May you have a safe and blessed weekend. Enjoy the time with your family, and let's never forget those who served and sacrificed.
God bless the USA.
May you have a safe and blessed weekend. Enjoy the time with your family, and let's never forget those who served and sacrificed.
God bless the USA.
After spending a week teaching in Wake Forest it feels oh so refreshing to be back on the farm, probably the one place I'd rather be than anywhere else on the planet. There's always something going on here.
Alas, my stay will be short-lived as (Lord willing) I fly to Denver tomorrow. The meteorologists that I've read all seem to agree that the next few days ought to be partly cloudy but dry for the most part in Boulder. I'll take that as good news any day. As you know, I usually try and plan a year of races well in advance. But this trip was a spur of the moment thing. I'm still very very very much on the fence about my next marathon this year. I was thinking about doing the St. George (Utah) Marathon again, but then a friend told me he was running the Greensboro Marathon (also in October) and invited me to run it with him, so I am still undecided. Stay tuned.
By the way, I am tired of eating out, so much so that I couldn't wait to cook some stir fry for dinner when I got home.
The truth is, I usually gain weight when I eat out too much. My body type is large to begin with. I can't really afford to engage in too much unhealthy behavior. Yet you will never hear me say "diet." I just try to use common sense. Avoid as many processed foods as possible. Eat real fruit, real vegetables, eggs, dairy, and healthy fresh fish and meat. Don't try to be perfect. Think about the quality of the food you eat, not just the amount.
I like to state the obvious.
This book was waiting for me when I got home today. One of my former students wrote it and I liked it so much I wrote an endorsement that appears on the inside cover.
At any rate, tomorrow my trip kicks off, which means I won't be blogging for a few days. I'm staying at an Airbnb out in the country. Here's what my room looks like.
Furthermore, as you can see, the place has great views of the famous Flatirons, which I wish I could climb before the race but that would destroy my legs. Maybe next time.
Pretty nice, eh? Check in is tomorrow at 3:00. By the way, my youngest grandchild had his 2nd birthday this week.
Just had to get that little burst of Ira cuteness out of the way. I love those curls.
So much to be grateful for. I enjoy my life, including my running. My body lets me do this. My family and friends support me. My mind is strong. Be thankful for all of it.
Good morning, folks! I hope you've had a great week. I'm often asked, "So why do you think studying Greek is so important? Can't I just rely on my English translations?" Well, yes and no. The fact is, sometimes what the text is saying in Greek is masked in even our most accurate and reliable English versions.
This morning, for example, I was in Matthew's Gospel again. I wanted to review how the Hebrew translated the Greek of Matt. 28:20 -- a verse we all know: "Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age."
The Hebrew here is amazing!
Here's how it compares with the Greek:
Please look at the middle line above. Did you notice that the Greek has three words: pasas tas hēmeras. The Hebrew has two words: qol hayamim. Both mean exactly the same thing: "all the days." However -- and for the life of me, I don't know why -- English Bible translators have chosen to use only one English word to translate those three Greek words. Can you guess what that word is? ALWAYS. This word is found in all of your standard English versions, including the following:
However, I want you to see something. I want you to see how other languages have rendered the three Greek words we've discussed above. Here are a few examples:
German: alle Tage or jeden Tag
French: tous les jours
Portugues: todos os dias
Spanish: todos los días
Latin: omnibus diebus
Plattdeutsch: aule Doag
Italian: tutti i giorni
I'd be curious to know what the Chinese and Japanese have here but I don't know a word of either language. But the point should be obvious. Apparently Jesus is not simply saying, "I am with you always." He's saying something similar to the way we rendered his words in the ISV:
"I am with you each and every day."
Other possibilities come to mind:
Don't miss this! Greek has a perfectly good way of saying "always." Even my beginning Greek students know what it is:
It ain't used here, folks. Jesus uses "all the days" (as the Greek and the Hebrew show us). And why? Here's my guess:
1. The work of making disciples -- converting them, baptizing them, teaching them -- is a daily obligation placed upon us.
2. Hence we need to rely on the Lord not just "aways" but "each and every day" if we are going to fulfill his Great Commission. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown agree when they say that Jesus is with us "not only to perpetuity, but without one day's interruption."
Frankly, I don't see this emphasis in those versions that simply say "always." Do you?
Anyhow, I had such a rich time in God's word this morning, and I think a big part of it was being able to read the text in both the original Greek and then in the Hebrew. What is so jarring about this verse is that it reminds me that I need to be intentional about evangelism and discipleship each and every day of my life. Jesus' words are a gadfly in the ointment of my otherwise self-centered existence. In this sense, Christianity is inescapably missional. I will also say this. Evangelicals are, I think, often prone to anti-intellectualism and slavish adherence to tradition. These unfortunate traits often lead us to a disparagement of logical reasoning and to a failure to give adequate attention to the details of Scripture. Superspiritulaity leads many conservatives to superficiality.
Finally, as someone who lost my wife and my closest friend 10 years ago, I am so blessed and encouraged to know that my Savior walks with me on a daily basis. I now realize, more than ever, that I must view each and every day as a day of opportunity to love and serve him. Am I "practicing the Presence," as the Keswick disciples used to say? Am I living by true heart love for him or am I just going through the motions? Basking in Christ's presence -- that's where safety lies.
Christ taught us in Matt. 28:20 that this life is not the end. It is but a short space of time in our endless existence. He says, in essence, Set your goal on heaven. Determine that you will live for eternity and not merely for time. And remember that I am with you day after day after day to help you do just that.
How to succeed in school? Accept personal responsibility. Reject the road of ease and victimhood. That's it.
The theologian who insists that we can never possess the truth but only pursue the truth is himself oblivious to the fact that he is insisting on a "truth possessed" gospel. He's guilty of the very epistemology he's condemning. He possesses the "truth" that truth must not be possessed. Such a person will never know the truth or be free indeed.
Waiting to the last minute to study for an exam is like trying to borrow your way out of debt.
I first "met" Bo Reicke through his writings. I had considered asking him if I could become one of his doctoral students in Basel. But first I wanted to become familiar with him. And there is no better way to do that than through reading someone's writings.
You say, "My prospective Doctor Father hasn't written all that much." Then you don't want to study with him. Scholarship means publishing. And Reicke's introduction to the New Testament era is a superb example of that. Biased am I? You bet I am. The man's balance between humanitas and pietas was exemplary. He is now with the Lord, but his influence will live on in my life forever. Thanks be to God.
Wow! Wow! WOW! Take a look at this!
We all know Phil. 1:21: "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." But did you know that Paul is alluding to a well-known expression used by the Greeks? When asked, "How are you", they would often answer:
To zēn chrēstos!
"Life is good!"
Paul tales this memorable turn of phrase and turns it into a reference to Christ by making one very simple change in spelling:
To zēn christos!
"Life is Christ!"
Paul wants his beloved Philippians to understand that if life is good as non-believers, life for Christians is so much better because life is Christ! And watch this -- because life is Christ, then dying is gain (kerdos). Paul's words even rhyme. Say these words aloud:
Now do you see why I love Paul so much? The man was not only a missionary giant. He not only towers over Augustine or Luther or Barth. He not only wrote 14 books of the New Testament. ("14" is not a typo.) He not only spoke several languages. But he was a brilliant writer. Arguably no other New Testament author used literary devices like Paul did. What rigorous writing! What profundity! Sometimes his words cascade over me like a mighty waterfall. The depth is amazing.
I can never God thank enough for that man. I love Paul!
There's no shame in admitting that you read your Hebrew NEW TESTAMENT more than you read your Hebrew Old Testament.
It's on! I'm talking about the Bolder Boulder this weekend, of course.
Might I fail? At what? Not being the fastest or the most skilled? No biggie. Who am I trying to impress anyway? The older I get (am I talking a lot about aging these days or what?????), I am learning to "go with the flow" -- accepting the adventures, imperfections, and detours that life throws at you. I think of verses like Deut. 24:7 ("Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone") and Isa. 46:4 ("Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you"). I am doing this weekend's race because it's incredible and because it's BUCKET LIST MATERIAL.
To prepare for the race, today I went to the Y here in Wake Forest and got in a fairly challenging workout.
Then tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will do one last run before flying out to Colorado. Again, if the Lord's kindness permits, I hope to cross another race off on my bucket list. Yet there are still many more goals and dreams on my list. See all my grandkids graduate from high school. Return to Ukraine to teach in Odessa for the fourth time. Run a marathon in another country (like Greece). Run a 5K when I'm 99. Even if you only achieve two or three goals on your bucket list, they are still worth chasing down. I like how Henry Ford put it: "Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you're probably right." Tomorrow is indeed another day for all of us. Only the Lord knows what it will hold. Be content where you are. Rest in him. Make the most of every opportunity he gives you to be active or to serve him. Remember: you are competing only against yourself and you need not compare, judge yourself, or let your ego take over.
If your beginning grammar doesn't break words down into their morphemes (individual units of meaning), then it's time to get a new grammar.
There's a brand new barbeque joint in town that me and a friend tried out today. Actually, he had been here before and couldn't stop raving about the place. Indeed, the brisket was every bit as good as he said it would be.
Today I took the day off from training to devote myself to a bit of R & R. No lifting. Nu running. Not even a walk. I'll do that tomorrow. The older I get, the more I realize the need for balance between work and play, between running and recovery, between sleep and being awake, between Hostess Cupcakes and broccoli. It's so easy to let life get out of whack, isn't it? So tonight I am going to watch a movie on Amazon Prime (have y'all seen The Covenant yet?) and not sure what else except to put my brain in park for a few hours.
What are YOU doing today?
Today in Greek class we're studying participles. Greek is a participle-loving language. There are 7,491 verses in the New Testament, and 4,277 of them contain participles. 1 Cor. 7:30 has 6 of them! In Hebrews alone, there are 315 participles.
This is just one page from Hebrews featuring participles.
You simply cannot see what's going on, for example, in the warning passage of Heb. 6:4-6 without a good understanding of how the Greek participle works.
|No, this passage is not as difficult to interpret as you think.|
One of my doctoral students even wrote an entire dissertation just on the participles in Heb. 6:1-12.
So class today will be great fun. Verses we'll be translating include:
How do you break through a plateau in your studies? Ask yourself: Do I need more motivation, or do I just need to buckle down and get the job done? Do I actually need help, or do I just need to stop procrastinating?
Don't just study Greek because it's an important tool for exegesis. Study Greek to enhance your walk with the Lord.
I did it. I stopped writing and got out of the office today. It is too beautiful of a day to spend indoors. My writing can wait. Oh, I have writing deadlines just like everybody else who writes. But I find that exercise, rather than making me tired, energizes me. So, what else was there to do today than to head over to the Smith Creek Greenway in Wake Forest?
I hated having to stop after only 5 miles, but I've got things to do tonight.
Funny how you can enjoy workouts more when you share the greenway with other runners.
So now, it's back to the office. I'm staying here in WF for the week to teach while the kids are on the farm taking care of business there. Again I'm reminded of just how fragile life can be. Who knows how many more years God will give me to be active? But every time I work outdoors or go for a run, my heart swells up with thanksgiving to the One who makes all this possible. In the meantime, I'm really looking to this weekend's race in Colorado. I think it's gonna be a blast. There is nothing more fun than running a 10K with 50,000 other people. If you live near Boulder, I'll see you there :-)
Tonight's performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor was held in the magnificent Baldwin Auditorium on the campus of Duke University.
Oddly enough, the last concert I attended here was a performance by the Beatles' tribute band, the Fab Four. Nobody can tell me that my musical taste is not eclectic. The Choral Society of Durham performed before a packed audience. Its director, Rodney Wyncoop, directed the Duke University Chorale for over 35 years before retiring.
After the concert I treated myself to some Ethiopian food at the Goorsha restaurant in Durham. The doro wat was excellent, but the injera left a lot to be desired. Ethiopian food is not only tasty but nutritious. You should try it sometime. Just remember: Never eat with your left hand.
Here's hoping you have a great week. Practice his presence and be blessed.
Now this is interesting. I saw it in my morning Bible study. I was reading the so-called Lord's Prayer in Latin and noticed something I had overlooked all these years.
The word "heaven" occurs twice in the LP.
But the Latin has this:
Our Father, who art in heaven ...
on earth as it is in heaven ...
Pater noster qui es in caelis ...
sicut in caelo et in terra ...
Here's what I noticed. But first, a quick grammar lesson. Latin is an inflected language. English not so much. In English, for example, sometimes we use an apostrophe after a noun to indicate possession, as in "the father's daughter." Latin does it differently: filia patris. Word endings that indicate different uses of a noun are far more frequent in Latin. Now let's observe the Latin words rendered "heaven" here. They are caelis and caelo.
"Heaven" is a neuter noun in Latin. The nominative case of this noun is caelum, "heaven." Here in the LP the term is used first in the ablative plural, caelis, and then in the ablative singular, caelo. Yet both terms are translated as though each was singular: "Our Father who art in heaven ... on earth as it is in heaven ...." Why, then, should the Latin make the first occurrence plural? And the answer is to be found -- where else? -- in the Greek:
Literally, the Greek says "who art in the heavens."
Hence the plural in the Latin. This tells me that Jerome, in translating the Vulgate from the Greek, tried to stay as close to his source text as possible. That's why the Vulgate sometimes sounds stilted and overly-literal. Even the Greek word order is retained. For example, the English "on earth as it is in heaven" is not the same as the Greek, which reads "as in heaven, also on earth." This is exactly what the Latin has: "sicut in caelo et in terra." Thus in Latin, as in Greek, we have to train ourselves to observe the way words end, both nouns and verbs, if we are to understand what is being said.
Would you like to be able to read Scripture like that? I would! As I have said before, observation is the essential first step in Bible study. I trust you are always increasing your powers of observation. Maybe blog posts like this one will help you do that.
Two brief thoughts about my time in 1 Cor. 9 this morning. This is the famous passage where Paul says that he becomes "all things to all men."
1) Some read this passage and claim that Paul was an unprincipled compromiser. Paul was nothing of the sort. Paul would never surrender his theology or ethical principles to anybody. But even though he was as tough as nails in his convictions, he was as pliable as a reed in his love for others. He was willing to identify himself with other people in all things indifferent. Why? For the sake of the gospel.
2. In 1 Cor. 9:22, did Paul write "so that by all means I might save some," or "so that I might save all"? This is one of several significant textual variants in the New Testament that I will talk about in Monday's Greek class, where the topic will be New Testament textual criticism. In my opinion, the best attested reading is the former. The support for the latter reading ("so that I might save all") has very limited, Western attestation. (The Latin Vulgate reads "ut omnes facerem salvos.") Moreover, the internal evidence seems to favor the reading "so that by all means I might save some." A scribe's eye simply skipped 4 letters. See?
It's funny how the little things so often make a difference in biblical interpretation. The facts are there, but it seems that only a master sleuth notices them. One of my teachers used to say to his students, "You see, but you're not observing." May we all pray, "Open my eyes, that I may see wonderful things from your law" (Psalm 119:18)!
People need to be pushed. This weekend my Greek students will be pushing themselves to master chapter 18 of our grammar. They will work themselves to the bone. I do not feel comfortable asking them to do something that I'm not doing myself. My work is not to master New Testament Greek but to master the art of lifting.
As with learning Greek, once you've put in the initial effort, you'll start settling into a routine. You'll start to see tangible results, and that in turn is going to increase your motivation further and you'll really start enjoying the process rather than seeing it as a chore.
For me personally, I look forward to my gym workouts as much as I look forward to getting back into the classroom to teach. That's because I'm developing the habits of proper training and nutrition.
If you can learn to appreciate the effects your weight training and diet have on your mind and body, then it's something you'll enjoy a good amount of the time.
When I took first year Greek, I absolutely fell in love with the language. I learned to enjoy my studies of the language and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. So my advice to you would be: If learning a language or improving your health is a goal you'd like to strive to accomplish, just go for it. Get started, grind out the initial stages, and you'll find that after awhile you get into a groove and it's fairly smooth sailing.
Bless you as you chase down your goals.
I am literally pinching myself. I just found out today that Bach's B Minor Mass is being performed this Sunday in Durham, NC -- only an hour drive from the farm. I cannot wait!
Can you believe that a country yokel like me has such culture so close to him? Someone has praised this mass as "the greatest work of music in all ages and of all people." Best of all, it's all in Latin, a language I absolutely adore. Movements and sub-movements include:
When I was studying music at the University of Hawaii, our choir sang that last piece, "Give us peace." I will never forget it.
An aging Bach left this piece as a bequest to his successors and to future generations of people, including this farmer from Virginia. It seems to encapsulate in every detail Bach's famous dictum that "the final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than the glorification of God and the refreshment of the human spirit." I'm still in love with his creations. No matter how cool your computer speakers might sound, they can never compare to the rumble in your chest when you hear this music performed live. Bach's music is beyond amazing. It's crazy to think that most people have never heard this piece.
"Less than the least of all the saints" (Eph. 3:8). That's what Paul called himself. The term he coined for this is truly unforgettable. In English it would be equivalent to "leaster." There is no greater peril, whether with the individual, the nation, or the church, then the presence of pride.
It used to be said that evangelicals are biblical but not contemporary, while liberals are contemporary but not biblical. Sadly, evangelicals are becoming less and less biblical and more and more contemporary in toto. We are sacrificing the Bible on the altar of relevance. Listen, yes, to the voices of the contemporary world, but listen more to the Scriptures.
The church is not over the Scriptures but under them. To that apostolic authority the church must always bow.
Don't come to the Bible with your experiences and then have your experiences interpret the Bible. Bring the Bible to your experiences and then let the Bible interpret them. The hermeneutical process does not begin with application to your cultural setting; it ends there.
As you may know, I was a doctoral student at the University of Basel from 1980-1983. At Basel, once your dissertation has been approved by the faculty, you must wait 6 months before taking your oral exam. (Orals in Basel, unlike here, occur after you write your dissertation, not before.) The day of the exam finally arrived and I sat before my
persecutors questioners with fear and trepidation. I think I did fairly well, but on one question I was completely stumped. "What theological concept holds that Christians are actively taking part in the kingdom of God, although that kingdom will not reach its full expression until sometime in the future? Specifically, what two expressions do theologians use to describe this tension between the ___________ and the __________?"
Now, I did indeed know the answer, but for the life of me I couldn't think clearly enough to utter the simple words, "Schon, noch nicht." Is there a biblical basis for this "Already, not yet" concept? You bet there is. The problem comes when we become unbalanced in our theology. Overemphasize the "now kingdom" and you will take yourself too seriously. The kingdom decays into utopianism, theocracy, or the social gospel. On the other, overemphasize the "coming kingdom" and you run the risk of being "so heavenly minded you're no earthly good."
Balance between the already and the not yet of the kingdom remains essential for our spiritual and psychological health as believers. The now kingdom and the coming kingdom can never be separated. Boldness for down-to-earth ministry is best nourished by clear-thinking expectation of a kingdom to come.
In Matt. 1 this morning. Joseph was told to name the child, "Jesus." Why? "Because he will save his people from their sins." Jesus was a very popular name at the time. It was the Greek equivalent of Joshua, meaning "The Lord Saves." But here it's weighted with spiritual significance. Here Jesus' supreme work on the cross was anticipated . Here was the name God chose for him, the name the Father himself decided was most appropriate for his Son. It's the designation of his primary function. The name "Jesus" is the name that perfectly expresses what our Lord really does. And every time that name is uttered, the gospel is proclaimed.
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
I'm thinking that happiness looks something like this:
You prepare your students for their first exam the best way you know how and leave the results up to the Lord. To say that I am excited to see how they do tomorrow would be an understatement.
Then I drove home and after dropping off my suitcase went to the Y for a workout. Since I'm never there in the afternoon I was happily surprised to see it crowded with people of all shapes and sizes.
I tried to follow the advice I always give to my students: Don't try and focus on everything at one time. Greek, like lifting, can be daunting, but if you peel it all down into bite size chunks it isn't all that bad. The reality is, you can't do the whole workout as a whole. You can only do one rep at a time. You have a fitness goal, you have a plan, and you're going to stick with it and move forward because you know it's the right thing to do. Before you know it, you'll be in the middle of your workout and you'll realize it's not a big deal after all. You even to begin to enjoy it.
I hope my students are enjoying their Greek class. And all their studies. When you're done, you'll always feel better than you would have if you quit. And you'll thank yourself for it.
Charles Williams once wrote in his book The Descent of the Dove:
It is doubtful whether Christendom has ever quite recovered from the mass-conversion of the fashionable classes inside Rome and of the barbaric races outside Rome.... It is at least arguable that the Christian Church will have to return to a pre-Constantine state before she can properly recover the ground she too quickly won.
My book The Jesus Paradigm is, in essence, a call for the church to return to its pre-Constantine state. For that to happen, the first step will be choosing to become strangers to the religious and secular culture of the day and strangers to all of our over-simplified, polarized ideologies of both the left and the right.
Written on the fascia of the University of Texas's main building are these words: "Ye Shall Know the Truth, And the Truth Shall Make You Free."
But this famous saying carries no reference. No author is sourced. And this omission -- the failure to attribute the saying to Jesus -- clearly expresses our modern intellectual and governmental crisis. The omission explains a society now largely devoid of a biblical understanding of anything, a society in deep need of the God of the Bible.
Jesus, of course, spoke those words. The tower's forgotten source is John 8:32. God does not impart truth apart from Christ. If I seek truth, I have no choice but to submit to him.
Sevareid's Law states: "The chief cause of problems is solutions." Don't fall for easy answers to difficult questions. The real solution is often long and arduous. Don't miss the joy that comes only from the struggle to grow.
A crowded Bojangles in the Forest of Wake was the scene of this morning's Bible time in Psalm 19.
The Psalms are for people who have wrestled with life. We all have burdens to bear. But in a way, that's the good news. The raw materials for spiritual growth come to us, not in spite of our troubles, but because of them. The Psalms were written for fellow pilgrims who find on their road the same lessons the Psalmists found on theirs.
I love how the Living Bible renders the last verse of Psalm 19:
May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.
What a great was to start the day.