Friday, November 17, 2006

Blue Letter Bible on circumcising the heart's foreskin...

Online Bible Resource
(Image from BLB)

On the Milton List that I belong to, one of the scholars -- the ever helpful Nancy Charlton -- passed along this information about a useful tool for those of us who investigate Milton's biblical sources: the Blue Letter Bible.

Its use is not limited to researching Milton, nor was it even developed with Milton in mind. One can simply look up any verse in the Bible and find links to translations, concordances, commentaries, correlating verses, lexicons, grammatical analyses, and more.

Also, it's free, online, and user-friendly.

Knowing Greek and Hebrew helps for some of what it offers, but it offers a lot for everyone. I haven't looked at its theological orientation, but for narrowly technical questions of the sort that interest me, it looks pretty good.

One disclaimer on this point, though. Being far off the beaten track here in Korea, where I don't have people around whom I can ask, I don't know what's available in software programs for biblical analysis. The little that I've seen at Society of Biblical Literature Conferences has been out of my price range, so when something like the Blue Letter Bible comes online, I might overrate its usefulness.

But it is useful. Take Deuteronomy 30:6:
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (KJV)
Click on the box with "K" inside, and you'll find a host of correlating passages -- many of them with that strange image of circumcising the foreskin of the heart (were these folks anatomically challenged, or what!).

Click on the box with "C" inside, and you'll get some information on the Hebrew as well as the Greek translation from the Septuagint.

Then, there are "L," "V," and "D" for commentaries, translations, and dictionaries, respectively.

For those of you with time and interest, you can probably enjoy playing around with the site and see what you find both fun and interesting.

As for Deuteronomy 30:6, I find it interesting that something has to be removed from the heart -- implicitly, the heart's 'foreskin' -- before one can love God with all one's heart. Symbolically, what is removed is the impurity (which by its addition subtracts but by its subtraction adds), as I learned more precisely from the linked Easton's Bible Dictionary:
In the Old Testament a spiritual idea is attached to circumcision. It was the symbol of purity ( Isa 52:1). We read of uncircumcised lips ( Exd 6:12, 30), ears ( Jer 6:10), hearts ( Lev 26:41). The fruit of a tree that is unclean is spoken of as uncircumcised ( Lev 19:23).
I found this by clicking "D," choosing "circumcision" under "Easton Dictionary Entries," clicking "Go," and scrolling down a little.

By the way, by clicking "K," and looking at the correlating passages, you'll find Deuteronomy 10:16, about how you should "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked," but I don't even want to go there...


At 6:16 PM, Blogger A.H. said...

One of the funniest books I've read was by a biblical scholar on the relationship between Body Building and the image of God. Yes, God as Mr Universe. I'm not sure if it was meant to be amusing or if that was just my bizarre humour. Your post made me laugh too, for all the right reasons: what extravagant--and not particluary good--metaphor! If a student had written some of this in a creative writing class, I dont' think the teacher would have given a divine response.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Concerning that book on body building as aiming toward forming the image of God, you probably missed the part about the importance of approximating the divine proportion phi (φ):

"The number that results when the sum of two quantities (a + b) is to the larger (a) of the two quantities as the larger (a) of the two quantities is to the smaller (b) of the two quantities."

(a + b)/a = a/b = φ = 1.6180339887

All body building must aim for that golden, godly ratio.

Yours in celestial mathematics...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Being far off the beaten track here in Korea, where I don't have people around whom I can ask, I don't know what's available in software programs for biblical analysis.

For free desktop installation, I recommend E-Sword ( for its ease of use, variety of texts, and free downloads of older translations and newer idiosyncratic translations/paraphrases. For a small price it also has a couple of popular new translations. It is better than any low-priced retail software, though not as good as Blue Letter Bible.

At 3:38 AM, Blogger A.H. said...

Extravagant metaphor--I did of course mean the Bible's. Your comment makes me laugh even more. Bravo!

At 5:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dave, thanks. I'll look into this.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 5:56 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

No worries from me, Eshuneutics -- I knew that you meant the Bible's extravagant metaphor.

Of course, God's not too happy about the grade that you assigned...

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home