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??!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

James 3:13 - 4:3..8

3:13 One of the key words in this passage is "Wisdom," or in Greek "Sophia." Before getting to the meat of the word, we have a nice look at the genetive here. The end of this verse says, "in gentleness [genetive: wisdom]." The NET translates this "gentleness that wisdom brings." The NRSV gives "born of wisdom" and the NIV puts it as "from wisdom." This is one case where the later context (3:17) gives some help.

Also, another Greek note. In verse 13, we have the Greek phrase, "en hymin" which means, literally "in you" but is really "among you all." Often times the Bible translates this phrase as in "in you" (like in 1 John, the love of God in you) when it should be translated, as it is here, among you all.

3:14 The Greek subjunctive clause here strengthens James' point. He does not simply say, "If you have bitterness..."; he puts this a bit more strongly, "Since you have bitterness..." The resulting "mh" (negative clause) with a present indicative verb means that the action occuring (in this case, lying) is on-going. In other words, I would translate this, "You have bitter envy; stop lying!"

3:15 The word in 3:15 for "unspiritual" is an odd one -- psychicos, which clearly has its origins in the idea of the "soul." At some point, this word became the opposite of "pneuma..." The Latin translation of this word is animalis. I don't know what to make of this, but I thought it odd!

3:16 There is a great word in this verse: "akatastasis" which means disorder; in Acts 3:21, Jesus is said to be the apokatastasis!

3:17 The wisdom from above (again anwthen, used in John 3) is first holy. Well, let's just stick Jesus in there. The wisdom from above is first Christ. Then it is...

But getting back to the genitive in 3:13, we see that the proper (holy) widsom produces gentleness, not the other way around. So the earlier genitive is a genitive of origin/source: the gentleness from or begun in wisdom.

3:18 Here we have a great look at the dative. The expression is the substantive participle, "those who make peace." The question is, what is the role of this in the sentence? It is in the dative; no prepositions given. The "fruit/harvest of righteousness" is the subject; the verb is "sown"; "in peace" seems like an adverbial phrase for the verb. So, the part that everyone agrees on is "The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace..." But what about the peacemakers? The NET takes this dative to mean location, as in "the fruit sown among those who make peace." The NRSV looks at the dative here as an indirect object, "for those who make peace." The NIV, on the otherhand, looks at the dative here as the object of means, "by those who make peace," and then takes the sentence and makes it active (Those who make peace sow..."

4:1 The words James uses to describe the situation have military overtones; conflicts is "polemos" (like modern polemics) and "machai" which means is akin to the word for sword (machaira).

4:1 The word for "cravings" is "hedone" as in "hedonism."

4:8 The Greek here is not set up as a conditional. Draw near to God and he will draw close to you not connected through any if-then clauses (and Greek has a million ways to do this). Given the relational langauge found elsewhere in this section, I wonder if you could look at this verse (and the previous verse) this way: Leave the devil; He is fleeing because of Christ. Go home to God; for he is also on the way.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mark 8:27-38

Over time I've worked on three posts related to this passage.
- First, a smattering of Greek tid-bits that will one day become a more coherent post
- Second, an investigation into the brilliance of Mark's Greek tenses
- Third, a Tour de Force (if I do say so myself) on Mark's Greek to highlight the nature our confession

This is the first!

Mark 8:27 The verb for "asking" here is "eperota-oo"; it's cousin word "erota-oo" is also very common. The verb can also mean inquire. It is in the imperfect tense, which means that Mark here is emphasizing Jesus repeated action of asking.

8:27 Mark also awkwardly words the phrase "Who do they say I am." [Technical note: the "I" is in the accusative because it is an infinitive clause where the subject is found in the accusative]. It literally reads, "Who me saying the people (hoi anthropoi) to be?" One could probably render this more fairly in English, "As for me, who are they saying that I am," Without reading too much into this, the point here is that Jesus is drawing attention to himself before the crowds."

So, the Greek probably sounded more like this: Jesus was repeatedly asking them, "As for me -- who are the people saying I am?"

8:28 [Another technical note: If you read the Greek in this verse, many of the words have their case changed, indicated their function in the phrases. It is a good exercise of grammer to figure out why each one is in the case that it is in, even though it adds little to the translation.]

8:29 Again, the verb for Jesus speaking is in the imperfect tense: Jesus kept asking them.

Jesus also emphasizes the "you"; in Greek, pronouns are implied in the verb conjugation, but Jesus says it anyway and says it first.

Here Jesus also switches the tenses -- the disciples, in vs. 28, respond in the aorist tense (other people said you are John the Baptist), whereas Jesus asks them, in the present tense, who they say he is, suggesting this is a question they have continually or will continually be asked.

So, the Greek probably sounded more like this: Jesus kept asking them, "And as for you, what about me? Who are you saying that I am?"

8:29 One final point -- the word here that Peter uses is "Christos" which means annointed. The Hebrew for anoint is "Messiah," so Jesus Christ could have just as easily been "Jesus Messiah."

8:30 Jesus rebukes him -- the word here for rebuke is "epitima-oo," from tima, meaning honor. The word epitima-oo originally meant to bestow honor or a price on someone. This would be an awesome dilemma here...but by the time of the NT, this word no long had the honor connotations, but instead simply meant rebuke.

8:30 The word "leg-oo" is not used for the fourth time this verse!

8:31 A little side note -- Mark says, "After three days..." Luke and Matthew say "on the third day..." Also, this verse is a good verse to study accusative infinitives as well as passive construction in the infinitive...

8:32 This phrase "spoke openly" is "parrasia"; it is the only time this word is used in any of the synoptics. Everything else might be riddles, but this isn't! Also, the "this" as in "He spoke openly about this," is "ton logon." Finally, the word for speak is again in the imperfect.

So the Greek probably sounded more like this: "With great openness he continued to say to them this message."

Peter will now do the rebuking...(same verb)...this verb is used three times in this passage (30, 32, 33)

Another verb comes into play now -- "began" (arch-oo); Jesus begins to teach; Peter begins to rebuke!

8:33 Jesus here literally says "go after me" (opis-oo mou); this is the same word that Jesus spoke to Peter back in verse 1, when he invited Jesus to come after him. Perhaps less of a rebuke and more of a call to discipleship -- come after me to the cross, Satan, to die and come after me Peter to the cross and there learn what it means to be my disciple!

8:34 The verb tenses are helpful here -- deny (aparneo-mai) and carry (air-oo) are in the aorist tense, but follow (akolouthe-oo) is in the present tense.

So, to the Greek it probably sounded like: "If any of you want to follow after me, let him deny himself, pick up his cross and day-after-day follow me," (Okay day-after-day is a bit of a Lutheranism...)

8:35 To translate "apollu-mi" here as "lose" is perhaps one of the most watered down translations possible. The verb can mean lose but more likely means destroy (as in Herod wanted to destroy the child). Something more active is called for here than simply misplacing our life.

8:35 The word for life here is "psyche," showing that the "psyche" is not simply an intellectual thing, but the totality of our will and actions. Perhaps we could really shake up our listeners by saying, "If anyone wants to save their soul..."

8:37 The word here for "exchange" is "antallagma"; perhaps an illusion to Mark 10:45, where Jesus says he gives his life (psyche) as a ransom for many.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

James 2:1-17

James 2:1 The key word here is "partiality," which in Greek is literally "face-taker" (prosopon and lambano). Jesus is said to show no partiality. The NET changes the structure of the sentence by adding an "if" clause, which is neither in nor even implied in the Greek.

2:4 The word for "discern/judge" here is diakrin-oo, which is used by Paul in 1 Cor, admonishing us to discern the body! Another time when divisions arose in the community. Fascinating parallel between two such allegedly divergent writers.

2:7 I think the Greek here points toward a Baptismal rite: "The name which was called upon upon (epi) you." The verb here, epikale-oo" does not mean belong, but called upon or invoked (literally in Latin).

2:12 The NRSV nails it on the head again here. The NIV and NET insert the word "give" as in the "Law gives freedom." This is not the case. The law of freedom is going to judge is what it literally says.

2:14 The phrase "Can such faith save you?" is probably better translated, "Faith can save him, really??" My theological question here though is -- who is the "him." The antecedent is unclear. James seems to be making the point about your neighbor in need, which is what most of the section is about. The truth is that your faith without works will not save your neighbor from his or her hunger. The question here, I think, is not about being righteous before God but rather doing righteousness toward your neighbor.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

James 1:17-27

1.17 The word for "from above" is "anothen," which is used in John 3 -- a person must be born "from above//again"

1.18 Translations suffer how to translate a participle here: "boulomai," which means wish, desire, will, plan. Basically, the sentence reads "Under the circumstances of having planed/desired/wished/willed, he gave birth to us through the word." Interesting, the word is used twice more in the book of James; once to refer to the rudder of a ship (3.4) and once to refer to a person wishing to become a friend of the world (4.4). In otherwords, the translation "soverign plan" of the NET or even the NRSV "The fulfillment of his own purposes," are probably fairly strong. The most natural translation might simply be: "Because he wanted to he gave birth to us through the word."

1.18 The word for give birth here is used in 1.15 (not a part of this weeks reading) talking about how sin gives birth to death.

1.19-1.20 The word for anger here is "orgeh," which also means wrath.

1.21 The word for "implant" is "emphytos," is an organic reference here.

1.25 The word here for "stoop down" is "parakyptoo," which is also used in both Luke and John's account of the resurrection when the disciples bend down to look at Jesus. I guess Jesus is the law perfected...

To put a summary on all of this; this verse might be tough for those that hate James' general theology of works-righteousness. However, I find a lot of ideas of grace here and some connections with Paul and John. Gifts, both law and Gospel, come from heaven; God makes us alive again; the word takes soil in us, saving us and working in us to do good works.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

John 6:56-69

6:56 The word for "eat" is "troogoo" which means, according to Lidell-Scott (the overall Greek, not just NT, dictionary, "to gnaw, nibble, munch, of herbivorous animals, as mules." If you were not grossed out enough already...here we go!

6:60 The word for "teaching" is simply "ho logos." The teaching is not the problem, simply the logos is!

6:61 Jesus asks them if they have been offended; literally, "Has this scandalized you?"

6:63 One of my favorite words in the NT: "zoopoie-oo" "make alive" Here we see the common ground of Paul, Peter and John; the work of the Spirit is to make-alive! (1 Pet 3:18; 2 Cor 3:6)

6:64 Jesus says, "The words that I have spoken are Spirit and life." Actually, Jesus says, "The words that I have spoken is Spirit and life." Ie, the words of Jesus form a coherent unit, the Logos, that early people complained was hard.

6:66 Some of the disciples stop following Jesus; but literally it is "stopped walking with him."

6:69 "We have come to believe and know..." It is interesting that John puts believing before knowing. Come, see, believe, know and live...what might be the ordo salutus here?

Eph 6:10-20

6:11 The word for armor here is "panoplia." This literally is all hoplia or all the armor...Compare Col 3.12 where Paul said we should put on (endy-oo; same verb): compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

6:11 Wiles of the devil: "methodeia" of the devil (methodia = trickery, but literally means the side route). I think this would be a much scarier translation in English: "The methods of the devil." The translators do not do this because technically there is another sibling word that more clearly translates as "methodos."

6:12 The word for "world powers of darkness" is kosmoskratos, literally, rulers of the world. This is quite an acknowledgment of the powers of evil, given that the Greek liturgy praises God as the pantokrator, the ruler of the all.

6:13 The word here for "withstand" is actually "anthisthni" or literally, "stand against." The idea here is for resistance. Paul uses this word to talk about his own actions when he "opposed" Peter for determining that he was better/more Christian than other people.

6:14 The verb "stand" here appears for the third time (in addition to a
4th "withstand"). For all the use of armor, the word attack is never used, but rather stand and maybe oppose.

6:20 The word for ambassador here is presbyter, which can also mean elder.

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

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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

2 Cor 8:7-15

8:7 Paul does one of those nice things in Greek we cannot do in English. We must translate his phrase regarding love something like this: The love in us for you. More literally it is "the of you in us love." The "us" and "you" are enveloped into the word love almost!

8:7 Paul just uses the word "grace" (charis) here to reference the act of kindness/financial giving. "This grace" is what he calls it!

8:8 Again Paul has some odd constructions possible in Greek. He literally writes: "The the of love sincerity to test." In other words, the object of the testing is not the love, but it is the sincerity...

8:9 Here we see how Paul again is connecting grace and money: Paul talks about the grace of Jesus Christ showing how he became impoverished (listerally, one who begs, ptoocheia)

8:10 With this sentence I may have reached my limits of understanding Greek grammar; This verse has a bunch of translations which basically boil down to where you put the punctuation in the Greek, which wasn't there in the beginning anyway. The question is, what is Paul trying to highlight: The will to give or the completion of the giving. In either case, Paul is making the point: You gave, you even wanted to give, so go ahead and finish it up. What is the advantage of those three? Unclear...

8:11 Paul is using a bunch of articular infinitives here...the last of which is "ek tou echein" which means "from the having..." The sentence literally reads: "Complete the doing in order that just as the desire of willing, so likewise the completeing from the having." I would argue that this goofy construction in Greek emphasizes the verbal nature of the having; in short, it is not "from your means" as in your are drawing a from a storage chest, but rather, it is from your having, your constant action of having.

8:12 I may really be afar here, but Paul spells it out a bit differently than the translators want to make it. Paul never says "What you have" Paul simply says, "if the desire is there, as much as one is having acceptably, and not as one does not have." I think like most parts of 2 Cor, this passage probably demands more thorough attention, but I think it is fair to say that Paul emphasizes the act of having rather then the possession they actually own. I think by doing this, he moves from the gift to the giver.

8:14 Paul here uses the word abundance as a noun (perisseuma); he uses this as a verb in the beginning of the section (vs. 7). His appeal, then, is bracketed by abundance.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

2 Cor 5:14-17

5:14 The phrase here "love of Christ" is more complex than we first realize. Not simply because the word "agape" or "Christos" are in themselves wordfields more than words, but because we have an unclear (as always) genitive. Is it objective gen, ie, the love which has as its object Christ, love for Christ; it is possessive, ie, the love which belongs to Christ, the love belonging to Christ; it is subjective, as in Christ is the subject who does the love, the loving of Christ. Part of what determines the translation of this is figuring out what the verb, "synech-oo" means. This verb means just about anything that relates to stress or dealing with stress: compel, contrain, oppress, torn, closed in, hold together. I think in the context of 2 Cor 5, a more therapeutic translation is helpful: The love from Christ holds us together, we have decided that one died for all (even the proud jerks who make our lives tough), therefore all have died.

5.15 (Note: Paul uses the same words here of living and dying and rising in Romans 6; here though it is without reference to Baptism, but rather the reality of suffering for the believers)

5.16 The translations cover up the dreaded "sarx" here; the "world" or "human" point of view here is simply: kata sarx. Although such language in an individual reading probably confuses the issue, it allows one to see that Paul is not making an isolated argument here, but trying into core concepts he develops perhaps most fully in Romans.

5.17 The word for "pass away," parerchomai, is what is used in "heaven and earth will pass away, but my word shall remain."

5.17 The word for old here is "archaios," ie, archaic.

5.17 The NRSV does funky things with the Greek here. It literally reads: "The old-s (or old things) have passed away. Behold new things have become. In short, it does not really say everything...which may not be a big deal, but Paul is intentional in other places in this section to repeated use the "pas" (he uses this word, which means "all" five times in chapter 5). Saying everything has become new sounds like God did a home improvement project on creation; saying "Behold new things" says God did a new creation.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Romans 8:12-17

8.13 Interestingly, the verb for "going to die" here is in the present (not just going to, but "die" itself) Try reading: Going to continually die. Furthermore, the second half of the verse is just as much a "since" clause as an "if" clause; since the Spirit is putting to death (also in the present tense!!), you will keep living. In short, the emphases here is not simply on God's activity, but the present and continual engagement of the Spirit against the flesh.

8.15 The emphasis here on the term "adoption" (huiothesia) is on the legal establishment of rights for the child. Hence, why Paul moves into terms like inheritance in vs. 17

8.16-17 There are four verbs here that all have the prefix "syn" (Latin: con; English: with) Co-testifiers, co-inheritors, co-sufferers, co-glorifieder)

8.17 Again, there are no true "ifs" in this section: Since we are inheritors...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

John 16:4-16 (15.26)

15.26 The word parakletos for the HS is a tough one to crack! The noun literally means "one called along side of." Originally it meant a "legal assistant." Hence the affinity for the term advocate. Yet, the whole field of words related to parakletos pushes against a cold, judicial term. So, have fun and look over the job description John gives for the parakletos and you tell me what this sounds like!
14.16 The parakletos is a gift from God
14.17 The parakletos will be with us, even abide in us forever
14.26 The parakletos will teach you and cause you to remember the words of Jesus
15.26 The parakletos will witness about Jesus
16.8 The parakletos will prove the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment.
16.13 The parakletos will guide you on the way
16.13 The parakletos will listen to the Father and Son
16.14 The parakletos will glorify Jesus
16.14 The parakletos will make Jesus known

Interestingly, the Vulgate does not even use the term advocate to translate parakletos, instead transliterating the word "paracletus." In fact, the Latin does translate the word "parakletos" from the Greek into the Latin "advocatum" once, and this is from 1 John 2.1, where the sense is different. Indeed, here the idea is Jesus interceding for us against the judge of the Father concerning our sins; in John the idea of the parakletos has nothing to do with a legal metaphor before God the Father, but the enabler of Christian before the world of unbelievers.

16.6 John here uses the word "plehro-oo"; Jesus says sorrow has filled their hearts. This will be the same word that Luke will use to the desribe the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit filled them.

16.9 "Concerning sin, because they do not..." The because here is a "hoti" clause; it could also be translated, "concerning sin, that they do not believe in me." This applies for 16.10 and 11 too, ie, concerning righteousness that...concerning judgement that...

16.12 The word hear for "bear" is "bastaz-oo" This word Paul will use in Galatians, to bear one another's burdens.

16.13 The verb here for "guide" is "hodege-oo" which means "hodos+ag-oo"=lead on the way; the verb we say two weeks back with Philipp and the Eunuch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

John 5:9-13

Two brief comments on this brief text:

5:9 The major translations differ on how the understand the "ei" clause in verse 9. "Ei" expresses conditionality (if); however, in this case, since the verb in the "ei" clause is in the indicative and not the subjunctive, one can translate the "ei" to mean "since."

The entire passage: The verbs for life are all in the present. Jesus is the life; the one who is believing/having the son is having eternal life. Eternal life and having Jesus are not future activities, but present ones.

There are some verbs in the perfect (testify; make a liar); but the verbs around faith, life and Jesus are all present, implying now and on-going action.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1 John 5:1-6

5.1 The translators here put human language on abstraction here. The second half of this verse literally says:

"The one who loves the one who begets loves the one who is begotten." The language of "born" and "Father/Parent" and "son" are not in the verse here, rather, the language of beget is used.

5.4 The NRSV blows the tense of the verb "conquer." It is in the aorist; there is no sense that victory has not been won.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

1 John 3:16-24

3.16 The word for ought/owe is "ophell-oo" which has a sense of being bound and obligated (more than a casual "should").

3.16 The word for life here is "psyche"

3.17 The word here for "means/ability" is "bios" (as in biology); in 3.15 in fact, the word zooeh (as in Zoo) is found. This in three consecutive verses, we have ideas about life: eternal "zooeh"; a "psyche" that is laid down; and "bios" to provide for others.

3.17 The word for compassion here is splagchna, which means intestines. The idea of the word is that compassion means your gut wrenches.

3.17 The word for world, "kosmos" is often set at odds with God in the Johannine writings. Here though we see that the world can have a purpose, to help others.

3.22 There is no word "whatever" in this sentence. It simply says, "If we request this, we will receive." The "this" is less likely "whatever" and more likely the rest of the clause -- doing of his will. (The later clause begins with "hoti" which may be translated "because" or "that" so "If we request this, we will receive from him that we keep his commandments.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1 John 3:1-7

3:1 The word for give (didoo-mi) as in "love the Father has given us" is in the perfect, suggesting an act in the past (Jesus) that still has a present effect (being called the children of God)

Also interesting is that the hina clause that governs the phrase "called children of God" is not connected with the phrase "and we are" The Greek reveals this is from a different thought (as indicated by the verb "we are" being in the indicative and not subjunctive mood as "called" is). Does this mean that we are children of God regardless of the love on the cross but that in the cross we may be called children of the father??

3.2 The word "kathoos" (just as) appears in this section three times -- just as he is; just as he is pure; just as he is righteous. Although the overall logic may seem to imply "works-righteousness" in this passage, it is helpful to keep in mind that the ground for all of this is Christ and his status. Indeed, the transformation comes when we see Christ, which cannot happen until he appears. I am not saying that this passage fits into Lutheran mechanics nicely, but that still, the primary actor here is God.

3.3 Moreover, the tenses about what we will be in 3.2 are in the future; and now in 3.3 we come to the idea of hope, expressing the thought that God is not done working on us! Indeed, even the verb tense for purify is a present tense -- that hagniz-oo (to purify) is an on-going reality, not a one-time event. So, over and against a simple message of "Christians are fully realized saints and not sinners in any way," this passage points toward the work still to be done.

3.6 A key word in Johannine thinking is "men-oo" which means to abide (abide in me as I abide in the father...") This is the verb here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

1 John 1:1-2:2

1.1 The verb 'to hear' (akou-oo) and 'to understand/see' (ora-oo) are both in the perfect, while 'to see' (theao-mai) and 'to touch' (psehlapha-oo) are in the aorist. Again, an aorist tense suggests a one time event; a perfect tense has the connotation of a past action that creates an on-going and present status. John (or the writer from the Johannine community), by using these tenses, suggests that although the original congregation can no longer touch or see Jesus because of his ascension, but the reality of hearing and understanding the word of God remains. This perhaps is not simply true of the original congregation, but us as well. We leave Sunday having seen and even touched Jesus in the bread and wine, but as we head out, we still are in the state of hearing and understanding.

1.2 In both 1.1 and 1.2, the verb 'eimi' (to be) is used in the imperfect tense. In Greek, there really is no aorist tense of 'eimi,' the 'to be' verb. (which if you stop and think, makes a lot of sense). In both cases, the verb is translated with the English aorist form of the to be verb: "was." What is probably a more helpful translation is not the static "was" but an imperfect "was being" or "was and continues to be" or "has been"  In short, the English "was" makes it sound like the event of the Word being with the Father or the Word being from the beginning is over; the imperfect tense in the Greek suggests that that the Word continues to be with the Father and continues to be from the beginning.

1.3-1.4 The only verbs so far in the present tense are 'apangell-oo' (to proclaim),
'martyre-oo' (to witness) and 'ech-oo' (have + fellowship), and 'graph-oo' (to write), all of our actions. The only God verb so far is "appear" (phanero-oo); always in the aorist.

1.5 The word for "message" here is 'angelia' related to the word for angel.

1.6 This sentence ends with the phrase, literally, "are not doing the truth." Translators have fun trying to put that in idiomatic English.

1.7 The verb for cleanse 'kathariz-oo' is in itself a neat word -- tell your people their sins have been catharized! Also worth noting is that it is in the present tense.

1.9 The word here for confess is 'homologe-oo,' which means literally, "to speak in one voice," suggesting that even in the early church, public confession was the norm.

2.1 and 2.2 These do not belong in this section! The crazy word here is 'hilasmos' or 'propitation' or 'atonement." This word is related to a number of other words having to do with atonement. This word is not that common (2x NT; 7x NT). What is helpful to keep in mind is that the book of John has no mention of God's wrath. The most obvious, connection, it seems to me, with this word, is with a numbers 5 'hilasmos' which is a sacrifice made to repay someone the wrongs they have done to you. The particular word, then, may have more to do with restitution than with some sort or anger-management. Perhaps the idea of an angry God needing to be fed blood will never disappear, but I think the idea in John 1 and the particular use of this word emphasizes the forward nature of the sacrifice rather than the backward nature -- the sacrifice was not simply to please God for past sins, but to set us straight for future relationship.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

1 Corinithans 15:1-11

15.1 The word for Gospel/Good News is euangelion, coming from eu for Good and angelion, the word for message (like Angel=messenger). Interestingly, Paul uses this as a verb as in "the good news which I good newsed you with." We could write in English, "The Gospel that I evangelized you with," but in Greek they are the same root word

15.2 Save (sooz-oo) is a present passive here -- salvation is an on-going and passive activity for Paul.

Also, in this sentence, the word for "if" is "ei," which can be translated since when the verb it is connected with is in the indicative and not subjunctive mood. This, this sentence could read, you are being saved, since you hold to a word which I proclaimed to you. Unless of course, you believed in vain.

Also, the word "the" is not used with "word (logos), but rather "tini" is, which means, "a" or "certain" or "some."

15.3 This is not a Greek note, but a more theological one. Paul's primary category of thinking is not simply sin...but here it is, the big deal is dying on behalf of our sins. Fascinating.

15.8 The word for "untimely birth" (ektrooma) means stillborn or even aborted.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hebrews 5:5-10

5:6 The word for "order" as in "order of Mel." is taxsin, as in taxinomy, meaning classification, rank, type.

5:7 The word flesh (sarx) is used here; Hebrews in 2:14 also emphasizes Jesus fleshly nature.

5:8 The translators do get this right, it seems, but this verse could just as easily read: "save us from death through loud cries and tears." In short, the "through loud cries" could refer to how Jesus will save us instead of his prayers.

5:9 The word for source, as in source of our salvation, is "aitios," can mean more strongly the cause of.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ephesians 2:1-10

2:1 The preposition "in" as in "you were dead in your trespasses" is not in the Greek. The words are in the dative. It could also be "to your trespasses and to your sins."

2:1/2 A technical note on the Greek. The verb tense "you were dead" is technically a present participle, yet it is translated in the past in English. Why? Because the tense of a participle is always relative to the main verb in the sentence, in this case, an aorist (and thus past tense) verb in verse 2.

2:3 The word wrath here has no article; technically, then, it should be "by a nature of a wrath." It does not indicate the wrath of God here.

2:5 In the past couple of weeks I've spoken about that great verb: Make alive (zoopoie-oo); here we have make alive together: syzoopoie-oo. We are not made alive alone, but with others!

2:5 This whole section has not had a lot of articles or prepositions; it is a stacking of nouns (see 2.1 note). For example, in 2:3, the word nature is in the dative; here the word grace has neither an article or preposition. Generally, the translators (and this seems fair) are translating all of these datives in an instrumental means (ie, by means of nature...by means of grace)...but it could also be "For grace" or "To grace" or "In Grace" we have been saved.

2:5 Saved is a perfective, passive participle (sesoozomenoi); none of the verbs relating to sin are in the perfect -- there is something temporary about the reality of sin; but salvation stands as something that still has a present impact.

2:6 We have to more "syn" verbs here: (raised with and seated with). The Greek, in otherwords, attaches the prefix syn to those verbs, just as Paul did with "make alive with."

2:7 The word "coming" does not necessarily have a future connotation; it can simply mean "the ages which are coming as in right now and continuing to come."

2:10 When it says that we are a work of God, the literal word here is "poiehma" or poem. We are the poetic act of God, created for good works!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

1 Cor 1:18-25

1.18 The word for "the Word of the cross" is literally "ho logos." The logos of the cross; the matter, the word, the thing of the cross.

1.18 Both of the key verbs in the sentence (save; perish) are in the passive present. In other words, the act of being saved (sooz-oo) or perishing (apollu-mi; as in "lose one's life from last week) is a constant process being done to us.

1.21 The word here for "pleased" is eudoke-oo, which is the word that God uses in to talk describe Jesus, "the one in whom I am well pleased."

1.21 Paul does not talk about the Holy Spirit directly in these verses, however, Paul speaks about "kerygamatos" (proclamation) and "keryss-oo" (preaching) The kergyma is effective Paul points out, because of the Spirit (1 Cor 2.4); also, faith comes about through the proclamation (15.11; Romans 10:14-15) and faith finally comes from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). So for Paul, the Spirit is not absent in his words about how the cross becomes effective for us.

1.23 The word for crucified here is in the perfect tense, a reminder that even though Jesus is resurrected, crucifixion is a lasting reality.

1.23 The word for "scandal" is "skandalon" which can mean stumbling block.

1.24 The expression "Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God" is slightly off in that there is no "the" in the greek. Thus, Christ is a power of God and a wisdom of God, technically...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Romans 4:13-25

4.13 No major translation picks up on the fact that it is "to Abraham OR his descendants." That or (not kai but eh) is really puzzling to me.

4.13 This is not a Greek insight, but reading the text in Greek, this caught my eye. The promise is spelled out here in bold terms, not simply in terms of resurrection, or even forgiveness, but the world (kosmos).

4.14 The word "nullify" (katarge-oo) here Paul used a few verses ago (3:31) to say that we do not nullify the law. (This is NOT the word Jesus uses to talk about abolishing the law)

4.15 The law however katerge-oo (one vowel difference) wrath; ie, it accomplishes this.

4.17 The word here for nations is "Ehtnos," which is normally translated in the plural (as it is here) as "gentiles." God made Abraham a father to many Gentiles is how the audience would have heard this!

4.17 Here is the word from the previous week: "Zooopoie-oo" (Make alive!) Once again, God is the subject of the verb.

4.20 The word here relating to the "strengthening" of faith is "endynamo-oo" This is a great reminder that even as Paul is talking about life and death, there is a way in which faith empowers us. In short, faith doesn't simply make us alive but lets us live.

4.24 The object of faith is not forgiveness, but the resurrection; this points toward that great insight of Gerhard Forde, that beneath forgiveness is life and death.

4.25 The word here for betray (paradidoo-mi) is the same on as in the Gospel of Mark for this weak.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

4.3 The word for "hidden" here is "kalypt-oo" as in the opposite of "apocalyse." The hiddenness of the message has always fascinated me; the word hidden is also used in Exodus when Moses goes up Mt. Sinai and the cloud hids the mountain. In this case, the hiddenness seems to protect the people.

4.3 The word here for "perishing" is in the present passive. The word (apollu-mi) means to perish, lose or destroy (if you want to lose your life...Herod sought to destroy the child...) Not only is the word intense, but it is in the present, suggesting that there are people who currently are undergoing this action...consistently. Paul will elsewhere (1 Cor 1:18) suggest this idea, that death and destruction are active forces grinding down people.

4.4 Take a quick look at 2 Cor 3:14 when you read this verse; there Paul takes about the Law covering people's minds. Interesting that the gods of this age then have the same affect as the god of the Old Covenant: They cover the Gospel.

4.6 Not the deepest, but perhaps a sermon nugget none the less: The word for "made to shine" is "lamp-oo."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Mark 1:40-45

1.40 The word for encourage here: "parakale-oo" also means encourage or summon. An interesting idea that he encourages Jesus to do the healing!

The word for "clean" is katharize; as in cleanse us from our sins.

1.41 The word for compassion in Greek refers to intestines; Jesus gets tight in the stomach at the sight of the man. Here the verb for touch is hapt-oo, which means to touch (as opposed to earlier siezing).

1.42 This verb here for admononish can have a very strong meaning, but it is not necessarily without compassion. For example, Jesus is said to have undergone this (embrimo-mai) before he weeps in John's Gospel.

1.44 The first witness of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, then, is this lepor; the word for testimony is martyrion!

1.45 Not only is the leper the first witness, but he is also a proclaimer, ie, functioning as a herald (kehryss-oo).

1 Cor 9.24-27

1 Cor 9.24 Corinth was home to a famous set of games (not quite as big as the Olympic games, but quite significant); Paul writes using very familiar imagery when he refers to athletic competitions.

9.25 The word here for "strive" or "fight" is "agonizo-mai" (in English -- agony!) This is used in 1 Tim 6:12 "Fight the good fight."

9.25 The word here for self-control is the verb "eg-krato-mai." krato is from last week (control; govern; power); eg from ego; the mai is just a deponent/reflexive ending. Thus, you might even say that Paul is advocating self-governance here ;-) He also uses this verb in encouraging people who cannot control themselves to marry in chapter 7. The noun form of this verb occurs a few times in the Bible, including Acts 24, when Paul is talking to Felix; Galatians when Paul discusses Christian fruits of the Spirit (5:23) and 2nd Peter, in terms of how we should grow in Christian maturity.

9.25 The word for perishable, "phthartos" (trying saying that one outloud), is also the key word of 1 Cor 15 -- the perishable will put on the inperishable.

9.27 The word here for "beat" is "hypopiaz-oo" which refers to the part of the body underneath the eyes that gets black and blue. In short, the Greek here does not soften what Paul means! This word is also though used in Luke 18:5 in reference to the unjust judge and the widow who "wears" him out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mark 1:29-39

1.31 The word here for hold is "krate-oo" which is not hold hand in a sentimental way. This is the word for power, as in democracy. This is the word for sieze. This is what Herod will do to John the Baptist (arrest) and what the CPriests want to do to Jesus. Jesus in Mark 1 is wrestling the demons, not smiling for the home video cameras.

The word here for serve (in the imperfect) is diehkone-oo, which means to serve, literally, to wait on tables. It comes into English (and the ELCA) as Deaconness, Diaconal ministers and deacons.

1.33 This passage begins with Jesus leaving the synagogue. Now the people are gathering around him (syn-ago-ing!) Where is church? Where Jesus is...duh...anyone 2nd grader who has read AC VII knows that.

The word for door here is also gate, as in Jesus is the gate (thura); as in, there was a stone at the gate of the tomb.

1.34 The word for healing is therapeu-oo. In short, Jesus' therapy session is on.

1.35-1.39 A word that appears quite often here is exball-oo, which means to cast out. Jesus had been cast out into the wilderness (herehmos), where he now can pray. There is a bit of a reversal going on here already.

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

9.16 The word here for "obligation" is anagkeh. It can also mean distress (The translators of Job use this word all the time in the LXX); even force or complusion! A reminder to all of us that preaching is both an obligation but also a source of stress. I wonder if this is true for those of us that love preaching just as much as those of us who like it less...

9.17 This is one of those grammatically ambiguous Greek sentences. Which "if" is hypothetical? Is Paul earning a wage or not?? It is not clear. One thing the translators hide is the word "oikonomia," often translated "stewardship." So Paul here is saying that if he does this against his will, than he has been entrusted with stewardship. This is an interesting thought on stewardship, where it would derive out of lack of will rather than our will!

9.21 The phrase "under the law of Christ" is rather interesting in Greek in that it is one word -- "ennomos" literally "in the law." It is an adjective in Greek, so it could just as easily be translated here "but I am legally Christ's!). In short, Paul does not make some distinction here between the law of God and the law of Christ. He just points out that he is legally bound to Christ.

9.23 The NRSV and NIV translate the word "synkoinoonos" as one who shares in the blessings. The NET does a more literal translation here as partaker. The point is that yes Paul is partaking, but I think the NRSV and NIV are fair in their efforts to capture the sense that sharing the Gospel does come with benefits. (Ie, the sharing implied by koinonia is real and not just touchy-feely). In this case though, Paul does not seem interested in his own blessing, but rather being a blessing to others.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mark 1:21-28

1:21 and 1:22 All of the verbs in this sentence have verbs in the present or imperfect, suggesting a lot of movement.

1:23 Mark puts the word "unclean" last in this clause, so it reads "there was in the syn. a man in spirit unclean." A bit of suspense. Also, Mark uses an aorist verb for "crying out" suggesting an abrupt change in the movement.

The word for unclean is "akathartos" as in the man needs a cathartic experience...

1.24 The phrase here in Greek that the unclean spirit uses is "What to you and to me." This is essentially what Jesus to his mother at Cana "What to me and to you." In other words, this is not a very kind way to talk!

The unc. spirit uses the PLURAL -- not the singular, even though the text only identifies the unc. spirit as one.

1.26 Interesting that even though the unclean Spirit obeys Jesus, it still causes problems on the way out!