Never Take a Verse Out of Context Again with the New Lexham Context Commentary

Image courtesy of Faithlife Media

 

I have lots of biblical commentaries. Which one do I look at first, and which one do I look at when I’m just quickly checking a cross-reference and want to make sure I’m not missing something?

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5 Words You’re Probably Not Getting in the Christmas Story

Every Christmas Eve growing up, my father read the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the King James Version.

And every Christmas Eve, I thought I understood it. I largely did. But I now see little things I was missing—through no fault of my own, nor of the KJV translators, but simply because of the inevitable process of language change. The KJV is 400 years old, after all. I now see these little things because I focused hard on them while writing my book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.

Here are five things you might not have noticed you were missing in the Christmas story in Luke 2 in the King James Version. [Read more…]

3 Free Logos Features That Make Seminary Easier

If you go to seminary, there are certain tasks you will be asked to do. I don’t have to know which school you’re going to or what classes you’re taking. You’ll be doing these things. Three of them. Promise.

I’ve used pretty much all the major tools out there to do them, and I’m going to show you the best ones—and how to get them for free.

You should also check out Logos’ back-to-school sale. You can get essential books for seminary up to 40% off.

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Review: An Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

Dirk Jongkind’s Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge is a short, simple, and excellent introduction to New Testament textual criticism. It has such a long title because it also tells a bit of the story behind the new Tyndale House Greek New Testament (THGNT), the goal of which is “to give the text of the original Greek as accurately as possible.” (Anyone interested in textual criticism or involved in academic biblical studies should have the new THGNT—and it happens to be on Pre-Pub in Logos right now.)
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Include Systematic Theology in Your Bible Exposition

Remember always to go on to theology. — Mark Ward

In preaching and other Bible teaching, your big strength can become a weakness. If you are good at careful analysis of biblical texts, don’t stop there. Remember always to go on to theology. Analysis and synthesis belong together, like hot air balloons and magnifying glasses. [Read more…]

3 Sanity Checks for Odd Bible Interpretations

I was just having lunch with some pastors, and we were having a friendly disagreement over exegesis. One experienced expositor said, “The Holy Spirit chose precisely this word and not another, so it must have special significance.” I said, “Yes, but we can’t overinterpret: Greek is a human language; it’s not some perfectly precise mathematics problem.” [Read more…]

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.

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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…]