The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Aug 27, 2016

"Why did Peter correct the Septuagint?" My first LXX-related article (Bulletin for Biblical Research vol. 26.2)

I have always been fascinated by the New Testament use of the Old Testament, especially when it comes to the two different text-types underlying the Apostolic authors' citation. That's right: the inspired authors had, in a sense, two different Bibles to draw from: the Hebrew MT (or proto-MT), and the Greek Septuagint. Quite often (some would say the majority of times), they drew from the translation most familiar to their audience of Diaspora Jews and God-fearing Gentiles: the Greek Septuagint.
Excursus: once again, for the doubters--we have manuscripts of the Old Testament in Greek that pre-date the incarnation, and a side-by-side comparison of many texts of the NT with the Hebrew force the assumption that they were citing something else. Paraphrase won't cut it, because there is actually different material in the Apostles' citations that does not exist in the Hebrew but does exist in Greek OT manuscripts. I'm not trying to be snarky here, and forgive me if this is a bit too harsh, but the Greek Old Testament existed before the Apostles and denying this is the theological equivalent of suggesting that the US never landed on the moon.
The role of the Septuagint within New Testament theology is currently a hot-button (and fascinating) issue, and the reader should be aware of W. Edward Glenny's fantastic new article in the on-line journal Themelios vol. 41.2 (August 2016). The article is entitled "The Septuagint and Biblical Theology" and may be read here. This article is an essential introductory resource for those interested in this discussion.
Recently I had an article published by Bulletin for Biblical Research vol. 26.2 (2016) entitled "Why Did Peter Change the Septuagint? A Reexamination of the Significance of the Use of Titheimi in 1 Peter 2:6." First Peter 2:6 is one of the most fascinating instances of NT use of the OT since Peter's citation does not match either the LXX or the MT. In fact, my article is not the first to focus specifically on this verse; while my article stems from a paper I gave in 2009, in 2010 Dietrich-Alex Koch published a fascinating study (going a different direction than I did) in Zeitschrift fur Neuentestament Wissenschaft vol. 101; Koch and I are alike in that we both argue 1 Peter utilized the LXX text but altered it. Whereas Koch argues that 1 Peter 2:6 altered it to correct some awkward syntax of the LXX (and thus make the text clearer), I argue that 1 Peter changed it for lexical reasons: the Greek enballw was a sub-par lexical choice to describe the Messiah being "set" as  Cornerstone, and Titheimi was much superior for theological and discourse reasons. In fact Peter ends up creating a chiasm in verses 6-8:
***A. The Set One [titheimi] is
 *****B. honor to
 ********C. The believer
********C' To the unbeliever/disobedient one [textual variant here]
******B' dishonor
***A.' To those who are "set" [titheimi] for the purpose of disobedience.
This article will hold a soft spot in my heart since it's my first article since becoming a full-time professor at Baptist College of Ministry (fifth overall). Also, for some reason, BBR is my "lucky" journal in the sense that I have yet to have an article rejected by them (though this latest one had to go to a tie-breaker peer-reviewer, and involved some significant revision). For BBR I'm "2-for-2," for JETS I'm "1-3," and I have a couple other journals that I"m "1-for-1." I struggle, however, submitting journals to Tyndale Bulletin and Trinity Journal--collectively "0-for-5" for those two journals! (and Tyndale, especially, is probably the cream of the crop for Evangelical journals).
Finally, for those interested in further study of NT use of the OT in 1 Peter, pride of place will probably always belong to Dr. Karen Jobes and her work, especially her Baker Exegetical Commentary on 1 Peter and her essay "The Septuagint Textual Tradition in 1 Peter" in Septuagint Research: Issues and Challenges in the Study of the Greek Jewish Scripture (SBL, 2006). Also, in addition to Koch's article in ZNW, one very good article that I cited favorably is Jocelyn Williams, "A Case Study in Intertextuality: The Place of Isaiah in the 'Stone' Sayings in 1 Peter 2," Reformed Theological Review 66 (2007). Williams, like me, sees Peter as deliberately modifying the LXX for theological reasons in 1 Pet 2:6, and I build off of her work somewhat in my own article. Finally, as mentioned at the beginning, Glenny's brand-new Themelios article is a must-read for anybody interested in the topic.

Aug 12, 2016

Bible Translating into Unreached People Groups: A Challenge for Scholars

I recently had the privilege of attending the WorldView Translation conference, with a focus on translating the Bible into languages that have never had Scripture translated into them before (or those that do not have an adequate translation). We were very privileged to have Margaret Stringer as a guest speaker (she has done pioneering missions work in the difficult jungles of Irian Jaya). The conference as a whole focused on both technical-linguistic and theological issues in Bible translation.

I am grateful that many legitimate Bible scholars have not forgotten the Great Commission and contribute greatly to both teaching in the church and Gospel proclamation overseas; my doctoral adviser David Alan Black has done some great work overseas, and I personally know two fellow doctoral students of mine at Southeastern, both budding, published scholars, who are involved in overseas ministry.

Nevertheless, an area of untapped potential exists: western biblical scholarship and Bible translations for unreached or barely-reached people groups. Just a thought, but what a blessing it would be if, of all the incredible myriad of evangelical scholars with PhDs in NT or OT (thousands!), more of them would participate as a consultant on a Bible translation in a language other than English!? Plenty of opportunities exist. This would necessitate, of course, such a scholar actually taking time to learn the language he or she would be assisting in, and perhaps taking a trip overseas, but I doubt that this would be hindrance.

In other words, I am calling for the born-again Christian Bible scholars of the western world (not that many of them read my blog, lol), to consider praying about committing to a special project, a project that may just result in reaching millions with the Gospel: become a Bible translation consultant! Learn a new language, take a trip, and get active!

Naturally, I'm over-simplifying things, and you don't want to stick your nose in where it's not needed ("Hi, I'm the big-shot Greek scholar from America and I'm here to help! Forgot everything you've ever learned about Bible translation and listen to me because I've got a PhD!"); some humility and prayerful discernment would be necessary. But I don't think this is such a far-fetched idea. Personally, I don't qualify as a scholar yet (only 1 book, 6 articles, and just 2 years full-time teaching; I have a ways to go!), but currently I am involved as a consultant on two projects: my own father's new "Lifeline" Japanese Bible translation (I spend about 4 hours a week on this), and as consultant for my church's new translation initiative in Cameroon (for both the Pidgin and the Beba language). (For the latter project I haven't actually done anything yet, but "officially" I'm a consultant!) Neither of those languages are completely without Scripture (especially Japanese), but there's always room for improvement (copyright issues vis-a-vis the best Japanese translation are one reason my father started his new translation). If somebody like me who was humbled by theological German (yet by God's grace persevered) can contribute, how much more so the true North American scholar who reads 10 languages and has published 10 books? It might mean putting out one or two fewer books over the next couple years, but hey, it's getting tough to keep track of all those anyways!