Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
This post is in part a warning about a Book and in part giving insights into Jesus, and in part demonstrating the importance of accuracy in Bible translation, and lastly, the importance of the Bible student to dig beneath the English translation. The Article title is based on a book by James F. McGrath. He is the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University. His Ph.D. is from the University of Durham in England. His interests include not only early Christianity but also the Mandaeans, science fiction, and the intersection of religion and science. He blogs at Religion Prof on the Patheos website.
BOOK DESCRIPTION: Dehumanization has led to serious misinterpretation of the Gospels. On the one hand, Christians have often made Jesus so much more than human that it seemed inappropriate to ask about the influence other human beings had on him, male or female. On the other hand, women have been treated as less than fully human, their names omitted from stories and their voices and influence on Jesus neglected. When we ask the question this book does, what Jesus learned from women, puzzling questions that have frustrated readers of the Gospels throughout history suddenly find solutions. Weaving cutting edge biblical scholarship together with an element of historical fiction and a knack for writing for a general audience, James McGrath makes the stories of women in the New Testament come alive, and sheds fresh light on the figure of Jesus as well. This book is a must read for scholars, students, and anyone else interested in Jesus and/or in the role of ancient women in the context of their times.
A BRIEF SNIPPET OF A REVIEW ON McGrath’s BOOK: He (McGrath) writes, “The fact that a significant number of people feel discomfort with the idea of Jesus learning really ought to surprise and shock us” (1). He references Luke’s depiction that Jesus “grew in wisdom” (2:52) and points out that just prior to this, Luke writes that Jesus was in the temple with the teachers “listening to them and asking them questions” (2:46). About this, McGrath says, “Jesus is not depicted as something other than human, nor even as a supernaturally knowledgeable wonder child who has no need to learn.
RESPONSE: This shows why a person needs an accurate Bible translation and why Christians need to dig beneath the English into the Hebrew and the Greek. Look at the three translations below before I give you the accurate one. I will bolden the area of focus.
Luke 2:46 English Standard Version (ESV)
46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions (Gr. eperotao).
Luke 2:46 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
46 After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions (Gr. eperotao).
Luke 2:46 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions (Gr. eperotao).
ACCURACY IN TRANSLATION
Luke 2:46 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
46 Then, it occurred, after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them (Gr. eperotao).
EROTAO: to ask questions
EPEROTAO: to ask interrogative questions
This was no 12-year-old boy’s question of curiosity. The Greek word erotao is the Greek word for “ask,” “question,” and is a synonym of eperotao. The latter of the two was used by Luke and is much more demanding, as it means, “to ask a question, to question, interrogate someone, to questioning as used in judicial examination” and therefore could include counter questioning. Therefore, Jesus, at the age of twelve did not ask childlike questions, looking for answers, but was likely challenging the thinking of these Jewish religious leaders.
This incident is far more magnificent than one might first realize. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament helps the reader to appreciate that the Greek word eperotao (to ask, to question, to demand of), for “questioning” was far more than the Greek word erotao (to ask, to request, to entreat), for a boy’s inquisitiveness. Eperotao can refer to questioning, which one might hear in a judicial hearing, such as a scrutiny, inquiry, counter questioning, even the “probing and cunning questions of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” for instance those we find at Mark 10:2 and 12:18-23.
The same dictionary continues: “In [the] face of this usage it may be asked whether . . . [Luke] 2:46 denotes, not so much the questioning curiosity of the boy, but rather His successful disputing. [Verse] 47 would fit in well with the latter view.” Rotherham’s translation of verse 47 presents it as a dramatic confrontation: “Now all who heard him were beside themselves, because of his understanding and his answers.” Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament says that their constant amazement means, “they stood out of themselves as if their eyes were bulging out.”
INSIGHTS INTO JESUS
Jesus was born a divine person. However, Jesus was not born with all the knowledge of God. It isn’t like he was a baby one day old with all the knowledge of God in his head. But he was born divine and perfect. When he came to the realization of who he was/is and had the knowledge of his prehuman existence cannot be locked down for sure. I would argue at twelve, the evidence that it could have been at this time and this is why we get one glimpse into the missing years (baby to 30 years old), nothing but this one incident. And we find a twelve-year-old boy in the Temple in Jerusalem questioning the Jewish religious leaders. Think of a twelve-year-old child today, sitting there taking on 10-20 Ph.D. professors from leading universities in America and Europe to the point, that they are astounded, astonished, jaws hanging on the ground, and having the most difficult time defending themselves against this child’s questioning of them. That is what Jesus did.
Yes, Jesus would have been taught by his Father, Joseph until Joseph died, and then his mother. He would have also studied in the temple near Nazareth. But he very quickly would have been beyond his teachers, as was made clear from the above.
Now, jump ahead to his beginning his ministry when he was 30 at the wedding in Cana. (Lu 2:1-11) Jesus spoke to his mother in such a way that he made it clear she was no longer directing him. He said to Mary, “What have I to do with you, woman?”
Jesus was direct, purposeful in his statement to Mary that he was the Son of God; moreover, thirty years old at this point, no longer her little boy, and now Jesus was taking direction from his heavenly Father. Even though Jesus had just begun his 3.5-year ministry, he was well aware of the hour, i.e., the time, for him to carry out the will and purpose of the Father, which would have included his ransom sacrifice (Matt. 20:28) Not even his dear mother would be permitted to interfere with his doing the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23; John 4:34)
So, the only woman who had any means of teaching Jesus was his mother, and that ended early when his knowledge, wisdom, and insight outpaced hers. Likely, Jesus ran the father’s business when Joseph died and took charge of the family. He still respectfully deferred to his mother’s authority but was superior to her in every way. At Cana, he knew he was starting his ministry. Also, his growing in wisdom can also mean being taught by his real Father. So, none of his female disciples or and women he came across taught him anything, nor would there be anything he would need to be taught.
Mind you, Jesus was the Son of God, Divine, a perfect human, and at some point, he was aware of his prehuman existence and had the knowledge of his creative work and ALL that had gone on up unto that point. My goodness, he created woman out of Adam’s rib. He created Adam out of dust. He knew every woman that had existed prior to his human life and he would have had foreknowledge of every woman up unto this day. What on earth could any woman need to teach him? He taught them. He was the teacher, they were the disciples, which means learners. The Bible introduces us to many women whose lives can teach us valuable lessons but had nothing to teach Jesus.