March 2008

Inspired by Aboulet’s alliterated series’ Wednesdays with Waltke and Midrash Mondays; and Ancient Hebrew Poetry’s posts on textual issues of biblical passages I decided to start my own alliterated series on biblical passages. Since I am currently taking classes in Hebrew and Aramaic and nothing in Greek I decided to do something that would help me keep my Greek fresh. So (hopefully) every Saturday I will post a bit on a passage from the Septuagint. For those of you that don’t know the Septuagint (or LXX) is a Greek translation of the Old Testament from about the 2nd Century BC. It is one of my favorite areas of study. I do not think that many people will get much out of these posts but since this is for my own edification, and this is my blog I’m going to do it anyway. So, let’s start with the begininng:

Gen. 1:1 ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν 

Gen. 1:2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου καὶ πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἐπεφέρετο ἐπάνω τοῦ ὕδατος 


Translation: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was invisible and unformed and darkness was upon the deep and a breath of God was carrying itself upon the water.


Translation Notes:

1. πνεῦμα θεοῦ

1. The relationship of the genitive noun θεοῦ to the nominative noun πνεῦμα governs how one views this phrase. It seems to me that the two standard options are either a genitive of source (‘a spirit/wind from God) or a possessive genitive (‘God’s spirit/wind’). The NRSV has taken the genitive of source (it is the same grammatical construction in the MT) translating ‘a wind from God.’ The NETS has translated the Greek as ‘a divine wind.’ This is taking it as an adjectival genitive, which conveys the sense but I think I want to keep the θεοῦ as a noun. My translation ‘a breath of God’ is intentionally vague, allowing for the pun of Spirit and wind to be conveyed while leaving it open as to whether this is just a wind or God’s Spirit.

2. ἐπεφέρετο

1. For the sake of literalness and probably to the detriment of readability I have translated this Imperfect middle indicative verb as ‘carry itself’ (from ἐπιφέρω, ‘to bring, put’) I guess ‘hovering’ is probably a good translation but I wanted to bring out the ‘middle’ sense of the verb. 


LXX vs. MT

1. The LXX is a very literal translation of the MT, down to following the word order.

2. τὸν οὐρανὸν vs. השׁמים

1. The only difference here is that the Greek has used a singular noun to translate the dual ‘heavens’ of the MT. But since Greek has no dual it had to chose between singular and plural. It would be interesting to see how the LXX translates duals throughout.

3. ἀόρατος vs. תהו

1. The LXX has used a word that implies the visual aspect of the state of the earth (from the root ὁράω, ‘to see’) against the MT which uses a word that implies the actual physical substance of the state of the earth: empty.

4. ἐπεφέρετο vs. מרחפת

1. The LXX has used an imperfect indicative verb to translate the piel participle of רחף (which means ‘to grow soft’ in the qal, and ‘to flutter’ in the piel). I think the Hebrew would inform the translation ‘was hovering’ which is actually not a bad translation to get the imperfect sense of the Greek verb and would work well as a representation of the participle in the MT. NETS has gone with “was being carried,” which seems like a good translation of the Greek without taking into account of the Hebrew.    

This has been ‘Septuagintal Saturdays,’ I hope you enjoyed it. I know I did. 

I have encountered several things in my life in the last few days that have caused me to ponder anew the problem of Christian disunity.

1) Someone in my life recently asked me about the theology of the Emergent Church movement because they were going to do some ministry deal with them. When this person agreed to it he immediately got negative feed back about the Emergent Churches theology, saying it is scary and heterodox.

2) Aboulet, over at finitum non capax infinit (a fantastic blog that I read regularly), has been keeping me up to date on the situation with Dr. Peter Enns over at Westminster Theological Seminary. He has been suspended because of his supposed heterodoxy presented in his book Inspiration and Incarnation. I must confess that I have not read his book (a situation that I look to remedy shortly) but from the best I can tell his intention in writing the book is to wrestle, in a very confessional and evangelical way, the difficulties that are presented with the Old Testament

3) I recently watched a video clip with N.T. Wright in which he speaks, among other things, about the great tragedy of the visible disunity within the church.

It seems to me (and I am speaking of evangelicals in particular) that we are failing miserably to live up to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:22-23:

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (NRSV)      

Do we not realize that the corollory of not being completely one is that the world might not know that God sent Jesus and the God loves them? What a tragedy that our visible disunity is damaging the world’s view of Jesus and God. My prayer for my generation is that we could get past this doctrinal snobbery (believe these set of core beliefs or I will not associate with you) and live like Jesus, who as far as I can tell was less concerned with who he associated with and more concerned with reaching out to those in need. Lord forgive us, we do not know what we do!

What is the correct blogroll etiquette? As I have been adding links on my blogroll I have been faced with the quesiton: who exactly do I add to my blogroll? This question doesn’t really come up with my Bib/Theo blogs, I know which of those I read and find beneficial. But when it comes to my Friends/Family blogs I’m at a loss.

The problem is that I don’t actually read that many blogs. I mean, sure, I read my sister and brother-in-law’s blog, mostly for pictures of my nephew (no offense Josh), but I am only aware of most of the other blogs in my Friends/Family blogroll because Sarah reads them (she is an avid blog reader). So here is my question: do I add the blogs of all my friends to my blogroll or just the blogs of those I actually read (knowing that that might be a short list)? I’m not sure. I guess, all this is to say don’t be offended if you’re not on my blogroll, I still like you (I may have just forgotten that you have a blog); and I won’t be offended if I’m not on yours. How does that sound?

Last Saturday I attended and presented at my first ETS (Evangelical Theological Society) Meeting. The meeting was fun, the plenary session was on decision making and the will of God, i.e., can we know God’s will for our lives? I heard an afternoon paper on how the synoptics use Lev. 19 and Deut. 6 in stating the two greatest commandments and a paper on ‘Love your neighbor and the imprecatory Psalms.’ All in all it was well worth the price of admission. I also won three books: Waltke’s Old Testament Theology, Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought, and Seitz’s Prophecy and Hermeneutic. All in all, it was well worth the price of admission. I look forward to reading all of these. 

As to the presentation. I found it to be very enjoyable. I really enjoyed giving the paper, and it seemed well received. When it came to the questions (the part I was really worried about) I met with some disagreement among those who were at my session. But I found the conversation helped clarify my own thinking on my topic even if I didn’t dissuade those who disagreed with me (when you’re a graduate student arguing with a seminary professor you’re probably not going to win).

They say that presenting a paper is one of those things that you are supposed to do in Academics and that it looks good to schools you may want to apply to. That is probably true but the thing I found most beneficial was the affirmation that I enjoyed this type of academic activity and the stimulating conversation about a topic I had done quite a bit of studying on. All in all, it was a great time. I highly recommend it. 

Ben Witherington is one of my favorite NT scholars. But he is also a poet who I enjoy very much. His recent poem is one on the resurrection that is inspired by Nikolai Ge’s Painting ‘The Harbingers of Resurrection.’ You can see his full post here. Since it is Good Friday I thought it was worth sharing:

    The Cool of the tomb
    The heat of the sun,
    Returning to remedy
    What was undone.
    The spices in hand,
    The ointment in jar
    Daybreak excursion
    That didn’t get far.
    The guard was asleep
    The stone rolled away
    The body was gone,
    What could they say?
    Did someone steal in
    Under cover of night
    Purloin the body
    Vanish from sight?
    Was he moved by the gardener,
    As he cleaned up the mess?
    The women would wonder
    In the midst of distress.
    The angel attendants
    Sat idly by,
    ‘Why are you weeping?’
    Was their instant reply. (more…)

I am officially entering the blogging world. We’ll see how this goes. Wish me luck.