A Poster's 4 Questions

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
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    Below I quote JOJ from another thread (which I did not want to derail). I thought these four questions might deserve some further discussion.
    But before answering the questions, I want to define our terms. Notice that John of Japan changes terms along the way. First, he uses "Bible", "Biblical", and then "Bible" again (from the portion quoted above). He introduces the quiz as "if you really know the Bible on preservation". But then he switches to a different term in four of the next five references: "Word of God" three times; and "NT" for the last question (using "Bible" only once). He returns to the previous term following the quiz with "the answers are all there in the Bible".

    I'm not accusing John of doing this consciously or deliberately for any effect. My point is that John uses the two terms synonymously. I think I can demonstrate that the "Word of God" (sometimes just the "word" or other variations) is not the same thing as the "Bible" (the collected 66 books). I'm not trying to be 'picky'; I think there is an important distinction.

    We know that the English word spelt b-i-b-l-e itself does not occur in the text of the KJV. Within its own pages, how then does the sacred written text refer to itself? Usually as the "scriptures"; sometimes with terms like "law of Moses" or "his commandments". It is doubtful the term "Word of God" is ever used to refer to 1st century apostolic Greek writings (New Testament) alone, or in combination with Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) which is commonly called the 'Bible'.

    Foremost, "The Word of God" is Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:13, John 1:1-8, Hebrews 11:3, 2 Peter 3:5). But when the "Word" is not referring to the Son of God, it is also not referring to written documents. In the Old Testament the term "word of God" usually means a prophetic revelation (see 1 Samuel 9:27, 1 Kings 12:22, 1 Chronicles 17:3). The phrase "word of the Lord" is more prevalent in the OT. And here are just a few NT examples (from KJV) --

    So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. (Acts 19:20)​
    Historically speaking, there was no Protestant 66-book 'Bible' at the time of the acts of the apostles; nor does this seem to be a description of the expansion of the Hebrew canon that God had closed 400 years earlier.

    And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, (Luke 5:1)​
    Again, the books of the New Testament were not yet written during the time of Christ on Earth; the earliest NT books appearing no sooner than 20 to 30 years after Christ's ascension. At best, this could only refer to the ancient Hebrew writings; it is doubtful that Jesus had a scroll with Him at this occasion (a few verses later the statement "when he had left speaking" is given, that is, He was not reading, although He may have quoted from memory). The people could listen to the scrolls being read at the Temple; they were present to hear something else.

    And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost,
    and they spake the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)​
    The recitation of Hebrew scriptures does not really fit the context here; boldness was not required to proclaim the Hebrew scriptures. I believe they were proclaiming the Gospel as they had lived it firsthand.

    And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
    And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
    Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:37-39)​
    Jesus told the Jewish leaders that although they had searched their "scriptures", they had not received the Father's "word" (two different things).

    Now, if John's first three questions are asked of "scriptures" rather than the "Word of God" there may be a different results.
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, Feb 15, 2008
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  2. John of Japan

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    I may not get to this today, Franklin, since we are very busy this weekend, but I will eventually so please be patient.

    Just a quick note. Bible is a noun, but Biblical is an adjective.
     
  3. John of Japan

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    Okay, as I said before, Bible is the noun and Biblical is the adjective. And I don't really see a problem with that.

    Other than that, I used Word of God as a synonym for Bible, as we all do quite often. To be more technical, though, "word of God" in the Bible usually refers to God's revelation (a different concept than inspiration, please note). This revelation sometimes was Jesus Christ Himself, and sometimes spoken or written revelation. In certain instances it is not far from the term "Scripture" in meaning."
    I don't see the need for distinguishing the terminology in the context in which I was writing. We are 21st century Christians, not first century Christians. I was looking back at the completed canon, just as I do every time I take a modern Bible in my hand.
    Our modern word "Bible" is essentially equivalent to the Biblical term "Scripture," meaning "writings." It refers to the written form of God's revelation. Often in the NT it refers to the OT, but on occasion it can refer to NT writings, as when Peter referred to Paul's writings as scripture (2 Peter 3:16) in the same vein as OT Scripture. This means that very early the church felt they had a new scripture, or a Bible, on a par with the OT.

    But again, I feel all of this is moot, since I was writing as a 21st century Christian referring to the completed canon as my authority.
     
  4. franklinmonroe

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    John, please specify the verses where exact phrase "word of God" clearly refers to written revelation. Thanks
     
  5. John of Japan

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    Um, what I actually said was, "In certain instances it is not far from the term "Scripture" in meaning." To put it simply, every time God's Word is written down it becomes Scripture, or to use the theological term, it is enscripturated. Thus for example, the Word of God to Shemaiah was enscripturated in 1 Kings 12:22-24. Of course various other examples could be given. Now, was the written Scripture there the Word of God? Of course!

    In order to answer this further, I must know how much you understand the theological difference between inspiration and revelation, or alternatively what stand you take on this issue. For example it is trite but true that neo-orthodox (existential theology) teaches that the Bible becomes the Word of God rather than that it is the Word of God. However, I hold to the Princeton theologians (Machen and his pals) of verbal plenary inspiration as explained by John R. Rice.

    At any rate, trusting you are not neo-orthodox, here are places where "Word of God" is close in meaning to "Scripture"--Prov. 30:5 (how could the readers know what this meant without the written Word?), Mark 7:10-13 (Jesus referred to the written words of Moses as "the Word of God"), Luke 4:4 ("every word of God," referring to the verbal aspect of the message), etc.

    Especially note John 10:35, in which Jesus uses "word of God" and "Scripture" as synonyms: "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken."
     
    #5 John of Japan, Feb 17, 2008
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  6. franklinmonroe

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    My mistake. When I read --
    I guess I thought that you meant that the "word of God" usually means "revelation", and "this" (not just any) revelation was sometimes in "written" form.
     
  7. franklinmonroe

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    I don't understand how your comment above applies to this verse below. Are you saying that readers might never have heard a prophetic "word" proclaimed aloud? I do not see a necessity for the "word of God" to take only the written form here to make it true. Please elaborate.
    Every word of God [is] pure: he [is] a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
    Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6, KJV)​


    As you said, "near" to Scripture but not precisely. Just prior to getting specific about honoring parents (verses 7-9), Jesus uses the terminology "commandment of God" (entole Strong's #1785 meaning an order, command, charge, precept, injunction; not nomos Strong's #3551 indicating the Mosiac law, or Pentateuch) in contrast to the "commandments of men" and "tradition of men". Then Jesus states "For Moses said" (verse 10, eipon Strong's #2036 meaning to speak, say) in contrast to "But ye say" (verse 11). Notice Jesus did not respond with "Moses wrote", "It is written", or similar verbiage. So again we have the term "word of God" referring to that which is verbal given, not the graphically recorded.
    For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: (Mark 7:10, KJV)​


    You have said it yourself, the "word of God" here probably refers to spoken words; that is how those first Hebrew hearers would likely have received the message. It is doubtful that Moses had written much (if any) of the Pentateuch by the time that these words were originally spoken; only later would they be enscripturated. Notice that the Luke citation only gets "word" directly next to "of God" by ignoring the phrase "that proceedeth out of the mouth".
    ... that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3b)

    But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)

    And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4, KJV) ​
     
    #7 franklinmonroe, Feb 18, 2008
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  8. franklinmonroe

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    I disagree that they being used as synonyms. Please look carefully at what is recorded here (John 10:34-35, KJV) --
    Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
    If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;​

    The phrase "unto whom" (the word of God came) more fully describes "them" (patriarchs and prophets). I believe the antecedent of "scripture" is "your law". Jesus confirmed the law (Torah) as being scripture. The first edition NLT renderd it thus --
    Jesus replied, "It is written in your own law that God said to certain leaders of the people, `I say, you are gods!'
    And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered. So if those people, who received God's message, were called `gods,'​

    In fact, this is the recurring theme: our spiritual forefathers had the prophets and apostles to speak God's words to them, while we have God's words written down to speak to us.
     
    #8 franklinmonroe, Feb 18, 2008
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  9. John of Japan

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    Sometimes the Word of God (as revelation) was inscripturated and sometimes it was not. When it was, we have it as part of our Bible. Now, though sometimes the Bible records things that do not necessarily give us new knowledge of God or righteousness, etc., yet in a very real sense all of the Bible, the completed canon, should be considered revelation.

    Note what Easton's Bible Dictionary says: "Revelation--an uncovering, a bringing to light of that which had been previously wholly hidden or only obscurely seen. God has been pleased in various ways and at different times (Heb 1:1) to make a supernatural revelation of himself and his purposes and plans, which, under the guidance of his Spirit, has been committed to writing. The Scriptures are not merely the 'record' of revelation; they are the revelation itself in a written form, in order to the accurate preservation and propagation of the truth."
     
    #9 John of Japan, Feb 18, 2008
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  10. John of Japan

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    Good point. I'll have to yield to your exegesis here.

    Having said that, I then have to ask, why are you making such a fine point between "Scriture" (or "Bible") and "word of God"? Don't you believe in calling the Bible the word of God? Isn't the Bible revelation from God, and thus the Word of God? My contacts with you until now have impressed me with your love for the Lord and esteem for the Bible. So I don't want to think you are neo-orthdox, distinguishing between the Bible and God's actual revelation.

    Again, if we are not careful to limit revelation to the Bible in the 21st century, then we open the door to Charismatic "prophecies" designed to give us presumed "truth" in addition to what we have in the Bible.
     
  11. franklinmonroe

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    Me too. (I'm also a TTU grad)
     
  12. franklinmonroe

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    Quite simply, since discovering that the exact phrase "word of God" in our Bible (both Old & New Testaments) never explicitly refers to scripture (written revelation) I have become bound to that truth. The Holy Spirit seemingly has made a distinction; He could have easily given us passages where "word of God" clearly stood for "scripture" or its synonyms. I have been making a conscious effort to not use the term 'Word of God' to refer to the Holy Scriptures for some time now.

    If the term 'Word of God' is used interchangeably with 'Bible' it could be confusing to some weaker minds when they notice that the "word of God" was being proclaimed (as described in Acts and the Gospels) before the canonical apostolic writings (NT) were ever actually completed. The theologically undertrained might also think that if 'Word of God' is synonymous with 'Bible' then that should include apocryphal books (as found in RC and Eastern Orthodox versions). These are stumblingblocks that I am trying to avoid placing in the path.

    When defending the faith against skeptics it becomes a matter of precise communication (since words have meaning). Another facet of this salient point follows in my next post.
     
    #12 franklinmonroe, Feb 19, 2008
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  13. franklinmonroe

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    Your point here is one that I have made on several occasions: that not all of God's words have been inscripturated for us. Some folks get upset when it is stated that we do not have all of God's communication recorded in the Bible. Using the term "word of God" to properly specify only the verbal form revelation can help make the distinction from other methods of revelation during discourse.
     
    #13 franklinmonroe, Feb 19, 2008
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  14. Rippon

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    Should the word 'biblical' be capitalized ? Most folks on the BB make it so -- I disagree . The same applies to 'scriptural' .
     
  15. John of Japan

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    We'll have to agree to disagree here. While agreeing that "Word of God" refers to His revelation, to say that our Bible should not be referred to as the "Word of God" gives the impression to me that maybe it isn't God's revelation. Thus you can be misunderstood--I'm glad I asked for details of your beliefs rather than jumping to a conclusion that you were neo-orhodox or something. At any rate, I think you are making too fine a distinction between the spoken word and the written word. The same Hebrew and Greek words are used to refer to both.
    Since I work in a culture where 99% of the country is non-Christian and completely ignorant about the Bible, I don't have this problem. Even with believers, my problem is just to get them to read the Bible, much less become advanced enough to wonder about why the Apocrypha is not included in the Bible we use.
    Yes, words have meaning. (Hmm, have you been listening to Rush?? ;)) But the meaning does not change when you write the words down.
     
  16. John of Japan

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    But then you lose the opportunity of holding the Bible and saying to someone, "This is God's revelation to you, it is God's Word to you."
     
  17. John of Japan

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    I never have been one to follow the linguistic conventions of the secular English speaking world! :type:
     
  18. franklinmonroe

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    There you go again, switching your terms midstream :rolleyes: . Our discussion to this point had been strictly about "word of God".
    No, I would not lose the opportunity to say "... it is God's Word to you". The construction "God's word" does not occur at all in the KJV text. The single closest English structure is a plural form found John 8:37 --
    He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (KJV)​

    As you know, Greek expresses the possesive case by inflection not by apostrophe ('s). So anyway, in Greek it would literally be
    "the words" + "(belonging to the) God".
    He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear {them,} because you are not of God. (NASB)

    Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. (Young's)​

    I do use the term "God's word" occasionally (I prefer to see it written without the cap W). I could also say "these are words from God to you" or similar phrases. With so many other options, I don't believe that I should ever give anyone the impression that "maybe" the Bible isn't God's revelation; I only forfeit my privilege to frame the notion as "its the word of God to you".
     
    #18 franklinmonroe, Feb 20, 2008
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  19. John of Japan

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    I'm sorry, I like you and I'm enjoying this discussion, but now the discussion has become linguistically ridiculous. The English phrases "God's Word" and "Word of God" have absolutely the same meaning. I've not changed terms at all. Greek (and Japanese, and Chinese, and some other languages) may indicate a possessive in only one way, but English uses both the apostrophs "s" and the word "of."

    Which brings up the fact that "word of God" IS a possessive. So let me ask you, if the written revelation of God is not God's word, then who in the world does it belong to???
     
  20. John of Japan

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    Okay, I've found what I believe to be a smoking gun that the written Scripture can be called the "word of God." Note the following verses:

    Isa 1:10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

    Isa 5:24 Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, [so] their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

    Mic 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

    Each of these verses have "law" (referring usually to the written law of Moses, sometimes including other parts of the OT) along with "word of the LORD" or "word of the Holy One of Israel." The two terms occur in a form of Hebrew poetry called synonymous parallelism, "ocurring when the theme is stated in the first member, and then re-stated with variation in the second" (The Poetry of the Old Testament, Theodore Robinson, p. 22). Thus, in these examples "law" (written Scripture) and "word of God" (YHWH in the first and third verses) are synonymous. :type:
     

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