Thursday, December 28, 2006

Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus

I read this book a few weeks ago, but it was so fascinating that I wanted to write a post on it. Basically, the authors (David Bivin and Roy B. Blizzard) argue that much of the New Testament, specifically the Synoptic Gospels, were originally written in Hebrew. This means that the Greek texts are not original but translations of Hebrew writing. The authors argue that a lot is lost when translating from Hebrew to Greek to English. They also argue that Hebrew idioms provide the key to unlocking some of the more puzzling words of Jesus and that Jesus is much better understood in a Hebrew world rather than a Greek world.

I had never heard this theory before and I found it to be interesting. However, I checked around with some people much smarter than me on these matters, and all of them agreed that the theory is most likely not true. Still, I am finding it increasingly helpful to place Jesus within his own context so that we can understand how his life should transform us in our current context. I have never been a huge fan of historical criticism of the Bible or Jesus because I feel like it is a bunch of hot air - "scholars think this, but they are not really sure, etc." In these past few months, however, I have gained a greater appreciation of it through books such as this one and "The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction" by Stephen M. Wylen. For me, the life of Jesus has become so much richer and clearer through resources that help me imagine his life setting. I am also learning a lot through the teachings of Ray VanderLaan.

Who would have thought that thinking of Jesus as a 1st century Jewish guy would help me as a 21st century white American guy?

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