Of the prophet
In the book.
Of one crying out
In the wilderness.
Prepare the way
Of the Lord!
Make his paths straight!’”
ὡς γέγραπται ἐν βίβλῳ λόγων Ἡσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ
Luke said that the words of the prophet Isaiah (λόγων Ἡσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου) are written in the book or the bible (ὡς γέγραπται ἐν βίβλῳ). He spoke about the voice of one crying out in the wilderness (Φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ). He was to prepare the way of the Lord (Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν Κυρίου). He would make the paths straight (εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ). Just as Matthew, chapter 3:3, followed Mark, chapter 1:2, in introducing John as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah, Luke did the same here, but in a more extended citation from that prophet. Mark began his account about John the Baptist by citing the prophet Isaiah by name, although he had verses from the prophet Malachi. The Gospel of John had John the Baptist say that he himself was the voice crying the wilderness. Matthew and Luke both used these phrases from the Greek Septuagint when citing them from Isaiah. Deutero-Isaiah originally talked about a voice in the wilderness leading to a new path out of the Exile, just as there had been a path out of the Exodus. In this wilderness or desert, they were to make a straight path, like a highway for God or the Holy Way. Matthew and Luke began with this modified quotation from Isaiah, chapter 40:3, while they both moved the Malachi and Exodus material to later in the text, where Jesus quoted them. However, they understood that Isaiah the prophet was talking about John the Baptist as one to come. John would be the messenger sent ahead. He was to be a voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord. He was going to make the paths straight. Clearly, there was a connection between John the Baptist, Isaiah the prophet, and Jesus.
Although the original Greek texts had no chapters or verses, I will use the common chapter and verse format found in the Jerusalem Bible, along with the various titles and subtitles of the chapters of this edition. By reading in a language that is not my mother tongue, I hope to gain a greater comprehension of the texts beyond the common understanding. I will then write a short summary and commentary about each verse, paragraph, or section that I am reading, using the Greek, the French, and the English versions, along with the various footnotes that these editions of the Bible have provided. I have subdivided these passages into smaller verses. For the New Testament, I will also insert the Greek text between the translation and the commentary. I am going to go through the New Testament Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph, verse by verse, paraphrasing and commenting on each book of the New Testament. This is not a task that will be accomplished in a year or two, or maybe ever at all. However, I set out on this adventure with a basic understanding of the New Testament, as an old man who has spent a lifetime reading and thinking about these writings. Now, I want to do it in a more comprehensive but sharing way. I will post 5 blogs a day that will include the translated verse or verses that I am commenting on. Let the adventure begin!
Until 1966, Catholics had been anti-modernism and had been skeptical of modern rationality. The Catholic Church had a rigorous clear-cut world view. With the changes of Vatican II (1962-1966) some feel that the Church has abandoned unchanging truths. There was a reaction to the English liturgy, the changes in the church, and the attacks on the absolute authority of the Pope. The sinfulness of man needed the episcopal authority to direct them. God is a God of judgment, not a God of mercy. Catholic fundamentalists are selective, with not much about the Trinity, but lots about the Latin Mass, female and married priests, and artificial birth control.
From 1930 to 1970, American Fundamentalists worked within their churches. President Nixon’s silent majority became the Moral Majority in 1979 and a more active political movement. The Christian Coalition with Pat Robertson (1930 -) and Ralph E. Reed (1961-) stressed family values. Although most Protestant Churches are declining about 1% a year, Fundamentalist Protestant Churches grow by 1% a year. Television has spanned a whole set of TV fundamental evangelists such as Jerry Falwell (1933-2007), Jimmy Swaggart (1935 -) among many others.
A particular form of American Evangelicalism developed in the 1920s to combat the secular culture after World War I, during the Roaring Twenties with its jazz age Gatsby morality. From 1890-1920 over 20,000,000 people, mostly Roman Catholic Europeans, immigrated into the major American cities. These new immigrants brought an end to the Victorian morals with their gambling and their bootlegging alcohol drinking during the Prohibition era. The League of Nations and the growth of international communism were other factors. Most fundamentalists were against the scriptural criticism of Protestant liberalism and the various other modernism trends. They feared losing their world, because others were aggressively posing a threat to their traditions. This was an apocalyptic view of history, where the past was great, the present cloudy and the future assured.
Evangelicals believe in the Bible as the reliable, authoritative and sufficient source of knowledge about God. You must have a personal experience of a conversion to Jesus Christ, be born again, and have a personal devotion to Bible reading, prayer, and evangelization. Evangelical was a term originally used to describe Catholics who were more biblical. Today Protestants with American roots in the 18th century have appropriated the term “Evangelical Christians.”
There have many revivals of Christianity. One of the latest 20th revivals was Pentecostalism that has a vitality in its worship. Pentecostal Churches have loud and lively music, hand clapping, testimonials, speaking in tongues, and prayers in the Spirit. There is an emphasis on the Holy Spirit that has often been forgotten in mainline churches. The fastest growing Churches are precisely these charismatic Pentecostal churches.
Over a thousand years later, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian religious monk and Roman Catholic priest at Wittenberg appeared. He was a bible scholar, so that biblical influences dominated him and his followers. The epistles of Paul showed that righteousness was a gift that was not earned. Faith alone, not works or even indulgences to be used in purgatory, was necessary for salvation. In 1517, he posted his printed objections, since half a century earlier the printing press had been invented. He translated and published the New Testament in German, so that people could read the Bible themselves. This led to the Protestant Reformation, which actually maintained many of the medieval Catholic practices. The Counter Reformation resulted in the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. Instead of just accepting being excommunicated, these protesters formed their own community in northern Germany and Scandinavia. Other groups also broke off from the Roman Catholic Church.