Why ONLY Telling Your Story is NOT the Best Way to Share the Gospel

count the costLeslie Keeney’s article “Why Telling Your Story is NOT the Best Way to Share the Gospel” raises many good points to which I am deeply sympathetic but I think it only scratches the surface of a much deeper problem within the western church today. In the west we have so greatly elevated grace over obedience, individualism over community, and love over truth that the very Gospel message we are called to share has been almost completely lost.

Grace over Obedience

In the west we have been preaching “cheep grace” for far too long. Yes, God has freely given his grace to us because of his love for us, a grace that none of us deserved. But the grace he freely gives us came at a very great cost, it cost our Lord his very life and his gift of grace should elicit a life long response of obedience that demonstrates the value of the gift we have been given. Our desire should be to please the one who has given us this unimaginably great gift. Leslie touches on the problem of “cheep grace” in her article when she says “Well-meaning pastors realize that people are scared to tell people about Jesus, and they want to find an easy method that they can use to teach their congregation how to share their faith without actually having to ask them to do anything—at least anything hard.” While I too believe this has been a mistake, I believe it is a mistake that extends far beyond the arena of apologetics. Yes, it is important that we take the time to learn how to share our faith with those in our culture and understand the questions they are asking but I believe it is even more important that we first take the time to understand our own faith, what we believe, why we believe it, and how that faith is demonstrated in every area of our lives. We need to understand the Gospel message and be willing to live it out in our own lives before we can begin to genuinely share it with others and this means that we understand that every disciple of Christ must be willing to make sacrifices for their faith; they must be willing to do hard things. When we do share the Gospel with others, we need to stop selling “fire insurance” and begin telling those who are seeking Christ that they need to count the cost of being a disciple.

 

Individualism over Community

Our faith in God is deeply personal and reflects an individual relationship between us and God alone but our relationship with God also brings us into the family of God and as members of God’s family we are responsible to love, care for, and support the other members of his family i.e. the body of Christ. God has uniquely gifted each of us to serve one another and when we fail to pull our own weight as a member of the family, the whole family suffers. As we seek to share the Gospel, I believe it is absolutely important to remember that we do this as part of the body of Christ. Yes, we all need to understand our own faith and yes, we all need to have a basic understanding of the questions those around us may be asking but we also need to remember that God has not given all of us the same gifts and sometimes the best coarse of action is not to study more but to know when to bring a brother or sister in Christ along whose gifts allow them to better answer the questions that are being asked. This is not an excuse to sidestep the hard work of learning but rather a recognition that we should focus the hard work in the areas that reflect God’s calling in our life because none of us can do or know everything. In order to answer all the questions asked by everyone in our modern multicultural society we would need to know more than anyone one individual could possibly ever know. Let us remember that we are not called to go it alone; we have been given a family who has been richly gifted by God to reach our hurting world and we will accomplish the most when we work together as a family and rely on each other to bring strength where we are weak.

 

Love over Truth

Before we can begin to address the questions of postmodernism asked by those outside of the church, we need to begin understanding how postmodernism has influenced the beliefs of those inside the church. How do we begin to explain why statements like “that may be true for you, but it’s not true for me” are wrong when we have tacitly accepted those same beliefs ourselves within the church. Often today, as long as someone associates themselves with the label “Christian” and/or a belief in “Jesus” they can voice beliefs that stand in direct opposition to the historic Christian faith taught in Scripture and few will be willing to take a stand against it. The word “heretic” has become taboo in the western church today. We are continually told that faith is a “personal thing” and we can not “judge” the faith of another person.  And while it is true that only God knows another person’s heart and God may be working on a person’s heart in ways we do not understand, it is a lie to suggest that we should not make judgements about the beliefs/doctrines another person teaches. What people teach in the name of Christ is something that we can and must compare to what is taught in Scripture and when it is found to be in contradiction with what is taught in Scripture, we need to take a stand against those teachings. Until we recognize that the ideology of “that may be true for you, but it’s not true for me” is just as wrong inside the church as it is outside the church, we will never be able to explain why it is wrong to those outside the church.
A couple of more thoughts

The title to Leslie’s article (“Why Telling Your Story is NOT the Best Way to Share the Gospel”) is a little misleading. After reading Leslie’s article I think that she would agree that sharing our story is truly one of the best ways to share about our faith but she recognizes that it is ineffective unless we are also prepared to share the Gospel message itself and understand how our faith answers the questions our culture is asking. When our message is nothing more than “our story” the Gospel message is lost and our message ineffective. Leslie clearly communicates this in her article and in her response to comments following her article but the title of the article seems to have led people to misunderstand.

In Leslie’s biographical note it says that “She is both modern and post-modern (and the postmodern part means she’s OK with the paradox).” I wish she would have explained what she meant by this because many of the problems she describes in her article are a result of the church accepting a postmodern ideology.

Update: Leslie has explained some of her views on being modern and postmodern in the comments following her article.

Psalm 131

11QPs-a Col VA song of the ascent for David

O Lord, my heart is not proud[i] and my eyes do not show conceit[ii].

I do not delve into things too great or wonderful for me.

Rather I have soothed[iii] and quieted my soul.

My soul is like a toddler[iv] carried[v] by his mother, like a toddler carried by me.

Israel wait expectantly for the Lord now and forever more.

 


[i] Lit. “my heart is not lifted up”

[ii] Lit. “my eyes are not raised”

[iii] שוה is used only 24 times in the OT and with a very wide semantic range of meaning i.e. “to compare, to make level, to smooth, to soothe, to conform.” The broad range of meaning accounts for the many variances in different translations.

[iv] Lit. “as one weaned;” children were weaned in the ANE at around the age of two. John Goldengay suggests that גמל might be better interpreted as not referring “to the actual weaning of a child but to its having come off the breast at the end of a feeding” but such an interpretation itself seems imaginative. Examples we have in Scripture (Ge. 21:8, 1 Sam 1:22, Ho. 1:8, etc…) use this word much as it is used in English thus suggesting a picture of a toddler rather than an infant as suggested by Goldengay.

[v] Lit. “on his mother;” the picture is that of a small child who is content in the arms of his mother. It is more than just being with his mother, but rather being held and comforted by her.

Psalm 129

11QPs-a Col VA song of the ascent

 

“Greatly they have oppressed me since my youth”

Surly Israel will say:

“Greatly they have oppressed me since my youth

but they were not able to prevail over[i] me.”

On my back the wicked[ii] plowed,

they made their furrows long.

 

The Lord is righteous.

He has cut the ropes of the wicked.

They will be shamed and they will retreat,

all those who hate Zion.

They will be like grass on the roof,

which, before it can be pulled, has already withered.

From which the reaper cannot fill his hand with grain[iii]

or the fold of his cloak with sheaves.

Those who pass by do not say,

“a[iv] blessing of the Lord to you,

We will bless you in the name of the Lord.”


[i] The Hebrew is very terse here, lit. “they were not able to me” (לא-יכלו לי)

[ii] The LXX and the 11Qpsa read “wicked” (הרשעים) but the MT reads “the ones plowing”  (חרשים); the difference is minor in Hebrew and could reflect either a misreading or an vorlage. The LXX includes the definite article, but the 11Qpsa does not.

[iii] Lit “cannot fill his hand”

[iv] Some versions read “the blessing” rather than “a blessing”; in Hebrew the “definiteness” of a construct phrase can sometimes be ambiguous because the definite article cannot be attached to a construct noun. In the absence of the particle, determination is made by context alone. Note: it was expected that people would offer a blessing for a good harvest to those they met during the harvest time, to withhold a blessing would have shown contempt or pity.

Psalm 130

11QPs-a Col VA song of the ascent

 

From the depths I call to you Lord.

my Lord[i] hear my voice,

let your ears be attentive to my pleading.

Lord, if you keep a record of iniquity,

who will be able to stand before you[ii], my Lord?

Because with you there is forgiveness,

for this reason you will be feared[iii].

I hope[iv] in the Lord,

My soul hopes in his word.

 

My soul, wait for my Lord[v],

much more than watchmen[vi] wait for the morning!

Israel wait for the Lord,

(because with the Lord there is compassion,

and even more, with him there is redemption[vii]),

and he will redeem Israel from her[viii] iniquity.


[i] ‘my Lord’ is אדוני (Adonai). Will it literally means ‘my Lord(s)’ it is frequently used as representative of יהוה (Yahweh). It is an established Jewish tradition to verbally substitute ‘Adonai’ for ‘Yahweh’ when reading biblical texts that contain the name of God.

[ii] Lit. ‘who will be able to stand’

[iii] We often associate God’s wrath with the fear of God but the psalmist here associates God’s forgiveness as a reason to fear him i.e. there is a sense of awe and wonder that would should feel because of God’s abounding love and forgiveness. Those who have truly begun to understand the magnitude of God’s love for us and the ransom he paid to redeem us, cannot ever again approach God irreverently.

[iv] The words קוה and יחל both have a sense of waiting with hopeful expectation. The meaning is so similar that some translations translate the first word as ‘hope’ and the latter as ‘wait’ while others reverse this. In English we often do not associate ‘waiting’ with ‘hopeful expectation’ but in Hebrew both of these words are inextricably tied to the idea of ‘hopeful expectation.’

[v] The text here follows 11Qpsa. There are some slight differences in this text that suggest different phrasing when compared to the MT. The MT reads ‘קותה נפשי ולדברו הוחלתי נפשי לאדני’ (My soul hopes, and for his word [is] my waiting, my soul for my Lord); the reading is a little difficult and seems to be much smoother in 11Qpswhich reads ‘קותה נפשי לדברו הוחילי נפשי לאדני’ (My soul hopes for his word, wait my soul for my Lord). The lack of the conjunction allows ‘for his word’ to be attach to the prior subject/verb and the change to the imperative allows the following verb to be begin the next phrase, giving each of the three phrases the same verb/subject/object structure.

[vi] The phrase ‘שומרים לבקר’ (watchmen [wait] for the morning] is repeated twice. In Hebrew, repetition is a common way to demonstrate emphasis, much like we use an exclamation point in English. While many translations include the repeated phrase here, repetition is a frequent feature of Hebrew that is commonly not translated into English.

[vii] והרבה עמו פדות, lit. ‘and more with him [is] redemption’

[viii] The pronoun is masculine because nations are typically masculine in Hebrew; however, in English we use feminine pronouns when referring to nations.

What is a “day” in Genesis one?

earth In Hebrew, like in English, the meaning of the word ‘day’ is dependent on the context in which it is used. It can refer to a 24 hour period of time, it can refer to a period of daylight, or it can refer to a long undefined period of time. In English here are some examples: “There are 30 days (24 hour periods) in June,” “The park is open only during the day (period of daylight),” “They didn’t use computers in his day (an undefined period of time).” The word ‘yom/day’ in Hebrew is used with the same broad range of meaning and in Genesis 1:1-2:4 we have all three different meanings for the word ‘day’ being used. Genesis 1:5 “God called the light, ‘day’ and Genesis 1:14 “let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide between the day and the night” are both clearly references to daylight; also in vs. 14 we also have a reference to 24 hour periods of time “they will be signs for the seasons, and for the days, and for the years.” In Genesis 2:4 “in the day the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” is clearly a reference to a period of time longer than 24 hours. The question that remains is what was the intended in remaining eight occurrences? There are significant textual issues that make the interpretation of these remaining ‘days’ in Genesis 1 difficult. While some of these issues are glossed over in our English translations, they shouldn’t be ignored by those trying to understand the meaning of the ‘days’ in Genesis 1. These issues have always been a factor in interpreting this text and are some of the reasons that questions about the proper understanding of the ‘days’ of creation have always been a point of contention. Let’s take a look at a few of the textual issues found in this text that have puzzled people for thousands of years.

יום אחד – one day

While most translations translate ‘yom echad’ as “the first day,” there are several significant issues with this translation. First, “first day” in Hebrew is “יום ראשון” (yom rishon) and not “יום אחד” (yom echad). In every other place, except one, we find that “יום אחד” has been translated into English with phrases like “one day,” “a single day,” etc…, the other exception is a reference to “the first day of the first month” in Ezra.  Second, while the definite article (the) is included in most English translations, it is not included in the Hebrew text of the first five days.

Note: For those who would like to see how “יום אחד” is translated in other places in the bible, here is a list of the other places where this phrase appears: Gen. 1:5, Gen. 27:45, Gen. 33:13, Num. 11:19, 1 Sam. 9:15, 1 Sam. 27:1, Ezr. 10:17, Isa. 9:13, Jon. 3:4, Zech. 14:7.

יום שׁני – a second day

The definite article (the) is absent in the Hebrew text but included in many English translations.

יום שׁלישׁי – a third day

The definite article (the) is absent in the Hebrew text but included in many English translations.

יום רביעי – a forth day

The definite article (the) is absent in the Hebrew text but included in many English translations.

יום חמישׁי – a fifth day

The definite article (the) is absent in the Hebrew text but included in many English translations.

יום השׁשׁי – day of the sixth

This is the first time that the definite article (the) was included in the Hebrew text. This difference shows that the author understood how to use the definite article and raises many questions about its absence in the first five days. One must wonder why the author chose to use a construct form only in this verse i.e. “day of the sixth” rather than “the sixth day.”

ויכל אלהים ביום השׁביעי מלאכתו – In the seventh day, God finish his work.

וישׁבת ביום השׁביעי מכל־מלאכתו – And he rested in the seventh day from all his work.

Twice we have the phrase “in the seventh day,” a phrase that includes both the definite article (the) and the preposition “in”; glaringly absent is any reference to the phrase “there was an evening and there was a morning” that closed each of the prior days. Both the author of the book of Hebrews and leaders of the early church recognized that these grammatical features implied that the seventh day has not yet ended.

ביום עשׂות יהוה אלהים ארץ ושׁמים – in the day the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

Here the text implies that God made the heavens and earth in a single day (note the exact same word ‘yom’ is used). If ‘yom’ should only be understood as a only a literal 24 hour period of time, then we have a significant conflict with the account of creation given in the prior 6 days.


Questions: 

  1. Why is the first day called “one day” and not “the first day?” Is this a clue that another day may have proceeded this day? Could there have been a “gap” between the real first day and the first day described in the account given in Genesis 1?
  2. Why is the definite article missing in the account of the first five days? Is this a clue that these days were not consecutive?
  3. If the missing definite article is insignificant then why is it included in the account of the last two days?
  4. What was the author trying to communicate by using the construct form in day 6?
  5. Does the lack of the closing phrase “there was an evening and there was a morning” in the account of the “seventh day” imply that day has not yet ended?
  6. If the all days in Genesis 1:1-2:3 are literal 24 hour days, why would the ‘day’ in Genesis 2:4 be figurative?

Interpreting the length and sequence of the days in Genesis 1 is not nearly as easy as some believe. There are many more issues involved than the few I have mentioned here. There is room for a number of different interpretations but no single interpretation is entirely without difficulties. It is important to remember that questions about the length of days in Genesis 1 have been raised long before questions about geology, evolution, or modern science ever entered this debate.Those who insist that the text of Genesis 1 clearly supports their view to the exclusion of all others, whether literal or figurative, have simply not done their homework.

 

Christianity in Nazi Germany

200px-Pastor_BonhoefferWhen many of us think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we often think of the man who tried to assassinate Hitler. As I have had the opportunity to learn more about Bonhoeffer this is no longer the picture that comes to mind when I hear his name. As I have read more about Bonhoeffer and read the books he wrote (I am currently reading “Palms: the prayer book of the bible” by Bonhoeffer), I have discovered that he was a man of deep faith and conviction and his faith permeated every part of his life. Today I read an article entitled “Seminary in Nazi Germany” that speaks about Bonhoeffer and the courage he had to go against the theological tide of the church in Nazi Germany. As I was thinking about this article, I couldn’t help thinking about how similar the views of the church in Nazi Germany were to those held in the American church today. Who, like Bonhoeffer, will be courageous enough to stand against the tide?

Who’s my grandfather?

“And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.” (Jdg 18:30 ESV)

“Then the children of Dan set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.” (Jdg 18:30 NKJV)

In Judges 18:30, bible versions are divided on the question of the identity of Jonathan’s grandfather. Many versions, like the ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, HCSB, and others have translated this as Moses but a few versions, like the NJKV, KJV, JPS, Geneva, have translated this as Manasseh. When we look at the Hebrew text, the question becomes more perplexing because the Hebrew text clearly says Manasseh but the majority of translations say Moses. What’s going on?

Moses_Manasseh

Figure 1

In order to understand what is happening here, it will be helpful to look at the Hebrew text. While these names are spelled very differently in English, in Hebrew there is only a one letter difference between these names. This can clearly be seen in Figure 1. There are several theories about why the nun might have been inserted into the name. Tov, in “Textual Criticism, 57” suggests that “the insertion of the nun not only resolves a difficult theological issue but also links this account specifically with the name of a person who, more than any other, sponsored and promoted apostasy in Israel/Judah (c.f. 2 Kgs 21:1-18).” While this is a creative resolution, I do not think it is the best resolution to this problem.

 

Where do we begin?

When we seek to resolve textual questions like this, the first question we must ask is “Is there evidence to support the idea that the spelling has changed?” In this case we have several pieces of evidence that suggest that that the nun is likely an addition to the text. Let’s take a look at some of those pieces of evidence.

  1. In two other genealogies (Exodus 2 and 18) we are told that Moses is the father of Gershom.
  2. fig. 2

    fig. 2

    In several Hebrew Manuscripts, including the Leningrad Codex, the nun is super-scripted. This is reproduced in the text of the BHS which uses the Leningrad codex as its base text. (Here is the a photo of this portion of the BHS text). Super-scripting letters (fig. 2), like was done here, is very unusual and indicates that there was some doubt about the legitimacy of the nun in this name.

  3. While most ancient manuscripts have the name Manasseh, the BHS identifies a copy of the LXX and a copy of the Vulgate that that use the name Moses rather than Manasseh, indicating that questions about the spelling of this name have a very early origin.

 

A possible resolution to this problem.

Hebrew originally had almost no indication of vowels (and even today it is most frequently written without vowels). Without vowels, correctly pronouncing Hebrew words requires one to understand the grammar and context so that the reader can insert the correct vowel sounds when reading aloud. The pronunciation of a Hebrew word does affect its meaning. After the captivity, the Jewish people began to adopt Aramaic as their primary spoken language and the knowledge of correct Hebrew pronunciation began to be lost. To help resolve this issue, two Hebrew letters that frequently double as vowels, i.e. yohd for ‘ee’ sounds, and vav for the long ‘o’ sound, began to be inserted into words to aid in their pronunciation. It is common to see two different manuscripts where the insertion of these letters is present in one manuscript and absent in another (or even in different instances of the same word in the same manuscript). The addition of these letters into the spelling of a word does not change its meaning or pronunciation but it does enable the reader to more easily identify the correct pronunciation.

figure 3

figure 3

In Ecclesiastes, we have an example that demonstrates this kind of spelling change. Looking at figure 3, we can see that in vs. 8:5 shomer (in red) is spelled with addition of the vav, and in Eccl. 11:4 we see shomer spelled without the vav. Both of these words are pronounced identically but the long ‘o’ sound is much more easily identified by the presence of the vav in vs. 8:5. Expanding the spelling of words in Hebrew to aid in their pronunciation is a very common feature of the language.

Moses_Manasseh2

Figure 4

Hebrew was not always written in the script that is used today. Prior to the captivity, Hebrew was written in a Paleo Hebraic script, but after the captivity the Jewish people adopted both the language and the script that had been used by their captors. It is very possible that the same scribes who were transcribing Hebrew from its original script to the Aramaic script used today, were the same scribes that were also expanding the spellings of words to aid in their pronunciation. It just so happens that the shape of vav that is frequently inserted into words to indicate the long ‘o’ sound is very similar to the shape of nun that is questioned in the spelling of this name. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how a transcription error, or just the slightest slip of the pen, could create the spelling error that we see in the text today (see figure 4).

A Dialog with David Brunn: Author of “One Bible, Many Versions”

David BrunnAfter publishing my review of “One Bible, Many Versions,” David Brunn (the author) contacted me and agreed to answer any questions I might have about his book. I have found David to be very open and have really enjoyed the opportunity to dialog with him and value the opportunity I have had to get to know him a little bit. Through this dialog I have found that David and I share very similar views about bible translation and I am truly thankful for his commitment to accurately translating the Word of God.  As I said in my review, “the most common difficulty [in the content of David’s book] arises from what he has not said rather than what he has said” and while I do wish more had been said in some places, I do believe that David’s responses help to bring some understanding about why these omissions in his book exist, what he was trying to accomplish, and how he would respond to questions that are raised because of these omissions. David has very graciously allowed me to publish some of our dialog.

Question: You allude to the idea that there are boundaries to Dynamic Equivalency and even give one extreme example that goes too far but you don’t really draw any clear lines and never suggest that any well-known version has gone too far (even if only in a single passage). Where do you see the lines?

Answer: One problem I see with the books and articles that address the question of “which Bible version is best” is that most authors start by stating their philosophical position (i.e., their personal opinion) and then they cherry-pick examples from Scripture that support their position, totally ignoring every example that might negate or even weaken their stated opinion. For that reason, my strategy in writing One Bible, Many Versions was to avoid expressing my personal opinion as much as possible. That doesn’t mean I have no opinion. But I didn’t want the book to be about my opinion. My aim was to present objective evidence as in a court of law. In that context, my personal opinion is really quite irrelevant. If the evidence I presented seemed weighted in one direction, that is because I tried to include a significant sampling of the evidence that has largely been left out of the discussion.

There is one area where I DID feel I needed to reveal my personal opinion: that is my belief in the “infallibility of the inspired Word of God.” Some authors have attempted to draw an artificial link between “word-for-word translation” and “verbal-plenary inspiration”—suggesting that anyone who would accept a “non-literal” translation certainly must NOT believe in “verbal inspiration.” So in order to make sure I didn’t lose a huge segment of my intended target audience, I needed to make it very clear that “I fully embrace the verbal, plenary, wholly infallible and inerrant inspiration of the Bible” (p. 100).

You acknowledged in your review that I had said that “no translation is perfect.” There are a couple other places where I make similar statements. Here are two (both on p. 191):

  • “I have never found a Bible version I agree with 100 percent; but at the same time, I have never found a version I disagree with 100%.”
  • “As we compare the various English translations of the Bible, we will find that some versions have translated certain verses in a way that may be unduly free.”

I agree with you that I probably should have given greater emphasis to this point. It is a bit buried under a lot of other material. But even if I had emphasized this point more, I still would NOT have given specific examples of where I think a certain version has “stepped across the line,” since that would simply be my personal opinion. I DO agree that some renderings in idiomatic versions went farther than necessary—injecting more interpretation into the text than they needed to (again, my personal opinion). Along with not pointing out those places, I also did not point out places in the “literal” versions where my personal opinion is that they “stepped across the line into highly literal territory—producing zero meaning for some readers” (p. 191).

Question: In your book you seem to imply that ALL English versions are essentially the same, is this really what you intended?

Answer: My intention was to state that ALL English versions (used by evangelical Christians) have value—not that they are all the same. By the way, I had nothing to do with the title of the book, including the sub-title, “Are All Translations Created Equal?”. One of the first things my editor told me when I contacted him was that the publisher always has final say on a book’s title. I had tossed around several possible titles myself, but this is the one they chose to use.

Question: You don’t really address the philosophical differences between different translation theories, what are your opinions in regards to some of the philosophical presuppositions held by Nida, Kraft, etc… that have played a significant part in shaping modern translation theory itself?

Answer: As I stated above, I intentionally stayed away from expressing my personal opinions in the book. (I actually have a second book underway, and having laid some of the groundwork in the first book, I believe I WILL be able to express more of my own personal philosophy in the sequel.) When it comes to translation philosophy, I would like to think that I take a “balanced” view. Maybe we ALL view ourselves as “balanced.” As a translation consultant, I have worked with translators who produced material that was so excessively literal that when I conducted a comprehension check, the target-language hearers had no idea what it was supposed to mean. Obviously, if there is no apparent meaning in a translation, the Holy Spirit cannot use it to transform lives. At the same time, I have worked with translators who, in my opinion, recklessly injected an inordinate amount of interpretation into their translations. (Of course, ALL translations must include some interpretation.) In both scenarios—excessively literal and excessively interpretive—I believe my job as a consultant is to help the translators move toward the appropriate place of balance.

There’s one more point that you mentioned in your review, but not here in your questions, so I thought I would comment on it briefly: my example of the Hebrew word barak (pp. 121-22). I am not unaware of the issues surrounding this word. Early on, I considered eliminating this example altogether because I knew it was one of my weakest. However, I also knew that IVP would contract with outside readers (anonymous to me) who are well-published, recognized scholars in the original languages, so I decided to wait to see what they thought of the example. Since they didn’t comment on that point (they made plenty of other comments), I decided to leave the example in. Maybe that was a mistake.

I hope this helps answer at least some of your questions.

Dave

 

Thank you David for your openness, trust, and your commitment to faithfully translating the Scriptures.

Mike Tisdell

 

 

Psalm 128

11QPs-a Col VA song of the ascent

 

Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,

who walks according to his ways.

It is by the work of your hands that you eat,

and are happy and prosper.[i]

Your wife is like a vine,

producing her fruit[ii] in the privacy[iii] of your home.

Your children are like shoots around an olive tree,

they will gather around your table.

Certainly he will bless the man who fears the Lord

 

The Lord[iv] has blessed[v] you from Zion,

See how Jerusalem has prospered all of the days of your life.

Look at your grandchildren[vi].

Peace on Israel.

 

 


[i] Psalm 127 drives home the point that prosperity and security come from God alone and now the psalmist reminds us that we are to enjoy the fruit of our labor while never forgetting that it is ultimately God who provides.  Knowing that it is God who ultimately provides does not excuse us from our obligation to work for our reward.

[ii] Psalm 127 declares that “the fruit of the belly is his reward” and this imagery is continued here in this verse where the reference to fruit is meant to invoke the image of children.

[iii] The phrase “בירכתי בביתך”   lit. “in the innermost places of your house” carries subtle sexual overtones that are lost in most English translations. The word ‘ירכה’ refers to the innermost recesses when in reference to places and to the loins (or groin) when referring to people. In Ex. 1:5 this is the word used for ‘loins’ in the phrase “these are all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob.”

[iv] The MT reads ‘YHWH’ (יהוה) but 11QPsa reads ‘Adonai’ (אדוני). The MT is likely the original reading and 11QPsa likely reflects the Jewish practice of verbally substituting ‘Adonai’ when reading ‘YHWH.’

[v] The tense is imperfect, but there is a sense of past blessing that continues into the future. This is punctuated by the command that follows “to see” God’s blessing that is already taken place.

[vi] Lit. ‘children of your children’

Why are Millennials leaving the church? A response from Trevin Wax

Trevin WaxTrevin Wax’s response to an article by Rachel Held Evans about why “Millennials” are leaving the church separates the rhetoric that’s repeated so frequently by the voices of the Emergent church movement from the reality that the church is really facing. The millennial generation has raised many valid concerns that desperately need to be answered by the church and it is truly time for the church to take the time to understand their concerns and truly seek to provide a biblical response. By remaining silent for far too long, we have allowed the voices of the Emergent church movement, like Rachel Held Evans, to provide all of the answers, answers that are spiritually bankrupt and leading a whole generation away from the truth of the Gospel. It is time for the church to step up and fill this gap.