Let's start with some real shock and awe from Brian Zahnd:
Nearly 250 times the Old Testament describes the God of Israel as the LORD of Hosts, Yahweh Sabbaoth, the Lord of Armies. Now at the birth of God’s chosen king the armies of heaven invade earth with shock and awe. This is why the shepherds were “sore afraid.” But they need not have been. This is not a killing army, but a singing army. This army comes, not to kill, but to carol.I like that. An attack via song...do read the rest of the post; there are some other good thoughts in it as well.
The text in Luke says the angels were saying, but Christian imagination has interpreted their saying as singing. I like that. The army of heaven is a choir — combat by chorus. The army of heaven doesn’t launch missiles, it launches into song. The heavenly army sings of the glory of God and of peace on earth.
Next up is an excerpt from the NIV talk that Doug Moo gave at ETS.
To claim that a word in the biblical languages has a “literal” meaning, capable of being summarized in a single English equivalent, is simply not true. Words occupy a spectrum of meaning, and the range of meaning of particular Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words is never quite the same as the range of meaning of any particular English word. And so, for example, we sometimes translate peirazô “test” and at other times “tempt.” Neither of these English words has a range of meaning that corresponds with the Greek word; and it is manifestly foolish to claim that either English word captures the “literal” sense of the Greek word. We understand why the NIV uses eight different English expressions to translate a single Greek word, sarx, in a single NT book, Colossians (note, by the way, that the ESV is not far behind with five different expressions). To criticize these translation decisions as being “not literal” is linguistically nonsensical.Good stuff there. If you follow the link (and you should!), there is a link there to download the whole presentation.
When I used to teach languages, I would always tell my students that there is a "cloud of meaning" for a word. The problem for translation and language learning is that different languages have different clouds of meaning and the overlap isn't ever one-for-one. A single Greek/Hebrew/Latin word might have shades of meaning that would require those 5–8 (or more) different English words, all depending on context. That's where reading widely and voluminously in a language is very helpful; you get a feel for that "cloud of meaning" in the language.
Getting two cats to do the same thing, like sit on the owner’s lap and act as if they are grateful, is difficult. Getting a thousand to stand up on their back paws and meow is, as Gaiman observes, a challenge for the Almighty.Do read the rest. I think you will find it interesting.
The depressing part about Gaiman’s observation is that getting two humans, ten, a thousand, or considerably more, to do the same thing at the same time is remarkably easy, and it’s successfully accomplished on a daily basis:
Just put a TV in every home. Or set up a religious meeting in a football stadium. Or announce that some electronic device is on “sale” during a limited time period — say, between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving — and get out of the way when the doors open.
And one final link. Here's how we will be spending our Christmas tomorrow.
No, we won't be riding—we'll be helping : )
Merry Christmas to all of you!