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Biblical Languages, Texts and Translations XII

Word RTF

Question #1:

Professor, I have a quick question for you, in Hebrew and Greek what the difference between the word ball and the word circle?

"khoog" (pronounced chug)

Hebrew word "dure" (pronounced dur).

Response #1:

These are both Hebrew words, and they are synonyms; but the former (חוּג / chugh) is more often two-dimensional (as in the overhead vault of the sky where we only see it arcing or the circle we draw on the ground), whereas the latter (דּוּר / dhur) more often than not refers to physical, three-dimensional objects (such as a ball).

This has significance in both cases, because both are used in describing the earth and the atmosphere and thus demonstrates that the ancient Hebrews understood that the earth was round (see the link).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Thanks! I knew about the Adonai bit, but not the rest.

A poster wanted to know if you would be so kind as to answer his question for him:

"Wonder if any can help, I'm wondering what syllable would be stressed assuming the vowels are "Yahweh/Yahveh." Not in English obviously, but as a native speaker, would it be the second syllable or the first?"

Thank you.

Response #2:

Most Hebrew words are stressed on the ultima. One major exception are segholate nouns (like "mercy" / CHE'-shedh / חֶסֶד); these are accented penultimately. There are exceptions to normal stressing when a noun is in "pause" (that is, emphasized at the end of a sentence or verse). As to the tetragrammaton itself, it is accented to be stressed on the ultima – but of course that is a Masoretic convention (ca. 600-800 A.D.), AND it is predicated on pronouncing it as 'ado-NAI. So the short answer is that we don't know for certain, but probably it would have been pronounced with stress on the ultima (Yah-VEH), the opposite of what we do with the popular theoretical vocalizations.

Of course, the true significance here is not in the pronunciation but in the meaning.  Here is footnote #1 from BB 1: Theology:

Jehovah and Jahweh are the two most well-known English vocalizations of what is often called the "tetragrammaton", i.e. the four consonant name for the Lord explained in these verses. In Hebrew, yhvh, (יהוה) is traditionally vocalized as 'adonai, though it occurs in the Old Testament without vowels. The divine name "Lord", explained in these verses as based on "I am/shall be", can potentially be derived from either the Hebrew verb "to be" or the verb "to become" (the two verbs being very close in the Hebrew). Likewise, the form יהוה is a unique form which appears to be a cross between an imperfect (indicating repeated action irrespective of time as in "I shall be/I am") and an infinitive absolute (summing up the meaning of a verb at one throw: i.e., the very essence of "being/becoming"). Thus it is clear enough from the Hebrew context and verbal forms that "the Name" is a declaration that the Lord is the very definition of being and existence without regard to time or phenomena. Q.E.D.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello--I hope you are well. I am fine. I have another question for you, about something that...odd person eve has written. I have written to you about her before, to see if she is correct about some things.

First, she wrote this: "it's ieue, not yhwh . hebrew is not a consonant pronounced language..."  Then this, from Josephus:

From War of the Jews: "A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name [of God]: it consists of four vowels. However, the high priest did not wear these garments at other times, but a more plain habit; he only did it when he went into the most sacred part of the temple, which he did but once in a year, on that day when our custom is for all of us to keep a fast to God. And thus much concerning the city and the temple; but for the customs and laws hereto relating, we shall speak more accurately another time; for there remain a great many things thereto relating which have not been here touched upon. "  

She concludes: "The four vowels are ieue."

Now, I know Hebrew originally didn't have any written vowels and the Masorites invented jots and tittles to indicate which vowels to use, when they copied the OT. Josephus should be right up your alley, with your doctorate in the Classics.  She continues:

"The Jewish historian Josephus references vowels in War of the Jews (5.235). He states that the Jewish high priest wore a golden crown that was engraved with the holy name [of God], composed of “four vowel letters” (φωνήɛντα γράμματα τέσσαρα). Interestingly, this is the only time Josephus uses the Greek word φωνήɛντα (“vowel”) in any of his writings. Furthermore, he doesn’t elaborate on the fact that Yahweh’s name is made up of these vowel letters. But, as a skilled writer of the Greek language, and as a Jew with a knowledge of Hebrew, he is obviously aware of the difference between what first Plato and later the second-century B.C.E. Greek grammarian Dionysius Thrax described in his work, Ars Grammatica, as the phōnēenta (Greek: φωνήɛντα), or “sounding” Greek letters—by which he meant the breathed vowels α, ɛ, η, ɩ, ο, υ, and ω—and the áphōna (Greek: ἂφωνα), or “unsounding” Greek letters—by which he meant the remainder of all the breathless consonants. This means that Josephus preserved in his writing what all readers of Hebrew knew at the time: There were some letters in the Hebrew alphabet that had developed a secondary usage as vowel letters. But unlike Greek, which had separate letters to represent these breathed vowels, Hebrew readers would simply have to know from experience and education when these dual-purpose letters were vowels and when they were consonants."

Then she writes: "As for His name... I go with Josephus. the meaning of ieue in hebrew is "He secures breathing."

The meaning of YHWH is "He secures breathing"??? I thought it meant "I am/I will be"? Is she correct? Just wondering, as I don't particularly understand it.

No hurry. Thanks and God bless.

Response #3:

First, the tetragrammaton, YHVH, consists of four consonants with no vowels. It is true that sometimes Y (yodh) and V (waw) can act as representatives of vowels in Hebrew (so-called matres lectionis or "mothers of reading"); H (he) possible, but much less so and when it does, usually representing the equivalent of English "A" not "E".

More to the point, vowels are sounds that for the most part allow us to pronounce consonants. I can't think of any four-sound no-consonant word in any language, let alone Hebrew. When the Name is explained by the Lord to Moses (Ex.3:13-15), the words used are all forms of the verb to be, HAYAH.  Along with the divine Name itself, all of the letters of these word forms which correspondent claims are vowels are in fact all consonants.

I've never cared for or paid any particular attention to Josephus. Everything of his potentially important to biblical studies I've ever run down has turned out to be misleading or downright false. He was trying to make a splash in the Roman world and he presents himself as far more knowledgeable about almost everything than he actually was. So as to exegeting Josephus, this is either 1) an example of a colossal mistake (him getting the two words confused by not really having a clue about linguistic issues), or 2) a textual error (the letter alpha dropping out), or 3) another example of him saying something contrary and outrageous (outrageously wrong) in order to get people's attention – which he did a lot of.

As to "As for His name... I go with Josephus: the meaning of ieue in hebrew is "He secures breathing." 1) This is NOT something even Josephus says; 2) I haven't a clue as to how correspondent derives this meaning from her impossible and non-existent word; 3) I can only assert with confidence that it is nonsense.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Bob,

Can you provide some insight on Greek and Hebrew punctuation. I've read and heard that the original Greek and Hebrew did not have any punctuation at all. How do translators even know when to capitalize God for things like the Messianic prophecies and what not? What information should I know about this in general.

In our Lord Jesus

Response #4:

If you and I were having a telephone conversation, how would you know where one word I spoke ended and the next began? How would you know when I came to a comma or a period or a question mark? Simple answer: you know English and you can "hear it". In the ancient world, they always read aloud. Silent reading is a relatively modern phenomenon. In fact, you can't actually appreciate Greek or Hebrew (or Latin) WITHOUT reading it aloud – and you certainly can't appreciate it properly (unless you are a Classics prodigy like Wilamowitz or Gilbert Murray, e.g.).

When you learn modern Hebrew, you learn to read without (most of) the vowel points. They don't occur in the newspapers (only in the Bible and pedagogical texts).

It's a matter of practice, experience, and depth of knowledge of the languages. I wouldn't say I know Greek and Hebrew (and Latin) as well as I do English, but I've been working on these languages a long time, and you do get better at the subtleties over time.

As to the divine name in Hebrew, that is a particular issue (based in a nutshell on which of the three common names is used in the text), and also based upon the convention the translation is using (i.e., most use LORD for YHVH and Lord for 'adonai); in terms of God / gods, that is the word 'elohiym, and it's a matter of interpretation which is which (i.e., a plural of majesty and referring to the Trinity when used of God, but a mere plural when used of pagan gods or angels). Usually it's pretty simple to figure out, but good to know that there is ambiguity. For example, we could translate the devil's words at Genesis 3:5 as "be like God" or "be like gods" – there is really no difference in the Hebrew; and, come to think of it, not much difference in the effect of what Satan was deceptively saying.

For the meaning of the tetragrammaton, see the link.  See also, "The Difference Between the Divine Names Lord and God".

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L

Question #5:

Hi Dr.

I pray all is well with you, your family and your ministry and your New Year was non-eventful. All is well on this end and everything is going well. Thanks for the Peter Series it will come in handy. I will more than likely utilize it this week sometime with him, God willing.

On another note. tI am still doing the Roman bible study for the institution and want your opinion on 2 resources. If these resources are not of any value, please direct me to a more up to date resource so I can purchase them to help me with NT Greek and diving deeper into the Word. I have been using Word Studies in the Greek New Testament by Kenneth S. Wuest, which they had in the chapel library and it is really good from my standpoint to help me understand the language and do a deeper study.

What are your thoughts on:

1. Moulton and Milligan Vocabulary of the Greek Testament
2. Thayer's Lexicon of the Greek New Testament.

If you feel these are of value, please let me know. Also, your thought on the Word Studies by Kenneth S. Wuest (Vols 1-IV).

If not, please recommend other resources that fit in lline with the above 3 that would be of use in my teaching and studies.

Thank you very much in advance and may the Lord God bless you real good

Response #5:

I have all these books (have had them for many years).

Wuest: never got anything helpful out of it – but then I am able to read Greek.

M&M: this is a specialist book that has little value for early or even mid level Greek study. I use it on rare occasions when I want to check on inscriptions regarding some vocabulary item. I have in thirty years only once or twice come across anything of more than passing interest therein.

Thayer: this is an old lexicon but a good one. I don't use it very often as I generally use BAG (Bauer, Ardnt and Gingrich - recently updated by Danker) or Abbott-Smith's lexicons for purely NT vocabulary. Liddell and Scott's lexica (abridged, intermediate and full) are more helpful for most things . . . for me. Thayer is out of copyright so it should be available very inexpensively. If the one you are looking at is pricey, keep looking.

For just quick reference, if you're new to Greek, some of the editions of the Greek New Testament produced by UBS have a glossary in the back (very helpful).

Putting another "weekly" in the mail to you today, my friend!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Good morning sir and happy new year. It’s been a while since I have contacted you. I trust all is well with you. Pls do I simply study the Greek language and then apply the knowledge in studying a Greek Bible or do I need to study Biblical Greek since my aim is to deepen my exegetical study of scriptures and not necessarily to travel to Greece. Thank you sir.

Response #6:

Good to hear from you!

When it comes to Greek, the New Testament is written in ancient Greek, not Modern Greek. So even if you were a fluent resident of Athens today, you would not be able to understand the Bible without studying the ancient language (here's an interesting link where modern day Athenians are asked about the Classical Greek they had in school and remember almost nothing).

In terms of ancient Greek, ancient Greek is ancient Greek. The notion that "biblical Greek" or "koine Greek" is substantially different is a common misunderstanding. The NT is "easier" in its grammar and syntax than, say, Herodotus, but it's the same language that, e.g., Plato spoke and wrote in, allowing for some dialectical differences. Studying only "biblical Greek" is better than nothing, but it has the disadvantage of not having a broader, language-wide perspective (sort of like studying Shakespeare only without regard to the entire rest of English – that couldn't help but lead to misunderstandings because of such a blinkered approach).

Hope you are doing well, my friend. I also wanted to let you know, if you haven't already seen it, that BB 6B: Ecclesiology has now been posted.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Good evening sir. Thank you for your prompt reply as always! So I should just study Ancient Greek then. Thank you. Is there any online course you can recommend sir?

And thank you sir about the Ecclesiology. I will definitely check it.

Response #7:

While I'm sure they are out there, I don't know of any free course per se that I'd recommend. But Allen's "First Year of Greek" is a pretty good pedagogical text if you want to try teaching yourself the language. I've used it in the past for my classes at U of L (link to free online copy).

In Jesus,

Bob L.
p.s.; see also this link on Ichthys: Greek resources

Question #8:

Thank you for your understanding and encouragement.

On the soul searching: I want to tell you something. You know that I have been working hard at Greek (or if you don't, I have). The truth is that I have had to put the Bible and ICHTHYS on hold for the most part to do so (some days I read the Bible for a few minutes, and rarely every do I read Bible study). And I probably would have mostly done that for decades (out of just lack of time and energy, if I want to make headway on the languages I can't just do a little bit here and there). And I have struggled over what I should do for awhile. Over my reasons for learning the Biblical languages and that kind of thing.

Well I have been talking on the community forum thing. I had just asked a question about what love growing cold meant, and done the introduction thread. Anyway on the latter I had mentioned the Greek and __ had sent me all this stuff to help. He had also mentioned other things, among which was the 'division of labor' thing. I do know you talked about that before, too. But I really hashed it out with myself (in the response I sent him earlier today) on the point I was struggling with:

"...I do ask myself that, if I trust the English translations and teachers’ writings to average out anything wrong and tell me the right thing (and I think I do), would I not be (as you said) better off reading the Bible straight in English and the teachers’ writings (I mean teachers’ I trust of course, and the ones I don’t, just read broadly and average out the information)?..."

(I apologize if what I said was offensive to him as a teacher, and explained it was only that I desperately wanted to know the truth and for certain)

"...I think my issue is that I only found ICHTHYS 2 or 3 years ago. Up until that point (for some 27 or so years) I was unaware of the site. My drive to learn the Biblical languages was based on that I didn’t know any pastors or teachers who knew it. I mean they may have had a concordance or lexicography, but they did not know the language and could not answer questions I had. I would ask and search, and search and read, and most of the time, could not get answers (and couldn’t find anyone with knowledge of the Biblical languages). Hence my turn to thinking I will just study the language myself then. But now that I have ICHTHYS, I guess I have to ask myself if I should continue on with that plan or just focus on the site (and the Bible primarily of course). I mean Dr Luginbill is knowledgeable enough that I am pretty confident that his ability/knowledge far surpasses what I could get going that route. And the site seems to answer all the main stuff I might could ask. I mean there will always be little things I wont get.."

"...In the end, I am trusting people/someone either way (from the start of the firsthand document selection into whole manuscripts though multiple hands and eyes all the way to the teachers expounding). Even with my stack of learning books, I am trusting the Greek teachers in every facet. There is no way to read broadly enough or have access to everything. So I don’t get to pick whether I trust or not. I only get to pick who to trust. And since I am going that route anyway, why just do it on this first level?

The truth also is that I don’t think I could become good enough at reading it in the original languages to do much with it. I already know I wouldn’t be able to accept relying on my own interpretation and would want to read others’ interpretations mainly.

And I don’t think there will be anything to be found in the original languages that you can’t see in the English. (I mean the Greek makes it clearer and faster, but it isn’t NOT there in the English).

So. I think I should switch over to more prayer and reading the Bible and ICHTHYS more (to be honest, I have had to do very little of the last two to do the Greek). But it will take time to accept and absorb this..."

So I made that conclusion that it would be more sensible to focus on the Bible, ICHTHYS, and prayer; and that the other Biblical languages goal did not make sense (for the reasons above; and as you have said it would make sense for a teacher, but I don't that includes me as even if I were to teach children, I wouldn't need to know doctorate level things about Greek, etc).

It is a bit monumental because I have had that in mind for so long, and will take time to absorb all this. I just wanted to share it with you. If you have any thoughts, I would be very happy to hear them. But if not, ok then.

So the reminders to help myself are:

-That on the vast majority of stuff, you can get it in the English version

-You (I mean me) won't get anything on your own study of Greek and Hebrew that you couldn't have gotten from Bible teacher's scholar's averaged out expounding of generations

Of course I say that, and then I look at ICHTHYS and think 'how did NOONE else put this together. Or maybe some ancient Bible scholars did get pieces here and there, I just haven't read them yet. I know you reference books a lot, so that might be part of it.

-Plus I really do think I could never get to your level on Greek proficiency, so I know I wouldn't take my interpretation over yours anyway

So, yeah. I do hope I didn't say anything offensive to you as a teacher. I can be a good student sometimes, and a disrespectful one (but I really don't mean it!). I think very highly of you!

Please get lots of rest and eat healthy.

Response #8:

Thanks for this. I appreciate you and your resolve for the Lord.

If it's a question of Greek OR prayer/Bible study, then absolutely I would go with the latter. Greek is only valuable, spiritually speaking, because of the illumination it provides for studying the Bible and its truths. It's also not a "magic tool"; that is, it doesn't substitute for knowledge of theology, history, Biblical content, hard work and sweat in studying – or certainly not for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It's important for a serious Bible teacher, but there have been good ministries of the past where Greek wasn't understood well (or Hebrew). We do the best we can with what we've got.

I can only say that in my own case, knowledge of Greek and Hebrew informs everything I do. I get insights from reading my Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament every day, seeing things I would not have even guessed at in the English. And whenever I study out some problem or try to find the exact meaning of some passage, well, let's just say that this would be impossible without a deep knowledge of the original languages. In short, this ministry would not be anything like what it is without them.  Please see the link: the importance of learning Greek.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend!

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Bob,

Thank you very much for your explanation. I have another question regarding Greek tense. I have noticed that in New Testament, there are a lot a lot of scriptures are in aorist tense but they are translated in present tense, such as Eph 4:22 put off, Eph 4:24 put on, Eph 6:11 put on, etc. Is there a special meaning?


Response #9:

So for example in Ephesians 4:22 we have apothesthai which is aorist, but it is not an indicative; it is an infinitive. Outside of the indicative aorist vs. present is usually a question of aspect, not time (there are a couple of important exceptions such as aorist participles and infinitives in indirect statement; not much of the latter in the NT). So in English we can say "I run" (aoristic) or "I am running" (present progressive) and not have any time difference, merely an aspectual one (describing the "how" of the action not the "when").

Greek has these distinctions where English does not – and English has them in the present though Greek does not (trecho in Greek covers the meaning in both phrases in quotation above).

English and Greek do come together on this aspect dimension in the past indicative where our "I was running" and "I ran" and "I had run" are likewise paralleled exactly by the Greek. But in the subjunctive, optative, imperative, and usually infinitive, aorist vs. present (or perfect) is usually not very important (imperatives, particularly in the negative, are the sometime exception to the rule). Otherwise, it's almost never possible to make any big deal out of the difference between non-indicative aorists and presents for interpretive purposes – though I have noticed MANY so-called NT Greek experts often try to do so.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Hi Bob,

Thank you very much for the explanation. It feels like old times when we were at UCI, teaching me Greek and Hebrew. Great times!

Thank you! You are my teacher and my friend for life!


Response #10:

Thank you!

Question #11:

[Question about strange moral standards in ancient Greek literature]

Response #11:

I'm certainly not going to defend the content of Greek literature! They were mostly pagans and their morality was, well, let's just say quite "different" from even secular standards of the modern world.

Actually, this is one of the benefits of studying the ancient world, in my humble opinion. Compared to antiquity, the world today is pretty well homogenized from a cultural point of view, even though it may not seem that way to the naked eye. Sure, people speak differently, eat differently, have different customs and dress around the world, but people for the most part are working from the same play book today.

But in antiquity, all manner of things were radically different from today (just read a few books of Herodotus). A lot has changed in 2,500 years (depending on the particular ancient place we're talking about), and whenever you turn a corner looking back there, you find something wildly different – just like your experience. It just goes to show how taking things for granted is unwise.

And . . . it's always fun to read Greek! Even if – or maybe especially if – you end up bumping into something totally weird . . . to us today. That's good background perspective for studying the New Testament where interpreters often have a hard time seeing things through the eyes of the past as a result of being chained to their modern perspective, precisely because they haven't read enough ancient history or literature.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #12:

I know about 500 Greek words (I can leave it for months and come back and still know it, and some I could probably do years). It is nowhere near where I wanted, but I guess it is better than zero. I will keep trying. I read that there are around 30k words a native speaker knows. And the way I do it is to have a list of words written halfway in Greek (the first 3-5 letters of the word), and then from memory write the rest of the word in Greek and then the English definition. Of course with words only a couple letters, I can't do that.

Anyway, here is another fun word: ακατασκευαστος

I think this is the biggest one so far! So I will call it the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious word
until I find a bigger one

I appreciate your expertise and generosity in sharing it. Have a great week!

Remember when we have nothing left and only Him, we say not 'we have only God to rely on', but instead do say 'we have the privilege of relying only on God'.

Response #12:

Aristophanes has the record – first, second and third places, actually – because the pnigos or "strangler" word was a comic device he used often. But don't try learning this one:


Liddell & Scott translates this as "name of a dish compounded of all kinds of dainties, fish, flesh, fowl, and sauces".

Very nice spiritual perspectives, my friend – very good to keep in mind too. Thanks!

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Good morning afternoon sir,

1) I have the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Does this book have the Aramaic in the places that are Aramaic in the Old Testament?

2) I will wait until I get further along in Greek before attempting it, but is there a book or set of books you recommend to learn and understand Aramaic? I have combed through the site and not found anything for the Biblical Aramaic.

That was it. Thank you for your patience and understanding and help.

Response #13:

Glad to hear you are OK.

For Hebrew, BHS is excellent. You'll also need a good lexicon and a good intro grammar. I recommend Lambdin's Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (link is to ABE – much cheaper for this title than Amazon), but Weingreen's is also good. As to lexica, when just getting started, Holladay's is about the best I know of (link); BDB is the go to for scholarly work (link).

All the lexica have the Aramaic as well as the Hebrew, and BHS does indeed have the Aramaic in the Aramaic sections. A word on that: it's a lot easier to learn to read the very small amount of Aramaic in the OT once one has gotten experience in Hebrew, so I honestly wouldn't worry about that right off. Down the road, I can point you to some Aramaic resources, but, at the moment, having the text and the dictionary for both is a good start when learning Hebrew is first on the list.

In Jesus our Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Dr Lugnibill,

1) I noticed that on my Liddell and Scott book it says it is "abridged". Is there an unabridged version? I also read there is a little Liddell and Great Scott, does this also point to a larger unabridged version? If so, could you please tell me the name of it or send me a link? All I can find is the abridged one I already have.

2) I got the The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition) by Bruce Metzger in the mail (yay) and was wondering if there was a similar book for the OT?

On #1 could you possibly look and tell me if this is the big/unabridged one: Is this the big one?:


Response #14:

There are actually three versions of LSJ: 1) the abridged "little Liddell"; 2) the intermediate "middle Liddell", and then there is the BIG one, the "big Liddell", the one you have linked at Amazon in this email. N.b., Cambridge has just come out with a two volume Greek dictionary which is not too bad (see the link), but it's not a substitute for LSJ.

#1 is my preferred dictionary; #2 is also good (this is the one I used to get through grad school); #3 is one I use for research only when I want to know everything available about some word – it's big enough to press your pants with, and TOO big to be useful if you're just looking up basic words.

As to an OT equivalent to Metzger, I recommend The Text of the Old Testament by G. Wurthwein

Books are fun! However, if I could sell back about 90% of the ones I've bought in my life for half-price, I'd jump at the offer (mostly all my commentaries have turned out to be pretty worthless). Only about 10% have proven to be "keepers".

In Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob,

Along this vein of thinking, is belief a moment by moment forceful process that takes energy or it relaxed?

What I mean by this is when we read the Bible or orthodox teaching should we be actively believing, thinking to ourselves -- have I digested this as truth for every verse-- rather than just reading? For example, it's easier to read about Jesus walking on water than actively believe and digest that He walked on water. Or reading that living is for Christ, and dying is gain, and then actually believing that with one's whole heart. Basically, I want to know how to read studies/scriptures in a epignosis way where I really trust it in my whole heart. Do I sort of force myself to believe or just relax, read it, and let it sink into my conscience over time through the Spirit. Since it's the Spirit's ministry to make the scriptures real to us, is it imposing on His ministry by trying to forcefully believe as one studies.

In our Lord,

Response #15:

I wouldn't "over think" it. The Jesuits have this thing called the "spiritual exercises" whereby when they are in "boot camp" to join the order they imagine themselves "in the moment": "Taste the bread. Taste the wine." Etc. We all know how it's worked out for them (doubtful if any of them are even saved).

Been meaning to ask you: do they offer Greek and/or Hebrew at your university? Even a semester of formal instruction would be very beneficial.

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

That's funny about the Jesuits... I certainly do not want to be like them!

They do offer Greek/Hebrew but the introductory courses they offered for the spring were all full year courses on their second leg so I wasn't able to take any of them. Then, I graduate at the close of the semester in May. So, I will have no opportunity to take any formal classes.

I am convinced we have 6.5 years left as the Bible teaches. So, I'm wondering if I did learn introductory language skills what benefits would that provide to ministry considering during the Tribulation we won't have access to Greek or Hebrew bibles, and will be fortunate to have an English one. In addition there isn't time for me to become an expert able to translate better than you, or the pros doing the major versions. In fact, I think I will have barely have enough time to achieve a teacher-level understanding of the English Bible and your teachings by the start of the tribulation. I'm curious as to why you see it as a prudent move considering that we are so close to the end, and I won't have a runway to produce original teachings that language skills would come in handy for?

My main concern is time at this point. In addition, language was the worst area of study for me in school so I'm not a John Stuart Mill or anything like that.

In our great God-King,

Response #16:

The decision is yours. You have to figure out how best to use your time. I do think that even a couple of semesters of Greek and Hebrew are beneficial. After all, people are bound to ask you questions about it when you come into ministry. Doesn't mean you have to be a scholar in either, but being able to make out the words and look them up in the dictionary (and follow the arguments in commentaries et al.) is a real plus.

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello dear Professor,

I have visited your classes from time to time, always enjoying your teaching. Your labor in the holy writings are also inspiring and challenging.

I am wishing to look into the classical education of grammar and rhetoric, but particularly grammar. I have read that Saint Augustine’s education prior to conversion, largely, if not solely, consisted of grammar and rhetoric. For him to be such a respected exegete and writer, I wonder what the elements of a classical grammar education were, in his era, beyond phonetics and syntax. Could you guide me toward any literature that covers such an education in grammar, or speak toward the subject yourself?

And do you think it is possible for an education solely in grammar and rhetoric to be a meaningful and good education, enough to equip great minds such as St Augustine?


Response #17:

This sounds specious. Do you have the exact quotation / citation / context?

I don't know of any grammars which aren't based upon examination of literature, and in antiquity rhetoric always involved studying classic exemplars and mimicking them (rather than just reading rule books). If you want to learn a language, if you can't speak it, read it (out loud, preferably, because we learn language with the ear much more than with the eye).

I'm not a fan of Augustine in any case.

Bob L.

Question #18:

Thank you for your reply,

The direct reading material is from "The Liberal Arts Tradition" by K. Clark and Ravi Jain. In their chapter on the trivium, they first reference Quintilian's (c AD 35-95) Institutiones [Institutio Oratoria] and suggest that tome to "envision education as consisting almost exclusively of grammar and rhetoric." It is in the same paragraph they note Augustine's education consisting of grammar and rhetoric, although they give no footnote.

I will add, however, that there seems to be some confusion or conflation with these authors regarding the term "grammar", which might perhaps be common in modern classical education models. On the one hand, grammar is said to include the study of "history, philosophy, geography, hermeneutics, and so on" - these and other subjects seemed to be the substance of grammar schools. On the other hand, grammar is said to be solely the study of Latin and Greek. This is likely where my question originated - is there a well-developed, "systematic" approach to grammar that employs both elementary rules of language and literary criticism? But perhaps my question arises from an error of thought, and I do not yet see it well enough to speak on it rightly.

Your insight, that grammar is based on examination of literature, I suppose, says it all. It requires grammar to give the meaning and sense of a literary work, and there are bodies of literature which speak to each other, the understanding of which also employs grammar. Having just now considered it, I see that the Torah speaks to the Writings and Prophets, which in turn speak to each other.


Response #18:

Thanks for this.

"Grammar education" meant something different in antiquity. In Rome it usually meant the equivalent of our primary school / high school education while rhetoric was comparable to our college.

But terms shift over time, so the source of the quotation is important. There's no question but that Quintillian had in mind studying good exemplars (Cicero for rhetoric, e.g.), not memorizing a "rule book" as if that could get you anywhere.

In that regard, how do we know what's right and wrong in composing Latin, e.g., anyway? In antiquity and in the 19th century when most modern Latin grammars were composed, scholars read Cicero. What Cicero did was "correct"; and you're "incorrect" if you do it differently (n.b., even Cicero would occasionally have to be corrected by these grammarians, because no one using actual language is ever 100% consistent).

Bob L.

Question #19:

I hope you are doing well.

I have been praying a lot lately doing my best to follow the Holy Spirit wherever He leads. I feel convicted not to learn the languages, though I thought about it before, but I just don't feel like its what the Lord wants me to do, nor is it something that I feel would be the best thing for me to do with so few years left now.

I was talking with a brother on the community about this, and he said that if we as teachers have the opportunity to learn the languages then we should do so, as its common sense, but I'm not sure I agree with that. I know God can make all things possible, but I'm just not convinced that God calls all teachers to learn the languages. Even ___ commented in an email to me that not all teachers should learn them as they are not for everybody and I agree with this statement. I may have the resources to learn, but that doesn't mean the Lord automatically wants me to take up learning them.

Now to be fair, this brother did mention that the Bible gives no rule for this, but he referred to the statement I mentioned above.

I may not be able to teach as effectively as someone learned in the languages, but I still believe the Lord can still use me to at least some capacity, and through knowing some various history, geography, systematic theology, and through good teaching ministries like yours and Mr. Omo's [link] for reference on Greek and Hebrew words, these I have been studying.

I can't even begin to tell you how difficult it is for me to learn and focus Mr. Luginbill, let alone get in the word. [omitted]

This all made me question whether the Lord wants me to teach in the future, but I do feel convicted to do so, so I still want to pursue it.

Do you believe the Lord can still use me to teach to at least some degree? At first I was eager to pursue the languages, but with [ ], the short time left, and with these convictions that have been occurring I just feel like I should not learn them, and the first time the Lord spoke to me about this I felt at peace about it which seems to be telling me something. I also have a lot of recovering that I am in the process of now, and from the looks of it, its going to take a long time.

As mentioned earlier, I am striving to learn as much as I am able, I mentioned the other academic sources that I am studying, but I don't think I could handle much else.

Response #19:

Sorry to hear about this difficulty, my friend. I'll add it to my prayer list.

On languages, you should do what you are being led to do.

I am positive that the Lord has a use for pastor-teachers who for whatever reason have not been able to gain a competency in the original languages. It does restrict what one can find out and figure out from the Bible directly on one's own and independently of another Bible ministry – not entirely, of course. Scofield's reference Bible was a starting point for deep Bible study for many and for several generations. Yet he never learned Greek or Hebrew (his wife and one of her friends actually had more to do with compiling the cross references in his famous study Bible, I believe, also without language study). But then again, a lot of what Scofield's doctrinal notes contain are wrong, to one degree or another (both the original ones and the greatly altered later ones).

We do what we can do. I'm prejudiced, of course, but in my opinion you could do a lot worse than learning what Curt Omo [link] and I are teaching – learning it well – and passing that on to others in your own unique way. Our brother ___ is doing just that (see his wonderful materials at the link), and he is only at a very early stage of language learning. Then there is also the fact that not only is the Tribulation close, but that when it begins I fully expect all those evangelicals who never got serious about the Bible because they thought that in the event of trouble they'd be "raptured" will need a serious crash course in Bible doctrine – actually, a whole set of courses. So I have no doubt that the Lord has not called you to prepare for ministry for no reason. He has perfect reasons – and the perfect ministry for you.

How's the job hunt coming?

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Mr. Luginbill.

I like and agree with what you say here. As much as I thought about learning the languages, it is what the Lord wants me to do that I must obey.

I did get a job [omitted]. I had been praying to the Lord to get this job back for a while, I was actually praying about it one night and when I went to bed and was asleep I heard a voice speak to me saying " are you ready to go back to work ___?" The very next morning I get up to brush my teeth again and within a few minutes __ notifies me telling me that the boss said I could come back and start work that very night. They were all very glad to have me back which made me happy. I praise the Lord.

As for ministry, I recently wrote a paper entitled " Red Hot or Lukewarm: Good Food vs Bad Food- The Absolute Necessity for Good Spiritual Nutrition. It wasn't meant to be anything originally, I was just going to write a letter expressing my thoughts as to why I do not attend a physical church and the whole Laodicean issue, I often find it difficult to express myself in words so I decided to write/type down my thoughts which allowed me to be more descriptive and to go into more detail. It was healthy eating that inspired me to write it. There are some people I know who stress eating good health food, physical nutrition, and they have high standards as to what they eat. But their standards for truth and good spiritual food/nutrition are not high, so I decided I would write something on the whole need for good healthy spiritual food from a trusted source.

In the end the letter turned into a bigger paper with a little bit of teaching content, though not much. It was written more for explanation, exhortation, and encouragement than it was teaching. I haven't written any papers in years, so ___ helped me with a lot of formatting and structural issues. Its still a work in progress, and I will have it on file for a good while.

My biggest focus now is on my spiritual growth and recovery. I feel like I'm behind everyone else, but my focus should be on the Lord and not on others or the past, as you have often said looking behind is never a good idea. It will be a while till I ever produce in a consistent ministry, but I will give my best with the short time I have left.

In His Grace and Power

Response #20:

Congrats on the job, my friend! Having something you don't mind doing is so important. I'm happy that you have a situation where you can reasonably get to your task of preparation for ministry even while earning a living.

Good to hear that you are also getting to some production. On that note, I think that the issue of not going to a brick and mortar church (where nothing much good for the Lord is happening) will be clarified somewhat by reading BB 6B: Ecclesiology (if you haven't already done so).

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

The Lord is doing miracles in my life Mr. Luginbill! All that I have been through in the past four years has been absolutely incredible. I am in awe of the Lord, and I hope to praise Him forevermore for all the wonders He has been doing for me. Our God is good and reigns forever.

I remember back in 2016 having a "count the cost moment." Though I had been saved for many years it wasn't until recently in 2016 that I began living for the Lord. As I stood in the shed at the place I worked, I had intimidating thoughts about the difficulties I would have to face later on in my spiritual journey. My heart sank a little bit, but I remember telling the Lord I was prepared to do everything He was calling me to do. True to my thoughts, 2017 and especially 2019 I experienced the most difficult and horrific times I had ever endured in my life, deserved suffering, and in comfort for my undeserved suffering, legitimate testing from the Lord as well. But this entire new year has thus far been the greatest I have ever experienced in my entire life! All that has happened in just 4 short months has just blown me away! I am in disbelief! How can this be real? How can God be so good to me! I see Him ever clearer in my life now! I think to myself, did I not just recently email you not long ago about my struggles?

I think of Job as a comparison. Though he underwent extreme testing, the Lord blessed Him even more at the end of it. So the Lord has done with me Mr. Luginbill, He has blessed me with such spiritual blessings that my joy has simply skyrocketed!!

The terrors and testing of late 2018 and all of 2019 are behind me. I look back, not in the bad sense that you and I have spoken of in our recent emails together, but in gratitude and amazement, with a grateful heart for all the Lord has done for me! I think of the Lord when He spoke to the people of Israel not to forget all the mighty powers and wonders the Lord displayed before them, to give them hope in future trials. The testing I went through strengthened me so much, for how could faith grow if it was not tested?

The Lord brought me through those horrors, the struggles of depression, anxiety, ocd, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy and uselessness. He delivered me in a car accident, He brought to me with your help one of the best friends I could ever ask for, and that meant so much to me because I have never had any close friends in my life. The Lord brought other believers into my life as well. He helped me get through trade school, enduring a place where my faith was being tested almost every time I went there, a place I was not happy to be at. He steered me clear of pursuing a welding career for something requiring less time so that I may advance in my studies, for hopefully when this virus clears I will go for something part time. He has been helping me overcome ___. He has wiped away all the tears from my eyes that I shed in those difficult times, for never in my life had I despaired and cried so much as in 2019. He revealed my spiritual gift as a teacher in July of last year, and in October of that same year, convicted me to stay single to produce for Him even more than I could otherwise, and I could not be happier than the state of singleness I am in now. He helped me overcome my health issues, and beginning of this year has been producing in my life as well. I felt inspired to write a testimony of myself, and I am in the process of writing 2-3 papers to be kept on file. Hopefully in the not too distant future I plan to open up an online ministry of my own, with our brother ___'s help, but only when I am ready.

I am in amazement Mr. Luginbill, I cannot believe all the wonderful things the Lord has done for me. This may sound random and very sudden, but I have decided to undertake studying the languages after all, both Greek and Hebrew. I suppose my convictions were false, sometimes we get things wrong, but after reading through the study curriculum I ordered, I thought to myself, " I know the Lord will empower me to learn at least some of this, no matter how little it may be." Once I have completed my other studies, i.e. church, ancient, Israeli history, geography, and the other academics I ordered, then my plan is to go at the languages full force with as much diligence as needed. I ordered books on advanced grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and spelling to better prepare me for reading books and writing my own papers, and once I have completed all that, I will then undertake the languages, probably late this year with about 6 years remaining till the hour of testing begins. The Lord has given me an open door, and I am happy to run right through it!

I don't know if its entirely true, but the statement, "what one man can do, another can do" inspired me. The languages are intimidating, but learning something, no matter how little, is better than nothing as you have often said.

I could not be a happier man right now, the things I mentioned where only some of the bigger things among the many great things the Lord has done for me. I pray to Him everyday that my growth, progress, and production would be to the very maximum till the day I see Him face to face in eternity.

This free time has been such a blessing for me, and I like what __ has said in his emailing to me, " what seemed impossible in my life God made possible", and also, " it is not about intellect which determines our production in this life, but our hearts, based on how much we love God."

It hasn't even been long, and yet the Lord has done great things. This is Him preparing me for the test to come, for I have seen pain and hardship so terrible that I could not describe it to anyone for them to understand. This is what more severe testing is for as you have taught, to grow our faith. The Lord knows the time is short, so He has put me on the fastest route to spiritual success, despite all the pain and hardships it has entailed. In the end it was all worth it, and will continue to be worth it, even despite the terrible onslaught the tribulation will bring.

In His grace and power

Response #21:

Thank you so much for the wonderful testimony, my friend! I find it greatly encouraging (and others will as well).

One thing: if you are planning to make Greek (and / or Hebrew) part of your preparation agenda, I would suggest beginning with that sooner rather than later. The other things can be done in small bits or great gobs of time as opportunity presents itself. Language study requires a consistent investment over time, and most of us do better with daily consistent doses. Don't "save it" for when the time is ideal. For the time will never be ideal.

I have other correspondents preparing for ministry who, despite best advice, are choosing not to learn the original language for one reason or another (it is not easy, admittedly). But for those who claim to want to have them as a necessary part of their preparation, more is better than less and sooner is much better than later. It is certainly also true that many of us really can't get anywhere with language study completely on our own. Our friend did it, but I certainly never could have done it, and I think there are more men who are naturally in my category than in his.

Keeping you in my prayers every day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hello Professor Luginbill,

I wanted to introduce myself and say thank you for everything that ICHTHYS has done for me in the short time that I've been a believer. I have grown tremendously in the past 4 months, and I credit a large part of that to you and Curt at Bible Academy [link]. I have essentially been doing my bible study every day since I was saved, and it has undoubtedly changed the way I go about a ton of things.

While this is the case, I have been having some personal trouble in my daily walk. Because of the many things that I have given up or have deprioritized (for good reason), including my college fraternity and certain relationships, I have been feeling rather isolated as I go about my days at school. As I continue to grow spiritually, I'm sure that I will be more comfortable walking with the Lord and will not feel too alone, but it is hard at times not to think about being with family, for example. It is difficult because I don't want to get caught up in certain Christian organizations that maybe don't prioritize studying the Word over other activities and events. I do believe that this is a test God has given me to draw closer to Him, but it is hard at points to stay focused and not let my mind wander on how I'm feeling or worrying about the future. I do have ___ as a fellow believer, and his growth is without a doubt a true testament to God's power, but I do still find things difficult at times. As I said, I've only been a believer for about 4 months, but I would appreciate any words of encouragement if you could help me.

Thank you again for everything

Yours in Christ,

Response #22:

Great to make your acquaintance!

Your experience is reminiscent of nearly everyone I know who's decided to put Jesus Christ first in their lives the proper way, through devoting themselves to the truth of the Word of God. That takes time, effort and concentration. And while there is nearly always a "honeymoon" period, it's also nearly always accompanied by disruption and dislocation of prior worldly relationships and alliances. Even if we don't end up breaking off completely with certain people and groups, the relationships always change – because truth changes everything when we come to truly believe it and follow it. So please don't despair about that. Look forward, not backward. We want the approval of Jesus Christ – a "well done!" from Him on that great day to come. And that only comes to those who do in fact put Him first in deed as well as just "talking the talk" like most Christian groups today who really aren't dedicated to spiritual growth. As you grow, handling these matters will get easier and you will gain more confidence and a stronger godly perspective in all things. From your email, it sounds to me as if you've already made a great deal of progress there.

"But with respect to the progress you have made, keep on advancing in the same way!"
Philippians 3:16

You're most blessed to have __ as a roommate. He is a fine Christian man. Plenty of us when we took the plunge found ourselves nearly alone or isolated as a result, but the Lord always provides. I had the wonderful benefit of a friendship with a fellow officer in the USMC who had led me to the ministry that proved formative for myself (for which I am forever grateful). He even ended up being my company commander in Okinawa for the first part of my hitch there, a real blessing to me.

This is an important time for you. As we repair and deepen our spiritual foundations, the Lord is also leading us to see what He wants us to do with our lives. For me, that was to engage in ministry, and it was on Okinawa that I decided the best way to start was to go back to school and learn Greek and Hebrew (among other things), so I resigned my commission and set out on that path as soon as my tour was over.

I've sent a request to the moderator of the Ichthys list-serve / forum, asking him to invite you. I hope you'll be able to make some connections there. Also, if you haven't already done so, I know that Curt Omo would be delighted to hear from you about how Bible Academy [link] has been helpful for you. And do please feel free to email me any time.

As to "getting caught up in certain Christian organizations that maybe don't prioritize studying the Word over other activities and events", I heartily agree (there is a lot about all that in the recently posted BB 6B: Ecclesiology at the link; see also: "Church: The Biblical Ideal versus the Contemporary Reality II" which will lead to more links at Q/A #14).

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #23:

Thanks so much for the encouragement. This all helps a lot. I do think that as I keep growing these things will get easier. Sometimes I do feel alone in this respect, but I suppose that I'm really not the only one.

And I've been eager to get into the Ecclesiology page for a while, so I'm definitely gonna start that soon.

Thank you again

Response #23:

It's my pleasure, my friend.

On the forum, __ is in the process of moving and starting a new job, so give him a couple of weeks. If you don't hear anything after that, let me know and I'll see what's up.

One other thing to keep in mind is that we believers have every reason to be overjoyed all the time. Human beings that we are, that is not the way it works out always, but think about it. If you offered any unbeliever the opportunity not to have to die at 80/90 but to live on in good health for another fifty years or so, that person would no doubt be happy to spend all his/her earthly wealth to grab at that chance. Yet we have life eternal! Not only that, we have been delivered not only from death but from eternal condemnation. And the least in the kingdom of heaven will be better off to an infinite degree than the most materially "blessed" person alive in the world today – and will be forever and ever. On top of that, those like yourself who are aggressively pursuing spiritual growth, have the opportunity to earn over and above rewards that will make the best even better than the best in ways we still cannot comprehend.

So keep your reward in mind. It's legitimate motivation whenever you are feeling a little put upon (Heb.11:6). If you haven't already done so, I recommend reading this link: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church (in CT 6)".

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dr. Luginbill,

I got the invite and have joined, so thank you for that.

It is tough at times like you said, but it is a nice reminder when I think about it. I think the more I read up and realize what's in store for me, the more I'll understand and appreciate it. I'm just gonna keep pushing forward.

Thanks again

In Christ,

Response #24:

Good for you!

All any of us can do is to keep fighting the fight every day, one day at a time. Just remember that this is a one day at a time fight. You don't have to fight tomorrow's fight today. You don't even know what tomorrow will look like, not really (Matt.6:34). But you do have some idea what that glorious ever-after tomorrow looks like, and it is glorious beyond imagination. 

Keep the judgment seat of Christ in your sight reticle and the New Jerusalem we're aiming for, and you'll be glad you did, eternally.

(16) Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (17) For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (18) So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2nd Corinthians 4:16-18

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.



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