In a Concordance we can find every word used in the Bible. This is quite important because it is by comparing the different usages of a word where we can get a better feel for what the word meant when it was used by its Biblical writer. If we believe that the Bible is the primary instrument which the LORD has chosen to communicate HIS message, then we must acknowledge that the particular words must weigh heavy in that message. We can't imagine that these words are just thrown about haphazardly without any regard to their meaning.
Scripture assures us that "no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (ASV 2 PETER 1:21). If GOD could give these men thoughts which they then converted into words to speak, then it stands to reason that HE could give others thoughts which they could then convert into words to write. Thus we are well within reason when we expect that the original words of this book were written by holy men who were inspired by GOD. Paul wrote exactly this in his letter to Timothy.
- 2 TIMOTHY 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Thus, if all scripture is given by GOD's inspiration, then what every writer wrote should be an accurate summary of what GOD wished to have communicated. Of course we are speaking of the original thoughts which were given by GOD, not necessarily each and every word that every writer and translator chose; no Version from which we read is necessarily the inspired word of GOD. Our task is to search and then to re-search to see if we can get back to that original inspiration of GOD. We may not get the original back completely, but the more we do, the closer to GOD's intent we will be, and the more we will understand what exactly HIS message was.
Two of the most popular Concordances are probably Young's and Strong's and they each differ a little in how they display their words. Let us do a brief but interesting word study using these two tools, considering the English word Inn. Young's Concordance list its usage as such.
- 1. Lodging, place for passing the night, [Hebrew characters] malon.
- Gen. 42.27 opened...to give ass provender in the inn
- 43.2 it came to pass, when we came to the inn
- Exod. 4.24 it came to pass by the way in the inn, that
- 2. Guest chamber, [Greek characters] kataluma.
- Luke 2.7 there was no room for them in the inn
- 3. Inn, general receiving house, [Greek characters] pandocheion.
- Luke 10:34 brought him to an inn, and took care of
We see that in numbers 1, 2 & 3 Young's Concordance gives us the three different words from which inn is translated; (1) being the Hebrew malon from the Jewish Bible, and (2) & (3) being kataluma and pandocheion, both being from the Greek Christian Scriptures. The Hebrew characters for malon are given, as well as the Greek letters for kataluma, and pandocheion. Then following each definition Young's Concordance gives us every occurrence in the Bible where that particular Hebrew or Greek word is found; five in total.
Strong's Concordance gives us a somewhat different approach, in that it assigns a particular number to each word. The Strong's numbering system has been utilized by quite a few other Biblical reference works, so it has become very popular in Biblical research. This is how Strong's displays the usages of the English word Inn.
- Ge 42:27 to give his ass provender in the i , *4411
- Ex 4:24 came to pass by the way in the i , "
- Lu 2:7 was no room for them in the i . 2646
Strong's Concordance simply list all of the occurrences where the English word inn is found, designating the word inn by the single letter i, then associating the word with a number. If we want more information, we can go to the Dictionary in the back of the Concordance and find the number corresponding with the Hebrew or Greek word we are studying. Let us take for example the two occurrences in Luke's Gospel. Two different Greek words are used in LUKE, but both are rendered by the Translators in the King James Version as inn, #2646 and #3829. Strong's Dictionary in the back of the book gives us this information on these two words.
- 2646. [the Greek characters], kataluma, kat-al'-oo-mah; from 2647; properly a dissolution (breaking up of a journey), i.e. (by implication) a lodging-place: - guest chamber, inn.
- 3829. [the Greek characters] pandocheion, pan-dokk-i'-on; neuter of a presumed compound of 3950 and a derivative of 1209; all-receptive, i.e. a public lodging-place (caravanserai or khan): -inn.
Note- Strongs uses several abbreviations, so we have taken the liberty of rendering the definitions in full for the reader's convenience.
As with Young's Concordance, the Dictionary in the back of Strong's Concordance also gives the Greek word with its Greek characters, but then in addition supplies the pronunciation of that Greek word. Then comes Strong's definition, which also includes from which other words this word might have originated, along with its associated number. Thus, kataluma is from 2647, which is kataluo; and pandocheion is from a compound of 3950, parorgismos, and a derivative of 1209, dechomai. The student can then if he wishes look up these additional words, their occurrences and their definitions to arrive at an even more comprehensive understanding of what exactly Luke meant when he wrote.
One thing that perhaps the reader has already noticed with the use of this word inn by the King James Version, is that they have taken the liberty of rendering two entirely different Greek words, kataluma and pandocheion, with the same English word. The English reader who didn't have a Concordance would probably be unaware that Luke had no doubt meant two entirely different things when he wrote.
In LUKE 2:7 where he wrote kataluma, he meant that when Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem, that there was no room for them in the guest-chamber. But then when Luke wrote in LUKE 10:34 that the good Samaritan brought the injured traveler to the pandocheion, he meant that the man was brought to an actual inn, a public lodging place, not a private guest-chamber.
The probable reason that the Translators rendered both of these words as inn, is because Church Traditions had already painted a lively picture of Jesus being born in a stable alongside of an inn, surrounded by all of the donkeys and camels of the inn's guests. Yet that is not at all what Luke wrote. He wrote that Mary and Joseph had been turned away from some guest-chamber, not the same kind of a place that the Samaritan would have brought the injured traveler. If Luke had meant that Mary and Joseph were turned away from an actual inn, he would have written pandocheion not kataluma. He wrote kataluma because he meant that they were turned away from a place entirely different than from a public inn.
Strong's numbering system lets us pursue these words even further, because it allows us to find all of the other places in the Bible where each particular Greek or Hebrew word occurs. The New Englishman's Greek Concordance and Lexicon, which is coded with Strong's numbering system, allows us to find kataluma or pandocheion and then to see plainly everywhere in the Bible where these two words are used. We simply have to look up the two numbers associated with these two Greek words, as is illustrated below.
- 2646 415 [Greek characters] 4:328 333b
- noun. neuter. properly a breaking up (of a journey), thus, lodging place, guest room, Mk 14:14; Lk 2:7; 22:11* Root 2647
- Mk 14:14. Where is the guestchamber,
- Lk 2:7. no room for them in the inn
- Lk. 22:11. Where is the guestchamber
The first line gives us the Strong's number, 2646, followed by the Greek characters, which is our word kataluma, along with three other numbers associated with other reference books for further searching. The next three lines then give us the definition of the word along with a few reverences and its Root. Then, below that we are given all of the places in the Bible where that word kataluma is used, placing in italics where the word is translated into English by the translators, here as guestchamber and inn.
Thus, the King James translators have not only rendered two entirely different Greek words, kataluma and pandocheion by the same English word inn, but now we learn that they have rendered the Greek word kataluma by two entirely different English words, guestchamber and inn. In MARK 14:14 and LUKE 22:11 the verse is referring to Yeshua sending his disciples to find a private place, a kataluma, where they might eat the Passover meal the night of His betrayal and capture. Yet in LUKE 2:7 they translate the same Greek word differently, when the verse is referring to Mary and Joseph seeking shelter for the night.
Being satisfied with what is written only upon the surface and not digging deeper into the text, we can see how the student could easily be led astray and fail to reap to himself the true meaning of the Holy Spirit's inspiration. Let us now consider the other Greek word rendered inn in the The New Englishman's Greek Concordance and Lexicon.
- 3829 612 [Greek characters] 475b
- noun. neuter. all-receptive; by meton., public lodge, inn, Lk 10:34*
- Lk 10:34. brought him to an inn
Again we see on the first line, the Strong's number corresponding with our word, 3829, then its Greek characters along with two other numbers associated with other reference works. The next line has our word's definition followed on the third line by its only usage in the Bible.
This is I think the sum total of what we have learned; Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem and found that there was no room for them at some particular guest room, a kataluma. Whatever and wherever the guest room was, it is evident that it was not a public place, for when Yeshua wanted a private place to eat the Passover meal with His disciples, He also chose a kataluma, a private guest room somewhere in Jerusalem. Howbeit, when the good Samaritan found the injured traveler, he brought him to a pandocheion, a public inn, where he gave the innkeeper some money to tend to the man until he returned.
From the usages of these two words in the Bible there is not a lot more that can be gathered, for they are rarely used. Howbeit, there are other Tools which we can utilize to throw some additional light on exactly what was the kataluma where Joseph and Mary found no room to stay the night, and what was therefore the manger where our Lord was laid after He was born.
Orientalism is defined in The American Heritage Dictionary as,
1) a quality, mannerism, or custom peculiar to or characteristic of the Orient. 2) Scholarly knowledge of eastern cultures, languages, and peoples.
Understanding these Orientalisms is vital in our quest to unlock the truths of the Bible. Our Western mannerisms and customs in many ways are as different from the East as night and day, especially the East of two thousand years ago. Fortunately for us, the culture of the Bible lands hadn't changed much from the time of Christ till maybe late in the nineteenth century. Until then, one could travel throughout that land and see life much as it was, probably thousands of years before.
We thankfully have not a few volumes written by Christian men and women who did just that, traveled that land, observing and writing upon the peculiar lifestyle of these ancient peoples. Some of these adventurers very accurately portrayed the culture while others sought only to find substantiation for their own preconceived ideas. Howbeit, as we consider and compare the different accounts, we are able to get a clear picture concerning many of the Oriental's ancient ways.
As we have just completed our word study concerning what exactly was the inn from which Mary and Joseph had been turned away, we might do well to search and see what we can also learn from other ancient travelers of the land. We will quote from Palestine Calling, by Dr. W. M. Christie, beginning on page 9.
- In the first place, let us consider the circumstances of the Birth of Christ. Based on Luke 2. 7, "for there was no room for them in the inn," the practically universal belief of the Christian world is that the Lord Jesus was born in the stable of the public inn at Bethlehem, and attempts have been made to associate this with "the lodging place of Kimham" (Jer. 41.17), a reading concerning which doubts exist. Now the New Testament word for a public inn is "pandocheion," and such places were generally of evil repute, the scenes of boisterous quarrels and unceasing brawling. But the word in Luke's Gospel (2.7) is "katalyma," and it is used again by the same author (22.11), and by Mark (14.14), for the upper room, in which the Last Supper was celebrated. We should prefer to translate in each case "the guest chamber".
- We can appreciate the conditions. Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem expecting to find accommodation in the room set apart for visitors in the house of the sheikh, probably himself a member of the House of David, and a distant kinsman of Joseph and Mary. In every village in Palestine, before good roads and the motor car swept away the necessity for such places, there was "a manzil," or "loosening down place" (cf. katalyma, from Greek Kataluo) set apart as a "guest chamber." In the better villages it was frequently an upper room, and here visitors enjoyed quietness and liberty of movement away from the family, and the intrusion of neighbors; but in the smaller villages it was generally one half of the stable, having an elevated platform, one or two feet higher than the actual floor, and named the "mastaba." There the guests rested, fed, and slept, with their animals close by. In such a place, then, the "second best guest chamber," Joseph and Mary were received, and there the Lord Jesus was born. He was then placed in the manger. Such usually consisted of square holes left in the walls when the stable was built, and having a retaining strip of wood in front. The manger in which the child Jesus would be placed would be the nearest to the mastaba, easily accessible, and it would certainly be the safest place for a new born child.
Thus, being able to peer back into time, to the ancient days of Yeshua's birth, we can see how all is made clear. The Nativity Scenes which are erected each Christmas, picture an event which was not at all what actually happened. And this error is repeated countless times over by the Church by way of their traditions, so that today's Church goer has little idea what the truth actually is concerning that which he has devoted himself to. Too often Christians think and worship in ways which are totally foreign to that which the Bible teaches.
- An Interlinear
An invaluable Tool for unlocking what the original writers of the scriptures intended, is a Greek-English Interlinear. This book gives the Greek on one line and then the English translation directly below it, word for word. Though Yeshua and His followers no doubt generally spoke and taught in Aramaic, our most ancient manuscripts are Greek. It is therefore the Greek upon which we primarily depend in our efforts to find the true reading.
We must remember that in the original manuscripts, there were no upper and lower case letters. There were not even any spaces between the words or sentences. Nor was there any punctuation, such as periods or question marks. It was just running hand, so to speak.
Throughout the centuries, many times over these texts of the Bible have been copied and re-copied. Often would be the case where some copyist would think that his manuscript would read better or be more plainly understood if he inserted, changed or deleted certain words or phrases. Sometimes he would write his editions in the margin and then later hands often mistakenly placed them in the body of the text. One way or another, many errors crept into the text.
Scholars of the last few centuries have sought to correct these errors by making comparisons of the ancient manuscripts. If most of the ancient copies agreed on some point, but a few disagreed, then they would weigh the evidence and make their conclusions as to the correct reading of the text. No one can say for sure if some particular rendering is the true one, but we can be reasonable sure on 99% of the Bible. We are most successful if we are willing to set aside our preconceived notions, our ideologies and doctrines, and just accept what the text says.
We are most fortunate with George Berry's Greek-English Interlinear of the New Testament because he not only gives us both the Greek and the English, word for word, but he also indicates the variations of the text which have been worked out by six outstanding and prominent Greek scholars, namely,
- Johann Jacob Griesbach, 1805
- Karl Lachmann, 1842-1850
- Constantin Tischendorf, 1865-1872
- Samuel P Tregelles, 1857-1872
- Henry Alford, 1862, 1870
- Christopher Wordsworth, 1870
Each of these men took the ancient texts at their disposal, and by their differing methods and measures, arrived at their own best guess as to what the original text might have said. Berry, in his Interlinear has taken the works of all of these men and combined them into one volume, so that we today can have at our fingertips access to all of these scholars combined efforts, and thereby arrive at conclusions which are most trustworthy.
Without further ado, lets us get into the text and see for ourselves how valuable of a work is available to us. In the first epistle of John, we find written in the King James Version the following passage.
- 1 JOHN 5:6-8 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
This section of scripture from John's epistle seems to lend conclusive evidence to the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that GOD is three persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. No other place in scripture is this doctrine so spelled out, so it is important for us to understand just exactly what John was intending. Was he writing that "these three are one"? Let us open up our Interlinear and discover for ourselves what the original text probably said.
In the inset is the page from Berry's Interlinear of 1 JOHN 5:6-16.
Here we have the King James Version in the left column, then the Greek text in the main body with the English given directly below it, word for word. Thus, verse six begins with the Greek characters, rendered in English as,
"This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus the Christ;
Notice that along side of the second Greek word " o` " which is translated into English as the, is the footnote "w". Find the footnote at the bottom of the page, and it shows,
w -o` TTrAW.
This dash (-) before the Greek word tells us that the word is not believed to be in the original by these four scholars (TTrAW represents Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford and Wordsworth). In other words, these four scholars have found ample evidence to convince them that the original text read, "Jesus Christ" and not "Jesus the Christ".
Now notice verse seven and eight in the Interlinear. After the phrase
- Because there are three who bear witness,
there is the footnote "z" next to the Greek word "en", which is translated into English as in. At the bottom of the page the foot note is explained as,
- z -[some Greek characters corresponding in English as "in heaven"] ... [some more Greek characters corresponding in English as "on earth"] verse 8 GLTTrAW.
This tells us that from the English phrase "in heaven" of verse seven, through to the phrase "on earth" of verse eight, that every one of the six scholars [GLTTrAW] believed that the original text did not include those words. That is significant. Griesbach, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford and Wordsworth all agree that these words,
- in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three one are. And three there are who bear witness on earth
were all added to the original text by a later hand.
One is bound to ask why in the world would a Translator add such a significant phrase to the original text he was copying from? But isn't the answer evident? This copyist evidently believed in the concept of the Trinity, and saw nothing wrong with injecting his theology into the text.
But the paramount point for us to observe, is that without access to an earlier text by way of this Interlinear, we would have no way of knowing if the phrase was in the original text or not. We would of course assume it was, and construct our theology upon what we read. And this is exactly what millions of students have done, and this is precisely why there is so much confusion upon this and other subjects in the Bible. Few are willing to take the necessary time to explore and discover what lies beneath the Version from which they read. They are content to set back and lazily accept and believe what the preacher tells them the Bible says.
We on the other hand have decided to answer back with a thunderous Hush! Let us see for ourselves, if we can, what the original inspiration was.
- A Lexicon
A Lexicon, which is simply a comprehensive dictionary of words, is another great Tool in discovering in detail what a particular word might have meant when it was penned by the writer of the scripture. There are Lexicons for the Hebrew of the Jewish Bible and then there are Lexicons for the Greek of the Christian Scriptures. There are some very good Lexicons, and then there are some which are not so good.
In considering the tremendous value of a Lexicon, let us consider the simple English word basket. The word is first used in the Christian Scriptures in Matthew's Gospel account
- MATTHEW 14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets [kophinos] full.
I am sure we are all familiar with the incident. Yeshua had journeyed into a desert place and the crowds followed Him. After a long day of ministering to the people, the disciples suggested that Yeshua send them away to find for themselves something to eat. But Yeshua performed a miracle instead and fed all of them from just five loaves of bread and two fishes. After dining, there remained twelve baskets, twelve kophinos full of food.
The next occurrence of baskets is a little later on in MATTHEW, but this time there are several significant differences in Matthew's account.
- MATTHEW 15:37 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets [spuris] full.
Once again Matthew writes about a multitude who have nothing to eat, so Yeshua performs another miracle and feeds them, this time with seven loaves of bread and a few little fishes. But on this occasion they had not made a simple day trip into the wilderness as before, but they had been up in the mountains for three days. Nonetheless, the King James Version simply tells us again that baskets full of food remained. But these baskets, these spuris, were not the same baskets as in the chapter before. There they were kophinos while here they are spuris.
The difference between kophinos and spuris is for the most part simply the size, as we learn from Bullinger's Critical Lexicon and Concordance. He defines kophinos as
- "a wicker basket, the Jewish traveling basket, (prop. of a certain measure or capacity.)",
and then he defines spuris as
- "a basket of a larger kind, a large hamper, (used for storage, and capacious enough to contain a man.)".
This is interesting because when Yeshua and His disciples took a day trip into the wilderness, all which they needed for the trip was a few small baskets for their daily needs; thus in MATTHEW 14:20, they had kophinos at their disposal. Yet in MATTHEW 15 they had been on a prolonged journey, even unto Tyre and Sidon the evangelist tells us. On this journey they would of course have needed the larger baskets to sustain them, thus they had spuris at hand to fill with the fragments of food.
In Zondervan's Pictorial Bible Dictionary we find the difference between these two kinds of baskets also recognized. He writes,
- "....The kophinos (Matt. 14:20; Mark 6:43; John 6:13) was a relatively small basket that could be carried on the back to hold provisions. Twelve of these baskets were used to gather the food that remained after the feeding of the 5,000. The spuris was considerably larger, as we may be sure from its being used in letting Paul down from the wall at Damascus (Acts 9:25)...."
Thus we are talking about two different kinds of baskets, one like a backpack and the other more like a hamper.
In the next chapter of MATTHEW, Yeshua questioned His disciples about the two miracles, and the two occasions where baskets of fragments were taken up.
- MATTHEW 16:8-10 Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets [kophinos] ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets [spuris] ye took up?
It is interesting that the King James Version, and most other Versions, do not recognize the difference between the two kinds of baskets, even though the evangelist does. It might cause us pause when we consider trusting the Translators in other matters which are more vital to our faith. If they can't even get this right, what else have they missed, or passed over with indifference?