Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bibleworks 9: Original Languages Software for the Blogger and the Busy Pastor
Part One

[Note: The Greek and/or Hebrew language fonts are unicode SBL Greek or Hebrew. To view these you will need to download the Society for Biblical Literature fonts by clicking here: SBL Greek font and SBL Hebrew font. You can also download the SBL Greek New Testament for Bibleworks 9 here: SBL Greek New Testament with Textual Apparatus. You will need to follow the instructions carefully to get the Textual Apparatus to open properly in Windows. This does take some knowledge of how to navigate in the Windows Explorer windows and how to unblock blocked help files.]

If you are looking for a reasonably priced Bible software package, then Bibleworks 9 is for you. You will want to keep your hardcopy library of commentaries. However, doing exegetical work can be time consuming without computer software. Exploring the lexicons, Bible dictionaries, and grammars can be tedious when having to do the work via traditional hardcopy books. With the speed of the computer these studies are greatly expedited, especially if you are rusty with your parsing abilities for Greek and Hebrew.

Bibleworks 9's resources window conveniently lists all the resources with the verse reference you are exploring and any key words you may have highlighted in either Greek, Hebrew or English. The linked Strong's numbers and tense/voice/mood numbers in the KJV are helpful for comparison with the original language lexicons available there as well.

For example, suppose I want to study John 3:3. The exegetical information available is second to none. The way we read a passage makes all the difference. The way the pericope has been traditionally reinterpreted is telling. Most ministers explain away the context to fit preconceived ideas about what the text says plainly. Let's take verse 3 for example:

Jesus answered, "I assure you, unless someone is born anew, it's not possible to see God's kingdom." (John 3:3 CEB)

No translation of the Bible is perfect. The only version I could find that correctly translates the word δύναται is the Common English Bible, which correctly says “possible”. The definition of the Greek root word or lemma, δύναμαι, is to be able. Another way to understand this is ability or possibility. Those more familiar with Greek will recognize that “dunatai” is a verb indicative present middle 3rd person singular from “dunamai”.

The Greek New Testament verse for John 3:3 reads:

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. (John 3:3 BNT)

Another way of translating the verse would be: . . . “[he] is unable to see God's kingdom.” This sounds a bit awkward in English, which is why most translations simply say “he cannot see God's kingdom” or something similar. But this is good English that does not necessarily convey the idea of inability. In English it sounds more like the person is not permitted to see or that he limits his own ability to see or something along that line. However, the inability to see is not based on the choices of the person but on an innate ability within the soul or the human nature. In other words, it is not a self limitation but a limitation caused by original sin and total inability.

This might sound as if I am drawing preliminary conclusions and perhaps that is true to some extent. However, Scripture interprets Scripture. Let's examine the Greek text more closely with some parsing and other information to help.

First of all, The New International Version and the New Living Translation mistranslates the first part of the verse from a literal perspective. The text does not say, “Jesus answered”. It says “Jesus answered and said to him . . .” I'm being nitpicky here but if every word is inspired by God in context then a translation should seek to be faithful to the text in every detail when translating.

The Basic Bible in English says, “He is not able to see . . .” This is a conditional statement that states something that grants the person an ability to see. Without something in addition to natural ability something else is absolutely essential. Exactly what is this additional something necessary for the ability to see the kingdom? John says that it is being “born from above” or “born anew”. Traditionally we call this being “born again”.

I realize I'm working backwards in the verse. But please bear with me. The diagramming tool comes in handy here as well. We can seen more clearly how the verse is laid out if we see it like this:

When Jesus says to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly . . .” or “Verily, verily . . .” he is using a form of Greek that emphasizes that what he is about to say is a formal claim to propositional truth or a logical and rational statement to be understood and comprehended well by the person listening. The Greek word here is ἀμὴν. It is the same word from which we get the English word, “amen”. When we say “amen” it means we agree with the truth being proclaimed or put forward by the speaker. It means we understand what the person is saying and we fully agree with it. That is also why we use the word “amen” at the end of prayers directed toward God. It means we have spoken truthfully and to the best of our knowledge and that we have submitted our petition to God fully expecting Him to answer our prayer either positively or negatively. When Jesus says, “Amen, amen . . .” He is asserting that what He is about to say is faithful and true.

And what does Jesus say to Nicodemus? Unless you have studied Greek it would be easy to miss the importance of grammar and syntax in understanding verses of Scripture. The reason for this is that not everything translates exactly into English. Even after years of study we sometimes have difficulty in putting the same Greek thoughts into a familiar English expression.

To be continued.....

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