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Tuesday
May152018

Those pesky Bible editors

I am thankful that the Bible has chapter and verse markers. When I want to tell someone where something is, or rememer where I read something, they are very helpful. Just imagine if the Bible didn't have such markers, and you had to cite where you were reading. We would have to rely on page numbers, and that would mean everyone having the same version. Considering the number of versions and formats, that is an unlikely scenario.

However much I rely on those markers, I have seen that they can be misleading or a distraction. Bill Mounce, in his post yesterday, talked about how incorrect paragraph markers can interfere with the intention of the writer. He mentions in this post about the value of seeing the biblical text without verse and paragraph markers.

I'm going to be taking a class on the Synoptic Gospels in the fall, so over the summer, I am going to be reading those gospels. In May, I am reading Matthew; in June, Mark; and in July, Luke. I hope to read each one in multiple translations, the ESV, NASB, NIV, and NLT. I also want to read each one in a version without verse and chapter markers, so I'm reading the ESV Reader's Bible

As an aside, I know many people who were bothered by the kerfuffle about the ESV's translation of Genesis 3:16, and the fact that Crossway wanted to make it so that the text could not be updated in the future. Many determined never to read the ESV again, and many don't. I like the ESV. For years, I used the NASB, but when I read the Psalms in the ESV, I preferred that translation. I decided not to let those issues deter me. I use both the NASB and the ESV, and I've even warmed up to the NIV. The fact of the matter is that they all get it wrong at times. But considering the alternative, which is everyone knowing Koine Greek well (not just rudimentary understanding), we are lucky to have those translations. And while we get disgruntled about how they are translated, the bottom line is the translators know more about Koine Greek than the average Bible reader.

So, all that to say this: I love the ESV Reader's Bible. I have had it for a while, having purchased it when Westminster Books had it on for 50% off. I have only read Epistles so far, so this is the first time I've read narrative without the verse markers. It does indeed make a difference; and a good one. In narrative, as readers of English, we are accustomed to see a continual flow until the action changes. Having artificial markers can interfere with how the action is presented. So far, reading narrative without verse and chapter markers has been great.

For those who like the NASB, I don't know as if there is a version without verse or chapter markers. I know there is a version of the NIV without markers. I'm pretty sure that if one has Logos software, it's possible to get a text only version of what one reads in the Bible. Barring that, there is always the option of copying and pasting to make your own copy. It really is a helpful way to read the text.

Monday
May142018

The problem with Mother's Day

I wrote about Mother's Day a couple of weeks ago, and ultimately deleted it because of a very rude email which I received from someone who didn't like it. To my fault, I was too offended by the comment. I am not planning on letting that happen today.

I have no problem with people celebrating Mother's Day. My problem is what the Church does with it. Now, not all churches do this, but many do. It becomes a religious holiday like Easter or Christmas. Churches who will turn their noses up at Pentecost Sunday will happily add Mother's Day to the public liturgy. And the focus becomes less about God and more about motherhood.

I am a mother, and I love my children. I'm sure when I'm a grandmother some day, I will encourage my daughter and daughters-in-law about motherhood. But I am more than a mother. Every woman is more than a mother. My primary relationship is with Christ. I find it unusual when on the one hand, we tell women to make their primary relationship with Christ first, but then on the other hand, make motherhood a competitor to that relationship. If a Church wants to mention Mother's Day, go ahead, but it becomes like the High Holy Day, and I don't think that is helpful.

One of the worst experiences I ever had was being asked to stand in church on Mother's Day and be applauded for being a mother; for something I was able to be only because of God's grace. And most women I know don't feel like they are worthy of applause. Many of us as mothers have times when we feel like we failed. Who wants to be applauded for that? I'm not a fan of applause of any kind in church (unless it's to clap for a child who is up there singing for a special occasion), and applause for being a mom was awkward to say the least.

Similarly, being told to anticipate my children rising up and calling me blessed bothers me. My desire as a mother is not to have my children rise up and call me blessed (although a phone call and a visit every now and then is wonderful) but rather that my children walk with God. That's all I want for them. Everything else is icing on the cake. To look for applause as a mother is a dangerous game, because not only may we be disappointed, but we are looking for a fleeting reward.

Yet that is what Mother's Day is all about: tell your mom she's great. What part does that have in the liturgy of church? Extending Mother's Day greetings in the service is one thing, but why make the whole thing about mothers? Thankfully, the message at my church yesterday was not about mothers per se, even though the text was from I Samuel 2. It was about finding joy in God, about worshipping him, knowing him. There was something there for everyone, and it was devoid of Proverbs 31 references which only make women feel inadequate.

The problem isn't with Mother's Day itself. It is just another secular holiday that card companies, jewelry stores, and flower shops benefit from. The problem is what we do with it. And when we make it part of the worship service, we're helping the holiday, not necessarily the women in the room. 

And if that makes me a grumpy old curmudgeon, I guess I'll take it. 

Sunday
May132018

Here Is Love

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our ransom
Shed for us his precious blood.
Who his love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing his praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout heav'n's eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God's mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
Heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me, all your love accepting,
Love you, ever all my days;
Let me seek your kingdom only,
And my life be to your praise;
You alone shall be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see;
You have cleansed and sanctified me,
You yourself have set me free.

In your truth you still direct me
By your spirit through your word;
And your grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in you, my Lord.
Of your fullness you are pouring
Your great love and pow'r on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

 

Saturday
May122018

Read hard books

I'm just finishing How to Study and Apply the New Testament by Andy Naselli. Every time I read a book, I've always got a few fellow book lovers in mind as I read. Will I recommend the book to that person? As I read Naselli's book, I knew that I would have to qualify my recommendation. I do indeed recommend this book, but with the qualifcation that some may think this book is difficult.

Naselli's writing is not difficult, and the examples he uses are understandable. But if on has only read introductory books on Bible study, this may seem daunting. One of my favourite Bible study introductory books is Reading the Bible for All Its Worth. Yet, I have had friends tell me it's too difficult. I am of average intelligence, and while I found it work when I first read it, it was manageable. I think we have forgotten that not everything must come easy. I think we are so used to reading online, where the average reading level is not overly difficult, that we find more difficult writing a chore. 

Naselli's book contains a chapter on Greek grammar. That chapter right there would turn a lot of people off. Naselli himself acknowledgs that. But he uses both the Greek words (for people who know them) and he transliterates them so that non-Greek users can at least pronounce them in their heads. And the simple fact of the matter is that the New Testament was written in Greek, not English. We can't assume that the New Testament was written for us English speakers. There is value in getting a basic understanding of Greek, because it is a very different language.

There is value in reading hard books. In first grade, I loved reading about Mr. Mugs and when I finished one book in the series, I wanted to keep going. That is how we become better readers. That doesn't stop when we leave school. We can always become better readers. It is especially important now when we live in such an image-saturated world. Who needs to express oneself with wit and skill when one can find a GIF of a silly television show to express one's emotion?

Reading hard books helps us grow as readers. A few years ago, I read what was one of the more challenging books I have read, Is There a Meaning in This Text? by Kevin Vanhoozer. There were times when as I read when all I could discern was something similar to the sound of Charlie Brown's teacher. But I persisted, and then there were moments of clarity where I was blown away by what I read. 

If a book is difficult, press on. Get a dictionary. Read in small sections. Diagram the sentences if you have to. Just keep going.

Personally, I think there is a glut of introductory Bible study books. What I would like to see is more in between Bible study for beginners and advanced hermeneutics books. I would say Naselli is in that intermediate category. And it is a good book to follow up those introductory volumes. And for those for whom such matters are important, he uses footnotes, and the paper is very nice for annotating.

While I would recommend the book, I definitely want to emphasize that Naselli's bias is clear regarding what influences him. If you are not a John Piper fan, this book may irritate you. In his chapter about practical theology, he comments that he turns to men like Al Mohler, Justin Taylor, Collin Hansen, and Tim Keller for their analysis of the culture. That seems to me a group that would ultimately sound like an echo chamber. And while I respect them all, I would not turn to them for cultural analysis of Canada. I would be interested to see cultural analysis from more people outside their particular group, not just with a different theological perspective, but those from a non-Western stance and from voices other than just men.

That said, it was a valuable read.

Friday
May112018

Who I want to be

I want to be a woman who does not defame the name of Christ.

I want to love others as myself. And that means everyone.

I want to listen more and talk less.

I want to think more and react less.

I want to feel gratitude more and indignation less.

I want to listen to God's word more and man's word less.

I want to remember that it is my glory to overlook an offense.

I want to be responsible in how I understand and apply God's Word.

I want to learn until my mental faculties can no longer manage it.

I want to remember that my experience is not the protoype.

I want to acknowledge every day that my life has been given to me by God.

I want to remember that my God-given circumstances, by comparison to the majority of people on earth, are ones of affluence and privilege.

I want to look ahead to eternity, and let it affect how I see the here and now.