What Billy Graham said.... (exercise in Hebrew)

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Posts 568
David P. Moore | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Feb 18 2010 7:41 AM

Hi All,

I was watching an old Billy Graham crusade the other night and at one point he referenced Psalm 53:1 (or 14:1):

"The fool says in his heart "There is no God."

But then he added that in the original Hebrew, it actually says:

"The fool says in his heart "There is no God for me."

This obviously adds depth to the meaning of this verse. So, my question is, being new to L4, and also having zero background in Hebrew/Greek, how would I use L4 (Scholar's) to be able to uncover this observation for myself? Or am I asking the wrong question?

Posts 49
David | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:18 AM

I think Billy is mistaken. I don't see it in the original.

Posts 49
David | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:24 AM

To better answer your question, using an interlinear bible will give you the results you're seeking, but you do have to know a little bit of Hebrew. Using an interlinear is a great way to learn.

Posts 418
davidphillips | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:37 AM

David,

Great question! I think the first thing I would do doesn't involve using the original languages at all. I'd use Logos to compare the major English translations to see if any translation brings this out:

Under Tools, select Text Comparison.

Enter Psalm 53:1 in the reference box and select "English Bibles" in the Bible section.

It might be hard to see in the picture, but if you run it yourself, you'll notice that no English translation says "there is no God for me." That immediately makes me suspect. I would expect that if it was a significant point, hopefully some group of translators in the past 500 years would have captured it.

But while that makes me highly suspicious, it doesn't prove the case. Without any Hebrew, it's hard to tell you how to check this in general, but I can show you how to check this instance

Logos has what are called "Reverse Interlinears." On a number of your Bibles (ESV, RSV, NLT, NRSV, KJV). There's a tab that says "Interlinear" at the top:

 

If you click this, it will display a number of additional lines of text, showing you the underlying Hebrew (or Greek or Aramaic) of the text. Now we can click on the english word in the text we're interested in, and it will highlight the Hebrew below. So click, "God" in vs. 1:

 You'll see that in the interlinear pane, the information is highlighted. At the very bottom there is a "Morph" section, which stands for morphology, or how the word is parsed (is it a noun, verb, etc. etc.) You can hover over that list of letters and get an explanation:

 

In Hebrew, we would expect that if "for me" were in the text, it would either be included in a preposition, or attached directly to the word as a suffix. If it were a suffix, that "noun, proper, divine, singular, masuline, normal" would also say, "suffixed" as in Psalm 22:1.

 In this case, there is neither a suffix or preposition (if there were a preposition, it would mean that the translators had left it untranslated, which would mean you would see a column that had information in the MSS, Lemma, and Morph lines, but nothing in the surface line, indicating that it was untranslated, like Psalm 27:2, just to the right of "foes":

Another excellent thing to do would be to run a "Passage Guide" and "Exegetical Guide" on the passage and study the information there, especially good commentaries and see if any of them discuss the translation in question. And if you are interested in learning more, there are a number of grammars and tools that you can use to start learning Greek and Hebrew for yourself!

So, my conclusion would be that Billy Graham was wrong, at least from a translation standpoint. In his commentary on the Psalms, VanGemeren (Expositors Bible Commentary) says that this denial is not denying that he exists, but that he disregards God and assumes he isn't held accountable to God (EBC, Psalm 14:1).

So perhaps what Billy was trying to say is that the point of Ps 53:1 isn't that the fool disbelieves in the existence of God, but that he rejects the authority of God in his life, thus "there is no God for me." But that's an issue of interpretation, not of translation.

Posts 1539
Terry Poperszky | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 8:46 AM

David B Phillips:
So perhaps what Billy was trying to say is that the point of Ps 53:1 isn't that the fool disbelieves in the existence of God, but that he rejects the authority of God in his life, thus "there is no God for me." But that's an issue of interpretation, not of translation.

David, I am impressed with your use of the Logos Tools to deal with the question. Both in dealing with the Hebrew, and then using the commentary  to help come to a possible conclusion. 

Thanks for the good example.

 

 

Posts 116
Matt | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 9:27 AM

Terry Poperszky:
David, I am impressed with your use of the Logos Tools to deal with the question

Me too!  Thanks David.

Matt

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    Posts 287
    Jerry Walker | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 9:42 AM

    David very great job, It was very detailed and informative. Where do you live? 

    Posts 418
    davidphillips | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 11:02 AM

    I'm glad you guys found it helpful! Thanks for the encouragement Smile

    Jerry,

    I live in south Florida.

    Posts 568
    David P. Moore | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 3:31 PM

    Yes, thanks for this lesson, David. It is exactly what I needed, especially the part about the Morph section. VanGemeren seems to be conveying the same point that Billy did.

    This post goes into my personal Logos manual!

    Posts 4
    Rodney Underwood | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Feb 18 2010 5:36 PM

    That was very informative, I wish we had more examples .....Wink

    Posts 4
    brian | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 1 2019 6:01 PM

    A bigger mistake is that the noun fool is used for the adjective nabal. This is a grave error. And teaches people to revile. It should read "the senseless man has said in his heart" or even the foolish has said in his heart.

    To change an adjective to a noun like that I think brings the curse of he who adds to these words or takes away. Why? Because then people think there are times it is ok to insult people using the word fool. Jesus said to use such a word is proof of murder in your heart. To act superior is murder as per John 9:28 as an example.

    The same is with the Greek Matt 23:17. Some have it correct as "foolish and blind" majority have blatant bad grammar and have translated "fools and blind" that is like saying "cat and orange". Jesus said foolish.

    If I tell my son he is foolish it is an exhortation to change and a statement that I believe he can change. If I say he is a fool I have said he is condemned and cannot change!

    foolish is to discern
    fool is to condemn. 

    Posts 11433
    DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 1 2019 7:02 PM

    brian:
    foolish is to discern
    fool is to condemn. 

    An interesting older thread.

    You assume modern semantics .... fool vs foolish one being different 3,000 years ago. But in the 1800s, several NT translators agreed with 'foolish' as a better choice, retaining 'fool' in the OT.

    The Billy G question is also interesting. There's been several monographs that suggest early semitics didn't speak to 'no diety', but rather refusing a specific diety (and therefore a personal one). Ergo Billy G's point.

    "God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

    Posts 4
    brian | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 1 2019 9:04 PM

    I assume? Are you sure of this judgement??? Maybe say "perhaps you assume"

    If an issue of modern semantics then why is even the most recent English translation fool and not foolish???!!! This would seem to invalidate your your idea. besides there is no 3000 yr old English translation. A translation from 1582 gets Matt 23:17 right.

    The most recent is the MEV I believe and it says fool both in psalm 14:1 and Matt 23:17. At least they get the English grammar right for Matt 23:17 but with out the conjunction kai it is or they have changed the words of the book entirely!

    So either Jesus said call no one fool and then called them fools and thus is a hypocrite or He did not call them fool but called them foolish.

    Matthew 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.

    Revelation 22:18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

    Deuteronomy 4:2 New King James Version (NKJV) 2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
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    Reuben Helmuth | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 1 2019 11:39 PM

    brian:
    To change an adjective to a noun like that I think brings the curse of he who adds to these words or takes away.

    Spoken like an American. 😉 Why? Because:

    • Trilingual = Person who speaks 3 languages
    • Bilingual = Person who speaks 2 languages
    • Monolingual = Person who speaks only 1 language American😜

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    MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 1 2019 11:52 PM

    brian:
    To change an adjective to a noun like that I think brings the curse of he who adds to these words or takes away.

    When one translates, it is the semantic role not the grammatical role that one needs to retain. Many languages have little grammar in the sense the standard "Western" languages do. Look into Chinese grammar to verify this (or https://linguistlist.org/issues/4/4-442.html).  I think that if I picked 6 languages for you to translate the Greek into, you would discover that "add/take away" applies to the Greek ... the words required to express the same thought in other languages will vary dramatically.

    As you are new to the forums, you may not have read the guidelines. Note that we discuss methods and resources in the context of Faithlife tools - we don't push our theological position.

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    MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 2 2019 1:28 AM

    David P. Moore:
    Or am I asking the wrong question?

    I suggest that you spend considerable time considering what "God" means in this context. An example of the difficulty in understanding the original Hebrew is shown in this pod cast/transcript. https://thebibleproject.com/podcast/theme-god-e2-no-other-god/transcript/ I'm not taking a position, merely point out the ambiguity inherent in the ancient Hebrew/modern English mindset.

    Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

    Posts 4
    brian | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2019 9:14 AM

    Wow! I speak more than one language! 

    Proverbs 18:13 He who answera matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.

    repent of your folly become wise and simply ask "do you speak only one language

    Besides the Septuagint translated 3500 yrs ago translated it correctly!

    You bein pharasitical maybe you don't want to give up the drug of verbal violence. 
    Posts 4
    brian | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2019 9:22 AM

    It looks like an explanation but really it is an excuse.

    The senseless has said. The foolish has said.

    I write contracts for a living.  A misplaced idle word can cost a lot of money. Even a misplace comma. That is why my contracts are proof read by someone better at grammar than me.

    I read Koine Greek and I speak modern Greek. 

    They be translated wrong!

    The Septuagint used an adjective as well. It used Afron. Jesus said we should not say mwre. The word he used was a noun in the imperative. He later used that word plural as an adjective.

    You cannot claim that the many who got their English grammar wrong compared to those who didn't that is is about the art of translation. NO! They flat out changed the scriptures!

    We will find out for sure on judgement day. 

    As to "I am preaching"  

    Acts 5:29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

    feel free to persecute.
    Posts 11433
    DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2019 9:35 AM

    brian:
    feel free to persecute.

    okie dokie.

    But your semantic assertions (assumptions) support the hot-sin folks. Male-ish vs males ... female-ish vs females. Gen 1. Interestingly, when Jesus used the quote, and it moved into greek, it retained its ish-iness.

    "God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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    MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Dec 4 2019 12:45 PM

    brian:
    feel free to persecute.

    No, persecution is inappropriate on these forums. But I will again point you to the forum guidelines.

    Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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