Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

1:1 This Greek sentence is a doosy because the first two real words are "hapax logomenon," meaning they appear only once in the Greek Bible. But beyond that, the grammer is pretty simple. One thing to note is that God spoke "through" the prophets is an odd translation (but probably right) of the preposition "en"

1:2 This sentence almost perfectly parallels the first in terms of structure: adverb of when, verb, indirect object (to whom as spoken), object of means. The only difference is that in 1:1 the sentence is a participle, indicating this action sets up the main event. In otherwords, grammatically, the sentence achieves what it says: The prophets set up the main event, the son.

1:3 Now we have a nugget of a word here, "apaugasma." The KJV translated this "brightness of God" and the RSV and NRSV have translated this as "reflection." The word is used one other time in the LXX in the book of Wisdom, where the word is set up in a pairing that suggests its meaning is reflection. However, the older Greek meaning of the word is that which gives light. Is Jesus the "sonshine" of God or the "mirror"?

1:3 Also, the next set of words are equally fascinating: image of his essence or "character" or his "hypostatis." Time to get out the Trinitarian books here! The word character comes from the word for an impression on a coin. I was thinking a bit that the impression on the coin reveals its worth. Perhaps this is what Jesus does for God?

1:3 "sustains all things by his powerful word," is more interesting in the Greek. It literally is "carries" or "bears" all things; the word for "word" here is not logos but "herma" as in "hermenuetic." Christ carries all things by Law and Gospel. ;-)

1:3 The Greek for "made purification/cleansing" is fascintating. The Greek is in the middle tense here! So you could write this "Jesus made himself the purification" for our sins.

1:4 With this sentence the limit of my Greek is reached. As far as I can tell, the sentence could also be read as, "in as much as he was great then angeles, he was given a name greater than theirs." Although the grammar in the sentence is tough, the one really confusing part is that the word for "become" can also mean "be";

1:4 Also worth noting is that the word given is from "inherit" which goes then back to 1:1. There he was given a share in all things; here he is given the name.

2:5 The word for "world" here is "oikoumeneh" (as in "in those days a decree went out to all the world...Luke 2:1). It refers to the civilized world...

2:6 Interestingly, the translators want to cover up the Greek (and underlying Hebrew, ZoCaR) for remember. To recall the OT, when God remembers, good things happen! Also, the word for care in the Greek is "episkopeh"; in Hebrew is it "PaQeD," which have two different senses. PaQeD does not necessarily mean simply good things. But the point here is that the underlying (Hebrew and) Greek verbs, althought they are read as cognitive verbs in English, are more like action verbs.

2:8 The word here for control/submission is "hypotasso"; common throughout the NT, esp in Paul (1 Cor 15:28!!) and Peter.

2:9 Great insight here from the NET translation. "geyomai" which means "to taste" might give the impression of a taste-test or sample, but means experience, even come to know!

2:10 The great word here is "pioneer"...but this is an odd translation for the word "archegon." It means more the first one, maybe like founder or prince. You could argue the sense of "leader." In short, pioneer is a great translation for an American audience because it captures our imagination, but the Greek probably has connotations of something a bit more powerful, like leader or prince. Maybe the "grand pioneer" would be better.

2:11 The translators again here struggle. The Greek says "those who are holy...of one father." The Greek simply reads, "of one" and the one could be neuter or masculine. Given the comment about brothers, the word Father there is probably the best way to go (which the NRSV does)

2:12 And now we return to the name game. Here Jesus is extolling our name, even though he has the name above all names??!

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