There are phrases which the readers of the Bible should not miss. The usual phrases that one should not miss are the ones that begin “Jesus said”, “Jesus answered”, “the Lord said”, and “it is written” and so on. Beyond these are the phrases that indicate the framework of the writer’s intention or his main assumptions. These include “after …”, “Having…”, “Having been…”, “When he had…” and so on. Many of these types of phrases or clauses are secondary and should not occupy our attention or centrestage when it is time to interpret the text. If they do then we who know these facts need to step up and shine a light on risky Bible interpretations or be found to be accomplices in the practice of majoring in minors.
Let’s begin with some examples from Matthew chapter 5, the first two verses.
(1) And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: (2) And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
The six verbs are marked in italics and boldface. The ones in italics are secondary because they are not in the required form which is used to make direct assumptions about the subject. Non-indicative forms are contextual information for the writer’s main assumptions (which are found in the indicative form).
The three main actions are
- Yeshua went up a hill
- His disciples approached him
- He taught them
The other actions describe less precise or peripheral realities. “Seeing the crowd” sets the stage for Yeshua’s ascent. “Taking a seat” sets the stage for the disciples’ approach, and “opening his mouth” set the scene for HE TAUGHT THEM.
The strongest possible interpretation of these two verses rests on the foundation of these three actions: he goes up, the disciples approach, and he teaches them.
More Minors and Majors
Another massive example shows how this dynamic can be be missed and lead to poor focus and ultimately unhealthy interpretations.
Ephesians 1:3-15 is a single sentence. Yes, one very long sentence, coloured with:
- In whom
- Having done so and so
- According to/as
- To whom
- With which
These types of expansions contain a clause or several c. 4lllklauses in which there are both stated contextual information for the main impossible to accurately discover the primary from the secondary without Greek grammar. There are likely 20 verbs present.
Another example of major consequence is the way we pray. The text of Matthew 6:5-9 contains a single indicative, in the clause “as we forgive”. There are no 1st person verbs, no 1st person pronouns, which absence shiw AOS to the basedbce if husvdi i Jesus when he brree BV the. Bbh