Let’s Play “Fill in the Blanks” (1 Timothy 4:3) – Mondays with Mounce 263
Paul can hardly be accused of mincing his words. He is an apostle, knows the truth, and says it clearly and unapologetically. Sometimes he uses sentences that are so long we struggle a bit to follow his discussion, but the Greek often has clues that help.
In describing the false teachers, Paul says that “some” people (τινες) will depart from the faith, and then follows with a series of participles that tie the argument together. When the NIV and NET start a new sentence at 3, and the NLT starts a new paragraph, they break the flow of thought and…
Do all things really work for good? (Romans 8:28) – Mondays with Mounce 262
The reason these are poor translations is because they make it appear that “all things” mystically make everything that happens good.
Part of this is just common sense, after you have stripped away the religiosity and shallowness of the church’s stereotypical response. Don’t get me wrong; I believe our sovereign God is all good all the time, but it is just nonsensical to say that every evil thing that happens is good, regardless of how you massage…
Is there ever a time to use “man”? (Col 3:9–10) – Mondays with Mounce 261
Paul tells the Colossian church to “Stop lying to one another, since you have put off the old man (τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον) with its practices, and have put on the new man (τὸν νέον), which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (3:9–10).
The challenge is the translation of ἄνθρωπον and the dual meaning in the verse.
On the one hand, it is a contrast between our old sinful nature and our new regenerated nature, hence the NLT’s translation. “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
At What Point Does Interpretation Run Counter to Biblical Intention?
This morning in church the pastor read Acts 27 out of the NLT, and I was bothered. I understand that the NLT’s policy is to make the text readable and understandable, and I applaud the desire. I read the NLT often, not so much to know what the biblical writers say but what the NLT committee understand what the writers meant. And since all translation involves interpretation, I am okay with this.
But I am disturbed by the NLT’s translation of Acts 27. Some examples:
V 1. “And when it was decided that we would sail for Italy, they delivered…
Do you feel like a “glorious inheritance”? (Eph 1:18) – Mondays with Mounce 260
In the words of Iron Man, “It’s good to be back.” I had a good session with the CBT on the NIV, except that a good friend dropped dead at 42 years of age and I left early to do the funeral. Good break this summer, fantastic board meeting for BiblicalTraining.org topped off with a trip to the Bahamas. Now it is back to work.
I have been reading Francis Chan’s Crazy Love. It is an exceptionally good book and I encourage all of you to read it. This part caught my eye on the flight back yesterday. “The wildest part is that Jesus doesn’t have to love us. His being is utterly complete and perfect, apart from humanity. Yet He wants us, chooses us, even considers us His inheritance (Eph. 1:18).…
Bill Mounce on Learning Biblical Greek Online
We recently sat down with Bill Mounce to discuss learning biblical Greek online. Here’s what he said:
Part of being successful in any task is starting the task with the end in mind.
So it is a really good question to ask, “What will you be able to do when you are done with this class?”
Like most first year language classes, what we are doing is giving you building blocks.
What you will have are all the building blocks necessary to get into exegesis, to get into the sermon preparation, to really be able to study the New Testament. Building blocks—that is what this class is about.
How to study the original languages
The best way to begin your study of the biblical languages is by signing up for the Biblical Languages Certificate Program.
In this program,…
Is κυριος Nominative or Vocative? – Mondays with Mounce 259
Someone pointed out the other day that the only time Jesus is directly addressed in the nominative κυριος as opposed to the vocative κυριε is in Thomas’ declaration, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28, ο κυριος μου και ο θεος μου). Is there any significance?
On the one hand, the nominative can be used to function as the vocative, so there is no necessary significance. And yet it is interesting that this is the only example of κυριος being used this way of Jesus. In every other case (as far as I can tell) it is κυριε.
I wouldn’t have thought much about this distinction except that it is such an important passage. It is one of clearest statements of the divinity of Christ, and although our Christology does not depend…
Are Ants People? (Mondays with Mounce Archive)
Poetry can be exceptionally difficult to translate. It often conveys meaning more with pictures than with individual words, the words working together to create images more powerful than words.
Metaphors are only slightly easier, but here there is even less context and so the meaning of the metaphor is easily loss.
Four things on earth are small
but they are exceedingly wise:
the ants are a people not strong,
yet they provide their food in the summer;
the rock badgers are a people not…
Ellipsis’ Ugly Head (John 12:7) —Mondays with Mounce 254
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…
Does the Order of Phrases Matter? (Rom 1:5) – Mondays with Mounce 276
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…
Mounce Archive 29 — Money Bags (Luke 10:4; 12:33; 22:35, 36)
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…
What’s a Janus? (1 John 3:19) – Mondays with Mounce
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…