Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Foolishness of Going Back to the Greek and Hebrew (edited)

Whenever someone gets into a pulpit and picks up a Bible and says "We're now going to read from God's error free word" and doesn't believe that the book he has in his hands is that word of God then he's a liar by profession and in deed. That preacher will say that the Bible is inerrant and infallible only in the originals, which neither he nor the person he trained under has ever seen.

Then there are those people who say they understand that this is truly God's word in the English language and that it is indeed the very words of God. However, when they go to translate the Bible into a foreign language they go back to the Greek Textus Rceptus or the Second Great Rabbinic Bible's Masoretic Text to do so making their profession that this Book, the Authorized Version, what we call in 20th century advertising parlance the KJB or KJV, also a lie. It's sort of like you trying to impress upon me what an adult you are and then asking me to get you a drink only in a sippy cup or a bottle. We've moved beyond the Greek and Hebrew and have been moved on for nearly 400 years.

This Book, the King James Bible, the one that you have in your hands is God's perfect, infallible word, as it says in my church constitution.
Now, there is always that know-it-all who, when you are having a Bible study or conversation who will try to impress you by saying that the real meaning of this or that word is this or that and it will help you understand the Bible better. May I say "Baloney?" How about "Hogwash?"
Let me give you some examples. First let's look at something every Independent Baptist wants to understand, a wife's submission to her husband.
Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."
Two verses later, this statement is further defined and explained by a parallel;
Ephesians 5:24 says "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing."
Is this clear? Look at this verse;
Colossians 3:18 gives a further narrowing and definition of wifely submission; "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."
1 Peter 3:1 gives a good reason why a wife should even submit to an unsaved husband, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;"

So, wives are to be in submission to their OWN husband as the church is in submission to Christ and even to an unsaved husband in order to lead him to salvation. Submission and subjection are synonyms, meaning they have like meanings. Picture how the church is to respond to and obey Christ and you can get an idea of how a wife is to respond to her husband and, of course, how he is to act. In fact, we are all called to submit to each other in the fear of God in Ephesians 5:21 which, although the remainder of a sentence, in some 1769 editions of the Authorized Version is the start of the paragraph in which we find instructions as to how we are to treat each other as husbands and wives. A simple cross referencing word study using any computerized King James Bible can explain to you, IN ENGLISH, what submission means. It's not rocket science.

Now, if we have a smarty pants Greekophile among us he will then say, these words; "submit", "subjection", etc. are all translated from one Greek word even in verse 21 where it tells all of us to submit to each other plus all of those verses where we are told to submit to the higher powers of government.

But, he will point out that the Greek word, Hupotasso, is a military term referring to placing things in proper order, and that it was a voluntary attitude of giving in and cooperating as your duty. Under the Republic in Rome when the entire army was called out it would be commanded by the two elected consuls on alternate days. So, the wife is to submit to her husband's authority as a wise and dutiful Roman consul will submit to someone if only his equal but in command.

Is this clear as mud? Is a wife a general or political rival, a husband's equal, who is simply living as if she is waiting for her turn to command the army, err, I mean house? Does Mr. Greek fancypants' explanation make things clearer than the Bible definition? I DON'T THINK SO.

I hope the girls reading this realize that this last definition of submission will not help you build a strong, healthy family. I hope you realize that if you don't let your husband rule your home, he will wreck it. That's just a fact. God's ways make sense because they work and because they are God's ways. Our attempts to dance around the truth in order to avoid it notwithstanding. So, I suggest you plan and determine in your head right now that you are going to be very, very careful in whom you marry. I'm not going to get into a discussion of the nature of submission, what it means to submit, or the responsibility of leadership because that isn't the topic. Although it seems to us Americans that the one submitting has the weaker position, it's not really that way. But, like I said, that isn't the subject here.

Now, let's use a Hebrew example;
Genesis 6:4 says "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
These giants appeared "also after that" so we know that these shenanigans were going on in the days after the Flood and perhaps even now. In any event giants existed much later and you can see this by Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 2:11, 20; Joshua 17:15 and many other references. The offspring of these wicked sons of God, who are reserved in chains in darkness in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6 awaiting judgment, are giants, as in very tall and strong people as is evidenced by the countless archaeological finds of people from 7ft to 12ft and taller in graves around the world.

Okay, Genesis 6:4 is clear enough. But, here comes Mr. Hebrew I'm Brilliant. He says that this word is Nephilim. The Nephilim means, he will tell you, "the fallen ones" and these Nephilim were the leaders of the pre-flood world.

What? Does that make things clearer? I DON'T THINK SO. Mr. Brilliant Guy will then say that the KJV translated giants from the Greek word, Gigantes, of the phony Septuagint which really means Nephilim. Not only is he disregarding the translators own declaration that the Septuagint was unreliable but also the fact that in Greek Mythology the Gigantes were, guess what? Giants. So, Mr. Hebrew guy hasn't helped us to understand the Bible one little bit. In fact, he's making things as murky as his Greek buddy. The word in English in 6:4 is GIANTS and it says and also after that there were GIANTS, and that means large, strong men of very tall stature, as in GOLIATH.

So, then we have other, more simple expressions that are adequately explained by the Holy Spirit in the authoritative English Bible but the scchhollaaarrrrr, as he can't stand the idea of anyone having authority over his own intellect, which he worships, by the way, will try to muddy the water and muddle your brain.

Here is another example, from the Greek.
Read John 2:1-11. Now, my intellectual companion will explain to me that the Greek word, oinos, means fermented wine, as in alcoholic wine. Then he will smugly point out that he is perfectly justified in consuming alcohol as a recreational beverage because after all Jesus turned water into wine in his first public miracle. So there.

So, I says, now, understand that a firkin, and yes, I had to go to a dictionary to get that unit of measure explained, a firkin is about 9 gallons of English measure. With six waterpots of stone containing two or three firkins a piece this scholar, my intelligent and well read friend, is telling that Jesus turned water into 108 gallons to 162 gallons of hooch, enough to get an entire rifle company stone cold drunk, not to mention a wedding party of one or two hundred people. Can you imagine every man, woman, and child in a wedding party consuming a half a gallon of the "good stuff"?

On top of that insanity, consider Habbakkuk 2:15 and Proverbs 31:4. Leviticus 10:9,10 shows that God doesn't even want you in His presence if you've had strong drink. Jesus is God, isn't He? Do you really think that Jesus got all of these people drunk as His first public miracle especially with fermented wine containing a type of leaven which represents pollution and false doctrine in the Bible?

But wait, my scholarly friend seems to be ignorant that both fermented wine and non-fermented wine or grape juice were called wine. I can point out to him the works of Pliny the Naturalist who stated that the best wine was not fermented.

Historian Will Durant tells us that in the first century AD, the century during which our Lord walked on the earth in flesh and blood, that the city of Rome alone consumed 25 million gallons of wine per year, that is two quarts for every man, woman, and child including babies per week and that there were over 50 types of wine, many unfermented. We would call that grape juice.

It is important to note that the 21st century assumption that all beverages referred to as wines are alcoholic and capable of getting one intoxicated is false. This has led to great confusion with regard to references to wine in the Bible as well, such as the erroneous assumption that Jesus turned water into over a hundred gallons of fermented wine called "good wine" in the text of John, chapter 2, with the possible result of getting a wedding party drunk out of their gourds. To quote one Bible commentator, Albert Barnes, from his 'Notes on the New Testament', written in 1875, but available on ""; "Pliny, Plutarch and Horace describe wine as good, or mention that as the best wine which was harmless or innocent-poculis vini innocentis. The most useful wine-utilissimum vinum-was that which had little strength; and the most wholesome wine-saluberrimum vinum-was that which had not been adulterated by 'the addition of anything to the must or juice.' Pliny expressly says that a 'good wine' was one that was destitute of spirit. Lib iv. c.13. It should not be assumed, therefore, that the 'good wine' was stronger than the other. It is rather to be presumed that it was milder. That would be the best wine certainly. The wine referred to here was doubtless such as was commonly drunk in Palestine. That was the pure juice of the grape. It was not brandied wine; nor drugged wine; nor wine compounded of various substances such as we drink in this land. The common wine drunk in Palestine was that which was the simple juice of the grape."(Page 197). Pliny clearly says in his 'Natural History' that wines are most beneficial when all their potency has been removed. Plutarch remarks in 'Symposiac' that wine is much more pleasant to drink when it doesn't get one drunk and this is accomplished by a filtering process.

The writer,Columella, also goes into some detail in his writings on how various fruits are converted into unfermented wine or what we would call grape juice. Pliny remarks in 'Natural History' that due to the tendency of fermented wines to grow moldy and stink it is not always an easy process to make them successfully. Columella tells us that unfermented grape juice kept better than fermented wine. Cato, writing nearly two centuries earlier, in his work, 'On Agriculture', reviews some of the problems with the preservation of fermented wine. Quoting from the book, 'Wine in the Bible', by Samuel Bacchiocchi of Andrews University; "The custom of preserving grape juice by boiling it down into a syrup has survived through the centuries in the Near East and mediterranean countries. This beverage is known as vino cotto (boiled wine) in Italian, vin cuit in French, nardenk in Syriac and dibs in Arabic. In its article on "Wine," the John Kitto's old but renowned Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature quotes several nineteenth century historians on the use of boiled grape juice in the Near East. One of them, Dr. A. Russell, in his Natural History of Aleppo, writes: "The inspissated juice of the grape, sapa vini, called here dibbs, is brought to the city in skins, and sold in the public markets; it has much the appearance of coarse honey, is of sweet taste, and in great use among the people of all sorts."

Similarly, Cyrus Redding, in his History of Modern Wines, states: "On Mount Libanus, at Kesroan, good wines are made, but they are for the most part vins cuits (boiled wines). The wine is preserved in jars." J. D. Paxton, who witnessed a vintage in Lebanon, also says: "The juice that was extracted when I visited the press was not made into (what is now called) wine, but into what is called dibs." The common use of unfermented, "boiled wine" in the Near East during the nineteenth century is also attested by several travel accounts.
Rev. Henry Homes, an American missionary to Constantinople, in his article on wine published in the Bibliotheca Sacra (May 1848) gives this account of his observations: "Simple grape-juice, without the addition of any earth to neutralize the acidity, is boiled from four to five hours, so as to reduce it one-fourth the quantity put in. After the boiling, for preserving it cool, and that it be less liable to ferment, it is put into earthen instead of wooden vessels, closely tied over with skin to exclude the air. It ordinarily has not a particle of intoxicating quality, being used freely by both Mohammedans and Christians. Some which I have had on hand for two years has undergone no change."

So, be careful when assuming that the two quarts of wine drunk by every man, woman, and child each week as referenced earlier from the historian Will Durant created a population of slightly inebriated people who just happened to conquer the Mediterranean world or that Jesus got a wedding party plastered in the book of John. Look at the back of your hand. Now, turn it over and look at the palm. See, there are two sides to everything. I would be cautious about a Christian who would argue vehemently for his right to consume alcohol as a recreational beverage and then say loudly, "well, Jesus turned water into wine, so there".

For my last example, let's look at another darling of liberal Bible expositors; John 21:15:17.
After the resurrection Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him, which calls into sharp, painful memory that Peter had denied His Lord three times as Jesus predicted He would. And there are many other great sermons from this passage, I'm sure.

But, there is a problem. My friend who pretends to be a Greek expert is about to burst. He excitedly points out that the first and second time Jesus asks the question He uses the word Agape' for to love someone from esteem or respect and also used for divine love. Each of those times Peter responds with Phileo, the love that comes from friendship or brotherly love. The last time Jesus Himself uses Phileo and once again Peter responds with the same. My pseudo-scholarly friend will say that this lends much more meaning to the conversation because Jesus is asking for a different kind of love, a divine love, which Peter is not capable of and this reflects a fundamental failure in mankind's capacity or willingness to love God in the right way blah, blah, blah.

What my friend who likes to think he is more intelligent and knowledgeable than a Christian janitor who can read English has done is to reveal his own ignorance. Agape' and Phileo are words for love that are used interchangeably. No extra insight into these verses is gained by playing ping pong with them. In Matthew 6:5 hypocrites phileo to pray standing in the synagogues, in Matthew 19:19 you are told to agape' your neighbor as yourself, John 15:9 says the world won't phileo the disciples, 1 Corinthians 16:22 says that if any man phileo not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha, and when we are repeatedly told to love our neighbor as ourselves with agape' the Scriptures in no way imply that this is superior to our brotherly love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I doubt anyone would imply that the kind of love Jesus says we are to have for each other, which distinguishes us as His followers is inferior to the love we are supposed to have for a stranger who is in need.

Titus 3:4 doesn't have the love of God our Saviour toward man as agape'. Paul's admonition in Titus 3:15 isn't agape'. 1 Peter 1:22 uses both words for the same thought with phileo first and then agape'. Does knowing this change your understanding of the text? Does it help you know what you are to do? Is your lack of access or availability of access to the Greek a determinant of your ability to understand God's words? Finally, in Revelation 3:19 does it matter to you that Jesus phileo's here?
Now, my point in saying all of this is very clearly, in a limited time, and taking only a few examples, is that you will gain no valuable insights in the Bible by going back to the original languages. It's like telling me you are going to really get to know the Gettysburg Battlefield and then immediately digging the deepest hole in the ground that you can. I would tell you to compare verse with verse in the Bible or tour the entire battlefield. Keep in mind Paul's admonition in 1Corinthians 2:13 "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual."
Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and even Strong's Concordance, as well as the references I just gave you are not inspired by God. Compare scripture with scripture and ignore the scholar who says the original languages give more insight than the English. All they are trying to do is to take the authority of your Bible from you and replace it with their own intellect as your final authority.

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