’s mistreatment of Jews as well as the Reformer’s belief that, if evangelized properly using Scripture, at least some Jews would be saved.
3 I remind the reader that the concept of a “new Torah” is foreign to the Scriptures, and should not be confused with the term b’rit hadashah (השדח תירב), popularly translated “new covenant.” For the important distinction between the terms “covenant” and “Torah” see Tim Hegg, The Letter Writer, p. 213-232, esp. p. 217-219.

Tim Hegg

President / Instructor

Tim graduated from Cedarville University in 1973 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Bible, with a minor in Philosophy. He entered Northwest Baptist Seminary (Tacoma, WA) in 1973, completing his M.Div. (summa cum laude) in 1976. He completed his Th.M. (summa cum laude) in 1978, also from NWBS. His Master’s Thesis was titled: “The Abrahamic Covenant and the Covenant of Grant in the Ancient Near East”. Tim taught Biblical Hebrew and Hebrew Exegesis for three years as an adjunct faculty member at Corban University School of Ministry when the school was located in Tacoma. Corban University School of Ministry is now in Salem, OR. Tim is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Society of Biblical Literature, and has contributed papers at the annual meetings of both societies. Since 1990, Tim has served as one of the Overseers at Beit Hallel in Tacoma, WA. He and his wife, Paulette, have four children, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.