Monday, April 6, 2015

An Investigation of One Theory of Interpretation: Isaiah 14:12

An Investigation of One Theory of Interpretation

Origin of the Controversy

Many have made claims concerning the following controversy.  Doctoral dissertations have been given and books written on the subject.[1]  It is important to read and understand all of the endnotes for a full orbed grasp of the topic.  This paper examines Isaiah 14:12 in order to evaluate an hypothesis developed by two medical doctors: The Day-Dunegan hypothesis.  Unfortunately, no complete bibliography for this hypothesis is available at this time.[2]  The hypothesis appears to have been derived from the perspective of the anti-abortion birthing rights movement.

While we agree with this movement and deplore abortion in all its forms, there is more to the story.  The Malthusian Dilemma is an ever pressing reality.  Earth’s population is rapidly approaching 7.25 billion people.[3]  The world population growth rate is still above 1%, though it appears to be declining.[4]  This means that the earth’s population will double in roughly 70 years, the hoped-for life span of my newest grandson, who is now crawling on the living-room floor.  This means that he will have, in aggregate and on average 1 to 2 acres to eke out his life.  So the moral implications of such an hypothesis have severe and broad implications.  Christianity, as never before, needs to step up and address these complicated difficult problems for which the human race has no solutions currently in place.

Fortunately, our God is not limited either by our stupidity or by our powerlessness.

Working Hypothesis

The hypothesis states that: If certain key words of Scripture can be altered slightly, “the entire meaning of Scripture” can be changed and a whole “new religion” created.

Its first corollary is that: The general blindness and ignorance of the people will allow such sweeping changes to take place unnoticed.

While this hypothesis will probably stand on the merits of linguistic nuance.  That being said, the method of examination appears to be trivial.  I will provide at least an outline of what I consider to be an adequate analysis.  There is no excuse for ignorance of Greek in this kind of study.  The absence of any reference to Greek shows a definite weakness and inadequacy of examination in the formulation of this hypothesis.  So we will accept the points as a working null hypothesis and test it for failure in each verse.
The first corollary exposes some fundamental theological errors.  It is far too humanistic; God is still in control here.  It fails to account for the power of the Holy Ghost, Who enables us to tear down strongholds of error with truth.  It fails to recognize the true nature of The Church (Hebrews 12).  It is simply impossible for The Church to stumble and fail in such a manner.  If society as a whole should fail in this way, then we would be forced to conclude that Christianity has departed the face of the earth, having retired at last to the Heavenly City of God.  So the whole hypothesis fails on its presuppositions.  Nevertheless, for the sake of discussion, we will continue, and not pass the hypothesis off as being trivial.

Isaiah 14:12

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer[5], son of the morning!  How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” — KJV

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” — NKJV

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!  You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” — NIV

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who didst rise in the morning?  how art thou fallen to the earth, that didst wound the nations?” — DRA

“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, who rose up in the morning!  He who sends for all the nations is crushed to the earth.” — Orthodox Study Bible (OSB)

πς[6] ξέπεσεν[7] κ[8] το ορανο[9] ωσφόρος[10] πρω ἀνατέλλων[11]; συνετρίβη[12] ες[13] τν γν[14] ποστέλλων[15] πρς[16] πάντα τ θνη[17].” — Septuaginta, Rahlfs

“How did the until-bringer, the dawn rising fall from heaven?  [How was] the apostle to all the nations crushed into the earth?” — my translation of the Septuagint

The Context

How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning?  How are you cut down to the ground, who weakened the nations?  For you said in your heart,

“I will ascend into heaven.  I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.  I will sit also upon the mount[18] of the congregation, in the sides of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

Yet you shall be brought down to hell[19], to the sides of the pit.  Those who see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you, saying, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble; who shook kingdoms; who made the world as a wilderness, destroyed its cities; and did not open his prisons?”

All the kings of the nations, all of them lie in glory, everyone in his own tomb.  But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, and as the clothes of those who are slain, thrust through with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit as a carcass trodden under feet.  You shall not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land, and slain your people: the seed of evildoers shall never be honored.

“Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers so that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities: for I will rise up against them,” says the Lord of hosts, “and cut off from Babylon the name, the remnant, the son, and nephew,” says the Lord.  “I will also make it a possession for the bittern, pools of water; and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says the Lord of hosts.  The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot:” then his yoke shall depart from them, and his burden depart from their shoulders.

This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations: for the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it?  His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?


Isaiah writes about the historical fall of Babylon, which he also calls Assyrian.  This passage closely parallels Ezekiel 28 in tone and subject matter; where the prince of Tyrus thinks of himself as God, and God’s equal; where the king of Tyrus is referred to as a cherub.  Likewise, in Daniel, empires are seen as the consorts or wives of emperors.  Empires or kingdoms are feminine, wives; emperors and kings are masculine; the emperor acts as a high priest; behind the false worship is a system of demons ruled by Satan.  All of these seek to mimic the true kingdom of God.

Both Lucifer and morning star are legitimate translations of ωσφόρος; yet that does not make either of them good or wise translations.  Lucifer is an opinion based on the Latin language; morning star is an opinion based on related astronomy concerning Venus.  Isaiah may have neither or both ideas in mind.  The only word that approaches ωσφόρος in the New Testament is φωσφόρος[20], which differs from ωσφόρος by a single letter.  Otherwise the two passages differ widely.  The ωσφόρος is declining, while φωσφόρος is ascending.  Certainly, some sort of astral imaging is in view here.[21]  Venus, the day star fades toward dawn while the Sun brightens and obliterates sight of the whole night sky.  Therefore, we must conclude that it is the 2 Peter 1:19 passage which is unfortunate: for it should be clear that it is impossible for the day star to achieve ascendancy against the overwhelming power of φωσφόρος, which ought to be rendered Light-bringer.  It is the Sun that typifies the Glory and Power of Jesus Christ, who is exponentially that many times more Glorious and powerful than the Sun, than the Universe full of stars.  As with the German name Feuerbringer, or Fire bringer, the two words[22] and two ideas have little in common.

An intriguing possibility arises.  The Jews are lovers of puns.  So much so that they called Antiochus IV Epiphanes, “Epimanes,” behind his back.  The change of a single letter, φ, to, μ, made the one who claimed to be “light giver” into “madman”[23].  As with English, where wise guy does not indicate a wise person, nor smart alec praise an intelligent person; so also ωσφόρος falls far short of being φωσφόρος.  A ruler or even cherub who sees himself as φωσφόρος might be insulted to be thought of as ωσφόρος.  The Feuerbringer, fire bringer, or light bringer, is a person of importance, bringing life to the community.  The until-bringer, pro-tem-bringer, temporal-bringer, temporary-bringer, acting-bringer, provisional-bringer, adjunct-bringer, substitute-bringer, or simply substitute brings almost nothing and is insignificant even in comparison to the moon.  He just got too big for his britches and has made himself a smarty pants.

However we chose to look at these words, there is much evidence to show that the translations are unfortunate, but no evidence shows malice.  I would have preferred Light-bringer or Light-bearer in 2 Peter 1:19; and substitute-bringer or Eosphoros, the transliteration, in Isaiah 14:12 rather than attempting any translation at all.  That idea may still be unacceptable to those still stinging from WWII, where Führer is too close to Feuer for some peoples comfort.  Lucifer is the Latin for Light-bearer, and simply gives more credit to Satan and his minions than they are worth even in aggregate.  Still, Satan appears as the angel of light.[24]

There is no way to be certain that these words are intended to be names, titles, descriptions, epithets, or pejoratives; so there is no way to know if these words are best capitalized or not.  Clearly, an individual person is named or described in both Isaiah and 2 Peter.  The verbs would have to be in the second tense to support the vocative.

Could this person be Satan?  Yes, or Nebuchadnezzar as the icon of Satan, or as the slave of some demon in the service of Satan.  It should be clear that the Satanic kingdom counterfeits The Church, the true kingdom of God; that its imperial master is Satan, who operates through hordes of demonic minions, and billions of enslaved people.  Only The Church has the authority to make a final determination and declaration in this matter.  Translators do not have that authority; neither do I.[25]

As far as technical correctness of translation and accuracy the NIV seems to have a slight edge, because Lucifer means light bearer, whereas the person described is no light bearer.  Yet in attempting to be technically correct they have opposed the evident decision of The Church.  I would suggest, Substitute, but The Church must have the final say: for as 2 Peter 1:20-21 says,

“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation: for prophecy was not brought by the will of man, ever: but men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

We conclude with a summary proposal:

“How did the Substitute, the dawn rising fall from heaven?  [How was] the apostle to all the nations crushed into the earth?” — my translation of the Septuagint

Side Issues

There is no small attempt to make Satan into the brother and equal of Jesus, creating a pseudo-dualistic religion.  This is a different problem, outside of the scope of this discussion.


The hypothesis fails to be proved in Isaiah 14:12.  The translational change is technically possible, but silly.  Many readers will realize that it bucks the authority of The Church; while others will see the meaning of the words from the weight of the context, no matter what translation is chosen for ἑωσφόρος.  As always we should never accept anything out of context: local Bible context, whole Bible context, Bible set within The Church context, Bible set within its historical milieu.  The translation morning star does minimal damage and avoids valuing Saran above what he is worth.  This is the whole point of the passage.  Whoever we believe Lucifer to be, he is being taken down a peg or two or more, precisely because of his hubris.  Even if the passage does not speak specifically of Satan, we would still conclude that Nebuchadnezzar’s personal hubris typifies that of Satan and is ultimately informed and prompted by Satan.

[1] Here are a few samples, as well as opposition arguments to provide balance:
[2] The following may be correct sources:
[5] The pseudonym, Lucifer, derives from Latin; not from either Greek or Hebrew.
[6] πς, interrogative or relative adverb: how or how?
[7] ξέπεσεν, 3s, past indicative verb: he fell off, out of, from, forfeited, failed; for example: to earth, to shore; implicitly: to end, ruin, or death (he died).  Translators are treating this as though it read ξεπέσατεν, 2p: How did all of you fall?  2s: How did you fall? would be ξέπεσας.
[8] κ, preposition: out of, from.
[9] το ορανο, articular genitive singular: of the heaven.
[10] ωσφόρος, articular nominative possibly used as a vocative, a compound of ως + φόρος, literally until + bearer or bringer: Morning Star, Dawn Bringer, Venus; the language is very hyperbolic and attempts to describe a Hebrew idea in understandable Greek terms, which appear to draw a clear distinction between OT and NT uses of similar ideas.  If this is Satan, which is a highly disputed idea, then Satan is the false morning star, who brings deception arrogance and lies.  Jesus is the true morning star, who brings light and life to the world.  It is no secret that, out of jealousy, Satan attempts to clone Jesus (Numbers 21:9; Matthew 4; Luke 4; John 3:14).
[11] πρω ἀνατέλλων, participle phrase, adjectival to ωσφόρος followed by the Greek question mark (;): the dawn rising.
[12] συνετρίβη, 3s, past indicative passive verb: he was beaten down, broken, crushed, warn out.
[13] ες, preposition: into.
[14] τν γν, articular accusative singular: the earth.
[15] ποστέλλων, articular nominative possibly used as a vocative: the sender, the apostle, similar to angel, the messenger.
[16] πρς, preposition: from with accusative, near with dative, to with accusative.
[17] πάντα τ θνη, articular neuter accusative plural: all the nations.
[18] Zion, Jerusalem, clearly so from Psalms.  However, Psalms frequently refers to heavenly Zion, and Jerusalem, not to earthly Zion, or Jerusalem.
[19] Possibly only the grave, yet this is not likely.  Ancient culture saw graves as the doorways to the abyss, to a subterranean journey devoid of light, (Styx).  Styx does not call forth pictures of quietly resting in the grave.
[20] φωσφόρος, nominative possibly used as a vocative, a compound of φῶς + φόρος, literally light + bearer or bringer: day star, morning star.  2 Peter 1:19.
[21] This is not uncommon in scripture.  For example in Genesis 37:9-10, where Jacob is the sun, Rachael (or Leah) is the moon, and the eleven brothers are stars; all of whom will bow down to Joseph in Egypt.  Additionally, a thirteenth star will be adopted in Egypt.
[22] ωσφόρος and φωσφόρος
[24] Please note that Satan is not the angel of light; but rather, Satan transforms himself into an angel of light.  Satan and all his minions are frauds.  2 Corinthians 11:14
[25] It would appear that The Church has given its declaration for there seems to be a consensus: Catholic Church, DRA; Orthodox Church, OSB; Protestants, KJV.  Having arrived at this consensus so long ago, are we now to fold under the pressure of smart alec private opinions?  Moreover, no one today has the command of Greek idiom common in the first five centuries.  It is because I have no command of Greek idiom that I am compelled to break words into components for understanding.  Neither Jerome nor his predecessors were obstructed by such a lack of Greek or Hebrew idiom: they were on the scene, in the era, and their wisdom is not easily refuted except by the arrogant and simple minded.
[26] If you have been blessed or helped by any of these meditations, please repost, share, or use any of them as you wish.  No rights are reserved.  They are designed and intended for your free participation.  They were freely received, and are freely given.  No other permission is required for their use.