Archive for the 'Study' Category

Strong’s

I’m not an expert in what I’m writing about in this post. Please forgive any mistakes in the details.

Most people seem to use Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon if they want to look up some definitions in the original languages, which isn’t very helpful for definitions because the lexicon (dictionary), is very brief. The current lexicon that most modern commentators would use is the BDAG, which costs about $150, although there is an abridged version for about $80 which may be adequate for lay people.

But there are in-between resources, one of them called Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions for the Hebrew. As with Strong’s, these can be found to be used free in e-Sword and some other Bible software.

I rarely use these and find it much more helpful to look at 6-8 different translations and see what they did with it. If there are diversions, it can be helpful to try to find out why, or just to see which words or phrases the translation committees chose.

If one would want to look up some definitions and see the range of words that might be used, Thayer’s may be a better choice if you’re looking for a free resource.

Also see:
How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance
How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance – Part 2
How To Properly Use Strong’s Concordance
Strong’s Concordance – A Good Example

Getting Discouraged With Learning Greek

I’m getting discouraged with learning Greek yet again. Instead of memorizing Scripture (which is always maintained), I’m memorizing ever more difficult Greek vocabulary. I don’t read as much material as I would like (an exposition of Genesis right now, which is great) because of the time spent with Greek, although I admit, it’s not a whole lot.

I keep reading posts about how valuable it is. I don’t doubt it. Not to sound like ‘woe is me’, but on days where I’m in more pain (lower back) or having other difficulties, it’s easier to just read. In English only.

I wonder if buying a Greek reader like A First John Reader or Philippians: A Greek Student’s Intermediate Reader to see what I might be missing out on would be a good idea. I wouldn’t think either would be a waste of money. Is there anything like this online?

I’m just learning it for my own reading edification. I don’t plan on going past beginning/intermediate, like Black’s second book. Right now I can pretty much understand what’s written in commentaries which was my original goal until I decided I wanted to ‘learn’ the language.

I’m not giving up at this point and I’m not usually one to stop what I started. I’m just wondering about time spent vs. benefit and time taken away from other stuff. I know that just like with Scripture memory review, I will need to keep reading it everyday to keep it up and just to use it for what it’s intended for.

Discussion at an old post: Should Christians Observe the Sabbath?

Should Christians Observe the Sabbath?

Please join in if you’d like.

Also see:
Wisdom and Sabbath Rest

The Message for Clarity

I have no idea if this clarity is correct but in looking at Proverbs 14:31 ESV

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

I can’t tell if the oppressor’s Maker is being insulted or the poor man’s Maker. Obviously they are the same Maker, but I was curious. So in looking at all the other translations I usually look at, I had no clue.

Proverbs 14:31 NLT
Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker,
but helping the poor honors him.

Proverbs 14:31 TNIV
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

The others being almost identical to one of these.

So finally The Message takes a side.

Proverbs 14:31 MSG
You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.

Do any of the Hebrew geeks know? Does it matter?

Around the Web

The blessing of Affliction

Dealing with Depression, Part Two

This quote comes to me via Dave Black Online (as did the previous link). If there ever was a reason for me to learn Greek this is it. My About page explains why. See the rest of the article by Sean Winter at the linked post.

Learning New Testament Greek is not just a tool for seeing new things in the text, it is a tool for beginning to see why many of the things you have been taught to see might actually be bad interpretations.

Sean Winter, Jesus, Peter and Reading the New Testament in Greek
Learning New Testament Greek is not just a tool for seeing new things in the text, it is a tool for beginning to see why many of the things you have been taught to see might actually be bad interpretations.

Cryptotheology 2.0

How Did the Church Interpret the Days of Creation before Darwin?

Waterdrop Heart Photo (manipulated)

Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men

This is part of the Exegetical Insight of Chapter 7, each written by a different author, from William Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, this one written by Verlyn Verbrugge. I’m going to do a bit of explanation to make it more understandable to those who know nothing about Greek (which is practically me), to try to put it into my own words, which is very risky, and expand on it. So let me know where I get it wrong.

The typical Christmas card greeting is, “Peace on earth, good will toward men” taken from, Luke 2:14b KJV “on earth peace, good will toward men.” This is what the angels sing to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem.

Since the 1600s when the KJV was written and revised, many more older transcripts (closer to the originals, which isn’t necessarily better but in this case they are numerous) have been found. Because a letter was dropped in the manuscripts used to translate the King James/Authorized Version, the word for ‘good will’ or ‘favor’ changes from the nominative (subject), to the genitive (generally, possessive).

Verbrugge says, on pg. 43 of the 2nd Edition:

[T]he peace that the angels sang that belonged to the earth as a result of the birth of Christ is not a generic, worldwide peace for all humankind, but a peace limited to those who obtain favor with God by believing in his Son Jesus (see Romans 5:1). What a difference a single letter can make in the meaning of the text!

ESV “on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

NIV “on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

NLT “peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

NRSV “on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

I thank God it’s not like computer programming where one wrong character will bring the whole thing down! I’ve had my share of those experiences. These improvements made in translations don’t change any major doctrine (teaching) of the Bible and in fact goes directly against the arguments of those think the Bible is handed down and changed by each generation. Scholars and archeologists are actually going the other way and getting closer to the original manuscripts. We can be confident that the Bible contains God’s Word which is comprised of accurate truth which brings salvation to those who hear or read it, believe what it says and trust Jesus Christ for their salvation as opposed to being a good enough person or whatever ideas of their own one may have.

2 Timothy 3:14-17 NLT
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

For more context of the original verse:

Matthew 10:34-42 NLT
“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. 35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ 37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. 40 “Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. 41 If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. 42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”

Matthew 24:6
And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately.

Jesus came to bring us peace with God.

Acts 10:36
This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel– that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Romans 2:9-11
There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil– for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good– for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

Romans 14:17-18
For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. (emphasis added to keep you awake)

Just me, the Bible and the Holy Spirit

You have read the Bible so frequently, so thoughtfully, so earnestly, so prayerfully that it comes to you without direct effort on your part where to locate a passage and you label it instinctively. And when the facts of Scripture are all in your head and heart, you can safely trust the Holy Spirit to interpret those facts, and you need not that any man teach you, and therefore the only thing to seek and to secure is to become familiar with the contents of the Word—thoroughly cognizant of all the facts of Scripture, and read them so often that you see them on the page where they occur, even with closed eyes.

–KEITH L. BROOKS, Complete Summary of the New Testament

Is this what would be called fundamentalism?

What’s very strange about this is that it’s on Biblia.com, which is “Part of a family of services from Logos Bible Software”. Isn’t the document which that quote was taken from all the reason we need not to use Bible software, especially one that has the ability to build a library of books into it?

Then it proceeds to give a summary of the Bible, which we shouldn’t need if we read it over and over with the help of the Holy Spirit and nothing else, as long as we have “seven conditions under which Bible study may be prosecuted with success”.

I’m confused.

Also see:
Spurgeon In Defense of Commentaries

More on Proverbs and Others by Charles Bridges

Recently I let people know about a free online commentary on Proverbs by Charles Bridges (not to be confused with Jerry Bridges) in HTML (web page) format. A couple of days ago I found a post on Pyromaniacs titled Proverbs for nothing, and your Bridges for free! I was glad to learn that this commentary is also in PDF format, which makes it easier to look up the chapters.

While reading Waltke’s commentary I’ve been referring to Bridges fairly often and like it enough to buy it in book form. In fact if I were to do it again, I might read the Bridges and refer to the Waltke. On the Pyro site, a commenter mentioned that the Banner of Truth edition is the best. This is a healthy 656 page book which is more expositional or even devotional in nature but still goes verse by verse. Some of the editions look like they are scans of the original book (I can’t say for sure if this is or not). There is an edition in the The Crossway Classic Commentary Series edited by Alister McGrath, and J. I. Packer which I’m sure is ‘regular’ text, but keep in mind this is an abridged (condensed) edition.

Then to my surprise I found out he wrote a commentary on Ecclesiastes (I love that book) and Psalm 119, one of my favorite Psalms. It just keeps getting better. I wish I would have known that when I was studying Ecclesiastes. I already have a book on Psalm 119 that I haven’t read so I won’t be getting that anytime soon but would like to in the future.

Although it looks like he wasn’t a prolific writer, these resources are very helpful and I wanted to let you know about them if you’re interested.

Updates

This is a more personal type post that I’m uncomfortable with because I don’t presume that a lot of people should care about these things. But I like to read updates of what’s going on in my blogging friends’ lives and people have asked me to keep them updated on the things mentioned here.

Mental health stuff has been very difficult but steady, other than the ups and mainly downs that Bipolar depression (more of a description than an official diagnosis) presents. Sometimes pretty bad, but that’s part of the program.

I had my second back surgery over six months ago and the recovery isn’t going well. There is no improvement in pain. An extra MRI was negative and I’ll be having an extra CT scan.

I had a difficult time spiritually after surgery and my faith was really tested for the first time in a long time. God has pretty much brought me through that but I still need to learn to “suffer better” and be more prepared for things like the nightmarish hospital stay where they made a lot of mistakes. Progress on worrying less has been slow but positive. It’s a rough road though. I’m accumulating even more good books on suffering to read between other things.

I read through Proverbs several times and read it once in The Message, since it’s supposed to be decent with poetry. It was very good, although I often looked verses up in ‘regular’ translations to see what it ‘really says’. Not much to say about that. I’m still studying Proverbs in our small group Bible study and reading through Waltke’s two volume commentary which has been great. Proverbs is such an important book and now I can’t get enough of it. It helps us to learn how to learn and understand.

I’m still working on Greek. I was supposed to be done with Black’s beginning book in 2010 but I didn’t know I’d be having surgery, which really set me back. I had to go back and reread the whole book and I’m almost back to where I was.

Same thing goes for 2010 being ‘the year of the Old Testament’ for me. In addition to getting slowed down, I’ve acquired more books about the OT that I want to read, so that may take another year.

Along with that, my ‘three year plan’ will stretch out to over four years. I carefully read each book of the New Testament and also a healthy commentary for each, which I love doing, and need to go back and read a couple of whoppers on Luke and Acts. Then I’ll be done with that. Obviously no real exegesis (in-depth study) on my part but just to get any gross misinterpretations out of the way and becoming more familiar with the NT which is part of my three year plan. I intend to study Colossians as in-depth as I can at some point. I’m contemplating on whether I should take the time to read a big commentary on Genesis. There don’t seem to be as many gross misinterpretations to sift through but it’s so foundational for creation, original sin, covenants, God’s sovereignty etc.

I plan on reading most of the OT again this year (all of it last year) and try reading a book of the Bible 20x. I’ve already read Proverbs 6-7 times so I may keep going with that and a short book of the NT. Next year or before I want to start a custom plan that I’m making or one of the other plans. I don’t feel a need to do one of these plans every year. But I now make sure I read the Bible everyday.

I’ve now decided to switch my main translation from the HCSB (I call it the NIV, tailored to me) to the REB. It’s just too good, and it’s not the same old. Secondary, which is a dynamic equivalent or what used to be called thought for thought is the NLT but I’m toying with God’s Word (for the Nations). The NLT will always be special, especially the Mosaic edition.

I’m so thankful for all of my blogging friends. If I didn’t have any, this wouldn’t be worth it.

I better stop there.

Note taking in an electronic Bible?

Most of us take notes in our Bible. Most of us switch or get a new Bible or use various Bibles at some point.

If you were to take notes to keep them in one place, potentially forever, what method would you choose? I have Bibleworks, e-Sword and The Word but I’m stuck at one version of e-Sword that I don’t want to upgrade.

In the past I’ve transferred notes and highlighting in paper Bibles but that’s getting ridiculous. However it’s easier to scan and see notes in a paper Bible.

I don’t know.

Looking it up in the Greek

Here is a great photo in a post titled In the Original Greek… Click on it to see a larger one.

(This one is spreading quickly.)

I wanted to add something to what Seth Ehorn said. One of the best exercises I’ve done in my limited amount of time I’ve spent so far on exegesis (serious in-depth study) is printing out a passage in 6-8 translations covering a variety of styles and comparing them, which is part of Gordon Fee’s protocol in his book New Testament Exegesis. If there’s is a question with a particular word or phrase, you’ll see how the various translations rendered it. This is more illuminating than just ‘looking it up in the Greek’, which for most people is usually the outdated Strong’s, which will usually just give you a wide semantic range of options that requires context anyway. The word in question doesn’t mean all of those things listed, just as in an English dictionary, which is where the multiple translations come in. If you haven’t tried it, I know you’ll like it.

HT: Brian Fulthorp via Facebook

Persistence Key To Learning Greek

One more post on Greek before I lose a lot of people. If you go to David Black’s web page, a professor, scholar, fence mender and the author of New Testament Greek, and scroll down to Wednesday, October 20 you’ll find a little article on how to “stick with it”.

Highlights:

  • Pray
  • Use an interlinear if you have to (considered anathema to many teachers)
  • He dropped out of his first Greek class!

www.daveblackonline.com/blog.htm

Greek Pronunciation

Greek Language and Linguistics blog let’s us know about a paper in a post called Randall Buth on Hellenistic Pronunciation. This is out of my territory so feel free to comment on it. Esteban taught me pronunciation and I use some sort of a reconstruction, even though it’s a guess, along with one or two Spanish type rules. I can’t understand why the Erasmian way is taught in this day and age but I won’t go off on that again especially because it’s above my pay grade. The big disadvantage to this is how hard it is to use audio based tools where they use the now dorky sounding Erasmian pronunciation rules.

The interesting thing for me is nearly everything mentioned in this paper as far as pronunciation is what I do. Esteban taught me well and my little nuances happen to match this.

I thought I brought this up before on this blog but I didn’t find anything. I hope it’s of interest to somebody (and I don’t expect more than one or two) especially if just starting out.

Also see:
Greek/Latin Audio.comGreek Recordings

I’ve used Audacity to slow down these recordings so that it’s easier for me to follow along.

Fall Reading and Study

I’ve got to start posting more again. I know all of you have been crying yourselves to sleep every day that there isn’t a post here.

I’m going to follow Jason’s post on Fall Reading. At the same time, I’m considering combining my Scripture Zealot 2 and Suffering Christians blogs. Both of those have more personal things in them so I’m not sure. In Scripture Zealot 2 I often write about what I’m reading and studying in case I want to look back and see when I read what. So it may be better to keep it separate. I don’t know.

I’m getting near the end of finishing reading the Old Testament using NLT’s 24/7 chronological Bible, reading ahead a little. From then on HCSB will be my main Bible while using NLT quite a bit still. I’m going to be sad when I’m done. Obviously I can read it again, but I like what I learned and the process I went through and that will never be the same again. Of course, the next time may be even better.

I’m concentrating on the OT this year and because of having surgery and spending a lot of time sleeping because of medication I’ll be going at least through the first three months of next year too.

We’re going to be studying Proverbs in our small group starting next month. We will be using a NavPress study guide which is pretty good as those awful things go. I used that as an excuse to buy a two volume commentary by Waltke. I wanted to read through it while doing the study, but the study guide is more topical than going through it in the order it’s in. So I don’t know how that will work and if I’ll read the whole two volumes or just refer to parts. The introduction itself, which takes up about a fifth of the first long(er) volume, should be very good.

Then I have Haggai Zechariah Macachi by Evangelical Press which they sent me just to be nice because I reviewed How To Enjoy Your Bible. I will review that one too.

After that I’ll go through Creation and Blessing which is a commentary/exposition of Genesis and Handbook of the Pentateuch.

Then finally Finding Jesus in the Old Testament which I’m really looking forward to because I love reading anything about Jesus.

I also have Isaiah by Moyter but I’m afraid I’ll only use that for reference.

Depending on how much I can read each day, I’m guessing it will take well into next year. Then I’ll go back to reading commentaries on Luke and Acts and I have read one commentary for each book of the NT.

I just got done reading How Long O Lord by D.A. Carson which is a good theological way of looking at suffering, compatibilism and God’s providence. I will be posting a lot of quotes from that.

I’d like to read Randy Alcorn’s book on suffering, If God Is Good. I wrote to the publisher requesting a review copy and haven’t heard anything so I’m not sure if I should buy it yet. For you reviewers, maybe you know that limbo.

I’m behind on Greek vocabulary because of surgery and am trying to get that back before I get back into going through Black’s beginning book. I feel like I forgot everything. I may just read through the book from the beginning yet again to where I am which is a little more than half-way through.

I’ll stop there. More to come on these things I hope.

Surgery and Summer Reading List

I want to write a post about what I’m reading this summer even if just for me to look back on. Since it’s so short and boring I’ll combine it with what’s going on with surgery.

I’ve mentioned that I’m concentrating on the Old Testament this year. It’s been great. God is showing me a lot of things about how much He hates sin, what He’s willing to do for His people, how much He’s on our side and how He takes it upon Himself to bring us [back] to Him.

My extra reading and working on Greek has been pathetic. I’m sleeping worse and worse and sleeping a lot during the day. I’ve also had a renewed interest in photography and have been spending too much time on that, possibly to get my mind off of things. But I should be reading to do that.

Right now I’m reading Ryken’s Bible Handbook which is excellent. The chapter on Job is worth the whole book. I will be reviewing that and Unburdened, a book about worry, both from Tyndale, sometime this summer, God willing. (Is that a record for number of commas in a sentence?)

However, I will be having surgery on my back this Wednesday the 30th. It’s a double fusion L4 to S1 with laminectomy and removing scar tissue from my last surgery. This is much more major than my previous surgery which was a microdiscectomy. If you’d like to pray for me even just once I’d appreciate it. Please pray for the spiritual stuff as much or more than the physical as I mentioned in the previous post.

I know from last time it’s difficult to read anything that required much concentration when taking pain killers and being in pain, partly because I’m in a state of half sleep most of the time anyway. Being as tired as I normally am, adding medication will make it that much worse.

I’d also like to read and review a small commentary on Haggai Zechariah Malachi from EP Press and read Handbook on the Pentateuch, Creation and Blessing, a commentary on Genesis, Finding Jesus in the Old Testament and a few articles. I probably won’t get all that done this year.

As far as learning Greek, I’d like to get back up to speed on that too. I’ve been keeping up with the vocabulary and I went through the workbook up to this point, but lately I haven’t been moving ahead very much in the Black book.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.