made a connection (I think)

I was reading the beginning part of 2 Chronicles where Solomon wrote his letter to Hiram, King of Tyre and saw something in the passage that give me a bit of an “aha!” moment (ever have those?).  Here is part of 2 Chronicles 2:3-6 which reads:

3 Solomon sent this message to Hiram[b] king of Tyre:

“Send me cedar logs as you did for my father David when you sent him cedar to build a palace to live in. 4 Now I am about to build a temple for the Name of the LORD my God and to dedicate it to him for burning fragrant incense before him, for setting out the consecrated bread regularly, and for making burnt offerings every morning and evening and on the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals of the LORD our God. This is a lasting ordinance for Israel.

5 “The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. 6 But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him? (2010 NIV)

Now, you have to realize most of my “aha!” moments usually come a few steps behind everyone else – usually because I need to have time to think some things through – so I won’t be surprised when you all respond with “of course.”  🙂

Can you guess the connection I made yet?  Well, of course!  Where have we seen the following phrases before: the Sabbaths, at the New Moons and at the appointed festivals?

Exactly!  In Colossians 2:16-17!!  🙂

16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (2010 NIV)

So what’s the connection? Well, not a few scholars have been talking lately about how they are realizing more and more that the background of most of Paul’s thinking isn’t all Greek/Roman/Gentile – it is mostly Jewish – the Hebrew Scriptures most often serve as the reference point for some aspect of Paul’s arguments and or teachings not Hellenistic or Roman culture per se.

With Colossians he seems to hit all the groups but I wonder if in this instance, Paul could have been thinking of this situation with the young King Solomon and could it be inferred that his thinking was not uncommon among the Hebrew people?

I see too that even Ezekiel 45:17 and a host of other passages could also been Paul’s reference points in his letter to the Colossians.

My guess is that these things were regularly practiced among the Jews and even to the point that it made the Lord sick of it all (c.f., Isa 1:14; Lam 1:14; 2:6; Hos 2:11; 9:4-6; Amos 5:21; 8:10) and though the Lord hated that they had become something other than what they were intended to be: expressions of their relationship with HIM – they persisted in them and put others down who did not practice them too, hence the reference in Colossians.

I fully realize that Paul would have been referencing or quoting the LXX most of the time, since it was the version or translation of the OT he probably read most often, but I think that may not be too relevant here.  The point is Paul had to encourage and exhort the Colossians not to let that kind of thing bother them – relationship to God is now expressed through faith not through religious practice per se.

So, perhaps the people bothering the Colossian Christians weren’t just the Roman pagans but also the Jews and Judaizers.  Wait, well that’s obvious isn’t it?  I mean, we all knew that already – the first century  Christians were persecuted by both the Jews and the Roman pagans.

Well, it was a fun connection to make anyways.  🙂

ps, I don’t have any commentaries on Colossians so I can’t see if I am super off base with this.

on the power of the biblical languages

I was thinking the other day on a drive home from Flagstaff (the pic above is part of the drive) about how some people tend to play down the necessity of knowing or even understanding the biblical languages as they relate to church ministry (you know, those ones that say your knowledge of Hebrew or Greek won’t matter to the spouse of a dying loved one, etc).  I find these kinds of statements somewhat misinformed because I think it is irrelevant to the whole issue of doing any sort of ministry.  There are times of pastoral care and times of biblical teaching and both are needed and I happen to think knowing the languages can empower you in ministry in more ways than one.

Empowerment – that what I think the greatest value of knowing the languages can entail – being able to utilize the biblical languages and associated tools can be incredibly empowering – how so?

It empowers you to make your own decisions about what the Bible is says (or what any one text might say) – and I think that has to be the single best benefit to knowing the biblical languages (or at least being able to interact with them in a way that is profitable).   Obviously, this is going to be in conjunction with checking a good commentary after you are done working with the text or perhaps even as you are working the text – (you don’t have to agree with the commentator!  🙂 ).  We always want to check our work and not let it be done in isolation, but larger point I want to share is the overall effect of all that hard work learning and studying Bible languages (i.e., Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc). It is very empowering.

As an example when I was in seminary I did an exegetical paper on Exodus 24:9-12 where Moses and others went up the mountain and ate a meal with the Lord – I remember reading through Brevard Child’s commentary on this section and him getting all fired up because part of the passage was supposedly difficult to translate and this and that.  Well….  🙂 being able to utilize my copy of Waltke-O’Conner’s beast of a syntax book (a work you all need to have) and taking some time to think about the syntax of the passage (something that is a necessary element of understanding how the languages work) I was empowered to make my own decision about the translation of the passage and not get all in a fit like Childs did (though his consternations over the passage was certainly understandable)!

update: here are more specifics about how I decided to handle the passage:

basically Child’s was getting all bent out of shape about the syntax of verse 12 and in particular the phrasing “and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments,” stating “The syntax of v 12ff is particularly baffling” (see his commenatry, 499).  He got all fired up about the translation of the waw connected to torah as either a conjunction “and” as in “and the teaching and the commandment…” (remember this is based of the MT not the English) or as an explicative as in “namely the teaching and the commandment…” He seemed to think the verse had somehow been expanded and thus confused the syntax (strange coming from such an esteemed scholar) – but then I spent some time looking over Waltke-O’Conner and decided it didn’t have to be as complex as Childs seemed to be making it – I figured the waw was an expexegetical waw serving to further explain why the Lord wanted Moses to come up further on the Mountain – to give him the stone tables (this waw is connected to the word for “give”).  Then the waw connected with torah is a circumstantial waw allowing for the translation “with” (Cf., the NIV for this verse) as in “the stone tablets with the law and the commandments…”

So I just tried to use some of the tools to make my own decisions and not let Childs get me all wound up over the syntax of the passage.

So, press on in learning the languages – they will benefit you in many ways!