Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Problem(s) With the King James Version

I was brought up on the KJV. I have enormous fondness for it and still find myself quoting many verses in its Shakespearean prose. When my friend Arthur prays for me, I thank him in the confidence that his prayers will "availeth much." I still feel that God "maketh me lie down in green pastures and leadeth me beside still waters." John 3:16 will always be about "His only begotten son" and I will always ask God to forgive my debts as I forgive my debtors. I love the "thy's" and "thee's" and "yea's" and "ye's." The language is beautiful...and I love beautiful language.

Having said that....

I am working through "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" by Fee and Stuart. They devote a chapter to choosing the right translation to study. The ol' KJV doesn't come out all that well. Some reasons, examples, and difficulties follow.

The KJV was based on late manuscripts which had accumulated the mistakes of over a thousand years of copying.

As much as possible, the KJV tries to stay close to the original language. The problem here is that the original meanings of many of those words has been lost or changed. "Holy kisses" and "coals of fire" require some translating which the KJV doesn't do. It is better to use a translation that will stays as close as possible to the original meaning.

Weights, measures, and money have changed in terminology. So homers, ephahs, shekels, talents, and denarii don't mean much to us.

Grammar, syntax, and vocabulary have all shifted, meaning that we have to work harder to get at the original intent than strictly literal translations will allow. In I Cor. 3:9, we read "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Possessive grammar in Greek is sometimes hard to follow. What Paul meant was that "we are God's co-workers; you are God's field, God's building" (TNIV)

Gender is an obvious problem. Even when I was in school, I was being taught that "man" and "he" are proper when writing about either gender. It's no wonder that we have such confusion regarding gender roles when the Bible says so much about men and so little about women. Does anybody really think that when Jesus said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" that the statement only refers to men and boys?

There are many other difficulties as well. Even the now-sacred NIV has its shortcomings. I was gratified to see that the authors highest recommendation was for the TNIV, which is my translation of choice. They warned though, that when doing serious study it is best to have mulitple translations at the ready. As long as one of them is not the King James Version.

P.S. Don't get your hopes up that the New KJV is better. It throws out much of the wonderful language but keeps all the mistakes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Biblical Interpretation

One of my two courses this year is in basic Biblical Interpretation.

We all know that there is more to interpreting scripture than just reading. We all bring our own biases, experience, culture, tradition, and mood to the Bible. It doesn't need to be difficult, but we need to do a better job of studying than just reading and deciding what it means for us.

This class will be instrumental in helping me to do that. I was reading the first lesson notes today (it's an on-line class) and was glad to see that the instructor is placing things in a postmodern context. He asks us to think about what it means to interpret the Bible in a time where the mere existence of truth is questioned. How can Scripture apply when everybody is entitled to their own personal truth?

It can, but we need to be aware of our own clouded perceptions, of the pure guidance of Spirit, and of all-important context. It's going to be an incredibly helpful course.

Monday, January 26, 2009

4 years old

I blame Brandon Scott Thomas. I love him. But I blame him.

It's his fault I started this blog 4 years ago today. His fault I've put you through this for all that time. His fault you had to suffer with me when the car parked in my kitchen. His fault you've had to listen to me whine when I was sick or when things weren't going the way I wanted them to.

Of course, on the other hand, it's because of him that I have met people like Judy, Greg, and Cecil. Because of him that I have reconnected with Randy, Brady, and lately even people like Jenny. Because of him that Wendy, Carolyn, and others have gotten to see pictures of my boy growing up.

It was the ZOE website that led me to BST's blog...which led me to Mike's...which led me to Josh's. And I have been blessed by their words over the years. Truly, I've been as blessed by the blogs as by the annual ZOE conference (which was wonderful and uplifting and life-giving and John York's class was even more instructional and helpful than usual which is saying a lot).

So I guess I don't really blame Brandon after all.

There have been times that I've thought about giving it up...and now with the extra time my study will require my blogging may get spottier than in the past...but I always come back to the community that has developed as a result of it. It has become an important part of my life.

Thanks to all who drop by and give me encouragement. And thanks to all who write your own blogs. You uplift me and enrich my relationship with the church and with the Father.

Happy blogiversary!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ZOE 2009

It's ZOE weekend in Fresno! It's a time to welcome back people who are like family. It's a time to be lifted up in praise and worship. It's a time for community and sharing the Spirit of God. It's a time to learn from women and men who are gifted students and teachers of the Word. It's a time to sing and pray and eat and fellowship and catch up and laugh and rejoice as children of the King.

It's so cool to be excited for an event that never, ever lets you down.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


As I transition from part-time preacher to part-time seminary student, it would be easy to have some bitterness. We've all seen cases of churches treating ministers who are leaving in an awkward manner, wishing they would hurry up and go so that the new guy could get started. I want to share two things that have happened recently that have humbled me beyond words and made me feel both appreciated and loved as a new era begins at the College Church.

A number of people have approached me over the past several months, asking if they could help support my time in seminary. Obviously, seminary tuition is something that we could not afford by ourselves. That brothers and sisters have come to me and asked to help tells me that they believe in the calling God has given me and that they have faith that I will be the kind of minister God wants in His church. There are no words for how that makes me feel and how incredibly grateful I am to them.

Our service on Sunday was so special to me. The three of us who have done the bulk of the preaching over the past 13 years were given time to reflect on what the time has meant to us. Afterward, our precious elders called us to the front and publicly washed our feet. If nobody has ever done that for you, you can't know how the act combines the feelings of being lifted up and being put in your place at the same time. For these men to wash my feet made me feel so loved, appreciated, and proud of what I've done for my church. For these men to wash my feet made me feel so humble and conscious of who I am in relation to them and others. It was a powerful way to transition into what comes next.

It is a wondrous thing to know that you are never alone. Not only do I have the assurance of the Triune God living in me, but I have no question that my church loves me and supports my mission. It is a very, very good feeling indeed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Facebook Made Me Feel Old

I love Facebook. I really do. Besides the ability to keep up with many, many people on a daily basis, I am fairly addicted to Word Twist.

I discovered the downside the other day though.

Through a friend, I reconnected with two other friends, people I went to high school with. I was amazed to find out that one of them, a year younger than me, has six children...and the oldest is 20.


How can SHE have a 20-year old when I am clearly not old enough to have one??? Seriously!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events

You know those days where everything is going along just fine...and then 3 or 4 things pile up on you all in a row? Yeah, I had one of those yesterday.

I went by the seminary to talk about some financial options and hit a huge snag. Nothing impenetrable, just some stuff that will have to be worked out.

About three blocks into my drive home a big dog ran right out in front of my car and I hit him pretty good. I was in the middle lane, so it took a while for me to have enough space to pull over and off the road. My car was okay (I guess), but I had traveled quite a ways from where I hit the poor mutt and I couldn't find him when I looked. I consoled myself by imagining he loped away fine.

Then it was some piddly going to the drug store for ONE prescription that wasn't filled. In about an hour my day had gone from all right to *sound of bronx cheer*.

Yes, I prayed. Yes, the sun still came out today. And yes, I know that I am more prone to mood swings than others. Still, it always surprises me how one hour of misery can turn things around. Ah well...time to make some phone calls and (hopefully...prayerfully) get everything back on track. Except for that dog. Not much I can do for that dog.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


To prepare for next semester's class in The Gospel of Luke, I've been reading ahead in the three commentaries which are required. I've been reading this week about the births of John, the Prophet of God and Jesus, the Son of God.

I can't help but wonder what the childhood and young adulthood of these men were like. When I think of this time of life for Jesus in particular, I wonder what people expected of him. Those privy to the Annunciation, to his birth, and to the signs and wonders which accompanied it had to have pretty high hopes for this boy/young man. After all, this was the Messiah! This was the Deliverer! All of the hopes the Jews had to escape Roman oppression and to reestablish their prominence as God's chosen people rested on his shoulders.

Did he get a lot of looks as a carpenter's apprentice? Did anybody ask outright when he planned to get down to business? Was he treated like a king in a false expectation of his role on earth? Or was he treated poorly when some felt he wasn't carrying out God's will for him?

Many of us grow impatient with God's timing. I wonder if, even after the Messiah had been born, even after centuries of waiting and watching, even then were people anxious about Jesus' activities? And how did he respond? With a smile and an "it's not yet time?" Or with silent understanding, knowing that even when he began his ministry, people would be disappointed.

And how does he respond now, as he intercedes for us? How does his role play out, explaining...and even understanding...the impatient expectations of such temporary souls?

Monday, January 12, 2009

What I Got For Christmas

Lego Batman, the video game.

A Star Wars moldmaker machine.

A remote-control rocket.

A Nintendo DS.

A Batman slot car race track.

And lots more cool things.

I can't tell you how great it is to have a 7-year-old son around Christmas time. When he's good, he lets me play with his toys. And when he's not good, I can send him to his room and play with them anyway!

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