These posts are based on my commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians, available from Zondervan Publishing.
Chapter Seven – I teach in seminary
I’ve now been a professor, teaching in English and then in Spanish, for 25 years.
The first seminary where I taught put us through a sort of Professor Boot Camp. Our academic dean stressed: “Your students will remember only a portion of the content you teach; they will always remember your attitudes and values.
That principle has been true as far as my memories: I can remember a few professors who came across as, well, self-satisfied, distant, or lethargic; I hope my impressions were mistaken.
Other professors seemed to be hard workers, careful students of the Word, loving individuals and encouraging. (more…)
Well, almost never anyway.
I have spent my adult life studying the New Testament in the original, and also have taught Greek and Greek exegesis on a seminary level for many years. When I prepare a sermon, I go immediately to the text in the original Greek or Hebrew, praying that the Spirit would use those tools to lead me to all truth.
Yet one of my pet peeves is people who keep making reference to Greek or Hebrew when they preach. I’m planning on posting a blog in this spot, something like “Ban Greek from your Pulpit”. Does anyone have anecdotes, arguments, etc.?
Whether it backs up my position or not, please give feedback, and maybe I’ll use your information in the post.
Since the Rapture has made headlines lately, here are some observations.
The New Testament was written in Greek. Some argue that it was originally done in Hebrew, but they cannot provide ancient Hebrew (or Aramaic or Syriac) manuscripts to back that up. All of Paul’s churches used Greek as their principal language. Paul himself had grown up speaking a dialect of Greek known as koine. It is for this reason that many serious students of the Scriptures decide to study that language, just as many others study Hebrew.
Unfortunately, much of what we hear about Greek in books or from the pulpit is false or misleading. For example, some preach that the word agape means “divine love,” whereas phile means “human love or affection.” This is simply not the case, and the words are often interchangeable in the New Testament. I shudder every time I hear the words “I know that it says thus-and-such in your Bibles, but the Greek really says, etc.” Listen: English Bible versions – with a few exceptions – were carried out by leading experts in the field of the original languages, who have gone to great lengths to express the meaning of the original in English. You can trust your English Bible.
Yet, every once in a while there is a gem in the original Greek that is difficult to communicate in English. For example, the NIV of 1 Thess 4:17 has, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” The other versions are similar and equally reliable. In my forthcoming commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Zondervan) I opted to translate verse 17 as: “we who still live and remain will be taken up together with [those who were dead] in the clouds to welcome the Lord in the air.” “To meet,” a verb in most versions, represents a Greek preposition and noun, “for a meeting” (eis apantesin). Nevertheless, a verb in English captures the original Greek equally well.
But one might ask, what happens after the Christians meet the Lord in the air? Where do they go? (more…)
Note: In November 2012 I published a commentary of 1-2 Thessalonians for Zondervan (click HERE). The advice given below is applicable to all preaching and writing projects.
I used to do business at a local office building. On the wall was an engraved map of the New World from the 1600s. It was a real work of art, but of course it was also grossly inaccurate. Florida was too stubby. Much of the area north and west of the Mississippi was missing. Many of the lands were out of proportion. Antarctica and Greenland were freakish. A modern sailor would love to have a map like this on his wall, but who today would attempt to navigate Tierra del Fuego or the Hudson Bay with that information? (more…)