Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A New Series on the Text of Isaiah 53

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The Text and Canon Institute has launched a new series of articles on several of the crucial textual problems in Isaiah's Fourth Servant Song (Isaiah 52:13–53:12). The series will focus on the problems that affect translation such as the following:
  1. Does the servant startle the nations because he is disfigured or sprinkle them after being anointed? (Isa. 52:14–15; by Peter Gentry)
  2. Is the servant stricken to death for the people’s rebellion, or are they? (Isa. 53:8; by John Meade)
  3. Is the servant’s death or his tomb with the rich? (Isa. 53:9; by Peter Gentry)
  4. Who and what does the servant intercede for? (Isa. 53:12; by John Meade)
  5. Is the resurrection of the servant anticipated in what he sees? (Isa. 53:11; by Anthony Ferguson)
Peter Gentry, co-blogger Anthony Ferguson, and myself have written up the articles on these problems in an accessible way to put them back on the radar of commentators and Bible translators as well as guide the interested layperson who has probably heard that their translation contains mistakes (and maybe their translation does). You can read the Introduction article here and follow the unfolding of the series over the next few weeks until Easter.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Luke Timothy Johnson on Scholarship

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Nijay Gupta has just published a short interview with the prolific NT scholar Luke Timothy Johnson. It follows on the publication of his new memoir. It is well worth reading. There is quite a bit of wisdom here and I especially appreciated this part about how he views the place of scholarship in the light of eternity.

Book cover

First, I have always considered only one thing essential — to become (or better, to allow God to make one) a certain kind of person. Everything else I have considered as secondary and non-essential. The judgment of other humans is trivial compared to the absolute judgment of God. Such a conviction enables one to speak boldly and without fear. 

Second, I have considered scholarship as a serious enterprise, but one without ultimate importance. It is, indeed, a game that, like all games, must be played seriously if it is to be played well. But it is played best when it is played with the freedom that authentic faith gives and is not erected into an idolatrous project. 

Third, if scholarship is non-ultimate, then an academic career is even more nugatory. The academy should be regarded as a social arrangement whose importance is measured solely by the way it serves the ends for which it was designed. Do students learn? Do teachers grow in knowledge? Is the church and society made better by these processes? To the degree that “the academy” becomes absolute and self-serving, to that degree it has lost its way.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Ozoliņš on Who Killed Goliath

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Over at the TCI, we’ve just published a new article by Kaspars Ozoliņš on the question of who killed Goliath. The issue, if you’re unfamiliar (like I was), is that 2 Sam 21.19 is clearly in conflict with 1 Samuel 17:

And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

It also doesn’t match the parallel text in 1 Chron. 20.5:

And there was again war with the Philistines, and Elhanan the son of Jair struck down Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam.

Kaspars argues that a series of scribal mistakes explains the differences between the two verses and that, once sorted, 2 Sam 21.19 offers no conflict with 1 Sam 17. I should note that the version Kaspars has published at TCI is a summarized version of his more detailed argument published recently in Vetus Testamentum

I should also mention that, after reading his article, I checked the NET Bible notes and they offer basically the same solution (in much condensed form).

In any case, since we don’t have comments over at the TCI, I thought folks may want to discuss the argument here.

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Passion Translation Removed from Bible Gateway

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Here’s a bit of Bible translation news from last month. The very popular translation website Biblegateway.com has removed the Passion Translation from its list of available Bibles. Christianity Today has the story. What is the Passion Translation, you ask?

First released as a New Testament in 2017, The Passion Translation includes additions that do not appear in the source manuscripts, phrases meant to draw out God’s “tone” and “heart” in each passage.

Or, according to the publisher:

The Passion Translation is a modern, easy-to-read Bible translation that unlocks the passion of God’s heart and expresses his fiery love—merging emotion and life-changing truth.

Why was it pulled from Bible Gateway? Mainly, it seems, because its not a translation, but rather one man’s effort to combine his own idiosyncratic interpretations with occasional “insights” and readings from the “Aramaic” (presumably meaning the Syriac). To give you a taste, here is Eph. 6:5–8

5 Those who are employed should listen to their employers and obey their instructions with great respect and honor. Serve them with humility in your hearts as though you were working for the Master. 6 Always do what is right and not only when others are watching, so that you may please Christ as his servants by doing his will. 7 Serve  your employers wholeheartedly and with love, as though you were serving Christ and not men. 8 Be assured that anything you do that is beautiful and excellent will be repaid by our Lord, whether you are an employee or an employer. 9 And to the caretakers of the flock  I say, do what is right with your people by forgiving them when they offend you, for you know there is a Master in heaven that shows no favoritism.

Things do not get better in the footnotes. The first one, following the word “employers” (τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα κυρίοις) in v. 5, reads, “Literally ‘Servants should obey their caretakers.’” The last one, in v. 9, explains “caretakers of the flock” (οἱ κύριοι) with this:

As translated literally from the Aramaic. The “caretakers of the flock” can refer to both leadership in the church and in the workplace. The Greek text states “masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening.”

If you can figure that out, let me know. You can still read it online at bible.com—but I don’t recommend it.