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Exegetically Speaking

Wheaton College

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“Exegetically Speaking” is a weekly podcast of the friends and faculty of Wheaton College, IL and The Lanier Theological Library. Hosted by Dr. David Capes, it features language experts who discuss the importance of learning the biblical languages—Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—and show how reading the Bible in the original languages “pays off.” Each podcast lasts between seven and eleven minutes and covers a different topic for those who want to read the Bible for all it is worth. Click on the ...
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Dr. Steven Jones is the co-author of Acquiring Medical Language(McGraw Hill), a widely used textbook in medical schools for instruction in medical terminology and rooted directly in his education in Classical Greek and Latin. He makes a case for translating this terminology so that patients can understand it, but also so that the human and ethical …
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In I John 2:5 the apostle writes, “Whoever keeps his word, truly in this one the love of God is completed.” The Greek phrase translated “the love of God” (ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ θεοῦ) could be understood as God’s love for us or our love for God. Dr. Elizabeth Mburu explains the grammar, the context, and the reasoning behind her conclusion. Dr. Mburu is A…
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In writing to the “rich in this present world,” Paul stirs together a related adjective (πλούσιος), noun (πλοῦτος), adverb (πλουσίως), and infinitive (πλουτεῖν), pastorally building up to his point: understanding the true source of wealth and how to use it richly. Dr. Phil Ryken, who has been a regular on our podcast, is the President of Wheato…
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James 5:11 refers to the “patience of Job” (KJV). If we take a detour through the book of Job and notice how the Greek vocabulary of perseverance (the KJV’s “patience”) is used in James’ letter, we gain insight into human suffering as something properly to lament. Dr. Grant Flynn is Visiting Assistant Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College. …
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The act of “calling out,” either to pagans or to the Lord, forms a thread through the story of Jonah, which was challenging to Jonah, and can remain challenging for modern readers. Dr. Andrew Abernethy is Professor of Old Testament and Director of the M.A. in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton Graduate School. He co-edited the newly published The Prophet…
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In the greeting of his letter to Philemon (v. 2), Paul calls Archippus a “fellow soldier.” Roman soldiers were often involved in the capturing and returning of runaway slaves, a function that may explain why Paul characterizes Archippus like so in this letter. Dr. Seth Ehorn is guest faculty at Wheaton College currently teaching Greek. His publicat…
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Peter, along with other NT writers, uses a term (ὑποτάσσω, hypotasso) which related to the idea of subordination, or being sub-ordered, whether in the society, household, church, or in cosmic terms. While Peter calls Christians to live out the faith under the hierarchies or “orders” of ancient Roman society, may the church be an agent in society wh…
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The very first words of the Hebrew Bible, usually translated as “In the beginning God created…” can also be translated, “In the beginning when God created . . . God said . . . .” What is the basis for this rendition? Dr. Emanuel Tov, the J. L. Magnes Professor of Bible Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, recounts his learning of the bibl…
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The Hebrew term yehudim in modern Hebrew can be straightforwardly translated as “Jews,” but when it occurs in the Hebrew Bible this is not the best translation. Remarkably, more than half the occurrences in the OT are in one book: Esther. The question can be extended into the NT as well. Rabbi Steven Bob, who has contributed several episodes to thi…
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In Acts 2:33 there is a completely new thing: Whereas in the OT and everywhere in Judaism it is God, Yahweh, who sends the Holy Spirit, in Acts 2 Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God, received the Spirit from his Father, and himself performs the act of pouring out the Spirit. This should provoke reflection on both Jesus and the Spirit. Dr. S…
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In his lecture to philosophers in Acts 17, Paul declares that God has so ordered human history that people “would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” (NIV). The verb translated “reach out for” (ψηλαφάω) can be illuminated by the blinded Cyclops in Homer’s Odyssey or by the biblical Isaac tr…
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The spiritual gift of “tongues” in 1 Cor. 12-14 was evidently by itself unintelligible, requiring that someone render what was being said in plain Greek if the Corinthian church was to benefit from it. When discussing the negative effect the utterance would have if left unintelligible, Paul calls a part of the audience the ἰδιῶται (idiotai). Are th…
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The Greek of the New Testament writers is known as Koiné Greek. What did it sound like? Some recent research has aided our hearing. Dr. Alexander Loney is Associate Professor of Classical Languages and the Coordinator of the Classical Languages program at Wheaton College. His publications include The Ethics of Revenge and the Meanings of the Odysse…
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We’ve heard of biblical literacy, but if we don’t know what to do with the Bible once we’ve read it, we might be suffering from hermeneutical illiteracy. The lack can be especially apparent in approaches to the Old Testament. Dr. John Walton, Old Testament Professor Emeritus at Wheaton Graduate School, is a frequent contributor to this podcast. One…
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It has been the contention of Dr. John Walton that the authority of Scripture is located in the intention of the human authors as represented in what they wrote. In this conversation he explains what he means, in part by contrasting it with some other possible models. John Walton, Old Testament Professor Emeritus at Wheaton Graduate School, is a fr…
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Colossians 1:15-20, which many think was an early Christian hymn, is one of the uniquely rich and intense expressions of the identity and work of Christ. Daniel J. Treier models a wise union of exegetical care and theological sophistication while reading this passage. Prof. Treier is the Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Theology and Director of the…
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In Gal. 1:16 Paul uses the arrestive phrasing that God had revealed his Son “in me.” Taken together with other expressions used by Paul in Galatians, it looks as if one of the ways Paul thought of the gospel was through a pregnancy/maternal metaphor. Amy Peeler is the Kenneth T. Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies Professor of New Testament at Wheato…
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Dr. Ben Witherington III argues passionately against burnishing the nativity stories of Luke and Matthew with unfounded speculation and mistranslations. He gives particular attention to the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:7. Prof. Witherington is the Jean R. Amos Professor of New Testament for Doctoral Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and is …
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Through a Hebrew word play, the writer of Ecclesiastes highlights the neck and neck race between those who accumulate wealth and those who take it from them. Dr. Phil Ryken, who has been a regular on our podcast, is the President of Wheaton College, 8th in the college’s history. Relevant to this conversation, he has published Why Everything Matters…
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In James 5:4, James writes according to the NIV, “The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” This language echoes Ps. 18:6 (LXX Ps. 17:7) and Isa. 5:9. One verb, borrowed from the Greek version of Ps. 18, is changed from a future to a perfect tense form. There are historic shifts behind that small change. Dr. Grant Fly…
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Our current context of active wars in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and on the African continent makes it fitting to reflect on the prophet Isaiah’s exhortation to live now like people who hope for God’s peace to fill the nations. Dr. Andrew Abernethy is Professor of Old Testament and Director of the M.A. in Biblical Exegesis at Wheaton Graduate…
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Luke 7 includes a story of a woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. Luke’s narration of this includes Jesus’ exchange with Simon the Pharisee about what she did, what Simon didn’t do, and what God did. How does knowledge of Greek illuminate this passage? Professor Muraoka, who formerly taught at the Universities of Manchester, Melbou…
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A listener to this podcast has asked whether “Adam” in Hosea 6:7 is a name of a place or an allusion to the man of Genesis 1-2. Translations and commentators differ. Dr. Danny Carroll Rodas helps us understand how each view is supported. Prof. Carroll is the Scripture Press Ministries Professor of Biblical Studies and Pedagogy at Wheaton College. A…
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In Luke 23:33, Luke writes that “they” crucified Jesus. Who are “they”? Tracking back through the Greek of Luke’s narrative leads us to the Jews, though plainly Jesus was crucified by the Romans on a Roman cross. In light of later church history, this merits reflection. Dr. J. Christopher Edwards is Professor of Religious Studies at St. Francis Col…
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In this episode, Professor Takamitsu Muraoka, who was born in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1938, narrates his life’s story with an eye on how the biblical languages came to be of such importance to him. Following his conversion and years of academic preparation, he taught at Manchester University and Melbourne University, before becoming Professor of Hebre…
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For Prof. Vincent Bacote, his vocation as a professional theologian led him to value the biblical languages, study them, and make use of that training in his ongoing work with the Scriptures. He recommends the same for younger people entering on the same path. Dr. Vince Bacote is Professor of Theology and Director of Center for Applied Christian Et…
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While the Gospel of John tells us, the readers, straight up what we’re meant to believe about Jesus, the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) tend to communicate these things indirectly. Dr. Darrell Bock isolates a few good illustrations of this method. Prof. Bock is Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New T…
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Amos is a message to the faithful in Israel that there is hope for life within God’s creation beyond the coming war. Her children will not be doomed to misfortune. This is a real hope for real people. Dr. Danny Carroll Rodas is the Scripture Press Ministries Professor of Biblical Studies and Pedagogy at Wheaton College. He has written extensively o…
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In Paul’s letter known to us as “Ephesians,” Paul indicates an historical sequence by which his readers came to be included in the foreordained purposes of God. This and other insights arise as Matthew Bates, making a second appearance in our podcast series, takes us through a reading of the Greek text of Ephesians 1. Dr. Bates is Professor of Theo…
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Is Ephesians 4:12 about leaders doing the work of ministry or training the “laity” to do the work? Answering that question requires a close look at the Greek wording and even decisions about placement of commas by editors. Dr. Michael Bird is Deputy Principal at Ridley College (Melbourne, Australia). His many publications include (with N. T. Wright…
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In our last episode of Season Four (Season Five beginning soon), Prof. Gupta imagines Paul in prison reflecting on one last sermon that captures and expresses without restraint the wonder and truth of God’s grace as he has preached and known it. We begin with the great “But God” of Ephesians 2:4. Dr. Nijay Gupta, Professor of New Testament at North…
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An Exegetically Speaking listener submitted a question about the gender of a Greek relative pronoun in Matthew’s genealogy (Matt 1:1-16), which provides an opportunity to talk about the potentials (and challenges) of this aspect of grammar for translation. The questioner, Russell, listens to this podcast from his home in New Zeeland, where he is an…
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In his teaching about family relations (e.g. Eph. 5:21–6:9), Paul is echoing descriptions of a household that had been formalized by Aristotle, but in so doing Paul turns Aristotle’s teaching on its head. Dr. Lynn Cohick is Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Director of Houston Theological Seminary at Houston Christian University. Among h…
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As Mark Lanier explains in this episode, the opening words of the Epistle of James, which are rooted in the OT idea of the “servant of YHWH,” give us a window onto how the resurrection of Jesus transformed James’ relationship with and understanding of his brother, Jesus. Lanier is a practicing attorney, a teacher in his local church in Houston, Tex…
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The grammar, metaphors, background, and possible referents of the Greek wording of Colossians 2:15 make for rich challenges and possibilities for interpretation, translation, and application. As Dr. Joseph Dodson explains in this episode, choosing between options may not always be correct. Dodson is the Dr. Craig L. Blomberg Chair of New Testament …
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The narrator of the book of Ruth preserves small but telling mistakes in the Hebrew uttered by the character Ruth, who was a Moabite immigrant to Israel. How are these clues to the narrator’s intentions? Dr. Timothy Lim is Professor of Hebrew Bible & Second Temple Judaism at The University of Edinburgh. He works broadly in the Hebrew Bible, ancient…
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At a crossroads in the nascent Christian mission the “apostles and elders” conferred to discern where the Spirit of God and the Scriptures were leading them. The question: What is required of the Gentiles for salvation? James cited Amos 9 which foretold the restoration of David’s “fallen tent” so that the “remnant” of humankind would seek the Lord.…
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The Greek sentence that opens Paul’s letter to the Romans includes carefully worded claims about Paul’s gospel. Crucially, Paul identifies some of what he means when he refers to Jesus as Christ/Messiah: He is a descendent of David and the Son of God. He is the latter not only as a result of the resurrection but in a special way through that event.…
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In this episode, Ben Marx shares how close attention to the phrase “signs and wonders” brings into focus how Luke narrates God’s work of salvation in Jesus, to which the apostles and others bear witness. This plays out against the backdrop of Moses’ miracles and plots the growing reach of the good news from Israel to the nations. Ben Marx is Profes…
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Biblingo comprises a suite of online resources for learning the biblical languages, including a variety of digital aids and the option of live cohort training. The unifying mission of Biblingo is to advance God’s Word in the world by making the biblical languages more accessible and easier to learn through technology. Here to talk about this is Nic…
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The Hebrew phrasing of Hosea 1:9 recalls the covenantal name of God in Exod. 3:14. However, as Dr. Andrew M. King explains, because of their sin, God’s covenant disposition is reversed towards Israel. Dr. Andrew M. King is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College, and co-director of Eve…
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There are Hebrew word plays in 2 Kings 1 that are not apparent in English translations but are part of the original narrator’s intention, not without a touch of humor, to show that the Israelite prophet Elijah out-Baals Baal. Dr. Andrew Burlingame is a Wheaton College Classical Languages program alumnus and is now Assistant Professor of Hebrew at t…
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Romans 3:21-26 is a critical biblical passage, and it has naturally been read in conflicting ways. Can insights of modern linguistics wed with conventional exegesis to clarify the choices to be made in interpreting a key Greek word in v. 24? Dr. Kevin Grasso (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) is co-founder and CEO of Biblingo, which exists “to advanc…
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Dr. Samuel Pagán has spent years working in biblical scholarship and translation. He discusses the expertise that is required for good translation work, the joy of that work, and the unending need of fresh or refreshed translations. Dr. Pagán is the Dean of Hispanic Programs at The Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies (Jerusalem and Lakeland, FL).…
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A translator of the Bible into English must possess a sensitivity to the possible meanings of Greek words and grammar used by (or possibly not used by) the original author, and an equally sensitive awareness of how the English word choices of other translators have aided or hindered understanding. Prof. McKnight puts forward fruitfully provocative …
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In the NIV of Hosea 1:2, the prophet is told to “marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her.” The Hebrew wording arguably intends the idea, “and adopt her [already born] children.” The larger concern is less with marriage than with household. Dr. Andrew M. King is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Midwestern Baptist Theological S…
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How does Gen. 22:12 in its context of God’s promises to Abraham answer the question of why God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? Hint: There are parallels with Job. Dr. John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton Graduate School, is a frequent contributor to this podcast. His many publications concentrate especially in the backgrounds, langu…
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It is possible for a small Greek word to lift a great weight of misunderstanding from one’s heart. In 1 Cor. 12:30 Paul’s question about the gift of tongues is marked as rhetorical, expecting a negative answer, by just such a word. Christopher M. Hays is the president of Scholar Leaders. Among his publications are When the Son of Man Didn't Come: A…
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Jon Laansma is Gerald F. Hawthorne Professor of New Testament Greek and Exegesis in the Classical Languages program at Wheaton College. He regularly teaches Greek 101-102 along with upper-division Greek rapid reading courses that translate whole books of the NT and Church Fathers. One such class reads through all of Luke-Acts. Another pairs several…
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Did the OT Israelites have a hope of eternal life in heaven? Ps. 49:15 is often understood to say that God will “take” the psalmist “to himself.” But the phrase “to himself” is not in the Hebrew. It is by noticing such things in that and similar passages that we are better equipped to answer the larger question as far as the original author is conc…
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