Friday, December 5, 2008

'soma psychikon' in 1 Cor. 15


From JETS:

Second, many commentators, most notably Robert H. Gundry in his magisterial Soma in Biblical Theology, have exploded the old ploy to construe σώμα ψυχικόν as "physical body" and subsequently oppose it to σώμα πνευματικόν ("spiritual body"). By way of summary, σώμα is never used in the NT to denote anything other than the physical body or the human being with special emphasis on the physical body. Hence to maintain that σώμα πνευματικόν refers to a σώμα made out of πνεύμα ("spirit") is self-contradictory, for an immaterial body composed of πνεύμα, by definition, ceases to be a σώμα ("physical body"). Rather, as William Lane Craig points out, Paul discloses the meaning of ψυχικόν and πνευματικόν in 1 Cor 2:14-15: "Α ψυχικός άνθρωπος Csoul-ish human') does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him or her . . . but the spiritual human (πνευματικός) discerns all things." Here we find that ψυχικός and πνευματικός represent opposite dominating principles towards which a person can be fundamentally oriented—either the person's own ψυχή ("soul") or the πνεύμα ("Spirit") of God.29 Clearly ψυχικός άνθρωπος does not signify a "physical human," but rather a human primarily inclined towards the selfish desires of his or her own soul. Likewise, πνευματικός does not refer to an immaterial human, but rather a human primarily inclined towards the desires of the Holy Spirit. It logically follows, therefore, that a σώμα ψυχικόν ("soul-ish body") is a body instinctively steered by the will of the soul, while the σώμα πνευματικόν ("spiritual body") is the same body of flesh as the σώμα ψυχικόν but instinctively steered by the will of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the notion that Paul's doctrine of resurrection in 1 Cor 15:44 opposes the physical body to an immaterial spiritual body is seen to be vacuous.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A belated celebratory shout for the new, the new home of the Better Bibles Blog (formerly found here), one of my favorite blogs on the Web, period—and the inspiration for this blog and many of its posts. In my glee I cooked up a Twitter feed and two widgets for and will be turning them over to the powers that "BBB" at that blog:

Twitter feed:



(feed with links to posts only) (feed with links to both posts and comments, via Twitter)


Friday, November 7, 2008

VT on [ydm] in Amos 5:13

From Vetus Testamentum :

To understand the word ידם in Amos v 13 the point is not necessarily to decide whether it signifies silence, mourning or moaning but to recognize that the verb, regardless of which of these options one prefers, signifies shock and extreme anguish before a display of God’s power.14 This is evident from other usages of the verb in the Hebrew Bible.


Friday, September 12, 2008

JSOT on 'anak' in Amos 7:8

From JSOT:

Duping the Prophet: On [anak] (Amos 7.8b) and Amos's Visions*
by Tzvi Novick
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Vol. 33, No. 1, 115-128 (2008)


I have suggested that, after Amos intercedes to avert the destruction
portended in the first two visions, God rigs the third and fourth visions
so that the prophet will unwittingly sentence Israel, and thus preclude
himself from again intervening on their behalf. God achieves this aim
by taking advantage of the fact that Amos, while prophesying in the
north, is by origin a southerner. The wordplays in the third and fourth
visions rely on puns particularly accessible only to speakers of the
northern dialect, so that Amos can be lured into them unsuspectingly.
In line with this approach, I have interpreted [ank] in 7.8b as a dialectical
variant specific to the north, with the meaning ‘I’ or ‘sigh’. Different
versions of both interpretations have been suggested before, but, in
addition to providing a general framework that explains why [ank] on
either interpretation is otherwise unattested in Biblical Hebrew
(namely, because it is specific to the northern dialect), I have also
marshaled new arguments in support of both proposals.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NTS on 'arrabon' in 2 Cor. 1 and 5

From NTS:

[A]ρραβων as Pledge in Second Corinthians
Yon-Gyong Kwon
New Testament Studies (2008), 54: 525-541


This article argues that αρραβων in 2 Corinthians (1.22 and 5.5) does not mean ‘down payment’ or ‘first installment’ but ‘pledge’ without any sense of pars pro toto. After showing that the meaning of the word depends on its context, the study goes on to examine the two occurrences of the word, concluding that Paul either appeals to the Spirit as God's pledge for his apostolicity (1.22) or as a pledge for the surety of bodily resurrection (5.5). The common view that αρραβων depicts the Spirit as the present realization of salvation is thus exegetically unfounded.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Arie Uittenbogaard on 'a little lower' in Psalm 8:5


From Arie Uittenbogaard:

Psalm 8:5 celebrates mankind's autonomy and sovereignty. The word elohim should here (if not always) be translated with 'powers that be' (after Romans 13:1) and the verb hasar should not be ignored:

[My] translation:

Psalm 8:5, "And You made him so that he requires little from the powers that be."


Uittenbogaard's take was really interesting and brand new to me. I wonder if this reading would at all speak to Israel's polytheistic religious surroundings; all other religions in their world at the time (how's that for a generalization) bore the idea that you got different things (i.e. crops, offspring, victory) from different gods, and had to appease them all with different sacrifices--and so monotheism was radical because it suggested one God could be in charge of everything. (By the way, I think the majority of American Christians are functionally polytheistic, worshiping God on in his sanctuary and the gods of capitalism, consumerism, nationalism, militarism, and other -ism's in their sanctuaries.) But still, the "requires little from the powers that be" doesn't fully fit this idea, since humans needed nothing from the idol gods of their neighbors (if that's what 'elohim' means here), and needed everything from God.

Anyway, I wonder how YLT and GLT (see below) landed on their rendering (which Uittenbogaard applauds), since it seems like a very unusual choice compared with most historical versions given here. But the NET (see below) sure has done its homework on this!

More generally, looking at these wildly varying translations of this verse is a reminder of the peril of Bible translation; there are so many different ways to translate a verse--and even so many different ways to get it right! And when self-professed "literal" (<skepticism>snort</skepticism>) translations conflict with each other this much, you see why the word "literal" should never leave home without its quotation marks. I realized in compiling these that even the most staunch supporter of "literal" translation would never consistely render "elohim" as "gods" rather than occasionally (and interpretively, if correctly) go with "God." Wouldn't true consistency (or, the [<scorn>eye roll</scorn>] concordant method) in, among other places, Exodus 20:2-3, either turn references to God into "pagan gods" or references to pagan gods into "God"? That would be a slight problem.

Update: Here and here is the analysis I asked for from John Hobbins, and here's a look at the LXX from Suzanne. More here from Bob MacDonald.

ותחסרהו מעט מאלהים

וַתְּחַסְּרֵ֣הוּ מְּ֭עַט מֵאֱלֹהִ֑ים

watəḥassərēhû mmə‘aṭ mē’ĕlōhîm

ηλαττωσας αυτον βραχυ τι παρ' αγγελους

You diminished him a little in comparison with angels


Minuisti eum paulominus ab angelis

Thou hast maad hym a litil lesse than aungels

Du hast ihn wenig niedriger gemacht als Got

After thou haddest for a season made him lower the the angels

For thou hast made him a little lower then God

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels

And causest him to lack a little of Godhead

For thou hast made him but little lower than God

Yet Thou hast made him but little lower than the angels

Yet thou hast made him little less than God

For you have made him only a little lower than the gods

Yet you made them inferior only to yourself

For You have made him lack a little from God

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings*

Yet you have made them a little lower than God*

* Or than the divine beings or angels: Heb elohim
Yet you have made him little less than a god

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings*

You have made them* a little lower than the heavenly beings**

You made us a little lower than you yourself

and make them a little less than the heavenly beings?*

* Heb “and you make him lack a little from [the] gods [or “God”].” The Piel form of חָסַר (khasar, “to decrease, to be devoid”) is used only here and in Eccl 4:8, where it means “to deprive, to cause to be lacking.” The prefixed verbal form with vav (ו) consecutive either carries on the characteristic nuance of the imperfect in v. 5b or indicates a consequence (“so that you make him…”) of the preceding statement (see GKC 328 §111.m). Some prefer to make this an independent clause and translate it as a new sentence, “You made him….” In this case the statement might refer specifically to the creation of the first human couple, Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 1:26-27). The psalmist does appear to allude to Gen 1:26-27, where mankind is created in the image of God and his angelic assembly (note “let us make man in our image” in Gen 1:26). However, the psalmist’s statement need not be limited in its focus to that historical event, for all mankind shares the image imparted to the first human couple. Consequently the psalmist can speak in general terms of the exalted nature of mankind. The referent of אֱלֹהִים (’elohim, “God” or “the heavenly beings”) is unclear. Some understand this as a reference to God alone, but the allusion to Gen 1:26-27 suggests a broader referent, including God and the other heavenly beings (known in other texts as “angels”). The term אֱלֹהִים is also used in this way in Gen 3:5, where the serpent says to the woman, “you will be like the heavenly beings who know good and evil.” (Note Gen 3:22, where God says, “the man has become like one of us.”) Also אֱלֹהִים may refer to the members of the heavenly assembly in Ps 82:1, 6. The LXX (the ancient Greek translation of the OT) reads “angels” in Ps 8:5 (this is the source of the quotation of Ps 8:5 in Heb 2:7).
Yet we've so narrowly missed being gods

and You make him little less than the gods

And You made him so that he requires little from the powers that be.

Monday, June 30, 2008

JSOT on 'tob' in Genesis 6.2

Carol Kaminski in JSOT:

In Gen. 6.2 the sons of God see that the daughters of humankind are 'beautiful', yet the adjective used in 6.2 is not {he}{pe}{yod}, 'beautiful, handsome', but {bet}{vav}{tet}, 'good'. An examination of the adjective {bet}{vav}{tet} in the present study leads to the conclusion that {bet}{vav}{tet} in Gen. 6.2 does not mean 'beautiful', but 'good'. This study proposes that 6.2 is not connected to the 'beauty' motif found in the ensuing chapters of Genesis, but to the 'seeing...good' motif in the preceding creation story (Gen. 1-3). The conclusion is reached that what sets the story in motion is not the attractive appearance of the women, but the false judgment by the sons of God whose actions recall Eve's in Gen. 3.6.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

The 'impossibility' of literally translating volition and succession in Ruth 2


From Muraoka's grammar (qtd by Steinberg):

The nuance of succession and the volitive cannot be expressed at the same time. Thus it is not possible to render the following literally: "I want to go and I (then) want to glean"; either the expression of succession or that of will must be sacrificed, to give either: "I want to go and to glean" (Ru 2.2) or "I want to go and (then) I shall glean" (cf. Ru 2.7).


אלכה־נא השדה ואלקטה

Heb (xlit)
ēləḵâ-nnā’ haśśāḏeh wa’ălaqŏṭâ

LXX (nets)
Let me go now to the field and gather

vadam in agrum et colligam spicas quae metentium

Y schal go in to the feeld, and Y schal gadere

Let mee goe to the fielde, and gather eares of corne

Let me now go to the field, and glean

Let me go to the field, and glean

Let me go to the fields and pick up

I'm going to work; I'm going out to glean

• The more I think about this, the more I wonder if English doesn't adequately convey both volition and succession in phrases like "I'd like to go and see them," or, in this case, simply "I will go and glean."

• I just realized I had it backwards; Muraoka is saying s&v can be simultaneously expressed in Hebrew but not in English. I think. I've confused myself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Biblica on Heb. 9:11

S. Fuhrmann in Biblica(pdf):

My approach is based on the observation that a ‘soteriological reading’ of Heb 9,11 is neither necessary nor particularly meaningful. The participium coniunctum
παραγενόμενος ἀρχιερεὺς τῶν γενομένων ἀγαθῶν should rather be read as a strictly christological statement, meaning thus: ‘(Christ), arrived as the high priest whose good qualities (virtues) have come into being’.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

JETS on 'ya'al' as the last word of the Old Testament


John Sailhamer in JETS:

From a literary perspective, there is no intertestamental gap between the Testaments. The last word in the Hebrew Bible can also be understood as the first word in the NT. It is a verb without a subject ( וְיָֽעַל
2 Chr 36:23, "let him go up"). Its subject could very well be taken from the first chapter of Matthew in the NT. It is a call for the coming of that one "whose God is with him," and who is to build the Temple in Jerusalem. In Chronicles (and the post-exilic prophets) this one is the messianic (priestly) son of David. Matthew's Gospel, which follows immediately after this last word, begins like Chronicles, with a genealogy identifying Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), the son of David, who is Emanuel, "God with us."


The Messiah and the Hebrew Bible
John Sailhamer, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Journal of the Evangelical Society 44:1 (March 2001)

Friday, June 6, 2008

SJOT on 'masa' in Hab. 1:1


David Cleaver-Bartholomew in SJOT:

According to Tucker, prophetic superscriptions indicate how these texts were understood, and they characterize the book. The superscription in Hab 1,1 indicates that the early tradents who placed it at the beginning of the text understood that chs 1 and 2 should be read as a [משא]. Relatively recent research by Richard D. Weis has revealed that the term [משא] not only identifies a prophetic utterance, but also a genre of prophetic speech.22 One extremely important and relevant characteristic of this genre is that preexilic [משאות] texts frequently contain within themselves the revelations upon which they are based. Another important and relevant characteristic of [משאות] texts is that they respond to “a question about a lack of clarity in the relation between divine intention and human reality. Either the divine intention being expressed in some aspect of human experience is unclear, or the divine intention is clear enough, but the human events through which it will gain expression are unclear.”


Thursday, June 5, 2008

JSOT on Jeremiah's pun on 'brother,' 'supplant,' and 'Jacob'


Joachim Krause in JSOT:

While Jacob is liked for his shrewd tactics, people are well aware of the moral problem entailed. Unambiguous accounts are not wanting in the Bible. Hosea 12.4 interprets the prenatal struggle of the twins in an overtly critical account of Jacob’s career: ‘in the womb he supplanted (עקב)* his brother’. Harsher still sounds Jeremiah’s brief and unbalanced remark (Jer. 9.3), playing on the popular etymology of Jacob’s personal name as meaning ‘supplanter’: Trust not a brother, for every brother tries to supplant’ (אל־תבטחו כי כל־אח
עקוב יעקב וכל־רע

* The semantics of the root 􀀳􀁂􀀋 deserve careful treatment; see n. 5, below, and cf. M. Malul, ‘􀀡􀆖q􀆝b “Heel” and 􀀡􀆖qab “to Supplant” and the Concept of Succession in the Jacob–Esau Narratives’, VT 46 (1996), pp. 190-212. In the present instance, though (as in Jer. 9.3), the LXX’s 􀁑􀁕􀁆􀁓􀁏􀁊􀀑􀁛􀁘 (‘to outwit’) provides a well-chosen interpretation of an attempt whose factual outcome is illuminated by the English verb ‘to supplant’.


JBL on 'dikaioma' in Romans 5:16


J.R. Daniel Kirk in JBL(pdf):

Although mild defenses of the translation “justification” have been offered, I will argue that a better way forward is to render δικαίωμα with the well-attested meaning of “judgment,” “penalty,” or “reparation”—an action performed by a convicted person that satisfies the court and thus justifies the defendant. After summarizing the argument offered in favor of the translation “justification,” I will argue for “reparation” based on (1) inherent probability (that is, that Paul is more likely to use a word with a meaning his readers would understand), and (2) contextual considerations (these simultaneously undermine an assumptionmade in the argument for “justification” and support the alternative reading offered here).


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Hebrew verb + cognate participle as an idiomatic intensive, esp. in LXX quotes


Mark Krause:

If the LXX and thus the Hebrew background of the Greek verb + cognate participle are taken into account, any interpretation must see this construction as intensive; any translation must attempt to bring this out.

A survey of the English translations of Mk 4.12 will be illustrative at this point. Unfortunately, the AV translators apparently did not understand the idiom and rendered the text very literally: 'seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear and not understand'.

Subsequent translations have followed suit:

NASB: 'while seeing they may see and not perceive; and while hearing, they may hear and not understand' (similarly ASV, NKJV).

Others have attempted to do something beyond such a literal translation:

JB: 'they may see and see again, but not perceive; may hear and hear again but not understand';

NEB: 'they may look and look, but see nothing, they may hear and hear and understand nothing'.

A few have apparently understood the intensive nature of this construction and tried to bring this out in translation:

NIV: 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding';

NAB: 'they will look intently and not see, listen carefully and not understand';

NRSV: 'they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand' (similarly RSV)

The translator should recognize the intensity of this construction and render it appropriately. The English method for intensifying a verb is frequently to use an adverb. The choice of adverb should be guided by the recognition that the Hebrew verb + cognate infinitive absolute construction seeks to intensify the verb's assertion, not its root meaning. Words like 'surely', 'certainly' (or 'most certainly') and 'intently' are appropriate. A possible translation of Mk 4.12 might be:

They are sure to look and not really see,
They are sure to listen and not really understand.

A possible translation of Mt. 13.14 might be:

You will surely listen but certainly not understand,
You will surely look but certainly not see.

— Mark Krause, in Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics, p.198-199

Monday, June 2, 2008

new light on Psalm 22:17?

The issue is introduced here by John Hobbins, with more to come there. (Update: Here it is.) My earlier meditation on this is here.

'Bethlehem': 'house of bread' vs. 'house of struggle'


From Chuck Cliff:

Not many are aware that [the word] Bethlehem is ... formed from "Bait", "house", and "LeHeM", "bread". Bethlehem therefore has the literal meaning "House of Bread".

The interesting [thing] is that the root meaning of bread refers to the kneading of the dough. As a verb, LHM can refer to battle, in particular the hand-to-hand combat one saw in olden times. Therefore, the word basically means "struggle", "strife", "confrontation".

A small thing, but interesting that the place where the Christian savior is born is, the "House of Bread" or "House of Struggle".


'gunai' and the limits of corpora


Micheal Palmer:

In some cases the limitations of working with ancient texts are recognized, by solutions are not proposed. E. Wendland and E.A. Nida, for example, offer the following statement in their article, 'Lexicography and Bible Translating':

The limited corpus of the New Testament and of other Koine Greek texts makes it impossible to undertake the find-grid distinctions which would be possible if there were more data available and particularly if informants of New Testament Greek were available.

They offer no discussion, however, of how their semantic theory may be adapted to this limitation. In fact, some of their statements might lead the skeptic to conclude that the limitation has been ignored. They state, for example, 'in Greek itself gunai has an associative meaning which is far more favorable than the English term woman.' While this may be a completely valid conclusion, how did they reach it? How can associative meaning be measured given the limited corpus available?

— Micheal Palmer, "How Do We Know a Phrase Is a Phrase?" in Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics, p.155

Paul the Platonist? 'Pneuma' in Romans 6-8


Emma Wasserman on Paul and Platonism, in JSNT:

As I have argued for chs. 6 and 7, a Platonic discourse about the soul provides for a more coherent interpretation of Paul’s diverse statements about sin. Once we understand the divide in Platonic terms as between sin, flesh, members, body (negatively) and passions, which are opposed to reason (the inner person), [nous] and law, these different statements cohere as elaborations of the same oral-psychological premises. But ch. 8 introduces something new to the picture developed in chs. 6–7: the [pneuma] (spirit) of God. This has important implications for God’s intervention with Christ in 8.1-13, as it suggests that Paul envisions a special type of [pneuma] that dwells inside the mind and restores its capacity for reason and self-control. While I cannot here explore the mechanism by which this happens, an infusion of God’s [pneuma], Paul consistently treats the new way of life offered to Gentiles as a new state of self-control. This makes good sense when considered as a restoration of the Gentile mind that God punished in Rom. 1.18-32 by handing it over to the rule of passions and to an evil mind (1.24, 26, 28).

Appreciating Paul’s use of Platonic assumptions allows one to make sense of the association between sin and flesh throughout 8.1-13 as well as exhortations such as ‘if by the [pneuma] you put to death the doings of the body, you will live’ (8.13). On my reading, this means that the [pneuma] enables a new mastery of the body with its passions and desires that allow for ethical behavior and acquittal at the final judgment. Platonic premises are particularly helpful for understanding 8.5-11 which attribute some form of intelligence to the flesh. ... In service of the analogy, Paul poses two hostile powers within the body, here flesh and spirit, and attributes them antithetical reasoning activities.


Friday, May 30, 2008

'follow' in Hos. 5:11


Kirsten Nielsen in Studia Theologica:

In Hos 5.11 one of the reasons for [God's] anger is mentioned, namely that Ephraim “decided to follow lies”. In his doctoral dissertation, Goumlran Eidevall points out that the word for “follow”, אחרי
can be used either about following idols (cf. Deut 13:3; Jer 2:5) or about following Yahweh (cf. Deut 13:5; Jer 2:2). He interprets this on the basis of the flock following the shepherd.


'their fathers' source' in Jer. 50:7?

Kirsten Nielsen in Studia Theologica:

Van Hecke further suggests that the parallel expression ומקוה אבותיהם [in Jer. 50:7] should not be rendered ‘‘their fathers’ hope’’ but ‘‘their fathers’ source’’. This interpretation is supported by among other things a reference to Jer 17:13, where Yahweh is spoken of as מקוה ישראל moreover in a verse which ends with the accusation of abandoning ‘‘the Lord, the spring of living water’’. Yahweh can thus form part of a narrative about sheep and shepherds without being depicted as a shepherd or a lion, but rather as the pasture where the sheep eat.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lloyd Bailey on 'The Ambiguity of the Word “Flood”'

Lloyd Bailey in his Smyth&Helwys commentary:
Among the Mesopotamians with whom Israel’s ancestors had once lived (Gen 11:27-28; Josh 24:2), the word for “flood” (abûbu) could be used in two senses: (1) for a great deluge comparable with the biblical flood at the time of Noah; and (2) for a destructive “flood” of foreigners who had swept through and decimated the homeland. It is possible, therefore, that much later Judeans in exile to Babylonia (6th century BC) would hear the story of Noah’s flood and think of their own exile in similar terms: both events were the result of human sinfulness and both had the potential to provide for a new beginning.


Anaphora in Mark 11:2, and other fun with transference

Paul Danove in Filología Neotestamentaria(pdf):

In usages of transference, the verbs’ three required arguments receive lexical realization as their three required syntactic complements. Koine grammar, however, provides three mechanisms that permit the omission of one or more of these complements in specific circumstances. First, Anaphora permits the omission of one, two, or all three syntactic complements when the context specifies their definite semantic content. Such “definite null” complements are bracketed in the concluding clause of the following example:

Go into the town opposite you, and immediately on entering into it you will find tied a colt on which no human being ever sat: untie it and [you] bring [the colt] [to me / Jesus] (Mark 11,2)

῾Υπάγετε εἰς τὴν κώμην κατέναντι ὑμῶν, καὶ εὐθὺς εἰσπορευόμενοι εἰς
αὐτὴν εὑρήσετε πῶλον δεδεμένον ἐφ’ ὃν οὐδεὶς οὔπω ἀνθρώπων ἐκάθισεν·
λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ φέρετε.

Second, Passivization permits the omission of the Agent complement even when its definite semantic content cannot be retrieved from the context. Such omissions, however, introduce the possibility of polysemy or multiple interpretations. This receives further consideration below. Third, Generalization permits the omission of a Theme complement whose definite semantic content is not specified in the context and
assigns to such “indefinite null” Theme complements the general but circumscribed interpretation, “whichever entities that appropriately may be transferred in the manner designated by the verb”:

And I will give to each of you [what is appropriate] according to your works (Rev 2,23)

καὶ δώσω ὑμῖν ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ὑμῶν.

Paul Danove, "Verbs of Transference and Their Derivatives of Motion and State in the New Testament: a Study of Focus and Perspective." Filología Neotestamentaria, Vol.19(2006) 53-71

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

'Couches' in Psalm 149:5?

"Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches." (Ps. 149:5, NRSV)

Psalm 149,5: 'they shout with joy on their couches'
Th. Booij
Biblica, Vol. 89 (2008) 104-108. PDF

... In that verse, the element על־משכבותם, ‘on their couches’, is problematic.

Ps 149,5 can be understood from the literary motif of intensified spiritual activity and receptivity in resting time, particularly in the night. Formally, the statement of this verse is related to Cant 3,1. In vv. 5-9 the psalm describes the feelings and mental images of YHWH’s faithful with regard to a future judgement on the nations. The consciousness of Israel’s special position, expressed in the preceding hallelujah-psalms as well, is brought to a climax.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

'phroneo' as 'agree' in Phil. 4:2

From J.K. Gayle:

I’m sitting in church today listening to the pastor preach from Philippians 4:2-9. The jump out word from me is φρονέω, which I think I “know.” Paul’s writing in v. 2 gives instructions to two women he names: “Εὐοδίαν παρακαλῶ καὶ Συντύχην παρακαλῶ τὸ αὐτὸ φρονεῖν ἐν κυρίῳ.” My diglot has RSV, the committee of which makes it this way in English: “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” So I look up a few verses: chapter 2:2 has Paul giving the same instruction to the entire church: “τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε” or RSV committee’s “of the same mind.” Wow. Different English.

So the same Greek gets the RSV committee take variously these ways:
τοῦτο φρονεῖτε “Have this mind” 2:5
τοῦτο φρονῶμεν καὶ εἴ τι ἑτέρως φρονεῖτε
“thus minded; and if in antyhing you are otherwise minded” 3:15
οἱ τὰ ἐπίγεια φρονοῦντες “minds set on earthly things” 3:19
τὸ ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ φρονεῖν ἐφ’ ᾧ καὶ ἐφρονεῖτε “your concern for me; you were indeed concerned for me” 4:10

So three different English language words by the RSV committee as they “know” one Greek word: “agreement” “mind(edness)” and “concern for”


Friday, May 9, 2008

'trample my sins' in Psalm 51

Suzanne McCarthy on 'wash' in Psalm 51:

In Ps. 51:4 and 9,

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. JPS

the verb for "wash" is כּבס but it applies only to washing clothes, not to the body. In fact, I was rather surprised (I don't know why) to find that the Gesenius Lexicon has,

pr. to tread or trample with the feet, to wash garments by treading on them when underwater

and in Holladay,

To full, ie. clean cloth by treading, kneading or beating


I don't know how this meaning could be translated but it certainly does not mean that God daintily wipes away the stains. It does not evoke an image of gently pouring water over our bodies in a peaceful cleansing ritual.


I'll add a comment at her post that Calvin Seerveld's rendering in Voicing God's Psalms is apt:

Scrub me utterly clean of my guilty wickedness!
Make me pure from my wasteful sin!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Paul's day job - skenopoios

From L.L. Welborn:

Readers of the revised article on σκηνοποιός in [Danker] will make the surprizing discovery that the traditional understanding of the term used to describe Paul's occupation in Acts 18.3 as 'tentmaker' is wholly without lexical support outside the Bible and literature that the Bible has influenced, and futhermore is undermined by a variety of practical considerations.* Instead, Danker proposes the meaning of 'maker of stage properties', appealing to Pollux, who explains that the word is a synonym for μηχανοπιός, which is either a 'stagehand' who moves stage properties or a 'manufacturer of stage properties.'* Danker concludes: 'In the absence of any use of the term σκηνοποιός beyond the passages in Pollux and the Hermetic Writings, and the lack of specific qualifiers in the text of Acts 18.3, one is left with the strong probability that Luke's publics in urban areas, where theatrical productions were in abundance, would think of σκηνοποιός in reference to matters theatrical.'* If the report of Paul's occupation in Acts 18.3 is historically reliable, then Paul was a 'prop maker'. This would go far to explain the number, specificity, and richness of Pauline metaphors drawn from the world of the theater and amphitheater (e.g. 2 Cor. 11.1-2-12.10; Phil. 3.12-4.3, etc.)*

—L.L. Welborn, Paul, the fool of Christ: a study of 1 Corinthians 1-4 in the comic-philosophic tradition, p.11,12

Friday, April 25, 2008

Robert Alter on 'nephesh' as 'throat' in Psalm 63:2

From Robert Alter:

Thirsting reflects a distinctive aspect of Psalms. These poems, even if many of them were written to be used in the temple cult, exhibit an intensely spiritual inwardness. Yet that inwardness is characteristically expressed in the most concretely somatic terms. Here is another example of the psalmist's longing for God articulated as thirst:

God, my God, for You I search.
My throat thirsts for You,
my flesh yearns for You
in a land waste and parched, with no water. (63:2)

The King James Version, and most modern translations in its footsteps, has the "soul" thirsting for God, but this is almost certainly a mistake. The Hebrew nefesh means "life breath" and, by extension, "life" or "essential being." But by metonymy, it is also a term for the throat (the passage through which the breath travels) or, sometimes, for the neck. As the subject of the verb "thirst" and with the interlinear parallelism with "flesh," nefesh here surely has its physical meaning of "throat." The very physicality, of course, makes the metaphor of thirsting all the more powerful.

- Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, p. xxvii-xxviii


אלהים אלי אתה
אשחרך צמאה לך
נפש כמה לך בשרי
בארץ־ציה ועיף

אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֵלִ֥י אַתָּ֗ה אֲֽשַׁחֲ֫רֶ֥ךָּ צָמְאָ֬ה לְךָ֨׀ נַפְשִׁ֗י כָּמַ֣הּ לְךָ֣ בְשָׂרִ֑י בְּאֶֽרֶץ־צִיָּ֖ה וְעָיֵ֣ף בְּלִי־מָֽיִם׃

’aḵə ’el-’ĕlōhîm dûmîyâ nafəšî mimmennû yəšû‘āṯî:

ο θεος ο θεος μου προς σε ορθριζω εδιψησεν σοι
η ψυχη μου ποσαπλως σοι η σαρξ μου εν γη
ερημω και αβατω και ανυδρω

O God, my God, early I approach you
my soul thirsted for you
How many times did my flesh thirst for you
in a land, desolate and trackless and waterless?

Exaudi, Deus, orationem meam cum deprecor ;
a timore inimici eripe animam meam.

God, my God, Y wake to thee ful eerli. Mi soule thirstide to thee; my fleisch thirstide to thee ful many foold.

O God, thou art my God;
early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee,
my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land,
where no water is;

O God, thou art my God; earnestly will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, In a dry and weary land, where no water is.

O God, you are my God,
and I long for you.
My whole being desires you;
like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land,
my soul is thirsty for you.

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

God, you are my God, I pine for you; my heart thirsts for you, my body longs for you, as a land parched, dreary and waterless.

O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

You are my God. I worship you.
In my heart, I long for you,
as I would long for a stream
in a scorching desert.

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.

God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you!
I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.

God, my God, for You I search.
My throat thirsts for You,
my flesh yearns for You
in a land waste and parched, with no water.

Related Post
Eugene Peterson on 'nephesh'

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't 'Walk' in NIV's 2 Cor. 5:7?

Like tc, I'm a TNIV fan, but like him (after reading his post, at least), I'm puzzled and unconvinced by Fee and Stuart's argument for translating "peripateo" as "live" instead of "walk" in 2 Cor. 5:7 ("for we walk by faith, not by sight," NRSV). (It looks to me like the problem--or issue, at least--arose with the NIV, so it's not a TNIV-specific matter.)

Read all about it at tc's post--including the comment citing O'Brien on Hebraistic influence.

By the way, the NIV also took "walk" out of passages such as Romans 6:4 ("walk in the newness of life," NRSV), Gal 5:16 ("walk by the Spirit," RSV, and Eph. 2:10 ("that we should walk in them," RSV)--though the NRSV, my default translation, followed the NIV on the latter two moves. (tc now notes that the TNIV actually put "walk" back into Eph 5:2!)

διὰ πίστεως γὰρ περιπατοῦμεν οὐ διὰ εἴδους

dia pisteōs gar peripatoumen ou dia eidous

per fidem enim ambulamus, et non per speciem

for we walken bi feith, and not bi cleer siyt.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why 'hairy' in Psalm 68:21?

"But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways." (Psalm 68:10, NRSV)

In verse 21b 'the hairy crown' is parallel to 'the heads' in line 'a.' Some take this phrase to refer to the custom of warriors not cutting their hair while engaged in holy wars. NEB has 'flowing locks'; NJB 'long-haired skull.'

- Robert Bratcher, Translator's Handbook on the Book of Psalms

אך־אלהים ימחץ ראש
איביו קדקד שער
מתהלך באשמיו׃

הָ֤אֵ֣ל׀ לָנוּ֘ אֵ֤ל לְֽמֹושָׁ֫עֹ֥ות וְלֵיהוִ֥ה אֲדֹנָ֑י לַ֝מָּ֗וֶת תֹּוצָאֹֽות׃

’aḵə-’ĕlōhîm yiməḥaṣ rō’š ’ōyəḇāyw qāḏəqōḏ śē‘ār miṯəhallēḵə ba’ăšāmāyw:

πλην ο θεος συνθλασει κεφαλας εχθρων αυτου κορυφην τριχος διαπορευομενων
εν πλημμελειαις αυτων

But God will shatter his enemies' heads,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their errors


verumtamen Deus confringet capita inimicorum suorum verticem crinis ambulantis in delictis suis

Netheles God schal breke the heedis of hise enemyes; the cop of the heere of hem that goen in her trespassis.

Surely God will wound the head of his enemies, and the hearie pate of him that walketh in his sinnes.

But God shall wound the head of his enemies,
and the hairy scalp of such a one as goeth on still in his trespasses.

But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways.

But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.

Indeed God strikes the heads of his enemies,
the hairy foreheads of those who persist in rebellion.*

tn Heb “the hairy forehead of the one who walks about in his guilt.” The singular is representative.

Our Lord and our God,
your terrible enemies
are ready for war,* but you will crush
their skulls.

* 'are ready for war': The Hebrew text has "have long hair," which probably refers to the ancient custom of wearing long hair on special occasions, such as a "holy war."

What's more, he made heads roll,
split the skulls of the enemy

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Shema transliterated into Greek alphabet in Austria inscription

From the University of Vienna, via, via e.t.c.:

Archaeologists from the Institute of Prehistory and Early History of the University of Vienna have found an amulet inscribed with a Jewish prayer in a Roman child’s grave dating back to the 3rd century CE at a burial ground in the Austrian town of Halbturn. The 2.2-centimeter-long gold scroll represents the earliest sign of Jewish inhabitants in present-day Austria.

Curiously, the prayer is Hebrew--the Shema from Deuteronomy 6--but is transliterated into the Greek alphabet:



Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.

• comments at e.t.c.

More about the Shema from

שמע ישראל יהוה
אלהינו יהוה אחד׃

שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה׀ אֶחָֽד׃

šəma‘ yiśərā’ēl yəhwâ ’ĕlōhênû yəhwâ| ’eḥāḏ:

photo of inscription

ακουε Ισραηλ κυριος ο θεος ημων κυριος εις εστιν

Audi, Israël: Dominus Deus noster, Dominus unus est

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

'mega phone' in Revelation 1:10

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice (phōnēn megalēn) like a trumpet ..."(Rev. 1:10)

ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου φωνὴν μεγάλην ὡς σάλπιγγος

egenomēn en pneumati en tēi kuriakēi hēmerai, kai ēkousa opisō mou phōnēn megalēn hōs salpingos

Monday, April 14, 2008

'shields of the earth' in Psalm 47:10

James Barr on using the LXX in Hebrew philology in Psalm 47:10:

Thus the practice of philological treatment has often been to use the LXX or other version not as a direct corrective of MT but as evidence for the identification by comparative methods of Hebrew words or senses previously unknown. ... A good first example is Ps. 47.10

[נדיבי עמים נאספו
עם אלהי אברהם כי
לאלהים מגני־ארץ
מאד נעלה׃ ]

literally apparently 'the shields of the earth'. The LXX (46.10) has

[ αρχοντες λαων συνηχθησαν μετα του θεου Αβρααμ οτι του θεου
οι κραταιοι της γης σφοδρα επηρθησαν ]

'the powerful of the earth', cf. also Syriac 'whdynyh d'r' 'the powers of the earth'. The normal Hebrew sense 'shield' has been felt to be strange: are there 'shields of the earth' which belong to God? Emendations have been suggested which produce a sense like 'princes'; in these the versions are used as clues to construct a consonantal text different from MT. A philological treatment is offered by Driver, who says that the LXX here provides 'far the earliest evidence' for the root of Arabic majin 'bold'. Perhaps, then, there was a Hebrew [מגן] 'bold, insolent', preserved only through the versional evidence. KB, following Driver, registers this as a Hebrew word.

The textual and the philological treatments both result in roughly similar senses ('princes' or 'insolent ones', against the traditional 'shields'), but the mode by which this result is reached is different. In the one case it is reached by altering the text, in the other by offering a different explanation of the same text. ...

In addition to these possibilities, one case also say that the meaning is 'shields' and that this is a figurative expression for the rules or the mighty ones of the earth. This explanation through metaphor, if correct, removes the original difficulty. It implies that the LXX were vague about the meaning and gave a general guess; or that in the translation they abandoned the metaphor and gave expression to that to which the figure referred, rather than reproduce the figure itself in Greek.

- James Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament, p.241-242

נדיבי עמים נאספו
עם אלהי אברהם כי
לאלהים מגני־ארץ
מאד נעלה׃

עַמִּ֨ים׀ נֶאֱסָ֗פוּ עַם֮ אֱלֹהֵ֪י אַבְרָ֫הָ֥ם כִּ֣י
לֵֽ֭אלֹהִים מָֽגִנֵּי־אֶ֗רֶץ מְאֹ֣ד נַעֲלָֽה׃

nəḏîḇê ‘ammîm| ne’ĕsāfû ‘am ’ĕlōhê ’aḇərâām kî lē’lōhîm māḡinnê-’ereṣ mə’ōḏ na‘ălâ:

αρχοντες λαων συνηχθησαν μετα του θεου Αβρααμ οτι του θεου
οι κραταιοι της γης σφοδρα επηρθησαν

Rulers of peoples gathered with the God of Abraam,
because the strong of the earth are God's.
They were very much raised up.


Principes populorum congregati sunt cum Deo Abraham,
quoniam dii fortes terræ vehementer elevati sunt.

The princes of puplis ben gaderid togidere with God of Abraham; for the stronge goddis of erthe ben reisid greetli.

The prynces of the people are gathered together vnto the God of Abraham: for God is farre farre hyer exalted, then the mightie lordes of the earth.

Die Fürsten der Völker sind versammeltals Volk des Gottes Abrahams; denn Gott gehören die Starken auf Erden; er ist hoch erhaben.

The princes of the people are gathered vnto the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the world belong to God: he is greatly to be exalted.

The princes of the people are gathered together, with the God of Abraham: for the strong gods of the earth are exceedingly exalted.

The princes of the people are gathered together,
even the people of the God of Abraham:
for the shields of the earth belong unto God:
he is greatly exalted.

The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted!

The rulers of the Gentiles have returned to the God of Abraham; for the dominions of the earth belong to God and he is greatly exalted.

The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings* of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
* Or shields

The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.

The nobles of the nations assemble,
along with the people of the God of Abraham<17>
for God has authority over the rulers<18> of the earth.
He is highly exalted!<19>

17) tc The words “along with” do not appear in the MT. However, the LXX has “with,” suggesting that the original text may have read עִם עַם (’im ’am, “along with the people”). In this case the MT is haplographic (the consonantal sequence ayin-mem [עם] being written once instead of twice). Another option is that the LXX is simply and correctly interpreting “people” as an adverbial accusative and supplying the appropriate preposition.

18) tn Heb “for to God [belong] the shields of the earth.” Perhaps the rulers are called “shields” because they are responsible for protecting their people. See Ps 84:9, where the Davidic king is called “our shield,” and perhaps also Hos 4:18.

19) tn The verb עָלָה (’alah, “ascend”) appears once more (see v. 5), though now in the Niphal stem.

Their leaders come together
and are now the people
of Abraham's God.
All rulers on earth
surrender their weapons,
and God is greatly praised!

The rulers of the nations assemble
with the people* of the God of Abraham.
More powerful than all armies is he;
he rules supreme.

The rulers of the world have gathered together
with the people of the God of Abraham.
For all the kings of the earth belong to God.
He is highly honored everywhere.

Msg Princes from all over are gathered,
people of Abraham's God.
The powers of earth are God's-
he soars over all.

Related Earlier Post
Provocative Vocative in Psalm 47

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

elpizomen - "we had hoped"

ἡμεῖς δὲ ἠλπίζομεν ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ μέλλων λυτροῦσθαι τὸν Ἰσραήλ (read)

hêmeis de êlpizomen hoti autos estin ho mellôn lutrousthai ton Israêl (read)

To me one of the saddest verses in the Bible is Luke 24:21, spoken by Cleopas on the road to Emmaus: "But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." ἠλπίζομεν - we had hoped. John Witvliet says:

“Had hoped” means that the hope is gone. This is hope in the past tense. It is this candor that draws us in. This is the story about those who are sympathetic to Jesus’ message, but whose lives are in limbo because of the apparent failure of God’s promises. It is about those of us who quite can’t get our minds around the Easter message. It’s about two people on the road to Emmaus and all those in the 2000 years since whose hope is past tense hope.

As with the Emmaus travelers, the fulfillment of our hope lies in what we do not see unless it is revealed ("then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him").

"But if we hope -- ἐλπίζομεν -- for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." (Romans 8)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Homonymy in Job 4:3?

From James Barr:
The production of new homonyms raises a question about the communicative efficiency of Hebrew. So far as I have found, the producers of philological treatments have taken notice of this question only in very isolated cases. Tur-Sinai notices it, for instance, when he proposes the suggestion that the word רב [rb] should in certain places be understood not as 'great, numerous' but as another word meaning 'weak, powerless, afraid'.

Job 4:3, הנה יסרת רביםוידים רפות תחזק׃
can then read:

If thou hast supported the powerless
and strengthened the weak hands

--which, of course, gives a good parallelism. Other instances suggested by Tur-Sinai are Job 4.14, 26.3, 35.9. He goes on to remark that:

The pronunciation of this word was apparently different from that of רב [rb] in the ordinary sense; otherwise it would not have been possible effectively to contrast רב [rb] 'numerous, great' with אין כח 'powerless' (II Chron. 14.10 [or 11]).

The text at II Chron. 14.10 [or 11] reads:

אין־עמך לעזור בין רב לאין כח

Whatever we may think of Tur-Sinai's solution, it is of real interest that he has noticed the problem of reduction of communicative efficiency caused by homonymy, and has adjust his solution to it by the virtual addition of a qualification making clear that in the original situation there cannot, in his judgment, have been a homonymy.

- James Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament, p.134

הנה יסרת רבים
וידים רפות תחזק׃

Heb (ptd)
הִ֭נֵּה יִסַּ֣רְתָּ רַבִּ֑ים
וְיָדַ֖יִם רָפֹ֣ות תְּחַזֵּֽק׃

Heb (xlit)
hin·neh yis·sar·ta rab·bim;
ve·ya·da·yim ra·fo·vt te·chaz·zek.

ει γαρ συ ενουθετησας πολλους και χειρας ασθενους παρεκαλεσας

LXX (nets)
So what, if you instructed many
and encouraged the hands of the weak one,


Ecce docuisti multos,
et manus lassas roborasti ;

Lo! thou hast tauyt ful many men,
and thou hast strengthid hondis maad feynt.

Behold, thou hast taught many,
and hast strengthened the wearie hands

Behold, thou hast instructed many,
and thou hast strengthened the weak hands.

See, you have instructed many;
you have strengthened the weak hands.

Think how you have instructed many,
how you have strengthened feeble hands.

Look,(7) you have instructed(8) many;
you have strengthened(9) feeble hands(10)

7 tn The deictic particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “behold”) summons attention; it has the sense of “consider, look.”

8 tn The verb יָסַר (yasar) in the Piel means “to correct,” whether by words with the sense of teach, or by chastening with the sense of punish, discipline. The double meaning of “teach” and “discipline” is also found with the noun מוּסָר (musar).

9 tn The parallelism again uses a perfect verb in the first colon and an imperfect in the second; but since the sense of the line is clearly what Job has done in the past, the second verb may be treated as a preterite, or a customary imperfect – what Job repeatedly did in the past (GKC 315 §107.e). The words in this verse may have double meanings. The word יָסַר (yasar, “teach, discipline”) may have the idea of instruction and correction, but also the connotation of strength (see Y. Hoffmann, “The Use of Equivocal Words in the First Speech of Eliphaz [Job IV–V],” VT 30 [1980]: 114-19).

10 tn The “feeble hands” are literally “hands hanging down.” This is a sign of weakness, helplessness, or despondency (see 2 Sam 4:1; Isa 13:7).

You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words
that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

dying daily in 1 Corinthians 15:31

From Gordon Fee:

[Paul] elaborates on the continual dangers mentioned in the opening sentence: "Daily* I die." Taken as an elaboration of v. 30, this means something like "On a daily basis I face the reality of death."** Although one cannot be sure as to what this refers specifically, there are several hints in this letter and in 2 Corinthians that his stay in Ephesus was anything but an Aegean holiday. ... What follows comes as something of a surprise. It is a kind of oath, the first word serving as the affirming particle (= "I swear by"),*** and the next words serving as that by which one swears. Literally it reads "I swear by your boasting," which he quickly qualifies as "(boasting) which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord."

- Fee, commentary on 1 Corinthians, p. 820

καθ' ἡμέραν ἀποθνῄσκω νὴ τὴν ὑμετέραν καύχησιν ἀδελφοί ἣν ἔχω ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν

Gk (xlit)
kath' hêmeran apothnêskô, nê tên humeteran kauchêsin, adelphoi, hên echô en Christôi Iêsou tôi kuriôi hêmôn.

cotidie morior per vestram gloriam fratres quam habeo in Christo Iesu Domino nostro

Ech dai Y die for youre glorie, britheren, which glorie Y haue in Crist Jhesu oure Lord.

By oure reioysinge which I have in Christ Iesu oure Lorde I dye dayly

By oure reioysinge which I haue in Christ Iesu or LORDE, I dye daylie

So wahr ihr, liebe Brüder, mein Ruhm seid, den ich in Christus Jesus, unserm Herrn, habe: ich sterbe täglich.

By your* reioycing which I haue in Christ Iesus our Lord, I die dayly.

* As though he said, "I die daily, as all the miseries I suffer can well witness, which I may truly boast of, that I have suffered among you."

I die daily, I protest by your glory, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Every day do I die, by the glorying of you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord:

I protest by that glorifying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

I protest, brethren, by my pride in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!

My friends, I face death every day! The pride I have in you, in our life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord, makes me declare this.

I die every day--I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you-a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I face death every day--yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day!

I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as* my boasting in you,** which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

* Or, more literally, "I swear by the boasting in you."

** Although the witnesses for the shorter reading (Ì46 D F G ? 075 0243 1739 1881 Ï) are not as strong as for the addition of ἀδελφοί (adelfoi, "brothers") at this juncture (? A B K P 33 81 104 365 1175 2464 lat sy co), it is difficult to find a reason why scribes would either intentionally or unintentionally drop the address here. Thus, the shorter reading is slightly preferred.

and face death every day? The pride that I have in you because of Christ Jesus our Lord is what makes me say this.

For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you.

I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I'd do this if I wasn't convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

'erets,' 'ratsah,' and imaginative etymological rabbinic interpretation

From James Barr:

Why, for instance, Genesis Rabba asks with reference to Gen. 1:10, did God call the dry land ארץ ['erets]? The answer is: because [it] "conformed" (רצח [ratsah]) to his "will" (רצון [ratsohn]. Etymologizing interpretation of this kind, though found particularly in connexion with personal names, is to be found in all sorts of other connexions also [in rabbinic literature].

- James Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament, p.45

Friday, March 28, 2008

Jesus' post-Resurrection greeting in Aramaic

28:9a. "Hi!" chairete. ... The word can translate the Hebrew shalom (see at 26:49), but it is not as dignified as the Greek eirene hymin ("Peace be with you") used in Luke's and John's accounts of the Risen One's greetings (Luke 24:36; John 20:19, 26), nor it is anywhere near as august as the Old English [sic] "All hail" used here by the King James Version. The word's closest modern American equivalent, I think, because it is closest to what we most often say in meeting, is the extremely simple "Hi!" This earthiness is wonderful!

- Frederick Dale Bruner, Matthew: A Commentary: The Churchbook, Matthew 13-28

Bruner's excellent rhetorical observations on Christ's post-resurrection greeting (from which my pastor usefully drew an entire Easter sermon last Sunday)--particularly his note about the Hebrew--made me wonder about the Aramaic greeting here, specifically whether it was a cognate of the Hebrew shalom.

Sure enough, Peshitta's interlinear gives the greeting in Matt 28:9 as s-l-m:

Peshitta interlinear

CAL glosses the noun as "peace" and the verb as "to be whole" (not sure about interjectory or salutary use).

So in this greeting I hear a linguistic echo of the new creation order of shalom that the resurrection itself so gloriously established!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The problem with 'textual surgery'

From JSNT:

The contemporary biblical scholar Stephen Moore, who has jettisoned the source- and form-critical scalpels of his former training in textual surgery, confesses his disenchantment with mainstream critical methods in this way:

For seventeen years I have aspired to be a biblical scholar. By the end of my first year I had learned to use a knife, although not a table knife. I had learned not to devour the book, nor even the Word, to internalize them, to become one with them. Instead I had learned to dissect the book and the Word (Moore 1996: 39).

This sums up my wariness about beginning academic study of the biblical languages, though I would say--or at least hope--that dissecting can be one way to, as Eugene Peterson says, "eat this book."

JSNT on the rhetorical assumptions of indentations (or: how not to identify a hymn)

From JSNT:

In the vast field of scholarship surrounding New Testament hymns, consider the list of rationales that have been offered for construing a text as a poem or hymn. First, here are some of the rationales that should be discounted immediately, since they are vague and applicable to too many kinds of texts: parallelism,7 a series of threes (Lohmeyer 1927–28: 5-6), unusual vocabulary,8 figurative language (Bailey and Vander Broek 1992: 76-82), theological or Christological concepts,9 and my favorite, ‘it is a carefully constructed passage’ (Hooker 1975: 159).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

no 'silliness' in Ephesians 5:4?

Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Eph. 5:4, NRSV

The list of evils continues in v. 4 with three words for sins of speech, all of which occur only here in the NT. The first, aischrotes, "obscenity," is similar to aischrologia, which occurs in Col. 3:8. The second, morologia, means literally the words or language of a fool. It refers not to speech that lacks intelligence or education but to speech that lacks wisdom or a godly perspective on life. The third, eutrapelia, had both positive and negative connotations. In the former case it means wittiness and pleasantry (see Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, 4.8, 1128a), even factiousness, but in a negative context such as here it refers to coarse humor, sexual innuendoes, or even dirty jokes. These are not the kind of things which should come out of Christian mouths, which should be used to express thanksgiving.

- Ben Witherington, commentary on Ephesians

καὶ αἰσχρότης καὶ μωρολογία ἢ εὐτραπελία ἃ οὐκ ἀνῆκεν ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον εὐχαριστία

Gk (xlit)
kathôs prepei hagiois, kai aischrotês kai môrologia ê eutrapelia, ha ouk anêken, alla mallon eucharistia.

sicut elegit nos in ipso ante mundi constitutionem, ut essemus sancti et immaculati in conspectu ejus in caritate

ethir filthe, or foli speche, or harlatrye, that perteyneth not to profit, but more doyng of thankyngis.

nether filthynes nether folishe talkyng nether gestinge which are not comly: but rather gevynge of thankes

Auch schandbare und närrische oder lose Reden stehen euch nicht an, sondern vielmehr Danksagung.

nether fylthines, ner folish talkynge, ner ieastynge (which are not comly) but rather geuynge of thakes.

Neither filthinesse, neither foolish talking, neither iesting, which are things not comely, but rather giuing of thankes.

Or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks.

neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.

Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Nor is it fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane, or vulgar. Rather you should give thanks to God.

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving

There must be no foul or salacious talk or coarse jokes--all this is wrong for you; there should rather be thanksgiving.

Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving.

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving

nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not appropriate; but rather giving of thanks.

Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting – all of which are out of character – but rather thanksgiving.

Don't use dirty or foolish or filthy words. Instead, say how thankful you are.

Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.

Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

and filth and foolish chatter or dirty jokes which are not proper, but rather thanksgiving.

Monday, March 24, 2008

'euthus' in Mark

From Rodney Decker:

Due to the frequent and distinctive use of εὐθύς [EUTHUS] in Mark,<1> greater space is devoted to this deictic marker.<2> The semantic field of εὐθύς may refer to sequential action (with either the connotation of a short intervening duration of time between two events or of no intervening event/s) or it may suggest the rapidity with which an event occurs.<3> It may, in addition to these meanings, function as a conjunction with a meaning not greatly different from καί. In this case it may add a nuance of sequence (though not necessarily temporal sequence, but in the sense of, "the next thing I want to say is…"),<4> or it may be "otiose, and a mere mannerism."<5> Both adverbial and conjunctive uses are considered together in this section.


Update: Much more, including a comparison/contrast of euthus in Matthew and Mark, from alefandomega.