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Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations XI

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Question #1:

Hi, I want to ask what do you think about false verses? Like here



Response #1:

First article is nonsense.

Second article pretty good (gives good thumbnail sketches on certain passages which are erroneously included in some Bible versions, notably the KJV, and which are not actually scripture).

Did you have a specific verse you wanted to ask about?

Hope you are doing well!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Half of them I have not in bible so im asking what is part of original and what not. Its confused.

I'm fine and you?

Response #2:

Then you must be talking about the second article you linked (as I said, the first article is dangerous nonsense).

The passages listed, as far as I remember the article, are ones not actually in the original biblical text (the long ending of the gospel of Mark, for example), but I am VERY surprised to hear that they are not in your Bible. I don't think I've ever seen a Bible that doesn't print these erroneous passages (though often they do have footnotes that may explain "the situation" with varying degrees of candor and accuracy).

Can you give me a specific example?

Glad to know you are doing well. Things here are mostly "same / same" but the Lord is all sufficient to see me through all troubles.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

For example I have not john 7:53

Response #3:

John 7:53 - 8:11 is not in the Bible, but I've never seen a Bible that didn't have this erroneous passage about the woman caught in adultery. What is the name of the translation you are using (English version of the name please if it is in Czech).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #4:


Why you asking?

Response #4:

I asked in order to understand what you had told me better. I see that this Bible you are using does actually print John 8:1-11. That is not part of the Bible. John 7:53 is not part of the Bible either, but it is only a transitional "prop" used by the person who put the false passage into the gospel to smooth things out. So your Bible leaves out John 7:53 (that is good) but prints John 8:1-11 – which is the real problem. As I say, most Bibles do what your Bible does, namely, print all of the popular false interpolations despite the evidence against them, and yet occasionally leaving out a verse or a phrase that makes very little difference from the standpoint of biblical teaching.

So, so far, things are just as I expected. Which brings me back to the question: what passages (of significance) do you find missing in your Bible (since the false passage John 8:1-11 does appear to be there)?

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

I'm confused because one teacher saying that all verses like ending in mark 16, john 8:1-11 etc. are inspired by god and they are part of bible. I dont know why someone believe that its false verses and someone not. I dont like ending in mark 16 because its teaching that baptism is need to salvation and doctrine about snake poison.

Response #5:

False teaching is always confusing. So I commend you on your common sense. Anyone with some spiritual common sense ought, like you, to be able to understand in the Spirit that there are problems with, e.g., the so-called longer ending of Mark which unfortunately is printed in the King James Version.

I have written about these issues extensively and will give you a few links below, but I will also attempt to give you the "nutshell" version here.

The main reason for defending false passages such as the ones you mention as being part of the Word when all of the important evidence proves that they are not has to do with a phenomenon in the English speaking world, namely, misplaced reverence for the King James Bible. The KJV it is fair to say is historically the most popular version of the Bible worldwide, but it is particularly popular in the USA and other English speaking countries especially among groups, churches and denominations which actually pay some attention to scripture. Beginning in the late 19th century and down to the present memorizing the Bible (or large parts of it) has been popular in these fundamentalist and related circles, and it is nigh on impossible to memorize the Bible in multiple versions. Most people who have given a lot of time and effort to this cause over the last 150 years or so have done so with the KJV. And most fundamentalist and related pastors who have learned to "preach" have done so with the KJV.

Telling such folks that the KJV is not perfect has gotten their hackles up, especially in the last fifty years or so. This has spawned a movement among such people, believed and proselytized for to varying degrees, which proclaims the KJV inspired or so nearly so that there is not much difference. The desire to defend the virtues of a version they love (and the KJV's diction is beautiful if now somewhat archaic), has thus led many people to defend its warts as well as its beauties. This is analogous to "my country, right or wrong", except in the case of KJV defenders, many don't believe it can possibly be wrong. This issue has thus become very emotional and very political – and when such forces take over, reason goes out the window.

It is not reasonable, in my view, to defend the passages KJV prints which are not part of the original text, but defenders have gone to very great lengths to do so and have developed and enlisted their own scholars to do so. It is certainly true that the vast majority of "scholars" in academia who have dealt with matters of New Testament textual criticism are either unbelievers or have given a pretty good impersonation of the same; but that does not mean that they have "gotten it wrong" on this issue. Evidence is evidence. It is the Bible itself we believe, not translations of the Bible, no matter how much we may love them. The text available to the translators of the KJV was problematic in many ways; the folks who translated it did a great job with what they had; but if they knew then what we know today about the text, the better evidence that has come to light since the 17th century, they would NOT have included the passages you ask about. The men who translated the KJV were academics, scholars, professors – and they knew the value of evidence judiciously appraised. They would be appalled to learn that these interpolations which today we know for certain are false were being defended in their name. Here are those links:

False interpolations (list with commentary and links)

Bible Versions, Bible Translation, and Bible Reading II

KJV "onlyists"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dr Luginbill,

Would it be alright if I asked you some end questions? You don't have to answer of course. I would appreciate any help:

1) A long time ago I asked if there were any Greek grammars you recommended. Could you please tell me now if there are? I want to have it available when I am ready.

2) Are there any books on the number of manuscripts of Classics works (Homer, etc)?

3) Are there any books on the manuscripts of the Bible (how many, where they were found, etc)?

4) Are there any books on how they tell when the authenticity of a verse is suspect? Even if not for the OT, are there any for classics works (for example) that demonstrate it.

5) Lastly, Are there books that have a list of the passages scholars/'scholars' say in the Bible are suspect in their authenticity.

That is everything. Respectfully,

Response #6:


1) I always recommend H.W. Smyth's Greek Grammar (Harvard U. Press)

2) No. For Homer, even keeping up with the papyri that are always coming to light is a near impossibility. When it comes to individual authors, it is possible to get a listing of the major mss. of that author in many cases. This will be found in the introduction of a first class scholarly edition. So for example in Alberti, G. B., ed. Thucydidis Historiae (3 vol.), volume one has several hundred pages (in Latin) outlining the stemmata for the various mss. (as Alberti sees it, drawing on previous work), and he lists all of the major mss. to Thucydides and major papyri as well; but not everything, since there are scraps which haven't even been placed yet, for example.

3) Yes. The best of these is The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition) by Bruce Metzger.

4) Now we are talking about textual criticism. Every critical edition of the NT will have an apparatus criticus at the bottom of the page which will give some information about which versions have certain readings, e.g. Because of the vast volume of manuscripts, papyri, and other witnesses, there is no way this can be complete, however, and some "ap. crits" are much more full than others. The Nestle-Aland versions are fairly good, but I come across deficiencies here all the time. For example, Sinaiticus, the best of the mss., has many readings in the book of Revelation which are nowhere to be found in most critical texts. I had to consult the ms. itself for every translation I did for the CT series. The best overall NT explanation / commentary on the text of the NT is also by Bruce Metzger and co.: A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (2005); this is the 4th edition; I use the 3rd edition which is far superior; but all this commentary really does is give the rationale for the readings in the Aland/Black edition of the GNT. And often the readings are wrong and the reasoning incorrect; however, the committee often will explain why they have rejected the correct reading, and a person gets a good idea of the process of textual criticism by consulting this work. Any critical commentary which is Greek-text focused will often also weigh in on the text when commenting on any given verse (Meyer's commentary series is noted for this, e.g.).

5) Not that I know of. First of all, there are "scholars" and there are "scholars". Secondly, while this would make for a fascinating book, if it were really well done, it no doubt would not sell (and so wouldn't get published) because "favorite passages" would end up "biting the dust". But that's why there's Ichthys (see the link: "Interpolations"). In any case, mostly these have to be approached case by case (and most of the famous and important ones are listed at the previous link).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Hello--I hope you are well. I was wondering have you heard of this website and what it is doing:

Changes to the Bible through the ages are being studied by New Orleans scholars: Their goal: to create a searchable Internet database for Bible scholars who want to see how the document changed...

I know about most of these "changes" though they strike me as being manuscript variations, not changes made deliberately, except maybe the ending to Mark and the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. But this website says that the verse in Luke where Jesus asks His Father to forgive those who had crucified him isn't found in the earliest manuscripts. Now, my NASB Bible has footnotes listing all of the additions and subtractions found in all of the manuscript copy variations. But it has nothing for this verse in Luke 23:24. So, is it not found in the earliest manuscripts? Is it found in the Sinaiticus? Is it found in some manuscript fragments earlier than the Sinaiticus? (sp?)

Mormons are trying to justify all of the changes that Joseph Smith made to his Book of Mormon after it was published in 1830, when he declared it was the "most correct book on earth"--yet 7 years later he added whole sentences that actually changed meaning. And after it was published in 1830, Smith claimed that God took back the golden plates into heaven after Smith didn't need it any more. So, his additional sentences cannot be based upon that. And of course, there are NO ancient manuscript copies of the Book of Mormon to study. Emoji No surprise there.

Thanks for your help. I hope Alberto didn't cause too much trouble where you are. God bless you.

Response #7:

This is much ado about nothing.

There aren't any "changes to the Bible" as you well know.

The Bible is the Bible.

It is true that since the Bible has come down to us in manuscripts (mostly), there has been work to do in establishing the original text. Thanks to the discovery mostly in the 19th cent. of the wonderful and very old set of uncials, that task is eminently doable – and the modern, critical editions of the Greek New Testament are mostly correct, on the order of 99% plus or more. There are places where the wrong decisions about what was the original text have been made by critical editions, but they are few and far between. To that end, getting it right on that one tenth of one percent requires skill in the area of textual criticism, specifically, a combination of experience and expertise in Greek, in manuscripts, and – often overlooked – in the truth underlying the text (because a person who really does understand what the author was saying has a better chance of parsing out the possibilities).

None of the above has to do with "changes", so Mormons or JWs or whoever if quoting the article you link are only doing so to suggest it means something that it doesn't.

On the work being done by the CSNTM, I think this article is misconstruing their work. Why? Because they are merely collecting and collating manuscripts even though they are doing it with computers. People have been collating manuscripts since the 19th cent., and all the important ones were collated well before the 20th cent. More than that, they have been reproduced in facsimile. More than that, more and more of them are now available online. The CSNTM in fact is a doing a great service by making these things available. Producing a database which makes differences in mss. searchable is of dubious value, however. Why? Because only a few witnesses are really important, and only a few more are marginally important, while the vast majority of mss. are late Byzantine mss. which are to a greater or lesser degree essentially photocopies of the same exemplars. But a database may make is seem as if the wrong answer is correct on account of numbers of "witnesses". But if one person saw the accident, and 4 million heard the same TV report about it which quoted the one person, guess what? The one person's testimony is better and more important than the 4 million put together.

On the passage you asked about, Luke 23:24, no, this is NOT part of the Bible. It was added much later, probably by some reader/scribe who thought that Jesus ought to say something along the lines of what Stephen said as they were stoning him – never thinking how inappropriate and misleading this false attribution might be. But we (scholars who bother) knew all that in the middle of the 19th century, and the only reason that everyone doesn't know it too, is because versions keep that false verse in their text, and the only reason versions keep it in, is because people get upset when a favorite verse is taken out. Ever notice how it always seems to be the non-biblical passages (i.e., such as Mk.16:9ff. and Jn.7:53 - 8:11) that people love to quote? People, that is, who don't know much about the truth.

Here's a link on that: "Father, forgive them".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom alone we have forgiveness through faith.

Bob L.

Question #8:

Hello Bob,

I hope you are well. Just a really quick question. How do you think we should interpret Romans 13?

Many people say that it alludes to submitting to government as that is God's will.
Others say that it is referring to the heavenly power, God's power that we should be submitting to. I think the differences in interpretation come from the NIV compared to the KJV?

I know that before you recommended to read different bibles side by side to aid understanding (at the moment I am only reading KJV). Is there versions that I should stay clear of? It all gets a bit confusing after a while and I want clarity of mind and teaching instead of confusion (which is everywhere at present).

Is KJV 1611 preferable to the regular KJV? I've heard a lot of people recently stating KJV 1611 as definitive. Are the catholic bibles to be avoided?

I know there is a lot of history in how the bibles were put together. Have you written anything about this? If not, could you point me in the direction for further study please?

I'm still working my way through your wonderful MP3 bible series! It helps so much! It really is a Godsend!

Your friend,

In our loving saviour Jesus Christ

Response #8:

Great to hear from you, my friend.

Romans 13 is indeed speaking of the relationship of the Christian to the government, and it is a very striking passage. Peter says the same sorts of thing, of course (1Pet.2:13-14; cf. also Titus 3:1), and this fact should get our attention: Because both of these men were badly treated by those in authority. The tradition tells us that they were both executed. However that may be, we have enough information from the Bible to see that if any two men had reason to find fault with constituted authority it was these two. And yet they tell us to be compliant. The one exception, of course, would be when and if government either required us to do something we are not allowed to do (such as take the mark of the beast) or forbade us from doing something we are required to do (as in the case of Daniel praying despite the edict not to do so). Here are a couple of links to where this is discussed further:

Render to Caesar

Submission to authority

Political Action vs. Biblical Christianity

History, War and Politics

Christianity and Politics

As to Bibles and Bible versions, you can find some of my comments here at the link in "Read your Bible" (toward the end). Generally speaking, unless we are talking about a cult-produced version (such as the Jehovah's Witnesses "New World" Bible), most versions are going to give a reasonable translation. That doesn't mean they will always agree, and there are many reasons for that. Without a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, Bible readers are well served by consulting multiple versions whenever they run into a passage that seems not to fit in with what they know and believe. Of course, solving the "problem passages" and demonstrating how everything in the Bible fits into a perfect, unified whole is the job of every legitimate and orthodox Bible teaching ministry, so you are more than welcome to have a look at Ichthys and ask me if you ever have trouble finding anything.

Hope you are doing well!

I'm keeping you and your spiritual growth in my daily prayers.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

I found a 1901 copy of The Twentieth Century New Testament, published by Fleming H. Revell Company. It is a modern English translation from the original Greek of the Wescott & Hort Text. I love the translation except for the fact that there's a different chronological order of the books. Bob, why would anyone place the NT books in such a chaotic order as this? It is certainly not "chronological". To you, is there any "rhyme or reason" for this? I await your repito.

Response #9:

The Bible as we know it contains all of the books inspired by God. However, in antiquity, "books" were scrolls, and scrolls (of papyrus in particular) are limited in the amount of text they can hold before become unwieldy and unusable. So "having the Bible" in antiquity in Paul's day meant having a great number of scrolls or parchments.

Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books (i.e., mainly papyrus rolls), especially the parchments (i.e., more expensive vellum rolls).
2nd Timothy 4:13 NKJV

The invention of the "book" as we know it today, the rectangular codex form we all take for granted, is sometimes attributed to early Christians (2nd or third century), because of their desire to have ALL their "books" in one big codex BOOK. This process, namely, of compiling the books of the Old and New Testaments into one did not happen overnight. And while all legitimate efforts ended up with the same books being included, not all systems of compiling were the same. It's not, therefore, unusual to find a manuscript where the book of Acts is found later than in our Bible or Hebrews found earlier (for example). The same applies to some degree also with the Old Testament (where the traditional Jewish order differs from what we have, with Chronicles, for example, coming last).

If you look at the list you sent me you will see that there is a method to the madness. First we have the gospels; then we have Acts which covers the history of part of the period after the gospels; then we have Paul's letters, then general letters, then John's writings.

None of the books of the New Testament tell us when exactly they were written. We have to try and figure that out from the information they contain and what we know about the lives of the writers, so in many cases we are just making educated guesses. One thing is for certain, however, namely that no one in antiquity thought to arrange the books "chronologically". That is usually an impossible task (as I have tried to point out at the these links: "Chronological order of the books of the Bible" and "Chronological order of the books of the Bible II").

I have done my best at the links given to provide a rough estimate of when the books were written, but there are disagreements.

So for example in your list the book of James is placed where it is because others (wrongly) think that James wrote early on (when in fact his book is fairly late). Where to put the book of Acts is problematic because it covers the early part of the apostolic period even though written later. I think your Bible wants to keep the gospels together for obvious reasons. So it seems that your list tries to rearrange the letters of Paul into what it thinks is their correct chronological sequence but otherwise trying to stick with the traditional order. Since no matter how much rearranging is done there will always be uncertainties, your dismay is well-taken: why not just keep the traditional order? We can always discuss the "actual date" of a book as we read or study it.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #10:

I saw on your website the order of the books of the Bible as they were written. I would like to see an order of the Bible books by subject matter. I have a chronological Bible, and it breaks up the books of the Bible, even chapters, to get an almost nearly exact chronology. However, even though I understand that is technically correct, I would like to read the Bible, book-by-book, in the nearest chronological order of the books, without breaking up any books. (I have no problem with separating 1st and 2nds of the books, such as 1 Kings and 2 Kings, inserting 1 Chronicles and then 2 Chronicles. I just don't want to be jumping here and there throughout the Bible.) Since there is an overlap with the Psalms and other books, and 1st and 2nd Kings with 1st and 2nd Chronicles, for example, and also several of the Prophetic Books overlap with Kings and Chronicles as well as with each other, I realize it would need to be just general, or by specific intent and subject matter. (Like, where there is an overlap, put the one that was WRITTEN first, before the one that was WRITTEN last. Other than that, my interest is not in when it was written, but in the content of subject it is talking about.) Can you help me with this?

thank you

Response #10:

Good to make your acquaintance.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "subject matter". If you could elaborate on that, I might be able to at least give some guidance.

I'm also surprised to hear you say that you have a "chronological Bible" – would you mind sharing the author / press / publication info?

If you've read the articles at Ichthys, you will know that we are certain of the dates when the books were written only in some few cases and within only general time frames. We do know a bit more about the date of the events related when the books are historical (as with the ones you mention in the OT or Acts in the NT). So there is the date written and the date of the events recorded, but the clash between these two issues and the fact that for most of the books the dates for both are only loosely known makes either approach a dubious proposition in my opinion. We do know that the OT was written before the NT, and we know that the Pentateuch was written first and the events related take place first, while Revelation was written last and the events take place last – irrespective of prophecy. There is prophecy about the end times in the Pentateuch, prophecy which has not yet taken place, and that is true of many books of scripture.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

The chronological Bible I have is LeGard Smith's The Narrated Bible. It was good, but I want to be able to just read the Bible in an approximate chronological order, without splitting up any books.

As to what I mean about chronological by subject rather than by date written:

In the Old Testament, I would place Job after Genesis, but before Exodus. The Psalms were written by several authors. I think I would read Psalms after 2nd Samuel, since David wrote the majority of them. I would read 1 Chronicles after I Kings, then 2nd Kings, then 2nd Chronicles. If any of the prophets prophesied between 1st and 2 Kings and Chronicles, they should be placed there, otherwise they should go after 2nd Chronicles, but before Ezra and Nehemiah. Esther should be in the order that those events actually happened. (Daniel should also come before Ezra, shouldn't it?)

Several of the Gospels were written AFTER the Epistles, but I want to read them BEFORE the Epistles, in the order of their subject matter, which is the foundation of the Church Age, whereas the Epistles were after the beginning of the Church Age. (It would be fine to put the 4 Gospels in the order they were written, followed by Acts, except that Luke needs to be just before Acts.) Then the Epistles would follow Acts, in the order they were written.

For greatest understanding, placement should always be in the order of the events being written ABOUT, not the order they were actually written. But I don't like splitting books up, so need to base placement on the AVERAGE date of events in the book, as compared to the AVERAGE date of the events in other books that overlap the same time period.

Is that all clear? (As mud!)

Thank you

Response #11:

I think you can see from reading your own last email that this is a confusing thing to try to attempt, and I don't know how to make it any easier. I could easily make it more complicated, however: I don't agree with many of the dating assumptions in your letter (see the links for my takes on these: "Chrono I" and "Chrono II"). Your descriptions reflect standard thinking in biblical scholarship, some of which is wrong in my view. If you have questions about specific books, I'd be happy to share with you what I know about what can be known (although most of that is in the two links above).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thanks and also, what are your thoughts on topical bibles to help aide in studying?

In Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior

Response #12:

I always wanted a "Naves" topical Bible, but I never got around to investing in one so I can't vouch for it. This is one of those situations where the potential is great but it all depends on the execution. If the topical Bible (or cross-reference Bible) actually has done a good job in collecting appropriate passages, well and good. But if they consistently miss things or don't cover the topics one is really interested in, then it might just be an exercise in frustration. In any case, someone teaching the truth probably can't afford to think of them as anything more than a help; i.e., they aren't going to be the ultimate solution, if only because the people who put them together are not going to know everything about the Bible, especially in doctrinal terms.

As one of my seminary profs once told us, we who teach all strive to be out own "concordances" to the scriptures – and it is certainly true that we find new connections and are reminded of old ones every time we read the Bible (whether in English, Greek or Hebrew) – something all of us should be doing daily, especially those who aspire to teach the Word.

So if I had one, I would probably use it – unless as with many tools I've purchased in the past it turned out to be a waste of time (I have of lot of such books taking up space on the shelves).

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Translation confusion: Justified (made vs declared)

Since there's a difference btwn James and Paul's use of justified (declared righteous and made righteous) does the Greek replace those terms with 'declared' and 'made', one for james, the other for paul? The english translation just generalizes it with justified?

Like here:

'Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.'
Rom. 3:20 NIV

Some translations say 'made' (NLV; NLT), others 'justified' (NASB; ESV; KVJ; ISV), so its talkn about salvation not productive faith? If this was James and it used that term, it would have translated 'declared' and 'justified'?

Response #13:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
James 2:21 KJV

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:20 KJV

The precise same Greek verb (dikaioo = "to make dikaios / righteous/just") is used in both passages; tense is different as Paul is describing a past and James a future event.

Almost all modern English translations have employed different translators for different sections / books of the Bible. There is usually an editorial process to attempt to homogenize usage, but that is a difficult thing to do. This difference is famously seen in the KJV where some have "Holy Spirit" and some "Holy Ghost" for the same Greek phrase.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello--I was wondering what you think Joseph Smith's "translations" of Genesis 1:1. He founded the Mormon Church. I think it is a bunch of fertilizer:

" I shall comment on the very first Hebrew word in the Bible; I will make a comment on the very first sentence of the history of creation in the Bible—Berosheit. I want to analyze the word. Baith—in, by, through, and everything else. Roch—the head, Sheit—grammatical termination. When the inspired man wrote it, he did not put the baith there. An old Jew without any authority added the word; he thought it too bad to begin to talk about the head! It read first, "The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods." That is the true meaning of the words. Baurau signifies to bring forth. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the learned man of God. Learned men can teach you no more than what I have told you. Thus the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council."

I looked this up once in our interlinearies and found nothing to back up what he wrote. Also, I think the word is more like "berosheet". Though it can have many spellings. "Berosheit" sounds more German to me--"beros + heit." But as an expert in Hebrew I would appreciate your opinion on Joseph Smith's "expertise" in Hebrew.

Thanks and have a blessed and merry Christmas and New Year!

Response #14:

A standard transliteration is bere'shiyth (I prefer bereshith) – but there is no "o" sound anywhere in sight.

Also, there is no textual evidence whatsoever for not having the initial preposition be- here in the Hebrew. Removing words from texts willy-nilly can always produce results we prefer for whatever reason; adding them to as well. As in a contract if "the party of the first part may" becomes "the party of the first part may not" through prejudicial and unscrupulous editing.

The rest is pure silliness unworthy of serious comment.

If you have your own cult, you can apparently tell your followers whatever you want and they'll believe it or at least accept it without quibbling. That's the only way I know to explain Jim Jones or David Koresh . . . or Joseph Smith.

Merry Christmas to your and your as well!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello--I have a quick question about the Greek in Ephesians 2:8. Some translations say "by grace you are saved" and others have ""by grace you are being saved..." I was wondering which is the better translation. Thanks.

Response #15:

I checked a number of versions and didn't find a single one offering up that translation. Not surprising as it would be completely incorrect. What we have here is a perfect passive so that leaving out the "have" is a mistake. Perhaps the rookie who translated this was confused by the present tense of the verb "to be" which is in periphrasis with the perfect active participle – a normal way to express the perfect passive even in classical times. But the two cannot be divorced and treated independently in Greek any more than they can be in English. For example, "I'll see you" is future: it would be wrong and a total misconstruing of English to take this as meaning "I am seeing you now", as if the "will/shall/'ll" future marker wasn't even there. Such a translation in Ephesians 2:8 has to pretend that the participle σεσῳσμενοι is present tense instead of perfect, and any first year Greek student can easily see that is wrong. N.b., I couldn't find any indication that there is any sort of textual variant here in any witness, so this is just a mistake on would-be translator's part.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi--A Mormon who does not like what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 wrote this to me, on CARM:

"Also, as just a side note.. Ephesians is a text in dispute.. It's likely to be [B]Pseudepigrapha[/B], not even written to the Ephesians as the earliest manuscripts do not mention Ephesus at all.. The syntax of the manuscript is does not match Paul's other letters. So from a critical view.. you may be building your theology on a forgery."

This sounds patently absurd to me, since what Paul wrote about grace through faith in Ephesians is a common theme throughout many of his epistles, especially Romans and Galatians. Have you ever heard of what this guy wrote?

I think you mean the "have been saved" is the correct translation and not "are being saved" but I want to make sure that is what you meant. Thanks.

Response #16:

Yes, "have been saved" is the only way it can be translated because the participle is perfect tense.

There is no doubt about the provenance or authenticity of Ephesians and also no doubt about the text of this verse.

Because we are still "in the fight" as long as we are here on earth, there are places in scripture where we are described as in the process of "being saved/delivered" from the devil's world in which at present we still find ourselves (e.g., 1Cor.1:18; 15:2, etc.) – but this is not one of them. This passages proclaims the fact of our salvation as an accomplished fact (which it most definitely is).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Is Isaiah to Malachi mainly prophecy (I'm going by the biblegateway bible book list)? They are so short and only some of them have stories. I don't understand what it's talking about and it takes me a while to find any stories, so I thought about just studying Genesis.

Response #17:

Isaiah is quite long, but the last twelve books of the Old Testament (in the English order, not the Hebrew order) are usually termed the "Minor Prophets" – not because they are unimportant (far from it) but because they are shorter than, e.g., Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel (minor in Latin meaning "smaller"). Most Hebrew prophecy is difficult for most English readers to understand completely, but there are good reasons for that (see the link: "interpretation of prophecy").

Studying Genesis is a good idea. I have some materials that will be helpful (more on the way eventually, but it might be a minute before they are posted). Present links:

The Creation of Man (in BB 3A)

Genesis Questions III

Genesis Questions.

More Questions about Genesis.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

"And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel."
(Genesis 36:31)

When the children of Israel were on the base of Mount Sinai and Moses was reading this part of Genesis, would they have went "Huh? We don't know of any kings or monarchy"?  This must have been a later scribal gloss and not included in the original copy of Genesis. Did Moses prophesy that kings would rule over Israel hundreds of years before he even knew of Saul?

Response #18:

I read this in scripture:

"When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me, you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother."
Deuteronomy 17:14-15 NKJV

"Moses commanded a law for us,
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
And He was King in Jeshurun,
When the leaders of the people were gathered,
All the tribes of Israel together."
Deuteronomy 33:4-5 NKJV

"He has not observed iniquity in Jacob,
Nor has He seen wickedness in Israel.
The LORD his God is with him,
And the shout of a King is among them."
Numbers 23:21 NKJV

And also this in the chapter prior to the one you ask about:

Also God said to him: "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body."
Genesis 33:11 NKJV

So the prophecy that Israel would have kings in the land was well known when this chapter was written. Furthermore, we can say Moses and Joshua were essentially "kings" – that is how I understand Deuteronomy 33:4-5 above, even though "He" is capitalized in the NKJV: certainly God was Israel's King (cf. 1st Samuel 8:6), and Christ was always the visible face of her eternal King, even as He will rule her in the Millennium. But this passage you ask about seems to me to be giving Moses his due in a poetic way.

I understand why people want to say that this is a gloss, but given the above, I don't think that this is necessary to posit at all.

Finally, Moses wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit and there is much in Genesis and the Law as a whole which anticipatory because it is prophetic: God has always known what was going to happen. That is the sense in which I see this passage.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

I heard Dr. James White state a couple of opinions that I found interesting and I’d like to get your take. For the record, both of these things were suggested as possibilities by Dr. White, not stated as facts.

a) He said that he thinks the book of Hebrews was something taught by Paul, but written down by Luke because, in his opinion, while the argumentation is definitely Pauline, the Greek of Hebrews is much closer to Luke/Acts than Paul’s epistles. I know you believe Paul wrote Hebrews, but what do you think of the idea that the Greek is more similar to Luke/Acts?

b) I doubt this idea originated with Dr. White but I heard it from him: that John was able to include more names of people and stories that the other gospels didn’t (e.g. Nicodemus, Lazarus, Malchus, etc.) because at the time he was writing those people had already died, whereas if the earlier gospels had included those people’s names/stories it would have put them in danger of persecution by having a publicized document associating them with Jesus.

Response #19:

a) Paul did have an amanuensis (Tertius: Rom.16:22). But the words were Paul's, that is, the Spirit's working through Paul. I don't find anything Lucan about the Greek of Hebrews. Absent convincing parallels, this would be W's impression only. The Greek does have a bit of a different feel to me than some of the other Pauline epistles, but some things shout "Paul!" to me very loudly. For example, in Hebrews 2:9 Paul places the explanatory dia phrase before the hopos purpose clause it modifies. Inserting explanatory "parentheses" of this sort before the completion of the point is typical of Paul (Rom.2:15-16 is another good example where anyone else would have put v.16 earlier in the period). I've never seen any other Greek writer do this sort of thing. One other thing to keep in mind here is that audience influences style. The way Paul writes to Timothy and Titus is somewhat different from his epistles to churches, e.g. The Jerusalem church was not only not his church but there was some touchy history there, so much so that he doesn't add his name to the letter. If the style is at all noteworthy in its differentiation from other letters, I would classify it as slightly more formal – and that makes sense inasmuch as his authority was not likely to have been perceived as great there as at, e.g., Philippi.

b) There are a great many differences between the synoptic gospels and John, and that makes sense too since John wrote last. So John not only knew a great deal but was also in a position to fill in things not found in the other three which, guided by the Spirit, he found to be important not to have left out. There are plenty of names in the first three gospels and I don't find any reticence about naming people. One thing, though: John wrote last but somewhat earlier than is often supposed (see the link).

Question #20:

I noticed in your translation of Luke 10:18 you have “And Jesus said to them, ‘I was watching Satan fall from heaven like a star’” but all of the other translations I could find say that Satan fell “like lightning from heaven.” Why “star” instead of “lightning”?

Response #20:

This translation on my part can be faulted. I will attempt to explain my reasoning. An astrape in Greek is a bolt of lightning. However, on the one hand in English when we say "like lightning" this is an idiom which means "very speedily", and that is not the meaning here; the reference is a visual one calling attention to the appearance of the fall, not its speed ("I saw . . ."). On the other hand, celestial phenomena in the ancient world were understood and processed differently than they are today. Falling stars and meteors are the same for the Greeks, e.g. And while these are differentiated from bolts of lightning they are related phenomena rather than completely differentiated categories which have nothing to do with each other in our way of thinking about these things. Also, angels are called stars and thought of in those terms biblically.

“How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
Isaiah 14:12-13a NKJV

[The dragon's] tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.
Revelation 12:4a NKJV

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Revelation 12:9 NIV

Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth . . .
Revelation 12:13 NKJV

Our Lord's words at Luke 10:18 are clearly taking about the events above, namely, the devil being cast to the earth at the Tribulation's midpoint, and it is that harbinger of his complete defeat that our Lord is referencing in His reaction to the report of the returning apostles. So on the one hand, "like lightning" is misleading (suggesting speed rather than portraying the visual picture), while on the other hand such a translation would not cue the casting down of the devil, the falling / fallen star. So my translation is not literal, but I'm loath to change it.

Question #21:

When Jesus was baptized by John, who was able to hear the voice of the Father and see the Spirit as a dove? Matthew and Mark make it sound like only Jesus saw the Spirit and leave it nebulous as to who heard the voice; John proves that John the Baptist also saw the Spirit, but says nothing about the voice of the Father; and Luke is ambiguous about who saw and heard. Did Jesus and John see the Spirit as a dove, but only Jesus heard the voice of the Father? What about the other people who would have been nearby? Did they notice anything supernatural occurring?

Response #21:

Since we are told that the Spirit descended "in bodily appearance like a dove", it seems to me that there is no ambiguity at all. The only reason to go to such lengths (beyond Matthew and Mark) to describe the appearance as not only dove-like but also "physical" (somatikos) is to tell us it was visible. Nothing in any of the contexts leads us to think that only John saw this. As to the voice, we are told what the voice of the Father said, and based on the following passage it seems to me that we should conclude that all heard the voice, but, typically of those who were not fully receptive to the truth (cf. Mk.6:52), it was possible to shrug off this miraculous event:

Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.”
John 12:28-30 NKJV

Question #22:

What’s your textual critical opinion on Matthew 21:44? Is it an interpolation?

Response #22:

Matthew 21:44 definitely IS a part of the biblical text. It is present in all the best mss. But it is not present in D and certain other late witnesses, which means it plays into a false theory, prevalent among secular scholars, to the effect that the so-called "western text" family is superior. N.b., this is different of course from the pet false theory of many evangelicals which promote the homogenized Byzantine text family(s) . . . because they are more often in accord with the KJV.

Question #23:

What do you make of the alleged similarities between 2 Peter and Jude? Does this kind of similarity necessarily mean that one is dependent on the other?

Response #23:

Not if you believe in the inspiration of scripture. There are many similarities in the gospels too. And similarities between the prophets and in the Psalms which are nearly word for word (e.g., Micah 4:1-3 with Isaiah 2:1-4). But the Spirit has His reasons for doing these things, and not just to "test the faith" of those who notice such things (although I'm sure that this is part of it: such things winnow out "smart" scholars all the time). In regard to Peter vs. Jude, they both ministered in Jerusalem, so even though Peter's epistles are to gentiles outside of Palestine and Jude is writing to Jews in particular, all the recipients were laboring under similar Gnostic attacks of Jewish provenance in the main, so that similar warnings about a common problem is certainly not out of the ordinary.

Question #24:

Hello--Sorry to bother you again. But I had a couple more questions about Josiah and the Law. You said it was speculation that Josiah had the priests edit and change the book of the Law. I agree with that, since there is nothing in the narrative that suggests that. I know Wikipedia isn't the best source, all the time though it does cite its sources. But what do you think about the following in the article:

Book of the Law: Josiah hearing the book of the law(1873): The Hebrew Bible states that the priest Hilkiah found a "Book of the Law" in the temple during the early stages of Josiah's temple renovation. Hilkiah then gave the scroll to his secretary Shaphan, who took it to King Josiah. According to the Bible, King Josiah then changed his form of leadership entirely, entering into a new form of covenant with the Lord. He wiped out all of the pagan cults that had formed within his land. He, along with his people, then entered into this new covenant with the Lord to keep the commandments of the Lord.

For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was agreed among biblical scholars that this "Book of the Law" was an early version of the Book of Deuteronomy, but recent biblical scholarship sees it as a largely legendary narrative about one of the earliest stages of the creation of Deuteronomistic work. That is, historical-critical biblical scholars generally believe that the "Book of the Law"—an early predecessor of the Torah—was invented by Josiah's priests, who were driven by ideological interests to centralize power under Josiah in the Temple in Jerusalem. Many scholars see the whole core narrative, from Joshua to 2 Kings, as comprising a Deuteronomistic History (DtrH) written during Josiah's reign. In fact, some recent European theologians even go so far as to posit that most of the Torah and Deuteronomistic History was composed and finalized several centuries later, during the Persian period. However, most biblical scholars are coming to believe that the Deuteronomistic History was composed using other earlier sources, including a brief chronicle of king's names, age at the beginning of their reign, and their mother's names.

A bit of a warning flag went up when I saw that the "historical-critical" method was used by scholars to determine this stuff. is that a legitimate way to interpret the Bible? But you can see the citations at the bottom of the page.

I don't expect you to give a detailed answer, but I was just wondering what you thought of all of this. Since nothing in the Biblical narrative suggests that anyone changed the book of the Law that the priests found when cleaning up the temple.

As usual, thank you very much and God bless you.

Response #24:

The "Wicked-pedia" article is worse than the other stuff.

What they are referring to is the "JEPD" source criticism fanciful theory (otherwise known as "the documentary hypothesis"). Even though in Classics this sort of nonsense was eventually thrown out as ridiculous, it's still considered "correct" in biblical studies by the so-called scholarly community which rejects the Bible's inspiration. There is no evidence for this stultifying theory. The Josiah narrative is the kind of thing they use as "evidence". A big part of the theory is a distinguishing between texts using "God" verses "the Lord" – as if that were a true key to find different "strata" of composition. A twelve year old who believed the Bible could see the flaws in this sort of tripe easily enough, but if a person wants tenure in a religious studies department it has to be accepted as gospel – when it's actually an affront to the gospel. Here are a couple of Ichthys links which go into greater detail:

The Documentary Hypothesis and Josiah's reforms

More about the Documentary Hypothesis

The Relationship between the Books of Kings and Chronicles

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Wicked Pedia! I love that! The JEPD manuscript sounds kinda like that Q manuscript theory for the origins of the Gospel narratives. I think that is what it is called...

Response #25:

Yes, it's exactly the same idea. The documentary hypothesis spawned NT source and form criticism and these have multiplied like boas in the Everglades – being equally as useful and congenial.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Hi Bob,

Sorry to bother you with one more thing:

I keep an eye on sales within the Bible Study software I use, and a Hebrew grammar by Paul Joüon and T. Muraoka, the Grammar of Biblical Hebrew, just showed up significantly discounted. I've seen this mentioned a lot by other people, but can't recall if you've passed comment on it before.

I'm still working my way through Lambdin, and haven't touched Gesenius yet. Would the grammar above be worth buying, or better to stick with those two?


Response #26:

Our friend "worked his way through" Gesenius, but I've never heard of anyone else ever doing this with a formal grammar; this would be like "working one's way through" Smyth (!). Paul Joüon was a famous Hebrew scholar of the past (I have no idea about Muraoka). This book is about 800 pages in print. I previewed what I was allowed to see of it in Google Books. It is definitely detailed in terms of orthography and phonetics and has some pretty dense comments on verb formation. These things are sometimes valuable for experts after many years of Hebrew. It would have been more useful to be able to see what J/M say about some syntax issues, but that wasn't part of the preview. In any case, when we are talking about Hebrew, whether the issue is verb formation or syntax (two of the most important issues for exegesis), Hebrew is far more flexible than Greek or Latin. The upshot is that the MT is more a case of patterns helping to interpret exceptions which are so numerous as to constitute the real interpretive hurdle.

If I were collecting books today, it's one I probably would buy. But please take into account that in the end I've regretted buying about 90% of the books I've ended up buying. I'll bet you have it in your library. Check it out and look it over and try to use it to help solve the next translation / syntax problem or question you have. It's a pretty pricey book to end up merely taking up shelf space (or disc space).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Hi Bob,

Hebrew language comes in eras. In order for the Torah to be authored by Moses, the Hebrew of the Torah must be more ancient than the paleo-Hebrew excavated from the 11th century BC. Which era does the Hebrew of the Torah resemble more: paleo-Hebrew or the Hebrew of Jeremiah?


Response #27:

I'm not aware of any readable inscriptions. Source? The Masoretic text is all in the modern Aramaic style script; but that does not mean that this was the way (in terms of its appearance, not its content) that Jeremiah, e.g., wrote it.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #28:


I tried to find a transcription of the original. Here it is. It is believed to be the oldest Hebrew ever found.


How consistent is the archaic language with the language of the Torah?

Response #28:

I didn't know about this particular inscription, but having looked at the links I can safely say that there is no basis for any conclusions here one way or another. The inscription is 1) lacunose (many gaps), 2) indistinct in regard to many of the letters (so good luck trying to figure it out without the actual pot in hand, and 3) open to a large amount of interpretation regarding many of the signs. Even if all these things weren't true, 1) it's so short that there's really not enough to chew on in terms of making the comparison you ask about, and 2) since it's on a pot, this is an archaeologist's guess about when it was written – let me tell you that these guesses are good within a tolerance of about two millennia either way (literally, since lots of these pieces end up being modern fakes which have fooled said archaeologists). I did look it over. Looks like it might say something about "God, doing, serving, judging", but it's nothing to sink one's teeth into.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Do you believe the Hebrew of the Torah is more ancient in style and grammar than the prophets?

Response #29:

No, I don't see any evidence for that at all. Hebrew poetry is different from Hebrew prose -- as is the case with poetry and prose in all languages I've ever studied. So Deuteronomy 32-33 may seem "archaic" to some, but to me these chapters are no more so than the Psalms or the poetic portions of, e.g., Isaiah. Poetic diction is different, that's all.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Isn't it suspicious that a book (Genesis) which was written in ~1500 B.C. doesn't differ substantially in style from Kings which was written ~600 BC?

Response #30:

Not at all. Homeric Greek isn't substantially different from the poetry written thirteen centuries later, and Greek prose is substantially the same throughout the Classical and post-Classical period (even Byzantine Greek isn't terribly different).

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