I just got back from a week of teaching the Pastorals at the Carolina School of Divinity. In going through the Pastorals again I was reminded how difficult some Greek can be to exegete. The interpretation of some passages just ends up being 50/50, and 2 Tim 1:12 is one of them.
I was asked about the subjunctive in John 3:16. The concern was that the NIV/NLT reads “shall,” which makes it a promise of salvation. His contention is that the subjunctive makes it a “condition of salvation” and it should be translated as “may,” and the Greek grammar does not “allow” the translation “shall.”
I had a great time at Lifeway a few days ago, and as I was leaving they handed me an HCSB study Bible. Pretty impressive, especially in its use of color. Not sure I like their lack of formatting on poetry, but time will tell. Anyway, I thought I would use it for my daily devotions for a while; it is fun to develop a better feel for the translation.
This is not a big deal, but the NIV struck me as a little strange here. Jesus cries out, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani." The soldiers think he is calling for Elijah, and one of them offers Jesus some wine vinegar. The others respond, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
Every once in a while we find a Greek word or expression that simply cannot come into English. We want to translate every word, but in some cases, no matter what you choose, you create the wrong impression of what was being said.“Woman” is one of those words.
Here is a great example of the ambiguity of personal endings. In Mark 13:29 Jesus says, “So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near (ἐγγύς ἐστιν), at the very gates ” (ESV).
Any first year Greek student knows that ἐστιν is third singular, and that the personal ending does not designate gender. So what is the subject of the verb?
I was teaching on the end of Mark 1 a couple weeks ago in Sunday School, and I hadn't read the text as carefully as I should have. I was using the NIV; because I am more familiar with this story in the ESV, I wasn't ready for the surprise.
So lesson #1: prepare for Sunday School by reading the entire passage in the Bible version from which you are teaching.
One of the greatest exegetical conundrums for me is this final phrase in the Lord’s Prayer. My assumption is that when asked how to pray, Jesus would have given an answer that was understandable. But then again, I am not Jesus.
As we all know, Jesus starts by orienting us to God, his immanence and transcendence. “Our Father in heaven.”
I have always said there is always a reason for any one specific translation. For all the versions out there, and all the different verses, there always seems to be a specific reason why the translators did what they did in every verse; there are no random translations.
I was reading through Mark 5 this weekend in preparation for Sunday school, and it was interesting to watch the prepositions. It illustrates how you have to watch context carefully in choosing just the right translation. I will be using the NIV to illustrate.
First class conditional sentences are formed with a protasis (the “if” clause) with εἰ and the indicative (any tense). Their basic meaning is to say that if such-and-such is true (and we will accept the truth of the protasis for the sake of the argument), then such-and-such will occur.
I am back from Asia, safe and sound. I discovered, among many things, that the native language has four tones, and the differentiation in tones is as significant to them as a change in consonants would be to us. I was trying to say “Thank you” and almost no one recognized my feeble attempt. But when I changed the tone just a tad, their eyes lit up.
I have been playing around with word meanings lately. How do words get meaning? We understand that words have a semantic range, a bundle of meanings, and it is the context of the passage and not the word’s etymology that is determinative of meaning.
I came across an interesting situation this morning in Sunday School. (You remember Sunday School? That mid-level entry point into our mega churches?) The NIV translates Mark 3:21 as, “when his family heard about this… “?
"Family" is a translation of οἱ παρ᾿ αὐτοῦ, which is to say, rather strange. In which sense are these people παρά him?
We often distinguish between two types of translations, a formal equivalent and a dynamic equivalent. Formal tries to stick to the Greek/Hebrew grammar as closely as possible while still making sense in English. Dynamic focuses more on meaning; as the NIV says in its preface, “we have sought to recreate as far as possible, the experience of the original audience.”
Perhaps this is a little overstated, but it did get your attention.
I just got back from the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. One of the things I wanted to see is the new release of the standard Greek text of the New Testament, the NA28. I ran into a grinning Wayne Grudem, and he told me about Jude 5.