Tag Archives: NakedBible

I am not a Prophet

I had not announced it yet (it came about a week or so ago), but I was asked to be on the Jim Bakker show and speak Wed night at his campus (Morningside) service. Last night it came to my attention that my appearance was being billed as “come to hear the prophets” (my name on the promotion). I informed everyone involved in the event that I was canceling my trip in response to that promotion. I am not a prophet, and I won’t allow my name to be used in such a way. I know others parse the language differently, but to my ear it denotes being above other believers. I want nothing to do with that thinking. I’m not above anyone and have no special status in what God is doing.

This whole thing makes me sad. I had planned to marry my “While We Were Yet Sinners” sermon to something about real (not contrived) spiritual warfare (how the NT links the resurrection with the defeat of the cosmic powers). I thought it would be useful to the specific audience, but now it won’t be happening.

If you see something online promoting me as being some sort of prophet, please send them a link to this post. I’d appreciate it.


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Review of Passion Translation of Song of Songs (Solomon): “Truly Awful”

The first few sentences of this review of the Song of Songs (aka, the Song of Solomon) in the Passion Translation (the one that is enthusiastically promoted by NAR apostles) says it all:

This translation of the Song of Songs is truly awful. As a professor of biblical studies who works with the original languages, I can assure you that this translation does not reflect either the words or the meaning of Song of Songs, contrary to what it claims. It’s not that the translation is careless—rather, it’s eisegesis. It is imposing pre-conceived ideas onto the text and then claiming that the change is due to the translation strategy. It’s terrible!

I’m honestly stunned at how off the mark this translation is. It claims to be bringing out the real meaning of Song of Songs, but it’s really just thrusting someone’s own wishful ideas about it onto the readership. If you want to understand Song of Songs, then please, avoid this translation.

The review was written by George Athas, a scholar well known to us in Hebrew Bible and Semitics. He is Director of Postgraduate Studies at Moore Theological College and Lectures in Old Testament, Hebrew and Church History.

Ordinarily, this sort of review would have me in stitches. But I’m not laughing. As I’ve blogged previously, the Passion Translation is the work of Brian Simmons, who claimed that Jesus himself told him to produce it:

As I noted earlier, the description of Simmons from the translation’s own website doesn’t provide any indication that Simmons has the skills to produce a translation from the original texts. His credential is being a linguist, church planter, and Bible translator for the Paya-Kuna people of Panama (Simmons worked with New Tribes Bible Institute). Being someone who translates the Bible into a modern language (especially a language that doesn’t have a Bible translation) does not guarantee the translator knows Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. I know that because I know people who have translated the Bible into such languages (tribal) who don’t know any of the biblical languages. They use an English translation (or whatever their own first language is) and, perhaps, tools keyed to Strong’s numbers. The results are quite serviceable, so I’m not being critical of the method. I’m being critical of the deceptive marketing. The marketing for the Passion Translation suggests it’s a translation from the originals that is chock-full of insights heretofore neglected or missed. It isn’t, as Athas notes in his review.

Another misleading aspect to all this is the way Simmons’ credentials are promoted — to create the impression he’s an original languages expert and knows what he’s doing in translation. Simmons has a doctorate, but not in biblical languages. It’s in “apostolic leadership,” whatever that means. It’s from Wagner University, named after it’s founder C. Peter Wagner, a highly-influential figure in the NAR. Here are the core courses for this doctorate, from the Wagner University website:

  • Apostolic Leadership
  • Dominion Theology and Kingdom Mandate
  • Kingdom Finances and the Great Transfer of Wealth
  • New Church Planting and Governance
  • Marketplace Ministry and BAM Movement
  • Revival, Reformation and Societal Transformation
  • World Evangelism and Cross-Cultural Missions

Here are the electives:

  • Activating Your Five-Fold Destiny
  • Apostolic Centers
  • Activating the Apostolic
  • Growth Dynamics of New Apostolic Churches
  • Apostolic Breakthrough

Sounds positively grueling.

But more to the point, I haven’t found any evidence at all that Simmons has ever taken a Greek or Hebrew course. Maybe he has, but it’s not easy to find out. But as noted above, if you’re doing translation work in new tribes and their languages, you don’t need one. You just need a good primary language translation and a procedural knowledge of the grammar of that language, semantics, and of course the target language. I think it likely, especially after Athas’ comments, is that Simmons’ began with an English translation and then went about the task of reading his charismatic theology into the text. That’s even more likely given the way Simmons described his own knowledge of the biblical languages in an interview:

[Interviewer] Jonathan Welton: “When you started this project were you, had you already had training in Greek and Hebrew? Or was this something you had to jump into again?”

Brian Simmons: “I had minimal background in biblical languages, so yeah it was something, honestly, it was something the Lord has really helped me with.” (14:52)

Awesome. Let’s stop requiring biblical languages and just let the Lord teach them to us. This is a shameful attempt to justify not being prepared for the sacred task of handling the Scriptures. It’s Idiocracy come to the Church … or attributing eisegesis to the Spirit.

The interview includes a number of mis-guided statements about Aramaic and its use in translating books that weren’t originally in Aramaic. Simmons apparently makes use of Lamsa’s ENGLISH translation of the NT in Aramaic. As I have noted a number of times, there is no evidence that the NT was composed in Aramaic, and Lamsa’s translation itself has been brutally reviewed by a real expert. The Greek NT was eventually translated into Aramaic/Syriac (Peshitta). Simmons is apparently referencing that material (no doubt mediated through Lamsa and other tools — like the ones my company creates) — and then convincing the ignorant that he’s working with primary texts. This is deceptive and misleading. It’s sort of like the things I deal with when I confront ancient aliens theorists who say ancient texts refer to alien visitation (think Zecharia Sitchin). They make claims about primary texts, inserting their own ideas into those texts. It’s either incompetence or dishonesty. Neither has a place in the Body of Christ.


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New Online Hebrew Transliteration Tool

I sometimes get email asking about transliteration (and pronunciation) of Hebrew words. Transliteration can help folks who want to try and pronounce Hebrew. This new online tool allows you to paste in Hebrew text and get an instant transliteration (an accurate one, not the sort of thing you see in Strong’s tools). Your Hebrew input needs to be Unicode font. You also don’t have to worry about accent marks messing with the results if you use Unicode. In the example below I pasted in something from LHB in Logos (Lexham Hebrew Bible). It worked fine because Logos is Unicode. If you are using online tools, then the Hebrew text you’d fine at blueletterbible and sefaria would also work fine.

I input the first three words of Deut 32:8 and submitted it. You can see the transliterated results.


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New Book: The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity

This book looks like an excellent reference for anyone interested in the study of the biblical canon: The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity: Texts and Analysis.

A brief discussion of the book by one of its authors can be found here. The book will ship in January 2018. That summary reads in part:

The main attraction of the book–the reason you’ll want your own copy–is because John and I have collected all the biblical canon lists from the first four centuries of Christianity, and we present them in the original languages and English translation (in parallel columns) with introductions and extensive notes. So, you’ve heard so much about the 39th Festal Letter of Athanasius, which listed for the first time in history the exact 27 books of the NT that we now accept, and you’d like to read the letter for yourself–our book has it, or the extant portions in Greek, anyway, with an English translation. Read the letter for yourself.

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For Those Interested in New Testament Textual Criticism and the Byzantine-Majority Text

I recently received this announcement from my Danish friend, Ulrik Sandborg-Peterson, who developed the very useful Paradigms Master Pro Greek and Hebrew parsing practice tool. Ulrik has been instrumental in bringing resources for the study of the Byzantine-Majority text to the web:

Announcing byzantinetext.com

The Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, along with various resources developed by Maurice A. Robinson, have a new home on the web at https://byzantinetext.com/.

  • The website contains freely downloadable resources and pointers to further information about the Byzantine Majority text.
  • Audio downloads of the entire Greek New Testament Byzantine text (1991 edition), spoken by Maurice A. Robinson.
  • A downloadable Reader’s edition, as prepared by Jeffrey Dodson in consultation with Maurice A. Robinson.
  • Select bibliographies of articles and books on the Byzantine Text.
  • Downloadable editions of the Byzantine and other Greek New Testament texts.
  • … and more.

For developers, the website is accompanied by an official GitHub repository for Dr. Robinson’s various resources, https://github.com/byztxt/.  The repository will be updated in close collaboration with Dr. Robinson as he makes updates available.  The repository includes Greek New Testament texts with morphological parsings and Strong’s numbers, documentation, and a library written in the Python programming language for reading these texts.

The team behind the website and GitHub repository comprises Ulrik Sandborg-Petersen and Daniel J. Mount, in close collaboration with Maurice A. Robinson.


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It Had to Happen: Heiser-isms About the Bible

A few days ago while I was traveling this popped up on my Twitter account:

10 Quotes That Challenge the Way You Study the Bible

It’s a post by Jake Mailhout of Lexham Press about my new book, The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture on Its Own Terms. While blogging about the post is a bit awkward for me, I hope it encourages you to buy a copy — or several — for yourself, friends, and family. Truth be told, the content of the book was written on company time, so I get no royalties. But I don’t do what I do to go to Tahiti. I want it to sell — a lot — because people who care about Scripture need such books. We can’t complain about lay people (and even pastors) not having a good grasp of biblical content if (a) scholars don’t write for them, and (b) people don’t buy the books and read them. This is a book with solid “Heiserian” content written for people who want more Bible but who are frightened by Christian Middle Earth. The same goes for its earlier companion, I Dare You Not to Bore Me with The Bible.

Both books, along with Supernatural would make excellent Christmas gifts — and help people graduate to The Unseen Realm.

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Win a Signed Copy of Mike’s New Book: The Bible Unfiltered

I received author copies of my newest book a few days ago. I have 6 to give away.

Here’s how to win a signed copy!

1.       Post a review of Unseen Realm on Amazon. If you’ve already posted one, you could edit it so as to qualify for the next step.

2.       Email a screenshot of the review with your physical mailing address to: calvinheiser@gmail.com.

The giveaway ends midnightOct 3 (Pacific time). Submissions received after midnight will not be considered.

On Friday, October 6, 7 pm Pacific, we’ll have a live drawing of the 6 winners on my Facebook / YouTube livestream. You have to follow me on Twitter (@msheiser) or on Facebook, or my personal YouTube Channel to get alerts for the livestream.

You do not have to be watching to win.

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Michael Bird: Brief Thoughts on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP)

I get asked about my opinion of the NPP at events and on Q & A episodes of the Naked Bible Podcast. I always recommend Kent Yinger’s book,  The New Perspective on Paul: An Introduction. It’s short and clear.

I’m happy to also recommend this brief set of comments from Michael Bird on the issue. It won’t educate you like Yinger’s book, but Bird captures my own thoughts. In a sentence: “The NPP is correct in what it affirms, but often wrong in what it denies.” That’s well said. Read what he means at the link (and get a lot more with Yinger’s book — the same spirit there).

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