Colossians

Also lots of good stuff here.

First-rate: Bruce, Barth/Blanke, Davenant, Harris, Garland, Pokorny, Dunn, Lincoln, Lohse, O’Brien, Wilson

Second-rate: Abbott, Martin, Melick, Clark, Moule, N.T. Wright, Herbert Carson, Barclay

Forthcoming: O’Brien/Arnold (WBC rev), Beale (BECNT), Moo (PNTC), Still (EBC rev)

Conservative: Bruce, Davenant, Harris, Garland, O’Brien, Abbott, Melick, Clark, Moule, Carson, Barclay

Moderate: Pokorny, Dunn, Barth/Blanke, Martin, Lincoln, N.T. Wright

Liberal: Wilson, Lohse

Of forthcoming commentaries, all should be pretty conservative.

My translation philosophy

Translation of any language is very much like reading music. Instead of notes, you have letters. Instead of chords, you have words. Instead of phrases, you have clauses. Instead of periods, you have sentences. The parallels go all the way up. In music, there is meaning on each one of these levels. Therefore, there is meaning on each one of these levels in words as well. To a certain extent, therefore, I am unhappy with the debate between “word-for-word” and “dynamic equivalence.”

Just to refresh our memories (or lack thereof) about these two philosophies, word for word means that you try to find the best word in English for the given word in Hebrew or Greek (or whatever other language you are translating). Dynamic equivalence seeks to translate more idiomatically into English. They try to get the thought across. If that can be done while holding to word for word, they will do it. However, they are not above over-interpreting the text in order to make it clear. This is the fundamental problem with dynamic equivalence. It takes away the job of translating that the pastor must do, and instead does it themselves, often getting it wrong in the process. This is why I do not prefer the NIV translation.

However, there are several problems with word for word philosophy as well. Often, it does not wind up being good English. I think of several translations’ propensities to use “and” to translate the Hebrew “vav” and Greek “de” and “kai.” This is very, very poor. First of all, it is not good English to keep on starting sentences with a conjunction, _Finding Forrester_ notwithstanding (there’s a delightful scene in there about conjunctions). Secondly, the Hebrew “vav” means many, many different things, depending on context. It can mean “and,” but,” “thus,” “therefore,” “now,” and several other things. The only way to find out which meaning it has is to look at the flow of the language. I am not saying that we should ignore the word level, not at all. However, the flow of the text should determine which of the many meanings of “vav” is being used in a given place. In other words, translation cannot be done simply by using a lexicon and putting a one-to-one correspondence all the time. For instance, consider the word “lie.” How do you know whether that word means “tell a lie,” or “lie on the bed?” If you were translating that word into German, you would have to look at the context to see which meaning it had. For these reasons, I am not entirely happy with the ESV either, though it has gotten as close to the real thing as a word-for-word translation can get.

However, I would lean toward “word-for-word” more than dynamic equivalence at the moment. The reason for that is that the dynamic equivalence guys think that creativity in translation is the name of the game. They will make something sound different simply for the shock value that it would give to people. I do not agree with this. That philosophy makes the Bible extremely difficult to memorize, if everyone has vastly different sounding translations.

Actually, the best-articulated translation philosophy I have found out there is the preface to the Holman Christian Standard Bible. They opt for the “optimal equivalence,” a philosophy that exhaustively examines the text “at every level (word, phrase, clause, sentence, discourse) in the original language to determine its original meaning and intention.” Their practice is then to use literal whenever possible, but when clarity demands an idiomatic translation, they will go for that, and put the literal translation in the footnote. I have not read as much of this translation as I would like. However, it looks like an extremely promising step forward. It is roughly this translation philosophy that I am using for my Accent Translation, along with a few extra goodies to try to make the text more 3-dimensional.

Philippians

Also lots of good stuff here.

First-rate: Bockmuehl, Fee, Hawthorne/Martin, O’Brien, Silva, Lightfoot, Ferguson, Hooker

Second-rate: Craddock, Barth, Boice, Bruce, Thielman, Melick

Third-rate: Muller, Vincent

Forthcoming: Cousar (NTL), Garland (EBC rev), Guthrie (ZEC), Hansen (PNTC), Holloway (Herm), Reumann (AB), N.T. Wright (ICC)

Conservative: Bockmuehl, Fee, Hawthorne/Martin, O’Brien, Silva, Lightfoot, Ferguson, Boice, Bruce, Thielman, Melick, Muller, Vincent

Moderate: Hooker, Craddock, Barth

Of the forthcoming commentaries, Garland, Guthrie, Hansen will be conservative; Cousar and Wright will be moderate, and (though I’m not certain on these two) Holloway and Reumann will probably be liberal.

The End of Lot’s Road

Genesis 19:30-38
The old saying goes: “sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” Now we finally see the end of the road for Lot. Where did Lot’s choice of pasture-land lead him in the end? Lot wanted wealth and comfort. Did he attain those two things? He winds up in a cave, getting his two daughters pregnant. What an end of the road for Lot!

We have seen the judgment that God brought on Sodom and Gomorrah. We have seen that it was a terrible and thorough judgment. It was such a terrible judgment that Lot now feared to live even in Zoar. There are two reasons for this fear. One is that he feared that the Lord would also destroy that city. The other is that he feared the inhabitants of the land, who might think that Lot is to blame for all this destruction. In any case, he did not live in the city. Instead, he went where he should have gone, according to the Lord’s command, before the destruction, namely, to the mountains, or hills. We have to ask this question, however. God commanded Lot to flee to the mountains. Why now, after the destruction, did Lot not go back to Abraham? Was Lot too proud to admit that his choice was wrong? Was he too devastated by the destruction? We will never know the answer. However, it is a question that we must ask, since it is a question of reproach. I believe that he should now have gone back to Abraham, to the covenant community. But he did not. And the result of that final bad choice is terrible.

His two daughters also think that the destruction was terrible. In fact, they thought that it was universal. They think that they are the only people left alive on this earth. They even go so far as to say that there are no more men left to marry. I suppose that if there were in their minds, they would have to marry them, because they were the last men on earth! However, they think that their father is the last man on earth. Now, it is plain from the text that the daughters think that their father will never marry again. That is the significance of the statement that their father is old. But it is plain from the story that the daughters are not really that interested in marriage and men. What they really want is children. We must remember that having children was the way in which you lived on. Not having children was death. Having children was the road to immortality.

So, the daughters cook up a scheme to get children by their father. It is plain that Lot would not assent to this plan while there was any sense left in him. So the daughters circumvent that problem by getting Lot very drunk. Lot would not do what they wanted him to do in any other state. The daughters thus show themselves to be thoroughly Sodomite. They got the Sodomite character from their mother, no doubt. You can get the daughters out of Sodom, but you can’t get Sodom out of the daughters!

What happens is definitely ironic. In the beginning of the chapter, Lot had thought to make his daughters go out the men of the town, in order that the two visitors would be safe. But now, it is Lot himself who will do what he thought to make the Sodomites do! So we see the rebirth of Sodom, really. Sodom is alive and well in Lot’s family. And Lot was the father of it all! (Kent Hughes).

This story should remind us of another story of drunkenness that we have already seen. Noah also, after a terrible judgment, got drunk, and a shameful act was perpetrated by one of his offspring. Lot’s story is exactly the same as Noah’s story. Both Noah and Lot succombed to sins similar to those who died in the judgments (Hughes, quoting Sailhamer). And then, of course, we see that the scheme works for both daughters. You would think that Lot would have learned his lesson after the first night, even though he didn’t have any idea of what was happening. But the same thing happens the second night. So both daughters were pregnant from their father Lot.
These pregnancies eventually result in two nations being born: Moab and Ammon. The Moabites are a thorn in Israel’s side for a long time. Of course, Moses is here warning the Israelites against fraternizing with the Moabites. That is one his main purposes here. The same thing is true of the Ammonites. The Moabites would eventually tempt the Israelites to sin. Moses is saying that that action on the part of the Moabites is just like their ancestor’s actions. They are in fact, Sodomite in their origin.

The point of application should be obvious to us. If we raise our children to be thoroughly ingrained with culture, then we should not be surprised to see Sodom thoroughly ingrained in them. Now here we should be especially concerned with the influence that TV has on us. How can we possibly think that our children can watch hour after hour of TV and not be influenced by the values that society has? That is utter delusion. That is like Lot thinking that he can live next to Sodom without being influenced by it. He certainly married a Sodomite wife. As a result, his children were Sodomite to the core. There is no escaping the fact that Lot’s decisions resulted eventually in the events that are recorded here. I place the majority of the blame on Lot. If he had not gone to Sodom and Gomorrah in the first place, this would never have happened. So what we should be considering is how to be in the world, but not of the world. We might think that the application just mentioned requires to us live the life of a hermit. That is not true. Rather, we are to be salt and light in a tasteless, dark world. But how can salt retain its saltiness? Don’t get mixed up in the world’s values. Be discerning. Don’t watch TV or movies that make you think worldly thoughts. Don’t make “fitting in” such a priority that you can’t get out. The world has a way of sucking you in and fitting you into its plans so well that you cannot extricate yourself from its grasp. Instead, we should be influencing culture the other way. We should be protesting the junk that is on TV. We should protest internet pornography. We should protest and boycott movies that espouse worldly values. What about soap operas? That is a subject near and dear to many of our hearts, I know. Many in our congregations watch them. We think that they are somehow true to life. But they are thinly disguised emotional pornography, and often fall little short of being actual pornography. Do we watch them? Why? I challenge us to name one single redeeming feature of soap operas, besides the supposed entertainment value, which would be dwarfed if all other considerations were taken into account.

We should be encouraging and putting our resources into development of wholesome Christian entertainment. You know, the Christian world has a powerful say in entertainment. The problem is that we watch the same things that everyone else does. I wonder what kind of an influence we could have on the culture of movies if we chose not to watch the filth that comes into so many movies.

Another point of application should also be clear to us. We are not to marry outside the faith. Paul says this explicitly in 1 Corinthians 7, where he directs us to marry only in the Lord. Lot married an unbeliever, and see where it got him. Not very far in his Christian walk. Do not even consider marrying someone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Look at the evil into which it brought Lot.

And yet, God can still bring good out of evil. What good could God possibly bring out of incest? Well, plenty of good. Ruth was a Moabitess. She was a woman of good character. She married Boaz. From that union came Obed, Jesse, and David. And from David eventually came the Messiah. Matthew mentions her explicitly in his genealogy at the beginning of his gospel. By Ruth’s faith, she was eventually counted as a child of the covenant. This proves that it doesn’t matter what your background is. You can have access to the covenant of grace. God can welcome you into His covenant family. He will not leave you a Sodomite. He will change your character and will through regenerating your heart. But He can welcome you in, no matter what your sin has been. And that is because of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. There is no sin so black that Christ’s blood cannot make white. There is no heart so depraved that God cannot save it. There is nowhere you can go where you will be out of reach of God’s love. He can cleanse you wherever you are. That is the beauty of the Gospel. You could be an adulterer, a drug addict, a murderer, or all of these put together, and yet God can still save you. Ultimately, we are all Sodomite at our core. We all have the world’s way of thinking ingrained in us. That is what Jesus came to change. He came to bring a new creation. Jesus redeems the world from sin and darkness.