Jerusalem surrounded (Lk 21:20-21:20)

“When you see Jerusalem

Surrounded

By army camps,

Then know

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?

Jesus sat down (Lk 4:20-4:20)

“He rolled up

The scroll.

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.

The Bible Project itself

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 tools for my New Testament project

After spending a little over 4 years on the Old Testament, it will be fun to study the New Testament.  I learned a lot about the Hebrew Scriptures.  I am now able to better understand the Jewish background of Jesus.  All my life I have tried to understand the Christian message of Jesus.  As an emeritus professor of religious studies, I began my retirement Bible project at the age of 74 in 2013.  Now in 2018, at age 78, I going to dive into the Greek New Testament aided by reading the Bible in French, La Sainte Bible: traduite en francais sous la direction du L’Ecole Biblique de Jerusalem, the 1961 edition of the Jerusalem Bible that I first studied in 1962.  As a guide to help me with this translation, I will use the New Revised Standard Version of the New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha: An Ecumenical Study Bible Completely Revised and Enlarged, the 1994 edition.  I will also use Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine by Eberhard and Erwin Nestle and Kurt Aland, the 1960 edition, that I used over fifty years ago.  To be more precise, the 1904 Nestle Greek edition is now on line as found at Bible Hub.  To help understand the Greek New Testament text, I will use The Jewish Annotated New Testament of the New Revised Standard Version, edited by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler, 2011.  As a further aid, I will use the Bible Concordance, Synopsis Quattuor Evavgeliorum, Locis parallelis evangeliorum apocyrphorum et pratrum adhibitis edidit Kurt Aland, the 1964 edition.  Finally, I will use that invaluable online web site of the Bible Hub. http://biblehub.com/.

Limitations of the Bible

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 Good Book

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.

Moral sense of the Bible

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.