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Chip Fields | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Dec 28 2014 6:17 PM

It is a "stupid undertaking to attempt to gain an understanding of Scripture by laboring through the commentaries of the fathers and a multitude of books and glosses. Instead of this, men should have devoted themselves to the languages."  Of course, he was speaking of those in vocational Christian ministry.

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Veli Voipio | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Dec 28 2014 11:08 PM

I think knowing original languages and general linguistics is good for laymen, too, but some think it can also be also dangerous Smile Can anyone tell us some experiences of that?

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 29 2014 10:03 AM

Veli Voipio:

I think knowing original languages and general linguistics is good for laymen, too, but some think it can also be also dangerous Smile Can anyone tell us some experiences of that?

As a layperson who doesn't read greek or hebrew (although i do recognize a few words). I am always careful to look at context and rely on those (be it in theological lexicons or commentaries) to guide my understanding. This is more or less a random sample (based on a reading from the Daily lectionary and how I can see it going wrong).

Rev. 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.

 314. ἀναγινώσκω anaginōskō; from 303 and 1097; to know certainly, know again, read:—read(25), reader(2), reading(4), reads(1).

John seems to me and most interpreter's to be saying this book is not for the reader alone but is to be shared. There are people that become obsessed with prophesy and may try to see ἀναγινώσκω not as a sharing of this good news in hard times, but as a way of earning a blessing by studying the book of Revelation and firmly understanding it's interpretation. This is not a horrible thing but it also seems not to be what we are commended to do either.

If we go to a theological lexicon we usually are less likely to come up with fanciful and less correct interpretations. 

  • ἀναγινώσκω, ἀνάγνωσις*


ἀναγινώσκω in Gk. means “to know exactly” or “to recognise,” and for the most part it is used with the sense of reading or public reading (cf. both older usage and the pap.). In this sense it is by no means uncommon in the LXX, mostly for קרא.
In the NT ἀναγινώσκειν is used of the reading of a letter (Ac. 15:31; 23:34; 2 C. 1:13; 3:2; Eph. 3:4) and esp. of public reading in the congregation (1 Th. 5:27; Col. 4:16). In Jn. 19:20 it is used of reading the τίτλος on the cross. It is mainly used of the reading of the OT: Mk. 2:25 par.; 12:10 par.; Mt. 12:5; Ac. 8:28; Gl. 4:21 (vl.) etc.; cf. esp. Mk. 13:14: ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω (whosoever reads the apocalypse in question—Daniel?). We find the same use in Jos. Ant., 4, 209; 10, 267; 20, 44 f. and later Christian literature. There is particular reference to the cultic reading of the OT in Lk. 4:16; Ac. 13:27; 15:21; 2 C. 3:15. In Rev. 1:3 the reference is to reading of the prophecy presented, and since the Epistles were already being publicly read in the early communities it is evident that the apostolic literature was also an object of ἀναγινώσκειν as well as the OT (cf. 2 Cl., 19, 1; Just. Ap., 67, 3 f.).1
ἀνάγνωσις means “knowledge” or “recognition” and it is particularly used for reading or public reading (as in the pap.), esp. in law courts and other assemblies. In Judaism it was used for the public reading of the OT, cf. Philo Rer. Div. Haer., 253 and the synagogue inscription in Jerusalem: συναγωγὴν εἰς ἀνάγνωσιν νόμου.2 We find the same usage in early Christianity: Ac. 13:15; 2 C. 3:14; 1 Tm. 4:13; and cf. also Cl. Al. Paed., II, 10, 96, 2; Strom., I, 21, 146, 1; VI, 14, 113, 3.
Bultmann

Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 343–344.

I can well imagine some people opening a basic dictionary like the above possibly get the wrong idea, where as a more in-depth work helps out a lot. I am sure WIND is a good example. In english we know by context whether "the wind is blowing" or "it time to wind the clock" If all definitions for WIND are lumped together one could come up with some bizarre and incorrect ideas. I do not discourage anyone from taking a closer look at the text but do believe for people who have no good grasp of the original language it is better to be guided by those who have studied them.

Just my 2 cents.

-Dan

EDIT: PS: As I was walking away from the computer I remembered my Grade 10 English teach had a sign up "Blessed is he who reads" Revelation 1:3 I remember debating with them that was pulled out of context and not what Revelation was trying to say. To me this is about like saying “Do quickly what you are going to do.” as a call not to procrastinate. 

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Veli Voipio | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 29 2014 11:41 AM

Thanks Dan!

I never paid attention to that before, but when I checked two Finnish translations, one says "read" and the other says "reads aloud to others".

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 29 2014 12:35 PM

Veli Voipio:

Thanks Dan!

I never paid attention to that before, but when I checked two Finnish translations, one says "read" and the other says "reads aloud to others".

I think either are acceptable with the latter being a better rendering even if not one word for word literal. Which is also why a lexicon/ dictionary is handy... sometimes a greek or hebrew word may suggest more... Other times like WIND some meanings are definitely not going to be useful at all and could easily lead to weird interpretations. Indeed classically in Hebrew we knows this happens already based on vowels. Hebrews often put in vowels that twisted things a bit..... Baal made a mighty Sh_t.... While the meaning might have been shot, it may have been historically always read as an i to mock Baal. Much in the same way Beelzebub meaning Lord of the Flies is a corruption likely Lord of the Heavens. Although that is a little bit more than vowel choice from my understanding.

-Dan

PS:

Although zĕḇûl alone can mean “lofty, exalted place” (thus “lord of heaven”), the fixed phrase zbl bʿl (“prince Baal”) at Ugarit supports taking Baal-zebul as a local manifestation of the storm-god Baal. Baal-zebub would thus be a derogatory pun on the original name.
JOHN L. MCLAUGHLIN


John L. McLaughlin, “Baal-Zebub,” ed. David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 137.

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