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    • No.

      I know a lot about koine Greek and Spanish and a little bit about Hebrew, but in spite of how much effort I have put into the study of languages, I still have not developed any degree of fluency in any language other than English. I have sat in on discussions in another language and was often able to understand enough to know what subject was currently being discussed but usually was not able to follow the logic

      I can usually read Bible passages in Spanish and I can recognize word families in Greek but things like verb tense and other nuances usually eludes me in Greek.

      For example:

      δικαιοσύνη γὰρ Θεοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ἀποκαλύπτεται ἐκ πίστεως εἰς πίστιν, καθὼς γέγραπται· ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται.

      I have little if any trouble recognizing the two dike family words in this text and the the three pistos words. Theou is also obvious, asd is auto, ek, and eis. For the resdt, I have to examine each word's meaning simultaneously.

      Prior to the web, two books by George Wigram were very helpful because they showed every place that a given word occurred in the text, making it possible to see the ways in which God used a word. These tools are now incorporated along with many other tools in places like and

      One offline book that I still rely very heavily on is by Spiros Zodhiates and is titled "New Testament Word dictionary. I also use Vine's Dictionary and Thayer's dictionary but those are now available online.

      In my teaching, I exhort people to use these tools to look up the meanings of words and their usages. On my projected charts, I will from time to time list a URL to one of these resources to help them analyze a passage.

      One situation in particular in which I exhort people to use a dictionary is when God lists several words one right after another. Examples would include Ephesians 4:2, 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, and Galatians 5:19-21. God doesn't just list off a bunch of words to "hear Himself talk."

      But, sometimes words have a meaning in the Bible that are unique to the Bible. For example, if someone wants to know the difference between pardon and justification, I ask people to explain how three men could become "unclean" through obedience to God in Numbers 19:1-10. It is not possible to become guilty through submission to God but it was possible to become unclean. From there, I discuss how pardon applies to our guilt, while justification applies to our unacceptability.

    • The only legitimate interpretation is God's interpretation.

      I hear Neil deGrasse Tyson say 'The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.' That always stops me in my tracks.

    • That’s an incredible amount of effort to ensure that you are translating a passage correctly. Major respect for your mastery level practice. I am curious about your training, or what some might call your teaching lineage: who your teachers were and what their training was. As an educator, I know that a student’s advancement and/or interest in a subject is buoyed by the excellence of their teacher. You mentioned your late wife’s religious education growing up was similar to my own. Is your level of commitment to Bible study the norm for your church?

      Feel free to ignore the above if I’m getting too personal or if you’re just not interested in replying.

    • I’m personally more inclined to believe Jonah was swallowed by a fish and that if anyone can create a fish by which a man could survive in, it’s God. That said, one could also say Jonah was written as an allegory describing Christ’s resurrection and that Christ was referencing that allegory. There are stories in the Apocrypha like the Book of Tobit that no one takes to be historical. Maybe Jonah is the same kinda deal?

    • I do think as a Christian, it’s better to err on the side of a story like Jonah being historical only because it helps to avoid the potential slippery slopes that you are bringing up.

    • @StephenL

      You used a word which I suspect you define in a manner that is quite different from the way that I define that word.

      That is the word "church."

      You asked "Is your level of commitment to Bible study the norm for your church."

      The problem is that you probably define that term as refering to an organization comprised of many congregations. Such as the "Roman Catholic church" or "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

      I do not.

      For me and for the many people who believe the way that I do, the term "church" has two meanings.

      1. Those individuals whose names are registered in heaven. (No human can know with any certainty whether another individual is or is not a member of that church except by things the other person says or does which are consistent with Christ's doctrine.)

      2. A local assembly. Membership in a local assembly does not put one into membership in the universal fellowship and if the members of a local assembly "withdraw" from someone who Christ accepts that one is not removed from the universal fellowship.

      I do not recognize any supra-congregational organization as biblical.

      Each of the local churches is completely autonomous and is not "answerable" to any other assembly. There is no such thing as fellowship on a corporate level between assemblies.

      For this reason, over the years many assemblies grow farther and farther apart from each other in what they teach and practice. Both my Dad and his "Best Man" at my parent's wedding later became preachers but they strongly disagreed with each other concerning several things which were deemed (at least by Dad) as doctrinally vital.

      Now as to your question. Among the congregations with which I am familiar, Bible study on an individual level has always been encouraged and discussions of differing views on passages has also. However, each individual's level of commitment to Bible study is self-determined. I have known many people who like my wife and myself tried to delve into the text but I've known many others who were lax in their study habits.

      Quite frankly, I do not devote nearly as much time and study to the text as many others do.

    • I believe that hundreds possibly thousands of stories in the Old Testament are foreshadows of Jesus. There are at least three stories that foreshadow the events in John 4:1-42. But I also believe that all those events occurred.

      I do believe that the narrative of Jonah is a foreshadow of Jesus, both in the way you mentioned and in at least one other way, but I also believed it happened.

      The first century Jews who did not believe that Jesus is God's anointed, did believe in the events of Jonah.

      I do not accept the book of Tobit as legitimate.

    • Tobit, also called The Book Of Tobiasapocryphal work (noncanonical for Jews and Protestants) that found its way into the Roman Catholic canon via the Septuagint. A religious folktale and a Judaicized version of the story of the grateful dead, it relates how Tobit, a pious Jew exiled to Nineveh in Assyria, observed the precepts of Hebrew Law by giving alms and by burying the dead. In spite of his good works, Tobit was struck blind.


    • @StephenL I'm fully aware of what the Book of Tobit is, I do not believe that the evidence substantiates any claim for its authenticity. Notice that the Jews also consider it noncanonical. Its origin is probably based on the syncretism of many of the diaspora in the centuries which occurred after the Assyrian captivity.

    • I'm fully aware of what the Book of Tobit is,

      Oh, I was sharing that for everyone following this conversation who didn’t know what it is, including me: I thought it was worth sharing some relevant information so that everyone was familiar with what you and Slamdunk were referring to.

      That’s why I POSTed to the thread, rather than REPLYing to your comment. 🙂

      Sorry if I caused misunderstanding.

    • I'm sorry. It was not your fsault, Stephen, but mine.

      I made an assumption that you were referring to my statement that I do not consider Tobit to be legitimate.

      When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, there were many books that predated the first century, but people did not assume that their age made them legitimate. The book of Tobit has been known since the first century and for the first two centuries after the death of John the son of Zebedee none of the early writers considered it legitimate. It wasn't until the fourth century, when Greek philosophy had permeated the thought processes of writers such as Augustine that people started viewing it as canonical.

      Paul viewed the merging of philosophy with the divine message to be a very great evil and argued against it in 1 Corinthians but as often happens people listen to human thought leaders instead of being content with the things that are written:

      μάθητε τὸ μὴ ὑπὲρ ὃ γέγραπται φρονεῖν

      may learn not beyond what is written (may learn not to proceed beyond what is written or may learn not to ponder beyond what is written)

      See this page for an explanation of the text:

    • Yeah, Tobit is just a fairytale. It's a nice story though.

      As for the story of Jonah, what's the other way you see it foreshadowing Christ? And yes, you are correct that the Old Testament is chalk full of prophecies of and foreshadowings of Christ. Pretty cool!

    • Yeah, that's why Tobit wasn't included in the canon and instead is apocryphal. It's a nice story with a good message, but no legit scholar takes it as an event of history.

    • And when the multitudes were gathering together to Him, he began to say, This generation is an evil generation: it seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah. For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this
      generation, and shall condemn them: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here.

      Jonah went to Nineveh with hatred in his heart, hoping for its destruction.

      Jesus came to earth with love in His heart, hoping for our salvation.

      The queen of the South had to go to Solomon to hear earthly wisdom but Jesus came to us to reveal the eternal scheme of redemption.

    • There are many good things in many books of man's writings which are not eternal truth. I read a lot of fiction and some non-fiction that is not spiritual in nature. (You may have seen a list which I suggested to Stephen.) But a book with a lot of good suggestions and beneficial maxims is limited by its origin.

      No scripture which came by prophecy is the result of the writer's interpretation. It did not come by the will of man nor does it represent the will of man.

    • I don't have the faith that Shewmaker or my Muslim friends have about prophecy, but I do like many of the writings of Buddhists, Christians, Jews, etc. I found a kindred spirit today in the interview Terry Gross did with Elaine Pagels, professor of religion at Princeton.

      Anyone read her books?

    • Paul viewed the merging of philosophy with the divine message to be a very great evil and argued against it in 1 Corinthians but as often happens people listen to human thought leaders instead of being content with the things that are written.

      What does it mean, “the merging of philosophy and divine message”?

      Do you mean including Tobit as part of the Bible? Or was Paul referring to something else?

      I know there are some who take the teachings of religious leaders and use them as non-religious “guides to life.” Basically viewing them as instruction on ethical behavior. Is that considered blasphemy or one step closer to conversion? I remember the college Bible study group having a table in the quad and they had pamphlets arguing against that behavior, perhaps as a way to not let spiritually conflicted co-eds off the hook: “I no longer believe but I still attend services.”

    • Stephen,

      Paul viewed any information which was available to man outside of revelation as being distinct and separate from that which was preached.

      We talk of the separation of religion and civil government. Paul taught that there must be a separation between natural knowledge and revealed knowledge. He even argued that not only must the things which are taught through preaching be only those things which originate with revelation but even the methodology and phraseology used in preaching must have its origin in the revelation. "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Spirit teaches, combing spiritual things with spiritual words."

      Two comments on the quotation from Paul. First, both uses of the word "things" in the quote refer to the subjects or concepts or commands which were taught. Second, the greek does not include the Greek word for "words" twice because in the Greek language the second "words" is implied by the grammar.

      No, Paul was not speaking about any specific book (such as Tobit) but about all teachings and writings which originate with man.

      And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. We speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought: but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory: which none of the rulers of this world have known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory: but as it is written,

      "Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not,
      And which entered not into the heart of man,
      Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him."

      But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knows, save the Spirit
      of God. But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Spirit teaches; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. Now the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

      Incidentally, there is a word in the Greek ( ἀποδείξει ) which occurs nowhere else in the Bible. In the above translation, it is rendered by the English word "demonstration" but it is a word that Paul borrows from Aristotle's discussion of logic, but Paul uses it to say— the case that I build when reasoning is not founded in human wisdom but is an argumentation founded on those things which the Spirit has revealed.

      (The fact that Corinth was a Greek city is probably relevant to the reason this word is used in this text and only in this text.)

      Wikipedia has a short stub of an article which deals with this aspect of Aristotlean logic, but Paul was deliberately using this word to state that natural logic has no place in Paul's preaching only logic predicated on the Spirit's revelation.

    • I tried my best to understand your extremely detailed explanation but I am afraid it was beyond me: I am lost to such an extent that I don’t even know the right question to ask here. I think the Bible passage you quoted was where I got lost and I didn’t see the connection to what you said before that. Sorry, I get from what you said that Paul didn’t want a preacher speaking of non-religious things to his congregation (forgive me if my terms are wrong here). So discussing who to vote for from the pulpit would be wrong, for example? Or is Paul saying that reading anything but the Bible is wrong? I assume the second isn’t true, but wanted to share the extent of my confusion.

    • Paul is not talking about one's secular education or what one studies to be good at their job. He also is not talking about any other activity which involves reading secular materials for secular purposes, such as recreational reading.

      Paul is only discussing the teaching of God's universal message for humanity commonly called "the gospel" in English.

      Anytime, anywhere that a Christian is discussing what pleases God or what displeases God, he should limit himself (or herself) to only those things which God has revealed.

      Nothing which can be learned through any natural method of acquiring nature informs us of what pleases God or displeases him. Earlier, in the same book that I quoted in the previous post, Paul wrote this:

      For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.

      What that passage is saying is essentially this:

      When God created the world, He (because of His wisdom) deliberately excluded from the physical realm any way in which humanity through the natural acquisition of knowledge could come to an understanding of God (that is of His character, of His personality, of His will) because it pleased God that only through "the foolishness of the preaching" humanity could learn what a human needs to know to receive God's salvation if they believe what is contained within that message.

      It is called the "foolishness" because the things which God has revealed are things which man does not admire, respect, or consider significant:

      but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yes and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God.

      As for the subject of voting, the first century Christians did not even have the capacity to choose their rulers.

      Those who try to use the government to accomplish something religious are not relying on the sword of the Spirit but rather the sword of the flesh. The sword of the flesh is impotent when it comes to spiritual matters but that is a topic for a different day.

    • Thank you for taking the time to explain this. I get a bit frustrated when I can’t make sense of things and your explanation was most helpful in that regard.