Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hebrew Language and Studies

Dr. Couch, you seem to have a lot of books on the Hebrew language and Hebrew studies. I find few who can translate the language and who understand the grammar of this subject.

ANSWER: You are right. Almost none in my graduate classes continue studying Hebrew. I have some of the most important grammar books and commentaries on Hebrew. I translate several verses each week because I think both Hebrew and Greek is important if I am going to be an engineer of the Scriptures! The books I possess you can hardly find today. I am blessed with a great language library.

I spent three years studying graduate Hebrew with the outstanding scholar, Dr. Merrill F. Unger. What a blessed man! My class went through the book of Zechariah in Hebrew with him. I sat on the front row in order to get all I could from his mind and his heart. I never gave up on his instruction, as many of my classmates did.

Remember, the Hebrew of the OT and the Greek of the NT, is indeed the Word of God! It is a blessed privilege to study the Bible in the original languages! Why any student would throw away all the effort of such study, I cannot figure out. More and more, students are giving up on theology and the biblical languages. Such efforts are disappearing. More and more are throwing in the towels on wanting to know the Scriptures. This is a part of the sign of the approaching apostasy taking over our churches and our seminaries.

—Dr. Mal Couch (8/11)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hebrew Massoretic Text

Dr. Couch, is the Hebrew Massoretic text reliable?

ANSWER: Yes indeed, it certainly is. The ancient Rabbis were very careful to copy and transmit the Old Testament text with great accuracy. If they made copying mistakes they started all over again in order to make sure that no mistakes were allowed to sneak into the new copied work.

The Hebrew scribes of the earliest times take care to be accurate. The work was transferred over to the Talmudic Rabbis from 200-500 AD with continual guarantees that what they copied was not compromised. Jewish scholarship emigrated eastward to Babylon in the second century through the tenth century to make sure that scholarly traditions were maintained in keeping the Old Testament copies accurate. With certainty the Babylonian variants were listed in the R. Kittel edition known as the "Biblia Hebraica" (1929-1937).

In graduate school I cut my teeth on the Kittel edition. There has been almost no question on the Kittel version. Unger writes: "The Massoretes manifested the same spirit of deep loyalty and devotion to the Sacred Scriptures as the inspired and authoritative Word of God, which had been handed down to them, that had been characteristic throughout the centuries of the history of the nation chosen to be the recipients and the custodians of the Bible."

Thanks for asking.

—Dr. Mal Couch (8/11)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Was the Church Around Before Pentecost?

Dr. Couch, I have heard some say that by their careful exegesis the church started before Pentecost. What do you say?

ANSWER: I think they are a little looney! There is no evidence that the church began before Acts 2. More than likely these are amillennial folks who can't read very well. The first reference to the church as the beginning of a local body of church believers is found in Acts 5:11, which reads: "Great fear came upon the whole church ..."

Matthew 16:18 is a future tense in which Christ is predicting the establishment of the church. Unfortunately, Matthew 18:17 is a mistranslation. It reads in the English: "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; ..." The Greek word is ekklasia which is often translated "assembly," as referring to the Jewish synagogue.

Remember, we translate by CONTEXT not simply by the fact that we see a particular word. Context, context, context, is the key to good exegesis!

The Greek lexicon says that the word can be used thusly: "A gathering of citizens," "assembly of the people." From the LXX: "An assembly of the Israelites" in Judges 21:8. Also, "Any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance," and, "A religious meeting."

Only when there is a true assembly of believing Christians in reference to the New covenant do we translate the word as "church."

Thanks for asking. —Dr. Mal Couch (8/11)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jeremiah in the LXX

Dr. Couch, I have heard that the book of Jeremiah in the LXX is about 1/7 shorter than in our Bibles. Is this true? Where can I get a good source on the issue?

ANSWER: Dr. Charles Feinberg in his Jeremiah commentary has a good discussion on the subject. Check him out on pages 15-16. The liberals deny chapters 50-52 as having been written by Jeremiah. But Dr. Feinberg deals objectively with the problem. He was one of my professors in graduate school. He was one of the most outstanding Hebrew scholars of the last century. (I was blessed to sit under the giants such as Dr. Feinberg.) Today, students in seminaries do not get to study under such outstanding scholars. Only us "old guys" have had that privilege. This is why we are going into an apostasy. Younger guys are not getting the goodies that many of us did in days gone by!

Thanks for asking.

—Dr. Mal Couch (8/11)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Effect in 1 Corinthians 12:10

Dr. Couch, what does "effect" mean in 1 Corinthians 12:10?

ANSWER: It is the Greek word for "work," dunamis. It can be translated "to produce power or results." It reads in many versions: "to another the effecting ..." These are the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in this context. He is the one producing works coming through the believer.

Thanks for asking. —Dr. Mal Couch (8/11)