Monday, April 6, 2020

Why is the Original Text more Important and not to rely on Translation Alone?

The study of the Bible's original language is a big help to make us understand the true message in every Bible verse.


We can understand the verses better through the original text compared to what is written in Tagalog and English translations.

Even Martin Luther, the Father of Protestantism, emphasized the importance of studying Hebrew and Greek because these are the original languages of the Bible.
Luther was passionate about Scripture being the authority for the church. Although this belief made Luther work hard to give the people a translation in their everyday language, he also actively promoted the value of knowing Greek and Hebrew. Because Scripture was written in Hebrew and Greek, Luther considered it essential for ministers to know these languages. He stated this clearly when he said, Though the faith and the Gospel may be proclaimed by simple preachers without the languages, such preaching is flat and tame, men grow at last wearied and disgusted and it falls to the ground. But when the preacher is versed in the languages, his discourse has freshness and force, the whole of Scripture is treated, and faith finds itself constantly renewed by a continual variety of words and works. (The Reformers and the Original Languages: Calvin and Luther on the Importance of Greek and Hebrew in Theology and Ministry by Peter Goeman, May 11, 2017, tms.edu)
I will give 5 examples from the Bible proving that translations are not enough.

These 5 examples will show that we will better understand the Bible’s writings through the original text. 


1.) The Word "myself" in Job 42:6

One of the hardest verses according to students of Biblical Hebrew is in Job 42:6 since some people are surprised where the English word, “myself” came from in English translations. 
"therefore I despise myself,    and repent in dust and ashes"(Job 42:6)

I read in one textbook: What does Job “despise” or “reject”—himself, his words, God? The translator has to fill in the blank.

No word for "myself." But the verbs are in the first person, so "myself" is a good interpretation.

The reflexive idea "I despise myself" comes from the Niphal stem of the verb Nacham means "to repent."


Waltke-O’Connor’s grammar of biblical Hebrew shows Niphal Stem sometimes indicates a reflexive idea. 


In the book of Bruce Waltke and Michael Patrick O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, we will see one of the major functions of stem is reflexive. It is discussed in the chapter where Niphal Stem is found.


2.) Genesis 6:14 and Exodus 2:3

In the two verses below, we will notice the word "ark" in Genesis,  and “basket” in Exodus.

“Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.” (Genesis 6:14)
“When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.”(Exodus 2:3)
If you know the original text, you will find the same word used in Hebrew which is tebah. The construct, tevat was used in both verses.



3.) The word “One” in John 10:30

ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν. (John 10:30, Greek Bible)
"The Father and I are one"  (John 10:30, NRSV).

The word "one" in this verse is interpreted by some people that Jesus is also the Father. 

In Greek, these three:  εἷς (Heis), μία (Mia ), and ἕν (Hen ) all mean “one.” 
“The word for ‘one’ is the neuter hen, not the masculine heis: Jesus and his Father are not one person, as the masculine would suggest…” (The Gospel according to John (The Pillar New Testament Commentary) D.A. Carson, page 394)

If the masculine εἷς (Heis) is used, those who believe that Jesus is also the Father are correct. But since the neuter ἕν (Hen) was used, it means the persons of the Father and the Son are different. 


4.) The word “Righteous” in Mark 2:17

I have heard many who use this verse because they refuse to learn the truth and use what Jesus said as their reason. 
When Jesus heard this, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners"(Mark 2:17).
If we look at the context, these have different meanings and he said this because he heard what the Pharisees said as "self-righteous."
"Dikaios may also apply to the person who establishes his own rules of life. Such were the Pharisees whom the Lord exposed as righteous in their own eyes (Matt 9:13, 23:28; Luke 18:9). Having set up and kept, or pretended to keep on certain standards, they called themselves righteous or just in the sight of God"(The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, Spiros Zodhiates, p. 457)



5.) Jesus addressed His Mother as “Woman” in John 2:4

There are some who are confused with this verse saying Jesus did not respect His mother by calling her "Woman."

"And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come"(John 2:4).
In the Philippines, you are disrespectful by calling your mother, "woman." But in the original text, the word γύναι (gunai) in vocative case shows love and respect.  

There is no disrespect in the word gunai. Even the four Protestant scholars confirmed this.

Here are other Protestant scholars who gave comments on the word,  “Gunai” that Jesus said to his Mother: 

1. Spiros Zodhiates

“(V) In the voc. ὁ (5599) gunai as address expressive of kindness or respect...” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary, page 386).

2. Charles Kingsley Barrett

“Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; There is no harshness or even disrespect in the vocative γύναι, as abundant examples, most significantly perhaps 19.26, show” (The Gospel according to St. John, Second Edition: An Introduction With Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text, page 191).

3. Leon Morris

Jesus’ address to her, “Woman”, is not as cold in the Greek as in English. He uses it, for example, in His last moments as He hangs on the cross and tenderly commends her to the beloved disciple (19 : 26). LS informs us that the vocative is “a term of respect or affection” (The Gospel according to John, page 180).

4. Craig S. Keener

Γύναι (2:4; 19:26) was usually respectful and not an unusual greeting to a woman (4:21; 20:13, 15; cf. 8:10;Matt 15:28; Luke 13:12; 22:57; 1 Cor 7:16),125 but it is not natural for one’s mother. (The Gospel of John: A Commentary).




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