Mounce Archive 18 – You Plural, You Individual

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Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul says he trusts God to continue working in “you” plural. But can the believer also use this verse to rest assured the Lord will work in each of us individually? Mounce concludes: “[I]f God is working among the believers as a group, the only way to do that is for him to work in the life of each individual believer.”

Begin with the excerpt below or read the complete post here.

Paul begins his letter to the Philippians with praise for them, and then says this now famous verse. “And I am sure…

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Mounce Archive 17 – Translating Father (and Mother?)

Bill Mounce on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

Often when translating, one word can be translated multiple ways. Sometimes the differences matter, but even when the answer is not so clear, and when neither translation is theologically incorrect, attention to the nuances is important.

Click here to engage with the original post.

I heard a Father’s Day sermon yesterday in which the preacher said Ephesians 6:4 applies to mothers and well as fathers, specifically that πατήρ can mean “mother.”

Paul writes, “And fathers (οἱ πατέρες), do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord.” To his credit,…

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Mounce Archive 16 – When Experiences Make Translating Difficult

Bill Mounce on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,,.

Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

This post explores translating the term “ἔργον ἀγαθόν”. Mounce explains how our own perceptions can make us prefer one translation over another.

You can find the original post here.

One of the more interesting expressions in the Pastorals is ἔργον ἀγαθόν, “good deed.” It occurs 6 times.

Women are to be clothed in good deeds (1 Tim 2:10). A widow shows herself to be godly by devoting herself to good deeds (1 Tim 5:10). If you cleanse yourself from what is impure, you are prepared for any good deed (2 Tim 2:21). Scripture equips Timothy for…

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Mounce Archive 15 – Play on Words (John 15:2-3)

Bill Mounce on 2 years ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Everyone needs a break once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from his weekly column on biblical Greek until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some classic, popular posts from the “Mondays with Mounce” archive for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

In today’s post, Mounce opens up John 15:2-3, where Jesus explained the Vine and the Branches – a fine example of word play in the original Greek. Though translation is often tricky, Mounce clearly describes and believes that the Word is clear.

Let the excerpt below encourage you to read the original post here.

I suspect that there is nothing harder to bring into English than a play on words. When that play on words branches (pun intended) into metaphors (and the question of how hard to push the imagery), and into the relationship between justification and…

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Are There Mistakes in Scripture?

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This excerpt taken from Greek for the Rest of Us by William D. Mounce serves as a primer for understanding why Greek manuscripts differ and how the Bible has come down to us through the centuries.

 

The History of the Bible and Textual Criticism

In my opening discussion, “What Would It Look Like If You Knew a Little Greek?” (pp. xi–xvii), I give two examples of different translations. The first was what the angels said to the shepherds, and I pointed out how these two are substantially different.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (KJV)

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased. (RSV)

 I also talked about how some translations…

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

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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 was intended” is the NIV’s guess as to what “should” have been before the ἵνα.

The problem…

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Did Jesus “Accept” Human Testimony? (John 5:34) — Mondays with Mounce 253

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Semantic range can be a pesky fellow. Take for example the range of meaning held by λαμβάνω.

In John 5:31 Jesus starts by saying, “If I bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true.” Then two verses later he says, “You have sent messengers to John, and he has borne witness to the truth” (5:33). So it sounds like Jesus is pointing people to what John said about him.

Jesus then concludes, “Not that I accept (λαμβάνω) human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved” (NIV).

Wait minute. Jesus just cited John as witnessing to him, so why then would he say, “Not that I accept human testimony.” Of course he does! He just did.

The NLT gets amazingly expansive: “Of course, I have no need of human witnesses.” It’s not what Jesus said. The…

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Where are the blind pastors? (1 Cor 12:22) —Mondays with Mounce 252

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I just attended the Global Access Conference hosted by Joni and Friends. Everybody needs to attend something like this because it will make you sensitive to things that you might not otherwise see.

If you are not aware of Joni and Friends, you need to check them out. They are the main Christian disability ministry, helping the church understand how to serve and be served by people with disabilities.

One of the things that I saw this week was exegetical. Paul is talking about the different gifts in the body (i.e., the church). He writes, “those members of the body that seem (δοκοῦντα) to be weaker are indispensable (ἀναγκαῖα)” (1 Cor 12:22).

Who are the weaker members, and what does it mean that they are ἀναγκαῖα? Fee writes that by analogy Paul is referring to the internal organs…

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Divine Passives and Seminary Education (Eph 3:19) — Mondays with Mounce 247

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I came across a great “divine passive” that has some interesting implications for how we study the Bible and train our seminarians and preach to our people.

“Divine passive” is more of a theological category than grammatical. In form and basic meaning, it is simply a passive, but when God is the author of the verb, we call it a “divine passive.”

Paul prays for the Ephesians that God “may grant (δῷ, active) you to be strengthened (κραταιωθῆναι, divine passive) with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (3:16). God does the granting and the empowering.

The desired result is that “Christ may dwell (κατοικῆσαι) in your hearts through faith, rooted and grounded in love” (v 17).

The ultimate purpose (ἵνα) is that they “may be empowered (ἐξισχύσητε) to grasp with all the saints what is the breadth and…

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The Joys of Ellipsis (John 12:7) — Mondays with Mounce 246

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When Mary anointed Jesus’ feet, Judas objected to the extravagant waste of money. Jesus responds, “‘Leave (Ἄφες) her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended (ἵνα) that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial’” (NIV).

One of the interpretive challenges of the verse is ἵνα. The NIV (above) keeps the normal force of the ἵνα to indicate purpose, but in doing so it makes it sound as if Mary really had no choice in the matter. It removes the value of her choice and makes it sound like she was simply responding to God’s preordained plan.

The ESV has, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.” This keeps the full force of the ἵνα but, in my mind, makes no sense. Mary didn’t keep the perfume for the day…

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Ellipsis (What Is Missing in Luke 2:49?) – Mondays with Mounce 245

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Here is a great example of why translation involves interpretation, and why a “word-for-word” approach can often fail.

When Jesus’ parents finally find Jesus, he responds, “Didn’t you know I had to be (δεῖ εἶναί με) in my Father’s house (ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου)? (NIV).

As you can see from the Greek, there is no word for “house,” and yet every modern translation supplies “house.” The KJV is alone in suggesting another interpretation. “I must be about my Father’s business?”

One of the things you will learn as you get further into Greek is how Greek can drop out words; I suspect this is true of any language. Context and a basic knowledge of the language fills in the gaps. For example, as I have said in other blogs, I am from Minnesota and we are famous for ending…

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Man, a Man, Men, at Familymas (Matt 9:8) — Mondays with Mounce 244

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It is amazing what difference a little word like “a” can make. Since Greek does not have the indefinite article, we primarily use it according to English style; but it can still seriously impact the meaning of a sentence.

Jesus has just finished healing the man with paralysis. In Matt 9:8 we read, “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (ESV, see also the NASB, NET, HCSB). “Men” is the translation of  the plural τοῖς ἀνθρώποις; and at first glance this seems fine, especially if you think “word-for-word” is the best. But in this case, it seems to me that word-for-word seriously miscommunicates.

Why? Simple. Was the power at work in Jesus given to “men”? Of course not. It was given to Jesus, unless you want to argue…

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