Archive for the ‘Biblical words’ Category

Imagine heaven

February 27, 2016

Mike Adams on near death experiences.


Atheist chart

October 10, 2011

Here’s a helpful chart from the blog Atheos-godless.
The discussion is interesting too.

Submitting to one’s husband

August 12, 2011

Because this blog’s subtitle says “Everything but politics,” I won’t link to the political blog this comment of mine appeared on.

08/12/11 15:20

@Lawrence, and Dave before him:

The Ephesians passage calls for mutual submission: “Submit yourselves to each other in the fear of Christ” (Eph 5.21). The following verses show how each household member submits:

>>The woman submits by submitting to her husband. (I know it’s redundant, but that’s the text.)

>>The husband submits by loving the wife.

>>Children submit by obeying their parents.

>>Parents submit(!) by raising their children godly and not discouraging them.

>>Slaves submit by obeying their masters.

>>Masters submit(!) by treating their slaves fairly and remembering that they too have a master in heaven.

So yes, the whole household code is about mutual respect, much as Bachmann said.

Context, people! It’s all about context!

Sorry, that’s the Bible professor in me bursting out on a political blog. I’ll go back inside now.

NIV 2011

May 12, 2011

A graduate student recently asked me for an opinion on the recent revision of the New International Version of the Bible. I didn’t have much to tell him, but here’s what I said in case others are interested:

I don’t know NIV 2011 as well I probably will after a while, but on the whole I like it. It appears to back away slightly from the dynamic-equivalence approach of NIV 1984, especially in the controversial translation of σάρξ as “sinful (human) nature.” In general it leaves more for the reader to decide, and that’s good.

As for inclusive language, NIV 2011, TNIV, and NRSV all do the same thing in general: inclusive language for people, non-inclusive for God, and that’s good too. But in particular NIV 2011 does something better than NRSV (and TNIV?) when they keep singulars singular. I mean this: to take a Greek original like, “Every man who . . . ” and pluralize it as “All who . . . ” destroys the individual focus of the original.

NIV 2011 avoids pluralizing in those cases by reverting to the “singular they.” Recent research shows that expressions like “Everyone who does this will save their life” did not arise recently out of a concern for inclusive language. Instead, they have shown up in English for hundreds of years, replaced only fairly recently by the pedantic “Everyone who . . . his . . . .” I too am a recent convert to the singular they, and it solves a lot of problems.

On the whole, then, NIV 2011 looks good to me. More info appears here.

UPDATE: Even the King James Bible uses the singular they, twice that I know of:

  • “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Matthew 18:35, emphasis added).
  • “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3, emphasis added).

Hey, it’s in the Bible! The Authorized Version at that!

New edition of the Greek New Testament

November 10, 2010

The Society of Biblical Literature has come out with a new critical edition of the Greek New Testament. It costs US$30 in hard copy, and it’s free online.


July 2, 2010

A former student raised this question:

I found out that in Genesis 1:1 the word for God Elohim in Hebrew is God-plural. Which sounds almost like In the beginning Gods created the Heavens and Earth . . . . Was Elohim as God-plural used because there were no other Hebrew words translated as God or was it used because God was talking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

My answer, edited lightly:

Elohim belongs to a class of Hebrew words that appear plural in form but singular in meaning. Others include behemoth (“animals”) referring to the sea monster, and bethulim (“virgins”) referring to a girl’s state of virginity. Elohim means “gods” when referring to pagan deities, and “God” when referring to the God of Israel.

We know this because Elohim takes singular verbs when referring to the God of Israel. For example, in Genesis 1:1 it says, “In the beginning Elohim he-created the heavens and the earth.” If the writer had intended to refer to a group of gods, he would have used the plural verb: “In the beginning Elohim they-created . . . .”

We do a similar thing in English. “Headquarters” is grammatically plural but used with singular verbs, as in, “Headquarters wants a report” (example from Wikipedia, “Elohim”). Grammarians call this kind of usage plural of majesty, plural of extension, or other names.

The name Elohim by itself doesn’t convey a plural idea of God, but Genesis 1:26 might, when God says, “Let us make man in our own image.” In Old Testament theology this usage calls to mind the divine council (see Job 1), and to New Testament people it calls to mind the Trinity.

I think you’re right that we can’t “wrap our minds around the Trinity.” C. S. Lewis tried in his essay “Beyond Personality.”

Another useful title: Mark Smith’s The Early History of God.

Second person singular and plural forms in NT Greek

May 14, 2010

Here’s an article of mine from the Loookout that just came out in Johnson Bible College’s ChurchLink webzine: “By Their Plurals You Shall Know Them.”

Happy Easter

April 3, 2010

A happy Easter to any who read this.

Χριστός ἀνέστη. ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη.

Atonement/ propitiation

February 19, 2010

The same question came in from a former student and a current one within about a week.  Here’s an edited version of the exchanges:

First student: I noticed that there is a difference in translation of the word hilasmos in I John 2:2; 4:10 and Romans 3:25.  The NIV renders it “atonement”  many other versions translate it “propitation.”   Why the discrepency?   If I understand correctly there is a difference in  meaning, with propitiation being a “wrath removing sacrifice” and  atonement being a “covering of sin”.   It would seem that would make a difference in the interpretation of the whole text; am I correct?

Does it have something to do with NIV’s fear of the concept of “wrath”? In Romans 5:11 the word katalage is translated “atonement.”   I guess my question is: is the NIV wrong and should that be translated  “propitation” or something of the sort????  And what word best fits with  the concept of the “mercy seat” ?  What does the LXX use??

Me: Interesting issue.  Louw and Nida distinguish between reconciliation and forgiveness.  Reconciliation means bringing two parties back into a friendly relationship, and the NT writers use the –αλάσσω word group  (including καταλλαγή) and a few others like “make peace/ peacemaker,”  “mediator,” and the like.  Forgiveness means releasing people from the  consequences of their sins, using words like ἀφίημι, ἀπολύω, χαρίζομαι,  and the ἱλασκ- word group (including ἱλασμός).

You may be on to something by suggesting the NIV avoids “wrath.”  Here’s what Louw and Nida say along those lines:  “Propitiation is essentially a process by which one does a favor to a person in order to make him or her favorably disposed, but in the NT God is never the object of propitiation since he is already on the side of people” (Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domains, 1st ed., 504; emphasis added).  And yet Rom 5:9 seems to weaken this claim, when Paul says that “we will be saved from the wrath [of God].”

Another student who read the exchange: Thanks! I agree with [the first student] concerning the NIV. Do you know if they have come out with a statement regarding 1 John 4:10 or the passages in Romans where propitation isn’t used?

Me: No, I don’t know of any such statement.  Interesting.Ω

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