Welcome to HebrewGospels.com!
(Posted January 2020 - see also 'News and Updates' page)
We are a large homeschooling family who are passionate about the Creator and his ways. Originally from South Africa, we currently live in Queensland, Australia. Our search started roughly 15 years ago when we kept feeling that spiritually, we lacked something. We prayed regularly to be able to ‘worship the Father in spirit and in truth’. Then our attention was drawn to Yeshua (Jesus) who reaffirmed in the Gospel of Matthew that the accounts of i) Adam and Eve, ii) Noah and iii) Jonah were all historically accurate.
Although my wife Arlene and I (Piet) had been fervent believers for many years, it seemed that we were now alerted to the fact that we did not pay enough attention to the ‘Old Testament’ (OT). So we started afresh in Genesis and also intensely investigated the scientific validity of the creation account over the next few years. As we discovered more and more of the literal truth and accuracy of the OT, we had to re-evaluate our beliefs and practices. Where to start? Well, we first focused on the ‘10 commandments’ as we felt that this must have been given by the Creator as a valid summary of the important matters…
So we evaluated our lives and found that we were already aiming for a majority of the 10, however we lacked when it came to commandments 2 and 4. But how literal should one take these commandments anyway? Well, we were so convinced of the literal accuracy of the creation account and the OT in general that we had no excuse to doubt the literal accuracy of the 10 commandments either! This fact kept confronting us until we decided to try and implement the ‘No Images’ and ‘Sabbath’ commandments too. Much later, many other important matters like dietary laws and the Creator's feasts also followed.
Early on, allegations of Bible contradictions caused by non-literal, interpreted translations, prompted us to also investigate this quite thoroughly. Incidentally, an unmarried friend of Arlene called to ask how to defend chastity before marriage from Scripture. We started to look up scriptures, but were startled and puzzled by how hard it was for us to prove the point! Eventually we found that the specific translation we were using, had replaced ‘fornication’ with various other softened or generalised words and thus thwarted the defence of purity before marriage! We learned that modern, interpreted translations allow more room for the translator’s doctrinal bias to creep in. Thus, the more Bible versions are produced of the non-literal type, the more the boundaries of Biblical truth are softened. Literal translations on the other hand, are more conservative. They have the goal to not paraphrase but rather to accurately represent every word in the original, and to not add or take away words from the original text – thus preserving the Scriptures better.
Another very important concern for us was the name of the Creator. Some Bible translations would acknowledge in the preface that ‘the LORD’ (all caps) is actually an unsolicited replacement for the Hebrew name “Yod-Hey-Waw-Hey” (YHWH) – reason being that the Jews did not allow the pronunciation of such a holy name and that no one really knows how it was pronounced anyway. So what was the truth behind all of this?? Just by looking at the internal evidence, the Scriptures spoke clearly that the name was pronounced, even around pagans! I remember noticing that Jonah proclaimed to the pagan sailors that he feared the LORD = YHWH, and they even called on the name of the LORD = YHWH afterwards! Next, we noticed that Moses was explicitly instructed to tell Pharaoh that the LORD = YHWH sent him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt! More and more proofs surfaced and we were convinced that the name of the Creator as well as some other matters had definitely been tampered with in Bible translations, to some degree.
Being somewhat suspicious then, we investigated other claims that parts of the New Testament (NT) were also written in Hebrew (like the OT), before being translated into Aramaic and Greek. I remember this one website which proclaimed Hebrew primacy, and also had a sacred-name undertone – admonishing believers that one should be un-saved in the name of Jesus and then re-saved in their version of the Saviour’s name?! They obviously did not understand that ‘name’ equals ‘authority’ in the Scriptures and that it is not the correct sound of the name that saves one, but rather the correct authority! As I was interested in their Hebrew NT claims, I posted a polite query on their forum saying something like: “Thank you… I am also of the opinion that portions of the NT were written in Hebrew… But if the NT was written in Hebrew, where are the Hebrew manuscripts?” For me, that was the bottom line. However, I never got a reply.
Around 12 years ago we pursued this matter further and ordered a number of books on the topic, including N. Gordon’s “The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus” and G. Howard’s “The Hebrew Gospel of Matthew” – the latter which contains a transcribed Shem Tov Matthew with an English translation. We were disappointed if not disillusioned: these two books respectively assert and imply that Yeshua is not Mashiach (Messiah)! E.g. Nehemia Gordon states openly in his book that he does not believe Yeshua to be Mashiach – while Shem Tov’s version of Matthew had all instances erased where Yeshua is specifically identified as Mashiach by the original author Matthew! In the Greek version of Matthew, the author himself identifies Yeshua as the Messiah in four passages only: Mat.1:1; 1:17; 1:18; 11:2, whereas the Shem Tov Matthew never once refers to Yeshua as the Messiah from the author’s own perspective. How could one trust and use such a manuscript and its translation?! Perhaps only if one shares the unbelieving opinion that Yeshua is not Mashiach…
For years we just had to continue our lives accepting that manuscript evidence for Hebrew primacy may never be found. Our opinion of the Shem Tov Matthew remained the same – it does show some signs of authenticity, but it has also clearly been tampered with and could not be fully trusted. We therefore never used it… until one day, more than ten years later, when we learned that the Vatican Library had digitised and released a medieval manuscript containing all four Hebrew Gospels! Suddenly we had a very good use for the Shem Tov Matthew: we wanted to compare e.g. the occurrence of the Creator’s name in the Shem Tov Matthew against this ‘Vaticano Ebraico 100’ (Vat. Ebr. 100) manuscript. We also wanted to gauge the authenticity of this Vat. Ebr. 100 manuscipt by looking at differences and similarities vs. the Aramaic and Greek versions.
Initial titbits and peculiarities in the Vat. Ebr. 100 drove our interest levels higher and higher! In contrast to the Shem Tov version that we obtained more than a decade prior, this manuscript clearly proclaimed Yeshua as Mashiach and Elohim! It also kept exhibiting authenticity – even though it may have been preserved in the Catalan dialect in Sepharad (Spain), possibly for protection against persecution and annihilation during the medieval period. Especially the names in the Vat. Ebr. 100 manuscript had been masked as ‘Catalan’ names – transliterated into awkward Hebrew – in order to give the manuscript a second-hand appearance. To this day, most scholars are sceptical about the authenticity of this manuscript largely because of the awkward, transliterated Catalan names. However, upon closer inspection, many important names in the manuscript are written in proper Hebrew at least once, typically much later in the manuscript. E.g. in Mat. 1:1-2 the names Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are Catalan names transliterated into Hebrew letters – however, in Mat. 8:11 they are spelled out as the correct Hebrew names! Many other examples can be cited.
Although this manuscript does not resolve the pronunciation of the Creator’s name, but merely uses ‘Hashem’, we are very concerned about the popularisation of ‘Yehovah’ and its use as a type of ‘sacred name’. It seems that ‘Yehovah’ is being promoted by some in such a way that all who ‘call’ upon this ‘correctly’ pronounced name are ‘saved’ without the explicit need for Yeshua Mashiach as mediator. This includes Non-Messianic Jews, Yehovah’s Witnesses, Messianic believers and Christians – all can now fellowship together, ‘saved’ by ‘Yehovah’ in an inter-faith synergy with Yeshua Mashiach (the only Way to the Father) gently falling by the wayside.
You would have noticed that a few themes have emerged in the preceding paragraphs, like creation, Bible translations, the Creator’s name, NT Hebrew manuscripts, Yeshua being Mashiach, etc. On this website, our family would thus like to share information with you on these themes. Firstly, our literal translation of the Hebrew Gospels found in Vat. Ebr. 100 (some still in progress). Secondly, a series of video presentations which evaluates claims surrounding the pronunciation ‘Yehovah’ (sessions 1-11), but also explains the correct pronunciation of the name YHWH, based on the Hebrew Masoretic Text (sessions 12-15).
Later, other topics will follow, like creation, no images, Mashiach, etc.
May the name of Yah be exalted through this website. (The shortened name ‘Yah’ occurs almost 50 times in the Hebrew Tanach (OT) and is widely accepted and used, as in ‘Hallelu-Yah’.)
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Blessings in Yeshua,
the Van Rensburgs