The value of modern lexicons & dictionaries for Bible study

We always try to use the best tools for our regular day work, we should do the same in our Bible study

Today we have a wealth of modern lexical tools available to us. Yet so many people ignore all this, and use Gesenius, or Strong’s, or Young’s, or Vine’s, tools which are massively out of date, sometimes wildly inaccurate, and theologically biased.

Here’s just one example. Let’s look at the Hebrew word ‘sheol’ (grave), typically rendered ‘hell’ by the KJV (one of many reasons why it’s such a bad translation). Continue reading “The value of modern lexicons & dictionaries for Bible study”

Hapax Legomena and the value of expertise for Bible Study

When words appear only once their meaning often remains unclear

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” – Gen 6:14 (AV)

What was gopher wood? That was one of my first questions asked after reading the flood narrative in the AV, and I remember being quite annoyed when I found out that no one really knew. Continue reading “Hapax Legomena and the value of expertise for Bible Study”

Solomon – opportunity lost

It was a little too good to be true.

Solomon followed David as the third recognised king of united Israel. He was anointed king in difficult circumstances with David seemingly bed ridden and ineffectual. Adonijah launched a soft coup based on his primogeniture but Solomon, with the aid of his mother and Nathan the prophet secured David’s approval to take the crown as recorded in 1 Kings 1. Continue reading “Solomon – opportunity lost”

5 common objections to “it cannot mean what it never meant”

It’s not the case that we have an understanding of the text without knowing the cultural context, rather we already have enough historical knowledge to forget that we need it!

Hermeneutics are the principles and methods by which we interpret the Bible, the foundation of our beliefs and practice. Sometimes we don’t spend enough time considering their importance, or we deny their relevance altogether. As Richard Beck once quipped: “a fundamentalist is a person who doesn’t think they have a hermeneutic”. Continue reading “5 common objections to “it cannot mean what it never meant””

Seers, Prophets, and Lexical Change

Samuel remained Samuel, but the word used to describe him did not

The book we call the Bible was written over the space of hundreds of years. Given this huge span of time we’d expect to see change in the way language is used throughout its pages. And we do. Continue reading “Seers, Prophets, and Lexical Change”

The Transfiguration in Mark’s Gospel

Christ’s mission vs. Messianic ideals

Mark’s account of the transfiguration brings a brief climax to a section in which Jesus is trying to help his disciples to understand his true identity and mission. It serves to elevate Jesus above all other intermediaries between God and man, even the two great Jewish figures Moses and Elijah. Continue reading “The Transfiguration in Mark’s Gospel”

Bridging the Gap – Culture and Language

Taking the time to carefully understand the Biblical culture of the passage at hand

“We can easily forget that Scripture is a foreign land and that reading the Bible is a crosscultural experience. To open the Word of God is to step into a strange world where things are very unlike our own. Most of us don’t speak the languages.We don’t know the geography or the customs or what behaviours are considered rude or polite. And yet we hardly notice… we tend to read Scripture in our own ‘when’ and ‘where’, in a way that makes sense on our terms.” 1

Those who have had the opportunity to travel overseas understand the need to learn about local culture in the places they are going to visit. It could be dangerous not to! You might behave quite differently in Dubai compared to how you would in London or New York. Yet we can be so familiar with the Bible that we forget that opening its pages is an experience of different languages and cultures to our own. Continue reading “Bridging the Gap – Culture and Language”

Bridging the Gap – Time and Place

To really understand our Bible, we must find ways to bridge the gap between its time and place, and our time and place.

We are separated from the people who wrote and received books of the Bible by between 2000 and 5000 years. That’s a long time! We look at black and white pictures of our grandparents or great-grandparents and wonder about how different their world was. They lived only a hundred or so years ago, the Bible is from 2000 years ago.

Our Bible was not written in 21st century English to people from a Western background. It was mainly written in the Ancient Near East to people from a very different culture to our own. Continue reading “Bridging the Gap – Time and Place”

Jonah in the Whale

Was Jonah preserved alive in the whale?

What happened to Jonah?  Commonly people believe he was swallowed by a giant fish, in which he survived for three days.  A historical “example” is often used to buttress this reading.  However there is a compelling argument for Jonah actually having died in the fish and being resurrected. Continue reading “Jonah in the Whale”

The Bible is simple… right?

God preserved the Bible for us, but it was first written to another people in another time.

Why does the Bible need to be studied? Isn’t its message simple enough to be understood by anyone? Surely it would be unfair of God to expect people to believe him and live according to his Word if it wasn’t able to be understood by everyone? Has not God chosen the ‘foolish’ of this world? Continue reading “The Bible is simple… right?”