Category Archives: biblical idioms

Hearts and minds

Mark 6:45-52 is the familiar story of Jesus walking on the water, which comes right after the story of the feeding of the five thousand. The narrator in v. 52 concludes that the disciples might have understood how Jesus could walk on the water if they had been able to really understand that he was […]

Layers of language and translation

Linguistics is a great thing to study! Anyone who has done a bit of formal study of linguistics will know that it has many sub-fields such as phonology, syntax, morphology, semantics and pragmatics. In this post we’re going to dig down through the layers and see how focusing on each layer results in significantly different […]

It is easier for a hippopotamus to…

I recently returned from Africa, where I was working with a translation of the Gospel of Luke into a language that has had no previous Bible translation and a culture that has had very little contact with Christianity. I was not responsible for producing the translation into this language, but I was responsible for evaluating […]

Burning Coals redux

Wow, way back in 2006, Suzanne looked at this verse. She wisely writes: It has been my feeling for a long time that we should not worry about understanding the more difficult parts of the Bible until after we have obeyed the parts that are crystal clear. Since I have personally not yet accomplished this, […]

In which is all in all

I almost made a pretty big mistake the other day, because of a poor translation choice. Imagine you read the following somewhere, perhaps on a billboard, or a coffee mug: Brahman is all in all What would you think? Would there be much question as to what it meant? The problem I faced was that […]

Have you ever cut a covenant?

I’m checking a translation of Genesis these days. I came across a passage where the translation spoke of God “cutting” a covenant. I had never heard anyone refer to cutting a covenant before, so I had to check to see if the word “cut” was a typo or accurately reflected something in the Hebrew original. […]

Matthew 4:17, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

This semester I’m teaching an entire course on this phrase. And essentially I’m teaching the class on one verb in this one verse. The question is how to translate ἤγγικεν. Mat 4:17 τότε ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς κηρύσσειν καὶ λέγειν, Μετανοεῖτε· ἤγγικεν γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. KJV From that time Jesus began to preach, and […]

Date and time

In a post reacting to Wayne’s Eye Opening post, Wezlo comments: It caught my interest because I mentioned the phrase, “No one knows the day or the hour”  of the Son of Man’s return in my sermon yesterday, and how people mistakenly believe that this means the year is still open for us to figure […]

Your blood be on your own head

In 2 Sam. 1 a young Amalekite comes upon the wounded king Saul who is near death. Saul asks the young man to finish him off. The young man complies. Then he goes to David’s camp and tells David what happened. David orders one of his men to kill that Amalekite for having killed God’s […]


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