Friday, January 4, 2008

The Gift

New Year’s Eve I was pulling out of my driveway when I noticed a package on the front porch. It was a delightful surprise. Dr. Ann Nyland, who gave us The Source New Testament with Extensive Notes on Greek Word Meanings (I’m advertising, it’s available from Amazon), had sent me a Christmas gift-- a copy of Prayer Mystery Revealed, What the Greek of the New Testament Really Says About Prayer! (also available from Amazon). It’s awesome.

Let me tell you a bit about Ann. She is a Greek scholar who knows and loves our Lord. Her translations use information from the recently discovered papyri which provide meaning to the numerous (about 35%) of the words of the New Testament that were guessed at in previous translations. Now, only a few words (about 5%) are still a mystery. Our English translations are partly based on previous works and are greatly influenced by tradition. I want to know what was REALLY said or REALLY happened and I get this from Ann’s work. Her claim is to be only a translator—thus not influenced by tradition or denominational leanings.

I first met Ann years ago when she sent a paper she had written on the meaning of bia and harpazo used in Matt. 11:12 and translated as violence and violent

“12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matt 11:12 (KJV) or “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and men of violence take it by force. (ASV))."

Now hear what Ann says with her notes.

“12 From the time of John the Baptizer until now, Heaven’s Realm is being used or even robbed by people who have no legal right to it. (1) This stops those who do have a legal right to it from enjoying their own property.(2)”

1. Bia refers to illegal forcible acquisition. The term is a technical legal term referring to the act of hindering an owner or lawful possessor of his/her enjoyment of immovable property. This was technically known as bia in legal terminology. Bia was a term used in public, civil and criminal law, and its most prevalent usage was in criminal law. It was used for different wrongs that entail the use of force. It is important to note that the use of property without the lawful consent of the
owner was considered to be a bia, and the suit prosecuted against the bia did not have to depend on actual force used by the accused. The point was that it was contrary to the legal owner’s rights, and thus was considered to be a forcible act. See lengthy discussion in S.R. Llewelyn, “Forcible Acquisition and the Meaning of Matt. 11.12”, NDIEC 7, 1994, pp. 130-162.

2. harpazo, used of immovable property means to plunder. It was associated with bia as a legal technical term. O. Betz, “Jesu Heiliger Krieg”, NovT 2 (1958), pp. 125ff, idem, “The Eschatological Interpretation of the Sinai-Tradition in Qumran and in the New Testament”, RQ 6 (1967), pp. 99ff; Llewelyn, ibid., p. 154 states, “Sufficient evidence has already been cited above to show that both bi/a (bia) and a9rpa/zw (harpazo), together with their cognates were used in legal terminology with reference to forcible acquisition.” See P.Oxy. XLV 3240 (AD 88/9) for the use of a9rpa/zw, harpazo, for the illegal seizure of land.”

This gives you and idea of why I am so thrilled with my gift. While The Source is pure translation, the book on prayer gives examples from her life and is translation based teaching or commentary. I love it.

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5:14-15 (KJV)

Now Ann: 14-15 And this is the right of freedom of speech, able to say whatever we like, boldly and openly, that we have toward him - that if we request anything that is in his purpose, we know that he hears us. 15 And since we know that he hears us, we know we have the things asked for that we have asked of him – whatever we ask!

Her notes say “In verse 14, ‘the right of freedom of speech, able to say whatever we like, boldly and openly’ is the important Greek word parresia. It cannot be translated as confidence. Parresia was a right claimed by Athenian citizens as their privilege. It embodied the right to free speech, bold speech, free and bold speech in public, openness and frankness. It encompassed liberty of freedom and speech, with the speaker able to do as they liked.

Actually The Source has even more on parresia, but somehow the separating it out in a book on prayer has made it more meaningful for me. I need to break things down to small bites in order to really digest them. Thanks Lord, for my friend Ann. I pray many will meet her and Your work through her.

There’s more to tell about Ann and my relationship with her, but it’s getting later and the day is full so I’ll stop for now.


Ed G. said...

thank you for sharing your new insights!

Ed G. said...

Hi Pat -- I read this today and thought you might appreciate.

karen said...

Ann is a lovely and grace-filled lady.