A couple of days ago, while I was cycling to work, I found myself musing on the translation of the world ‘God’ (as you do). By the time I arrived at the office (I’m a slow cyclist) I had composed a brilliant blog post in my head that would explore this fascinating subject in great detail.
Later that afternoon, I wrote and published this post. It wasn’t the complex and detailed exploration of the issue that I had originally thought about; but I reckoned that it made one simple point and made it clearly. Then I got some feedback on Facebook:
- Wasn’t Theos first used in the Septuagint predating the New Testament writers or is it not used there?
- Yes and also the adoption of κύριος
To which I replied:
- Yes, theos does occur in the Septuagint, but the aim of the post was to illustrate a complex issue in a straightforward way. Adding all of the possible details would have detracted from the main point.
Which elicited this:
- But doesn’t your first commentor really have a point? The apostles found Theos already in their Greek Bible with its own Jewish connotations and when they began preaching to Gentiles they faced a people with the same word but different context which needed to be reinterpreted as Paul did in Acts 17. This happens with the word Allah in Indonesia in two ways. Christians often pronounce it differently – much less guttural – and also often define it immediately with words like “Allah the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.
The LXX usage is also interesting in that the translators knew that there were other foreign language words for YHWH Elohim that they were not allowed to use like Baal.
At which point someone else weighed in with:
- “Elohim” isn’t that the plural of ‘El. And wasn’t he Ba’al’s dad as well as being the generic name for any god? I Corinthians 8:5-6 clarifies a lot for me.
I have a clever bunch of friends on Facebook.
The problem is, that this whole thing has left me rather confused and a tad discouraged. I had originally envisaged a longer post that would have covered most of the issues that the commenters raised, but I settled for something simpler – and some people didn’t seem to appreciate that.
There are a couple of reasons why opted for the simpler post; firstly I just don’t have the time to write and research everything I would like to do. This blog is fun – a hobby – and though it relates to my work, I have to squeeze it into such spare time as I can find. Secondly, I believe that I do have a gift of communicating complex issues in a way that non-specialists can follow and as my blog is aimed (primarily) at non-specialists, I don’t concentrate on crossing every i and dotting every t.
So dear reader, I find myself asking for a bit of advice. Would you prefer me to write more complete posts; thought through, cross-referenced and spelled correctly even if this meant I only blogged infrequently? Or are you happy with my current approach, with it’s foibles, inconsistencies and posts which raise questions without exploring every possible avenue they could lead to?
Please don’t suggest I keep two blogs!