Ex. 14 and ESV

In my daily reading (today Exodus 13-14, using ESV), I came upon an unusual rendering in two places in Exodus 14.

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. (Exodus 14:4 ESV)

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”  (Exodus 14:18 ESV)

I don’t remember that kind of translation (bolded text) in others (NAS, HCSB, etc.). So when I looked at the Hebrew I saw this: וְאִכָּבְדָ֤ה, which is a Niphal form of the verb כבד, often translated as “to be heavy” or “glory.” But the Niphal form typically has a more passive sense of the verb, which the ESV does not suggest by its translation.

HALOT includes several options under the Niphal form of the word with some references.

1. to be considered weighty, to be honoured Gen 34:19; Num 22:15; Dt 28:58; 1 Sam 9:6; 22:14; 2 Sam 23:19, 23; Is 3:5; 23:8f; 43:4; 49:5; Nah 3:10; Ps 149:8 1Chr. 11:21,25,

2. to enjoy honour 2 Kg 14:10; 2 Chr 2519; to be held in honour 2 Sam 6:22

3. to behave with dignity 2 Sam 6:20

4. to appear in one’s glory (God) Ex 14:4.17; Lev 10:3 Is 26:15 Ezk 28:22 39:13; Hg 1:8

5. glorious things Ps 87:3; —Pr 8:24

In the Lev. 10:3 and Isaiah 26:15, ESV provides a more appropriate translation of the Niphal for of כבד:

Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace. (Lev. 10:3 ESV)

But you have increased the nation, O LORD, you have increased the nation; you are glorified; you have enlarged all the borders of the land. (Isaiah 26:15 ESV)

I checked the LXX translation of the Hebrew and saw that it, too, carries the passive sense of the Hebrew. ἐνδοξασθήσομαι “I will be glorified” (future passive)

ἐγὼ δὲ σκληρυνῶ τὴν καρδίαν Φαραω, καὶ καταδιώξεται ὀπίσω αὐτῶν· καὶ ἐνδοξασθήσομαι ἐν Φαραω καὶ ἐν πάσῃ τῇ στρατιᾷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ γνώσονται πάντες οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι κύριος. καὶ ἐποίησαν οὕτως. (Exodus 14:4, LXX)

So, it seems that ESV leaves a little to be desired in its translation of וְאִכָּבְדָ֤ה in Exodus 14.

Just some early morning thoughts on the text. I probably have missed everything; that happens because I am old, slow, and confused, but at least I’m inconsistent.

”Testament” or “covenant”

We began our Lent observance on Ash Wednesday, which leads to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The central place of the Lord’s Supper within the worshiping community is highlighted throughout Lent and culminates in Maundy Thursday. I serve a congregation that celebrates the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, every service, which reflects the importance of it among God’s people, and especially for our people.

As Lutherans we confess the Lord’s Supper that in it we receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, a teaching that is different from Protestants(the bread and wine are symbols/representatives of the body and blood, which are not present).

One issue related to the Lord’s Supper is how to understand διαθήκη (diatheke) and how to translate it, whether “testament” or “covenant.” As I have been reflecting on this heritage of theology, some history of translation is helpful. In 1963 William Beck published his NT translation called An American Translation (AAT), but popularly know as Beck’s Bible (Beck died in 1966, but his OT was published in 1976 with two scholars [Schmick and Kiehl] finishing his work). In 1963 I was a freshman in high school, and our church began using Beck’s NT for Sunday School. Rather different than KJV for understandability!

Regarding this topic, the KJV used the word “testament” for διαθήκη. In 1986 the process of revising AAT began. Soon, the project became known as God’s Word to the Nations. I remember the “testament/covenant” issue that faced the translators of God’s Word to the Nations (GWN, 1986-1988), later New Evangelical Translation (NET 1988-1992), and eventually God’s Word (GW 1995).

I had the privilege of serving congregations from 1987-1995 that were testers for GWN, later NET, eventually GW. In 1992 there was a change in translation direction, much to my frustration about translating specific words in context. So when it was finally published as God’s Word (GW 1995), I opposed several of these changes because I thought they weakened the translation and changed the focus of the underlying Greek. Beginning in 1992 I had written repeatedly over the years  to ask that the GW translators revert back to the 1992 NET renderings.

Several critical changes: (original refers to the NET; change refers to the GW move in 1992-1995).

διαθήκη original: “last will and testament” changed to “promise”

χάρις original: “grace” changed to “good will”

ἅγιοι original: “saints” changed to “holy people” or “God’s people” or “believers”

This article explains the reasoning for using “testament” in the NT rather than “covenant” as a translation of διαθήκη.

Translating διαθηκη in NET

Here is the NET (New Evangelical Translation) of Matthew 26:26-28

While they were eating, Jesus took bread and gave thanks. He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat; this is My body.”

Then He took a cup and spoke a prayers of thanks. He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you. For this is My blood of the last will and testament, which is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

So, what is the significance of translating διαθήκη as “last will and testament” (or “testament” as in KJV)  rather than “covenant.” I think it becomes clear in Matthew 26:26-28 (and parallels and 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) regarding the Lord’s Supper. It is also why when speaking the words of institution, I use “testament” (and occasionally “last will and testament” —with explanation) not “covenant.”

Regardless of this discussion, in the Lord’s Supper Jesus offers his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. For that we rejoice.



Reading Greek

Learning Greek

I had taught myself Greek back in 1980 and 1982 (while still in the Navy) prior to going to Seminary. I used Machen’s book and had a copy of UBS 3rd edition. While I could have passed an entrance exam in Greek, I decided to take Greek at the seminary under Dr. Robert Hoerber. Best decision I ever made. He solidified and greatly expanded my understanding of Greek.

Dr. Hoerber encouraged us to keep reading every day. Even a chapter a day would take us through the NT in three years. So, I slowly began working toward that goal. At the same time once I began serving in the congregation(s), the time creep of other responsibilities sometimes found me letting the Greek reading slide for days at a time. I still studied Greek extensively and could read some of the books very well, but Greek reading as its own entity was sadly not consistent.

Reading Greek

Over the years I have used various aids in trying to keep my Greek up to speed and learning more. I have several grammars, lexicons, concordances, etc.—all hard copies. With the advent of the desktop computer revolution, I have most of those resources in the Accordance program.

For daily reading I tried various resources, including Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. While it worked for a while, it never quite fit my patterns of reading and study.

I tried other “devotional” books that would include snippets of Greek and Hebrew for each day. While helpful initially, the snippets were not long enough to get a sense of the Greek (and Hebrew) flow, hence true “reading.”

Then I began looking for more substantial help in improving my reading. I didn’t need to look up many words. Just an occasional vocabulary or parsing to refresh my memory. So I purchased the NET/Greek New Testament. This was a step in the right direction. It was not an interlinear (which I think is a handicap to reading and translating). It has facing pages (Greek one side, English on the other).

It also contained the NA-27 textual apparatus at the bottom. So, I could carry it in some situations, and not bring the NA-27 along as well. But it was bulky to take anywhere beyond the office. I tend to travel some for seminary and pastoral work, and this was not usable for such travel.

A reading solution—for me

I had heard about other reading resources but was beginning to be a little gun-shy of them. I needed something that was readable for older eyes; NA-27 edition was originally small and the font while readable was getting smaller every year.

Recently someone mentioned The UBS Greek New Testament: Reader’s Edition with Textual Notes.

UBS Greek NT Readers

It was on sale recently so I purchased it. The font is the right size, the book itself is larger but not cumbersome for travel. There are minimal textual notes, but for reading purposes, I don’t need them—they can be a distraction.

UBS Reader Pg

It has the running dictionary at the bottom with simple parsing and glosses for those words occurring less than 30 times, and those over 30 times are in an appendix.

The best thing, I began reading and could cover two chapters—I still have a congregation. It has sped up my reading and my vocabulary is coming back into shape.

I will be preaching on John’s Gospel between now and Easter, and I have already gotten through the first five chapters. I will occasionally look at the glosses and parsing at the bottom just to quickly verify what I already knew. But it is neither distracting nor inconvenient. Notice, too, that the appendix does not provide a simple gloss.

UBS Reader Appendix

This is exactly the kind of reading aid I have been looking to purchase for years. For me, it is the best solution where I am in my reading of Greek.