God, Jesus, and Judaism: An Old Testament Bridge to Faith

Michael HeiserJudaism and Christianity disagree in a number of ways. The most fundamental impasse is obviously Jesus. Christians embrace Jesus as the God of Israel incarnate, the messiah who came to earth to offer himself as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity. One can find a spectrum of opinions about Jesus within Judaism, but not that one. For a Jew serious about their faith, accepting Jesus as God feels polytheistic—like a violation of the creed of Judaism in the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4; JPS Tanakh). You can’t have more than one God in heaven.

It wasn’t always that way in Judaism.

The Jewish Godhead

Twenty-five years ago, rabbinical scholar Alan Segal produced what is still the major work on the idea of two powers in heaven in Jewish thought. Segal demonstrated that the two-powers idea was not deemed heretical in Jewish theology until the second century CE. He carefully traced the roots of the teaching back into the Second Temple (“Intertestamental”) era (ca. 200 BCE). Segal was able to establish that the idea’s antecedents were in the Hebrew Bible. Several passages became subjects of rabbinic discussion. For example, is there anything that strikes you as odd in Gen. 19:24?

“Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.”

If you noticed that the divine name (Yahweh)—translated “Lord”—occurs twice, creating the impression of two divine actors, you saw what many Jewish thinkers saw in ancient times. The Hebrew Bible contains similar passages, in which the Lord is speaking and then refers to God in the third person (e.g., Amos 4:11).

Other passages became core focus points in the idea of two powers in heaven. Exodus 15:3 describes Yahweh as a “man of war.” That phrase might take our minds back to the captain of Yahweh’s host whom Joshua encountered (Josh. 5:13–15). Jews were certainly aware of that passage, but rabbis instead tied it to Exod. 23:20–23. In that text, God sends an angel to lead the people into the Promised Land. This angel was unique among all others not only because he could forgive sins (or not), but because God’s “name” was in him. The “name” is a Hebrew expression used as a substitute reference for God himself—his very presence or essence (e.g., Isa. 30:27–28). Even today, conservative Jews who will not say the divine name use ha-Shem (“the name”) to refer to God.

The idea of God in human form made Dan. 7:9–13 crucially important. In this famous vision scene, the Ancient of Days (God) sees “a human one” (“son of man”) coming to him with the clouds. It is to this figure that God gives everlasting dominion. This is the passage Jesus quotes to Caiaphas when the high priest demands to know who he is. Caiaphas’ reaction tells us immediately that he knew Jesus was claiming to be the God of Israel in human form—the second power. Caiaphas tears his clothes and charges Jesus with blasphemy (Matt. 26:63–68).

Early Judaism understood this portrayal and its rationale. There was no sense of a violation of monotheism, since either figure was indeed Yahweh. There was no second distinct god running the affairs of the cosmos. During the Second Temple period, Jewish theologians and writers speculated on an identity for the second Yahweh. Guesses ranged from divinized humans from the stories of the Hebrew Bible to exalted angels. These speculations were not considered unorthodox. That acceptance changed when certain Jews, the early Christians, connected Jesus with this orthodox Jewish idea. This explains why these Jews, the first converts to following Jesus the Christ, could simultaneously worship the God of Israel and Jesus, and yet refuse to acknowledge any other god. Jesus was the incarnate second Yahweh, the second power in heaven.

logos-mobile-education-ot291-the-jewish-trinity-how-the-old-testament-reveals-the-christian-godheadLogos Mobile Ed: The Jewish Trinity

My Jewish Trinity course for Logos Mobile Education takes students through the Old Testament basis for the Godhead and Judaism’s two-powers idea. Once the verses and motifs for the second power become clear, I also introduce students to how the same ideas get applied to the Holy Spirit. The Trinitarian teaching of the New Testament was not new to the Jewish apostles who lived with Jesus and inherited his message. They, along with Paul, knew the Old Testament well. How they write about Jesus and the Spirit reveals deliberate connections to teachings familiar to Jews.

Jewish Trinity is therefore an ideal course for conversations with Jewish friends and Jewish evangelism. It’s also a powerful resource for learning to deal with the doctrinal error of denying the deity of Jesus, perpetuated by groups like Jehovah’s witnesses and even “oneness” movements within Christianity.

Pre-order the Jewish Trinity course today for 40% off!

9 Pre-Pub Deals You Don’t Want to Miss

Pre-Pub lets you take advantage of extra-low prices by pre-ordering books before they’re produced: the sooner you pre-order, the more you save. Once the book is produced, though, regular pricing kicks in. Right now, you can get your hands on a ton of Pre-Pub deals—don’t let these savings slip through your fingers!

Here are nine Pre-Pubs you don’t want to miss:

crossway-john-piper-collection-upgrade-21. Crossway John Piper Collection, Upgrade 2

Regularly $179.95
Pre-order it for $139.95—that’s 22% off (deal ends in three days!)

John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary and founder of Desiring God Ministries, has written more than 50 books. Whether you’re trying to grasp timely and difficult theological questions, understand specific biblical passages, or live more faithfully, this profound collection has something for you.

2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, vol. 14: Theological Education at Finkenwalde

Regularly $59.95
Pre-order it for $39.95—that’s 33% off (deal ends in three days!)

For two years, Dietrich Bonhoeffer directed a small, illegal seminary—Finkenwalde—in Nazi Germany. Despite fierce opposition, Bonhoeffer remained dedicated to preparing young seminarians for the turbulence of parish ministry. Bonhoeffer’s two years at Finkenwalde produced some of his most significant theological work, and now you can learn from it in Logos.

solid-foundation-sermon-starters3. Solid Foundation Sermon Starters

Regularly $49.95
Pre-order it for $39.95—that’s 20% off (deal ends in three days!)

Sermon prep is a lot of work. Solid Foundation Sermon Starters helps you do it faster by taking care of the groundwork for you. The collection offers 294 distinct sermon blueprints, which break up essential books, figures, and biblical themes into sermon-sized texts, fully stocked with a key message, main sermon points, and illustrations. Each sermon starter is flexible, so you can build your sermons around the needs of your congregation.

4. Baker Encountering the Bible Upgrade

Regularly $67.99
Pre-order it for $50.95—that’s 25% off (deal ends in five days!)

To help Bible students jump into modern biblical scholarship, the Baker Encountering the Bible collection provides clear objectives and detailed chapter-by-chapter outlines, study questions, and focus boxes to home in on key topics. Designed for classroom use, these three texts engage Genesis, Isaiah, and Hebrews with the expertise of renowned biblical scholars in down-to-earth presentations.

select-works-of-raymond-e-brown5. Select Works of Raymond E. Brown

Regularly $52.95
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Controversial in some Catholic circles and celebrated in others, Raymond E. Brown remains an important figure in the Catholic Church and the landscape of twentieth-century biblical scholarship. He was among the first Roman Catholic scholars to analyze the Bible using the historical-critical methodology. In these four volumes, Brown expresses his perspective on biblical exegesis, important archaeological finds, and church doctrine, and reflects on the roles of priests and bishops.

6. Select Works of Simon J. Kistemaker47% off! (Deal ends in 10 days)
7. Classic Studies on Persecution in Early Christianity30% off! (Deal ends in 17 days)
8. J.N.D. Kelly’s Early Christian Doctrines and Creeds33% off! (Deal ends in 20 days)
9. Select Studies in Martin Luther’s Life and Influence25% off! (Deal ends in May)

These aren’t all the deals that are ending soon. Browse them all, and then snag the best deals on the books you love. See what else is shipping soon!

I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible

I-Dare-You_Cover_200x300The Bible is filled with passages so baffling we tend to ignore them. Yet the passages that seem the weirdest might be some of the most important.

For the past six years, Michael S. Heiser has been unveiling these passages’ ancient context in his articles for Bible Study Magazine. Now you can read these articles in the newly available essay collection I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible.

Explore the meaning of passages like Zipporah’s circumcision of Moses, Jephthah’s tragic vow in the book of Judges, and the warring sea monsters in Psalm 74. Connect yourself to the time during which the biblical writers lived and wrote with articles on worldview, like “The Ancient’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Get answers to the Bible’s most perplexing questions

You’ll get help on some of the Bible’s most interesting topics:

  • “What Walking on Water Really Means”
  • “Born Again . . . and Again and Again?”
  • “Dumbledore Meets Philip & Peter”
  • “Paul’s Lost Letters”
  • “The New Testament Misquotes the Old Testament?”
  • “666: What Theories Add Up?”
  • And many more

The book will help you study the Bible in a whole new way—and it’ll ensure that you never skip a Bible passage again.

Get this essay collection while it’s still discounted at $4.95: pre-order yours today!

Get a Better Understanding of the Ancient World for Just $7

Hediod CollectionWe tend to think of ancient Greece (and the ancient world generally) as belonging to a single period: antiquity. The closer we look, though, the less antiquity looks like one internally consistent era—in fact, ancient Greece had its own rupture between ancient and modern. Between the two are the fascinating works of Homer and Hesiod.

The Greeks’ own Greek classics

By the time Aristotle composed his first arguments against Plato, the works of Homer and Hesiod were already hundreds of years old and venerated as classics. Most modern historians place Homer between 800 and 700 BC; Hesiod was active between 750 and 650 BC. (For reference, that puts us squarely in OT times: around then, Isaiah would have been carrying out his ministry in Judah.) Homer you know from his epics the Iliad and the Odyssey; Hesiod you know from the story of Pandora’s Box, which was actually a jar. The Greeks thought of Homer and Hesiod as a pair: the former gave the culture its great shared narratives, and the latter filled in the details—Hesiod described Greek mythology, farming, economics, astronomy, time-keeping, and more. Generally, his poems are didactic: they told the ancient Greeks how to live. Between Homer’s myth-building and Hesiod’s instructional goals (not to mention his exacting detail), these poems give us a remarkable window into ancient Greece.

A vexed relationship with the past

One of the things that make Homer and Hesiod so interesting is how they negotiated their own sense of ancient and modern. Bertrand Russell writes, “The Olympian gods, who represent religion in Homer, were not the only objects of worship among the Greeks, either in his time or later. There were other darker and more savage elements in popular religion, which were kept at bay by the Greek intellect at its best.” H.J. Rose describes these elements in his Primitive Culture in Ancient Greece: there were statues of Pan, which were beaten when food was scarce; there was a cave favored by the wolf-Zeus, in which no one cast a shadow and after entering which no one survived longer than a year; there was a clan of possible werewolves. We associate ancient Greece with pure reason, but all of this was still going on in classical times.

Russell argues that “The Homeric poems, like the courtly romances of the later Middle Ages, represent the point of view of a civilized aristocracy, which ignores as plebeian various superstitions that are still rampant among the populace. . . . Guided by anthropology, modern writers have come to the conclusion that Homer, so far from being primitive, was an expurgator . . . holding up an upper-class ideal of urbane enlightenment.” That is, Homer’s works aren’t just a window into ancient Greece—they were a biased, active hand in shaping its religious customs.

We see a converse phenomenon in Hesiod, and this time the primitive customs are the Olympian myths themselves. Hesiod’s Theogony lays out Greek belief point by point, from the creation of the universe through the gods’ rise to power. The interesting part, though, isn’t what he writes—it’s how he was read. Even as the Greeks began to turn away from this mythology and seek purely rational explanations for the world, they continued to read Hesiod out of a sense of tradition: out of respect for antiquity.

It’s easy to think of the ancients as credulous, grasping at the nearest magical explanation for the phenomena around them. What we see in Homer and Hesiod, though, is a self-aware tension between past and present—one that feels very modern. Homer distances himself from ancient pagan belief to advocate for the Olympian pantheon. Hesiod fleshes out that Olympian pantheon but is, as the times change, relegated to a mere emeritus role. In many ways, the relationship of ancient Greece to its own antiquity looks like the relationship of modernity to ancient Greece. That’s what makes Homer and Hesiod so interesting: they represent not only timeless literature, but also an influential culture navigating its past and present.

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Get 61% off Hesiod, the Homeric hymns, and the Homerica

You know how important ancient Greece is—it gave us mathematics, history, philosophy, and more. (In turn, Platonism contributed to the Christianity of the early Church Fathers and, in particular, helped bring about Augustine’s conversion and some of his most interesting thought.) If you’re interested in ancient history and biblical context, ancient Greece should be part of your study.

You also know how important the Iliad and the Odyssey are: if you don’t own these masterpieces, stop reading this post, add them to your Logos library, and start enjoying them today.

But Homer’s lesser-known works—the hymns and Homerica—and Hesiod’s writings give you an especially nuanced window into ancient Greek culture. Now Noet is building these classic texts in tagged, research-friendly editions that sync with the rest of your library and give you access to Logos’ powerful study tools. Currently, Noet’s two-volume Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica is just $7 on Community Pricing­—that’s 61% off!

Once you’ve added these important texts, you can get the big picture with one of Noet’s research libraries: the Classical Greek Bundle gives you the Iliad, Homeric GrammarLiddell and Scott Greek–English Lexicon (LSJ), and more; better yet, the complete Classical Foundations Bundle gives you everything in the Classical Greek Bundle, plus essential works of philosophy, additional original-language resources, the 1,114-volume Perseus Classics Collection, and far more.

Bid on Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns and Homerica for just $7, and then pick the Noet library that’s right for you!

Spring into Scripture with Bible Study Magazine

BSM may juneSpring is a great time to dig into Scripture—and Bible Study Magazine is here to help.

Maybe you haven’t kept up with a New Year’s resolution to spend more time in the Word. Maybe you’ve been meaning to study more, but waiting for life to get less busy. You have the desire—and the ability—to know the Bible better, but you just can’t find the time. So what if you seized the opportunities you do have and started your day with spiritually rich, biblically insightful articles? You can do exactly that with a subscription to Bible Study Magazine. One BSM subscriber says, “I read these cover to cover. Outstanding information and inspiration.”

For only $19.95, you can have a year’s worth of insightful issues delivered right to your door. Here’s a peek at our May–June issue, featuring Kevin DeYoung:

  • “A Synagogue from Jesus’ Time” uses evidence from the recent archaeological find at Magdala to challenge our preconceived notions about synagogues. A unique infographic demonstrates how the synagogue’s structure and features shape our understanding of Gospel accounts.
  • Dr. Riad Kassis talks about advancing the Gospel in Lebanon and beyond with theological training that interprets Scripture in light of its context.
  • “4 Gospels, 4 Perspectives” emphasizes the distinct narrative approaches, literary techniques, and individual concerns of each Gospel writer. A helpful infographic complements the article, so you can keep track of the distinctions.

Bible Study Magazine is a great way to learn, grow, and get into the Word. If you want to fill your spring with spiritual wisdom, look no further. Subscribe today for just $19.95—that’s over 30% off the cover price!

One Week Left: Get up to 75% Off Logos March Madness Titles!

March Madness Last WeekYou only have one week left to save during Logos March Madness! Don’t wait—this year’s sale ends Wednesday, April 16.

Now’s the time to build your library at the best price: you can get up to 75% off select works by all 64 authors. See all the deals now.

This year’s top two authors: Carson and Lloyd-Jones

D.A. Carson was crowned this year’s champion, and for just one more week, some of his most popular works are discounted by 75%! You can save on Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to John, Exegetical Fallacies, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism, and more. See all of Carson’s works on sale.

This year’s runner-up, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, is one of our best-selling authors, and for the next week, select titles by Lloyd-Jones are a full 60% off! For less than $10, you can pick up Courageous Christianity, Glorious Christianity, Authentic Christianity, and other top works. See all of Lloyd-Jones’ works on sale.

Get up to 50% off titles by 62 more authors!

Until Wednesday, April 16, you can get special savings on select works from every other Logos March Madness author:

Don’t wait—these deals end next week

Don’t wait to get the titles you want. These deals disappear next Wednesday—pick up your favorites right now!

How Do You Use Logos: Jeffrey Kranz

Overview BibleWe’re kicking off a new series about the many interesting ways people are using Logos 5. If Logos is an important part of what you do and create, we’d love to hear about it!

OverviewBible.com

In this first installment, we’re talking with Jeffrey Kranz, a former Logos employee whose Overview Bible Project is a labor of love for opening Scripture to those who may not be overly familiar with it.  I got together with Jeffrey and asked how Logos 5 is helping him in his efforts.

Tell us a little bit about OverviewBible.com. Where did the idea come from?

I started OverviewBible.com to help more people get the gist of every book of the Bible. I also post Bible study tips, infographics, and the like. The idea came after I noticed four things:

  1. When pastors preach through a book of the Bible, it takes a while. Congregants can forget what the book is all about because the focus is on smaller passages. I figured there had to be a way to get each book’s overall theme stuck in people’s heads.
  2. Bible dictionaries and handbooks give plenty of information on the individual books of the Bible, but I wanted to make something that gave people the big idea in three minutes or less.
  3. From time to time, friends would stop me in conversation and ask, “Wait—what’s that book of the Bible about again?” I figured they weren’t the only ones wondering what Habakkuk is about.
  4. We all know the Bible is important, and most of us wish we knew it better. I want to show off how interesting the individual books are so that others get curious enough to explore the Word for themselves.

How long have you been a Logos user?

Technically, I played with it on my parents’ computer a few times back in the Libronix days. I wised up and got my own Logos account in 2011, but really got hooked when Logos 5 came out in 2012. The more familiar I got with Logos, the more time I wanted to spend in it. Now I use the desktop and mobile apps nearly every day.

How do you use Logos 5 with OverviewBible.com?

How could I not use Logos 5 with OverviewBible.com? I do almost all my research in the software. When I was writing overviews on every book of the Bible, I had a method:

  • I’d read the book of the Bible in one sitting with Logos’ Bible app for iPad. I’d split the screen so I could read the Bible on the left and take notes on the right.
  • Because those notes are synced across my apps, I would open them in Logos 5 on my PC later. Then I’d dig into the original languages, consult commentaries and Bible dictionaries, and run lots and lots of morph searches.
  • Finally, I’d write my overview in WordPress. (By the way, OverviewBible.com is set up with Reftagger, so readers can just hover over a Scripture reference to see what that verse says.)

I’ve written text overviews of every book of the Bible, but 2014 has an even bigger project in store: infographics on every book. I’m doing the groundwork in Logos 5 now.

In short, there’s no way I’d take on this kind of project without Logos. It gives me a level of insight that otherwise I just wouldn’t have. A word of warning, though: if you’re a curious person, you can easily spend all day in Logos—it’s life-changing and addictive.

Which Logos 5 feature do you use most?

I think the morph search is the biggest time saver. I really enjoy being able to right-click any Greek or Hebrew word and generate a report on every place the Bible (or a specific set of passages) uses that word. Graphing out the results is fun, too. For example, I used this tool to find “the bossiest book of the Bible.”

Any books you’d particularly recommend?

I really enjoy Zodhiates’ original-language dictionaries for looking up Greek and Hebrew words. I also enjoy Bible dictionaries: I read Anchor Yale, the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, and your own Lexham Bible Dictionary when I’m studying . . . and in my spare time.

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Logos 5 will revolutionize your study

If you’re not using Logos 5  yet, you won’t believe the deep study you’re missing. Check it out now, and see which base package is right for you!

Are you using Logos for a special project or labor of love? Head to the forums and tell us all about it. We just might feature it here!

Get the Best Deal on a Reformed Base Package

Logos 5 Reformed

Right now, when you pick up a brand-new Reformed base package, you can save in multiple ways. Here’s how you can fit an entire library into your budget and get the best deal on the resources you love:

1. Take 15% off any Reformed base package!

Right off the bat, you can get 15% off any Reformed base package, Starter through Platinum. You’re already getting massive savings thanks to these packages’ built-in bundling discounts; for just a little while, though, you can save even more. But this special introductory price will only be available for a limited time. Use coupon code REFORMEDBP and get 15% off a brand-new Reformed base package!

2. Watch Dynamic Pricing lower your price

With Dynamic Pricing, if you already own any resources in the package you choose, they’re automatically subtracted from your final price—you get a personalized discount, and you never pay for the same resource twice. If you own even one of the resources included in the Reformed base package of your choice, your price will be lowered automatically. And the more resources you own, the lower your final price!

3. Choose the payment plan that works for you

Dynamic Pricing and your special introductory savings make Reformed base packages a spectacular deal, and interest-free payment plans make budgeting even easier. For as little as $25/month, you can bring a wealth of resources to your home, your office, and your pocket.

The larger your purchase, the more payment options you have. Depending on the package you choose, you can disperse your payments over 12 months, 18 months, or—for larger purchases—even 24 months.

Choose the Reformed base package that fits your study, and the payment plan that fits your budget.

Pick out your Reformed base package today, and take an additional 15% off!

Pre-order the Missions and Church Planting Bundle for 40% Off!

Logos_MobileEd_Bundle_CourseImageLogos Mobile Education’s four-course Missions and Church Planting Bundle is now available on Pre-Pub! Pre-order it today, and get ready to learn about the mission God has for his people.

In Genesis 12:2–3, God tells Abram:

“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Michael Goheen states that this is God’s “blueprint for the entirety of redemptive history.” It’s a two-part plan, though, in which God first blesses his chosen people and then blesses all the nations through his people. We live in the second stage, and, as God’s people, we ought to feel the burden of carrying the blessing of the gospel to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18–20).

The Joshua Group estimates that there are 7.1 billion people in the world today, and that 2.91 billion of them live in unreached people groups with little to no access to the gospel. We’re surrounded by those who have yet to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. From Memphis to Mogadishu, we have work to do!

Equip yourself for ministry

Whether it’s through prayer, financial support, or packing our bags and going, we should all be playing a part in bringing the gospel to the lost. But where to start, and how we get equipped?

Enter Logos Mobile Education.

The Logos Mobile Education: Missions and Church Planting Bundle gives you the training you need. These are courses you can take on your time, wherever you are—right within Logos. Through personal video lessons and their expertise with missions and church planting, Michael Goheen, Tim Sisk, and Don Fanning walk you through the important issues.

You’ll gain:

  • A biblical theology of world religions
  • A framework for engaging other worldviews and cultures
  • An understanding of the history of missions
  • Clarity on the current issues in missions today
  • A vision for church planting as participation in the Great Commission

In addition to the video lessons, you’ll get enriched transcripts that integrate into your Logos library, as well as C. Gordon Olson and Don Fanning’s helpful What in the World Is God Doing? The Essentials of Global Missions.

While the bundle is on Pre-Pub, you can get it for a full 40% off. Don’t wait—place your order today, and become better equipped to love God and love others.

Logos 5: Locate Noun/Verb Combinations

Today’s post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

This question was recently submitted through our website:

I want to search for the combination of the word “spirit” and all the verbs used with that noun. How can I search for noun/verb combinations?

There are actually several ways to locate this information, but for now I want to emphasize a section in the Bible Word Study guide:

  • Choose Guides | Bible Word Study.
  • Type this in the word box: g:pneuma (A).
  • From the dropdown list, select the Greek word with the glossary breath; spirit (B).
  • If the report doesn’t generate on its own, press Enter to build it.

1-BWS-Greek-word

  • Navigate to the section called Grammatical Relationships. (Please note: this section doesn’t appear in the Starter base package.) (C)
  • Notice the subsection Subject of…, which lists all the verbs in the NT associated with this Greek word! (D)

2-Gramm-Rel

To execute the same search for the most prominent Hebrew word translated spirit in the OT:

  • Type this in the Word box: h:ruah (E).
  • From the dropdown list, select the Hebrew word with the glossary spirit (F).

3-Hebrew-word

  • Notice, again under Grammatical Relationships, the subsection Subject of…, which lists all the OT verbs associated with this Hebrew word (G).

4-Gram-Rel-for-Hebrew

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Target any biblical word to discover its original meaning—get Logos 5 today.

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