Bible Study (exegesis) tip for the day

I posted asking for thoughts about the differences between Isaiah 42:1-2 and Matthew’s quoting of the LXX edition in Matthew 12:15-21 the other day and one friend commented:

Brian, the answer is the difference between meaning and significance. The Hebrew word in Isa 42:4 means “island.” In many contexts, like this one, its significance is the far reaches of the earth. The same concept is present in Zeph 2:11.

I then commented:

thanks for commenting – that is a huge thing isn’t it – even those to the ends of the earth are awaiting (a hopeful expectation?) the coming of Jesus into their lives and nations and societies. When he comes either through the proclamations of a missionary or by his literal presence), they will bow down to him. WOW. Am I missing anything with what you are saying? This is deeply moving to me. lol!

My friend followed up in an email note:

I know you are into translation issues, but this is an important point to understand: good translation of a word is not necessarily good interpretation of its meaning. We may translate a word and understand it to mean “branch” but it may refer to a tree, a river, or a genealogy. Meaning is not just found in the word itself, but also in context.

Let’s all repeat that out loud together: good translation of a word is not necessarily good interpretation of its meaningMeaning is not just found in the word itself, but also in context. Say it over and over til you get it!  Type it out on a sheet of paper and tape it to the wall in your study area!  🙂

That reminds me of a basic principle in Bible study: context is always king in iterpretation – and good interpretation flows out of observation – so unless you know what the text is saying in it’s context, you may not know what it means or what is being said!

Thanks for the tip!

—————–

on that note, this looks like a really interesting book!   And I may very well pick up Michael Gorman’s book on Elements of Exegesis soon, though the one by Craig Blomberg looks pretty good too!  🙂

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