See How All Major Doctrines Relate to Each Other

The new Theology Guide in Logos 8 will do something most people consider it impossible to do: it will change theologians’ minds.

Theologians have long known that Logos is a good tool for the study of Scripture, but to some of them that’s all it was. Now, theologians, Logos can guide your studies, too.

Search for “Image of God,” for example, in the new Theology Guide, and you’ll get quick access to all the major tools of the Lexham Survey of Theology—and there’s a lot of them.

Let me explain how they work.

[Read more…]

Why Luther’s 95 Theses Start with a Critique of a Bible Translation

This week we are celebrating the 501-year anniversary of the Reformation, discounting many Reformed resources and featuring Reformation excerpts and reflections on the blog.

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The first of Luther’s famous 95 Theses—whose 501st anniversary we celebrate this week—is a critique of an erroneously translated phrase in Jerome’s translation of Matthew 4:17. In English we know this as, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Luther wrote in Thesis 1: [Read more…]

Language Cannot Sit Still, Even in Church

An editor once told me I could not say that a certain contemporary theologian “channeled” Jonathan Edwards. It felt too New-Agey to him.

Usually I accept 100% of an editor’s suggested changes. I feel safer that way. But this time I protested. I felt that the editor was channeling persnicketiness. A brief tug-of-war ensued. He won; he happened to be my teacher.

Our friendly dispute offers yet another lesson about language that will be helpful for your Bible study.

Channel is, yes, a word used in New-Agey, séancey kinds of circumstances. It’s a metaphor: when Shirley MacLaine channels some spirit, she is “like” a narrow length of water connecting two larger bodies, only it’s not water but some spiritual essence that is flowing.

But languages never stop changing—a fact I never tire of mentioning, because it is so significant for Bible interpretation and for contemporary communication of the Bible’s message to others.

English has now developed a new metaphor off of the original one (!). People now commonly say things like, “President X channeled President Lincoln.” Such a sentence is not claiming that President X is engaging in New Age mumbo jumbo. No, in his mannerisms or decisions or wording he somehow mimicked Lincoln so well that it was like he was channeling him. This new sense of channel, says my dictionary, means “emulate or seem to be inspired by.”

This is the way language works. Physical things like channels become metaphors. And then those metaphors become so stable that they become, essentially, new words. People forget the old, literal meaning, or see it as a different word altogether. And then yet new metaphors are built off of the new word. (Language is so cool!)

And if you have a feeling that language shouldn’t do this, that it should just stop fidgeting and sit still, especially in church, take note: this very feature of language is found in the Bible.

Think of the word “pastor.”

The KJV uses the word “pastor” only once, in Eph. 4:11. It translates the Greek poimen. But everywhere else in the New Testament, seventeen times, this word is translated “shepherd.” Why did the KJV translators (and others to this day) choose “pastor” in this one place?

Because the context clearly shows that we’re talking about an established office in the church; the “shepherd” metaphor had become stable and, therefore, dead.

Our English word “pastor” has undergone the same process. It comes straight from the Latin word for “shepherd.” But you and I don’t hear pastor as an animal husbandry metaphor anymore. Similar things have happened with drug czar, for example, though my impression is that czar hasn’t gone quite as far on the dead-metaphor path. There’s still a whiff of Old Russia in the English word.

But, again, when I say the word pastor, I don’t smell sheep. If you insist that “pastor here in Ephesians 4 means shepherd,” you won’t quite be right. There’s a substantial difference between the two words.

My linguistics hero John McWhorter says, “One of hardest notions for a human being to shake is that a language is something that is, when it is actually something always becoming.” (3) The Greek of the New Testament is frozen in time, but all its words were undergoing this same process. Understanding this feature of language is helpful for careful, accurate Bible reading.

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Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as an Academic Editor at Lexham Press, the publishing imprint at Faithlife. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.

 

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash.

On Misquoting C.S. Lewis (and Knowing an Author’s Voice)

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

This repost from Faithlife staff member Mark Ward previously appeared in March 2018. It reflects on what it means to know C.S. Lewis’ voice—or any other, such as God’s—well enough to discern it by instinct. [Read more…]

Why We Do What We Do: C.S. Lewis on Motivation

Picking my favorite C.S. Lewis piece is like picking my favorite child. I can’t do it. I won’t. I love them all. But on any given day, one of them may be especially and noticeably good. Today, one is. It’s a sermon called “The Weight of Glory.”

Before I continue, let me say it’s silly and wrong that you are reading me and not Lewis right now. You should just get the collection in which “The Weight of Glory” appears and start reading.

That said, I do find that when I know what others have found in something, I get more out of it myself. So let me list three things I have learned from Lewis’ excellent sermon “The Weight of Glory.” [Read more…]

5 Reasons Studying Greek Is Worth the Pain

To learn Greek will require some drudgery. But, as they say, “No pain, no reading the Greek New Testament.” I well remember sitting at my desk in grad school, cramming vocabulary into my head like a duck willingly stuffing its body for foie gras. At that desk I said to myself, This is boring and hard and I really don’t like it I need sugar or TV or a TV program about sugar. [Read more…]

Someone Plagiarized My Book a Century Before I Was Born

In my recent book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, I argued that there were two major kinds of archaic words in the KJV, not one.

And in the most flagrant example I’ve ever seen of plagiarism by time machine, I just discovered a commentator from 150 years ago saying precisely the same thing.

In his Lectures Exegetical and Practical on the Epistle of James, published in 1871, Robert Johnstone quotes a verse from the King James Version: [Read more…]

Search Original Languages for Word Meaning with Unique Logos Tools

When you’re studying Greek or Hebrew, searching morphological forms with Logos is a huge timesaver. Ἀγάπη (agape) in the dative singular? Got it! A third-person singular Hebrew verb in Qal stem with a 3MS pronominal suffix? Bam!

But Logos can see something else in the Bible that you might not realize: meaning.

A computer can parse forms fairly well given a few rules; that is, a lot of such work can be done automatically. But it takes many man-hours and coffee breaks to teach the computer to see meaning in the Bible. It literally takes years to mark up the Bible with all that data. But it’s worth it. Now you can search the original languages for a meaning—like the figurative use of “brother” as opposed to the literal, or like the most frequent subjects or objects of a given verb. And that means you can execute more targeted searches, with fewer but more accurate results. You can find what you need to find in your Bible study. [Read more…]

How to Do a Bible Word Study in English the Easy Way

I love writing for sharp readers; they keep me on my toes. And recently, on my post “The Easy Way to Do a Responsible Bible Word Study,” after studying the word hilasterion, one of them presented me with a challenge: [Read more…]

How to Choose Your Next Read

I used to feel a lot of pressure to read must-read books. I felt guilty when I saw books on my friends’ shelves that I clearly should have read by that time. Things like Calvin’s Institutes, and whatever else my more advanced peers in biblical studies had read. I still feel some of that pressure, and I think some of it is healthy.

But then one of my favorite writers, Alan Jacobs, liberated me. He recommended that I drop out of the Vigilant School of the Must-Reads and live my reading life under the sign of Whim. I should read what I want. [Read more…]