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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I don't understand

The older I get, and the more I pay attention to what I'm reading in the Bible, the more I realize how much there is in the Bible that I don't understand. Now, I'm not referring here to difficult concepts, such as what is symbolized by a gray horse in the book of Revelation, or what Paul meant by praying for the dead. Instead, I'm talking about wordings in Bibles which I don't understand. I've read these words all my life. I'm very familiar with them. But I don't really know what they mean. Here are some of them:
  • "poor in spirit" (Matt. 5:5).
  • "pure in heart" (Matt. 5:8)
  • love God with all my soul (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37)
  • "lift up my soul" to God (Ps. 25:1)
  • Christ eats with me and I with him (Rev. 3:20)
  • beseech someone "by the mercies of God" (Rom. 12:1)
  • "grace to you" (Rom. 1:7)
  • "out of his belly/heart will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38)
What are some Bible wordings which you do not understand?

8 Comments:

At Tue May 22, 12:00:00 PM, Blogger opinion-minion said...

Eccl 9: 11 TNIV

time and chance happen to them all

It's a very poetic passage, and you can get the gist of it...but does time "happen" to anyone?

I'm sure that I could find more, that's just the one I thought of.

 
At Tue May 22, 02:25:00 PM, Blogger tom sheepandgoats said...

Prov 17:27 (NWT)

By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another.

I love the imagery, and can't help picturing it literally.

Not all translations are so lively.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. (KJV)

And some drop the metaphor altogether.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (TNIV)

Not exactly what you're looking for, I guess, but cute.

 
At Tue May 22, 04:52:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

Sorry Wayne, but I find your choices a little strange, in as much as, I know what they mean and I find it very hard to believe that you don't.
I don't mean any of the above as a criticism, I am just truly surprised.

 
At Tue May 22, 07:35:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Glenn remarked:

Sorry Wayne, but I find your choices a little strange, in as much as, I know what they mean and I find it very hard to believe that you don't.

It's no problem, Glenn. I'm glad that you know the meaning of those wordings. Without looking at any commentary or other reference material, please tell us what each wording means.

 
At Wed May 23, 10:37:00 AM, Blogger daniel reed said...

"gnashing of teeth"

 
At Thu May 24, 06:30:00 PM, Blogger Ted Gossard said...

Wayne,
Good point. Is it wrong not to know what precisely is meant as long as one gets the gist of what's going on. For exam;e Christ eating with us, this certainly means fellowship, and we might say alludes to the marriage supper of the Lamb to come.

I certainly don't know, but I'm afraid that if we think we have to give a simple meaning to all questionable terms (though much of this does occur in all Bible translating, I think) we may run the risk of losing the richness inherent in the text.

 
At Thu May 24, 07:21:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Ted commented:

Good point. Is it wrong not to know what precisely is meant as long as one gets the gist of what's going on.

Ted, I think it's perfectly fine not to know precisely what is meant by a lot of things. Not knowing fully can help keep us from being arrogant.

OTOH, if the barrier to understanding is due to lack of adequate translation of the Bible, then that problem can be addressed. One of my Bible translation heroes used to say, "Let's not blame the Holy Spirit for things that are due to not having adequate Bible translation."

So, yes, humility about understanding, but always looking for ways that Bible translations can be improved.

 
At Sat May 26, 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Wayne isn't saying that he doesn't know what those verses are saying. He's saying he doesn't know what the wording itself means. He has to substitute the meaning that he's learned to associate with each one. He doesn't understand the verse by understanding just the wording of the verse.

The one thing I worry about when we take things like this as a sign of how we should translate is that some of these may have seemed just as strange in the original, and removing that in our English translation will then lose something important in the original. I'm not sure if it's always easy to know which ones are like that and which ones are just not very meaningful translations.

 

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