Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bible Reading Using the NET Bible

The NET Bible, released in 2005, is an interesting translation with numerous footnotes, many of which are most insightful. The value of one of these footnotes in particular is seen in Matthew 24:48 and in a similar text at Luke 12:45. There, in Jesus’ introduction of the “evil slave,” the NET Bible footnote says for both scriptures: “In the Greek text this is a third class condition that for all practical purposes is a hypothetical condition.” Thus Jesus was giving an admonition and not making a specific prediction of an evil slave class. Significantly, this footnote was quoted in the July 15, 2013 issue of The Watchtower (page 24) which discarded the view that there is an evil slave class predicted in favor of an admonition to not become the evil slave as explained in the footnote.

I personally use this Bible in conjunction with my Bible reading and study, as it helps me meditate on the text and visualize the events or situations described. The following are some examples of such:

James 2:19, NET Bible: “You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that – and tremble with fear." It adds “The words “with fear” are implied.”

What I especially like about this verse is how it highlights that Christians and demons share the same theology: that “God is one,” the Father. (John 17:1-5) Yet the difference is that Christians love this theology whereas the demons loath it and therefore would be bent on ridiculing and obstructing it completely.

Mark 5:7, NET Bible: Then he [the demoniac] cried out with a loud voice, “Leave me alone, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! I implore you by God – do not torment me!”

Couple of interesting points here. The footnote after “by God” says:
Though it seems unusual for a demon to invoke God’s name (“I implore you by God”) in his demands of Jesus, the parallel in Matt 8:29 suggests the reason: “Why have you come to torment us before the time?” [NWT: “Did you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”] There was an appointed time in which demons would face their judgment, and they seem to have viewed Jesus’ arrival on the scene as an illegitimate change in God’s plan regarding the time when their sentence would be executed.
This can be summed up as heckling or jeering at Jesus. Another interesting point though is that these demons did not address Jesus as a person of the impersonal Trinitarian Godhead. No, they addressed him as a person who was not God.

Moving on to 5:9, we read:
Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”

The footnote for “Legion” aptly states:
The name Legion means “thousands,” a word taken from a Latin term for a large group of soldiers. The term not only suggests a multiple possession, but also adds a military feel to the account. This is a true battle.
This is the only time where Jesus asks for a demon’s name. But instead of proceeding to belch forth their many names, they respond as a collective with a designation that may imply aggression.

The account in Mark of the Capernaum synagogue and its demoniac is quite fascinating. As related from the NET Bible:

Mark 1:21 “Then they went to Capernaum. When the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.”

The footnote for ‘synagogue’ says:
In normative Judaism of the NT period, the OT scripture was read and discussed in the synagogue by the men who were present. ... First came the law, then the prophets, then someone was asked to speak on the texts. Jesus undoubtedly took the opportunity on this occasion to speak about his person and mission, and its relationship to Old Testament fulfillment.
In the audience though was a disturbed man. While Jesus was expounding on his fulfillment of prophecy, the demoniac was murmuring to himself, fidgeting and twitching in brief spasms all the while. When Jesus completed his stirring and animated discourse, the demoniac stood up amid the audience and angrily erupted, pointing at Jesus with a fierce countenance: “Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene!” He added with a louder voice: “Have you come to destroy us?” Moving now closer to the podium where Jesus stood, shoving people out of his way, he said, pointing again: “I know who you are,” then he held his arms up and declared: “the Holy One of God!”

The footnote on ‘Holy One’ says: “The confession of Jesus as the Holy One here is significant, coming from an unclean spirit. Jesus, as the Holy One of God, who bears God’s Spirit and is the expression of holiness, comes to deal with uncleanness and unholiness.”

And deal with it he did! In a calm yet firm, confident manner, he rebuked the demoniac: ““Silence! Come out of him!” After throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice (“Yeeeeeeeeeee, aaaaaaaaaaah!”) and came out of him.”

Everyone was amazed, to say the least. Another interesting point though, as also seen in Mark 5:7, is that this demon did not address Jesus as a person of the impersonal Trinitarian Godhead. No, he addressed him as a person who was not God. However, similar to Paul in Acts 16:16-18, Jesus did not allow the demon to testify about God’s purpose or about himself.

The account of Jesus Christ’s resurrection in Matthew 28 has an interesting detail that may be overlooked if not compared with other texts. In verse 7 angels instruct Mary Magdalene and Mary to tell Jesus’ disciples to meet the resurrected Jesus in Galilee. Then on route to tell the disciples, the resurrected Jesus appears to them in verse 9, and in verse 10 repeats to them that he will meet them in Galilee and to tell his brothers to be there. (The NET Bible says they ‘worshiped’ Jesus, and this is in acknowledgment of his Lordship.) Then verse 16 says: “the eleven disciples went into Galilee to the mountain where Jesus had arranged for them.” This MUST have included the two women. Did anyone else join them? At 1 Corinthians 15:6* Paul said that the total number was “upward of five hundred brothers.” (He must have been referring to that event.) So those two women were very successful in inviting others to that event. And no one left disappointed, for verse 18 tells us that “Jesus approached [or “drew near,” per Shem Tob’s Hebrew version] and spoke to them.”

Thus with about 500 present, Jesus declared with a booming voice what is now called the Great Commission.** The chapter and book ends there, but I can imagine how absolutely thrilled his disciples were.

* In the NET Bible, after stating that most of the 500 are still alive, it adds that “some have fallen asleep.” The footnote for “asleep” states that the Greek verb
literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for death when speaking of believers. This metaphorical usage by its very nature emphasizes the hope of resurrection: Believers will one day “wake up” out of death. Here the term refers to death, but “sleep” was used in the translation to emphasize the metaphorical, rhetorical usage of the term.
This harmonizes with what Jesus said in John 11:11-14 about Lazarus, and the NET Bible has a similar footnote for verse 11.

** The NET Bible has a footnote for “I am with you” in verse 20, which states:
Matthew’s Gospel begins with the prophecy that the Savior’s name would be “Emmanuel [Immanuel], that is, ‘God with us,’” (1:23, in which the author has linked Isa 7:14 and 8:8, 10 together) and it ends with Jesus’ promise to be with his disciples forever. The Gospel of Matthew thus forms an inclusio about Jesus in his relationship to his people that suggests his deity.
By “deity,” it appears the footnote author means “second person of the impersonal Trinitarian Godhead”—for when Trinitarians say ‘Jesus is God,’ they mean just that. However, the NET Bible footnote for Immanuel in Isaiah 8:8 equates him with one of Isaiah’s sons (in the prophecy’s initial fulfillment). But does this suggest his deity? No, for the footnote explains: “The name Immanuel may emphasize the basic fact of God’s presence.” Therefore an exegetical inconsistency can be observed here. If Isaiah’s son can be called “God is with us” and ‘emphasize the basic fact of God’s presence,’ then the Matthean inclusio would do the same with Jesus who is God’s agent, thus God is with his people via Jesus. (For another example of Trinitarian exegetical inconsistency, see The Throne of God at jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-throne-of-god-psalm-456-in-net.html.)

Ephesians 4:14 in the 2013 NWT warns us: “tossed about as by waves and carried here and there by every wind of teaching by means of the trickery of men, by means of cunning in deceptive schemes.”

The NET Bible similarly has: “tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.” It has a footnote that says in part:
The point is that the author is concerned about Christians growing into maturity. He is fearful that certain kinds of very cunning people, who are skilled at deceitful scheming, should come in and teach false doctrines which would in turn stunt the growth of the believers.
This cunning, deceitful scheming would doubtlessly be in support of the demons’ aim at completely obstructing spiritual access to God, as observed in my comments for James 2:19.

See also:

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