When Verse References Get in the Way (Luke 24:33–34) – Mondays with Mounce 288

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When the two disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus returned to Jerusalem, the Eleven and the other disciples told the two that Jesus had indeed risen and that he had appeared to Peter. But our translations aren’t that clear.

Here is the passage. “33 So they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, where they found the Eleven and those with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has indeed been raised and has appeared to Simon!” The relevant Greek is, ἠθροισμένους τοὺς ἕνδεκα καὶ τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς λέγοντας ὅτι ὄντως ἠγέρθη ὁ κύριος.

The problem is three-fold. (1) The twice repeated subject is the two, not the Eleven. “They” got up and “they” found the Eleven, so it is natural to think that “they” are “saying.”…

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Lots of Noise in Heaven (δεῖ; Luke 15:32) – Mondays with Mounce 287

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I was reading Luke 15 this morning and concluded that heaven is a “happening place.” Celebration. Shouting. Rejoicing.

Luke 15 is the primary biblical passage for the joy God feels when someone repents. But not only God but also the angels. This is the happy side of the spiritual realities in which we live. True, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). But there is more than struggle in the spiritual realm. There is joy.

Just like the joy of finding a…

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Was Apollos Lazy? (1 Cor 16:12) – Mondays with Mounce 285

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The Corinthian church is well-known for its factions. Among others, some identified themselves with Apollos and others with Paul (1 Cor 1:12).

This makes Paul’s admonition in 16:12 quite interesting. “Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him (πολλὰ παρεκάλεσα) to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now (πάντως οὐκ ἦν θέλημα ἵνα νῦν ἔλθῃ), but he will go when he has the opportunity (ὅταν εὐκαιρήσῃ)” (NIV).

πολλὰ could be adverbial, meaning that Paul urged him repeatedly, but contextually it is more likely that πολλὰ carries the idea of “strongly” (as per most translations).

In response, Apollos strongly (πάντως) resisted Paul’s request. The usual explanation is that Apollos did not want…

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Mounce Archive 27 – The Semi-Colon

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Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.

The punctuation mark for this week is the semi-colon, which isn’t used often in English. Looking at both Romans 9:4 and 1 Timothy 3:2, Mounce shows how the semi-colon can be useful in lists.

You can read the entire post here.

In a world of dwindling sentence length and complex sentence structures, the semi-colon has fallen on hard times. It is too bad. It has the ability to stop the reader ever so slightly, and indicate that while there is…

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Mounce Archive 26 – The “Law” of Faith

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Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.

This week’s post from the archive looks at another example of using punctuation in translation. Mounce shows how useful quotation marks can be in the context of Romans 3:27, in pointing out the difference between the law of works and the “law” of faith.

You can read the entire post here.

I’ve been musing on the role of punctuation in translation, and last week we looked at the dash in Romans 3:25. In

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Mounce Archive 25 – Punctuating Greek

Bill Mounce on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,.

Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.

In today’s post from the archive, Bill Mounce suggests we use punctuation to aid in Greek translation. Most translators, he says, use English punctuation sparingly; however, some phrases that are tricky to translate might be helped by some punctuation, such as dashes.

You can read the entire post here.

I don’t think I have ever been in a Greek class — either as a student or a teacher — in which punctuation was discussed as a tool for translation. We look at case and tenses and the meanings of words, but not how punctuation can help convey the meaning of the…

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Mounce Archive 24 – God and Jesus

Bill Mounce on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,,,,.

Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.

In one of his first posts, Mounce helps us take a deeper look at Paul’s introduction to the book of 1 Timothy. By looking at the grammar in the Greek, we can see how Paul referred to the Trinity. Mounce calls this a “christologically sensitive grammatical structure.”

You can read the entire post here.

“Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord” (1 Tim 1:2). Paul begins his letter to Timothy with a somewhat normal…

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Mounce Archive 23 – Missing Verses

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Bill Mounce is traveling this month and is taking a break from his weekly column on biblical Greek until April. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your Greek-studying pleasure.

Mounce asks one of most baffling questions about the Bible in today’s post: why are some verses missing? Thankfully, as he concludes, our faith does not rest on any of these verses in question. In his sovereignty, God has directed the copying and translation of his Word.

You can read the entire post here.

My wife Robin came home from a Christian speakers conference yesterday and told me about a discussion they had. John 5 was the passage under discussion, and when they arrived at Read more

Is Paul’s apostolic call for God’s sake? (Rom 1:5) – Mondays with Mounce 283

Bill Mounce on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,,.

One of the difficult tasks in translation is how to order phrases. In English, we use proximity to connect ideas. Consider the NIV on Rom 1:5.

“Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.”

In English, “for his name’s sake” must modify “the obedience that comes from faith.” But in Greek, this is probably not the case. As you know, Greek’s phrases do not have to be next to the word they are modifying. Sometimes there are grammatical “hooks” such as a relative pronoun agreeing with its antecedent in gender and number. But other times the hooks are more subtle.

In his commentary, Doug Moo makes a good case for seeing χάριν καὶ ἀποστολήν…

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Common Sense to the Rescue (James 3:7) – Mondays with Mounce 282

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I came across an interesting Greek conundrum in small group tonight. James is talking about the tongue and its power to destroy.

He writes, “For every kind (πᾶσα φύσις) of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed (δαμάζεται) and has been tamed (δεδάμασται) by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue” (3:7-8a, ESV).

Part of the issue is that there is no Greek word or grammatical construction meaning “can” (contrary to the ESV, NRSV).

The NLT simply skips the entire construction; “People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue.” In my…

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When is an Adjective not an Adjective? – Mondays with Mounce 281

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Wouldn’t it be nice if grammar rules were absolute? What if nouns were always nouns, adjectives were always adjectives and nothing else, and adverbs were adverbs and not particles? But that’s not the way it is with grammar in general. As I like to say, grammar is analog, not digital. There is rarely, if ever, a hard and fast rule that is always followed as if there were a digital on and off. Language is analog; it exists on a continuum.

A good example of this is the well-known admonition from Jesus to his disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give (δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε.)” (Matt 10:8). δωρεάν is technically the accusative singular of the noun δωρεά meaning “that which is given or transferred freely by one pers. to another,…

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Are the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah currently being punished? (Jude 7) – Mondays with Mounce 280

Bill Mounce on 1 year ago. Tagged under ,,.

I was asked the other day about the present tense of “undergoing” in Jude 7. “What is the likelihood that Jude believes the inhabitants of Sodom are presently experiencing eternal fire (in Hades for example) — as opposed to having undergone the penalty when fire and brimstone came upon them?”

Jude writes, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve (πρόκεινται) as an example by undergoing (ὑπέχουσαιa) punishment of eternal fire” (ESV).

ὑπέχουσαι is present tense, so it might imply a present punishment. However, remember there is no absolute time significance outside the indicative, and this is a participle. So all the tense of ὑπέχουσαι says is…

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