Saturday, March 26, 2016

Daniel Chapter 2: Discovering Emphasis through Literary Structure, Part I

After I finished the first full draft of Discovering Emphasis in the Bible: Hearing God's Voice through Literary Structure, I opened my Bible to see if there was more to be written. I was led to chapter 2 of Daniel, a book that I had not closely studied in the recent past. I was surprised to see so many of the Discovering Emphasis in the Bible techniques in that chapter. One of them is transposition.

The process I present is called RIDL:
Read the passage in context
Identify the theme of the structure
Discover the emphasis
Listen to the voice of God regarding this emphasis

Read the passage in context
If you would, please read Daniel 2:1-49. The subject of this lesson is hearing God's voice through transposition.

Identify the theme of the structure
Compare the dream in Daniel 2:35A with the interpretation in v45B:
35 Then
1   the iron,
2   the clay,
3   the bronze,
4   the silver,
5   and the gold,
all together were broken in pieces, (v35A)

45 And that it broke in pieces
1   the iron,
2   the bronze,
3   the clay,
4   the silver,
5   and the gold.
A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. (v45B)
The above structure is two different lists of the same thing. Lists are common in the Bible. Less common is the transposition of items in two subsequent lists.

Discover the emphasis
In a transposition, the presented order is somehow changed. One of the relocated items becomes the point of emphasis. In the second list, the bronze and clay have switched places. The third item, clay, is the emphatic one because it is now in the middle.

Based on your knowledge of clay and pottery, why would it be considered emphatic?

The image that Daniel saw, with Nebuchadnezzar as the head of gold, completely collapsed. It was rendered useless because the stone pushed the statue over. This emphasis draws our attention to the clay and why the stone was so successful: the weak clay was in the feet.

Listen to the voice of God regarding this emphasis

How does the Holy Spirit speak to you once you have understood this transposition?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Discovering Emphasis in the Bible is Ready for Review

For those that have spent any time with me, you know how much I enjoy reading the Bible, digging for ‘the gold’ so to speak. I've been studying a lesser known Biblical topic called literary structure for the last 15 years. Through that approach, I have learned to hear the voice of God as He speaks through the Bible.

This week I sent out for review a new book entitled Discovering Emphasis in the Bible: Hearing God's Voice Through Literary Structure. It is an 104-page book that I hope will be published this spring. The process I present is called RIDL:

Read the passage in context
Identify the theme of the structure
Discover the emphasis
Listen to the voice of God regarding this emphasis

The first two paragraphs of the Introduction read:
I want to hear God’s voice. Do you? When I read the Bible, I want to go beyond learning the stories and memorizing verses. I know there are many powerful lessons in the Holy Scriptures and I enjoy them all. I still want more.

God speaks through the Holy Spirit. Aside from the Bible, there are times when I hear that voice nudging me to do one thing or another. For some reason, I hear it most clearly when I’m lying in bed early in the morning. I sometimes hear it during the day as I go about my business. Then there are the days when I don’t hear it at all. Possibly you go through periods like that.

In addition to hearing that voice, I understand it while reading the Bible. I read the scriptures with passion, grasping that voice as He adamantly speaks through literary structure. I want to teach you these techniques.
Want to be notified when it is available? Contact

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Knotty NOT NOT Problem in Scriptures - Part III

The reason I am writing this series on NOT NOT is because Bible passages can get misinterpreted easily. At the heart of the issue is what linguists refer to as logic. By following certain logic principles when we read the Bible, we are more likely to come to a right understanding of a passage.

Consider this NOT NOT verse from Hebrews 4:15 (NASB),
15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

In the NASB's convention, the words we are, yet are placed in italics to indicate they are added for our understanding and are not in the original Greek text.

The High Priests
The statement ‘for we do not have a high priest’ would normally suggest we should look back to see what was previously stated about the topic. The problem is nothing is stated regarding the high priest before that verse. It is only when we reach the next chapter, Hebrews 5:1-3, where we read about the system of gifts and sacrifices for sins. In those three verses we see that these sacrifices are for both the sins of the people and his own sins.

5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;
2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;
3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.

Based on verse 5:3, an inferred statement seems to accompany v4:15.
  ‘we have an order of high priests that can sympathize with our weaknesses.’
The high priest was prone to sin; his sacrifice was first for his own sins and then for the people.

In linguistics, that inferred or missing statement is called an ellipse, omitted word or words that are understood by the reader. The Hebrew reader of this text would certainly have known that the selected high priest is not perfect and not one without sin. For the non-Hebrew reader, it was included in verses 5:1-3 as shown above. Therefore, this inferred statement was not necessary and was omitted.

Jesus the Great High Priest
So lets go back to our NOT NOT verse from Hebrews 4:15,
15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

In this verse, there is also the comparison between Jesus, the great high priest, and the order of Levitical high priests. The question is, is it logically correct to substitute the name Jesus into that phrase and then change both NOT NOT statements to a positive? If we did, we would have,
  ‘For we have Jesus who can sympathize with our weaknesses [i.e. our sins].’
I suggest that, just as the Part I and II lessons attempted to show when there are two or more nouns or verbs: two negatives do not necessarily make a positive. Therefore, that statement is an incorrect inference from verse 4:15.

I believe that Jesus did not sympathize with us because He was inclined to sin, but He loved us because we are inclined to sin. That would yield this statement:
  ‘For we have Jesus who loves us despite our weaknesses [i.e. our sins].’
To me, there is a huge difference between one who sympathizes and another who loves. Sympathy may motivate an action such as a once-a-year sacrifice; true love motivated His perfect sacrifice.

Our school training may have taught us that two NOT statements become a positive. That is true in only a limited sense. In a more complicated manuscript such as the Bible, it becomes important to look at the number of nouns and verbs that are involved in the NOT NOT. The NOT NOT rule only applies to those that have a simple sentence structure.

This is the last of the Knotty NOT NOT articles. In the next series, I will discuss my favorite topic, literary structure in the Bible. I am anticipating that my forthcoming book Discovering Emphasis in the Bible: Hearing the Voice of God Through Literary Structure will soon be available for preview purposes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Knotty NOT NOT Problem in Scriptures - Part II

In this blog posting, I continue teaching how the Bible treats double negatives. Last time we looked at John 14:24, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words.” I used that example to show how two negatives, ‘not love’ and ‘not keep’, does not always indicate the positive: “He who loves Me keep My words.”

Consider this verse from John 12:47,48 (NASB),
47If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”

This example also has two negatives, ‘not keep’ and ‘not judge’. Here again there are two objects, ‘them (referring to My sayings)’ and ‘him’. Therefore we can apply the same rule that two negatives do not necessarily make a positive. To put it another way, the corollary is not necessarily true: “If anyone hears My sayings and does them, I do judge him.”

These two verses are only about the decision to disobey His sayings. It does not address the obedient person, it addresses the disobedient.

Later in the book of John, that is in John 14:21 (NASB), we see a strong statement about obedience:
21He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

In this verse, the obedience is because of love. It is not obedience to some list of ‘do this’ or ‘do that’–it is the call to obey because our love for Christ.

Therefore, John 12:47,48 is a look at the Father's judgment, ‘Are the actions based on love?’ The double negative has more meaning than you might think.

In Part III of this series, we will look at another example of the Knotty NOT NOT problem.