As you know, Summer 2017 is the Summer of Connection. That is, an opportunity to connect and reconnect with one another, especially those that have been curiously absent and estranged.
“For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6, New Revised Standard Version).
New Testament scholars have long been aware, Paul seemingly made-up about 48 words found within his corpus of letters. That is, these various words and phrases deployed by the Apostle are found nowhere within extant Greek literature concurrent to Paul’s lifetime. For instance, within the above citation Paul inserted ἀναζωπυρεῖν [rekindle], one such example. For this reason the various English translations struggle with an apt translation; “fan into flame (NIV),” “kindle afresh (NASB),” and “stir up (KJV, NKJV).” I have also read ‘stoke into flame.’ Actually, the Latin translators likely came closest to Paul’s original and intended meaning, the contemporary purpose of biblical exegesis. First, know the following Later within in the same letter, Paul wrote; “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV). Many English translations substitute the word θεόπνευστος (technically: θεό [God] πνευστος [wind]) with inspired. However, let us not forget, to inspire is also to “to breathe or blow into or upon” and “to infuse (something, such as life) by breathing” (merriam-webster).
Unfortunately, many fundamentalist traditions have twisted this same passage to imply that God whispered into the ear of the Biblical writers. That is, as if the Bible floated down from Heaven tethered to a golden parachute. Such is truly unfortunate knowing that Paul also seemingly coined other words found within his various vice lists (e.g. 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10). So too, these English translations are possibly inaccurate (or without modern context), fueling the ongoing conservative marginalization of entire people groups.
Rather, is it within the realm of possibility that Paul was more likely trying to reflect upon the antediluvian Garden scene where the LORD God had breathed into the nostrils of humanity (Genesis 2:7)? To the point, the Latin Vulgate translated Paul’s Greek usage of ἀναζωπυρεῖν as (underlining mine);
“Propter quam causam admoneo te ut resuscites gratiam Dei quae est in te per inpositionem manuum mearum.”
Specifically, this is where English obtained the word resuscitate, as in cardio-pulmonary. To the point, we cannot perform CPR upon ourselves. The act of connecting and reconnecting with one another is like a much needed resuscitation, the breathing of new life, and pounding upon the heart – life support vital for the survival as people of faith.
Matthew Monaghan is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and currently a doctoral candidate researching organizational leadership at the intersection of the Christian clergy.
The thoughts expressed herein are the copyright of Daniel Matthew Monaghan, August 8, 2017, all rights are reserved.
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