Ah, Jared's Java. Pleasant taste. Slight Monsterism.

Welcome to the home of my mind, where I brew my intellectual and spiritual joe. Sit back and let me pour you a cup or two. I promise not to cut you off, even after you get the caffeine jitters.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bad exegeter! Bad! Bad!

Warning: Today’s post is rated PG-13 for biblical references to debauchery, depravity and pooping.

What passes for sound biblical teaching these days scares me. I am by no means a Greek scholar, but I know misuse of the Word when I hear it. At the heart of this is John 11:33, 38. I have read a piece and heard a message on this text by two different teachers in the last two weeks. Let me tell you, they mangled it. It enrages me because, when I used to teach, I took great pains to study the Greek text thoroughly (I taught exclusively on the New Testament just because...I did; I have not preached more than 20 sermons in my young life). I did a literal translation and looked for figures of speech/colloquialisms and read the printed exegesis of scholars well schooled in the languages. I made darn well sure that I knew what was really going on and being said. Especially because most translators follow the King James in certain areas so that there isn't a riot and they aren't decried as heretics.

1 Kings 18:27 is a good example of this. Elijah says "Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened." The proper translation for the expression "occupied or gone aside" is "off somewhere taking a dump/poop/crap." Yup, from the mouth of Elijah. That is the great disdain he had for their false god, and I don't know that most people could handle having that in there, as it has been the same since the King James was published. People like their Bible to read as if it has been scrubbed clean. That disturbs me. I suppose that is why the rape of Tamar by Amnon is not referred to very commonly when teaching on the rebellion of Absolom (or the fact that he had intercourse with his father’s wives in public as a display of power during the rebellion). We don’t tend to go there.

To get back to my reference in John, in those two verses, the Greek word that is translated “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” is much more accurately translated “He snorted with indignation/anger from the depths of His spirit.” Yes, I’m not kidding. Most people don’t like this because it un-emasculates Jesus from being the weeping, mourning, and sharing in grief person in this situation. Well, He did weep and mourn and share in the grief of others, just not here. So don’t go digging a dry well and sell it claiming it has water. You see all the way through chapter 11 that Jesus knows that Lazarus will die, but that He is waiting so that He can go there and do this great miracle and great work for Lazarus and his sisters. If you look at the timeline, he wouldn’t have gotten there anyhow because they were two days away, waited two, traveled two, and by the time they got there, Lazarus was dead four days. Jesus was expecting this.

“So, why is He mad?” you might ask. Well, the Word will bear it out. I charge you to read it yourself and rethink the situation with this new and correct information. I’ll tell you what I think, though. If you read carefully, you’ll see that Jesus had plenty of reason to be angry.

There could be some under tones of manipulation in verse 3, and there totally are in verse 22. Verse 22 false in the midst of Him attempting to tell Martha multiple times that He is going to raise her brother from the dead, and it isn’t getting through her thick head.

Verse 8 gives us a peek at what the situation is there in Jerusalem. They wanted to stone Jesus. Ouch. And Jesus is probably wanting to keep a low profile, at least in the given situation. Then Jesus sees all of these Jews running down the hill following Mary, and He probably figured, “Well, I’m going to have to just do this.” being cut off in his conversation with Martha, and it turning into a public spectacle. Plus, He’d just tried to tell Martha something she wasn’t getting, and now Mary starts in (verse 32).

Now, John was an excellent writer. He knew exactly how to develop a theme, paint a picture, and evoke an emotion, including irony and humor. That is the whole idea with verses 35-37. He is playing the irony card. Verse 35 says (in English), “Jesus wept.” I think there is some significance to the fact that the word used there for Jesus (klaio) is different than for everyone else in the chapter (dakruo). Jesus is weeping because He is so frustrated, angry and indignant (if you are or ever have been married, you’ve done this). It is supposed to sound comical/ironic in verse 36 when the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” and further in 37 when others slighted/mocked Him.

With the exception of the last 2 sentences of that last paragraph, I am not stating all of these potential causes of Christ’s indignation as fact. I’m sure I’m close, but there were so many potential contributing factors to His frustration that a master’s degree thesis could be written on the first half of John 11 alone.

My point? Martin Luther aggressively, abundantly, and strongly admonished, nay commanded, all of the pastors of the Protestant Reformation to be well versed in the biblical languages. He said that with all of the helps available to them that there was no excuse to not know them. I say, 500 years later, how much more shameful is it that our pastors, teachers, preachers, and elders do not know or even try to study the biblical languages with all of the helps available today?

We are being betrayed by those who would make themselves our teachers without putting forth the necessary efforts to earn that respect/title/honor. I’d rather hear a poorly planned sermon that is accurate in its interpretation of the biblical languages over a really nice, smooth sounding and entertaining sermon which betrays the meaning of what has been faithfully handed down by the apostles.

You have been warned. Now go learn some Greek!


Looney Mom said...

Hey I agree with you. These people need to get it right. Yes the Word of God can be rated "R" actually, it's still the TRUTH and we need to get it RIGHT.

Our pastor just recently referenced that passage in I Kings and told it exactly like it was and exactly what that meant (just what you said). I admire that. Good for you.

Dapoppins said...

I have never sat through a sermon of these passages...Well, not off hand that I can remember. The Elijah one is one of my favs however, And it dosen't surprize me a bit that he would say that to those faulse priests. And I never liked the idea of soft girly Jesus. He is a He-man carpenter for goodness sake! This was good to point out...Didn't know that either.