Sunday, August 12, 2012
Monday, October 10, 2011
The new blog has a number of features I've wanted to incorporate for some time such as podcasts and static web pages for longer articles.
Please take a look at the new Thus Said the LORD. You might be interested in several new entries:
- God to Parents: Teach Values Not Rules
- My New translation of the first creation story, Genesis 1:1-2:3
- Faith, Salvation, and Holiness
- The Still Small Voice of God?
- Do Not Covet Thy Neighbor's ..."
- Male Homosexuality and the Bible: It's not what you think
Blessings to all,
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Let's take a closer look at this verse, 1 Kings 19:12, and see what's really going on. The RSV translates the verse as follows:
and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voiceFirst some context. In this verse, the prophet Elijah is hiding in a cave hoping to escape Queen Jezebel who is out to kill him. Upon hearing the voice in the cave, Elijah runs to the entrance of the cave where God asks, "What are you here for, Elijah?". Elijah answers that he is hiding because his "zealousness for the LORD" as angered Queen Jezebel and much of Israel who now seek his death.
But is this how God intended this text to be understood? Does He really want to leave us with the impression that He sometimes presents Himself quietly, modestly, with subtlety. When we look at the Hebrew from which "a still small voice" is translated, qol d'mamah daqqah, we learn that the normal translation is problematic, to say the least. Consider:
- While the Hebrew word 'qol' can mean 'voice' or 'sound', it can also mean 'thunder' or 'thunderous voice' depending on context. When qol is used elsewhere in the Bible, notably in the context of a storm theophany (God appearing during a storm) qol is always translated as "thunderous voice" or "roaring sound". (e.g., Exodus 19:16). How reasonable is it that this text, a direct parallel to the storm theophany of Exodus, be translated as "small or quiet"?
- What about the other words? The Hebrew word mamah, translated as 'quiet', 'whisper', or 'still' actually stems from the Hebrew word damim meaning 'roared'. Likewise daqqah is often interpreted figuratively to mean small. But, the literal meaning of daqqah is to crush - which, of course, is a way of making big things small.
"and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a roaring, thunderous voice."But, if this is all there is, so what? What theological difference does this make?
In this story, Elijah is (was) competing with the worshippers of Baal. Where Baal speaks thunder, i.e., his voice is the thunder, God speaks thunderous words. The divine author is drawing a very clear, sharp contrast between Baal (thunder) and God (the maker of thunder). Where Baal was (is) the storm, God is the maker of the storm. Storms and fire and earthquake are gods to the worshippers of Baal, but these 'gods' are depicted in the Bible, and here in 1 Kings, as preceding our God. Moreover, our God speaks words and we listen, learn, and obey. Baal is simply thunder from which we flee or take cover. What a difference between worshipping the storm and the Maker of the storm - between worshipping the creature and the Creator!
Now, go and study
Sunday, September 4, 2011
deals with a spate of new books that have recently been published that asks
this question. The comments are pretty good, also. I strongly urge you to
read his post
As you read his post and the comments, keep in mind that distinction between
what is moral and what is ethical. We often conflate the two. Here's the
Suppose God establishes truth as a moral value. An immoral
person is one who rejects truth as a moral value. Now, suppose Jim believes
in, and values, truth. If Jim were to lie, that would make him unethical,
but not necessarily immoral.
Ethics is simply a list of accepted behaviors that reflect
underlying moral values. However, in the presence of competing moral
values, there is no ethical solution possible if the values are not
prioritized. In the Bible, life is valued more highly than truth. That is
why it is both ethical to lie in order to save the life of another and that
is why it is unethical to tell the truth knowing you are condemning an
innocent person to death.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
- Faith is necessary for salvation.
- Faithfulness is the proper expression of faith.
- Obedience is the proper expression of faithfulness.
Now, go and study,
Thursday, May 19, 2011
But is this what it really means?
In Hebrew the word, translated as 'covet' is tach'mode (sounds like 'ch' as in Bach), the meaning of which is closely related to ‘take’ or ‘choose’. Moreover, whether tach'mode is good or bad depends on how or what one tach'modes. For example, tach'mode can be used in a negative sense…
- to use-without-permission or to use-surreptitiously (Exodus 34:24)
- to take-, to borrow-, or to command-without-authority (Proverbs 12:12)
- to choose (Psalm 68:17)
- Do not tach'mode the house of your neighbor. Do not tach'mode the wife of your neighbor or his servant or his house-maid or his oxen or his donkey or anything that belongs to him.
- When the parents go away for the weekend, the teenage son invites his friends over for a kegger (Do not tach'mode thy parent's house).
- When the husband of an attractive woman leaves on a business trip, his friend invites the wife over for dinner with the hopes of seducing her (Do not tach'mode thy neighbor's wife).
How did this mistranslation come about? One possible explanation (and there are many) might be because of the way in which the Hebrew was translated into Greek when the Septuagint (LXX) was written. In the LXX, the Hebrew words tach'mode and ivah are translated with the same word, pithymeo. However, unlike tach'mode, ivah really does mean covet, lust after, or strongly desire. In other words, ivah is the motivation for committing tach'mode, but only tach'mode is prohibited.
In this case, the Greek translation of the Hebrew text makes no distinction between acting on one's strong desires and the strong desires! And, since the LXX was the Bible used by the earliest Christians (and all the Greek Jews) including Paul and the Apostles, it's little wonder that this [mis]understanding was carried forward in virtually all of the English Bibles we have available to us today.
Here, then, is my translation (what the ancient Hebrew listener would have understood) of the ninth commandment:
- Do not use the house of your neighbor without his permission. Do not command the wife of your neighbor. Do not command his servant or his house-maid or his oxen or his donkey or anything that belongs to him without his permission.
As the late Paul Harvey used to say, "Now you know the rest of the story."
(Full credit to Dr. Joel Hoffmam for a much more detailed explanation of this (and other) mistranslation(s), in his book, And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible's Original Meaning)