Category Archives: Bible

Sometimes Loving Your Neighbor Means Making a Whip and Driving Off their Oppressors

When the time of the Jewish Passover was near Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and in the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting there. Making a whip out of cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, sheep and cattle as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the dove sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop using my Father’s house as a market.’ (Jn. 2:13-16)

Quote of the Day

Better a youngster poor and wise than a monarch old and silly who will no longer take advice (Eccl. 4:13).

How Much Would A Luther Bible Cost when It Was First Published?

lbOur Saxon friends write

Did you know that when Luther’s Bible was published in 1534, the Bible cost a equivalent of 17 fat geese?

So I asked- how much is that?  They replied

The September Testament one and a half Gulden. Two Gulden acht Groschen the complete Bible. (60 Gulden was a equivalent to a small farm).  One and a half Gulden was an annual salary of a maidservant. A teacher’s 3 3/4.

Concerning Luther’s own salary they remark

As preacher at the City Church Luther had been receiving an annual salary of 9 Gulden since approx. 1514. In 1523 this sum was still the only cash at his disposal, since his Augustian professorship gave him free lodgings, together with brewing rights, a claim to payment in kind, but not to a salary. It was only in 1524 that Elector Frederick granted him an annual salary of one hundred Gulden. The new elector John ultimately accorded him two hundred Gulden so that Luther would earn as much as Philipp Melanchthon. This sum was a top salary for a Wittenberg Professor at the time, but the big house, the runaway monks and nuns the Luthers took in, and the continual guests made the household expensive to run. Luther calculated his annual expenses at about five hundred Gulden (Btw Luther never earned anything from his writing, he refused to accept a penny from them).

Neat, right?!?!  And we think books are expensive today!  It cost over a year’s salary for the goodly maid to buy a single Bible.  Astonishing.

I bought a two volume facsimile of the 1534 Bible and I think it cost around $199.  So, quite a bargain!

The Psalmist Knew…

Yahweh, God of my salvation, when I cry out to you in the night, may my prayer reach your presence, hear my cry for help. For I am filled with misery, my life is on the brink of Sheol; already numbered among those who sink into oblivion, I am as one bereft of strength, left alone among the dead, like the slaughtered lying in the grave, whom you remember no more, cut off as they are from your protection.  You have plunged me to the bottom of the grave, in the darkness, in the depths; weighted down by your anger, kept low by your waves.  Pause

You have deprived me of my friends, made me repulsive to them, imprisoned, with no escape; my eyes are worn out with suffering. I call to you, Yahweh, all day, I stretch out my hands to you. Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise up to praise you?  Pause. 

Do they speak in the grave of your faithful love, of your constancy in the place of perdition? Are your wonders known in the darkness, your saving justice in the land of oblivion?

But, for my part, I cry to you, Yahweh, every morning my prayer comes before you; why, Yahweh, do you rebuff me, turn your face away from me? Wretched and close to death since childhood, I have borne your terrors — I am finished! 

Your anger has overwhelmed me, your terrors annihilated me. They flood around me all day long, close in on me all at once. You have deprived me of friends and companions, and all that I know is the dark. (Ps. 88:1-18)

The Good Old Days…

When the herd weren’t allowed to distort the Scriptures-

Still True

Whoever says, ‘I know him’ without keeping his commandments, is a liar, and truth has no place in him. But anyone who does keep his word, in such a one God’s love truly reaches its perfection. This is the proof that we are in God. Whoever claims to remain in him must act as he acted. — (1 Jn. 2:4-6)

Truth

Ill-gotten wealth will vanish like a torrent, like the single thunder-clap that heralds rain. When he opens his hand, he rejoices, by the same token, sinners come to ruin. The sprigs of the godless will not make many branches, tainted roots find only hard rock. The reed that grows by every lake and river’s edge is the first plant to be uprooted. (Sir. 40:13-16)

On Those Who Desert the Faith

The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times some will desert the faith and pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils, seduced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are branded as though with a red-hot iron. (1 Tim. 4:1-2)

Truth

Many have sinned for the sake of profit, one who hopes to be rich must turn a blind eye.  A peg will stick in the joint between two stones, and sin will wedge itself between selling and buying.  Whoever does not firmly hold to the fear of the Lord, his house will soon be overthrown. — (Sir. 27:1-3)

God’s Wrath

Since he once destroyed the huts of the poor, plundering houses instead of building them up, since his avarice could never be satisfied, now all his hoarding will not save him; since nothing could escape his greed, his prosperity will not last. When he has everything he needs, want will seize him, and misery will light on him with all its force. 

On him God looses all his burning wrath, hurling against his flesh a hail of arrows. If he escapes the weapons of iron, the bow of bronze will transfix him. Out of his back sticks an arrow, from his gall a shining point. The terrors advance on him, all the hidden darknesses are waiting to carry him off. A fire unlit by human hand devours him, and consumes what is left in his tent. 

The heavens lay bare his iniquity, and the earth rises up against him. The income of his house pours away, like the torrents, on the day of retribution. Such is the fate God reserves for the wicked, the inheritance he assigns to the accursed! (Job 20:19-29)

Let the reader understand…

The Confession That Can’t Be Made By the Behind the Scenes Social Media Smear Campaigners And Manipulators

“But [we] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” —  2 Cor 4:6

You Probably Still Need a Series of Books to Help You Understand The Bible

If you or someone you know wants to get a copy of the entire 42 volume collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for the exceptionally reasonable price of  $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Should you only wish one volume, email me and we can arrange it.

Scholars love it.  For example, Tom Bolin writes

Jim West’s commentary on Ezra-Nehemiah, aimed at “the person in the pew,” faces a rather difficult task. By that I don’t mean the perennial challenge of trying to make biblical texts relevant to modern believers, although that is certainly part of the challenge. West’s commentary is trying to make one of the less well-known and, frankly, less exciting of the biblical books applicable to readers, and it does a fine job at it.

Moving briskly through the text, West pauses to expound essential perplexities and occasionally to provide an informative excursus, e.g., on grieving in the Old Testament, or the origins of the Samaritans. Rather than bogging down the text, these excurses come at appropriate intervals, anticipate a reader’s questions, and offer a wealth of helpful information useful beyond the reading of Ezra-Nehemiah. As far as his exposition of the text, West does a fine job of “cultural equivalence” translation of principles at work in Ezra-Nehemiah.

These are hard books of the Bible: hard to work through, a story of hard times for the returning exiles, and ultimately, books with very hard lessons for those would follow the God of Israel. With the verve and occasional sting that regular readers of his blog will recognize, West concisely points out to that person in the pew just exactly how challenging the Bible remains to modern believers, and that even something as seemingly unrelated to the 21st century as 2500 year-old genealogies and group wall-building activities have something to say to those who will listen.

Thomas M. Bolin ن, Ph.D.
Professor of Religious Studies
St. Norbert College
Hebrew Bible Book Editor Marginalia Review of Books

Still the Truth

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Gal. 2:20)

The Samaritan Pentateuch: Volume 1, Genesis

A critical edition of the Samaritan Pentateuch is one of the most urgent desiderata of Hebrew Bible research. The present volume on Genesis is the second out of a series of five meant to fill this gap. It provides a diplomatic edition of the five books of the Samaritan Torah, based on the oldest preserved Samaritan manuscripts.

Throughout the entire work, the Samaritan Hebrew text as gathered from 30 different manuscripts is compared with further Samaritan witnesses (esp. the Samaritan Targum, the Samaritan Arabic translation, and the oral Samaritan reading tradition) as well as with non-Samaritan witnesses of the Pentateuch, especially the Masoretic text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Septuagint, creating an indispensable resource and tool not only for those working with the Samaritan Pentateuch, but for any scholar interested in textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible in general, and particularly the Pentateuch.

This amazingly important volume, produced by Stefan Schorch and a multitude of specialists in Hebrew transcription, Samaritan Arabic transcription, textual critics of the DSS and the Septuagint, and targumists and Peshitta-ists is a wonder.

First, a preface and an introduction in German are provided.  Then, the same in English.  There is also a Hebrew introduction (on the other end of the volume, where the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch of Genesis commences).

The introduction covers such matters as previous editions of the SamPent, and provides a full description of the present editio maior of the text.  The base manuscript of this diplomatic edition is D1, MS Dublin, 751 (1225).  There are six full manuscripts and 15 well preserved partial manuscripts as well as 2 fragmentary manuscripts that are consulted and which are the stuff of the textual apparatus.

Here’s a photo of the page layout, which, frankly, it is simply easier to show than describe:

IMG_5008

Each symbol and segment as well as all of the manuscript evidence as presented is fully defined in the introduction to the volume. As is immediately apparent, the text itself takes up but a third of the page whilst the remainder is devoted to the textual evidence and apparatus. This is the case throughout the edition.

A thorough table of abbreviations is provided as is a table of the symbols which festoon the work. Those not quite familiar with the Samaritan alphabet are given a table containing it and its Hebrew equivalent:

Next, a very complete bibliography is provided. Each portion of text is carefully analyzed and the textual evidence is as thorough as practical. Indeed, it is as complete as any edition of the Bible can be.

What Schorch et al have here accomplished is a marvel of scholarly competence and thoroughness. The font is clear and legible and the apparatus is fantastic. The choice of the Hebrew font for the biblical text is based on the practicality of the scholarly endeavor. As the editor puts it

The Samaritan Hebrew texts, on which the edition is based, are not reproduced in Samaritan but in Hebrew square script. This decision is purely pragmatic as the latter is much more familiar in general scholarship (p. xi).

Textual critics, scholars of the Hebrew Bible, scholars of the Samaritan Bible, and scholars of the Samaritan faith will be delighted by the appearance of this volume and will hunger and thirst for the remainder of the Samaritan Pentateuch to appear in the same series. This tool will stand the test of time and will come to be the most important critical edition of the biblical text produced in many generations (alongside BHQ).

Today’s Prayer for our Government

Paul encourages us to pray for those in authority over us.  I think, too, that we should pray for the government.  So here’s my prayer today for it:

Rise, Yahweh! God, raise your hand, do not forget the afflicted!  Why should the wicked spurn God, assuring himself you will never follow it up?  You have seen for yourself the trouble and vexation, you watch so as to take it in hand. The oppressed relies on you; you are the only recourse of the orphan.  Break the arm of the wicked and evil, seek out wickedness till there is none left to be found.  — (Ps. 10:12-15)

Amen.

Quote of the Day

Do not put your trust in princes, in any child of Adam, who has no power to save. When his spirit goes forth he returns to the earth, on that very day all his plans come to nothing. How blessed is he who has Jacob’s God to help him, his hope is in Yahweh his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them. He keeps faith for ever, gives justice to the oppressed, gives food to the hungry; Yahweh sets prisoners free. Yahweh gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down. Yahweh protects the stranger, he sustains the orphan and the widow. Yahweh loves the upright,but he frustrates the wicked.   (Ps. 146:3-9)

It Doesn’t Pay to Be Wealthy

Well now, you rich! Lament, weep for the miseries that are coming to you.  Your wealth is rotting, your clothes are all moth-eaten.  All your gold and your silver are corroding away, and the same corrosion will be a witness against you and eat into your body. It is like a fire which you have stored up for the final days.  Can you hear crying out against you the wages which you kept back from the labourers mowing your fields? The cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Sabaoth.  On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart’s content.  It was you who condemned the upright and killed them; they offered you no resistance. — (Jas. 5:1-6)

The Steep Price of Rebellion

‘But if you do not obey the voice of Yahweh your God, and do not keep and observe all his commandments and laws which I am laying down for you today then all these curses will befall and overtake you. ‘You will be accursed in the town and accursed in the countryside; accursed, your basket and your kneading trough; accursed, the offspring of your body, the yield of your soil, the young of your cattle and the increase of your flock. You will be accursed in coming home, and accursed in going out.

‘Yahweh will send a curse on you, a severe curse, an imprecation on all your labours until you have been destroyed and quickly perish, because of your perverse behaviour, for having deserted me. Yahweh will fasten the plague on you, until it has exterminated you from the country which you are about to enter and make your own. Yahweh will strike you down with consumption, fever, inflammation, burning fever, drought, wind-blast, mildew, and these will pursue you to your ruin. The heavens above you will be brass, the earth beneath you iron. Your country’s rain Yahweh will turn into dust and sand; it will fall on you from the heavens until you perish. Yahweh will have you defeated by your enemies; you will advance on them from one direction and flee from them in seven; and you will be a terrifying object-lesson to all the kingdoms of the world.

Your carcass will be carrion for all wild birds and all wild animals, with no one to scare them away. ‘Yahweh will strike you down with Egyptian ulcers, with swellings in the groin, with scurvy and the itch, for which you will find no cure. Yahweh will strike you down with madness, blindness, distraction of mind, until you grope your way at noon like a blind man groping in the dark, and your steps will lead you nowhere. ‘You will never be anything but exploited and plundered, with no one to save you.

Get engaged to a woman, another man will have her; build a house, you will not live in it; plant a vineyard, you will not gather its first-fruits. Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes and you will eat none of it; your donkey will be carried off in front of you and not be returned to you; your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will come to your help. Your sons and daughters will be handed over to another people, and every day you will wear your eyes out watching for them, while your hands are powerless. A nation hitherto unknown to you will eat the yield of your soil and of all your hard work. You will never be anything but exploited and crushed.

You will be driven mad by the sights you will see. Yahweh will strike you down with foul ulcers on knee and leg, for which you will find no cure — from the sole of your foot to the top of your head. ‘Yahweh will send away both you and the king whom you have appointed to rule you to a nation unknown either to you or to your ancestors, and there you will serve other gods, made of wood and stone. And you will be the astonishment, the byword, the laughing-stock of all the peoples where Yahweh is taking you. 

‘You will cast seed in plenty on the fields but harvest little, since the locust will devour it. You will plant and till your vineyards but not drink the wine or gather the grapes, since the grub will eat them up. You will grow olive trees throughout your territory but not anoint yourself with the oil, since your olive trees will be cut down. You will father sons and daughters but they will not belong to you, since they will go into captivity. All your trees and the whole yield of your soil will be the prey of insects. 

‘The foreigners living with you will rise higher and higher at your expense, while you yourself sink lower and lower. You will be subject to them, not they to you; they will be the ones at the head, and you the one at the tail.  ‘All these curses will befall you, pursue you and overtake you until you have been destroyed, for not having obeyed the voice of Yahweh your God by keeping his commandments and laws which he has laid down for you. (Deut. 28:15-45)

Out of the Depths…

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD;
Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications.
If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord More than those who watch for the morning– Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is mercy, And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel From all his iniquities. (Ps. 130:1-8)

The Source of Conflict? Desire in the Hearts of Those who Befriend the World

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas. 4:1-4)