Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ephesians 3:14-21

3:14 There is a slight play on words in this verse. The word for grace is "charis"; in the accusative this is "charin." "Charin," however, is also a preposition that means because of...so the first words of this verse are "of this grace..." but really it should be translated, "For this reason..." I think the author intends the word reason but snuck a bit of grace in there!

3:14 The phrase "kneel" is literally "Bow my gonads (knee)" before the father!

3:15 A gender neutral translation here doesn't really help. This is what the author writes, "Because of this amazing grace, I continually bend my body before the father, from who every fatherhood gets its name." The word for family here is "patria" not a generic word for clan (as in 3:21, generations). The point then is that family derives from God's self, even God's name...perhaps family is not such a human construct afterall ;-)

3:16 The phrase that Paul (or pseudo-Paul; whatever) uses here for inner person is “eso anthropos,” also used in Romans 3:22 and 2 Cor 4:16. Anthropos is a fairly common word that means human (fairly gender neutral) but eso, meaning inner, is a rather uncommon word, nine times in the NT. Paul is the only one that uses this combination of words. The combo construction is not found elsewhere in the NT. Something like it does appear in some wisdom and deutero-canonical literature, but not the same linguistic (or even theological) construction.

Three directions for further reflection:
1) This might be purely Lutheran speculation, but my sense is that Paul's genesis for this bold new language is Psalm 51, where (David) talks about creating a new spirit (barah is the verb here, which is the kind of creation only God does) and desiring truth in the inner being. My sense (after a brief survey and reflection) is that OT thinking hated to divide the person into various parts, so this idea of an inner man versus outer man would have been “not kosher” in a way.
2) Paul’s writings in Ephesians help us to consider a Christological take on this idea of an inner human. The idea of a new human is mentioned in Eph 2:15 and Eph 4:24. Oddly enough, in Eph 4:24 (and Col 3:10) it talks about "being clothed" in the new human, which is a different idea, than that of the inner human! The dilemma, is solved, I believe, by understanding, as Paul writes in Eph 2:15, that the new human being is Jesus Christ. So Paul talks about being strengthened in his Spirit in the inner man, perhaps he is not referring to the inner man inside of us, but the inner man of the cosmos, who is Jesus Christ. I also think this is a valid because in the whole argument Paul is speaking to the whole people of God (3:21 even ends with praise of the church), so Paul is not speaking to you individually, but you the collective here. [I think one can even see 4:24 in this light…but that is for another day.] I confess I would need to better articulate this here, but I do think one could interpret the phrase “inner human” to be Jesus Christ, not just because of 2:15 and 4:24, but also given that chapter 1 focuses on Christ’s inner place in the creation of the universe and chapter 4 and 5 focus on Christ’s inner place in the church.
3) The clearest statement of Paul connecting the new self and the inner self is 2 Cor 16: Our inner person is begin renewed each day.

3:17 The verbs for "rooted" and "established" are in the passive perfect; they have already been done and this is the present state of affairs.

3:19 The word here for "exceeding" is literally "hyperbally"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ephesians 2:11-22

2:11 The Greek sentence here only has about seven words but they are used in such a variety of ways that the translators have to expand them. Two connections worth noting. The word here for "Gentiles by birth" is really "Gentiles in the flesh." (ta ethne en sarki) Also, Paul refers to those who are circumcised as having been done so "in flesh." (en sarki) Paul thus relegates both the world of circumcision and the previous gentile lives to lives concieved in the flesh.

2:12 "Strangers" is "xenos" as in "xenophobia"
2:12 "Having no God" is literally "atheoi" or "atheists."

2:13 Paul returns to the body here, talking about the blood (hema) of Christ and the flesh (sarx) of Christ, which brings healing.

2:15 Jesus says, blessed are the peace makers (eirenopoioi); now Paul says he is one is making (poie-oo) peace (eirene!) In fact, the word peace is used four times in this brief section (14;15;17;17)

2:16 There is a sense in this passage that the action discussed has been completed: The reconcilation is done. The hina clause, in other words, is result and not purpose; translated "so that X happened" and not "in order that X might happen."

2:19-2:22 In Romans 8, Paul says we are "co-testifiers, co-sufferers, co-inheritors, co-will be glorifieders" Here, Paul says that we "are co-citizens, co-joined and co-being-built up."
co-citizens: synpolitehs = noun meaning fellow-citizens
co-joined: synarmalogeomai = verb (present passive) meaning literally "co-harmonious-thinged"
co-being-built up: synoikodomeo = verb (present passive) meaing "co-being built into a home"

2:22 The word "you" in "you are being built into..." is you plural: You all are being built.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mark 6:14-29


Summary:  It is quite odd that this story appears as a lectionary text.  It is quite striking the contrast between the work of the powers in this world and the powers of Christ:  Throw a banquet for pleasuring the wealthy with sex and macabre vs feeding the poor; decapitation of the noble; recapitulation of all things, including human failings, into the cross.

6:14 Herod hears that Jesus' name has become known (or manifest: phaneros/φανερος). Jesus warned in 3.12 not to make known (phaneros) what had happened; and that in 4.22, things will be made known. Well, now things have been made known and the result is not good.

6:14 The word "dyanmis" (δυναμις) continues to "manifest" itself in Mark; here it is in the plural which means it should be translated miracles.

6:15 There is no reference to "long ago/prophets of the past." The Greek simply says, "a prophet as one of the prophets."

6:19 The word for "hold a grudge" is literally "have-in (ενεχω)" kind of like have it in for someone.

6:20 There is an odd juxtaposition this week: Ephesians says we will be holy before God; here John is considered holy (αγιος) before Herod.

6:21 Herod throws a banquet here (δειρνον). The next chapter Jesus will throw a meal for his disciples and the 5,000.

6:22 Twice Herod is cited at enjoying things -- (ηδεως, gladly he listened to John and and he was pleased, ηρεσεν/αρεσκω with the dancing)...yet by 6.26 he is deeply grieved (περιλυπος), the same word of Jesus in the Garden (I am deeply greieved).

6.27 Herod orders John αποκεφαλιζω (beheaded); this then presents a fascinating juxtaposition between the Ephesians 1 text and this one; Jesus ανακεφαλιοω (Eph 1:10, recapitulates, brings all things together, heads all things up) whereas all Herod can do is decapitate.

Ephesians 1:3-14

This passage has a number of theologically significant words!

1.3 The word for blessing is "eulogos," or in English, eulogy. This word is used in noun, adjective and verb form in the sentence. That the verb is in the aorist is interesting in that it means that Paul is refering to an event, here the Christ event as opposed to the on-going reality of faith. Indeed, in verse 4 Paul talks about the foundation of the world being the time of choosing.
1.4 The word here for "choose" is the one that Jesus uses in John 15:16: You did not choose (ekleg-oo) me, I chose you. It is akin to the word for election. God elected us.
1.6 In Luke's Gospel, Mary, the angel says, is "highly favored." This is the same verb (charito-oo) that is used here. The root word is related the word for grace/gift.
1.6 The word for "love" here as in "the dearly loved one" is a perfect passive participle of agape; Jesus was loved but still is; the question is, what was the initial act of loving that the verb refers to?
1.7 The word here for "forgiveness" is only used once in Ephesians; once in Colossians; no where else in the Pauline corpus. (Paul does use the verb forgive (aphehi-mi), but it is either an OT quote or it means "let go," another possible meaning of the verb.
1.10 The word here for "recapitulate" (that is the latin of the Greek here: ana-kephaleh) is also used in Paul's letter to the Romans to talk about the law being summed up in "Love your neighbor as yourself." Christ is the recapitulation of all things!
1.11 There are a string of "pro" words here -- "predestined" and "preplanned," etc. For me, a helpful way of thinking about this is in 1.12 where Paul writes that we are the first to have hope in Christ. The same prefix is used here -- pro. I wonder if the idea is more that Christ was the first step (1.9 -- the word for purpose/set for here has a "pro" prefix); that we were the first determined; that we were the first to hope. In short, why make "pre" a limit; make it a beginning point for God's goodness. We were "first destined" or "pro destined"
1.12 Greek note: Their is an "articular infinitive here" eis + the + infinitive...which means "for the purpose of"
1.13 Paul makes a fascinating move here. While talking about the foundations of the world, suddenly Paul moves toward the activity of hearing the word, believing and being Baptized! Even if the "choice" is already made, we must hear the Word. Also interesting is that the only not participle verb here is "being sealed." Everything else is essentially an adverb leading up to the sealing in Baptism.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2 Cor 12:2-10

2 Cor 12.4 The word "paradise" (literally from the Greek), although used in the OT a bit more frequently (and in reference to Eden), only occurs three times in the NT: From the cross in Luke, here and in chapter 2 of revelation. The word for "too holy to be spoken," "arrehta," occurs only once in the NT.

2 Cor 12.7 Paul here uses the word "hyperbole" to describe the revelations; in the OT and NT, the only writer to use this word is Paul, who uses it 7 times (Rom, 1&2 Cor and Gal). Imagine that, Paul used the word hyperbole :-0

2 Cor 12:7 The word here for "messenger" as in "Satan's messenger" is actually "angel" (angelos).

2 Cor 12:9 The word for "made complete" is "tele-oo" which can also mean "complete" or "perfect" or "accomplish." Also, in this sentence verb is in the present tense: My grace continues, day after day, to be sufficient for you and in weakness my power continues, day after day, to be completed.

Note: Whose power and whose weakness is not completed (tele-oo) until the second part of the sentence: my weakness; Christ's power.