Lesson 9

Plan Your Study

1 Who wrote the verses? When and where did he live?
2 What was the author's culture?
3 In what language was it written?
4 What is the immediate context?
5 Does this contain a quote from someone else?
6 When and where did the person quoted live? 
7 What was that person's culture?
8 Who made your translation?
9 Identify idioms, euphemisms, transliterations and technical terms?
10 Who was the Receptor (intended audience)?
11 What is the core message of the context?
12 Which ancient manuscripts did the translators use?

The above questions are designed to help you plan you Bible studies.  I am sure that you will others to the list as you incorporate the BHC linguistic approach to your studies.  Below is a short study of Matthew 5:1-3, which will help you understand the way your new skills may be applied. 

Identify the Sources (authors).

1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, 3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:1-3)

Who said "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?"  The usual response is "Jesus."  But, if we think about the words we are reading another answer pops us, Matthew."  So, technically speaking, Matthew's message tells us what Jesus said.

Of course, with a little more thought, we realize that we didn't receive a letter directly from Matthew the author.  The words above came from a King James Version.  Our initial thought is probably that the King James translators are telling us what Matthew said that Jesus said.  But, Matthew didn't send a letter directly to the King James translators either.

The bottom line is that either Matthew heard Jesus speak the above words personally or someone told him what Jesus said.  Matthew wrote his original words in the second half of the first century CE, but we do not have that document.  Many copies of Matthew's text were made over the centuries and they are not identical.  Between Matthew and the King James translators are layers of scribes who were also involved in the process that led to the words above.  

Sources Time Period Location Culture(s) Language(s)
Jesus 4 BCE - 30 CE Galilee & Judea Late Second Temple Period Jewish Hebrew & Aramaic
Matthew Abt. 100 CE ? ? Greek
Greek Scribes 100 - 1500 CE Multiple Greek, Roman, Egyptian, African, etc. Greek
King James Translators 1600 CE England British English

Determine the Immediate Context

The immediate context of this text (for the purpose of this study) is Matthew 5:1-3.  Jesus traveled to a mountain somewhere beyond the Jordan River.  He was speaking to his followers. The core message is to teach them about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Identify idioms, euphemisms, transliterations and technical terms.

Verse three contains three terms that need more research -- "blessed", "poor in spirit" and "kingdom of heaven."

Putting the Pieces Together

The purpose of this lesson was to give you a taste of what happens when you start putting all of the BHC Guidelines to work.  It is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.  Future studies will provide more information about the verses above, but now you understand what is truly involved in rediscovering the meanings of the ancient messages contained the books of our Bibles.  It is very much like working on an archaeological dig as you peel layer by layer back to discover what's there. Are you ready to view the words of your Bible "through their eyes?"  If you have made it to this point in this course -- your answer has to be "YES!"

Congratulations!

You have completed this course!  It is the first of a series of courses that will help you elevate the level of your Bible studies and teach you about your biblical heritages. Other courses will teach you about the canonization of the Bible (the selection of which books would be in it), ancient manuscripts (the process of copying and sharing them), sects (groups that claim their authority is based on the Bible) and the histories of Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity.

Our goal is to teach you how to use the tools and resources that are available today.  You do not have to commit years to formal study in a university in order to benefit from the work of scholars who have. You will learn how to use them to take control of your Belief System, analyze it, update it to remove erroneous information and add new facts.  Many have traveled this path before you and we have witnessed miraculous transformations in their lives, the way they related to others, and the growth of a healthy spirituality that enhanced the quality of their lives. 

It is a very empowering experience to take responsibility for your own spiritual destiny. No longer will you be susceptible to the attempts of certain people who rely on the use of fear and guilt to control and manipulate others.  Out of context scriptures and personal agendas hidden behind "the word of God" will set off alarms that will alert you to such attempts. Welcome to the world of the Informed Believer and the exciting journey ahead.

Continue to the Conclusion

 

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