Bible Studies/Greek

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Question
Hello and as always its great to write to you! I thank you so much for your time and information. I have two questions: First have you ever looked at the Key word study bible or the NET bible with notes? I think the key word study bible comes in the ESV, NASB, NIV and the KJV. Its called the hebrew and greak key word study bible. Have you ever looked at it. The other one is the NET bible that has like 60,000 foot notes on Textual Criticism at the bottom. Do you feel these two bibles are helpful at all? Second if a person reads just the plain NKJV and ESV bible without knowing Greek, what have they missed? By one just reading a plain bible like the ESV, what have they missed by not knowing the greek? I understand Greek is very rich in its words and meaning. I have used the Amplified bible a little also. But its hard to believe that God put the NT in a language that can not be translated in English or Spanish or Russian you know. I mean If everyone has to learn greek to understand what God said then it would be hard on people. But if the key word study bible or the NET helps us understand the bible then that is geat.

Answer
I haven't seen the Key Word Study Bible. I think the ESV is a fine translation, that suffers only from its main supervisor's arrogant and derisory attitude towards other fine contemporary translation efforts. Sounds as though the key word Bible might be very useful. Do you know how to use blueletterbible.org? Check out this tutorial on how to use the LexiConc feature, which is very powerful: http://www.blueletterbible.org/help/lexiconc.cfm

This allows you to see every instance of a Hebrew (Aramaic) or Greek word in context simply by knowing the KJV English version of a verse.

I don't like the NET Bible. Its translators often import a heavy theological agenda into all their notes. For example, see their translation of Gen. 6:13, and their footnote on it:

6:13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided that all living creatures must die,44 for the earth is filled with violence because of them.

44. Heb “the end of all flesh is coming [or “has come”] before me.” (The verb form is either a perfect or a participle.) The phrase “end of all flesh” occurs only here. The term “end” refers here to the end of “life,” as v. 3 and the following context (which describes how God destroys all flesh) make clear. The statement “the end has come” occurs in Ezek 7:2, 6, where it is used of divine judgment. The phrase “come before” occurs in Exod 28:30, 35; 34:34; Lev 15:14; Num 27:17; 1 Sam 18:13, 16; 2 Sam 19:8; 20:8; 1 Kgs 1:23, 28, 32; Ezek 46:9; Pss 79:11 (groans come before God); 88:3 (a prayer comes before God); 100:2; 119:170 (prayer comes before God); Lam 1:22 (evil doing comes before God); Esth 1:19; 8:1; 9:25; 1 Chr 16:29. The expression often means “have an audience with” or “appear before.” But when used metaphorically, it can mean “get the attention of” or “prompt a response.” This is probably the sense in Gen 6:13. The necessity of ending the life of all flesh on earth is an issue that has gotten the attention of God. (quote ends, and I will now comment:)

The context of the phrase "the end of all flesh has come before me" is unmistakable. The earth is filled with violence--i.e. murder. Taking this fact seriously implies that humanity is in the process of committing suicide. Therefore the matter of the ending of all human life through mutual suicide has come before God for his decision. What shall God do to keep humanity from destroying itself? God's decision is to trim humanity back to the root and start it all over again through the family of Noah. Translating the verse (13) as "I have decided that all living creatures must die" places the violence on God's part, ignores the immediate context, and ignores the very meaning of the phrase "has come before me" that the translators so astutely point out. Their theology seemingly rewrites story of God's desperate measures to rescue humanity from self-destruction and turns it into a story of God brutally killing everyone and everything because he's angry over humanity's bad behavior.

When I see that translators are willing not just to rewrite the text, but also to use their footnotes to lead their readers very explicitly down the path to their own particular and harsh brand of theology, I know I'm looking at a translation to avoid.

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J. Webb Mealy

Expertise

Qualified to answer questions about the New Testament, including ones that require expert knowledge of Greek, New Testament History, and New Testament Theology. Particular area of expertise is New Testament eschatology (teachings on the end of the world), the Book of Revelation, and the Gospel and epistles of John. Questions about English translations--how they are arrived at, whether they are accurate, and whether there are alternative possibilities. Textual criticism.

Experience

Have taught the Bible and New Testament to lay people for 20 years. Translator of the Spoken English New Testament (www.sentpress.com), author of After the Thousand Years: Resurrection and Judgment in Revelation 20 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992). Senior Biblical Studies Editor, Sheffield Academic Press, 1990-1995.

Organizations
Instructor, Seminary of the Street, Oakland, CA

Publications
See my online publication, www.simplegospel.net, which gives an easy-to-understand but thorough introduction to the Christian Good News. See www.sentpress.com, home of the Spoken English New Testament, the most accurate available translation of the New Testament into natural contemporary English.

Education/Credentials
PhD, Biblical Studies, Sheffield, UK MA (Honors), Humanities, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY BA (Cum Laude), Religious Studies/New Testament, Westmont College, Santa Barbara, CA

Awards and Honors
Research Paper, "Tracing the Rise of Modalism in Rome," named best graduate paper of the year, Western Kentucky University, 1981

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