Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lord's Prayer

For this week, I will analyze the Greek in Matthew and Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer. I am comparing then Matthew 6:9-15 and Luke 11:2-4

Intro: The two prayers have different set-ups. In Matthew, the Lord's Prayer is folded into a longer section about Christian discipleship during the Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, the Lord's Prayer teaching occurs in the middle of the narrative. Obviously how Luke and Matthew set up the prayer is not a Greek issue, however interesting it may be. So, let's start playing in the Greek.

Luke sets his up with a subjunctive phrase: "Whenever you pray"; Matthew says (building on what Jesus says earlier), "Thus you shall pray." It is an indicative, a command. Jesus is not commanding his disciples to pray in Luke, he is simply saying, when you pray...
However, Luke also adds another verb: lego. Based on its form, it is unclear whether it is a command (imperative) or description of action (indicative). Ie, it could read:
a) Whenever you pray, you shall say OR
b) Whenever you pray, are continually saying.
It probably is a command. Assuming this we can summarize the Greek difference in the intro as:
In Matthew, Jesus commands them to pray; in Luke, Jesus commands them how to pray.

Regardless, both use a present tense of the verb for pray, indicating this is a continual and repeated action.

Invocation: Big difference here. In Luke, you just call God, "Father" (Pater); in Matthew Jesus calls God "Our Father in the heavens" NOT "in heaven." However, this is fairly common in Matthew to refer to heaven as "the heavens." Sounds a bit more grand!

Hallowed be your name: Same in both. Worth noting is that the word "hallowed" (αγιαζω, hagiazoo) is a passive aorist imperative in the third person here. Yuck! The first tricky thing is the verb itself. It does not mean holy, but to make holy, to set aside. If Jesus had prayed, "Let your name be holy" we would have a real theological problem. But Jesus does not do this. The reality is that God's name is always holy, but it is not always hallowed, in that it is not always set aside for holy purposes. The NET tries to get at this by translating it "Let your name be honored." The problem here is that the verb "hagiazo" does not refer to cleaning things for shelves, but for using them in worship. In other words, Luther's explanation of this petition gets at the fact that Jesus (in Luke's words) uses a verb (make holy) and not an adjective (is holy).

Now, on to the conjugation. An aorist imperative implies that we are to do an action, but not necessarily do over and over again. Furthermore, any passive imperative is tricky. "Get hit!" is an example of an aorist passive infinitive. In the third person this would be "Let him get hit." So if we apply this to the Lord's Prayer, specifically this case of the verb "make holy" we get "let your name get made holy." Again, yuck. Let's make this a bit prettier English: "Let your name be set aside for holy purposes." That is beginning to sound a bit better.

The tough issue however is that the verb doesn't have the sense of an on-going action. This is not "Continue to let you name be set aside..." but refers to a one time event. So we can go to ways here. The first is to completely emphasize the moment of prayer: God's name be used right now at this very moment for the holy purpose of prayer. The other is to completely emphasize the future moment of prayer: Your name will one day be completely set aside for holiness. Let that day come. The reality is that this petition is eschatological in nature: There is a day when God's kingdom will come; in this prayer we catch a glimpse of that, here and now and only in this moment.

Your kingdom come. Same in both. I guess the most interesting thing for a sermon is what the word Kingdom actually means! Royal monarchy might make sense. This term, from what I can tell, does not have a specific culturally connotation more than the word kingdom or government would today. It was a catch all phrase common in society. Worth noting is the aorist imperative nature of the verb 'come.' This again puts us back in the eschatological moment. God's kingdom comes for a moment and will fully come later (also in a moment).

It is worth noting that whatever intimacy and presence one wishes to ascribe to the idea of "hallowed is your name" one must ascribe to "your kingdom come." The Greek is the same; God's name is hallowed in the same time-dimension as the kingdom coming.

Your will be done: In Matthew, not in Luke

Daily bread: Matthew and Luke differ here. Luke makes the verb in the present: Continue to give us our daily bread day after day. Matthew leaves it in the aorist: Give us our bread for today.

Forgive us: In Luke, the verb "forgive" (αφιημι, aphieemi) when we pray is again in an aorist tense, indicating we are asking for forgiveness right now. However, the verb "forgive" is in the present tense when it comes to our own action, suggesting an on-going action!  Matthew keeps both verbs the same. Perhaps Matthew encourages the one praying to forgive in that moment of prayer; Luke perhaps realizes the need of humans to forgive again and again, not simply once.

Furthermore, Luke uses the word "sin"; Matthew keeps the word "debt." I am going to walk away slowly from commentary here...

Lead us not into temptation: Same in both.

But deliver us from evil: Only in Matthew

For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory. Amen. This is in the Didache, around 100-110 AD...not in the oldest copies we have of Matthew's Gospel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Colossians 1:15-28

1:15 The theological buzz word here is "eikwn" or "icon." A few things worth noting; this is a word used in Colossians, but not Ephesians. Second, Christ is the first thing mentioned, not as being made in the image, but in fact the image of God. Third thing, the word will come back into play in Col, in Chapter 3, where our minds our renewed into the image of the one who created us. One thing rather interesting is that in as much as the tension between Jew and Greek may have been solved in the book of Colossians (perhaps suggesting a later date than Paul himself!), but tension between Christ and world has not. The writer of Colossians (who I assert is Paul) continued to hold up the dramatic newness of Christ and the corresponding life in Christ.

1:17 " in him all things hold together." The Greek verb here underneath this all is "stand together." This is a rather interesting verb because it literally means "stand with." (synistehmi) "hold together" is a fair translation, but one could even make this a bit stronger -- all things stand united in him; or are even combined in him!

1:18 Great words here: arche. Jesus is the arche. As in "monarch" means one ruler, one principle...Jesus is the ruler, the root, the principle, the beginning, the origin.

1:18 We get the second time for "prototokos": First born. This time not of creation, but of the dead. (Remember the Nestorian debate over "theotokos..."

1:24 The word "my" as in "my sufferings" is not in the Greek. Paul simply says, "I rejoice in the sufferings on your behalf." It is the translators interpretation (ie NRSV and NET) that Paul here refers to rejoicing because of Christ or his sufferings. Regardless, the more difficult part of the sentence is what is meant by "sufferings 'tou' Christ" (the word for suffering and Christ here are straight forward!). The 'tou" there indicates a genitive. So we are back in a familiar place in translation -- sufferings for Christ (objective gen) or sufferings of Christ (subjective gen). The most favorable translation for Paul is that he is going to complete the lack of his suffering for Christ on behalf of the church.

1:25 I will save this for another post/year/time, but Paul says he is commissioned. The actual Greek here is that he is a servant "according to the 'oikonomia' of God." To read another way: "He is a servant according to the economy of God." That is our call, folks, the economy of God. What might this passage say about God's economy? One brief comment: Creation, Jesus, suffering, proclamation, reconcilation and see Col 3.20...a new creation!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Galatians 3:19-29

The actually lectionary lesson begins at verse 23, but let's pick up Paul's argument at verse 19.

3.19: Paul literally writes: "Why then the law?" Perhaps the great question is: What does Paul mean by "nomos" or "law" here? Well...let's see!

3.19: Paul here writes that the law was added "archis" (until) "whom the one came..." Just a note here; we will come back to this later.

3:19: The NIV and NRSV/NET differ in how the translate a little relative pronoun "whom" (literally hoo or 'who') The NIV reads: "until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come" The NRSV/NET read: until the Seed would come to whom the promise had been made. I confess I am not the greatest in reading relative pronoun sentences, but I see little support for the NIV translation grammatically. The NIV basically says that a dative pronoun refers to a subject, ie, they translate whom was promised as "who was promised." I realize if you look at this too long it all looks alike, but the question is: What came? The promised seed (NIV) or the seed to the promised (NRSV/NET).

3:19: Point about how Greek works: Paul switches back to talking about the law in the latter half the sentence. How do you know? Because the aorist partiple beginning this part of the sentence is in conjugated as a masculine nominative and thus refers back to the law (alos a mas. nom). If it referred to the seed it would be neuter; if it referred to the promise it would be feminine. Participles are conjugated based on what they relate to in the main sentence; relative pronouns are conjugated based on what they relate to in the relative clause.

3:20: Paul is laying the smack down here. In Greek. In English. Anyway, moving on.

3:21: Great example of an ei-an clause. If both are in the indicative, this means that both points are wrong: If the law could give life (but it doesn't); then you could have righteousness (but it doesn't).

3:22 The NIV is hopefully creative here in its translation of "synklei-o" to mean "declares." It means "shut off" or "imprisoned" and would be used, for example, to talk about catching fish in a net. By translating this word as " the power of sin..." it distorts the Scripture to protect Scripture. The much more natural reading of the verb "synklei-o" and "hypo twn amartian" (under sin) is what the NRSV/NET render it: Scripture has not simply declared, but has actually done the deed itself. Scripture, has like a net, caught us up under sin. That's the image. Now you can figure out what that means.

3:22 See my notes last week on "Faith of Christ". Another interesting note is thatthe faith (noun) of Jesus makes possible the believing (verb; action) by us.

3:23 To further my point about the verb "synklei-o) see (3:22), the NIV translates it in this sentence as "lock-up."

3:23 Here comes another translation issue on a preposition: eis. This little bad boy can mean until or toward or to. So, the question for interpreters of Gal 3 is: Does the law lead us until Christ or up to Christ or toward Christ?

3:24 The great word here is "paidagogos" (literally foot-leader). As Liddell-Scott puts it: a boy-ward; at Athens, the slave who went with a boy from home to school and back again, a kind of tutor, Hdt., Eur., etc.:-hence Phoenix is called the paidagogos of Achilles. The law is slave...

3:25 The participle here is a genitive absolute (they stick everything in genitive to start out the sentence that has nothing to do with the second half). So you have to treat the genitive word and the genitive participle as all in the nominative and then put a coma: "Faith came," Or to make it connect: After faith came...

3:25 The Bible never says what the NIV says here: "We are no longer under the supervision of the law." It simply says, "We are no longer under a paidagogos."

3:27 Compare this verse with Col 3:12. Can you see the difference in Greek?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Galatians 1:11-24

1.11: We have a nice "adjectival participle here. The Gospel that was preached by me. Adjectival participles are easy to recognize and translate. Notice the "to" structure "to" euangellion..."to" tells you they are a pair.

1.12: The word here for revelation is...Revelation or "apocalypse"! It is indefinite (no article) so it can be translated just as "revelation" or "a revelation."

1.13: A point about the passive. Paul here does the passive construction in a few ways here:
a) verb in passive voice with "hypo" to signify agent (Gospel which was preached by me -- hypo mou)
b) verb in passive voice without any agent (not taught to me)
c) use of prepositions: "received from men (para)" but "through the revelation of Jesus Christ (dia)"

1.14: A rather ironic twist here. Paul says he was hungry for the "tradition" of his elders. Tradition is a latin word; the Greek is almost the same "paradidhmi" (both mean over-give). Paul here seems to be attacking tradition, yet in 1 Cor he will appeal to this same word that he handed over what was of first importance, what was given over to him, (paradidhmi), ie, communion. (See 1 Cor 11.2)

1:16 The NRSV smooths over something rather awkward by Paul here. Paul writes that Christ was revealed (back to apocalypse) in me; not to me, but "en emoi." The NRSV translates it as "to" because Paul uses the same preposition to write I preached it "to the gentiles." There though it can mean "among" but this makes no sense in the context we currently have it.

1:16 Paul uses the phrase "flesh and blood" (sakri kai haimati) (hendiadis = two words that have one meaning) for human here.

1:22 Double dative object construction here. I was unknown (dat) to the face (dat) to the churches...

The first one we translate as an adverb: "I was personally unknown"; the second as the direct object (normally in the accusative, but some verbs that a dative direct object)

1:24 Finally Paul says, "the Glorified God in me" Once again, we have this tricky "in me." The NET Bible justifies this saying, "The prepositional phrase evn emoi, (en emoi) has been translated with a causal force." Blah blah. Why do we want to cover up Paul so much??

In this case, I think Paul is preparing us for his amazing chapter 2 -- where he finally concludes that Christ is in him. wow!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Acts 11:1-18

11.1 Great use of a substantive participle here. literally: The brothers the being throughout Judea. [Odd use of kata (in the accusative it can mean throughout).] The two "the"s help you see the link between brothers and we translate this: The apostles and brothers in Judea heard...why? Because the participle phrase "who are throughout Judea" is cumbersome!

11.1 Three times in the book of Acts Luke refers to people "accepting" the Word of God. No justification bending of the text. Deal with it: 8:14; 11:1; 17:1

11.5 The word for vision here is not related to sight but rather "exstatis" or "ecstatic." Peter was having an estatic vision!

Also, the way the prepositions and participles work in this verse is rather interesting; I don't think it impacts the interpretation, but worth looking at! (Note, the dative use of "corners"!)

11.6 Funny note here -- the word for "see" here (katanoe-oo) is a bit unusual. Another person looked at food and ate it -- Eve; same verb. Kind of ironic that Eve did the wrong thing; Peter here does the right thing.

11.7 The word for kill here (thy-oo) has connotations of sacrifice. (The word appears 17 times in the LXX version of Exodus!) Talk about making the common holy!

11.8 The two words Peter uses to describe the food are "koinos" (as in Koine/common Greek) and akathapos (as in unclean).

11.9 Interstingly, the verb here for "call common/unclean" is simply "koino-oo," which has no connotations of "calling" but rather means "make unclean." This seems like a subtle point, but once again, alas, the translators water it down for us. At issue is not simply the "names" Peter uses but actually how Peter treats the objects/food/people. When the translators limit the issue to naming, the avoid part of the punch -- the issue is not simply what Peter calls it but in fact is how he treats it (which includes, but is not limited to how he treats it).

11.12 The word here for "without hesitation" or "make a distinction" (diakrin-oo)goes back to an earlier word in this pericope, 11.2, when the "of circumcision party" had "took issue" with Peter. So, the "of circum. party" "diakrin-oo"s Peter; Peter will not "diakrin-oo" this invitation.

11.18 The brothers now praise (glorify) God for the repentance of the gentiles. In order to discover the repentance (metanoia) Peter had to "kata-noia" (see/observe/think) again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Psalm 23

Note: I profess a much greater humility in regards to my Hebrew comments than Greek!

Verse 1: The word "LORD" in Hebrew is Yahweh. This most of us know. But I think two things are worth reflecting on here. First is that in English we always put the word "The" in front of the "LORD." In Hebrew it simply reads, "Yahweh is my shepherd." Second, we read the "LORD" with a certain complacency unimaginable to early readers of this.

Verse 1: The word "Shepherd" is a verbal noun in Hebrew, that is, it is a participle (shepherding) that has been fixed into a noun. Thus, every time you read the word "Shepherd" in the OT, you are reading something much more akin to, "The one shepherding." If you notice the Vulgate and Septugint translation of this verse actually leave the word as a verb: "The Lord shepherds me."

Verse 1: The word for lack here, K/H-S-R, is also used in Deuteronomy 2:7, when God says the people lacked nothing. A reminder that what God says we need is probably different from our own estimation...

Also, the translation, "I want for nothing" in stead of "I am not wanting" is from the Greek and Latin, not the Hebrew (ie, the Hebrew simply reads: "I am not wanting..."

Verse 2: The word for "resting place" is interesting. As Bible Work's TWOT dictionary says: "Basically the root nûaµ relates to absence of spatial activity and presence of security, as seen, e.g. in the ark which "rested" on Mount Ararat (Gen 8:4),"

Verse 2: The word "green" as in "Green pastures" does not appear in the Hebrew. The word is "grass." God wants to feed us, not show us pretty pictures.

Verse 3: The word "restore" is the reason I find Hebrew so wonderful but so frustrating. If you look at the word, you might have no clue that its root is Sh-U-V, which means to turn, even to repent. The sentence could read, "He turns my soul."

Verse 3: The word "name" as in "Name's sake" might be a little weak here. The word of name in Hebrew "SheM" means name, but in the sense of "reputation" or even "glory."

Verse 4: How does one translate "Valley of the shadow of death." I again defer to the TWOT dictionary, which is so helpful here: "It describes the darkness of eyelids tired from weeping (Job 16:16), the thick darkness present in a mine shaft (Job 28:3), the darkness of the abode of the dead (Job 10:21ff; Job 38:17), and the darkness prior to creation (Amos 5:8). Emotionally it describes the internal anguish of one who has rebelled against God (Psa 107:10-14; cf. Psa 44:19ff [H 20f]). Thus it is the strongest word in Hebrew for darkness." Shadow of darkeness is probably too weak a translation, but the idea here is that it encompasses more than death.

Verse 5: (heehee) The word here for "oil" is also "fat" and the word here for "overflow" is "saturate," so here we have a feast with saturated fats :-)

Verse 6: Warning on manuscripts: The Hebrew literally reads, "I will return in(to) the house of the Lord," however everyone translates this "I will live" (amending the text). Which is bizarre; the NET translation says, "return" makes no sense. Which is too bad because I think it makes more sense this way!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Luke 9:28-36

9:29 The Greek here is quite odd for the word "change." It literally reads "The outward appearance of his face 'other'" (heteros). You could almost read it "The outward appearance of his face was other.

9:29 The Greek for "brilliant" (his coat) has tucked within it the word "astra" like "astronomy." Jesus is bright like the stars. Interestingly, the only other place this word appears in the whole Bible is Ezekial and Daniel, perhaps a reminder that transfiguration has an eschatological bent -- it is the future breaking in and not simply the past catching up!

9:31 The word for "departure" here is literally "exodus." Moses is talking with Jesus about his exodus.

9:32-33 Luke here basically makes up two words by adding "dia" to them. This intensifies the word; the disciples "dia-wake up" and Moses and Elijah "dia-depart" from them.

9:34 The word for "overshadow" -- you guessed it -- is also found in Luke 1, where the Angel promises to Mary that she will be "overshadowed" or episkiaz-oo.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Luke 3:15-21

3:15 Luke here uses the word, "prosdoka-oo" for "wait" or "expect." Interestingly, Luke uses this word a whole bunch (6x in Luke; 4x in Acts), far more often than anyone else. In this case though, the people are not waiting for Jesus, per se, but rather the Messiah, and wondering whether John would be it. Perhaps a reminder and a challenge -- what are we waiting for?

3:15 The people wondered "in their hearts." (kardias) In Luke's Gospel, the hearts is the place where thought occurs, much like Hebrew!

3:15 The word here for "is" is in the optative mood, a rare usage indeed. Gotta give it to Luke -- using Hebrew thought with advanced Greek!

3:16 The word for gather here is "synago" An interesting connection to Baptism indeed, that Jesus will gather, literally, make the the church! Okjay, its abstract, but I think helpful.

3:18 Luke uses the word "euangeliz-oo" here to describe the work of John. Most Lutheran preachers might want a bit more Jesus/Gospel to use this word!

3:21 Once again the Gospel of Luke, we find Jesus praying. The word "praying" is a present participle in this case, which means it is a concurrent action. The question of course, if which verb is it concurrent with: the Baptism or the opening of the heavens? The Greek here presents a grammatical ambiguity; perhaps it alludes to a spiritual mystery. Its intersection points toward another insight: Prayer is what unlocks the power of our Baptism. God has claimed us and established a relationship with us. Prayer is how we live into this relationship -- how the heavens are opened to us.

3:21 The word baptize is used four times in a few verses here. I think Luke wants to draw our attention to the actual action. Perhaps to tie it back to prayer, because of the act of Baptism, we always here the answer to our own prayers: That we are a beloved child of God and brother of Jesus Christ, claimed in the waters.

3:22 At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of the flesh; in Baptism we celebrate the incarnation of the Spirit! The Holy Spirit fleshed itself -- it came "soma" (body) style!