Archive for category Greek
Last night was the first real night of our Hebrews study. Our study group actually met last Wednesday, but it was more of a meet-and-greet.
One of the themes that kept emerging throughout the discussion of Hebrews 1 was the author’s set up of his (or her) theme or thesis or argument. It is similar to how a lawyer would present a case. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to me during the days and weeks leading up the study, and only right in the midst (I might have developed the idea a little more being a lawyer and all), but it will end up being a good starting point, I think.
The opening four verses (a single sentence in the Greek) are powerful. Already, the author has grabbed the audience’s attention contending that (1) God has spoken to the fathers through the prophets and (2) God has spoken in His Son, who (3) upholds all things through the word of His power and (4) has a much better name than the angels. The importance of these conclusions to a Hebrew audience cannot be overstated.
The author then, in proving the superiority to the angels, immediately invokes Messianic Psalms. Again, the significance is clear. This Son is the one to whom the scriptures have been pointing. Everything that has come before has been to try and illustrate this.
In Chapter 2, the author cuts right to it, “if the word spoken through the angels proved unalterable,” then how much more is this true since He said it and God confirmed it through sings, wonders and miracles.
The audience is presented with the inescapable conclusion before the identity of the Son is revealed. Quite a stroke of persuasive genius, especially considering the intended audience.
And then the really good news, the devil is rendered powerless (Genesis 3:15), the slaves are set free, and He is there to help us because He gets it. He became one of us, and He gets it.
This is obviously a very shorthand version of an hour-and-a-half Bible study. I don’t know if my study/discussion notes will be of any help, but I have included them as separate posts, and you are certainly free to use and abuse them as you feel the need:
At the end of the semester I will probably make a master post with links to everything, but for now it’s one week at a time.
I am excited to report on a new blog I was emailed about last night (by my pastor). It is the World Bible Translation Center Weekly Blog (Wonder of the Word). The Wonder of the Word…it has a Beauty of the Bible sort of feel, doesn’t it?
As it happens, the founding pastor of our church now works at the World Bible Translation Center. If I’m not mistaken, an Arabic translation was released recently, and the WBTC is currently working on several translation projects. Here is the list of the languages in which the WBTC has completed a translation, and you can download the Bible in pdf form in Burmese, Punjabi, or one of the other languages.
The WBTC has also published an English Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) (originally the English Version for the Deaf, or the EVD), which served as the basis for the International Children’s Version (ICV) which I am becoming acquainted with as the father of an 11-month old. So, you may be familiar with the WBTC even if you’re not familiar with it.
If you are so led, you may also support the WBTC financially (the blog is not a solicitation for funds, by the way) which our church and my family does. We have been told that it costs approximately $750,000.00 to translate the Bible into a new language, or approximately $25.00 per verse. It should come as no surprise to my readers that my wife and I have chosen to sponsor Genesis 1:1 in as many languages as possible.
It is a worthwhile project and I highly encourage you to support it in any way possible. You can put it in your blogroll.
Here is some more really cool Bible stuff. If you spend very much time at all searching Bible stuff online, you probably already know about these, but, if not, enjoy.
Codex Sinaiticus – A fourth century Greek Christian Bible with a complete New Testament. The Codex Sinaiticus Project is an effort to digitize the entire Codex and make it viewable online. The website which was recently launched has several complete books of the Bible already available for viewing and is scheduled to have the entire Bible online by July 2009.
Hebrew for Christians – Just about everything you needed to know about the Hebrew language.
AmazingBible.org – An interesting site which treats virtually every major issue in Christianity. It is essentially one large index of Christian doctrine and theology. The site is the product of a Baptist person or organization, although I haven’t figured out who or what specifically, so file that info away for what it’s worth. Candidly, my wife and I were members of a spirit-filled Baptist Church for a while, although we attend a non-denominational church now, and I have no idea whether or not I endorse everything in the site because there’s simply so much information I haven’t even come close to seeing it all.
Biblioblogs.com – A fairly thorough list of biblioblogs, so if you are a regular reader of this or other Bible blogs and you just can’t get enough, check out Biblioblogs.com and discover other great Bible blogs.
Previous Cool Bible Stuff Posts:
As you may know, the Hebrew language and the ancient Hebrew alphabet in particular are the subject of many of my posts. I do not pretend to be an expert in Bible translation, so I try to avoid making critical distinctions between the numerous Bible translations on the market. However, one question does seem to come up in my discussions a lot (one I am asked, and one I ask): Which Bible translation do you prefer?
First, while I certainly have opinions about some of the translations available, I have come to the conclusion that, as with most other things religious, it is far too easy to become legalistic about preference in Bible translation. All translations contain a certain level of subjectivity in interpretation. I do believe some translations to be of a higher quality than others, but I have yet to come across a translation that was so bad or so heretical that I would tell someone not to read it. I would suggest that you find a translation you are comfortable with, read it, get to know it, and branch out from there.
Well, here are my two cents (because that’s really about all it’s worth).
My primary reading and study Bible is a thinline New American Standard (NASB). For regular reading and church going, I prefer not to lug around a 5lb. study or application Bible. Admittedly, when I first began studying the Bible seriously, I spent a great deal of time and energy researching which Bible translation was the most accurate. I don’t believe there is a definitive consensus on this point, but I was able to determine that a fair number of scholars far more qualified than I believe the New American Standard Bible to be the most accurate and literal English translation. The King James Version (or Authorized Version) being a close second. The one knock on the NASB seemed to be that it was less readable than some other translations. However, I have found the NASB to be very readable, and I would highly recommend it to anyone as a study and/or reading Bible. My NASB is my personal favorite.
Over time, I broke free from the bondage of having to use only the most literal translation. I know there is a large King James-only camp, and I almost developed an NASB-only mentality, but thank the Lord I didn’t because I have found considerable value in reading other translations. I have found the New International Version (NIV) to be highly readable and as accurate in rendering meanings as almost any translation available. In fact, when I have had occasion to give gift Bibles, I have given the NIV because of its balance between readability and accuracy. The NIV also seems to be the most common Bible in pulpits and pews where I live (west Texas). I have an NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword study Bible and a thinline, plain text edition that I carry to churches where I know the pastor preaches out of the NIV.
My first post-NASB and NIV purchase was a pocket-sized New King James Version (NKJV). I purchased it as a curiosity more than anything else, and I had a difficult time getting into the flow of reading it. The New King James wasn’t quite as familiar as the old King James, and it wasn’t quite as readable as the NASB or the NIV, so I had difficulty early on. But, I have recently begun to enjoy reading the NKJV. Admittedly, it’s not as literal as the NASB and not as readable as the NIV, but it is growing on me. I know many in the KJV-only camp rant about the NKJV, and, on my personal list of favorite translations, the NKJV is about fourth or fifth, but I do not believe the NKJV to be the perversion that others claim it to be. I don’t think my NKJV will ever replace my NASB as my own personal favorite, but I will continue to read it frequently and, if you have only ever read one other version for the last several years, give the NKJV a try.
The most recent addition to my Bible collection is an English Standard Version (ESV) which I have only been reading for about a month. So far so good. I must confess, I was drawn to the ESV simply by walking through bookstores and seeing the stacks upon stacks of ESV’s with a size and decorative scheme for every taste. While I found many of the covers to be horrendous, there were a few that caught my eye. I resisted the urge, however, and only when I had a chance to snag a gray, pocket-sized ESV emblazoned with a Celtic cross on the cover for $5 with other purchase, did I finally give in. I’m glad I did because I have found the ESV to be both highly accurate and highly readable. I am seriously considering making my ESV my bookbag Bible (it fits perfectly in the pocket). And, although I have never been to a church where the pastor preached from the ESV (that I know of), it seems that everyone has a pocket-sized ESV (in matching color of course) in a backpack or purse ready to whip out at a moment’s notice. You might as well get one too.
Now, if only the ESV’s publisher would write a paragraph about the following footnote on the translation page rather than footnoting every use of brothers:
Fn. Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters.
I think it would save more than a few trees considering how many times brothers is used in the New Testament. Plus, I’m tired of being suckered in to reading a footnote that I have read over and over. If you have an ESV, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a small point, but one that is rapidly developing into a pet peeve. I may send the publisher a letter. Perhaps, he¹ will read this post.
¹The English word he has traditionally referred to both men and women, depending on the context, and may refer to either a man or a woman.
Shortly after I was set free from my dependence on my NASB, as I began my journey through the various translations, I came across a Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) in the bargain bin of a local Christian bookstore alongside the mis-imprinted Bibles (by the way, those bins are worth perusing if you are looking for other versions to study, God forbid you carry to church a Bible where your name is misspelled, or, worse yet, where someone else’s name is misspelled, but, to have on your shelf for studying when no one else will see, it is well worth the money). It was a great find, and not a misspelling or mis-imprint to be found. The cover design left a lot to be desired, I don’t blame others for leaving it on the shelf based on appearance. But, I have been particularly pleased with the treatment of the Hebrew, even if it is in the footnotes where the references to alternative translations of words and phrases are found. I would highly recommend the HCSB as a reading and/or study Bible.
Last, but certainly not least, the King James Version. How can you not love the King James Version (the Authorized Version to those outside the US)? The Lord’s prayer just isn’t the same unless it is in King James English. I’m not quite in the King James-only camp, but I do love to read the King James Version and to hear it read from pulpits. It just feels right. I know it has its problems, all translations do, but if I were stuck on a deserted island with only two Bible translations, I would take my NASB and my King James Version. I hope later generations influenced by text messaging and email will not completely shrug off the King James Version. I hope my generation doesn’t either. If you haven’t read your King James Version in a while, and I know you have one on a shelf somewhere, go pull it out and start reading it again.
What I Reference:
David Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible is one of my favorite resources for referencing and understanding Jewish and Hebrew stuff. The Complete Jewish Bible which consists of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the B’rit Hadashah (New Covenant/Testament) gives the traditional Protestant Bible a decidedly Jewish flare, rather than the Protestant Bible giving the Jewish Bible a Protestant flare. I don’t think even David Stern would argue the Complete Jewish Bible is a literal translation, but it is one of my favorites.
For my Hebrew research, I use a paperback copy of the Jewish Publication Society’s Hebrew-English Tanakh which is an entirely original translation of the Old Testament. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but this translation has come in very handy.
My favorite New Testament resource is my Interlinear NASB/NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. I really cannot rave about this book enough, so I won’t bother trying, but, if you spend any time at all studying the New Testament Greek, get this book.
I have two Keyword Study Bibles, a King James Version and an NIV. I love them both dearly. Everyone needs a Keyword Study Bible.
When I’m writing, I frequently reference The Contemporary Parallel New Testament (eight translations side-by-side). It includes the King James Version, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, New King James Version, New Century Version (NCV), Contemporary English Version (CEV), New Living Translation (NLT) and The Message. I would love to have an entire Bible like this, but it would probably be 10,000 pages long.
What’s Next (And My Wish List):
We recently celebrated the birth of our first child, Libby, so I will be reading the International Children’s Bible for the next few years. I’m excited about that. I bought her a little pink one for her birthday.
I am also eager to get my hands on an Amplified Bible. I’m curious to read a Bible with a running in-text commentary.
My next major endeavor will probably be the Apologetics Study Bible. I must confess to being somewhat skeptical of the need to label anything “apologetics” or anyone an “apologist”. It seems all things are and we all should be. I’m also reluctant to endorse anything trendy, and apologetics is all the rage in Christian circles, but my curiosity is getting the better of me…
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