1. Mark says:

    I like the acknowledgement that “we don’t know”It is good to be reminded that it is OK not to know, and to leave it in God’s hands.

    I was a little perplexed at your re-editing of the punctuation in bible verse to change the meaning. While it is true that the earliest Greek manuscripts do not have punctuation marks, the word order in the Greek text rules out your proposed re-punctuation of the English translation.

    How would you explain this when compared to the following verse?
    “Then the LORD said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?'” Exodus 4:11 ESV



  2. Matt Hyam says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for taking the time to make your comment, but what you are saying about the Greek word order is actually not correct. If anything, the repeated of the Greek word erga (works or work) in vv.3 and 4, which occurs 4 times, strongly suggesting a linguistic pattern at play, points to the “so that the works of God” section belonging to the second half and not the first half and thus making what I have suggested more likely (I have checked this with Biblical language scholars).

    However, for me, what is even more important is to take the whole picture and then looking at the verse in that context of that rather than analysing the minutiae and missing the metanarrative. What is suggested from the traditional reading is that God actually made the man blind from birth, just so that Jesus could heal him on a day in the future. While this is clearly possible as your OT quote suggests, this does not fit with the Jesus we see in the Bible, who says that he has come to heal and give life and that it is the destroyer who comes to steal. I honestly feel that it verges on the monstrous to consider that God would deliberately make someone suffer blindness and the subsequent exclusion, oppression and alienation (not even allowed into the temple to worship YHWH) just to make a point. Every other instance in the entire gospel accounts is one of Jesus undoing the works of evil, but to punctuate this passage in the way it is commonly suggested, explicitly states that he is undoing the works of his own father!

    As you know, we need to start with Jesus and seek to understand the OT in the light of He who is the perfect and complete revelation of who God is. The OT passage you quote is taken out of its context, which is to establish and hammer home the complete power and authority of YHWH. It does not, however, in anyway suggest that God would disable or maim people but just that he would be more than able because he has absolute power as the creator, unlike the other “gods” of the day in the ANE.

    Throughout the gospels we see Jesus challenging the assumption that people are sick or poor because of sin, which was a central claim of the pharisees. They asserted that sick and the poor are so, because of sin and thus it is they who are preventing the messiah from coming. Jesus refuted it to such a degree that he spent all his time with those very people.

    I have not randomly reinterpreted a passage to suit my own ends, in fact, it is not me who has interpreted it like this (like most things it is nicked from someone far wiser than I) but I have tried to look at the passage in a way that I consider to be totally legitimate, in order for it to make sense within the meta-narrative of the gospels. For us to choose to punctuate a passage, that in the Greek has ambiguity, in a way that is not consistent with the bigger picture, seems very strange.

    I hope that this is helpful.


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