Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Is Satan Lucifer?

From True Peace and Security (1986) page 51

How can this be, since Lucifer is Latin? This linguistic paradox comes from the King James Version (KJV) and the Douay-Rheims translation (DR) of Isaiah 14:12, which reads:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (KJV)
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? (DR)
Lucifer is the translation of the Hebrew word helel, "shining one." Helel refers to the "boastful position taken by Babylon's dynasty of kings of the line of Nebuchadnezzar [the Neo-Babylonian dynasty]. (Isa 14:4-21)"[1] Isaiah 14:4 confirms this, introducing this section as a "taunt" against "the king of Babylon," meaning that verse 12 in this "taunt" refers to "the king of Babylon," not Satan. Even the DR above acknowledges this in a footnote, which reads:
"O Lucifer"... O day star. All this, according to the letter, is spoken of the king of Babylon. It may also be applied, in a spiritual sense, to Lucifer the prince of devils, who was created a bright angel, but fell by pride and rebellion against God.
(It seems it would have been more logical to not use "Lucifer" as the name for the "prince of devils," but to use the more common name Satan, as the footnote identifies Lucifer as the historical king of Babylon and as a "day star," not a name.)

A number of Bible translations now though translate the Hebrew word more literally, breaking from the KJV. For instance:

New World Translation (NWT):
How you have fallen from heaven, O shining one, son of the dawn! How you have been cut down to the earth, You who vanquished nations!

New English Translation (NET):
Look how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations!
The footnote for "shining one, son of the dawn" reads in part: "This whole section (vv. 4b-21) is directed to the king of Babylon, who is clearly depicted as a human ruler."

New International Version (NIV):
How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

New American Standard Bible (NASB):
How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!

There are a few other Bible translations that do the same in accords with progressive Bible scholarship and more-focused reading comprehension. The name Lucifer must die, and these more accurate translations have helped the cause of truth in this regard.

Likewise, any religions that stubbornly maintain the name Lucifer for Satan are not helping the cause of truth in this regard. For instance, groups that maintain fossilized doctrines like the Bible Students are guilty of this indiscretion.[2]

Additionally, it should be noted that "this error is compounded in Mormon theology, with Lucifer appearing as a character in the endowment ceremony in the Mormon temple."[3] Indeed, it should also be noted that the LDS or Mormon scriptures have "Lucifer," once in the Book of Mormon at 2 Nephi 24:12, which derives from Isaiah 14:12 KJV: "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!" (The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible reads the same.) The last occurrence is in the Doctrine and Covenants 76:26: "And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning." Lastly, the LDS Church version of the KJV has this footnote for Isaiah 14:12 regarding "Lucifer": "HEB morning star, son of dawn. The ruler of the wicked world (Babylon) is spoken of as Lucifer, the ruler of all wickedness." Then it has a "Topical Guide" reference to "Devil."[4] So this is not just a translation issue with the LDS, it is fossilized in their scriptures as divine revelation that Satan has a Latin name Lucifer.[5] The justification for this connection seen in the footnote fails to take into account that Isaiah 14:4-21 refers to "Babylon's dynasty of kings" 'which is clearly depicted as human rulers.' This is not referring to a spiritual Babylon, but to the literal, historical Babylon. A true latter-day revelation from God would not continue a translation mistake and breath life into centuries-old confusion. As Jesus said about God's word: "your word is truth." (John 17:17; Psalm 119:160) It does not preserve mistaken notions. This is more serious than the LDS realize, for it is a devestating problem for Mormonism. How can it not be? Instead of "Truth Restored" as they declare, this amounts to "Error Sustained." What a sad, pathetic situation this truly is, for it cannot be corrected without serious ramifications.

Satan surrounds himself in a web of lies.

Can it be said though that Isaiah 14:12 has a spiritual application to Satan? Yes. "Since Babylon was a tool of Satan, its 'king' reflected Satan's own ambitious desire."[1] The subject of Isaiah 14:12 reflected Satan's ambitious desire, but was not Satan. The subject of Isaiah 14:12 is the Neo-Babylonian dynasty. It's that simple.

Footnotes:
[1] Insight on the Scriptures-2, "Satan" p. 868. It must be noted that even though names of spirit beings predate human language, that the essence of these names was cast into Hebrew for the benefit of the Hebrew-speaking recipients of divine revelation. Latin as a language is geographically far-removed from these recipients and therefore is irrelevant for the use of names in the Hebrew Bible.

[2] The "Bible Students" religion splintered off of the original Bible Students in 1917 (renamed Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931 and who discarded "Lucifer" mid-20th century)[*], and have maintained the belief about Lucifer being Satan, as have other splinter groups from Jehovah's Witnesses who split-off before Lucifer was discarded. Thus, this issue has become sort of a litmus test for sincere Bible scholarship. Failing in this regard by stubbornly maintaining the erroneous "Lucifer=Satan" doctrine can only result in alienation from God for maintaining a stagnant paradigm or mindset. God cannot bless stubborn stagnation.
[*] Their doctrinal journal The Watchtower of October 15, 1949 page 313 "The Taunt-Song Against Satan The Devil" first discussed its origin, then the Questions From Readers series in the March 1, 1957 page 159 and January 15, 1965 page 63 issues laid it to rest.

[3] Mormon Think. "Joseph's Translation of the Bible: The name Lucifer." http://www.mormonthink.com/jst.htm
See also: Packham, Richard. "Notes on linguistics problems in Mormonism." http://packham.n4m.org/linguist.htm#LUCIFER

[4] http://scriptures.lds.org/en/isa/14/12c

[5] Ironically, the author of the Book of Mormon said there was no Latin in the original manuscripts he allegedly translated from, but "reformed Egyptian." While "Lucifer" could have been written in this alleged "reformed Egyptian," it is impossible that this later Latin translation of helel would have been known by the scribes in the Book of Mormon story.Smith, Joseph. "Times and Seasons." "Correspondence," Vol. 4, No. 13 [May 15, 1843]: 194. Refer to this scanned page for verification:

(A less-comprehensive version of this was posted on Yahoo! Answers on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, but it was deemed too abusive "per" the terms of use and deleted the same day. Who took exception to this? Was it Mormons? I don't know. I just wanted some feedback on this issue. Other more offensive questions survive there just fine.)

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