“When you see Jerusalem
By army camps,
That its desolation
Has come near.”
Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων Ἱερουσαλήμ, τότε γνῶτε ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς.
Luke indicated that Jesus said that when they would see Jerusalem (Ἱερουσαλήμ) surrounded by military army camps (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε κυκλουμένην ὑπὸ στρατοπέδων), then they should know (τότε γνῶτε) that its desolation was near (ὅτι ἤγγικεν ἡ ἐρήμωσις αὐτῆς). Luke was the only Greek biblical writer that used the word στρατοπέδων that meant a military camp, an army, or an encamped army. Perhaps, this was a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. There was something similar in Matthew, chapter 24:15, and in Mark, chapter 13:14. Mark said that Jesus warned them that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν δὲ ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing or set up in the place where it should not be (ἑστηκότα ὅπου οὐ δεῖ), those reading this should understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening. Matthew indicated that Jesus warned that when they saw the desolating sacrilege or cursed devastation (Ὅταν οὖν ἴδητε τὸ βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως) standing in the holy place (ἑστὸς ἐν τόπῳ ἁγίῳ), they would understand (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) what was happening. Only Matthew explicitly and specifically mentioned the prophet Daniel (τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου), chapter 9:27 and chapter 11:31, talking about the desolating abomination in the Temple. In 175 BCE, the prince, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to destroy the high priest Onias III, and the city of Jerusalem with its sanctuary during the war against the Maccabees uprising. During that time, the sacrifices and offerings ceased in the Temple. Instead, they had these terrible abominations and desolations of the false idols. Thus, the reference to Daniel is both eschatological, about the end times, as well as a reference to the political religious revolt of the Maccabees nearly two centuries earlier. Have you ever seen a religious shrine or church destroyed?
“He rolled up
He gave it back
To the attendant.
He sat down.
The eyes of all
In the synagogue
Were fixed on him.”
καὶ πτύξας τὸ βιβλίον ἀποδοὺς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ ἐκάθισεν· καὶ πάντων οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ ἦσαν ἀτενίζοντες αὐτῷ.
This is unique to Luke, as he once again explained details about this Nazareth Sabbath synagogue service. After Jesus had finished reading the passage from Isaiah, he rolled up the scroll (καὶ πτύξας τὸ βιβλίον). Then he gave it back or delivered it to the attendant (ἀποδοὺς τῷ ὑπηρέτῃ). Finally, he sat down (ἐκάθισεν), which was the common practice of teachers. Meanwhile, the eyes of everyone (καὶ πάντων οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ) in the synagogue (ἐν τῇ συναγωγῇ) were fixed on him (ἦσαν ἀτενίζοντες αὐτῷ) to see what he was going to say.
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!
The difficulty with all these interpretations hangs on the question whether this is the word of God or man’s word? Every reading of the Bible is an interpretation. Who decided which books belong in the bible? This was not decided until over 300 hundred years after Christ. Many of the Christian churches have different books in the Old Testament. How can you have justification from the texts themselves? There have many weird interpretations of the Bible. The Bible has had a history under the influence of God’s Spirit. The Bible should not be watered down.
The Bible is a great book, the “Good Book.” Every time we go back to it, we find new meanings. There is always the sensus plenior, the fuller meaning. The bible texts have more than one meaning. Reading and rereading our favorite passages exposes us to even a greater understanding of life and the world around us. Some stories of the Bible are so interesting, we like to read them more than once.
Others read the biblical texts looking for a moral sense or meaning. What am I to do? What is God calling me to do? The answer can be found in reading the Bible. By reading the Bible, I may find out how I should act. The Bible is an aid in helping me to make decisions. The Bible is my guide book in life, as it tells me what to do in difficult situations. It has the moral standards by which I want to lead my life.