There is an old saying: to translate is to lie. For your average church-goer, this may be a bit unsettling. Suddenly very bothersome questions start to arise. Are my English translations wrong? Can they be trusted? Do I have to know Hebrew and Greek to truly understand what the Bible says? The answer to all of these questions is: no…sort of. Join me as I give a few examples.
On Thursday I turned in my final paper for my Advanced Introduction to the New Testament class. The paper was called: “The Eschatology of the Old Testament: A Case Study in Ezekiel 40 – 48”. If you don’t know, “eschatology” comes from the Greek word “eschaton” which means “end”. So “eschatology” is a theology of the end. What happens at the end? People have been asking this question for a long time. It’s a very interesting subject because the canonized Hebrew Bible does not have the fully developed eschatologies that Judaism and Christianity would later see. Ezekiel 40-48 is of particular interest given the way that the writer of Revelation leaned massively on it. I have posted my paper for you here if you are interested to read it. If you do subject yourself to it here is what I recommend: first read through Ezekiel 40-48, and then second, keep your bible out because you’ll also want to read other passages to which I refer (Jer 31, Zech 14, etc).
If anyone is brave enough to read it, I’d love to know your thoughts.
P.S. Yes, I do know there are a few errors in the paper. I missed them before I turned it in.
If you were writing a letter to a friend, trying to convince him or her that some very supernatural events were real, what would you do? I think that a probable course of action is to link it to something in reality to make it more believable and understandable. You might also link it to the religion of your friend so that it fits into their worldview. When Luke tells about Paul’s (the text still refers to him as Saul at that point) vision of Jesus (Acts 9) this is precisely what he does.
The Apostle Paul seemed to constantly be fighting an uphill battle in regard to his apostolic authority. He writes in multiple letters about this topic because some doubted his authority, teaching, and even his motives. One way for him to link his authority to Jesus, to the prophets, and to God was the retelling of his commission. How did Paul use this true story to speak to the faithful? Let’s dig in.
If you’re like me, then even after you hagah (roar like a hungry lion and then devour) the scriptures, they’re still bouncing around in your head. After I posted the shorter version of this post I called my friend Bryan Nix and we shot ideas back and forth and in the process came up with some very cool links in these two passages and I wanted to share them.
The blog post that follows is almost all of the text of part 1, but much more in-depth.
Every time you read a Bible story, ask yourself: where else in the text can this story be found? And also ask: how does knowing where this text is coming from help in my understanding of it? The Bible frequently plays upon and expands upon itself. Why is this relevant? A substantial portion of the entire New Testament is written in this manner. Time after time, Jesus uses the Tanakh (Old Testament) as a foundation for what he teaches and the stories he tells.
Join me today as we look at an interesting story in the New Testament which expands upon at least three other stories in the Bible! Is this a story about Paul having a hard time getting from one place to another? Or is there something deeper going on?
If you are a first time reader of my blog or if you have read every article I’ve ever written, there is a very important concept to understand about the Bible that I continue to reiterate: the text plays and expands on the text. Over and over again we see this happening. When you see a story in the text, ask first: where else in the text is this coming from? Let’s look at an example, in Jesus’ brilliant exposition in Luke 15.
Over and over again in the New Testament it’s clear that the story has some basis in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Over and over again, when we do a little digging, we find that the all-important backdrop of the New Testament is found in the Tanakh. From the way people talk to the things they do, it’s all firmly rooted in God’s book.
A good example of this is in Acts 16. When Paul and Silas are in prison, what they do there is no exception to this rule, and knowing what the backdrop of this story is helps to enrich it greatly! Continue reading
At the Prestoncrest church we have been going through a series on worship on Sunday mornings. Gordon Dabbs, our preacher, has been doing an excellent job preaching this difficult subject. Worship is something that has historically divided many churches, and is still an issue today. Being of a much younger generation, I have never seen it as such a major issue, but I recognize the potential for Satan to use it to divide and conquer.
One key concept of worship that Gordon has been going over springs from how Jesus enables us to worship God face-to-face, without anything in the way. In my own study and research I’ve found that this subject is a powerful image of the Hebrew culture.
When you read the Bible you begin to see the story-within-the-story. What I mean by that is that stories in the histories and prophets of the Tanakh are often first told in the Torah. These new stories retell the same one in the Torah but add new insights to the precepts of God. These stories show us the meaning of God’s will in our lives through a lived-out story. An example is how the rabbis have viewed the story of Jonah as a retelling of Noah, but in an entirely new light. In Noah, the one man (and his family) was saved from the flood – in Jonah the one man is plunged into the flood. In Noah, the wicked would be destroyed – in Jonah, the wicked would be saved. The comparisons can go on and on (perhaps the subject of a future post). But once you understand this idea of stories being retold in new ways, you begin to see them all over the place.
At our Sunday evening church service, our preacher Gordon Dabbs was continuing his series on David’s life, this week focusing on David’s son, Absalom. While I listened to his sermon, his words triggered something in my mind and I found a Torah parallel to this story that I will now share with you. My thanks to Gordon for sharing his sermon which triggered my thoughts.
There are many word-pictures in the Bible to illustrate to the human mind what God is like. One of the biggest we see is God as our shepherd. I’d like to examine something that perhaps you have never thought of regarding God shepherding His people.