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Question #1:

Dear Professor

Thank you. I wish you also a good rest this weekend.

I couldn’t help myself, and got up to do a little knitting this morning, but may go back to bed as the eyes and brain are a bit fuzzy. As you know I am using the Translation exercise as my personal reading at the present and I am enjoying the learning from your excellent work. At —'s invite I put a bit of my profile on Ichthys Community and received a warm welcome.

It is good to connect with others believers - particularly readers of Ichthys.

We are all indebted and grateful to yourself for bringing us the truths of the gospel from the Bible.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior.

Your student and friend

Response #1:


Question #2:


Thank you for the links and insights.

If the next is within your scope of knowledge, then be frank.

Would the 'The Apostolic Bible Polyglot' by Charles Van Der Pool be a good buy (apostolicbible.com)? It seems to be a thorough piece of work.

Reason being that I am looking for a Greek/English Bible without commentaries and which would be the closest to the original transcripts.

Blessings in Christ,

Response #2:

I've not used this Bible enough to weigh in on the quality of the translation. The little bit I looked at seemed pretty good, but I can't give a reference of support for it. I will say that however good (or bad) the English translation, I'm no fan of interlinear translations because they are essentially worthless – not the translation but the "marrying up" of Hebrew/Greek to English. Hebrew and Greek do not work like English – not at all. So there is nothing like a "word for word" equivalence. In my experience with these things – and with people who use them – they only lead to confusion and error. Those who know enough Greek or Hebrew not to be confused don't need them in the first place; those who don't know the original languages but use the interlinears get a false sense of confidence about what they are supposedly seeing in the Greek or Hebrew but out of context in the extreme.

Here are a few links where I do go into detail on this:

Limited benefit of interlinears

Not really a tool

ESV interlinear

So for that reason I couldn't recommend it.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Dr. L

Hate to bother you with such a trivial matter... I don't know how to search for subjects to your information only. I tried using (n.b.: Christ) for example, but it doesn't work for me... probably due to my Illiteracy with computers...

Can you give me an example of searching your site?

Thanks very much

Response #3:

No problem, my friend.

The main ways to search:

1) subject index (at the link)

2) original translations index (at the link)

3) search Ichthys only via Google:   paste this code into the Google search box:



. . . then type in the term you wish to search for – *there must be a single space between the code and your term; e.g., site:ichthys.com: Christ

n.b., enclose term in quotations for exact matches only.

4) Of course some things are easier to find than others. If you are interested in doctrines related to Christ, e.g., then BB 4A: Christology is an obvious place to look.

And you can always email me if you are looking for something in particular you can't find.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Dear Bob:

When I read the word it seems hard to continue beyond a few chapters. I am not sure but its like the word is hard to chew on.

Unlike other books that I am able to breeze through. Why is that?

Yours in Christ.

Response #4:

The Bible is a book like no other. It is the Word of God and every believer has the same sort of experience, namely, it's not like reading any other book. There is so much there that it would take many life-times to digest it all, and there is so much that can only be understood when illuminated by good, doctrinal teaching. There are good reasons for the latter being the case as well (e.g., 1Cor.12:24b; 1Thes.5:12-13; Heb.13:7; 13:17).

I have a lot to say about this in BB 7: Bibliology (at the link).  See also especially Odii Ariwodo's "Canonicity I" and "Canonicity II".

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

The quoted verse in the subject baffled me for a while.

The Berean Bible says: "11In Him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of your sinful nature, with the circumcision performed by Christ and not by human hands. After thinking about this phrase in Col. 2:11, and also reading Col. 3:9, I realized that this verse is explained in Col. 3:9 and in Hebrews 12:1. It involves our concerted effort by the Grace of God, "Lay Aside" every encumbrance and the sin that so easily besets us". We cannot eliminate /remove the sinful nature, but we can "Lay Aside our old self" with its evil practices.

The verse in 2:11 was a bit confusing at first but I believe I have solved my dilemma .
The NLT states "

11When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature"

I thought to myself, this cannot be, something is wrong with this statement.

I need to be careful with using the NLT.

The KJV says: "Putting off the body of the sins of the flesh".

I take the circumcision to mean "The New Birth"

Can you please validate that I understand this correctly?

Also, a student in our Bible Study asked the following questions as noted in the subject line.
She referred to the Complete Jewish study bible verses the Hebrew Bible that you read, wanting to know which Hebrew Bible is the correct one and how does she know this. She did not accept one of the Scripture verses you had taken exception too, if was different than the CJB so she remarked, I don't know which Hebrew into English is correct. I did not know how to answer her question.

I appreciate always your help.

To the First and The Last, The beginning and the end, be praise forever for what He has done for us.

Blessings always to you my friend,

Your friend

Response #5:

You are exactly right, my friend. Paul is comparing our new status in Christ with circumcision where the old is cast away. Yes we still live in these bodies, but positionally we are "in Christ" and He is in us with the Spirit directing us to the good, as long as we go along with His guidance (cf. Rom.8:1-17).

On the question about Bible translations, with the exception of the JW's translation (and some other parti pris interpretive renderings), any English Bible one finds will have pretty much the same thing in about 90+% of the cases, and nearly the same in another 5%; it's the last 5% that's mostly argued about. But there is no perfect translation, because a translator (and actually almost always a sizeable group of translators) would have to have a perfect understanding of the Bible before they set to translating even to have a chance of approaching the ideal – and most translators fall far short of that. Since that's the case (and of course for other reasons too), no version will ever obviate the need for a good Bible teacher as well as for a good translation.

I'm not conversant with the CJB, but if memory serves the main difference from familiar versions is the (to me) annoying convention of using Jewish transliteration of names in place of standard English usage. What difference does it make if we call Moses 'Moses" or "Moshe"? Yeshua for Jesus I find particularly grating -- as if people are somehow more holy by using this spelling of the name . . . which the Greek New Testament does not even use. In any case, it doesn't affect interpretation or meaning of key passages (although it may distract from understanding them).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Teacher

This is the new work that I am writing up. I'm hoping to do an exegesis of Ecclesiastes. It is supposed to be an introductory discussion to my ministry. I consider that I may write a summary and post on the website eventually (in fact, when I got stuck earlier, I thought to forget about writing it and just write something of an essay about what the purpose of life on earth is for us), but for now, I'm thinking to go on and try to exegete the book.

I feel a lot hampered by not having any Hebrew, since I've seen verses that are translated substantially differently in the NIV and the NKJV. I also have not yet received the first volume of Unger's Commentary On The Old Testament that could have been some help, I imagine, but the post office hasn't been open during this lockdown. So, I would appreciate any help wherever I am in error.

Your student in Jesus Christ

Response #6:

Good intro!

Here is what I wrote our friend about his musing on the book:

On Ecclesiastes, what I wrote you is exactly what I think: ". . . the book represents a believer commenting on life and the world with the goal of demonstrating the futility of the life of unbelief." That explains it all to me, pithy or not.

Ecclesiastes: a) "All is vanity" – that is true . . . for unbelievers (whether THEY see it that way or not). So whether an unbeliever thinks life is important (it's pointless for them) or a believer is living as if this life were important, that is pointless and foolishness respectively. b) So for an unbeliever one might as well make the most of youth and strength, because all that is coming is pointless (actually far worse than that). Any unbeliever reading Ecclesiastes ought to be motivated to seek the Lord, realizing through seeing the truth of the teachings therein (they are "true to the touch", natural revelation being the strain running through it) that even achieving the most a human being could achieve in this life is worse than pointless because death makes a mockery of it all. So "the book represents a believer commenting on life and the world with the goal of demonstrating the futility of the life of unbelief".

From the standpoint of someone who has this life only (because of not believing), this [book] is the best advice that can be given – and in giving it, one would hope that the unbeliever reading it and seeing the truth of it would come to realize the "vanity" of such a life without God.

If you only have this life, you might as well enjoy it is the gist. But if someone told me that [as an unbeliever], I'd certainly be concerned about what happens when this life is over.

Ecclesiastes: "His perspective is complex and difficult to define". Agreed – which is why a generalized lens of interpretation [see quote above] is the only type likely to be both correct and at all helpful. I prefer taking it one passage at a time for the most part; in biblical interpretation generally, I have seen much damage done by deciding ahead of time what a particular book is "about" (NT epistles in particular).

Write about any questions you may have; the Hebrew of Ecclesiastes is difficult in places.

Keeping you and your families in my daily prayers.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Robert,

I trust that you are doing well. It is long since I had a question and here I am back.

The Septuagint and the Apostolic Bible Polyglot makes reference to Jacob and Israel in the above referenced Scripture, Isaiah 42:1. During my search in the Hebrew language I could not find the same reference as is made by these Greek translations. Is the reference to Jacob/Israel or is it a reference to the Lord as the Servant of the Lord?

Your insight and help could clear the fog.

In the Lord,

Response #7:

As is clear from the rest of the passage, this is a messianic prophecy.

There is no "Jacob" or "Israel" present in the Hebrew text; that says merely, "My Servant" – by whom we understand Christ. It's not unusual for the LXX to change things around, that is, to "interpret the text" in translating . . . usually incorrectly.

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Robert,

Having the original OT texts mostly in the Hebrew language, makes sense. For the Lord choose Israel to be the means by whom He would be made known.

But since their first rejection of the Lord (Israel received the Law) and by their second rejection of the Lord (the Law was annulled and they were stripped of the responsibility to spread the Gospel for a season).

Now, by my deduction the Septuagint and the NT texts, which are mostly in the Greek language, becomes the primary communications tool. This will include translations into other languages. The Greek language is thus not subserviant to the Hebrew language. The written Word is to be understood by it's full meaning in the Greek text, without a Hebrew thought. The inspiration of the Word is definitive as is.

The reason for my deduction is to acknowledge that the Lord chose to have the Gospel taken to the Gentile world in Greek via Paul? I am not sure how much Aramaic is used.

Kind regards and love in Christ,

Response #8:

I couldn't recommend the Septuagint. It's just a translation (and not a particularly good one), but it was like folks here today having the English Bible. In that time and place, almost everyone spoke Greek, but few spoke Hebrew. There were Aramaic speakers in the Levant and parts east, but the day when that was the lingua franca had long passed by the time the New Testament was written. So it makes wonderful sense that the NT would be written in Greek since it meant that the vast majority of people receiving the gospel during the time of the apostles and recently thereafter would have the Word in their native language – or at least in a language they spoke. That was true even in parts of the western empire too, by the way. We see from Romans, for example, that many who were in touch with Paul had Greek names and no doubt thus spoke Greek (whether or not they also spoke Latin). Greek was the "English" of its day.

If one wants to fully understand the Old Testament (as a teacher), however, it really is necessary to learn Hebrew.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9: 

Dear Robert,

I agree with your deduction that knowing Hebrew would shed more light on the Greek translation of the Old Testament.

But, I am not sure that Hebrew would make any ‘over and above’ contribution to the New Testament Greek. The reason for my belief about the New Testament Greek is that it is the original writings and not translated into a language, different from the Septuagint that was a translation.

How would one account for All Scripture Is Inspired, if we do not trust the original manuscripts.

The Lord bless you,

Response #9: 

I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from my message. Hebrew is necessary for interpreting the OT; Greek is necessary for the NT. Knowing Hebrew does help cast some light on NT vocabulary and usage; knowing Greek somewhat less so in terms of the OT since the LXX is not that valuable for OT studies (despite what many think).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hello Bob,

In an email response you said that scripture quotes Job's friends as doctrine in multiple places in addition to this one...

"For example, Paul quotes Eliphaz (Job 5:13 quoted at 1Cor.3:19), even though Eliphaz is mis-applying the truth about "catching the wise in their own craftiness" to Job."

Can you point out one or two more for me?

Because I was hesitant before to take his friends statements as doctrine misapplied. But your example above and statement that there are other places of a cross-reference makes me think otherwise now.

In the Vine, Jesus Christ,

Response #10:

I think you misread this. Here's the whole paragraph:

I think most of what is said in the book of Job is theologically true – it's just that much of this truth is misapplied because Job's friends are misjudging his situation (and even Job is misjudging his own situation because he does not understand God's motivation and fails to give Him the proper benefit of the doubt). For example, Paul quotes Eliphaz (Job 5:13 quoted at 1Cor.3:19), even though Eliphaz is mis-applying the truth about "catching the wise in their own craftiness" to Job.

Part of the Lord's response to Job is quoted at Romans 11:35. People have also found multiple allusions to the book of Job throughout the NT (e.g., 1Tim.6:7 and Job 1:21). Most such I doubt. Here's one regarding Eliphaz (Job 5:11 with Jas.4:10), and it happens to be true (and Ps.113:7 is also close). People often say true things in a bad cause. But there are only two outright quotes from the book of Job in the NT.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #11:

That's really cool that there are two direct quotes in the NT, it makes Job a better read that's for sure. I was under the impression that since Job's friends were so bad at application that we should not take their words as Bible truth. Now I think is time to re-read the book.

Response #11:

It's a wonderful book. The thing to keep in mind is that all the speakers are correct on general principles but off on application of them to Job's situation.

Question #12:

Dear Bob,

In an earlier email, I told you about a person who proudly proclaimed he was an atheist -- and a progressive (synonym for Bolshevik, I think.) I planned to use your suggestion of just questions but when I saw him, I felt I should keep my mouth shut. It wasn't the hard shutdown I've experienced from the Holy Spirit on other occasions, but more gentle.

It could have been the Holy Spirit or it could have been my growing success in keeping my mouth shut. It was uncharacteristic of me though. I lived and worked for several years on the East Coast where the well turned insult is much prized and the urge is still there even though I've been in Texas for 35+ years where the insult is rude but the well turned tall tale is much prized.

I felt bad about the missed opportunity with the atheist until I remembered two earlier incidents. The first, coming from the grocery, I was approached by a young man who claimed he had run out of gas and couldn't get him and his wife home. I told him it was one of the oldest scams in the book but felt compelled to help. I gave him money.

On another occasion, I was met at the grocery by a couple asking for money. All of my senses said "no." So I didn't.

My conclusion is to be quiet and trust that the Holy Spirit will move me appropriately when the time is right.

Your last response also touched a nerve, I rarely eat commercial food (or phude as I like to call it) preferring instead to prepare my own from scratch so I know what's in it. There is no spiritual
nexus except I believe clean, unadulterated food will delay the debilities of old age and provide all needed nutrition. So far, it seems to be working. Consider this a personal opinion only but it's
one of the reasons I've been interested in Biblical food choices - particularly Daniel's.

A couple of questions if I can impose on you further. Psalm 136 is radically different than all but a couple of later ones, at least in English translations. I detect a musical technique that I hadn't
recognized before. I also get the impression that Psalms are not in chronological order and written by several people other than David and Asaph. Is that correct? Over what time period were they written?

Thanks. And thanks for your ministry.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #12:

Good for you – it's always better to listen to the Spirit's "still, small voice", and it does take a measure of spiritual maturity to begin hearing it clearly.

On Psalm 136, it does have a unique repeating musical refrain, but I don't see anything particularly different in the Hebrew diction. As to Psalms generally (link), here's a link which talks about their organization and authorship as far as can be discerned:  "who wrote the Psalms?"

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Good morning Dr. Luginbill:

Thank you, again, for your faithful prayers for us. We have seen some small victories - plus some signs of encouragement from the Lord. We are so grateful - and we are prayerful and confident in expectation of His answers. I have always said that "boot camp" is such a gift as it pertains to our spiritual development - and it is SO helpful to be able to draw upon that training when under attack. He is such a good God - though many do not view it in this way when going through personal attack.

On another note, I wanted to inquire if you have a relationship with Lockman Foundation (Pike Lambeth)? Are you a scholar who as contributed or proofed/vetted any of their translations? Are you aware that they intend to launch a newly revised NASB?

My last question is whether or not you would recommend the Bible to others for study? Your opinion is highly valued by us - and we are gathering intel in our preliminary phase.

Thank you so much, Dr. Luginbill, for any insight that you can provide. We know that Lockman Foundation link is posted on Ichthys.com as a recommended resource, but we do not want to make an assumption since sometimes "newly revised" water-down versus shore-up.

In the name of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Response #13:

I'm happy to hear of some "small victories". I'm praying for you and your family and your business.

As to NASB, this is the version my seminary (Talbot) considered it's "official Bible". One of the more famous professors there (who eventually left and went to John MacArthur's "Masters Seminary" – he's now deceased) figured large in the NT production.

To be honest, I have a lot of problems with the current NASB. It's about the least readable of all the major English versions, and what it lacks in readability is not compensated for by being any more "true to the Hebrew / Greek".

Translation is more of an art than a science. There are good ones and there are bad ones, and when it comes to something as complex and long as the Bible, none are perfect and even "bad" ones sometimes shine. There are always numerous translators for any given version, and some did their job better than others. NASB had a "philosophy", but it wasn't always follow through on with the result that often clarity was sacrificed for the sake of it's "literal" philosophy, producing many verses hard to understand and prone to error for that reason.

Sometimes it's the other way around entirely as well. I just came across a passage which illustrates this. In Colossians 3:5, the text says, literally, "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (NIV) but NASB has "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead". NIV is generally considered "more dynamic" in its translation (sneered at for that reason by NASB folks), but here we have a true "role reversal" where NASB has taken more liberties by far than NIV, and with nor apparent need to do so.

In my opinion there is a lot of room for improvement for NASB, but in my experience of such things, major changes usually make things worse, not better. NIV was completely (and secretly) redone a few years back, and almost all of the changes were for the worse (so while I love the 1985 NIV, the new unnamed version of it is not my first choice).

It's easier to mess things up than it is to improve them.  I and my former colleague at U of L were tasked by Oxford University Press to help them with their revision of the Oxford Latin Course which we used for first and second year students. We went to great lengths to highlight for them the strengths and point out the weaknesses – and they went exactly the opposite way of what we suggested to them, making the thing worse, not better (we no longer use Oxford here).

As with all such things, the "proof is in the pudding", and when it comes to the Bible, it would take a very long time to give a fair and reasonable report. I would have to read the new one several times over several years to get a solid sense of "better or worse" myself.

In terms of recommendations, Bibles are important, and my sense is that Lockman and NASB are a good deal less "mercenary" than many versions along with their sponsoring foundations or presses. Clearly, it's difficult to produce quality Bibles in any version and just hand them out for free, so commercial interests inevitably affect the process. To some degree, anything that makes the Word of God more accessible can't be all bad (e.g., Mk.9:38-41). So while I have my issues with these folks and their process and version, it could be a lot worse!

Happy to discuss this with your further.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Bob,

Again, thank you for your weekly email postings. Many of my questions are answered in those posts. I also want to thank you for the recommendation of the large print NIV. (I'm now going through from beginning to end.) I've discovered that many passages I've read over and over in the King James rather numbed me to the meaning. I lapsed into "Shakespearean" mode too many times. I liked the sound and scansion. Particularly the book of Job.

In the early '70s, I was working on an opera based on the book of Job, so I've been through the book countless times. Back then, I learned that far better known names than me had not been able to get a performance of their works, I gave up -- and it was a good thing. My understanding of Job was minimal. Years later, I read the book of Job in the NIV and came to a brand new understanding. Of course, that's true of many books of the Bible. Psalms, particularly, seems to convey a new understanding, though the text is not all that much different than the KJV. I suspect my understanding of Elizabethan English wasn't as good as I thought.

I'm still trying to understand the sacrifices. That Josiah donated 30,000 lambs to be killed, butchered and cooked on the same day suggests nearly 30,000 Levites and 10,000 or more rather large altars. Short of divine intervention, which wasn't mentioned in 2 Chronicles, I don't see how it was done.

My current dilemma is this: the longer I live in the boonies, the less I want to be around other people. Psalm 22:3 keeps running through my mind, And I do see increasing evil out there. It means I'm doing little to bring others to the Lord.

There is one individual I see at the grocery, a self-professed "progressive" and atheist that I'm tempted to approach even though my past attempts at proselytizing were ineffective. I would be
inclined to approach with questions as you suggested many emails ago but I've decided to wait until the Holy Spirit directs me. Whether right or wrong, I don't know.

Finally, for your correspondents who worry that the Lord is not answering their prayers, I would tell them it took five years for my prayer to be answered; my little patch of prairie which I rejected months before. Since it was the last property listed before I gave up, I decided to give it a serious look instead of rejecting it based on my original reaction, Turns out, it's everything for which I asked and much more.

The longer I'm here, the more amazed I am at the beauty and elegance of this earth -- fallen though it may be. The Lord has provided everything we need if we work for it, I believe that prayers are not answered immediately as a test of faith but answered when faith is proven. The Lord said, "Ask and you will receive." He's absolutely true to His word.

Thank you for your ministry and being who you are.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #14:

Thank you for this wonderful and encouraging email, my friend! I can also affirm that persistence in prayer is never wasted effort. I too can think of many times when I didn't get answered immediately – oft times it was many, many years later. But the Lord is absolutely faithful. Abraham had to wait a spell for Isaac, I recall.

On Job, yes indeed, I think it's true that we are all learning more and more about the entire Bible, about the entire Word of truth, the more we diligently keep reading it and pursuing good Bible teaching about it. And the more diligent we are, the more it yields its precious fruits.

On your Josiah question, I also think it's true that every Christian I've ever known has at least SOME passage or other that they have trouble with. The funny thing is that it's almost never the same. What brother X has no problem accepting in faith, brother Y finds himself troubled by – and vice versa. I can only say about this particular issue that while I can certainly imagine the logistical problems, by that same measure of skepticism I would declare the pyramids impossible to build with the technology of that day. But there they are. They found a way to build them – unbelievers did, in a horrible religious cause. So I'm confident that with God's help something much less daunting was done, one way or another (even if I can't imagine exactly how).

Thanks for all your good words, my friend. I keep you in my prayers daily.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:


What is your translation of Hosea 7:4-6? Comparing the KJV to NIV didn't seem to show a difference in substance. Did I just go off in the weeds?

I don't know that I offered any advice, but you're welcome. It works for me and others. Raw apple cider vinegar has the "mother" -- the colony of bacteria that's good for the stomach as well as itches. Regular Heinz vinegar has been filtered and pasteurized so all the bacteria and enzymes have been destroyed. (The brown fuzzy mother you'll see in raw ACV is also good for you and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries.) I believe it makes a major difference but you would have to try both to be satisfied. It may be that the acid in vinegar is what does the job with itches but I think the bacteria are the real heroes.

If you want to use raw, look for Bragg's with a yellow and red label. Most big box grocers carry it. If you have a Krogers nearby, I would expect them to carry it. It also makes an excellent deodorant when used straight. (I keep it in a 2 oz. spray bottle on the bathroom counter.) It even stands up to working in the Texas sun. I've used it for years and no one has wrinkled a nose at me -- and I've asked. Only $3-4.00 a quart vs. whatever they charge now-a-days for an ounce or two of commercial deodorant. After it dries, it no longer smells like vinegar or anything else. In this case, raw is very important. (Bacteria cause the stink and good bacteria takes it away:) Another miracle of the Lord's creation.

I'm not a tree-hugger so don't misunderstand, but I don't see the point of shelling out more money for something I don't know what it's made of, has an obnoxious, lingering odor and doesn't work as well.

I've never had store-bought carnitas. My son-in-law makes killer carnitas in a traditional outdoor braising pan over an open fire. (He's a died-in-the-wool carnivore, too.) If I can pry the recipe out of him (family secret) I'll send it along.

As an aside, I had Taco Bell's "mexican food" in Ohio. It was horrible. I came to Texas hating Mexican food and friends, many of whom were Hispanic, finally coaxed me out to eat Mexican -- tex-mex actually. I've been hooked ever since. Taco Bell in Ohio wasn't Mexican and it wasn't even food. Probably the same in Kentucky. Interior Mexican food is magnificent but not often found and not at all like what most Americans know as "mexican." I don't know where you were in California -- Camp Pendleton maybe? If so, you had access to more good, traditional Mexican food than most of the US. In Ohio, Kentucky or Pennsylvania I would be more interested in Amish food -- not Mexican or French or ... whatever.

Hint: If you're going to make chili -- make real Texas Red -- not that obnoxious stuff with vinegar they make in Virginia and the Carolinas. That would likely get you shot down here. And for cryin' out loud __ don't __ use beans. No self-respecting Texan would be caught dead putting beans in chili. Make red beans and rice, instead.

Having rhapsodized on all that, there are some excellent local food traditions in Eastern Kentucky. I would be looking for them if I ate out. Probably some excellent smoked pork done the traditional way. It used to be available here until the FDA shut them down.

I'm getting carried away. I apologize. I am most interested in your translation of Hosea 7:4-6. One of the problems for English only readers is trusting the translation. Also one of the reasons, I suspect, for the KJV only crowd (of which I was a part.) Was I off base in my take on the oven verses viz. a viz. the timing of the coming Tribulation and Millennium? Can we be sure we would know if another translation was a good translation? I have to admit, the coherence in the English, either version, was compelling.

Stay well and safe, Bob. I hope the nonsense is staying far enough away from you. You are in my prayers.

Yours in our Lord,

Response #15:

Don't know if this affects your understanding of baking procedures, but here are two different takes on verse six depending on how the text is read:

For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.
Hosea 7:6 KJV

For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue; all night their anger smolders; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
Hosea 7:6 ESV

The words for "baker" and "anger" start with the same two Hebrew consonants and since the word has a pronominal suffix here ("their") it depends on the vocalization as to which is which, and the vowel points are traditional but late and certainly not inspired.

Thanks for the vinegar info – I'll look for it on the next run.

The KJV is actually an excellent translation, but it has two major problems: 1) it's English is not English anymore, so even if we're familiar with it we "receive it" differently than we would a modern translation, and 2) it was based on inferior manuscripts, so in terms of the New Testament, there are times when it is wrong because the exemplar Greek edition was off (sometimes seriously in the inclusion of interpolations which are not part of the Bible, the longer ending of Mark, for example). And like all translations, sometimes the translator just got it wrong. That happens more in the Bible than in translations of other Greek works like, e.g., Thucydides, because the New Testament is written as if the persons who receive it understand the theology behind it along. Sadly, that is not the case today, even for the vast majority of Christians.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Dear Bob,

In Ecclesiastes, in KJV I read (1:2) "vanity" whereas in the NIV I read "meaningless." Also (in 8:15) in the KJV I read "merry" where in the NIV I read "glad." In English, the two overlap but the connotation is different. Which translation is closest to the original? In the former, I've understood "foolishness" and in the later, I've understood "rejoice." Am I correct or reasonably close?

Also, in "Eschatology Issues XXIX" in this week's email post, you mentioned to one of your correspondents in #2 that the current hysteria was good practice for the Tribulation. That was something I hadn't thought of but it rang a large bell. If this type of insane hysteria continues, the Tribulation will be more horrible than anything we can imagine. I suspect it's preparing us for the Anti-Christ and his restrictions.

Fortunately, the Lord has taken care of me and I have enough supplies to last through the probable duration of the "crisis." I wasn't hoarding as much as stocking up to avoid going into town. I won't go hungry, but interestingly, some of the things I'll miss would be onions and garlic. (I won't complain!)

I hope and pray all is well with you and yours and your new teaching environment is working out reasonably well. I know how important the visual feedback can be. It's crippling to be cut off from that. I'm not sure I could do it. Your teaching over the internet, though, I would consider very successful. Thank you. I've come to rely on your weekly posts and your accessibility via email. You are in my prayers.

Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #16:

Good to hear you are OK!

As to translations, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I like the NIV (the 1985 one, that is, not so much the "secret" new one); I also like the NKJV; sometimes I prefer the KJV. My general method is to look at the Greek/Hebrew when I'm quoting, and find the one that best expresses what's there. If they all miss the mark, I translate myself. But there is no perfect translation.

Stay healthy, my friend!

In Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob and family,

And so another year begins with no end to the fires in sight just yet – you’ve probably seen the news reports – over 2,000 homes lost, hundreds damaged in varying degrees and that’s not to mention the thousands of sheep and cattle burnt. And then there’s the uncounted wild animals, koalas etc and valuable farmland that will eventually impact on prices in the shops. Every year we have fires over the summer period and they are expected but we’ve never seen it like this and these fires have been burning since June/July last.

A friend of mine who lives in Bateman’s Bay on the South coast of NSW told me on New Year’s Eve at midday, the sky first turned orange, then deep red, then black – all within ½ an hour and was terrifying. And this was smoke that enveloped his house – he said he couldn’t see his fingers at arm’s length in the yard.

Fortunately, where we live on the Northern side of Sydney, Nelson Bay is a country coastal, seaside town and we’ve been impacted by large fires in our area in the large areas of bush around us but so far we’ve been spared. Over the last 3 days there has been significant rain over most of the East coast, which has helped the fire-fighters immensely but it’s back to the heat again from tomorrow with no rain in sight after that. Even though it’s helped dampen the fires this drought is far from over. So that’s the picture here.

On another note entirely I was wondering when the New Testament was written – I’ve seen different accounts searching for it but I don’t trust much that I see on the ‘net and I know at some point you would have researched it, hence my asking you.

Hoping you and yours are all fine and well.

Making this do for now and as always dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #17:

Thanks for the update. I'll be keeping you and your family in my prayers about this. We have local fire issues of this sort here (in California and the west), but it seems your entire continent is being affected.

On your question, in my estimation of things, the NT was completed by 68 A.D. when John was given to pen the book of Revelation, that is, just 35 years after the resurrection. Reconstructing the timeline for the other books is a difficult and somewhat speculative task, but I do have a general rubric at the link: "Chronology of the Books of the Bible II".

Things here are going pretty well. Winter has returned and my bones are reminding me I'm not as young as I used to be – but we wily old folks always find "work-arounds".

Your friend in Jesus Christ our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

On the KJV, you have got my attention now. I have to say that I became a little paranoid at the beginning and thought that the King James was the only bible to trust. The King James onlyists had fairly convinced me that only the King James was an accurate translation. I even bought a 1611 facsimile edition as I had been led to believe that later editions had been corrupted. I was even led to believe that the NIV was so corrupted that it changes doctrine! Now that you have said the KJV has these errors I am confused.

Do you have anything on your site about which manuscripts or translations came from where or where to look for the best information. I thought the KJV came from the Textus Receptus and it was this translation that the Protestant doctrines of Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide was borne out of..

It all becomes very confusing!

Do you not share these misgivings people have about NIV or newer editions affecting doctrine and therefore faith?


I will be interested in your thoughts on this as I trust your counsel and now only feel frustrated that I cannot read in the original language myself!

In Jesus,

Response #18:

On the KJV, I will give you the links below. Suffice it to say here that there are not really what I would call many substantive differences between any of the major English versions when it comes to issues of doctrine to be derived from their translations – of course that should come from the Hebrew and Greek in any case, and I exclude from this generalization cult "Bibles" like the JW's "New World" Version. Where the KJV differs from others, besides the anachronistic language, is, as mentioned, that it contain errors on account of being based on one of the first Greek ms. to come to light. The so called "Textus receptus" which they used is essentially Erasmus ' Greek edition. "Onlyists" who get in a huff about this usually want to consider, e.g., the longer ending of the gospel of Mark – a late addition which makes water-baptism necessary for salvation among other things! – as a part of scripture; it is not. There are a number of such interpolations in the KJV, but even recent version sometimes print these because of political pressure (see "interpolations" at the link).

Otherwise, I do love the KJV. I used to listen to Scoursby's tapes whenever I took the old Volvo out and about (it's long gone now along with any means to play cassette tapes). One of its strengths is also one of its weaknesses, namely, its "creative ambiguity". Rather than interpret where difficult passages are concerned, KJV did a good job of reflecting the ambiguity one finds in the text – so as to translate it without understanding it. So there are a lot of genitive ("of") phrases that are not easily understandable, leaving the individual reader to misinterpret for themselves rather than the version doing that for them. The 1985 NIV "connects the dots" and is good when it's right and bad when it's wrong. There is now a "new NIV" but the change was made secretively. Next to the KJV and the NKJV (which is also very good), I like the 1985 NIV. I would like to hear about any place where it's claimed that "doctrinal changes" have been introduced by the translation. That is very hard to do in any case – even if one was trying – without deliberately mistranslating in a bald-faced way (as the JW's NWT version definitely does).

And I always recommend that readers consult multiple versions whenever they bump into something that "just doesn't sound right"; that often results in seeing that there are different ways to take various passages. Let me assure you that the KJV translators, while very good, did not always "get it right" – and not just because they were dealing with a flawed version of the New Testament's text.

You can find info on all manner of versions under the Subject Index's heading "Bible", but here are some specific links on your question:

Are new Bible translations part of a conspiracy?

KJV not inspired

Who Wrote the King James Version?

Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading II

Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading


The NIV and issues of translation

The NIV "switcheroo"

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Thanks Bob for this.

My question to God right now would be, why is it so complicated to get to His Word? My biggest frustration since becoming a Christian is that it appears that only educated people will eventually "get it". What about people who through no fault of their own aren't particularly intelligent, isn't it a minefield for them? It has felt a bit of a minefield for me. I'm no genius or Rhodes scholar but I'm not a dummy either. What happens if you are a dummy? What then?

I not angry with God about this but perplexed that He who wants all to be saved, it sometimes feels as though we have to be post graduates to get there and that doesn't feel fair to me.
There are so many versions and interpretations and false doctrines and cults and false teachers that how are dummies meant to get through it all? What happens if they have the love and the faith but aren't very bright?

I do trust God and do believe He really loves us and wants us all to be saved (indeed His son died for all). Is the fact that it is a minefield Satan's doing? Is it a form of spiritual warfare?

I understand we are rewarded if we diligently seek Him. Do you think Godly wisdom is imparted to those who are not naturally intelligent through the Holy Spirit? I don't mean handicapped people (my uncle is mentally handicapped and he both loves and believes in Jesus).

Don't worry, I'm not angry with God about this and it won't cause me to lose faith but it is a little bit of a stumbling block for me.

I understand that we will be tested and that we have to study to show ourselves approved but what happens if you find reading difficult and you have no fellowship or good teaching around you?

I know God is fair and isn't the author of confusion. I know that He won't hide from us if we want Him and is eager to be there for us if we want Him to be. So why is it so perilous now? Is it because we are in the Laodicean times or is it a counter attack by Satan on Jesus' finished work?

I don't want to annoy you with lots of questions but this one has been niggling me for some time. I don't get thrown by the idea of an Inuit or Eskimo not hearing about Jesus but I do get thrown by how a person of average or below average smarts can navigate what at times has felt like a perilous terrain!

Thank you my friend!

In Jesus,

Response #19: 

God always seems to put the truth "high up on the mountain" so that those who are really interested in it will show their genuine desire for the truth by climbing up after it.

He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."
Matthew 13:11-13 NKJV

As to "it appears that only educated people will eventually "get it"", our Lord also said:

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do."
Luke 10:21 NIV

And Paul similarly say:

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
1st Corinthians 1:25-29 NIV

I have to say, this all accords perfectly with my own experience. For the last forty plus years I have been "on campus" one place or another, and many of my colleagues are and have been very brilliant people, yet I can't think of a single one of them who was saved – let alone saved and "got it". Perhaps the exceptionally talented and smart COULD get it, if they chose to, easier than others. But it's better to be like you and me, regular people who have committed our path to Jesus Christ. For us, the Holy Spirit helps us "get it", as long is we persevere in our quest to "go up after it".

As to "what then?", my answer is that God provides all the truth that any believer is willing to receive. When I was not interested, there was truth in the neighborhood, but in no particular depth. When I finally after some very bumpy years in my youth was shaken awake the by the Lord and proved finally willing to receive, I got more than I could handle, abundantly provided.

It may be that the information from Ichthys seems, at times, "more than can be handled" as well, but I assure it is possible, and from our conversations I am also confident that you are more than able of receiving everything this particular ministry has to offer – which I certainly hope is more than enough to grow up to solid spiritual maturity, navigate and pass the tests that always come for those who are trying to climb that mountain of truth to draw closer to Jesus Christ, and then help others to do likewise through the ministry you are aspiring to do.

If the race sometimes seems long and difficult, please don't despair. It is an effort to the end, but it is well worth it in the end.

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
1st Corinthians 9:25 NASB

God provides perfectly for every one of us to give us all what we need to run well and break the tape. He's done it for me – I believe He's doing it for you (Ichthys and Bible Academy) – and He will do it for every believer, regardless of talent, resources or intelligence. If we are willing, He always provides the way.

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:15-17 NIV

In Him who is the only Way, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

I am deeply grateful and very humbled by your reply. You have written with true Godly wisdom and with love and I thank you with all my heart for that!

Of course! I realise that learning about God and His truth is partly about unlearning what I think I know and what the world thinks is true. I remember what you have said in the past about the dangers of shedding worldly ties to "get spirituality" but that this gradual shedding will happen inevitably and in due course after seeking after the truth once we are truly abiding in Jesus.

It's humbling for me to read what you have written because it shows me how much I have yet still to learn and yet more still to UNLEARN. But of course it is all there already! Matt 19:13-14

Also I think about those who are chosen in the bible. Look at who they were; David was a shepherd boy, Moses left behind his noble adoption to tend sheep, Lazarus was poor, the Ephesians were like beggars but rich in Christ and of course Jesus our Lord and Saviour Himself had the lowliest of births. I then think of how "the common people heard him gladly" and yet the scribes and the Pharisees heard him not!

It reveals how completely off course we are in this world and that most of the world are well on their way on the broad road of destruction. If I am tentatively trying to climb up the mountain towards God and His truth, who are the others running on their broad road towards? That is a chilling thought.

I am starting to truly realise that it is not intellectual this faith of ours but a matter of the heart and of the spirit. True intelligence and wisdom that God possesses is not the vain thing that man regards as wisdom and intelligence. God's wisdom is truly noble in character because it is all about true character and not specious pronouncements that turn the head and ear but not the heart.

I think of all the men who are esteemed in this world. I look at their vain philosophies, even the ones who are vaunted as the greatest. They are hollow and conceited and they are just the blind leading the blind. Groping around in the dark, they actually have perceived the darkness as light or instead beheld the false light of lucifer as illumination and enlightenment.

For what else is at the heart of man's philosophy except "we are gods"?That lie that caused the fall from fellowship with God in the first place. Old lies tied up with new ribbon.
What is enlightenment if it gives the bearer a heart of stone?

When I was younger and faithless, I moved to London to be among artists because I perceived them as to be refined. I thought them to be sensitive and therefore kind, loving, charitable and of noble character. Instead I found them to be the opposite. I found them to be conceited, pompous and selfish. Most evidently, I found them to be without love. I met a man who wept over a deeply philosophical Swedish film about the emotional chasm between a father and son and yet he was failed to be moved by his own flesh and blood father. I have met others who rhapsodised over literature and yet turned me out on to the street on a dark night, pouring with cold rain with no place to go. A friend reminded of how the Nazis appreciated Beethoven and yet could shoot people from a balcony as sport.

We talked about what good are the arts then? What use are they? They are just as the philosophies of men. Adorno said to "write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric". So why write poetry at all or any art for that matter if it fails to move a person's heart? Art seems to only move a heart towards itself not towards humanity. It lies in its conceit of communicating the human condition and making us all the more better for it. It fails in its basic premise. It communicates nothing but itself. In the end it is just black type on white paper and colourful daubs on stretched cotton. Just another vanity. It is all there in Ecclesiastes!

Without God we have nothing, we know nothing and we are nothing. The only way to God is through Jesus.

God is love so that if a person is without God then they are also without love. Again it comes back to the fact of faith is about love. Most people will recognise that the most important truth about life is that love is above all else. It is what money cannot buy because it is without price and yet is also so costly because the withholding of it causes great pain. Salinger wrote that "children and animals have yet to learn to withhold love". More importantly, God never withholds love either. It is impossible for God to withhold love as He is love. Love is His very being. I feel that the only love we have in evidence here on earth IS God's love. It is present in us as we are made in His image, it is on earth due to the ministry of His Spirit and has been exemplified and embodied by His son Jesus Christ, whose ultimate act of perfect love (His atonement) brought the Holy Spirit here to dwell among us through believers. The further we move towards God through faith in Jesus, the more we experience love and are able to love. Without God the only road leads to further darkness and a hardening of the heart against God and therefore against love itself!

So this idea of evolution and enlightenment, all I can see is man devolving into something monstrous and his cherished enlightenment has led to deeper darkness. Indeed what fools we are when we consider ourselves wise and cannot perceive God and yet a child immediately grasps it all in His totality like a flower!

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

In Jesus, the ransom of many,

Response #20:

Yes indeed, praise God for His ineffable love for us – shown so indisputably in the cross of Jesus Christ!

Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness [lit. 'mercy'], justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 NASB

Knowing Him is our boast, and knowing Him, even a little, is better than having the knowledge of the ages which the secular world has stored up. Knowing Him is knowing of His character – His love and mercy, His goodness and righteousness, His power and justice . . . all of which are perfect and infinite. Knowing Him then should lead to trusting Him – and to trusting Him beyond all we see or hear or feel . . . or have learned from the world. When Paul says that "not many" mighty, wise, rich, powerful, famous and beautiful people are called, this no doubt has something to do with the fact that the more a person has good cause to rely on him/herself, the less likely they are to rely on the Lord. The rest of us NEED the Lord, and are in no doubt about that fact. For those who are not geniuses or otherwise excessively endowed, there is no impediment to trusting Him beyond what is visible or audible or tangible. It may be easier for us normal folks to do so. And the Christian life – and the basis for our reward thereafter – is all about trusting Him more and more with ever more solid faith that looks to Him and not to ourselves. The only thing required for that is the willingness to put our faith in Him, just as at salvation, letting it grow, just like a mustard seed, until it is an immovable and massive tree.

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus the One in whom we have placed all our faith in hope and in love.

Bob L.

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