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Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: New Insights From a Hebrew Perspective Paperback – October 1, 1994
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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This book clearly describes ways of understanding some original Hebrew and Greek techniques and discovering the true meanings of many of the words of Jesus. This book will be an important addition to your personal or group Bible study time.
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All of the oldest texts of the Gospels and the Epistles are in Greek. The oldest Aramaic texts date from between 75 AD (or CE, if you prefer) to about 125, and have the appearance of being translated from Greek. But, the most common language at the time of Christ in the region He was from was, of course, Hebrew. We simply ave no Hebrew texts.
As it turns out, many passages in the "new" testament are incomprehensible as translated, and really make no sense in either the Greek they are translated from or the English they have been translated to, which implies that the supposedly "original" Greek is also a translation. Indeed, as example, there are passages that hinge on tenses, like future perfect, that do not even exist in Hebrew. In some cases, dropping this tense clarifies the writing! If one assumes that the original scriptures (of at least the first three gospels) were written in Hebrew, and one then translates backwards to Hebrew from Greek, you find Hebrew idioms that are not only comprehensible, but also often parallel scripture from the "old" testament. So, difficult passages suddenly make sense.
This assertion of a Hebrew original scripture is quite controversial in light of the total absence of any original Hebrew texts. However, there are a fair number of parallel writings from the same time period that ARE in Hebrew. Not to mention, once you read the verses dealt with that have been so puzzling for so long that are translated back to Hebrew where they suddenly DO make sense, the argument for original Hebrew becomes far more solid.
The point of this book is not to develop the argument that Hebrew was the original writing so much as it is a well developed effort to explain away common confusions about many scriptures. Some of the scriptures dealt with have become fundamental to the Christian faith, and have led to much controversy, such as Matt 16:19:
"And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
This verse is often pointed to as evidence that priests have the authority to forgive sin, or apply condemnation, a position that conflicts with Paul's declaration in Romans 8:1 that:
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."
Apparent contradiction within scripture is not beneficial to the Christian faith. Thus, clarification of the Matt 16:19 passage is quite important.
I wonder what would happen if the entire "new" testament were to be translated backward to Hebrew?
I highly recommend this book to all truth seekers!
The book then sets out to show how translating Hebrew idioms and known Hebrew cultural sayings can, and have, caused misunderstandings and mistranslations from Greek into English versions. While the main portion of the book briefly looks at some of the verses and issues created, it is the last portion of the book, the appendix, that is a more detailed examination of those verses.
One of the key parts I found the most beneficial, was the discussion on the term "kingdom." The Greek terms used in the translation are easily understood to mean not yet here, while the original Hebrew term for it actually means "It's here, it has arrived!" (pg. 62). It is things like this, where the Greek gives a totally opposite or greatly different view point when used, that make this small book pretty fascinating.
The concept of "kingdom" is perhaps the most important spiritual concept in the New Testament. In English or Greek, "kingdom" is never verbal. It is something static, something to do with territory. But, in Hebrew, "kingdom" is active, it is action. It is God ruling in the lives of men. Those who are ruled by God are the Kingdom of God.
"Kingdom" is also the demonstration of God's rule through miracles, signs, and wonders. Wherever the power of God is demonstrated, there is His "Kingdom." ... We see God;s Kingdom when we see Him in action. In the same way, people saw the Kingdom when they saw Jesus in action. This is what Jesus meant when he said: "But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you." (Luke 11:20)
Jesus also used "kingdom" to refer to those who followed him, the members of his movement. His disciples were now to literally be the Kingdom of God by demonstrating his presence and power in their lives. (pg 64)
I wish there were move examples, but the ones here are a great introduction to the issue. I then find out my wish has already been granted in part two of the book, New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context, which I will probably jump into next.
There are a few issues I would disagree with or look at differently, but for the most part, considering the cost, it is worth getting.
The issue with mainstream Churchianity is they have no clue what the Gospels really mean. Especially with many of our Saviour's enigmatic phrases. Being familiar with the lingo of the time and the Hebraisms makes the Bible easier to understand and not be taken out of context by applying modern-day, western, Greek-influenced minds to ancient Hebrew minds.
-John Gibson, johnpgibson.wordpress.com