Hungry with Questions

Mosaic in the Church of the Multiplication of ...
Yesterday I preached from Matthew 15:29-39 about the feeding of the 4,000 (men, less women and children and not to be confused with the feeding of the 5,000 men plus women and children [Matthew 14:13-21]):

29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan. (NIV)

These are a few of the questions and thoughts I had in my study (and some made it to the message):
* Why did Jesus wait “three days” before the miracle? Or why only wait “three days”? (v.32)
* Folks would be coming and going over the course of the “three days” and it struck me that Jesus chose to act at that point in time with the folks who were gathered at that moment.
* How many of those gathered might be thought to be so hungry and weak that they might “collapse on the way” to get food elsewhere? (v.32) Most, I would imagine would be perfectly fine, but apparently the compassion of Jesus was sufficiently strong toward those who were too weak to go longer that he chose to feed everyone in order to care specifically for the immediate needs of the few.
* Jesus had already fed crowds, now he does it again. Was he really teaching his disciples about the nature of the “God of Israel” who healed the mute, crippled, lame, and blind, and then would feed the masses? (vv.30-31, 36)
* How many of the folks who ate this time had been present for the earlier feeding of the 5,000?
*Whose lunch was taken that day to make lunch for everyone? And why did Jesus only ask about bread, yet his disciples offer bread and fish? (v.34)
* How long would it have taken the disciples to serve all those thousands? How long would it have taken to disperse with the “seven basketfuls of broken pieces left over” to still others who were not present for the initial feeding (since they couldn’t eat all that before it would go bad)? (v.37)
* If the food could be multiplied sufficiently to feed 4,000 men plus women and children, then what was the intention of seven (large) basketfuls of leftovers?
Yep. I tend to have a LOT of random questions and thoughts as I read Scripture. And it just makes me hungry for more. So what questions do you have about this passage? Do you take the time to ask questions of the text and allow a “sanctified imagination” to work through such texts? Do you find certain questions more helpful than others?

The Life of a Flower

Yesterday, my eight year old daughter (Cambria) was commenting on the amazing bouquet of flowers beautifully displayed on our table. She got after one of the other kids for knocking some of the babies breath off telling them, “Don’t kill it!” I felt bad breaking the news to her that “The flowers and greenery are already dead.” This brought tears to her eyes as she said, “Can’t we water them?” And I replied, “It won’t make a difference at this point. It will just be slowing the inevitable. They are all dead because they don’t have roots any longer.” Tearfully she continued, “Can’t we get them their roots back?” Again, I sadly replied, “No, sweetheart, once they have been cut from their roots and removed they cannot be returned because their roots are long gone.”
This struck home for me the issue of remaining in Jesus (John 15:1-10). We may look amazing on the outside (even looking like we are alive), but death already has its grip when we no longer remain in Jesus. And, yet, if we remain in him and he in us we are already alive and will not know death (because the sting of death has been taken by the Lord of Life) and everlasting life is ours as we are his.
So I found this amazing video showing the “life of flowers” in sped up time. We watched it several times knowing that life is good and life is what we were made for (John 10:10, 28; 11:25-26).

Jesus Led Israel Out of Egypt?

Manuscript of JudeIn a phone conversation with a friend today, we were discussing grammatical-historical methods of interpretation and how the NT writers simply did not appear to observe this modern system for interpretation (which claims, in my opinion, an overly “scientific” approach to Scripture that fails to grapple with the full complexities of language, inspiration, and later interpretations, but all that aside [if you want a glimpse at my own brief forays in my quest for better methods read HERE, HERE, and HERE]).
He mentioned Jude 5 which reads:

“Now I desire to remind you (even though you have been fully informed of these facts once for all) that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, later destroyed those who did not believe.” (NET -bolding added)

Talk about a strange reading of the Exodus account! (Origen would be proud 😉 ). So I went to look it up in my NA27 and discovered an overwhelming manuscript support for the reading “Jesus” (A B 33. 81. 322. 323. 424c. 665. 1241. 1739. 1881. 2298. 2344. Vulgate, Coptic (Bohairic, Sahidic), Ethiopic. Origen, Cyril, Jerome, Bede; “the Jesus” 88. 915) over “[the] Lord” (K Maj.).* Not only is the textual support overwhelmingly in support of such a reading, but the probability is overwhelmingly in favor of an original “Jesus” being changed to “Lord” (rather than vice versa). Who would think of changing “Lord” to “Jesus”?  It would seem to make things more defensible (for reading the OT as it was intended by its original human author) with reading  “Lord” in light of the OT, but “Jesus” offers a sharply Christological reading of the Hebrew scriptures (which fits Jude’s overall agenda). Even Bruce Metzger’s A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (ABS, 1994, p.657) has an extended bracketed discussion of this issue suggesting that the reading “Lord” really does not appear original in any sense. And yet, the UBS4 and NA27 texts maintained κύριος (“Lord”) in the main text. I don’t have access to NA28, but I would be curious to know if they’ve continued this strange tradition.
Incidentally, some English translations actually have “Jesus” (ESV, NET, NLT; and the Latin Vulgate)** in their primary text despite the preference for “Lord” in these two critical Greek texts (which are knowingly nearly identical) which typically form the basis for English translations (not that there aren’t plenty of times where the translators chose a different variant, but this one is rather fascinating).***
To me, the most significant (and fascinating) thing I was reminded of in my searching through the evidence and the translations, was that it appears issues of congruity for English readers often drives translations against where the textual evidence may actually point (one of the reasons I quite like the NET for boldly trying to follow the original text closely…at least at times).
So what are your thoughts on a variant like this and the need to translate what is considered the “best” (or most appropriate?) text?
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* To be fair there are a number of other lesser attested readings which are not supported well by either internal or external criteria.
** The ESV footnotes “some manuscripts” having “Lord”; the NLT says: “As in the best manuscripts; various other manuscripts read the Lord, or God, or Christ; one reads God Christ.” The NET reads:

“tc ‡ The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Iesous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses (e.g., A B 33 81 1241 1739 1881 2344 pc vg co Or1739mg), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (theos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though Ì72 has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [theos Cristos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). In addition to the evidence supplied in NA27 for this reading, note also {88 322 323 424c 665 915 2298 eth Cyr Hier Bede}. As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦς is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate.”

*** Those translations offering “Lord” are KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV(1984, 2010), NJB, NKJV, NRSV, TNIV. The NAB footnotes that “manuscripts vary”; the NASB only mentions “two early mss” mentioning “Jesus”; the NIV tradition has “some early manuscripts” reading “Jesus”; and the NRSV has “Other ancient authorities read though you were once for all fully informed, that Jesus (or Joshua) who saved.”