Angels in the Bible: What Do We Actually Know About Them?
Why Are Jesus’ Genealogies in Matthew and Luke Different?
Do You Know These 7 Differences Between the Bible and Quran?
Did Jesus Really Descend into Hell?
The Seven Churches of Revelation: Why They Matter and What We Can Learn
7 Places We Find Jesus in the Old Testament
What Is the Soul? Is It Different from the Spirit?
Who Wrote Ecclesiastes and What Does It Mean?
Who Killed Jesus? The Historical Context of Jesus’ Crucifixion
What Happened Between the Old and New Testaments? 4 Things You Need to Know to Read the New Testament Well
What Benefit Do You Receive from Your Giving? (Philippians 4:17) — Mondays with Mounce 337
(You can watch this blog post on YouTube.) One of the fundamental lessons everyone who does word studies needs to understand is that words have a range of meaning. When students memorize Greek vocabulary, we have to give them the basic meaning (or meanings) of the word, but it is a mistake to think that the most common use of a word is somehow its “literal” meaning.
σάρχ does not mean “flesh”; it means many things. One of its “glosses” may be “flesh,” but the word means so much more than just “flesh.”
So whether you are in a church learning Greek for your Bible study, or a first year Greek student, at some point you will need to make the transition from glosses to a full definition of a word and understand how to use context to…
What Does Justification Mean? 7 Things You Need to Know
When we reflect on the meaning of salvation—and on our piety, mission, and life together—our thought necessarily engages the doctrine of justification. But what does justification mean? In many ways, this question has always sat at the heart of the Christian faith. However, at various junctures in the church’s history the question has taken on greater urgency—and debate. We live in such a time.
Michael Horton explores the meaning of justification in a key chapter of his new book Justification, Volume 2, one half of the new two-volume theological project on justification (also including Volume 1).
This post overviews seven of the many insights Horton unearths about the meaning of justification in chapter seven of Justification, Volume 2, where Horton outlines the historical, lexical, exegetical, and theological contours…
Who Was Isaiah?
Isaiah was a Jewish prophet who lived during the eighth century BC. The Book of Isaiah claims to be written by him, and scholars believe he at least wrote part of it.
The first verse of Isaiah gives us a little more context about him.
“The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”…
Greek Students Should Do Two Translations (Matthew 13:11) — Mondays with Mounce 336
(Note: you can watch this blog post on YouTube.) In first year Greek we historically do just one wooden, word for word translation. This way the teacher knows that the student knows the tense of the verb or case of the noun. The problem is that the students leave first year class thinking that word for word is acceptable English and is the most accurate translation method, neither of which is accurate.
Take Matthew 13:11 for example. “And (δὲ) answering he said to them (ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν), ‘because (ὅτι) to you it has been given (δέδοται) to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (οὐρανῶν), but to them it has not been given (δέδοται).’”
But translating δέ in this context is redundant. In v 10 the disciples asked a question, and v 11 is his answer. No connective…
Who Wrote the Book of Isaiah?
Scholars generally accept that the Book of Isaiah was at least partially written by the prophet Isaiah, during the eighth century BC. However, there’s also evidence that other authors made additions.
There are numerous challenges in the Book of Isaiah that lead scholars to speculate about which parts were written by Isaiah himself, and what else was added and by whom. Most scholars agree that the prophet Isaiah likely only wrote…
3 Reasons Why You Should (Re)consider the Doctrine of Justification
When we reflect on the meaning of salvation—and on our piety, mission, and life together—our thought necessarily engages the doctrine of justification. Michael Horton aims to help scholars, students, pastors, and interested Christians alike (re)engage this vital doctrine in his new two-volume theological project, Justification (Volume 1 and Volume 2).
In Justification, Horton helps the reader encounter the remarkable biblical texts on justification, and places those texts in conversation with provocative proposals that have reignited contemporary debates around justification.
“I write this book,” explains Horton, “with the conviction that it is always relevant to proclaim the justification of the ungodly, although we have a long way to go to explore what that means . . . It is always the right time to tell the…
Comfort, Comfort My People: The Meaning of Isaiah 40:1
After 39 chapters of narrative, the Book of Isaiah makes a dramatic shift: it becomes a book of poetry. But it makes another, perhaps more radical change: it skips ahead about 150 years into the future.
Up until this point, Isaiah has spoken about a future exile when the northern kingdom of Israel will be conquered and its people will live in captivity. But from chapter 40–55, Isaiah is speaking to those who are currently…
When Does “No” Become “Never”? (Mark 10:15) — Mondays with Mounce 335
It is often said that translators are traitors. They are traitors because they either over- or under-translate the meaning of the original text. Either they say too much in an attempt to convey the full meaning of the Greek, or they say too little and leave some of the meaning untranslated.
A typical example is the Greek construction of οὐ μή and the aorist subjunctive. It conveys an emphatic negation, not just “no” but “no no no” (as one of my children used to say when he was little). Of course, you can’t say “no no no” in translation, and we do not have a grammatical construction in English similar to οὐ μή plus aorist subjunctive. So are we to try and bring the emphatic nature of the negation into English, or do we leave it out?
A good example…
Why Do We Learn? — Mondays with Mounce 334
One of the advantages of formal equivalent translations is that they tend to maintain the distinction between dependent and independent constructions. Often the key to understanding an author’s flow of thought is the difference between an indicative or imperative and a participle. And yet sometimes functional equivalent translations maintain the distinction as well.
There is a cycle in Colossians 1:9–12 (NIV). Paul prays that God fill the Colossians “with the knowledge of his will” (πληρωθῆτε τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ).
This is going to happen through the work of the Spirit (ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ). The purpose of this is expressed with an infinitive: “so that you may live a life (περιπατῆσαι) worthy of the Lord.” What it means to be “worthy” is spelled out with a prepositional phrase: “and please him in every way (εἰς πᾶσαν ἀρεσκείαν).”…
A Primer on the Legacy of Preaching: Volume Two (Enlightenment to the Present Day)
They embody the rich legacy of preaching through the ages, inspired by the central ministry component of Jesus Christ, whose very purpose and mission on earth was to preach. As Jesus himself made clear in Luke 4:43:44: “‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’ And he kept on preaching . . .”
A Legacy of Preaching: Volume Two explores the history…
Who or What Is the “Old Man”? (Colossians 3:9) — Mondays with Mounce 333
Translation without interpretation is impossible. There may be verses where there is no question as to what the author meant, but there are thousands of verses where interpretive decisions must be made.
Paul tells the Colossians, “Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off (ἀπεκδυσάμενοι) the old self (τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον) with its (αὐτοῦ) practices” (ESV, also NASB, CSB, NET, NRSV).
1. “Seeing that” interprets the participle as causal. Paul is looking back at the conversion experience and saying that based on the realities of what happened at that point, therefore, in the present, they should not lie to one another. However, the participles could also be imperatival; the Colossians are to put off the remnants of their pre-conversion selves and not lie. I suspect the former is correct, but the point is that this calls…
How Much Should We Ask of Our Students? (Mark 12:28) — Mondays with Mounce 332
I am thinking quite a bit these days about sequencing, and how different biblical Greek is from English, which then raises interesting problems for the translator. I am also wondering more about how students should be translating in their first year of Greek.
Look at the series of participles in the Greatest Command (Mark 12:28).
προσελθὼν εἷς τῶν γραμματέων ἀκούσας αὐτῶν συζητούντων, ἰδὼν ὅτι καλῶς ἀπεκρίθη αὐτοῖς ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτόν· ποία ἐστὶν ἐντολὴ πρώτη πάντων;
The basic sentence structure is εἷς ἐπηρώτησεν αὐτόν. “One (of the scribes) asked him.” As a side note, my friend Dan Wallace told me that he prefers his students to find the verb–subject–direct object, especially in a complicated sentence, and then see where the rest of the words fit in relation to that structure. This is instead of just going word for word. A good idea.