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Keralabrethren.net: General Forum: The bible and the authority of the spoken message/വേദപുസ്തകവും പ്രസംഗവും

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# 02501 :  The bible and the authority of the spoken message/വേദപുസ്തകവും പ്രസംഗവും

Listening to some messages recently made me think about the effect on me of similar experiences more than three decades ago. I was in an assembly (in the US) where a good deal of the ministry was provided by itinerant evangelists. I recall one of these messages because of how it affected my own life. A brother referred in his message to somebody else's tape which supposedly said that the 'cities of refuge' in Numbers (and Joshua) now refer to the family, and that he agreed with that completely. That was just a very small and minor point of interpretation, and in the larger scheme of things, worthy of being ignored even if one disagreed. However, it was more or less the straw that broke the back of the camel that was my patience with interpretive uncertainty. Enough was enough. I had to figure out how one comes up with (such) meanings for things in the Bible. So, I set out on a course to do so.

My journey has brought me where I am now, when I teach, among other things, how to interpret the Bible correctly. It is a shock to discover, however, that a lot of believers could not care less about this matter. As long as they hear what they like, it does not matter to them whether what they like is what the Bible actually teaches, or whether the preacher's text has anything at all to do with the seemingly good things he says. It is not my intent to direct criticism in any general or specific directions in choosing to write here (on this web forum), seeing that many of the offenders are well intentioned. However, this is not a matter toward which Christians can afford to be indifferent.

We want to base our lives upon what God has said. We assume what the preacher says is what God has said. But this is only true to the extent that the preacher correctly proclaims what God has actually said. There has to be a valid and proper link between the meaning as proclaimed and the text as written. When this demonstrable link between meaning as discoverable in the text and what the preacher proclaims is missing, we no longer have assurance that what we are hearing is the truth or anything that God says to us.

Fortunately, most of the time, the results are partly harmless. The preacher has his stock of good things to say, the texts he uses are only of secondary relevance. He can start with any text but still land on the pre-conceived applications. These applications--we should listen to God, we should follow the Lord closely; we should trust in God; we should serve the Lord; we should stay away from sins—are all safe; so, no harm done. In the long run, however, being instructed in subjective and speculative approaches to the interpretation of Scripture leaves one a pauper in regard to biblical understanding, and helpless in regard to how one applies the Bible to one’s own life through personal study. That is a real tragedy.

ഏതാനും നാളുകള്‍ക്കു മുമ്പ് ചില പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍ കേട്ടപ്പോള്‍മൂന്നു ദശാബ്ദങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് മുമ്പുള്ള ചില സംഗതികള്‍അനുസ്മരിക്കുവാനിടയായി.

അമേരിക്കയിലുള്ള ഒരു ചെറിയ സഭയായിരുന്നു ഇടം. അവിടത്തെ വചന ശുശ്രൂഷയില്‍‍ (ഞാനുള്‍പ്പെടെയുള്ള) സ്ഥലത്തെ സഹോദരന്മാര്‍പങ്കെടുക്കുമായിരുന്നുവെങ്കിലും സഭകളിലുടനീളം സഞ്ചരിച്ചു വചന ശുശ്രൂഷ നടത്തുന്ന ദൈവദാസന്മാരില്‍നിന്നാണ് ഏറെയും ഞങ്ങള്‍കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ഗ്രഹിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരുന്നത്. അങ്ങനൊരു സന്ദര്‍ഭത്തില്‍ഒരു സഹോദരന്‍സംഖ്യാപുസ്തകത്തിലെ സങ്കേത പട്ടണങ്ങള്‍ ഇന്ന് കുടുംബങ്ങളാണെന്ന് വ്യാഖ്യാനിക്കുകയുണ്ടായി. അങ്ങനെയെങ്കില്‍, ( സംഗതി അതില്‍ത്തന്നേ വളരെ ലഘുവും താരതമ്യേന ഗൌരവമര്‍ഹിക്കാത്തതെങ്കിലും,) വ്യഖ്യാനപ്രക്രിയ എങ്ങനെ വേണമെന്ന് മനസ്സിലാക്കിയിട്ടേയുള്ളു ഇനി കാര്യം എന്ന് ഞാനും തീരുമാനിച്ചു.

അന്നു തുടങ്ങിയ പഠനയാത്ര ഇന്ന് മറ്റുവിഷയങ്ങളോടൊപ്പം വേദവ്യാഖ്യാനവും പരിശീലിപ്പിക്കുന്ന സാഹചര്യങ്ങളില്‍എന്നെ എത്തിച്ചേര്‍ത്തിരിക്കുന്നു. അതുകൊണ്ട്, വ്യാഖ്യാനവും (അല്ലെങ്കില്‍,പ്രസംഗവും) ലിഖിത വചനവും തമ്മിലുള്ള ബന്ധത്തിന്റെ അഭാവത്തെപ്പറ്റി സഹോദരസംഘങ്ങളില്‍പൊതുവേയുള്ള നിസ്സംഗതയില്‍എനിക്കതിശയം തോന്നുന്നുണ്ടെങ്കില്‍അതിതു വായിക്കുന്നവര്‍ക്ക് മനസ്സിലാക്കാവുന്നതാണല്ലോ. വിമര്‍ശിക്കുവാനുള്ള താല്പര്യത്തിലോ ഉദ്ദേശ്യത്തിലോ അല്ല ഇതെഴുതുന്നത്. സഹോദരപ്രസ്ഥാനം ചിലരുടെ അനുഭവത്തിലെങ്കിലും ഏഴുതലമുറയോളം എത്തിയിരിക്കുന്നു. വചനത്തിനു വാക്കാല്‍ഇത്രയും പ്രാധാന്യം കൊടുക്കുന്ന വിശ്വാസികള്‍ഭാഷയുടെ പ്രമാണങ്ങള്‍തികച്ചും അവഗണിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് പ്രഘോഷണം നടത്തുന്നതെത്ര ശോചനീയമാണെന്നു ചിന്തിച്ചു നോക്കുക. 

ദൈവകല്പനകള്‍അറിഞ്ഞുമനസ്സിലാക്കി അനുഷ്ഠിക്കുവാനുള്ള താല്പര്യത്തോടെയായിരിക്കണമല്ലോ നാം പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍കേള്‍ക്കുന്നത്. എന്നാല്‍കേള്‍പ്പിക്കുന്നവര്‍ സ്വന്തം മനസ്സില്‍തോന്നുന്ന കാര്യങ്ങളാണ് വിളിച്ചറിയിക്കുന്നതെങ്കില്‍അതിലെന്തു സാധുതയാണുള്ളത്? സാധാരണയായി പ്രസംഗങ്ങള്‍കൊണ്ട് വലിയ ദോഷം സംഭവിക്കാറില്ല, കാരണം, തു വാക്യത്തില്‍തുടങ്ങിയാലും നല്ല കാര്യങ്ങള്‍തന്നെയായിരിക്കും ഉപദേശി പറയുന്നത്നന്നായി ജീവിക്കണം, ദൈവകല്പന അനുസരിക്കണം, ര്‍ത്താവിനോട് ചേര്‍ന്ന് നടക്കണം, ഇത്യാദി. എന്നിരുന്നാലും നിര്‍ദ്ദോഷമായ ഒരു ആചാരമല്ലിത്. ഇങ്ങനെയുള്ള ഒരു പരിചയം പാരമ്പര്യമായിട്ടുള്ളവര്‍ക്ക് ഗണിതത്തിലും ശാസ്ത്രത്തിലും സാഹിത്യത്തിലുമൊക്കെ എത്രമാത്രം അവഗാഹം സിദ്ധിച്ചാലും, അവര്‍വേദവ്യാഖ്യാനം സംബന്ധിച്ച നന്മതിന്മകള്‍തിരിച്ചറിയാതെയും സ്വയ പഠനത്തിലൂടെ ദൈവഹിതം മനസ്സിലാക്കി അത് പ്രവൃത്തിപഥത്തില്‍കൊണ്ടുവരുന്നതില്‍നിസ്സഹായരായും തുടരും. വിശ്വാസജീവിതം സംബന്ധിച്ച് ഒരു ദുഃഖപര്യവസാനം ഇതിനപ്പുറമായി എന്താണുള്ളത്?

രാജു കുഞ്ഞുമ്മന്‍

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post by : sodaran  View Profile    since : 24 Jun 2013


Reply by : tomj   View Profile   Since : 25 Jun 2013 11:42:35 AM Close

Raju,

It is great to see you here. I am pleasantly surprised that somehow you found time to write in this forum, knowing how busy you are. I hope your involvement here could go beyond the ‘summer break’ from your teaching/ preaching schedules.

[Those who do not know who Raju is please Google ‘Raju Kunjummen’ and you will see the details.]

I am not sure what you were planning to write here, but being the Professor of OT and other subjects, could we expect some writings about - [I am not sure what to suggest.] Also, I am aware of your summer preaching/ teaching engagements and travel requirements that might affect your involvement here. But whatever time you could devote to teach here might be helpful.  

What I found from my experience in this forum is that God could use us helping a needy soul that only God would know [that need.] It was wonderful to hear such occasional testimonies from people from various parts of the world and it is certainly humbling as well.

A person of your caliber and grace could minister here in far greater ways, and I pray that you could devote some time here to teach.

Tom Johns

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 25 Jun 2013 1:24:44 PM Close

 

Dear brother Raju Kunjummen,
 
It was interesting to read your posting. Let me provide three instances from my life about what I heard from various preachers.
 
1.      A well-known and respected preacher in India told me in January 1966 that the NEB translation “You are Peter the rock and upon this rock I will build my church” is the correct translation.
2.      Another well-known preacher sent me a brochure about a conference in which he will be speaking about his Holy Land visit. That brochure was decorated with a picture of Jesus Christ walking alone in the Holy Land. When I phoned him and told him that it was not according to Romans 1, he told me that he knows the Scriptures. He also added that if I do not like what he did, then I do not have to attend the conference.
3.      I also heard a preacher preaching with the picture of Christ walking around knocking at an old rugged door with the crown of thorns on His head. I suppose that He is still wearing the crown of thorns, according to that preacher and the artist.
 
I hope that you may include written articles also in this discussion.
 
Shalom Malekim!!!
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Reply by : divjyot   View Profile   Since : 25 Jun 2013 2:49:28 PM Close

bro. George, I have two questions for you:

1. You seem to be implying the NEB translation is wrong. But not just the NEB, but the NRSV, NIV, ESV, KJV, etc seem to be saying something similar. So what according to you is the correct translation of Matt. 16:18?

2. Why do you think making a drawing/painting/representation of the human form of Jesus is unbiblical? As far as I can make out Rom. chapter 1 does not address this specific case.

While these questions might be considered off topic in one sense, in another sense it is not, since the questions are concerning interpretation which is the original topic of this thread.

 

 

 

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Reply by : muthoor   View Profile   Since : 25 Jun 2013 4:23:21 PM Close

I did a search in this forum postings and saw that Br. Kunjummen [Sodaran] is not new to this forum, but he has already made some postings in July 2004.  However, it is very refreshing to see this and to re-read the old postings (there are only 3 or 4 - and in July of 2004).

It seems that you are a very busy person. However your interaction, as time perimts in here should add the balance that may be lacking.

 

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Reply by : spectator   View Profile   Since : 26 Jun 2013 2:17:40 PM Close

“Fortunately, most of the time, the results are partly harmless. The preacher has his stock of good things to say, the texts he uses are only of secondary relevance. He can start with any text but still land on the pre-conceived applications. These applications--we should listen to God, we should follow the Lord closely; we should trust in God; we should serve the Lord; we should stay away from sins—are all safe; so, no harm done. In the long run, however, being instructed in subjective and speculative approaches to the interpretation of Scripture leaves one a pauper in regard to biblical understanding, and helpless in regard to how one applies the Bible to one’s own life through personal study. That is a real tragedy.”  So well stated … and so true.

While the link I am attaching is not an attempt to mock anyone, still look at the tragedy of the ignorance of the preacher (not overlooking the fact that this is a small clip from probably a long message), helplessness of the innocent children listening to it and all assuming (apparently) this is biblical preaching! At least to see this is done in the name of the Lord --- is the real tragedy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB6nm-11LWQ

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Reply by : George P. Koshy   View Profile   Since : 26 Jun 2013 5:12:39 PM Close

 

Dear ‘divjyot,’
 
I have checked Matthew 16:18 in KJV and ESV and they are nowhere near to the expression, “… You are Peter the rock and upon this rock I will build my church.” I do not have other versions that you mentioned. Therefore, I could not check them.    However, I have the English translation of the New Testament from Latin Vulgate. This translation was published by The Chaplains’ Aid Association, New York, NY. That translation was from the Greek text first published by the English College at Rheims, AD 1582. That is also different from that is in NEB. I assume that you are involved in Bible translation. As a translator, you should be aware of the requirement that a translator should translate what he hears or reads as it is spoken or written without changing them. It appears that NEB changed what was written. I hope that you will check with the Greek text before writing that the NEB and all other translations are similar. We are not discussing about the similarities of translations, but how a preacher justified NEB by claiming that what is in it (Matthew 16:18) is correct, while in fact it is not.
 
About your second question on Romans 1st chapter, please read that chapter with a question in your mind. That question is, ‘Why did God give them up?’ You will see the answer starting at Romans 1:21. Our discussion should be about the risen Lord Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns and walking around knocking on the old rugged doors of houses. If that is not, then it should be about how we could say that the risen Lord Jesus Christ’s image could be according to the imagination of man. 
 
If you want to go further, please start another thread. I do not want to clutter this thread with Matthew 16:18 and Romans 1st chapter.
 
Shalom Malekim!!!
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Reply by : sodaran   View Profile   Since : 26 Jun 2013 7:33:59 PM Close

I will post just a few things to the point here on Matt 16:18, although my point was not so much about situations where translations differ, but about our way of leaping from a word in a verse to something else not to be found there.

κἀγὼ δέ σοι λέγω ὅτι σὺ εἶ Πέτρος, καὶ ἐπὶ ταύτῃ τῇ πέτρᾳ οἰκοδομήσω μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν (Mat 16:18 GNT)

and/also-I but to-you (I-)say that you are Peter, and I on this (the) rock I-will-build my (the) church.

But I also say to that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.

Peter (Gk. petros) is derived from the word for rock (petra). The Lord obviously named Simon with the word meaning rock (Aramaic kefa). Here there is clearly a play on words between Peter's name and what the Lord says about building his church, but translating the verse as "You are Peter the rock" goes beyond what is in the text and is highly interpretive.

As for the Vulgate, Jerome translated this without any such addition: et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus (Mat 16:18 VUL): "And I say to you that you are Peter."

With regards to all,

RK

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Reply by : divjyot   View Profile   Since : 26 Jun 2013 7:53:28 PM Close

 Dear bro. George,

My sincere apologies!! I had completely misread your original post about NEB. For some reason while I was reading it as NEB, in my mind I was thinking NIB (the British version of the NIV) and hence my reply. Only after I read bro. Raju's post that I went back to your post. I completely agree with you that "you are Peter the rock" is without any support from the text.

 I guess I need to practice James 1:19 (quick to hear and slow to speak) more often!

 

 

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Reply by : kristianjude   View Profile   Since : 28 Jun 2013 4:09:57 AM Close

Dear RK,

Does that highly interpretive translation of NEB affect the meaning in any way? Does it harm the Truth?

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Reply by : tomj   View Profile   Since : 28 Jun 2013 11:41:50 AM Close

 Dear Spectator,

That video clip was indeed hilarious and made me sort of laugh for a while. Also, I felt badly for those who were listening. They are the ‘victims’ of such messages. They seem to think that what the preacher said was the truth and they were even clapping and loudly saying ‘halleluiah.’

Tom Johns

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Reply by : sodaran   View Profile   Since : 29 Jun 2013 9:45:09 PM Close

Dear kristianjude

I don't have a copy of the NEB although in the 80's I have looked it up. It was a translation undertaken by scholars but also showed a lack of reticence to adopt risky interpretations and even being tendentious. The most egregious of these is its rendering of Judges 1:14 that no other bible translation has followed:

"When she came to him, he incited her to ask her father for a piece of land. As she sat on the ass, SHE BROKE WIND, and Caleb said, 'WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?'

Even other 'liberal' translations don't read it that way as shown by the NRS below.

Judges 1:14 When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. As she dismounted from her donkey, Caleb said to her, "What do you wish?" (Jdg 1:14 NRS)

 

The verb concerned occurs only in this passage and its parallel in Joshua 15:18. Even the current standard Hebrew dictionary (Koehler-Baumgartner) does not suggest such a meaning.

So you get the idea.

There are translations that go out of the way to simplify the language without changing the sense of the text, but this is not like that.

I personally would not rely on it for Bible study.

Blessings.

RK

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Reply by : kristianjude   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2013 8:56:17 AM Close

Dear RK,

I too do not have any copy of this NEB version and I have seen this NEB not even once. When I referred to some internet sources, they also do not give any good report about NEB and seemingly they are right in their arguments.

However, I need still some clarifications for Matt 16:18 to understand, as I read your statement ‘There are translations that go out of the way to simplify the language without changing the sense of the text, but this is not like that’, how NEB is wrong. One reason for me to ask this question is that one interpretation that circulates among the evangelical Christians says that the rock mentioned here is Christ Jesus and not Peter as the commoners like me think. Reading simply the verse, we derive the meaning that it is only Peter.  Apparently, NEB translation also suggests the same meaning.  If this is wrong, then how can we understand that the rock mentioned is Jesus only?

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Reply by : sodaran   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2013 4:36:33 PM Close

Dear Kristianjude

I was talking about the translation of the verse, not the interpretation of what rock refers to in "on this rock I will build." That is a separate question and I am sure you would have found plenty of discussion on it.

As far as translating the text is concerned, "You are Peter" in the original can be rendered "You are Peter" into English or any other language without the extra slant put in by NEB. That is the reason why the NEB is wrong. However, this is a tough call for the translator since the word play is lost in translation. This may not be something solved by translation, without further clarification since Petros is a proper noun here with a meaning, the the word for rock is the standard form of the Greek word for rock (petra). "You are (a) Rock, on this rock I will build ..."

In short, if you know the issues connected with the interpretation of the verse, it is best to address those directly than argue on the basis of how a translation that in many cases is not very dependable slants the interpretation in one direction the way it renders it.

I may not have anything more to say about NEB and Matt 16:18. If you like to discuss the Catholic notion of the primacy of Peter, I would be glad to contribute as circumstance permit, but let us start a separate thread for it, though I suspect that a lot may have been said about it on this forum in the past.

Blessings.

RK

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Reply by : sodaran   View Profile   Since : 1 Jul 2013 9:33:23 PM Close

Dear bro. George Koshy,

Appreciated the words of welcome.

 

RK

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Reply by : kristianjude   View Profile   Since : 2 Jul 2013 12:49:11 PM Close

Dear RK,

I am closing my discussion on Matt 16:18 with this post.  Here are some final words.

I have taken only the translation issue very much here. My interest is to know whether NEB translation affects the original meaning as in the text. NEB’s wrong, as you have pointed out, is the extra slant it has put in its translation. Please refer to what you have said in your post dated 29 JUN 2013.  Reading your statement there, I understand that unlike any other translations, NEB goes to the extent of changing the sense of the text which means NEB paves a way for a different interpretation (perhaps, that is why you have said NEB is highly interpretive).  So, you cannot exclude the question of interpretation as a separate issue, when the translation is said wrong.

My conclusive understanding is NEB’s wrong translation must give a wrong interpretation to the verse in discussion thereby giving a meaning which must be diametrically opposite to that of the text. This thread, I hope, is the right place to expose the difference between the two meanings (those of the text and NEB translation) that have occurred because of the wrong translation.

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Reply by : sodaran   View Profile   Since : 6 Jul 2013 2:11:28 PM Close

Hi kristianjude,

I will have occasion to discuss the interpretation of Matt 16:18 in the Fall. So, how about if I post something on it down the road on a separate thread?

 

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Reply by : kristianjude   View Profile   Since : 8 Jul 2013 3:57:31 PM Close

Dear RK,

When a new thread is opened to discuss Matt 16:18, I will also take part willingly. 

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