Conveying Hebrew concepts into Greek and translating can lose information
This week we are going to continue with the question about understanding the Book of Acts and other New Testament Scriptures and we are going to specifically deal with the writings of Paul, but these concepts can be used to understand all of Scripture as well.
When interpreting the writings of Paul you must keep in mind that he was a second Temple period Pharisee and an expert in the Torah.
He also draws from mystical Hebrew concepts about God. So, a student of the New Testament and especially Paul, must realize that he has a Pharasaical understanding of the Scriptures.
The student should also know the Hebrew methods of interpretation called "pardes" and the 7 Rules of Hillel.
These methods predated Paul and once you know what they are you can see how he utilized them when you study his writings.
You must also be familiar with the mystical aspects of his theology, and even though Paul didn’t write the Book of Revelation, that book is full of this mystical imagery.
Another thing to keep in mind is the concepts Paul tries to convey do not translate well into Greek.
For instance the concept of "ergo nomos" or "works of the law" is a term coined in the first century to carry over the idea that works of the law and keeping the commandments is no good without faith.
Another concept is "upo nomos" or "not under the law" and this is the system that contains the "ergo nomos" in working for salvation.
These terms did not exist in Greek and had to be translated over to carry the idea that one cannot earn salvation but that doesn’t mean one abandons the commandments.
So when you try to convey Hebrew concepts into Greek and then translate that from the Greek to English or whatever language, well, you can see that information can be lost or distorted.
Also, readers today start studying Paul from their own religious training often devoid of the Hebrew roots and from their own biases and that has resulted in some faulty theology.
They were were already taught that they were not "under the law" before they began to study Paul’s writings.
We saw last week Peter wrote Paul’s writings were hard to understand and that was before the problems we just discussed came into being so it is no small wonder why things are so out of context today.
Paul’s writings are twisted to mean something he never never intended and that is something to keep in mind today.
So, in conclusion we have seven basic guidelines to keep in mind when studying Paul or any of the Scriptures for that matter.
First, keep in mind the overall biblical context. Then, keep the historical context in mind also.
Third, remember Peter’s warning in 2 Pet 3.16.
Fourth,Yeshua had a warning in Mt 5. 17-19 stating that he did not come to do away with the Torah but to interpret it correctly.
Fifth, Paul had many positive statements about the Torah such as Rom 7.12-22,25; 1 Tim 1.8; Rom 3.31; 1 Cor 7.19; Acts 25.8; 28.17.
Sixth, Paul’s negative statements weren’t about Torah but man’s heart.
And lastly, Pauls example found in Acts 21.24.
Hopefully, these series of articles will help you in studying the New Testament and if you need to check these concepts out, the Internet is full of articles and documentation that will assist you.
When I first started 30 years ago this was not available and it was hard work chasing down the books and tapes needed to get a better understanding of all these things,
But now, if you have a computer and the Internet, they are right at your fingertips and a whole new world will open up for you if you truly want to understand the Word of God.