Thursday, September 20, 2012

The NET Bible

A Bible translation specifically designed for the internet? That is what the NET Bible started out as being but you can get various printed copies of it now. It was designed to be freely quotable without copyright restrictions but now has copyright restrictions.

All a bit confusing but it does retain one of its original virtues: Because space on the net is a lot cheaper than paper, the version comes complete with VERY extensive notes, probably as extensive as the old Companion Bible, which was a HUGE tome.

So I was interested in how the NET translators handled John 1:1, in which John stresses the role of Jesus as God's messenger. John puts that very strongly from the beginning by referring to Jesus as God's WORD.

The straightforward meaning of the text is however generally distorted by the Trinitarian thinking of the translators. John stresses that Jesus is an ancient spirit being who became incarnated but specifically rules out the idea that Jesus is also the Creator (everything was done THROUGH (di) him, not BY him). Most translators glide over that bit however. They say: "The word was God", creating the impression that Jesus was the creator.

The trouble is that in the ancient Greek the usage of the word for "the" was different, and John wrote in the Greek way whereas the translators usually do not. Furthermore, whoever you regarded as the chief God was always referred to in ancient Greek as THE God (ho theos). To the pagans that was mostly Zeus and in the New Testament, exactly the same expression was used for the one God of the Hebrews. So any reference to "God" in the English NT is a translation of "The God" in the original Greek. The "The" is normally dropped in English but is regularly used in Greek.

But if the "the" (ho) is dropped in Greek that is a very different story. And John DOES drop it in John 1:1. John refers to the creator as "ho theos" but Jesus is merely "theos".

So what does it mean when John refers to the creator as "ho theos" and Jesus as "theos"? In normal Greek usage the noun without the "the" becomes indefinite and can be translated in John 1:1 as either "a god" or "divine". So what John is saying quite clearly is that the Word was NOT the creator, even though Jesus in his pre-human form was also an ancient spirit being.

The idea that there is more than one spirit being in Heaven is of course no particular problem. We read of angels there and Paul promised the early Christians that they would become spirit beings too.

So the plain meaning of John is disliked by trinitarians who are convinced that Jesus is in some puzzling way also the creator. So they translate "kai theos een ho Logos" as "the Word was God" when a literal translation would be "the word was a god".

I could go on about exceptions in Greek grammar for the use of the definite article but verse 4 shows John was using the article in the regular way I have outlined. What I have said above is just scene-setting, however. I want to look at how the NET Bible treats the passage.

They have extensive notes on it and discuss fairly fully the issues I have outlined. They say, for instance:
"Colwell’s Rule is often invoked to support the translation of θεός (theos) as definite (“God”) rather than indefinite (“a god”) here.... The translation “what God was the Word was” is perhaps the most nuanced rendering, conveying that everything God was in essence, the Word was too. This points to unity of essence between the Father and the Son without equating the persons.... The construction in John 1:1c does not equate the Word with the person of God (this is ruled out by 1:1b, “the Word was with God”); rather it affirms that the Word and God are one in essence.

So, knowing all that, what translation do they give in their main text? They give: "The Word was fully God" -- which is just about the opposite of what they knew the passage to mean! Disgraceful!

So I am not impressed by the NET Bible either.

Another Bible translation that is famous for its footnotes is the old Geneva Bible, a translation even older than the KJV. And in their footnotes they interpret the passage to mean that the Word was of "the selfsame essence or nature" as the creator, which is pretty fair. Once again, I find that a translation from the early days of Protestantism is more respectful of the original Bible text than are most modern versions.


Hegel in Japan

Prewar Japanese nationalists were the ultimate socialists -- even making the Nazis look wishy washy.

Below is part of a Book Review of Japan's Holy War: The Ideology of Radical Shinto Ultranationalism by Walter A. Skya. Review by Richard A. Koenigsberg

What is totalitarianism? Why did the Axis powers stick together? What did Japan have in common with Germany? This essential book articulates the ideology underlying Japanese ultra-nationalism.

According to the Japanese social theorist, Hozumi Yatsuka (1860-1912), the individual exists in society, and society within the individual. Skya explains that—in Hozumi’s view—the clash between individualism and socialism is resolved by Hozumi’s concept of g­odo seizon (literally, fused or amalgamated existence), by which he meant the merging of the individual into society. Society was composed of merged individuals; human beings fused together to create “society.”

The ideal person was one who desired assimilation into the “higher organic totality” of society. The purpose of ethics and morality, according to Hozumi, was to direct the individual toward kodoshin: submergence of the self into the social totality.

Skya explains that for Hozumi—and many other Japanese thinkers—Enlightenment thought was a threat to the Japanese ethnic state. The struggle against Western liberalism focused on hostility toward the idea of “the individual” as an entity separate from society. Hozumi stated that “the individual does not exist in isolation,” and that “it is a mistake to think that society is made up of isolated, self-supporting individuals.”

Skya says that Hozumi waged a war against Western civilization. This, essentially, was a war against the idea that it is possible for human beings to exist in a condition of separation from society. The bond between the individual and society, according to Hozumi, was rock-solid and eternal.

Minobe Tatsukichi (1873-1948) was one of the hundreds of Japanese students who flocked to German universities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and absorbed German thought. These Japanese students were influenced by theories pioneered by G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), who asserted that the state was not a contractual relationship between individuals, but was itself an “individuality, independent of and superior to all other individuals.”

Sovereignty, according to Hegel, was not the right or power of the individual or individuals, but stemmed from the state itself, an “organic unity with a personality of its own.” The state, in short, was conceived as a person or “individual organism,” and the emperor as an “organ of the state.”

Hegel’s theory easily transferred to Japanese society. Uesugi Shinkichi (1878-1929), a constitutional law scholar, also conceived of the state as an organism. In Japan, the emperor was the ultimate source of the nation’s organizational will, representing the ideal embodiment of the state organism. Obeying the emperor was not only a moral action that contributed to this “collective being as a totality,” but the highest realization of the self—of one’s “essential being.” To absorb the self into the emperor, Skya says—to become part of the emperor—was to “accomplish man’s essential being.”

One of the most important thinkers to shape religious nationalism in Japan was Kakehi Katsuhiko (1872-1961). Kakehi developed the theory of “one heart, same body,” which revolved around abandoning the self and offering one’s entire body and soul to the emperor. A true Japanese does not think of self-interest, but rather “forgets one’s own concerns and completely offers oneself to the emperor.” This was especially true for soldiers.

When one enlisted in the military, one “died and was reborn again to the armed forces under the command of the emperor.” According to Kakehi, “You give up your life, and do not think for a moment that you are what you are.” One abandoned one’s personal will in order to fulfill the will of the emperor.

In order to achieve the state of “one heart, same body,” the individual had to discard or annihilate the self. According to Kakehi, any consideration of one’s own personal needs was wrong: one had to totally submerge the self into the collectivity. When Kakehi spoke of the bad aspects of Western culture that had entered Japan, Skya says, he was referring to the evils of Western secularism and individualism. Kakehi believed that the Western focus on the value of the individual was the “greatest threat to the Japanese nation.”

What is the nature and meaning of this threat of “individualism” that pervaded Japanese political theory? I have found this same idea—that the nation is threatened by individualism—at the heart of Nazi ideology as well. Why should the idea of individual freedom be conceived as a threat to the existence of one’s nation?

Here we encounter a fundamental dynamic revolving around the idea of separation or separateness. “Individualism” for the radical nationalist is equated with the idea of separation from the nation, thus disrupting the idea of “one heart, same body.”

Totalitarianism revolves around the nation as an actual organism or body politic. Individualism or separateness represents the idea of a human being (a body or organism) that is not merged or fused with the national body. The terrifying idea is that the human body might become separated from the omnipotent body: that the human being will no longer be united with the body politic.

The totalitarian dream or fantasy, common to both Japanese ultra-nationalism and Nazism, is that all human bodies must unite to constitute one body: the omnipotent body politic. In totalitarianism, each and every human being is expected to abandon the “will to separation” (individualism) and to embrace and to subordinate the self to the “national will.”

But what becomes of the self after individual consciousness is denied? In Kakehi’s political theology, according to Skya, the individual “enters into the mystical body of the emperor once one’s own individuality is abandoned.”

Kakehi claims that subjects “cast aside their individual selves and enter into the emperor.” He asserts that all Japanese living at the present time exist inside the emperor; that all Japanese who have ever lived—from the origins of the state onward—exist within the emperor. The emperor, in other words, symbolizes an immortal body in which all Japanese bodies are contained.

Skya concludes that the “total assimilation of the individual into a collective body is the goal of all totalitarian movements,” of which Shinto ultra-nationalism was “only one variety.” I agree with this assessment. What’s more, the assimilation of the individual into the collective body is conceived as a moral imperative. The fundamental dictum of totalitarianism is: “There shall be nothing separate from the collective body.”

Those who embrace totalitarian ideals react with panic and rage to the possibility that anything could exist separately from the national body. Ultra-nationalism builds upon a symbiotic fantasy: the people and the nation are one, the leader and the nation are one, the leader and the people are one, the people are merged with one another (as if cells in a body).

The idea of separation or separateness acts to shatter the fantasy of perfect union with an omnipotent body (politic). Perfect union is achieved when the individual abandons his own will in order to internalize the will of the nation and its leaders. Hitler informed the German people, “You are nothing, your nation is everything.” The advantage of becoming “nothing” is that one can incorporate the nation into the self—thus becoming “everything.” One seeks to identity with the omnipotent body politic.

Soldiers occupy a special role in this totalitarian ideology. Kakehi singled out the armed forces, which he thought occupied a special position among the emperor's subjects in the modern Japanese state. In his "One Spirit, Same Body" address, he quoted a passage from the Gunjin Chokuyu (Imperial Rescript to the Armed Forces):

Soldiers and Sailors, We are your supreme commander-in-chief. Our relations with you will be the most intimate when We rely upon you as Our limbs and you look up to Us as your head. If the majesty and power of Our Empire be impaired, you share with Us the sorrow; if the glory of Our arms shine resplendent, we will share with you the honor.

This passage, Skya observes, emphasizes the “direct and intimate ties between the Emperor and the soldier.”

However, the relationship between leaders and led is more than “direct and intimate.” The soldiers and sailors are relied upon as “limbs,” and should look up to their commanders as their “head.” In short, soldiers and leaders of the armed forces are conceived as part of the same body. When a soldier carries out the will of his superior, he is not simply “obeying.” He can no more resist the order of his superior than an arm can resist the brain’s command.



Judge reinstates federal kidnapping powers

A federal appeals judge restored the government’s alleged power to kidnap people on American soil and detain them until the end of an endless war.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Forrest granted a permanent injunction on enforcement of section 1021(b)(2), which allowed the federal government to indefinitely detain virtually anybody for any reason without due process. The judge found language in section 1021 overbroad and that it would allow for detention of those engaging in constitutionally protected free speech. She also said detention provisions deny prospective detainees basic due process rights.

The Obama administration appealed almost immediately and asked Forrest for an immediate stay. She refused. On Monday, government lawyers asked the Second U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan to issue an emergency stay, reinstating the power to indefinitely detain people on U.S. soil.

“The Justice Department sent a letter to Forrest and the Second Circuit late Friday night informing them that at 9 a.m. Monday the Obama administration would ask the Second Circuit for an emergency stay that would lift Forrest’s injunction,” lead plaintiff Christopher Hedges wrote. “This would allow Obama to continue to operate with indefinite detention authority until a formal appeal was heard.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier granted the stay Monday evening. It will remain in place until the appellate court rules on the case. The court is expected to take up the issue beginning on Sept. 28.

Ironically, President Obama expressed concern about the scope of the indefinite detention provisions when he signed the NDAA into law.

“The fact that I support this bill as a whole does not mean I agree with everything in it,” Obama wrote in a signing statement. “In particular, I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.”

Now, his administration continues to fight tooth-and-nail to hold onto those very detention powers.

“You have to wonder why he is fighting so hard to maintain a power he claimed he would never use. Makes you doubt his sincerity, doesn’t it?” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “This just goes to show that when the federal government gets its grubby paws around any given power, it will never relinquish its grip. That’s why we continue to insist that states need to take steps to block any actions that would deny their citizens basic rights of due process .”



Open Letter to Barack Obama

From economist Donald J. Boudreaux:

Speaking today in Ohio, you bragged that your administration brought unfair-trade complaints against China “at nearly twice the rate” at which George W. Bush’s administration brought such complaints. In other words, your administration…

… is nearly twice as active as was that of your predecessor at raising Americans’ cost of living by badgering suppliers to hike the prices charged on products such as consumer electronics, furniture, and footwear;

… has doubled-down on the Bush administration’s efforts to raise production costs for the many American producers who buy inputs such as zinc and oil-field-drilling equipment from Chinese manufacturers;

… is two times as likely to pander to the economically ignorant in order to grant special privileges to the politically powerful, all in efforts to prevent Americans from spending their money as they see fit.

And you’re proud of this record?



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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