Friday, September 30, 2011

Jees, Jude and the Book of Tit

King James
The other day a friend drew me into a discussion on the King James Bible, which, in his view, was the only true Word of God. The discussion was rather short and I believe I may have used a word or two that don't occur in any version of the Scriptures, but until my friend met me, my friend truly believed that the Word of God had been warped and obscured untill truly enlightened folks began to speak English. I bet he believed that God gave Moses the Torah in English and left him the grim task of translating it back into Hebrew.

Take the name James itself, for instance. There is no name James in the Greek Bible. In the Greek texts of the New Testament, the name English speakers know as James is really Yakobos, the Greek version of the Hebrew name Jacob (or rather Yakob). When the Bible was translated into Latin, Yacobos became Iacobus, and a later development in Latin rendered it Iacomus,which isn't all that big a leap when we realize that the b and the m sound somewhat similar in nasal languages.

But Latin evolved into French and Iacomus became Gemmes, believe it or not. When the gospel reached the lands in which people spoke proto-English, the name Gemmes was transliterated into James, and that's where it came from. But if my friend wants to pursue a purified version of Scriptures, he should speak of the Book of Yacob, and not of the Book of James. I'm proud to report that for instance the Dutch speak faithfully of the Brief (=letter) van Jacobus.

And the name James isn't the only name that was warped to fit the reach of the English tongue. The name Paul, for instance, isn't Paul but Paulos (the Dutch say Paulus - go Dutchies!). As a matter of fact, a large majority of New Testament names were Anglicized by amputating the Greek extensions. Thus the Greek name Timotheos became truncated into the rather chipper sounding English name Timothy, Matteas became Matthew, Lukas became Luke, Markos became Mark, Johnanus became John, Stephanos became Steven, Petros became Peter, and so on.

But for some unknown reason, of a few names the Greek forms were left in tact. This is remarkably inconsistent and if my friend wants to pursue some kind of purity, he may start with consistency and truncate all New Testament Greek names.

Well, if he should insist, then I guess I could accommodate him to some extent. I mean, it's perfectly conceivable that demons will flee too when rebuked in the name of Jees. And Jude sounds just as mean as Judas. But I refuse to ever read from the Book of Tit!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For I will not leave you

"And behold, I am with you, and will keep you wherever you go,
and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you
until I have done what I have promised you."
- Genesis 28:15

Source of the photo:

Monday, September 26, 2011

And Abarim Publications begat Sitelinks

Sitelinks are links to other pages on a website that may appear under the search results of that site. These links are generated automatically, and not all sites have them. A site, you see, has to be groovy and important before Google automatically generates Sitelinks. Apparently, Abarim Publications is doing so well that Google recently generated Sitelinks for us. How groovy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Going home to a place you’ve never been before

Imagine a man. Let’s call him Bob. And Bob is on some curvy road, traversing a wilderness in a far away country, not exactly sure why he’s there or whether it was such a good idea to go there in the first place. He doesn’t recognize the terrain, or any of the trees, or the sounds that roll in from the valley, uttered by animals he’s never heard about, or the mountains that surround him, pointing at a sky that grows dark in the dusk and shows stars in constellations he has never before seen.

Then, on the road ahead, Bob sees the outline of… what? He halts and stares. Perhaps it’s a rock and he can just ignore it. But perhaps it’s an animal, and he’ll either has to run for his life or else try to catch it, kill it and eat it. He peers through the darkness, bracing for what will happen next. Then he realizes that the shape ahead is that of a human being. Bob feels relief. At least he can count on reason. It won’t take long to explain that he doesn’t speak the local language, and with some gesturing and good will he might be able to distract some information from this fellow traveler. Where to go next? Where there might be a place to sleep or eat.

    “Good evening!” Bob calls out. With a little luck the other guy knows a bit of English, and at least Bob will make known right off the bat that he’s a foreigner.
    “Why, good evening!” is the astonished reply.
The two men approach, shake hands, look at each other in waning unbelief.
    “Bob,” says Bob.
    “Bill,” says Bill.

Quickly it becomes evident that both men don’t really know what they’re doing in that far away country, and that they’re both from the same country, from the same State no less, even the same town! Within minutes, Bob and Bill are able to not only share their most urgent concerns but also their most distant memories. They  grew up on the same street, went to the same school, knew the same neighbors and the same teachers.

On that dark and curvy mountain path the conversation between these two strangers progresses and both men learn that each most intimate beliefs are shared by the other. Their hopes are the same, their dreams are the same,  their objectives are the same and, surely, their destinies are the same. They are kindred by heritage and nature, by convictions and resolutions.

There’s always something to share with anyone, but Bob and Bill quickly conclude that the other was never a stranger, and wonder how many more fellow travelers are out there who aren’t strangers at all.

True story? It sure is.

Last night I walked along the Boulevard of Aleksander the Great towards the inner city of Belgrade, Serbia, veered left towards the impressive temple of Saint Sava that looms like a bubble over the town, and followed the street behind it, found an apartment building and went in. Most folks in there I had never met, but as we began to speak about God and the Bible, we found ourselves surrounded by people we had known all our lives.

There’s always something to share with anyone, but how many strangers in this beautiful and bustling urban wilderness aren’t strangers at all? I look forward to meeting them all, but for now, all I can do is walk this curvy road.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gladness in my heart

"Thou hast put gladness in my heart" - Psalm 4:7
Picture swiped from

Monday, September 19, 2011

Aunt Bertha and the Second Coming

I’m reading a wonderful book (What Is God by Jacob Needleman) which I will review in due time. Pretty much in the beginning, the author tells of his aunt Bertha, who died when she was nineteen and he was four. He writes that he knew about plants dying and animals, but what did it mean when people died? Especially people we love?

He toddled over to his father, and asked him to his face: "Where is aunt Bertha?"
His father's face “became young” and replied: "She is with God."

I’m eager to find out what the author is going to do with that because I’m not getting it. God is everywhere, so it’s impossible to not be with Him. What does aunt Bertha’s death have to do with her being with God?

A similar conundrum meets me every time I think about what Christians usually refer to as the Second Coming. Most Christians must be vastly intelligent because after decades of intense Scripture study, I’m still not getting it.

According to the Bible, Jesus ascended into heaven; nobody’s disputing that. But when He ascended He said, “And lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

In other words, just like aunt Bertha’s death didn’t have anything to do with her being with God, so has Jesus’ ascension nothing to do with Him being somewhere from whence He will return at the event generally referred to as the Second Coming.

Please leave a comment if you have any insight into this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Genesis 24:2(a) – The Unnamed Servant

Last January, the blog called Pondering Scripture - an Uncommon Commentary, published an exiting survey on the similarities between the work of the Holy Spirit and Eliezer, the trusted friend of Abraham. This crisp and well-written article is well worth having a look at. Find it here:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beautiful woman dancing

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing" - Psalm 30:11
 (Picture swiped from Mother Blog)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cross On Me - a review

 A reader just left a glowing review of Abarim Publications's first published novel Cross On Me on Amazon:

Arie's "Cross on Me" is a sheer delight for the mind - as an author and person, Arie continues to shine! Cross on Me is a fantastic novel with time honored archetypal themes running deeply through the pages and scenes. Written with substantial texture, Arie manages to retain a delicate mixture of realism, character, and witty resignation combined with the ever present glimmer of hope. For the realist and the romantic; for the idealist and the nihilist, Arie extends the invitation to dive into loss and find oneself in the all.

Thanks Kevin Stevens!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Man Like God

After two decades of deep-core theology, I’m still surprisingly oblivious about God. But the stronger I feel I got Him pegged, the further from me He seems. And on those days that I’m baffled, mesmerized or on the verge of being convinced that I wasted two decades of my life on a pipe-dream, He shows up. Or someone just like Him.

Last night Abarim Publications hosted a dinner in honor of a man who made me think that if God was indeed one of us, he would be just like that man. I want to tell you about that man. Let’s call him Bob. Bob the Man.

Bob was once a straight forward man next-door. He had a wife, a house, a job and a lovely little baby daughter. Let’s call her Stella.

Holding Hands

Things went well for Bob. He was loved, and he loved. The sun shone in Bob’s life like his days on earth were one big summer. But Bob’s summer came to an end in a storm that rolled in unannounced and snatched Bob’s wife away from him. She died, just like that, and Bob was a widower with a little daughter and a house that reminded him of every wonderful moment he once had and never would again. Questions cried from the walls: had he loved his wife enough? Had he given her enough attention? What’s next, Bob?

Bob realized he couldn’t stay in that house and decided to move. He realized that he also couldn’t stay in that town, or even that country. Bob could not abide hearing the language in which once his wife spoke to him, and he moved far, far away, where another sun shone over another land. Only Stella was with him and they brought only the clothes they wore.

Bob rented an apartment in the center of his new city and knowing he would never be able to find a job in a country of which he didn’t spoke the language, he started a website. Much to anyone’s surprise, the website heated up nicely, attracted scores of visitors and began to bring in the money Bob needed to pay the bills and to feed his Stella.

Stella grew and Bob began to home-school her, teaching her about life and love and the wonders that exist around every street corner. Mathematics, topography and language courses he picked up from the Internet and were poured over after morning recess enjoyed in the park, where Stella played with other kids. Early mornings were spent scrounging the open market for inexpensive foods, and for human interaction and language practice. They made and ate lunch together. Then Stella did her homework and Bob wrote on his website. Later in the afternoon they would saunter over to a museum or a concert or a library. They were inseparable.

When Bob and Stella arrived last night, Stella appeared to be a kind, eight-year-old young-lady, fluent in three languages, pleasant and well behaved, inquisitive and utterly charming. Bob watched her make her way into a grown-up world and I watched Bob, who had invested his entire existence into the survival and cultivation of one other human being.

We don’t know much about God other than His engagement in human affairs. We don’t know if He has other projects going, or what He was up to before He created the universe. All we know is that He is bent to guide us towards maturity, and that He does everything in His unlimited power to achieve his objective. The omnipotence of God is often not very well understood and frequently misapplied. Entities that don’t respond to force can not be manipulated into compliance, just like Bob can not forge Stella into a autonomous human person. All either can do is love their offspring in ultimate surrender and fully devoted.

What makes a man a godly man? His convictions or creed? His theological knowledge or clerical esteem? Probably not. Jesus commands in John 15:12-13 to love one another as He loved, and explained that there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for another.

Last evening I prayed to God to make me more like Bob.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Nuns

This picture puts a smile on my face. And of course, I strive to be as happy as nature-loving as these nuns. Role models are scarce in this day and age, and I too would like to romp through the surf, singing Glory, glory, glory, I'm feeling honky-dory
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!"
Philippians 4:4
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