Tuesday, July 28, 2009

E-X-P-A-N-D Your Bible Study

From http://waynehastings.blogs.com/offtheshelf/2009/04/new-expanded-bible-coming-soon.html:
On August 11, 2009, Thomas Nelson will release a new product especially designed for our customer. Developed by a trusted team of Bible scholars The Expanded Bible New Testament, like the three titles I mentioned above, gives the reader help to reach their goal of hearing God’s message to them directly from the Scriptures.

Why is it different?
  • It meets the needs of the contemporary student of the Bible by combining devotional reading and in-depth study in a completely new way. Users can now study the Bible while they read with study aids and resources placed in-line with the text of the Bible.
  • It joins Bible text with traditional wordings, explanatory comments, additional wordings, literal meanings and expanded word definitions, all integrated within the text of the Scripture.
  • It offers readers a unique Bible study experience by making them a part of the process and decisions made by scholars while developing a translation
The end result is a Bible that is highly readable for devotions or study purposes that includes a richer in-text explanation of the Scripture. The experience will help customers grasp all that God is saying and give them a complete meaning of words and their alternative wordings. It’s like having a robust Bible reference library at your fingertips without having to flip a page or grab another book.

You can try this exceptional new product now. Simply go to this site and download a free PDF file and enjoy the experience first-hand.

Here's what it looks like (from the above link to the PDF file copy). The base text (in bold) is a modified version of the New Century Version. See the Introduction of The Expanded Bible for an explanation of the symbols and formatting (·, L, T, C, brackets, etc.):

1·In the beginning [Gen. 1:1] ·there was the Word [the Word already existed; Cthe Word refers to Christ, God’s revelation of himself]. The Word was ·with [in the presence of; in intimate relationship with] God [Cthe Father], and the Word was [fully] God. 2He was ·with [in the presence of; in intimate relationship with] God in the beginning. 3All things ·were made [were created; came to be] ·by [through] him, and nothing ·was made [came to be] without him [Prov. 8:22–31]. 4·In him there was life [or What was made through him was life], and that life was the light of all people. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not ·overpowered [defeated; or understood; comprehended] it.

6There was a man named John
[Cthe Baptist; Matt. 3; Luke 3] who was sent by God. 7He came to ·tell people the truth [testify; bear witness] about the Light so that ·through him all people could hear about the Light and believe [Leveryone might believe through him]. 8John was not the Light, but he came to ·tell people the truth [testify; bear witness] about the Light. 9The true Light that ·gives light to [shines on; illuminates; enlightens] all [people] was coming into the world! [or 9The true Light gives light to all who have come into the world.]

10·The Word [LHe] was in the world, and the world ·was made [was created; came into being] ·by [through] him, but the world did not ·know [recognize] him. 11He came to ·the world that was his own [or his own country; Lthat which was his own], but his own people did not ·accept [receive] him. 12But to all who did ·accept [receive] him and believe ·in him [Lin his name; Cthe name indicating the character of the person] he gave the ·right [power; authority] to become children of God. 13They did not become his children ·in any human way [by natural descent; by physical birth; Lby blood]—by ·any human parents [human passion/decision; Ldesire/will of the flesh] or ·human desire [a husband’s decision; Ldesire/will of a man/husband]. They were born of God.
My thoughts from a quick look at it:
  • You'll have to decide if having all the translation notes and comments in the text is better than having them in footnotes or sidenotes, and if this in-the-text format hinders or helps one's ability to read and study the text.
  • If you are at least somewhat proficient in Koinê Greek, you'll be able to judge if the expansions and alternate translations or clarifications are beneficial to the non-Greek reader, or can be confusing or a matter of TMI ("Too Much Information").
  • An interesting experiment for those who can read the original Greek is see how The Expanded Bible translates and expands Ephesians 1:3-14 (which is a single sentence in the Greek, though Nestle-Aland 27 punctuates it so each Εν ω starts a new sentence - i.e., 1:7, 1:11, and 1:13):
    3·Praise be to [or Blessed is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly ·world [realms; places]. 4·That is [or Just as; or For; Because], in Christ, he chose us before the ·world was made [Lfoundation of the world] so that we would be his holy people—people ·without blame [or unblemished; Cas are sacrificial animals] before him. 5Because of his love [Cthis phrase may go with the previous sentence], God ·had already decided to make us his own children [Lpredestined us for adoption] through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6and it brings praise to God because of his ·wonderful [glorious] grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in ·Christ, the One he loves [Lthe Beloved]. 7In ·Christ [Lhim] we ·are set free [have been redeemed/purchased] by ·the blood of his death [Lhis blood; Cblood signifies his sacrificial death], and so we have forgiveness of sins. ·How rich is [or This redemption reveals the wealth of; L...according to the riches of] God’s grace, 8which he has ·given to us so fully and freely [lavished on us]. With ·full [all] wisdom and understanding [Cthis phrase may go with the previous sentence], 9God let us know ·his secret purpose [or the mystery of his will; Ca “mystery” in Scripture is something God had not previously disclosed]. This was what ·God wanted [pleased him], and he ·planned to do it [or set it forth;publicly revealed it] through Christ. 10His goal was to carry out his plan, ·when the right time came [or at the time of fulfillment; Lin the fullness of the times], that all things in heaven and on earth would be ·joined together [unified; or summed up; or renewed] in Christ as the head.

    11In Christ we ·were chosen to be God’s people
    [have received/were given our part of an inheritance], ·because from the very beginning God had decided this [Lhaving been predestined] in keeping with his plan. And he is the One who ·makes everything agree [or accomplishes everything in accord] with what he decides and wants. 12We are the first people who hoped in ·Christ [the Messiah], and we were chosen so that we would bring praise to God’s glory. 13So it is with you. When you heard the ·true teaching [message/word of truth]—the ·Good News about [Gospel of] your salvation—you believed in Christ. ·And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you [L...having been sealed with] the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14That Holy Spirit is the ·guarantee [down payment; deposit] ·that we will receive what God promised for his people [Lof our inheritance] until ·God gives full freedom to those who are his [or we acquire possession of it; Lthe redemption of the possession; v. 7]—to bring praise to God’s glory.
    Doing this might help you evaluate if The Expanded Bible is a translation you would use or recommend to non-Greek readers as an aid to better understanding the original text.

I made the following comment to the publisher via the blogsite:
Just a quick comment, as I just found out about this forthcoming translation today.

I looked at a passage I was reading, Luke 1:34, and The Expanded Translation reads:
34 Mary said to the angel, “How •will [can] this happen since I •am a virgin [L have known (sexually) no man]?”
The Introduction says about [L]:
L LITERAL: A more literal rendering of the original language, allowing the reader to see why translations make varying choices. These are signaled by a superscript L within a bracket: [L ].
The Expanded Translation says the "more literal rendering" is:
[L have known (sexually) no man].
However, the "literal" Greek is "a-man not I-know" ανδρα ου γινωσκω (andra ou ginôskô).

Why does The Expanded Translation suggest that the "literal" Greek has a perfect tense verb ("have known"), rather than a present tense verb?

Also, why does the "literal" rendering suggest that ου (ou) modifies "man" as an adjective (i.e., "no man"), rather than that it modifies "know" as an adverb (i.e., "I do not know")?

IIRC, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (I. Howard Marshall) notes this use of the present tense when discussing the possible meanings of the verse (a verse often used to support the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief in Mary's perpetual virginity).
I received the following informative response:
We appreciate your comment on Wayne Hastings’ blog, which has been referred to me for response.

First, you will be seeing many “literal” renderings in The Expanded Bible that are not as literal as they can possibly be, but are relatively literal while still being worded in natural English so as to be understandable. This is one of those.

With regard to the tense, this is a present tense verb being used to communicate the perfective sense of the action. (In fact, Daniel B. Wallace uses this very passage as an example in Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 533, under “special uses of the present tense, perfective present.”)

The negation bears the same sense either way it is applied.

We appreciate your interest in The Expanded Bible. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Scripture taken from The Expanded Bible. Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Training, Preparing, and Equipping God's End-Time Forerunners and Worship Leaders for the Imminent Return of the Lord:

Click for Website

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Helvidian, Epiphanian, Hieronymian - Who Were Jesus' Brothers?

A discussion on Ben Witherington's Beliefnet blog (The Bible and Culture) about the James Ossuary generated some good comments and responses re: Mary's perpetual virginity, a belief held by Catholic and Orthodox Christians (and also believed by Luther and Calvin). Here is an interesting and informative part of the exchange:

Douglas Bilodeau
July 12, 2009 6:32 PM

I'm curious that no one has brought up the possibility that James could have been an older brother of Jesus by another mother who died before Joseph and Mary were betrothed. This must have been considered before. It might even (for all I know) be compatible with Catholic and/or Orthodox belief. I haven't heard of a doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Joseph, but perhaps it exists, or is simply taken for granted if the possibility of a previous wife is disallowed.

July 12, 2009 7:07 PM

Douglas Bilodeau:

There is an ancient tradition/option/explanation that Jesus' brothers were Joseph's children from a prior marriage. Read, e.g., The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission, by Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner. It's called the Epiphanian position, and advocacy of this view can be found in the Gospel of Peter. (Chilton, Neusner pp. 12ff.)

Kevin P. Edgecomb
July 13, 2009 2:40 PM

Douglas Bilodeau and E are quite right. In fact, the Epiphanian understanding is the canonical position of the Orthodox Church, that James, Joses, Simon, and three or more sisters were the naturally born children of Joseph and a wife prior to Mary. One will find exactly the same position in the Protevangelium Jacobi, which predates any other stated opinion on the matter, and is explicit on the subject concerning numerous beliefs of the earliest Christians in this regard. It supports precisely that position of St Epiphanios and the Orthodox Church.

The Roman Catholic position is that of seeing the brothers and sisters as cousins; this is the Hieronymian position, championed by St Jerome. Whether this can be stated to be an "official" position or not is beyond my competence.

It is the heretic Helvidius who posited that the brothers and sisters are the children of Joseph and Mary, born after Jesus. It is this Helvidian position which is common amongst Protestants and others. That doesn't make its origins any less heretical.

Phil W
July 14, 2009 12:57 PM


There is, of course, a different perspective on the origins of the various theories. The "Helvidian" position has roots in the New Testament itself.

The "Epiphanian" position is based on the apocryphal and heretical (Docetic) work, the Protevangelium of James.

The "Hieronymian" position is based on Jerome's imagination. He could find no precedent for his theory in the writings of the earlier Church fathers.

The "Helvidian" position appears to be the position of the writers of the New Testament (Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, John). Roman Catholic authors, such as Raymond E. Brown and Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan, agree. Getty-Sullivan writes:
"If we only had the New Testament, one could assume that these are children born to Mary and Joseph after Jesus. This was the opinion of Tertullian and most Protestants today. Yet already in the second century these 'brothers and sisters' were identified as children of Joseph from a former marriage (see the Protoevangelium of James 9:2)." [Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan, Women in the New Testament (Liturgical Press, 2001), 173-174. A very similar statement was made by Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (Anchor Bible Reference Library; Doubleday, 1997), 725-726.]
It seems that those who hold to the "Epiphanian" position believe that a late second-century Docetic writing trumps the New Testament. Even Jerome said that those who considered the Lord's brothers to be the sons of Joseph by a former wife were "following the ravings of the apocryphal writings." [Jerome, Commentary on St Matthew 12.49.]

The "Epiphanian" position was supported by Origen. Commenting on Matthew 13:55-56, he wrote: "They thought, then, that He was the son of Joseph and Mary. But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or 'The Book of James,' that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary." [Origen, Commentary on Matthew 10.17.] Note that, according to Origen, only "some" believed in the "Epiphanian" theory; it was not a universal belief of the Church. Note also that Origen did not know of it as an Apostolic tradition; rather, he only knew it to be based on apocryphal gospels.

J. N. D. Kelly writes: "not only the Antidicomarianites attacked by Epiphanius and the Arian Eunomius openly taught that the 'brethren of the Lord' were Mary's sons by Joseph, but Basil of Caesarea, when criticizing the latter, implied that such a view was widely held and, though not accepted by himself, was not incompatible with orthodoxy." [J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines (5th ed.; HarperCollins, 1978), 494-495. Citing Basil, Hom. in sanctam Christi gen. (PG 31, 1468 f.).] So, even in the fourth century it was possible for an orthodox person to hold the "Helvidian" view.

Regarding the "Hieronymian" theory, named for Jerome its inventor, scholars are virtually unanimous that it is incorrect.

Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes: "Jerome thought that adelphos could mean 'cousin,' but this is almost certainly to be ruled out as the NT meaning, since there was a good word for 'cousin,' anepsios, found in Col 4:10." [Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Luke (Anchor Bible; Doubleday, 1981), 1:724.]

Similarly, Patrick J. Hartin notes: "One thing, however, is sure, and that is that this term [adelphos] does not designate a cousin, as Jerome understood this term. Greek has a specific word for cousin (anepsios). If a cousin were intended, the New Testament writers would surely have used the Greek word anepsios. See, for example, Col 4:10 …" [Patrick J. Hartin, James of Jerusalem (Liturgical Press, 2004), 32.]

Again, an ecumenical task force reached the same conclusion: "Today most who deny the blood-brother relationship make no attempt to specify the relationship and suspect that all that was remembered in antiquity was that they were relatives or kin. If a specific relationship were remembered, e.g., cousin, some Greek speaker should have begun to use the available specific Greek term, e.g., anepsios, which appears in the NT at Col 4:10." [Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer & John Reumann (eds.), Mary in the New Testament (Fortress Press, 1978), 67.]

Here is a summary of the evidence:
  • The authors of the New Testament, including Paul, Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John, each tell us that Jesus had brothers. None of these five authors hints that what they mean by adelphoi is anything other than the most natural meaning, i.e., that the brothers are the children of Mary and Joseph, and are therefore biologically the half-brothers of Jesus but legally his full brothers.
  • Writing independently of the New Testament, Josephus also calls James "the brother of Jesus," without qualification.
  • Hegesippus also refers to "the Lord's brother according to the flesh," which indicates in the strongest terms that Jesus and his brothers were related by blood. Also, he distinguishes between brothers and cousins. Tertullian certainly taught that the brothers were the children of Mary and Joseph.
  • Getting their cues from the Docetic Protevangelium of James, Clement of Alexandria and Origen believed that the brothers were the stepbrothers of Jesus, the children of Joseph by a previous marriage.

That is all of the evidence that we possess on this topic from before the fourth century. The view that the brothers were the children of Mary and Joseph survived well into the fourth century. When one actually considers the evidence, the "Helvidian" theory appears to not have heretical origins.
Matthew Schultz July 19, 2009 11:26 PM
Ben Witherington July 8, 2009 8:40 PM Hi Esteban: I understand your point but of course the problem is the perpetual virginity of Mary is not attested in Scripture, indeed the opposite is attested as Matthew's Gospel says--- "Joseph was not knowing her until" means clearly enough in Greek that after the specified period of time he was knowing her....
Fr. Terry Donahue, CC July 9, 2009 8:58 PM You [Ben Witherington] wrote: "...as Matthew's Gospel says--- 'Joseph was not knowing her until' means clearly enough in Greek that after the specified period of time he was knowing her." It doesn’t seem completely clear to me that "until" (Gk. "heos") implies that the opposite occurs after the specified time period....
Fr. Terry Donahue, Dr. Svendsen has conducted a survey of "heos hou" [εως ου - E] (which is what needs to be looked at, not just "heos" by itself) throughout the New Testament and contemporary ANE literature: "This construction [heos hou] is used in Matt. 1:25 and so is of special interest here. It occurs only seventeen times in the NT, and all are temporal. Two of these have the meaning 'while' (Matt. 14:22; 26:36), whereas the other fifteen occurrences are instances in which the action of the main clause is limited by the action of the subordinate clause and require the meaning 'until a specified time (but not after)'" (Who Is My Mother? [Calvary Press, 2001] p. 52). His survey is extensive, covering many pages, and lists examples such as Matthew 17:9, Luke 22:18, Acts 21:26 and 2 Peter 1:19. The evidence strongly suggests that Matthew did not view Mary as a perpetual virgin.
Fr. Terry Donahue, CC July 27, 2009 9:04 PM I'm familiar with Dr. Svensen's survey and his claim "that heõs hou in all the literature of the two centuries surrounding the birth of Christ, when it means 'until,' always terminates the action of the main clause. That is an irrefutable fact". This claim is demonstrably false. I'd suggest the following rebuttals by John Pacheco and David Palm Heõs Hou and the Protestant Polemic http://www.catholic-legate.com/articles/heoshou.html The Non-Rule of Mr. Svendsen http://www.catholic-legate.com/articles/heoserrors11.html
Your Name July 28, 2009 10:07 AM Fr. Terry Donahue, CC: Thanks for the links. While the articles you linked to seem to demonstrate that some of what Dr. Svensen claims about the meaning of heôs hou may be incorrect (since I have not read his paper(s), I don't know exactly what he says or claims other than the short quotes the articles excerpted), I don't think they prove that the meaning of Matthew 1:25 is that Joseph kept Mary a virgin after Jesus' birth.

Note that I'm not saying that's what the critics of Dr. Svensen were attempting to do. Rather, it seems to me that debunking Dr. Svensen's claim leaves us with Matthew 1:25 not clearly saying anything one way or the other re: Mary's postpartum virginity. (And I think that's what the authors of the linked articles say, too.)

I think, though, that if Matthew had wanted to make the point that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus' birth, he would have written something other than (or more than) what he did.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"Just As It Is Written"?

Just as it is written,
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in him will not be disappointed.

- Romans 9:33 (New American Standard Bible/NASB)
But that's not "just as it is written."

In Romans 9:33, the Apostle Paul combines two Scripture verses, Isaiah 28:16 and Isaiah 8:14, to come up with his quote. Here is how those verses read:
Isaiah 28:16:
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone,
A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed.
He who believes in it will not be disturbed." (Hebrew: NASB)

therefore thus says the Lord,
See, I will lay for the foundations of Sion
a precious, choice stone,
a highly valued cornerstone for its foundations,
and the one who believes in him will not be put to shame. (Greek: New English Translation of the Septuagint/NETS)
Isaiah 8:14:
"Then He shall become a sanctuary;
But to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over,
And a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem." (Hebrew: NASB)

If you trust in him, he will become your holy precinct, and you will not encounter him as a stumbling caused by a stone nor as a fall caused by a rock, but the house of Iakob is in a trap, and those who sit in Ierousalem are in a pit. (Greek: NETS)
While one can see from the English translations that Paul did not seem to exclusively follow either the Hebrew text or the Greek (Septuagint) version, the following shows the relationship between the Septuagint translation of these verses and Romans 9:33: blue from Isaiah 28:16, red from Isaiah 8:14, and green the part of one word that may have come from either verse:
Isaiah 28:16: δια τουτο ουτως λεγει Κυριος Ιδου εγω εμβαλω εις τα θεμελια Σιων λιθον πολυτελη εκλεκτον ακρογωνιαιον εντιμον εις τα θεμελια αυτης και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου μη καταισχυνθη

Isaiah 8:14: και εαν επ' αυτω πεποιθως ης εσται σοι εις αγιασμα και ουχ ως λιθου προσκομματι συναντησεσθε αυτω ουδε ως πετρας πτωματι ο δε οικος Ιακωβ εν παγιδι και εν κοιλασματι εγκαθημενοι εν Ιερουσαλημ

Romans 9:33: καθως γεγραπται, Ιδου τιθημι εν Σιων λιθον προσκομματος και πετραν σκανδαλου, και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου καταισχυνθησεται.

Here are the verses in table form for comparison:

Isaiah 28:16 Isaiah 8:14 Romans 9:33
δια τουτο ουτως λεγει Κυριος και εαν επ' αυτω πεποιθως ης καθως γεγραπται,
Ιδου εγω εμβαλω εις τα θεμελια Σιων Ιδου τιθημι εν Σιων
εσται σοι εις αγιασμα και ουχ ως
λιθον λιθου προσκομματι συναντησεσθε αυτω ουδε ως πετρας πτωματι λιθον προσκομματος και πετραν σκανδαλου,
πολυτελη εκλεκτον ακρογωνιαιον εντιμον εις τα θεμελια αυτης ο δε οικος Ιακωβ εν παγιδι και εν κοιλασματι εγκαθημενοι εν Ιερουσαλημ
και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου μη καταισχυνθη και ο πιστευων επ' αυτω ου καταισχυνθησεται.
As you can see, Paul sandwiches part of the middle of Isaiah 8:14 between some of the beginning and most of the end of Isaiah 28:16.

Thus, as opposed to quoting Isaiah "just as it is written," what Paul wrote does not seem to fully agree with either the Greek text or the Hebrew text of these verses, and his wording also has some morphological differences with what was "written."