Note: as said before, some of this material diverges quite far from what is available in various tranlations, and so do some conclusions. Please note that I'm just starting to put this material in computer form, and that there is a *lot* more that I looked into to arrive at all this, so please bear with me at least trough all explanations, please check for yourselves that the words I looked up are not bent into my way of thinking, and allow for some time to make all this more complete.
Mathew 5(:21) "...whosoever shall say to his brother 'raca' shall be in danger of the Sanhedrin, but whosoever shall say 'Thou fool' will be lyable to the fire from hell".
Now this passage could be taken as a incentive not to call eachother names, not to use swearwords, or something like that. That would be somewhat unlogical, since Jesus himself raises his voice on various occasions, for instance when he talkes about the scribes and the pharisees he calls them 'the breed of vipers', so by this passage he would have to be put straight on that. Lets look at the meaning of the words 'Raca' and 'fool'.
Raca is in fact a hebrew word, and it means something like 'gentle' (this is probabably where the term 'gentiles' comes from), or weak, or sensitive, while the sanhedrin is the jewish court.
The greek word translated as fool is not realy that, it is the word 'moore' which means dull, slow, and the fire from the underworld is a term that is used more frequently in the bible, where it usually refers to misery in the relational area.
In the hebrew, it is common to juxtapose things, that is to but things side by side to enhance their meaning or to contrast meanings (proverbs is a full book length example of that), and Jesus (and Matthew) were both raised very much in hebrew tradition, remember that Jesus started his ministry (preaching) at about 30, and he was already in the temple learning about scripture when he was 12, so that gave him 18 years to study hebrew sources. He juxtaposes a greek word with a hebrew word, and he juxtaposes a jewish institution (sanhedrin) with 'the fire from the underworld'. That last term is something that could be associated with the non-hebrew world in the sense that a major reason for the jewish law was exactly to get away from that 'fire'. This will require some more explanation. It can be argued that this is exegese, not translation, and I would agree on that, but the reason for thinking about the subject, and it is quite crucial, definately starts with the correct translation, at least it did for me. Some translations even replace sanhedrin by the neutral term 'court', and translate both other words as something like 'fool', or 'emptyhead', which does not at all do justice to the ground text, and makes one wonder what the senseless repetition is for, since usually things are summed up in a very compacted form.
The whole issue at stake here (this is something for which I think there is little room for doubt) is the seperation of the jews and the gentiles which is corrected by Jesus, and is later elaborated on by Paul when he speaks about the 'breaking away of the middle wall of partition" between the two.
One could say they have come to represent two extremes, on the one hand the gentiles with quite an amount of problems in the relational and sexual area because they are open, sensitive for that, see Romans and Corintians, to which I'll come back later, and on the other hand the jews who had a law (though the word for that actually means something like pastures, grazing ground) which at least partially was to saveguard them from these problems, and to lead everything into the right tracks. Of course the law was in the first place to lead them to God, and to make them honour Him in the right way, but since the second commandment by Jesus himself is confirmed as being equal to the first, human inter-relations have a direct bearing on how God is honoured, both in the sense of committing adultary against the spirit of God (James), or of spreading a sweet smelling flavour as a reasonable sacrifice (I'll come back to this later). They had a different problem though, which is easily found by checking Jesus words, when he talks about the religeous leaders as making someone "twice the son of gehenna (the underworld) when they have taken someone in their system and are finished with him": instead of setting setting people free and offering solutions they bring about the missing of the point (the actual meaning of the greek word we know as 'to sin') and introduce all kinds of bondage in the relational sense, by pushing mariages and being after the dowries and family names, see for instance James for these problems, he is a jew writing for people from that background.
Again agreeing that this is exegese, I repeatedly used words after having translated them correctly, and I would not have seen these things, which are realy book-wide issues, in this quite straightforward and logical way if I wouldn't have looked into the right translation. That's the basis for it, from which the rest follows by a bit of fairly well known ontology from that time. Now lets see if it makes sense to translate things as it is written, and if there is anything superfluous or unclear about the result. Jesus rightly divides the problem at hand by addressing an major difference between the jews and the gentiles and by using the varying judgements at hand, the jewish court (Romans: the jews are judged by the law) and the judgement that accompanies all kinds of practices for the gentiles which leads them to experience the fire from the underworld in their lives (e.g. Rom 1 "who receive the rewards for that in their own bodies" and various others, "misery and destruction are on their ways, the way of truth they know not"). Not calling each other either slow and dull or gentle and weak refers to the major differences they had, and indicates that both have gone wrong and receive judgement from the appropriate side, and points to what happens later when the two will be made one, when the law is going to be interpreted correctly, and when being without law or having misconstrued the interpretation of law is both missing the point. That would more be in the direction of "unfeigned love out of a true hart", and staying away from the 'trading' that goes on in many areas, and to which the word that is in many translations rendered as 'fornication' and in others (more correctly) as 'prostitution' refers to: 'porne' is derived from 'pernemi' which means 'to sell'. That is mentioned a lot in NT and evidently relates to prostitution, but in al forms where the "image of an incorruptable God is replaced by the image of corruptable man" (Rom. 1), that is where love between people is made sour by adding an element of selling to it, either litterally by buying sex, or more obscure by assigning favours or by mixing love with (corrupted) power, or by taking an institution such as marriage more as a means to control people and to enrich oneselve than as an outward form of something internally felt and only for the good of the parties whom it directly concerns.
Quite a lot more is to be said about all these subjects, also by starting with simply translating terms correctly, and they will be dealt with further on, amoung other when discussing the epistle James.
Acts 6 The whole story around Stephan is a bit of strange story as it appears in the transations I knew. Why is it needed to find men 'filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding' to lead such a relatively simple activity as the feeding of the poor? What does serving the tables of widows mean? Incidently, what does it mean when paul speaks about true widows, can there also be untrue widows, doesn't widow just mean that a womens husband died? If we look at the old testament it becomes clear that the answer is definately: no, it couldn't.
In Samuel (I'look up my notes) it is stated clearly that David had a group of 10 women in a certain palace who were his concubines (adultery in the sense as we know it? more later.), and that he went to war, and then returned, and then it sais 'and he (david) stopped going into them, and they were widows from then on"?!? David didn't die, it sais he stopped going into them, which leaves little to the imagination to what is refered, and which appearently went on with all of them before, and then they are called widows. Now it would be logical if that meaning of the word widow is also there in NT if we translate correctly. Well, it is. The word translated as widow in greek is 'gere' which means: bereft ('without'). Makes a lot more sense now, greek and hebrew appearently talk about the same concepts, which is no more then logical considering all NT writers were raised in hebrew tradition and imagery. What is to serve? that is diakone, literally something like trough-give, with various uses. What does tables mean (not even talking about the relation with the hebrew word, more on that later), it is 'trapezoi' which is 4-legged tables. Why is what stephan does such an offense to the Jews that they eventually stone Stephan? And why does he exclaim when he dies "please let not these ones stand by themselves" (I qoute from memory what the tranlation in it most direct form says, I'll again look up my notes for a more accurate rendering, though the idea is there). Funny thing to say when you are merely feeding the poor, however necesary and good that is.
James 1:2,5-7 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally, and upbraided not, and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing from the Lord. A double minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Now James in general is one of my favorites. Or lets put it another way: there are various objective reasons to assign quite some value to this epistle, quite contrary to what I've seen some renowned theologists have the nerve to say about it, that it is just another one of the pastoral letters with not so very much line in it, and without a real conclusion. Those reason are that it is the very first letter written in NT (about 15 years after Jesus rose), it is written by Jesus' natural brother (son of Mary and Josef), and he was the head of the church as it at that time existed in the epicentrum of christianity: in jerusalem. All this his hardly disputed data.
Again I'd like to bring to mind to things: James and his audience were very much aware of hebrew tradition, everybody older then a reasonable age or who had grown up outside the church was probably brought up in it, I guess visiting the synagogue, becoming bar mitswah, and such (it was a time of roman oppression, ant the fact that the jewish religion was still very much alive an kicking is illustrated by the fact that both in about the same time as James wrote his letter (about a decade later) and again in about 136 AD (again I'll check) the jews felt strong enough about their religion and way of life that they caused an uprise against the powerfull roman oppressor (in the progress of it fulfilling Jesus own prophesy that the temple would be so completely destroyed that no stone would be left on the other, because it was done so rigorously that the remains of it still cannot be found). That took some nerve and determination, and was doubtlessly caused by the strong feelings about their religion and the promises of the God that started it. In other words, there is no doubt that when the head of the church writes a letter to people with such a background is bound to refer to that, and will definately use the same way of thinking that has been so successfull in maintaining their religion and caused them to persist in adhering to their way of life, and that contains all the roots of our sense of logic, of scientific and legal thinking, and expessing ideas logically. Read Proverbs, the law, or any other OT book and what I mean is soon clear.
After this hefty introduction, lets look at a few subjects refered to in James, and especially lets see if indeed there is no logical buildup in it. First, the very first sentence of New testament writing even made, after the greeting words of James: "count it for all joy when you fall into all kinds of tempation, knowing that the testing of your faith works endurence, and let ..."
"All kinds" is 'poikillo', which means work in various colours, embroidery, diversity, embellish
"fall into" is 'peripesete', composed of 'peri' and 'pipto': to fall around, to fall in with, sometimes including a sudden change (check the lexicons yourself).
"trial" is 'peirasmos', 'peira': to attempt, experience (enterprise)
"know" is 'gignoosko': come to know, perceive, form a judgement, determine, know carnally (same word as in mathew 1:25 where it describes that Joseph 'knew' Mary only after Jesus was born)
is 'dokimos': acceptable, trustworthy, of approved ability (of persons), of things: excellent, considerable, notable, acceptable.
"working" is 'katergazomai': effect by labour, achieve, earn, gain, by labour, be succesfull, finish, overpower, cultivate, prepare
practice "perfect" is 'olokleros': complete, entire, perfect, uncastrated
"lacking" is 'leipo(menoi)': leave, quit, to be wanting or missing, to be left (behind, without (sounds familiar))
The structure in James in terms of rebukal is for an important part characterized by his writing about killing and adultery (just as Jesus talks about in Matthew 5, and see also my notes on 1 Cor 7). Basically is reasoning is as follows:
I've been making an interlinear translation of James 1:5-, which I'll make available when I traced back some internet greek facilities (like I did with the hebrew), I'll give a sort of a retranslation now:
"If any of you is left behind (fails of having) in skill (cleverness), let him/her ask (for one's own use, claim) around of the giving freely (grant, devote) of God all (the whole, every) singly (simply, plainly) and not reproach (make ashamed), and not reproach and give freely (hand over) of self. Ask (for one's own use, claim), but in trust (honesty, trustworthyness) not seperate from one another (decide, to be parted), like of wave of sea driven (as by wind) and tossed (trown). Certainly not suppose the person that (in the latter case) will take (receive) something/someone around (from the side of, ahead of) the Lord. Man double lifed (souled) unstable in all his ways.
1 Cor 7 I've no time to go into this all now, this very misread passage deserves proper attention, but lets write something already. I'm writing without having all materials handy at the place I work now, so you'll have to forgive an occasional error, and a lot of omissions (there's quite a lot more to say on this).
1 "Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote me: it is good for a man not touch a women"
The tense of the word 'to touch' indicates a continuous, ongoin touching of a (one) women. Also note Paul was addressing a need that they asked him about, he wasn't pushing it down their throaths.
2 "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every women have her own husband."
It talks about man and women, not husbands and wifes.
wife/women = 'gune': woman (NOT indicating mariage, i.e. a married woman is always a gune, but a gune need not at all be maried)
married = 'gamos': married
Fornication does not refer to some kind of sexual act, it is again 'porne', derived from 'pernemi', meaning: to sell, so prostitution is a good translation in the sense that every kind of selling instead of 'grace' is meant, and especially noting that greek prostitutes were usually bought slaves.
3-4 "Let the husband render the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife has not the power of her own body , but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath no power of his own body, but the wife."
Note that the man women relationship described here (remember, a relation that could but should preferably even not be marriage, see further on) is supposed to contain an element of 'due benevolence' (I'll look up my notes again), but it is clear considering verse one that all aspects of 'healty;' sexual activity could be included here. Remarkable is the total equality of man and women here, and the fact that they have 'exousia' over their mutual bodies, which is the word often translated as authority. Both ways.
5 "Defraud ye not the other, except with the concept for a time that ye may give yourself to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, not of commandment."
Again pretty clear that man and wife are to come together, and obviously not to discuss the weather, and it is even implicitly said that if they don't touch eachother, the Satan could have some advantage out of that.
6 "But I speak this by permission, not of commandment."
Clearly, Paul talks about these subjects in a generally practical manner, similar to the first meeting since the inclusion of the gentiles in the 'new' filling in of religion in Acts15:29, where they are only burdened with the abstaining from meat offered to idols, from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication, which is again 'porne', meaning to 'sell' (in terms of prostitution).
7-9 "For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn."
This piece used to tick me off. Paul had just been talking about the fact that he want every one to be in a relation, and that sex should be an essential part of it, says that in their case they should have their 'own' man and woman, and now he says that they should only marry if they burn with desire. That is cruel. That is giving contradictory commandments if you assume that relationships including sexuality are only possible in marriage (as I did, and many other too). Note that what Paul says here is that he want them to be as he is in NOT MARRYING, not in not having a relationship (more on this further on). The greek is pretty clear about 'umarried' (agamos), it is just that, and has nothing to do with not having a relationship. In fact, in the greek world, man married usually when they were about 30 (woman at 16, which is probably a bit later than in the hebrew tradition, too), and marriage had mostly to do with possessions and family names. It does not mean that they didn't have relationships that included having sex. In fact when it says that 'the greek seek wisdom' (same word 'sophia' as in James 1), the word primarily means 'skill'. The major problem with marriage was that it meant unfreedom after the way of the world (See also notes on James), and that it had often had not so much to do with the fact that two people loved or wanted to be together, which they could do anyway. Also, it 'burns' when all kinds of jealousy exist, and require people to have some kind of official status to own their property (buying?), instead of just sharing a mutual love. (James 3:14 "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.".)
10 "And to the married I command, not I but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from husband. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife."
Under Mosaic law, it was permitted for a man to send away his wife, writing her a letter of divorce (Jesus also refers to this), and here in New Testament it is again made very clear that the cruel rule that marriage can under no circumstance be split up (as for instance the Catholic system dictates) is not based on scripture. All that it says is that if a man and wife seperate, the wife should not remarry (and further on it is made clear that there are even special conditions for that, because Paul then clear distinguishes between the case of a believer separating an unbeliever, which he clearly make possible). And please remember that the greek term 'gamos' (marriage) is NOT equivalent to having a (sexual) relation. Just to introduce some other text, in OT David has children with married women, and is still called a man after Gods hart. Until he kills one man intentionally even though he already slept with his wife, and without chopping his head of, but simply by putting him in the front lines. David had many (sexual) relations, (Saul, according to Song of Salomon had thousands, and OT also said 'Which I (God) have given thee'), yet appearantly he did not break the commandments about adultary and killing (as we interpret them) until he produces destruction in his own direct life, and kills someone elses life instead of being merely another factor in it (remember that Salomon was the son of David and Batsheba, and that Uria was already married, yet she gets pregnant from David. Guess it was a new factor, too, after some missing of the point). On the other hand, the punishment when David starts to scheme instead of love, he takes the rat for it in a serious manner. He is getting severe punishment, and the story that Nathan the prophet tells him clearly pertains to the single instance of Uria and Batsheba, it is clearly not the latest sin that now makes all that he did too much, it is solemny about that case. Adultery against the spirit of God (e.g. James)? The real meaning of the hebrew adultary and murder (David had already killed thousands in war)?. Seems likely.
For the rest of this chapter I'll just go into some word meaning that make a lot clear. An important one is 'virgin' (in a dutch translation even translated as 'his virgin daughter', which led me to believe it talked about supporting arranged marriages), which is 'partenoon', which means stretchable and not someone who has had no sexual intercourse (yet) (there are greek examples considering partenoon with children and all kinds of relations). So when marriage for 'vigins' (partenos) is discussed, the topic is not wether they should have relations or not, it about wether they should marry or not. I should also make clear that mariage is clearly presented as also existing in an unperverted fashion, the greek reads further on something like 'if it fits your internal scheme, then marry, (if) it is not missing the point (in general)'. After all, NT clearly states that there is going to be a marriage of the Lamb, and at the same time Jesus says that in later times people shall not marry (same word 'gamos', not relation but marriage).
25 "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithfulI suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife."
Again, virgin means 'stretchable', and in the greek there are various examples of 'partenoon' having babys and relationships, so the conclusion seems to be that there can be a contrast between a long lasting relationship (when the stretchability passes with age ?), or a more temporal bond. Paul says that being like either is what he seems to be right, just as in the second verse, where he also points at the need to have relationships, and from the first verse we know that a relationship includes touching and due kindness, in other words sex. And he calls on them not to make to many problems by breaking up relations or bringing in more bonds than needed. The word wife is wrong, it should be 'woman' ('gune'), and anyway gune is just a general word for a female human being. Otherwise the text doesn't make sense where in the next verse he discusses the possibility of entering into a state of marriage in addition to an existing bond or for someone who is yet an unbound partenoon, and where he is again uttering his aversion against pushing people into marriage. The word for separate is 'lusin', let loose; which is another word than 'choristenai', to seperate, used in verse 11 where seperation out of marriage is discussed. In other words, Paul talks about freedom to be that which is fitting and make the situation such that doing what is fitting is best possible, and the least unfree. (Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom).
28 "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife."
'not she sinned' is 'ouch hemarte', which is not missing the point. The same though again as that it should fit the internal structure of a person to be married as in verse 35 (further on). The word for world is 'kosmos', the makeup or kosmetics of the earth, the world system, society. Notice that that makeup is suppoed to be fading away, and that it is the same terms that is directly refered to in James as adultery against the spirit of God (Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.), and that marriage is mentioned in one breath with it.
34 "There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well."
Again the point is made clear: not to put a snare (trap, the thing Nimrod does, Gen 10:9) before people, as the world does. Behaving uncomely towards his virgin means in its most literal translation 'feels it as not fitting his internal scheme to be stretchable', in other words someone who is created for marriage (again, Paul is speaking against marriages for the wrong reasons, which does not imply there couldn't be marriages for the right reasons). Pas the flower of her age is wrong, there is not talk of 'she', 'ean he uperakmos' is being beyond your prime. I still have to look up what the age for that in that time was, or that it simly means sexualy fullgrown, capable of intercourse, past some life-phase, or something like that, I guess it means some something like the first explanations (considering that marriages in Pauls hebrew tradition were often made at even earlier age than in greek tradition, something like at 14 at least). Again be well aware that there is good greek word for marriage ('gamos') and that it means indeed that: marriage, not having a relation, not having sex. I other words when you are married, you supposedly have both, but indicating either having a relationship or having sexual intercourse is not in any way linked with the term for marriage.
38 "So that he that giveth in marriage does well, but he that giveth not in marriage does better."
The word give is 'poiontes' which is making, creating, forming (e.g. of art), and it clearly summes up Pauls opinion about the authority over eachothers body to 'form' as goes on in intimate relationships, that it is good to do that from a state of marriage, and better to do it from an umarried state.
So What Paul has been doing here is in perfect hebrew tradition juxtapose all possible variations of relationships, and give his or Gods opinion about them. He talks about being stretchable or not, about being bound or unbound, being married or unmarried, being of sufficient age, about having a relationship from the past or not, about having a relationship between believers or with unbelievers, about slaves and free persons, about having sexual intercourse and under which circumstances. In general he is motivating towards freedom, not missing that which is essential, preventing the selling of what should be grace or free gift, and warning about the 'trap' of marriage as it is after the way of the world.
widow = 'gere': bereft, lacking, without
world = 'kosmos': 'kosmetics' on the earth, the word organiation, system (that was under Satans control whe Jesus was tempted the last time, and the structure that is supposed to be disappearing through the gospel).
Rom 15: ""
Phoebe is being recommended as having been a servant to others and also to Paul. The word for 'servant' means (in all possible greek meanings): leader of the troops in an army, leader of a democracy, and things like that, absolutely not 'servant'.
Hebrews 12 2
Peter 1:2 "Know than that just as there have been false prophets amoung you, there will be false teachers amoung you, who will secretly and by the side of others bring in doctrines of damnation, and many will follow their destructive ways."
From the alleged founder of the RC system, a touch of divine humor?