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Heb10:15-17 Translation with (yet-windy) Exegetical Notes

You'll need to review this passage in the Greek to follow the comments in this page, even though the relevant comparison clauses are (phonetically) typed in the Greek as well. What follows is not well written, sorry: I don't write well when (still!) too excited. The webpage reads more like spontaneous exegetical notes (and reactions, lol), right now.

Heb10:15-17 is one of the most thrilling passages in Scripture for me: for YEARS I didn't understand precisely how Israel and Church were connected, nor how the OT system differed, even though I'd been taught the answer for decades. It's like an accounting conundrum, where you have lots of data you know well, but can't make SENSE of what you know. Of course, Christianity has for centuries been totally confused as to the differences and similarities of its covenant versus that of Israel.

Well, here goes. Translation right now is still my own, merely using BibleWorks 5. I have yet to revisit my pastor's exegesis in both 1972 and 1997, to check how he translates the passage. So a working translation of Heb 10:15-17 might be rendered thusly (ignoring the punctuation which wasn't in the autograph, but edited later), in more-idiomatic English (to bring out what the deft Greek means): In Bauer, Danker lexicon it says that the dative after martureo is the SUBJECT MATTER ("about whom"), so the requote in Chapter 10 means WE are the recipients of the quote, and WE are the object of the quote. My pastor's "with reference to us" translation then is better English, especially since the typical-translation-truncation always FUZZES OVER meaning ("to us" in English is AMBIGUOUS, for in English, "to us" could merely mean we are hearing the testimony FROM Him rather than the True Greek Meaning that We Are The Object of that FULFILLED quote, RIGHT NOW).

The special placement of "legei kurios" covers the text left of it, and introduces the text right of it, separating them. Most translations treat all of the text as being a requote, but it's BREAKING between the old and the new, even in the Jeremiah text. Moreover, the Jeremiah text uses phaymi, which is used when "says" is BETWEEN two quotes -- but in Chapter 8 and 10 requotes, the writer changes it to LEGEI -- denoting a BREAK with the past quote. Very clever. So the new testimony of the Spirit in Heb10:16, especially since its words are CHANGED versus the old, begins after legei kurios. So both Chap8 and 10 should be treated as as breaks. That you can still treat the whole as a requote, is definitely intended. So you are to look for differences in the text, to precisely understand what has changed in the covenants now that Christ is seated (10:12-14).

There are major differences in the Greek text of Heb10:16 versus 8:10 and Jer31:33 (Jer38, in LXX). Compared to the Jeremiah text, the Hebrews Chapter 8 passage leaves out "Israel" and substitutes "them" (still referring to Israel); leaves out the FUTURE of didomi, leaving only the 2nd use of the verb, which is a present participle; substitutes Jeremiah's mere grapho with EPIgrapho. How clever: epi is the quintessential BUILDING preposition in the NT (see how Paul uses epi, especially in Eph2:10). Because the Mind GOT written, there's no future of didomi, but only the participle, still in the present tense, since Christ is still alive, and His LIVING Thinking, the Word, is to go into our living thinking, too.

Participle action precedes or is coterminous with the main verb (here, main verb is epigraphw). We know to interpret the present participle as 'past', because "dwsw" is EXCISED from the requote in Chapter 8. Hence the double-entendre, since Christ is RISEN, still living. See how a FOUNDATIONAL thing is communicated syntactically in a FOUNDATIONAL manner? A simple excision, plus a present participle (not a past participle), plus the switch to "epi" in Chapter 10 -- tells you really what's going on! You can't possibly translate all this. So much MISINTERPRETATION of Bible occurs when working with a translation! And as you can see, the published translations are terrible! [No one can get Bible wholly right, but sheesh -- do we have to ADD such egregious errors? The "MIND" is Christ. It's in the SINGULAR. So why ASSume that both nouns are THE SAME PERSONS, when one is in the Singular and the other, in the plural? God would know how to use a different word for "minds" (plural of nous), if that's what He intended. And then, to miss the CHANGES in the quote, when translating Heb8 and Heb10, trying to make it AGREE with Jeremiah? Yikes! This changing of little bits of a quote to SHOW ITS FULFILLMENT or interpretation, is one of the most common forms of quotation IN the Bible...Oh well.]

So the differences between Chapter 10:16 and 8:10 are now dramatic. NOTE THE REVERSAL of kardias and dianoian. Notice also that instead of "eis tayn dianoian" it's "epi tayn dianoian". Again, because THE MIND GOT WRITTEN, His Thinking can GET written into us (the last "them" in the verse, and includes the yet-future Trib and Mill people, because of the reversal of dianoian and kardias, making a 'circle').

Now you know why I keep on saying that when we got saved, we LOST our brains and are to get His Thinking. A better English idiom for "dianoian" would be "body of thinking" (with stress on its FUNCTION and SKILL, DISCERNMENT). The Mind is Our Body of Thinking even as we are the Body for the Mind. See? God wants LIKE-MINDEDNESS, not works. Think the way and with the attitude of His Son, not works. That was a PROMISE in the OT -- they LOOKED FORWARD to it. But until Christ completed, that MIND couldn't go INTO them -- so it was PROMISED. But now He's Risen, so His Thinking is to be UPON us, "epi". This is HIS FACULTY OF THINKING, the very warp and woof of it -- His Thinking Pattern. Hupogrammos, for the hupogrammoi, us. Heh: Bible verses have scads of wordplay!

Thus we have in all three quotes, a repeated DIRECT reference to the LXX of Isa53:11's five infinitives (vv10-11, in our texts), focusing on the "sculpt" (plassw). Chapter 10's sculpting UPON Him as the foundation (we are built upon Christ, common NT refrain); rather than INTO Him (He being sculpted), as the Jeremiah quote stated. Because UPON Him, therefore INTO us -- what wordplay! Jeremiah knew of the Isaiah verse, too, (so we know for sure the Masoretic Text had this verse); for Jeremiah's referencing the FIRST ONE, Christ, getting that thinking INTO Him, which is the STRESSED PURPOSE of the Isaiah chapter (beginning at Isa52:13, which in both BHS and LXX announces that His Mastery of Thinking PROSPERING is the cause of our salvation -- allusively repeated, in Isa53:11, both texts (da'ath and suneisis)).

Both Jeremiah and Heb8 reference Israel, with the Chapter 8 requote to show both the "old" and the precedence for the new, covenants; but Chapter 10's is for CHURCH. What's so cool is the usage of autwn and autous, to signify an ongoing stepping-stone function; Our Mind, Christ, gets written into us -- and as a result WILL get written into them (post-Church). The Law which got written into Christ, so got written into them, so gets written written into us. If the Holy Spirit didn't reverse dianoian and kardias in 10:16, you'd not see this circularity.

So the writer of both NT passages here in Hebrews tells us how the "sanctification" of verse 14 got accomplished (again referring to the whole of LXX Isa53:10-11, and its result). As in Gen 2:17 and Isa 53:9, which show TWO deaths, Jeremiah's quote was a FUTURE promise of TWO lives (spiritual and physical -- LXX uses Hebraistic tense structure like Gen2:17's two (spiritual, then physical) muths). Deft way to say the entire content of what would become Romans 6 via that structure: dying spiritually, we die physically. But He living spiritually, dying spiritually ON the Cross (not real, but substitutionarily), we live spiritually, and hence when we die physically, we will live physically AND spiritually.. with Him, forever. Awesome!

Given how the NT audience had long exposure to writing-on-stones analogies, I maintain it's this last verb, epigraphw, which unlocks the double-entendre meaning of ten (pronounced "tayn") dianoia ("His Own Thinking" in trans above). Before He added Humanity to Himself, Israel looked FORWARD to getting His Mind into (eis, not epi) their minds and hearts (thinking and believing parts of the soul, respectively). But we look BACKWARD (epi, not eis), as His Mind, Canon.. is already BEING WRITTEN -- hence "HAVING PUT" His Thinking into His Heart, we can get it ENGRAVED into our thinking. So it's double-entendre, since the PURPOSE (another prepositional use of epi) is for our minds to become ONE with His, John 17 prayer. Awesome genius, the way God the Holy Spirit uses words!

There's extraordinary wordplay here; wish scholars would remember that back in ancient times wordplay was the #1 method of entertainment, so proficiency was cherished (drama was an Olympic event, with a grand prize in the millions of dollars). So we should be looking for wordplay every time we analyze a Scripture verse (yet another reason no translation is worth much in teaching or study). The usual translation just assumes a requote of the prior Heb8:8-12 is in view, and there's been quite a lot of commentary which claims some scribe reversed the words "hearts" and "mind" ('to defend Bible, assuming IT wrong first rather than assuming US wrong first). Big mistake. My pastor spent lots of time stressing that this is an interpretive quote showing how the New Covenant is to be implemented using Church. Now I see why: the two epi ("upon") prepositional clauses are keys, because epi takes the genitive, dative AND the accusative. Word order is critical, here.

Again, dramatic Greek style finds it elegant to economize. So if a word is intended, for example, to function as both an object and a subject, it is put in the accusative case: see Romans 8:28, which uses "God" in that way. So too, when a preposition is to cover something which is also outside its purview in another way, the item is EMBEDDED within the other words which are to be the object of the preposition. Also, when dramatic Greek makes a nominative become an accusative, it stresses nobility, and puts that accusative where you'd expect a nominative to be in the WORD ORDER (as in Rom8:28). Further, Drama Greek uses double accusatives to stress the relationship between object and (later) result (see also Eph1:7, Col1:14).

That's the case here: we're looking at Attic Greek, not koine. For what appears to play the role of THREE embedded genitive absolutes of extraordinary beauty tying here to Heb10:16, see Heb11:1's Greek. Hebrews 11:1 is terribly translated, so you need to see its Greek (i.e., search on "elegchos" in Heb111.htm, and read the next few paragraphs after it). That verse blows me away. Parallel ACTION is displayed in both verses. You want to cry with joy at the elegance!

The writer of Hebrews uses drama Greek a lot. Here, the immediate drama context began back in Heb9:28, introduced by the reason for a Second Coming -- the Rapture, here. There are a lot of reasons why you know it's the Rapture being depicted, but the baldest proof is in the author's usage of Isaiah 53:12 LXX vocabulary. That's the AWARD part of the contract (see also 1Cor3, Rev4). Bema is the AWARD ceremony, and the group getting the award is Church ("those who eagerly await", NOT the whole world). So it's not the official Second Coming down to rule, but to COLLECT.. us. Church.

For the Rapture was expected at any time, especially since the Temple was under siege, given how Daniel 9:26 was to play. Hence in the last Greek clause of Heb9:28, the writer employs the dramatic "hero" accusative (auton), classic Greek drama of the god coming DOWN at the end of the play, to rescue his clients. So of course the author deftly switches in Heb 10, back to that FIRST time He came down, to show how the Rapture is imminent (ending in Heb Chap10 brings you back full circle to NOW). So all of Chapter 10 is a parenthetical explanation for 9:28, since all of Chapter 9 was on WHY the change in covenant from the first to the second. All this, sets up Chapter 11, and 11:39-40 refer back to 9:28 and 10:25ff, finishing the point. It's real blunt. Don't know how the scholars could have missed that bald Greek drama opening in the last clause of 9:28, especially considering the content of 10:1-14.

Heb10:16b is therefore extremely unusual, intentionally embedding DIFFERENT objects with the second epi, to illustrate the SWITCH from the "first" covenant, to the better "second" just explained: the second is better, because HIS MIND is to be written on us; the "first" group didn't get that except as a future promise. We get His Mind Written as a Reality, hence Canon is to be fully written, not yet finished at the time of writing. In turn, that second epi clause has two accusative objects, one of which is Singular, THE THINKING: it HAS to mean the Lord's Thinking to show what SANCTIFICATION in v.14 means. The article is monadic. Cardinal principle of hermeneutics is to compare Scripture with Scripture, and context context context! But both are ignored, in the published Bible translation of tayn dianoian for this verse. But...

But no capisc'ing was going on in the translation of Heb10:16, because they kept to kindergarten-Greek concepts, ignoring a wealth of literature to show other uses. For such a dramatic passage, you'd think someone would have thought to compare Scripture in order to decide why a SINGULAR use of dianoia with PLURAL hearts, would be chosen by God the Holy Spirit... [Nerd Note: John's Gospel was penned later, in the 90's AD -- but its content all happened back in 30AD, which everyone of course knew. Gospels aren't written so much to witness as to inform how to interpret the events. It's not like today's idea of witness, merely what happened, but God's Witness As To What It Means. Sheesh. You could vomit from all those dippy commentaries which ASSume that one Gospel writer consulted other people to come up with what to write down. The Holy Spirit Is The Writer, capisce? If we believe in God, why do we then negate that belief, by assuming human-human methods? Look at the original text: do you think any human on earth could ever be so Smart With Language?????? Poor Moses, who was one of the greatest believers in the OT, only got to see God's 'back' as He passed, Exo33:18ff, but we get to see Him fully, 1Cor13:10ff -- and here is His Face plainly, in the text -- but we assign its Word-Glory, incomparable! -- to mere human witness? And then of course say the Bible is inscrutable, or contradicts itself? ]

Also, same (2nd) epi in Heb10:16 has one genitive, autwn (referring to us). So note the genius: God the Holy Spirit meant tayn dianoian to be the object of both graphw and (really both instances of) epi: same, for the plural object autous, which isn't simply referring to the laws, but more importantly to those believers upon whom His Thinking will be written, I bet (look at the antecedent use of autous in v.16a). Again, I really think, in light of other Scripture and the context, that it's a mistake to shallowly view "autous" (the last word in Heb10:16) as merely referencing the "laws" (deeming the antecedent to be nomous, not noticing the OTHER autous). Especially, since it's the Holy Spirit Who's Doing The Writing...

For now, note the wordplay gives you the idea that He will write THE MIND and then write our minds with THE MIND. Embedding as in inscribing, engraving. And, as in pregnancy, Pleroma keyword. You'll thus need to cross-reference Isa53:11's sweeping five infinites in the Greek LXX, too -- for that verse is in view, here (phos, plassw, suneisis keywords -- v. 11 is mistakenly booked as beginning at the end of v.10, in the LXX verses). Heh: in Greek, like in English, all the "them" usages in a long sentence, confuse -- so you can't tell "them" apart! All of us having the Same Mind, being made Like Him! Heh. God never misses a nuance...

In God's typical style, the Way He writes echoes the meaning. The Meaning Is Embedding His Mind In Us, get it? Oh, the wit! Church is 'hidden' from the OT; 'hidden' in the 'womb' of God, until and unless Israel rejected Her Husband. So, once she did that, He 'marries' Church who remains 'hidden' from the world -- embedded, get it? And then the New Bride will be used to aid the implementation of the New Covenant to Israel, with Church still being 'hidden' (we are visible in the Millenium as rulers of Gentile nations, secondary in importance). Embedded, part of His Body -- get it?

So how to illustrate all that exquisite meaning better, than to use elegant Dramatic Greek embedding within the preposition epi? Is this God GLORY, or what??? Takes your breath away. He just LOVES to make use of syntactical nuances in Bible. Every verse is pure diamonds. Takes your breath away.

My explanation and translation aren't as good as should be, either. I really should retranslate the entire Book of Hebrews, to show how the author builds from one point to the next. Even so, the wordplay in Heb 10:15-17 is necessarily masked in translation, because HOW are you gonna show the different "them" groups, yet truly translate the fact that all are called "them"? You can tell from BibleWorks Bible collections on this passage that the translators of the various versions (at least in English, Spanish and French which I can read) -- these all RECOGNIZE something unusual is afoot -- they aren't agreed on what to do with the fact that "hearts" is in the plural, but "mind" is in the singular. So they too (understandably!) try to simplify; so they mistakenly seek to make both nouns match in number, thus destroying the Greek meaning. Meaning is HIS MIND. Ties to Eph4:5, 1Cor2:16, others, as play on words -- genitive case is plural going with it, but genitive has many meanings. Surely some of them know that, too. But even so, how do you translate it, especially if the Bible will be published, and surely there will be criticism? I'm free from that worry, I don't matter to the academic community. But they aren't free from the politics. Sad story, how we humans arrogate to ourselves value, and then fight over it.

This is a classic multi-layer, multi-meaning passage: His Mind is singular, 'one' -- we are to get that ONE MIND in ALL of us, so we will have 'one' mind, together, freely. Many hearts, but all viewing the SAME TRUTH. So "THE MIND of them", literal translation of ten dianoian autwn, aha! Yes, He is to BE Our Mind -- that's why we lost our brains the nanosecond we first believed in Christ! His Heart in Our Hearts, as a result of His Mind BECOMING, hawah, our minds -- promised since the OT, the One Who Always Was will Become (YH=hayah, WH=hawah) Our Heart and Soul, Our Daily Bread, Our Treasure in Earthen Vessels, Our Way and Truth and Life! How's that for elegant Greek Drama economy, to convey all that meaning, by a simple SINGULAR use of "dianoia"? Hoo-boy: only God is that smart!

The term dianoia IS used as a collective noun, sometimes; however, to make it singular here yet use the plural of kardia, is a red flag. Of course, that's what Jeremiah had done, too. Note the double-entendre? In deference to all translators, who the heck can ever get so much wordplay properly translated for a reader? We should just study the Scripture in its original languages, hein?

So 'my' translation above is likewise not satisfactory, but the underlined meaning above is unmistakable in the Greek: God the Holy Spirit suddenly switches from plural ("hearts") to singular (Mind/Thinking) using the SAME structure. Oh: verbal nouns are more dramatic than verbs, so this switch is highly dramatic, not just ho-hum dramatic (if there were such a thing). So here Heb10:16 ALSO ties to Eph4:5, the "henotes" of His Thinking, how it gets produced in Church (see RightPT.htm for exegesis, since Eph4:5, 11-16 are always terribly translated).

Also, note that English Bibles' renderings for Heb10:16 don't recognize where the NEW testimony begins, but we know in Greek where it begins, because the first set of (single) quotes is the object of "after He said" (the earlier quote in 8:10). That's why in English Bibles the requote looks superfluous. So you don't get what the heck God is talking about, here. Inspired Greek text doesn't confuse. But again -- how can you translate it better? I tried, and of course the translation isn't quite apt either (still too narrow).

We also know that the new testimony ABOUT US begins "Having given/put", because the NOUNS IN THE QUOTE are reversed, "remember" is REFLEXIVE (vs. the original prophecy and 8:8-12 quote), and due to what context immediately preceded (10:1-14) the interruption by the Holy Spirit into the flow of writing, which was, Christ completing our sanctification forever. These changes prove that the quotation is being made again, showing how it applies to us, and how we are used to help implement the new covenant. Again, this explanation needs improving; but at least you can see what features are relevant, and thus can review them with whatever authority you trust.

Too many reputed Bible scholars today ASSume that the writers of Scripture were not inspired by the Holy Spirit. It's a sad day when you read in a reputable book about Biblical Greek a comment by one of them claiming that the Lord's Divinity is hidden (yeah, to the scholars, since they obviously didn't notice the frequent, stressed usage of LXX terminology) in the Gospels, but made clearer later -- for political reasons, lol! So no wonder these folks also mistake WHY constructions like these interpretative quotes are DELIBERATE. If someone tells you there's a mistake (i.e., in the noun reversals) in this passage, that someone is himself mistaken. Greek is obviously, deliberately, changed for purposes of interpretation, a feature of language which everybody uses from time immemorial: e.g., Windoze rather than Windows.

See for yourself: compare any OT quote with its NT counterpart (especially, the way the LORD quotes the OT in the NT). Then take great pains to figure out why the NT quotes are changed. Start maybe with Acts 2 (which quotes Joel 2) -- if that's too hard to analyze for you right now, pick some Gospel passage in which the Lord quotes. One of my favorite interpretative quotes is how He uses Matt4:4, quoting (and changing the words of) Deut8:3ff. Satan does the same thing in the 2nd Temptation, but when he quotes Ps91, he DELIBERATELY CUTS OUT a clause, so in the requote he's telling Jesus He should jump off the Temple based ON the verse. (Believers misuse Scripture this way, i.e., how Calvinists use 1Jn2:2 to support limited atonement, by chopping out the last half of the verse.) This exercise will prove very refreshing and enlightening, particularly if you or someone you love might be sensitive to the claim that the Bible contradicts itself. That shibboleth is used in ignorance of Bible. But to Christians likewise ignorant of Bible who only have a translation to look at -- whoa, it's devastating to their faith.

In sum, the wordplay in Heb10:15-17, particularly as it is the other bookend for its sister quote in 8:8-12, thus at once explains not only that Canon will be completed, but how it works during CHURCH Age to help prepare for the implementation of the New Covenant. It's very deft:

So, compared to the actual OT prophecy in Jer31, the two Hebrews' requotes are astonishingly precise: what's excised, for example, is exactly what should be, considering what was true in Jeremiah's day versus circa 68AD. Awesome. Only God is THIS smart! If you just learn these three passages, you will have all the proof of Divine Authorship of Scripture you'll ever need!