23 April 2012

Review: Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus


Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus
Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus by David Bivin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In my continued studies on the Hebrew backgrounds to the Bible, including the New Testament language and culture, I ran across this title and scooped it up. I found it to be very informative, even though somewhat brief. The major part of the book is set out to prove that the New Testament books, most specifically the four gospels, were originally written in Hebrew, and later translated into Aramaic or Greek.

The book then sets out to show how translating Hebrew idioms and known Hebrew cultural sayings can, and have, caused misunderstandings and mistranslations from Greek into English versions. While the main portion of the book briefly looks at some of the verses and issues created, it is the last portion of the book, the appendix, that is a more detailed examination of those verses.

One of the key parts I found the most beneficial, was the discussion on the term "kingdom." The Greek terms used in the translation are easily understood to mean not yet here, while the original Hebrew term for it actually means "It's here, it has arrived!" (pg. 62). It is things like this, where the Greek gives a totally opposite or greatly different view point when used, that make this small book pretty fascinating.

The concept of "kingdom" is perhaps the most important spiritual concept in the New Testament. In English or Greek, "kingdom" is never verbal. It is something static, something to do with territory. But, in Hebrew, "kingdom" is active, it is action. It is God ruling in the lives of men. Those who are ruled by God are the Kingdom of God.

"Kingdom" is also the demonstration of God's rule through miracles, signs, and wonders. Wherever the power of God is demonstrated, there is His "Kingdom." ... We see God;s Kingdom when we see Him in action. In the same way, people saw the Kingdom when they saw Jesus in action. This is what Jesus meant when he said: "But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you." (Luke 11:20)

Jesus also used "kingdom" to refer to those who followed him, the members of his movement. His disciples were now to literally be the Kingdom of God by demonstrating his presence and power in their lives. (pg 64)

I wish there were move examples, but the ones here are a great introduction to the issue. I then find out my wish has already been granted in part two of the book, [b:New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus: Insights from His Jewish Context|1165795|New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus Insights from His Jewish Context|David Bivin|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1181569893s/1165795.jpg|1153480], which I will probably jump into next.



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