Monday, September 26, 2011

1 Corinthians 11:4, Garment or Hair? Wonderful Greek Idioms!

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 tends to be “controversial” at best.  For the most part, the argument around the passage has to do with if the “head covering” spoken of in verse 4 is “hair” (long or short) or some type of "garment" or "veil".  For starters, let’s look at the renderings in the most popular English translations:
11:4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head (Christ)*. 
11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head (Christ)*. 
Both renderings pretty much look the same.  But what does “having his head covered” mean?  One must consider the Greek idiom κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων behind the translation “having his head covered”.
Here is a literal translation from the Greek.  Take note of the idiom.
11:4 Every man praying and prophesying, having down from the head, puts his head (Christ)* to shame.
As we can see, it is not as easy as it seems to translate the passage because of the Greek idiom.  So, how should we try to resolve this?  We must find out what κατὰ κεφαλῆς ἔχων (having down from the head) meant in ancient times and what better place to look than the Bible itself!  The idiom can be found in Esther 6:12 of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) where the Greek idiom was used to translate the Hebrew for “head covered”.
Let’s take a look at our most popular translations again for an English rendering of the Hebrew.
6:12 Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief

6:12 And Mordecai came again to the king’s gate. But Haman hasted to his house mourning, and having his head covered
Now the LXX:
Ἐσθήρ 6·12 ἐπέστρεψεν δὲ ὁ Μαρδοχαῖος εἰς τὴν αὐλήν, Αμαν δὲ ὑπέστρεψεν εἰς τὰ ἴδια λυπούμενος κατὰ κεφαλῆς
6:12 And Mordecai returned into the courtyard, but Haman returned home grieving down from the head.
As we can see from the Greek idiom, Paul is not referring to “hair” as the covering.  He is referring to some type of garment as indicated in Esther 6:12.
So what does this mean for the total passage?  Well, there are still many unanswered questions as we just don’t know what the “tradition” was that the Corinthians were keeping that Paul had passed to them.  One thing is for sure: Paul sets up an allegory between “head coverings” and “hair” later in the passage which results in the following:
No head covering garment = short hair = man
Head covering garment = long hair = woman

*Christ is the “head” of a man per verse 3.  παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἡ κεφαλὴ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν (The head of every man is Christ/The Anointed One).

Monday, September 19, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, Causal or Explanatory?

Here is an excerpt from an upcoming Study on 1 Thessalonians.  I lean Epexegetical (Explanatory).

4 We know your choosing, brothers and sisters loved by God, 5 because our Good News did not come to you in word only, but also with power, that is, with the Holy Spirit and [with] full conviction, just as you know what kind of men we became [among] you for your sake.

     But that may not be all that is going on with this passage.  At the beginning of verse 5, ὅτι (because) introduces the clause.  The way that the passage in translated above, uses ὅτι as the “cause” that Paul knows that God has chosen the Church in Thessalonica, but that is but one way to translate ὅτι.  ὅτι can also be translated as “that”, thus the passage would now be epexegetical or explanatory, thus explaining the way the Church in Thessalonica was chosen (Fee, NINTC, 31-32) (Fee, GEP, 40) (Green, PNCT, 93-94).  If this is the case, then verses 4 and 5 may be translated: “We know your choosing, brothers and sisters loved by God, that our Good News did not come to you with message only, but also with power, that is with the Holy Spirit and [with] complete certainty...”  If this analysis is correct, then we are seeing a conversion experience described here.  The missionaries’ message went forth, accompanied with power (miracles?) which is brought on as the Thessalonians are filled with the Holy Spirit which leads to the full certainty that the Thessalonians had truly been converted.  In the end, the meaning here is probably two-fold, The message (word) of the Gospel (Good News) in which the Missionaries preached was Spirit empowered and lead to the conversion of the people in the Thessalonian Church (Fee, NINTC, 36).

Friday, September 16, 2011

1 Thessalonians 1:3, Translation Issues?

3 We remember before our God and Father your work of faith, your labor of love, and your perseverance of hope in our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.

Below is an excerpt from an upcoming Study on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  This is an example of how hard translation can be.  As you will see below, the passage can mean and be translated three different ways.  As Robert Mounce says in his son's book, Basics of Biblical Greek, "The way a translation handles an ambiguous verse such as this reveals the theological leanings of the translator." (Referring to Romans 9:5, Basics of Biblical Greek, 2nd Edition, William Mounce, Page 13).

     3 The grammatical issue with this verse is where would ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν (before/in the presence of our God and Father) be placed in an English sentence?  In the Greek text, the prepositional phrase is located at the end of the clause, but just because it is located at the end does not mean that it modifies “our Lord Jesus Christ”.  It could also be functioning as an adverbial phrase and modifies  the participle “remembering” (We remember).  If we follow the word order, then the clause would be translated: “remembering your work of faith, labor of love, and the perseverance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.”  If we keep the word order, why then would Paul want to say that Jesus is in the presence of God and furthermore, what would that rendering have to do with the thanksgiving that Paul is writing about?  The obvious answer is “nothing”.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy where simply stating that as they are praying, they are in the presence of God remembering the Thessalonians. (Fee, NICNT, 22)  On the other hand, Bruce sees the phrase modifying the the attributes of the Thessalonian Church.  In other words, the Thessalonians’ practice of faith, love, and hope are done in the presence of God (WBC, 12-13).

Friday, September 9, 2011

John 3:3-8, Wonderful Word Plays

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from above/again, he is not able to perceive the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus says to him, “How is a man, being old, able to be born?  Is he not able to enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born from water and spirit/wind, he is not able to enter into the Kingdom of God.  6 What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit/wind is spirit/wind7 Don’t marvel because I said to you ‘You must be born from above/again.’  8 The spirit/wind blows where it will and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from and where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born from the spirit/wind.
The Greek word for “from above” is ἄνωθεν.  It can also mean “again”.  ἄνωθεν is used 5 times in the Gospel of John.  The 3 times it is used outside of the above passage, ἄνωθεν means “above”.  See John 3:31, 19:11, 19:23.  Since 3:31 is actually part of the above passage, then one can see the use.  Verse 31 begins “Ο ἄνωθεν ἐρχόμενος ἐπάνω πάντων ἐστίν” (The one who comes from above is over all things).  The main Greek word for “again” is πάλιν.  John uses it 45 times in the Gospel.  So, there is no confusion about the words.  John uses the word to create the confusion in Jesus’ and Nicodemus’ conversation.  Jesus means “from above” while Nicodemus is thinking of the alternate meaning; “again”.  That’s what prompts his questions.  In his 2nd question in verse 4, the Greek word for “not” here is μὴ.  When μὴ is used with questions, a negative or “no” answer is expected.  There are two words for “not”.  οὐ with questions expects a positive or “yes” answer, while μὴ expects the “no” answer.
The problem with translating ἄνωθεν as either “from above” or “again” misses the word play in the Greek, but there is no equivalent English word that will do the job!  The really fun thing about this is that Jesus and Nicodemus would not have had this conversation in Greek!  They would have had the conversation in Aramaic.  So, John is probably doing this in a stylistic way.
The other word play is with τὸ πνεῦμα (spirit or wind).  There is another word for wind which is ἄνεμος and John uses it in 6:18.  So, he is using πνεῦμα for wind on purpose here in this passage as he is aware of the other Greek word for wind.  The verb form of πνεῦμα is πνέω and it means “to blow”.  John uses it here and in 6:18.
Finally, what are to make of these word plays?  John either used them as a matter of style or used them to draw attention to what was being written.  I tend to lean toward the latter and will add that John’s Gospel was written to be read in Greek and not in any other language as a translation just doesn’t do the passages (at least this one) justice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Blog Going Forward


Thanks for reading this blog.  For the past year, Nuggets in the Biblical Greek has gone from a look at certain passages/verses to an outlet for full-blown New Testament studies.  Going forward, the Nuggets in the Biblical Greek blog will return to what it was originally created for: certain passages/verses, thus "Nuggets".

I (and contributors) will continue to do the "full-blown" studies, but new blog sites will be created for them.  To start, Stephen Brown and I have created "Exploring Paul's Letters" in order to provide the "big" study.  The first letter covered will be 1 Thessalonians, followed by 2 Thessalonians.

After that?  We will start on John's letters at "Exploring John's Writings".



Friday, September 2, 2011

Revelation 22:6-21, Epilogue; The Coming of Christ (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     6 And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true, and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets1 sent his angel to show his slaves what must come soon2.”
     7 “And behold, I am coming soon3 . Blessed is the one who keeps4 the words of prophecy in this book5.”
     8 And I, John, am the one who hears and sees these things6. And when I heard and saw these things, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 And he says to me, “See that you don’t do this!7 I am your fellow-slave and of your brothers the prophets, and the ones keeping the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he say to me, “Don’t seal the words of prophecy of this book, for the appointed time is near8. 11 Let the one who does wrong still do wrong, and let the one who is impure9 still be impure, and let the one who is righteous still perform righteousness, and let the one who is holy still be holy.”10
     12 “Behold, I am coming soon11 , and my wage12 is with me to give to each one as is his work13. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega14, the first and the last, the beginning and the end15.
     14 Blessed are the ones who wash their robes16 so that their authority will be over the tree of life17 and they may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs18, the sorcerers, the male prostitutes, the murderers, the idolaters, and all who love and performs lying.
     16 I, Jesus, sent my angel to witness to you among the churches these things.19 I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”20
     17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”21 And let the one who hears say “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who is willing receive the water of life without cost.
     18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy in this book; If anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues whichhave been written in this book, 19 and if anyone may take away from the words of this book of prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life22 and from the Holy City which has been written in this book.23
     20 The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon24.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 
     21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.25

1 Echoes Numbers 16:22. The spirits of the prophets speak as they are moved on by the Holy Spirit. Mounce** (Pg. 390). Beale* thinks that the phrase echoes Daniel 2 and that John is among “special prophets” that God has commissioned to reveal his word. (Pgs. 1124-1126).

     Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his
servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

     The first verse of Revelation claims the message comes from God through the mighty hand of His Son, Jesus Christ. The revelation is then given to John, delivered by an angel. If the word of God is revealed, it can be no other than the Word that was with God in the beginning, and was God.

2 ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει (what must come soon) 

Greek: “what must happen in quickness”. Parallels with 1:1.

3 ταχύ (soon) 

Greek: “quickly”.

4 “Keeps” is figurative language for “obey”.

     Implied is the obedience that can only start with hearing this word, which means understanding and application.

5 τοῦ βιβλίου τούτου (in this book) 

or “of this book”. I’ve translated the genitive as an objective. I do so throughout the passage.

6 Beale* (Pg. 1128) states that “seeing and hearing” is the basis for a “legal witness”. He cites 1 John 1:1-2 to confirm this.

Ἰωάννου α 1·1 Ὃ ἦν ἀπ ̓ ἀρχῆς, ὃ ἀκηκόαμεν, ὃ ἑωράκαμεν τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς ἡμῶν, ὃ ἐθεασάμεθα καὶ αἱ χεῖρες ἡμῶν ἐψηλάφησαν περὶ τοῦ λόγου τῆς ζωῆς _ 2 καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἐφανερώθη, καὶ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ μαρτυροῦμεν καὶ ἀπαγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν τὴν ζωὴν τὴν αἰώνιον ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν _

     1:1 The one who was from the beginning, who we have heard, who we have seen with our eyes, who we beheld and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life_ 2 and the life was made know, and we have seen it and testify to it and send to you the eternal life which was with the Father and revealed to us _

7 ὅρα μή (See that you don’t do this!) 

Greek: “See not!” Parallels with 19:10.

     John indicates here that while we may have different gifts we are brothers and sisters in the one body of Christ. We are given access to the same Spirit and made alive in the same kingdom of God. There is only one that is to be worshiped. It is the same God and Son that is on the throne.

8 The opposite of Daniel 12:4 where Daniel must seal the words until the end. The end had started with the coming of Jesus. Now the words are not to be sealed for everyone must know.

9 ὁ ῥυπαρὸς (the one who is impure) 

or “the one who is morally filthy”.

10 Verse 11 can mean several things: 1. It is a warning to the unsaved to rethink their lives; 2. Encouragement to the believers; 3. A reminder that whatever people do in their lives will not stand in the way of Christ’s coming; 4. A reminder that there is little believers can do to stop evil other than to continue to proclaim the Good New; 5. A reminder to believers to continue to walk in faith; Osborne*** (Pgs. 786-787), 6. From John’s point of view, there is no time remaining because Jesus is about to return; Mounce** (Pgs. 392-393). Beale* (Pgs. 1131-1133) says the passage is based upon Daniel 12:10 and interprets the phase based on the passage in Daniel. In Daniel, it is predicted that in the latter days that false members of the OT covenant will not understand that prophecy is being fulfilled and will continue to disobey God, but the Godly will obey God and see that the prophecy is being fulfilled. The change from the Daniel’s “prediction” to the Apocalypse’s “imperatives” show that the prophecies in Daniel were beginning to be fulfilled.

     In the final days before Noah and family entered the ark, even as it began to rain and despite warnings of coming destruction, life was carried on as if there was no end in sight. Those that did not listen were given over to their blindness. So it will be in the final days.

11 ταχύ (soon) 

Greek: “quickly”.

12 ὁ μισθός μου (my wage) 

or “my reward”.

13 τὸ ἔργον (work)

or “deed”. The verse can be seen in two ways: 1. Jesus is bringing his reward with him to reward each believer for his righteous deed. 2. The phrase is meant to be an encouragement and a warning. The wages paid to the one who does work for the kingdom will be eternal life, but the wages paid to the one who works against the kingdom will be eternal death (2nd death). Option 2 is the most probable. Osborne*** agrees (Pg. 788), as does Mounce** (Pg.393), and Beale* (Pgs. 1136-1137). The passage is an echo of Proverbs 24:12.

     It might be possible to apply this to both. Jesus renders judgment on both believer and non-believer, and they receive according to the choice they made. The wages of sin is death. The work of faith, of enduring to the end, will bring the crown of life.

14 These titles were applied to God in 1:8 and 21:6, but here to Jesus himself. This shows us that the Father and Son are unified as one.

15 These titles have already been applied to Jesus in 1:17 and 2:8.

16 The TR/KJV replaces οἱ πλύνοντες τὰς στολὰς αὐτῶν (the ones who wash their robes) with οἱ ποιοῦντες τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ (the ones who do his commandments).

The passage has a close parallel to 7:14. Mounce** draws to our attention that the participle οἱ πλύνοντες (the ones who wash) is in the present tense and carries a continual aspect. (Pg. 394).

17 If one has authority over the tree of life, then one has access to the tree of life. In other words, the passage probably means that believers have unlimited access to the tree of life.

18 This is the only use of “dog” in Revelation. Throughout the NT, “dog” is used to refer to “apostate” christians or Jewish christians who still hold to the Jewish law. (Phil. 3:2-3; 2 Peter 2:20-22). In the OT, “dog” is used of Israelites who violate the OT law. Beale* (Pgs. 1142-1143).

19 “You” here is in the plural. The problem is that we don’t know if Jesus means for “you” to be the same as “the churches” or is “you” is separate from “the churches”. ἐπὶ (over) with the dative can also be translated as “in”, “on the basis of”, or “at”. John is very fluid with his language so it could also be translated as “on” or “over”. Since the entire Apocalypse was written to the seven churches in Asia (See chapters 2-3), then in keeping within the context of the book, we should see “you” and “the churches” as being one in the same.

Osborne*** disagrees and says that “you” probably is a circle of “prophets” who were helping John. (Pg. 792). After much convincing analysis, Beale* agrees with “in” or “among” thus identifying “you” with “the churches”. (Pgs. 1143-1146).

     It may be that we can view this message as applying to to us all. Just as John is used to deliver the word revealed to him, we can see this message delivered at a particular time and people, but containing a universal application, blessing not only the original hearers, but the entire body of Christ.

20 Allusions to Isaiah 11:1 and Numbers 24:17.

21 It is the Spirit and the bride (believers) who say come because the bride is filled with the Spirit! Paul says in Romans 8:26-28 that the Spirit intercedes for believers in “groaning” for our weaknesses. The passage in Romans 8:26-28 deals with the preceding passages (18-25) where the church in Rome was “groaning” for the coming of the Lord (the adoption of our bodies). Therefore, in that passage, the churches’ “weakness” was in asking for the Lord to come. Why? We are all human.

     When no words are found for the despair in our hearts, when we open our mouths in pain and anguish, only to hear no sound, we can take comfort that we are yet heard. The Spirit knows our spirit, our needs and troubles. He knows better than we do what is taking place and our perfect end. Jesus has sealed us with the great Comforter to strengthen and guide us into His rest.

22 The TR/KJV replaces ἀπὸ τοῦ ξύλου τῆς ζωῆς (from the tree of life) with ἀπὸ βίβλου τῆς ζωῆς (from the book of life). This reading in the TR appears in no other Greek manuscript. Bruce Metzger explains: “The error arose when Erasmus, in order to provide copy for the last six verses of Revelation (which were lacking in the only Greek manuscript of Revelation available to him), translated the verse from the Latin Vulgate into Greek. The corruption of “tree” into “book” had occurred earlier in the transmission of the Latin text when a scribe accidentally miscopied the correct word ligno (“tree”) as libro (“book”). A Textual Commentary of the Greek New Testament (Pg. 690).

23 Echoes Deuteronomy 4:2. In other words, Jesus was warning against false teachers which we see in Chapters 2 and 3. Those false teachers were trying to get certain churches to compromise and become idolaters in order for everyday life to be easier. Idolatry is detested by God throughout the entire Apocalypse. Osborne*** says that the passage also has to do with false teachers who would change the book of Revelation in order to restructure the Christian faith. (Pgs. 795-796). Beale* agrees with my analysis. (Pgs. 1150-1154).

24 ταχύ (soon) 

Greek: “quickly”.

25 The TR/KJV replaces the entire line with Ἡ χάρις τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν. ἀμήν. (The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you. Amen.) With that said, there are actually seven different endings among all of the manuscripts.

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)