Monday, March 31, 2008

Finally a full time pastor!

I had my last day at work last Friday, which means that I am finally a full time pastor!

The last two years have been incredibly tiring - as you can probably tell if you compare our teaching videos from 2 years ago to more recent ones!

I am excited to now have more time to pastor.

I am also excited to be fully living by faith now.

Praise God!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

BDAG cheap

If you are looking for a Greek lexicon, then BDAG would be the one to buy.
It is however, very expensive.

There is good news however, a friend pointed out to me today that BDAG is going considerably cheaper than usual at the following site:

Of course its still a lot of money, but I think you only need to read the history of the lexicon (in the first few pages) to see how much work has gone into this volume.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 10: Identifying genitives

When I read my Bible in English, I read the word 'of' many times without thinking too much about it.
When I read the Greek New Testament however, the genitives stand out, and I find myself analyzing what they mean (especially thanks to Wallace's extensive section on Genitives in his grammar).

For example, today I was reading:

John 15:26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

I have read the phrase 'Spirit of truth' so many times in English, and never thought too much about it. But today, the Greek was begging me to identify what kind of genitive it was. I think that the most obvious category for this is the genitive of product. In other words, the Spirit of truth, is the Spirit that produces truth. The context indicates this. The Holy Spirit will produce truth and witness about Jesus. I found it so helpful to identify what "of truth" specifically meant.

It helped me to mediate on the fact that the Holy Spirit produces truth. It led me to pray that the Holy Spirit would enable to understand the word as I prepare tomorrow's sermon, also for truth to be given to the congregation when they hear the sermon, and for truth to be produced on our council estate, so that people would come to Christ.

It also makes me consider the possibility, or helping non-Greek readers to study the Bible. What if we taught people categories of the word 'of' and to stop when they see the word 'of' and consider what type of genitive it is? I haven't given this enough thought to know if it would work, but its something to think about.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 9: Examining passives

Examining Passives:

This one is strongly linked with the slow down factor -
When I see passives in the Greek, I always find myself wondering who the agent of the passive is.
Many times it is God - hence the term 'divine passive'. Today however I found a passive that was a little bit different to your run of the mill divine passive, and it caused me to think further on the verse and gain greater insight that if I had carried on reading.

I was reading the following:

ESV John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

The ESV helpfully translates the passive correctly as 'glorified' which the NIV words differently as:

NIV John 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

I think this is an okay translation of the NIV, but it does mean you miss out on seeing that the Holy Spirit used a passive here.

So when I saw the passive, my brain automatically asked, "Is this a divine passive?" If so, then God is glorifying himself here. Obviously the context shows us that yes God is glorifying himself, but more specifically it is the Son who is glorifying the Father. So this is an intra-trinitarian divine passive if you like!

If have heard someone complain about the idea of God glorifying himself. They didn't think it was right. But here we have Jesus glorifying God, and Jesus is God, so this is a great example of God glorifying himself. Jesus would never do anything wrong - so we know that there is nothing wrong in God glorifying himself.

It's also interesting to see that the whole reason why Jesus answers prayers, is because he wants the Father to be glorified. The grammatical construction hina + subjunctive show us that Jesus' purpose in answering prayers is to glorify the Father.

Surely this is a great example to us that:

1) God glorifies himself, and that is okay!

2) We should follow Jesus' example, and seek to glorify God with everything we do.

3) Our prayers should be prayers that glorify God.

I realise that this can be seen clearly in the English too, but due to the slow down factor of the Greek, and my tendency to identify the agent of passives, and God's grace, I was able to extract more from this verse than I otherwise would have.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Zondervan Reader's Greek New Testament 2nd edition review

It was my birthday recently and I was given Goodrich and Lukaszewski's 2nd edition of their Greek New Testament reader.

I already own the 1st edition, but don't use it as often as my UBS readers GNT because the font is not so easy to read, mainly because it is in italics, but also because the paper is very thin, causing a lot of bleed through.

So I was excited to get the 2nd edition, because it is advertised as being easier to read:
"New Greek font - easier to read"
But when I opened the box I was completely shocked!

I thought that I had received a faulty version. It looked like the printer was running out of ink when they made my copy. It looked like draft mode.
The font was incredibly thin and light.

But when I looked at the introduction (in English) and the Lexicon at the back, the print was in a much thicker and darker font - so I'm assuming that the printer was working okay, and that my copy is not faulty, but is how it is intended to be.

This makes me very disappointed, and unhappy.

I just can't understand how anyone ever let this product out.

I've tried reading it, and I have to strain my eyes to read the text, yet I had 20/20 vision at my last eye test.

I have compared it with the following texts:

Zondervan Reader's GNT 1st ed.
UBS reader's GNT
NET / Nestle Aland 27th Diglott
Pocket sized Nestle Aland 22nd ed.

All of these were far superior to the Zondervan reader's 2nd edition.
n my opinion, it is a terrible font.

I also noticed that the contrast between the Old Testament quotes (which are in bold), and the standard text, is so small, that it is hard to see when the Old Testament is being quoted. In the 1st edition however, this was very clear.

I cannot read it without eye strain, I'm going to return mine.

If you want the Zondervan GNT over the UBS, then make sure you get the 1st edition.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Essentials Video series

It appears some people have been having problems accessing our Essentials videos on google video.
If you click on this link here, you should be able to access the essentials series:

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 8: Spotting the author's frequent phrases

Spotting the author's frequent phrases like 'monon alla'

Today I was reading John 11:51-52 in my Zondervan Readers Greek New Testament. (I've been using different GNT's each day to experiment with their usefulness compared to one another - I'll post on this some time in the near future).

In the ESV, it goes like this:
John 11:51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
And I noticed a construction in the Greek that looked familiar to me, 'monon alla' meaning 'not only, but ...'
I was sure that I had seen this same phrase when reading 1 John 2:2 a few weeks ago. I looked it up and saw that it was the same phrase.

This was interesting to me, because 1 John 2:2 is a difficult verse to interpret - at face value (and with a 2008 English mindset) it sounds as if a propitiation has been made that actually turns God's anger away from every single person on the planet (even if they reject Jesus) - but we know from other scriptures that in fact God's wrath is upon those who reject Jesus. So its a tricky verse to understand.

The Puritans used to interpret difficult passages, by looking at easier to understand passages, and this seems to make sense to me - so this is what I did today:

a) A few hours after my devotional, when I had some time, I looked up (in Bibleworks) all the times this phrase is used (I used the GSE search). I found that its only used.

b) I noted that out of the 12 times it occurs in the NT, 7 of these are by John. Therefore this seems to be a phrase that he is keen on using.

c) I divided my list up into times when monon alla was used in a normal way, and when it was used in a way similar to John 11:52.

d) I then looked up monos in BDAG and saw that they give 2 meanings:
1. pert. to being the only entity in a class,
2. a marker of limitation, only, alone, (under this category BDAG listed the phrase monon alla)

e) I read through the list of verses similar to John 11:52, looking at how the limitation of monon was applied.

=> I need to spend more time studying this, but at first look my findings are that:

1) John is keen to let his readers know that salvation is not limited to Jewish disciples (or exclusively the apostles), but for Gentile disciples too. In light of this 1 John 2:2 should be easier to understand.
John 11:52, John 17:20, 1 John 2:2, 2 John 1:1

2) Paul is keen to let people know that the children of Abraham are not limited to ethnic Israelites, but those who have faith in God.
Romans 4:12, Romans 4:16

This needs more work, especially in terms of seeing how this fits with other passages that do not necessarily contain the phrase monon alla - but hopefully this does demonstrate the benefit of reading the NT devotionally. In this case, my devotional reading revealed something that helped my later exegesis.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The NET Bible and its new binding

The history:

I got my first NET Bible between 1 and 2 years ago, and was really disappointed with the binding of it. The inside margins of the pages didn't sit flat, and instead had a sort of bubble effect going on.

I wrote to the NET Bible people thinking that I had a faulty copy, and was told that they were all like that.

The binding ended up actually putting me off using the NET Bible, and I tended to use the NET Bible in Bibleworks instead of the real thing!

Then a few weeks ago, after posting about the binding on the NET Bible, the NET people emailed me to say they now had new binding, and that they would send me a new copy for free.

So, I now have a brand new NET Bible with the new binding.

The verdict:

The binding is far superior to the old one. There is no bubble effect like before.
The leather doesn't feel quite as good as the previous one (in my opinion), but the difference is only small.

The main thing is that now the NET Bible has a decent binding, which in my opinion makes it one of the best study bibles around.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Using the Greek New Testament for devotions part 7: The culmulative effect of emphatic negations

One of the benefits I've noticed lately to having my quiet times with a Greek text is that you spot the 'ou me' emphatic negations.

'ou me' strengthens a negation, Friberg's lexicon gives the examples of 'never, in no way, under no circumstances, certainly not'.

This are often translated in the English, but not always. I've put some examples I've come across in my reading recently:

ESV John 4:48 So Jesus said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe."

In the Greek it says 'ou me pisteusete' meaning 'you will never believe'

Ok, not wildly encouraging, but then there's:

ESV John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

In the Greek it says 'ou me peinase' = 'will never go hungry'
and 'ou me dipsesei' = "will never thirst".

What a comfort to know this!

There's also:

ESV John 6:37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

which reads 'ou me ekbalo eko' = 'I will never throw out'

Jesus is emphatic about this, no way, under no circumstances will he ever throw us out!

ESV John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

'ou me periptese en te skotia'
= "will never walk in darkness"


ESV John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."

'thanaton ou me theorese eis ton aiwna' = 'he will never see death forever'

As you read John's gospel through you start to feel the culmulative effect of these ou me's!