Sunday, April 16, 2006

Help for pastors this Easter Sunday -- if I'm not too late!

If you're preaching on the complex of events from the last Passover meal to the Resurrection, and you want to allude to Luke 22:44 ("And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground"), please note two things:
  1. Textually, the verse may or may not be original. (That is why versions often put it in brackers, or have marginal notes). If you accept it as genuine -- and I make no comment on that --
  2. Please, please, please do not do what so many do, and preach about the medical reasons for Christ sweating blood! Note what the text says: "like [Greek hosei] great drops of blood." Brother, if it is like something, then it isn't that thing! I am not like a man; I am a man. Christ is not like God Incarnate, He is God incarnate. And His sweat is not depicted here as being great drops of blood, but as being like great drops of blood.
Thank you, and Happy Resurrection Day!


ThirstyDavid said...

Thanks for pointing that out. I had never considered that little word "like" in there before.

It reminds me of Acts 2, where it says there was a sound as of a rushing mighty wind, and cloven tongues like as of fire. It doesn't say their was actual wind and fire, just the sound of wind and appearance of flames.

DJP said...

Exactly. I remember doing Ezekiel in a Hebrew class, and the prof remarking that it's almost as if the prophet stutters "k-k-k-k-k" (ke prefix in Hebrew means "like").

As a basically literal exegete, I find the "like, as, resembling, after the likeness of" notations very significant. This is the most often-ignored specific instance that I know of.

JMOH said...

Thinking about the term "like" brings up an interesting dilema...who was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego,when they were cast into the burning fiery furnace? As the "The Statler Brothers" sang...the form of the fourth man that I see is like the son of God.

DJP said...

Good point, JMOH. The intperpretation of passage (Daniel 3:25) is also complicated a bit by translation challenges. The Aramaic says that the fourth's appearance is lebar-'elahin. That could be "like a (or the) son of God," or "like a son of the gods." Two ancient Greek translations have, respectively, "the likeness of an angel of God," and "like a son of God."

Now, I might argue that that phrase is a bit different, in this way. He's looking at a distance, into fire and heat-waves and all. When he says "it looks like ____," that doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't ____, but that his vision or identification is uncertain. You know, if you're walking with a friend and see someone a ways off, and he says, "That looks like Bob" -- it may be Bob; it's just that he isn't sure.