Ellipsis’ Ugly Head (John 12:7) —Mondays with Mounce 254

Bill Mounce on 8 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

We don’t talk much about ellipsis in first year Greek, but it is a grammatical fact that occurs more than you might think.

An ellipsis is when words are left out, and the assumption is that the context is sufficient to fill in the gaps. It especially happens in the second of two parallel thoughts, words from the first assumed in the second.

But John 12:7 gives us a good example of ellipsis when there is no parallel. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet, Judas objects, and Jesus responds, “Leave her alone…. It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial” (NIV). ἄφες αὐτήν, ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ μου τηρήσῃ αὐτό. In other words, the words “It…

Read more

Is “Has Been Causing to Grow” Redundant? (1 Cor 3:6) — Mondays with Mounce 259

Bill Mounce on 8 months ago. Tagged under ,.

One of the important steps every Greek student must make is to move beyond the formal structures of first and even second year Greek, and start considering other issues such as the meaning of a word.

Take for example 1 Cor 3:6. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God has been causing the growth (ηὔξανεν).” Because ηὔξανεν is an imperfect — past time; imperfective aspect — every first year Greek teacher would expect an explicitly durative translation: “has been causing.”

This is great for first year Greek, but let me ask the question. Isn’t the actual meaning of “grow” a durative idea? Do we have to explicitly say “has been causing” to get the durative idea across? Of course not.

In fact, it could be argued that having both “grow” and “has…

Read more

Does the Order of Phrases Matter? (Rom 1:5) – Mondays with Mounce 276

Bill Mounce on 8 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

One of the harder things to do in translation is line up the phrases properly. Since English uses sequence and proximity, related phrases need to go together. Greek doesn’t care (as much).

Take for example Rom 1:5. Speaking of Jesus, Paul writes, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (ESV). The Greek is, δι᾿ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ.

The prepositional phrase translated “to bring about the obedience of faith” (εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως) is adjectival, modifying “grace and apostleship” (χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν); it is the end result of God’s grace and his apostolic call.

“Among all the nations” (ἐν πᾶσιν…

Read more

Mounce Archive 29 — Money Bags (Luke 10:4; 12:33; 22:35, 36)

ZA Blog on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,,.

Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out” (NIV; cf. NRSV, NLT, NET).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry a purse. Call me old fashioned, but I wouldn’t even carry my wife’s purse unless I grab the straps in a way that makes it clear the purse isn’t mine. And unlike some of my friends, I don’t carry a “man-bag.”

The other problem with “moneybag” is that the similar “moneybags” is used pejoratively for a wealthy person.

The problem is that there really isn’t a word in English for this. The ESV has…

Read more

Mounce Archive 28 — Biblical Greek and Holy Week

Bill Mounce on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

For today’s Mondays with Mounce post, we decided to select a few classic posts from the archives of Bill Mounce’s weekly column on biblical greek. They touch on three subject areas that impact how we view and understand the events that transpired during Holy Week:

Translating “δια” in relation to Christ’s death; Whether Jesus hung on a “tree” or a “pole;” Paul’s use of “καί” for Christ’s resurrection and suffering.

Enjoy the excerpts below and continue reading the original posts to be enlightened and encouraged this Holy Week by engaging the original biblical greek.

Rom 4:25—Christ’s Death and Our Justification

Speaking of Jesus, Paul says he “was delivered up for (δια) our trespasses and raised for (δια) our justification.” What does δια mean? Does it have to mean the same thing in both places? Should it necessarily be translated the…

Read more

What’s a Janus? (1 John 3:19) – Mondays with Mounce

Bill Mounce on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Every once in a while we come across a phrase that can either look back to the previous or forward to the next. Sometimes the phrase or verse is truly a Janus, looking both directions. But other times it only goes one way or another.

Bruce Waltke introduced me to the expression “Janus.” It refers to a mythical god with two heads, one looking forward and the other looking back. Wikipedia comments, “In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.”

A common example is 1 Timothy 4:11. “Command and teach these things.” “These things” could be the previous instructions to avoid…

Read more

Can a word be a punctuation mark? (Matt 1:18) – Mondays with Mounce 270

Bill Mounce on 9 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

This is perhaps a little picky post, but it does illustrate why a word-for-word translation is not always helpful.

Matthew begins with his genealogy, and then moves into the story of Jesus’ birth. “Now (δέ) the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way” (ESV and most). Along comes the NIV and does not represent the δέ. “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about” (also HCSB and, as you might expect, the NLT).

Are they leaving out a word…

Read more

Greek Words with No English Meaning – Mondays with Mounce 284

Bill Mounce on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

I am currently reading through the New Testament focusing on just one thing: discipleship. Specifically, why should we care about spiritual growth? We’ve gone through the gate; why should we worry about the path? (The answer, of course, is that, according to Jesus, life is at the end of the path, not the other side of the gate.)

This is a practice I strongly encourage. It doesn’t have to be discipleship. You can pick any theme you want. By focusing on one theme, you will probably see things you haven’t seen before.

I am just finishing Matthew, and in reading the NIV I came across a few strange word choices. What they have in common…

Read more

What is an “Accurate” translation? – Mondays with Mounce 294

Bill Mounce on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

A friend asked me this question the other day, and I thought I would take this opportunity to flesh out what I think the answer is.

The standard answer is that a “literal” Bible is the most accurate, and by “literal” they generally mean word-for-word. If the Greek has a verb, the English should have a verb. If the text uses the same Greek three times, the same English word should be used three times.

This understanding is seriously flawed at two levels.

First, the English word “literal” has to do with meaning, not form. Webster gives these three definitions of “literal.”

Involving the ordinary or usual meaning of a word Giving the meaning of each individual word Completely true and accurate: not exaggerated

Meaning 1 and 3 are purely about meaning.…

Read more

“A Teacher” or “The Teacher”? (John 3:10) – Mondays with Mounce 291

Bill Mounce on 11 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

What a difference an article can make! This is an example of one of those subtle uses of the article that can often be missed, and is also an example of why we need to do our exegesis and translation looking at the bigger picture.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, either because that is when rabbis study, or because he did not want others to know. In the case of the latter, it would give us the best example in the NT of the genitive of kind of time; Nicodemus came as one who comes in the night (νυκτὸς).

He addresses Jesus with some politeness in v 2: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God.” Note the anarthrous διδάσκαλος;…

Read more

The Power of a “So” (John 13:4) – Mondays with Mounce 290

Bill Mounce on 11 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

It is a well-known fact that Greek sentences tend to be longer than English, and therefore a translator will regularly turn a long Greek sentence into two of more English sentences.

The problem with this is that often the connection between the two English sentences will lose some meaning. In other words, the Greek will convey meaning that the English does not.

I came across a great example of this today in the NIV of John 13:4. This is the beginning of the Upper Room Discourse. V 4 reads, “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”…

Read more

Is the Bible an Ancient Book? – Mondays with Mounce 289

Bill Mounce on 11 months ago. Tagged under ,.

This is one of the more interesting questions that is answered in each translation’s “Philosophy of Translation.”

For example, the NLT reads like a modern book. It is so interpretive that many of the cultural expressions are lost; but that is its approach, and as long as the reader understands this, it is fine.

The ESV on the other hand wants to be in the translation stream of the KJV, and in most places reads like an ancient book. Just count the percentage of the occurrences of “shall” and “will” in the Old Testament vs. the New Testament and you will see what I mean.

The

Read more