Proper tools, better translation

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I continue to see English speakers using Strong’s as an end-all tool for Biblical investigation. If you know me,  I’m constantly urging the inquisitive to go back to the original language in order to discern the full meaning.

Strong’s is not a word-for-word transliteration; but rather, a pronunciation key.  Below, Dr. Michael Heiser explains these issues in an article for WND.

Using Strong’s Concordance and its dictionary, familiar tools for many readers, the speaker asserts that Jesus would have uttered the words of Luke 10:18 “in Hebrew” and then goes on to focus on the words for “lightning” and “heights”/”heavens.” The word for “lightning” in Hebrew, we are told, is “barawk,” sounding suspiciously like the president’s name, Barack. Here’s where knowledge of the alphabet and what Strong’s English letter spelling is for would have kept the speaker from embarrassment. The English spelling of Barack Obama’s first name ends with “ck.” This is the way English letters account for the foreign Semitic letter “k” (kaph in Hebrew; kaf in Arabic). This means that the consonants in “Barack” are b-r-k. Unfortunately, the word for “lightning” in Hebrew isn’t spelled with the consonants b-r-k (Hebrew originally had no vowels, so it’s the consonants that matter here). Rather, it is spelled b-r-q. In Hebrew (and Arabic) “k” and “q” are two entirely different letters, thought they sort of sound the same, just as in English. The root consonants b-r-k mean “blessing” as a noun, “blessed” as an adjective, and “to bless” when a verb form is in view. “Barack” in Arabic (or Hebrew) means “blessing,” not “lightning.” This alone severs the connection the speaker in the video seeks to make.

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He continues:

I could list a number of other flaws in the argumentation, but the discussion would quickly morph into a conclave of language nerds. Consequently I’ll mention only that the speaker fundamentally misunderstands Luke 10:18.

Luke 10:18 actually points to an event in Jesus’ own lifetime, not an event in the distant future. When Jesus says that he saw Satan expelled from heaven like lightning, he is announcing that the kingdom of God has been inaugurated on Earth now that his own ministry has begun; he is announcing Satan’s defeat, not the coming of the antichrist. Parallel passages in the gospels show this is the case (John 12:31; 16:11). This telegraphs the speaker’s most obvious blunder. It is difficult to see the coherence of linking a passage where Satan is cast down to the rise of the antichrist. The Bible clearly has the antichrist and Satan as distinct personalities. Revelation 20:10 makes this explicitly clear: “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The beast, of course, is the antichrist in the Bible, the one whose number is 666 (cf. Rev. 13:18). In Rev. 10:10 Satan and the antichrist are separate figures thrown into the lake of fire (emphasis mine). This means that Luke 10:18 (and Isaiah 14 for that matter) have nothing to do with the antichrist. It is nonsense to have Jesus meaning something like “I saw the devil cast out like the antichrist (lightning/baraq)” in Luke 10:18. The result is simply incoherent.

Mike Heiser holds a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Semitic studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and works with a dozen ancient languages. He is well known to the online community through his popular supernatural thriller, “The Façade“; numerous radio appearances on Coast to Coast AM to discuss bizarre Bible interpretations by occultists, UFO and alien astronaut theorists, and “The DaVinci Code”; and his blogs PaleoBabble and The Naked Bible. 

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