Monday, November 29, 2021

Luke 3.1-6 Translations and Notes (RCL 2nd Sunday of Advent Year C)

Jordan River valley wilderness looking east from Jordan to the river and the traditional baptism site of Jesus.
Luke 3.1-6 is the appointed text for the Second Sunday of Advent in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. Luke had already introduced the story of John the Baptist's and Jesus' births and described some events in Jesus' childhood. Turning to John's ministry, Luke locates it within Roman political history, eastern Mediterranean geography, and Scripture.
Luke cites Isaiah 40.3-5 which concludes, “… every mortal shall see the salvation of God.” Was this a past reality fulfilled in the time of John and Jesus? Is this still a future reality? What does the salvation of God look like today?

A collection of translations, including my own, and notes:

Monday, November 22, 2021

Luke 21.25-36 Translations and Notes (RCL 1st Sunday of Advent Year C)

"Look at the fig tree..." (Luke 21.29) - Sycamore fig tree on the Arbel looking west

Luke 21.25-36 is the appointed text for the First Sunday of Advent in Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. It's a bit odd to have a text that is focused on Jesus's second coming in the season when we are looking ahead to his first coming. It does raise a good question, though: How is thinking about Jesus' second coming helpful in preparing for his first coming?

The file here provides a collection of translations and my notes on translating along with my own suggested translation. There are always nuances in the text worth considering, and attending to the small details often helps us see the big picture.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

John 18.28-40 Translation and Notes (Christ the King Sunday RCL Year B )

This shows the western wall of Jerusalem and is a probable spot of Gabbatha (John 19.13) where Pilate brought Jesus out to be condemned.
John 18.33-37 is the designated RCL text for Christ the King Sunday Year B. It was doubtless chosen because of the dialogue between Jesus and Pontius Pilate questioning whether Jesus was "King of the Jews." The pericope really should at least include 18.28-40 (which my notes include), though the section of Jesus and Pilate goes through 19.16.

As depicted by the narrator, Jesus' trial before Pilate is a total travesty of justice. The Jewish authorities are hostile to but have no legitimate charge against Jesus. They are more concerned about their own survival and purity than they are for the truth. Pilate is depicted as a bored bureaucrat who does not really comprehend and who would have preferred not to have been bothered by this Jewish disturbance. Jesus is the only one who speaks the truth.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Bible Geocoding and Rethinking the Bible Atlas

An example of the KML file results which has about 7,100 placemarks in Google Earth.

I have mention before as an excellent resource for things like data visualizations and especially its Geocoding. Stephen Smith has recently updated his work and explained what he's been doing in this post: "Past as Probability: Rethinking the Bible Atlas for 2021." He writes:

What does rethinking the Bible Atlas mean?

This project is a Bible atlas (technically, a gazetteer) that (1) comprehensively identifies the possible modern locations of every place mentioned in the Bible as precisely as possible, (2) expresses a data-backed confidence level in each identification, and (3) links to open data to fit into a broader data ecosystem. The goal is to provide a baseline for future Bible geography projects to use.

In my original design document for this project, I have the following guiding principles; I’ll discuss their implementation below:

  1. Comprehensively reflect current scholarship.
  2. Use linked data.
  3. Be accurate and precise.
  4. Quantify uncertainty.
  5. Handle non-point data.
  6. Include media.
  7. Open the data.

It's a pretty stunning achievement considering the amount of work pulling the material together. His description of his work is worth reading, but if you just want to take advantage of his work, go to the Geocoding section. From there you can download the KML file for Google Earth with its 7100 Bible placemarks linked to the passages where a site is mentioned. You can also browse online by book and chapter of the Bible.

Thanks are due for sharing this resource so openly!

Monday, November 8, 2021

Mark 13.1-8 Translations and Notes (RCL25th Sunday after Pentecost Year B )

Jerusalem Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives where Mark 13 discourse is set.
Mark 13.1-8 is the RCL designated text for the 25th Sunday after Pentecost Year B which occurs on 14 November 2021. The following Sunday is Christ the King Sunday that concludes the lectionary year, so Mark 13 is the eschatological chapter that leads up to that commemoration. 

Verses 1-8 of the chapter, however, are limited in their scope, focusing primarily on what would prove to be the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Romans in 70CE. Still, there is the warning about those who would deceive people in the face of "wars and rumors of wars," nations rising up against each other, earthquakes, and famines. If all these are but the "beginning of the birthing pains," Christians still need to watch out!

Here are a collection of translations, including my own, and my notes on translating this passage.

Monday, November 1, 2021

John 11.32-44 Translations and notes (All Saints Sunday)

The Lazarus story of John 11 takes place in Bethany. There is a "Tomb of Lazarus" there today commemorating the event.
John 11.32-44 is the appointed RCL text for All Saints Sunday. The whole of John chapter 11 is a unity, so this selection is only notable for including the scene where Lazarus (somehow, considering that he is all bound up!) comes out of the tomb. The story is well told and actually includes some humorous elements. (The dead man’s sister, Martha, says to him, “Lord, already there’s going to be a stench. It’s been four days, you know.”) One can also easily imagine it in oral performance.E.g., the parenthetical explanation that the tomb was a cave strikes me as something that would be spoken to an audience quite naturally.

The text is also notable for including the third shortest verse in the NT, 11.35: "Jesus wept." (KJV) Yes, it's the shortest verse in English in the KJV, but the shortest verse in the NT in the Greek is actually Luke 2.30!

Careful translation does not solve some of the puzzling aspects in the story. In particular, Jesus' emotions of anger, agitation, and distress in verses 33 and 38 are the subject of considerable speculation in the commentaries.

Here are a collection of translations, including my own, and my notes on translating this passage.