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Do you know what “Maundy” means?

On BBB, I expect them to suggest that we rename this "Jesus Mani-Pedi Day".


To quote

The word Maundy is believed to have come from the Middle English word "maunder" which took it from the Old French "mande" and can be traced to the Latin "novum mandatum" meaning new commandment.


Ah, but that's the word's etymology, which is somewhat different from what you asked -- which is what the word means.

Steve Pable

Thanks for the reflection, John-- for making those all-too-familiar words come alive.

Re: the understanding of the Scriptures in the context of a believing community...

I was literally just reading Robert Louis Wilken's "The Spirit of Early Christian Thought" and his chapter on the Bible, and its interpretation and significance. I love the way he weaves this together, after a discussion of the way the text is received in a liturgical setting, and the way various allegorical connections unfolded in the patristic era:

"The Christian Bible (the Greek OT and the apostolic writings) created a distinctive universe of meaning. As its words took up residence in the minds and hearts of Christian thinkers, it gave them a vocabulary that subtly shaped their patterns of thought. What the Bible spoke of could not be expressed apart from its unique language and its singular history. Gregory of Nyssa was aware that images other than living water were used to express the nature of God. Plotinus, for example, had used such expressions as "inexhaustible infinity" and "boiling over with life" for the divine. One can speak of God as the source of life without using the language of the Bible. The point is not that "living water" expresses things better than "inexhaustible infinite" or "boiling over with life." What is significant is that "living water" is found in the Bible. Metaphors and images and symbols drawn from elsewhere, no matter how apt, do not stir the Christian imagination in the same way as those drawn from the Scriptures. Like rhetorical ornaments that momentarily delight the hearer, they are as insubstantial as breath blown on glass."

Martin Shields

Hi John,

Perhaps everyone's right and everyone's wrong here — in parts. I think there may well be portions of the Bible which are amenable to translation such that the result is readily understood "on the fly by an untutored individual."

However, as I think your discussion of "hallowed" indicates, there are places where such translations domesticate concepts which are inherently foreign to most modern readers. Sometimes there's no escaping the need to invest a little hard work in order to arrive at a more correct understanding of the text, and concealing the need for such work with a simplistic gloss ultimately does a disservice to both the text and the readers of the text.

So I'm in favour of an eclectic translation methodology which happily switches from one methodology to another when the need arises. We ought not to introduce unnecessary difficulties for readers, but we also ought not to deceive readers into believing that there are no difficulties in places where they should exist.


Hi Martin,

I think a variety of methods of translation are defensible, including the methods that gave us translations like NLT and The Message.

In particular, I enjoy translating Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek from scratch, without relying, insofar as possible, on a pre-existing translation tradition.

I think it would be worth revising the King James Version for our century. Given the extent to which authors like Shakespeare, Milton, and Bunyan depended on the Geneva Bible, it might be wise to draw from the riches of that translation as well.

But I prefer a translation that follows a consistent methodology, whatever that is.

C. Stirling Bartholomew


I read your contributions to the BBB thread. Bravo! A brilliant defense of a translation strategy which, when correctly understood (the nuances must me attended to) confronts the reader with the strangeness (otherness) of the ancient text.

Did a few trips around the barn with Wayne and Peter on this topic in the late 90s. It got old fast.

Jack Wellman

No doubt in my mind is that hallowing as an honoring, holding in highest regard, and in complete reverence. I have heard that this is what is called "fear" of the Lord. Those who fear God fear nothing, those who don't fear God, fear everything. Great blog.

Chariots of Fire 5


In worship when we sing the song Sanctuary, are the lyrics referring to hollow God’s name? In your blog you mentioned, “…God prepare us to be his sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.” It is very similar to the song lyrics which say, “O Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true….” So when we sing this song does it mean we are asking God to help us hollow his name?

Chariots of Fire 5

I have to agree with your statement in the blog, “a better Bible is the one that retains traditional diction…” So many things in this world have changed since ancient times, but this is one that should not. The true meaning of the Bible or the Lord’s Prayer could be lost if it’s changed over and over by translations into a more understood format.

If someone needs help understanding it there are plenty available and willing to answer the questions. Also, there are many kinds of study Bible’s around which can help people today understand what was just read.

Mission 2

I agree. I think the Bible should be shown in its most ancient and accurate way. If the Bible is God's word, I don't feel that anyone has the authority to change it so that it is easier to understand. In literature, who would want a "dumbed down" Shakespeare or Hemingway. I've heard many of my friends complain that they don't read the Bible at all because it has "old language" and is "impossible for people of our generation to read." I definitely disagree with those statements.

True Grit 2

I agree. I don't believe a better bible is one that can be understood on the fly by an untutored individual. The bible is a studied text and like all other subjects it can't just be read and understood. It has a deep meaning that needs to be thought about. I also agree that a better Bible is one that retains tradition diction. Why should people change the bible? The bible should change the people.

Breaker Morant

I agree with your statement that a good Bible is not one that is instantly clear to anyone, including those who have no experience with religion. Part of accepting any religion is learning about it. You should make the effort to discover new things, not have it reveal itself to you. I also agree that paired with reading it, one must also surround himself/herself with a community that practices Christianity. There is not one right way to Hallow God’s name. There are many ways one can praise God. We can follow the commandments and praise him in songs of worship. I really like what God had said to Abraham, “Walk before me and be blameless.”


Steve Pablo, I really liked your blog post and I totally agree with you. I would have to disagree with several of the last posts though. I understand the feelings that many people have towards the ancient writings of the bible and how they should not be altered or fixated. I just feel that anyone should be able to pick up a bible and understand the true meaning of it. This is the most powerful book ever written, yet many people do not read it and study it simply because they do not understand it. There are parts of the bible that should be easily understood by the reader and parts that should be left for the reader to interpret for themselves. For one to say that the bible should not be changed ever is somewhat biased though. Society is constantly changing and the bible has many rules that only apply to ancient times. For those who disagree please take a look at (1. Corinthians 14:34) or (1. Corinthians 11:13-15) they are rather interesting and do not apply to today's society.

True Grit 1

Shawshank 1 brings up an interest point here. It could almost be a debate of some sort. Who is the Bible supposed to draw in? Those faithful and understanding of the meaningful text or those who don’t understand it? In my personal experience, I find it challenging to read certain parts of the Bible and fully interpret what is supposed to be meant by the text. Now I have been attending church, Sunday school, and am even a confirmed adult of the Catholic church. Yet I struggle. Sure there are stories I recognize from various lessons, but I really have to focus and rely on my faith for full understanding.

A Bible or religion is meant to put effort forth in order to experience what it has to offer. Therefore I believe that the Bible should not be touched for revisions to make it easier to interpret. I feel as though that may be lazy. Religion and God aren’t lazy, so why should their people become lazy? I just don’t feel like that is the proper thing to do with a piece of history as holy as the Bible.

Chariots of Fire 2

I feel that people are always trying to look for an "easy way out" now days. I agree with John's statement, "A better Bible is the one whose parts become clear in light of familiarity with the whole." If people have understood the Bible for the past thousands of years then there is no reason to change it now just because people want it to be easier to comprehend. People can only learn if they challenge themselves and I think that goes along with reading the Bible. It should remain in the traditional context. There are many versions of the Bible out there and if people need a better understanding of it then I think that the Harper Collins Study Bible that we use in class is a great source.

The Truman Show 4

Although I do agree that the bible is something that takes some time to understand, I also have to agree with shawshank redemption 1. I have heard many people say that they don't read the bible because they don't think they will understand. Granted, if they did really want to read it they would. But growing up I had many different versions of the bible to help me understand it more, for example the teen study bible. It really does help put things into our perspective, so therefore yes the meanings of the bible should not be changed but if we can benefit from changing a few words...why not?

Pulp Fiction 4

There are a lot of good points that were brought up in the last few posts. I have to agree that I do not think that it is a bad thing if the Bible was changed around a little bit. I am not saying to change around the meanings or stories, but change it in a way that people will be able to understand it better. However, I feel that the Bible is here to teach us lessons about life and our faith, if we understood everything we read right away out of the Bible, what good would that be? By having to really focus and concentrate about we read in the Bible I think is all part of learning. God is always finding ways to teach us life lessons, and I think the Bible is written like this for that reason.

Nell 1

I believe that the Bible should stay in its original form but I feel as though everyone should have the chance to understand it completely and comprehend the message it teaches to believers. Instead of changing the words of the Bible, maybe there should be another book offered that helps to explain any passages that people do not understand. One who is willing to pick up the Bible and read it should also be willing to explore the meaning of passages and come to a full understanding. This does not necessarily changing words to its easier to read; it just may require more work to translate. I think that all believers need to strive to understand the Bible because we need to sanctify God’s name by walking in His ways and by keeping his commandments. In order to do what God asks of us, we need to fully understand what His word says, and this make take some work on our end to translate and interpret His word correctly.

Dead Man Walking 5

In my opinion, I believe that there would be no reason to have a "better Bible". I don't understand why that would be necessary. I think that if the Bible was changed so that everyone could understand it there would be no individual interpretation. In my opinion, that is a lot of what the Bible is about. Some verses in the bible are left open to your own interpretation. If the bible was changed then there would not be as much mystery. I believe that the mystery of the bible makes you want to explore your faith and try to grow in it. I think that the Bible should stay how it is and let it be open to individual interpretation.

Pulp Fiction 1

"A seeker, a non-religious person, even a seasoned believer, stands a chance of understanding the Bible if and only if she reads it along with and in the context of a community that makes it its rule of faith and practice." Does this refer to those who are not religious will not understand the bible if they are not "taught" it by a authoritative figure. I somewhat agree I think those that are not religious would not choose to read a bible if it were not with a community such as a church setting.



It is a good general rule to study scripture with those who take it seriously, who make it the foundation of their life. For example, if I am going to study Buddhist scripture, I would rather do it with a Buddhist monk and scholar who meditates on it day and night. Wouldn't you?

In the same way, I don't expect to be able to just pick up the Quran (The Bible of Muslims) and understand it. I prefer to have a guide, and would not expect to really understand what it means for Muslims unless I participated in Muslim life and saw how it was applied.

That's my point. It's also valuable to read scripture of any religion with a scholar who is interested in what it meant once upon a time, not what it has come to mean over time. It is worth paying attention to both levels of meaning.

Pulp Fiction 3

I believe that hallowed means a strong sense of honoring, and praise. When I say hallowed be thy name, I usually think of it as holy be your name. The words meaning can and is defined in many different ways. Some can be literal definitions, while others being your personal devotion to the word. With the argument of changing the Bible to be better understood, I do not agree. It is a very sacred document, and even the simplest translations and changes, ruin the integrity of its holy nature.

Shawshank 4

I have to agree with Pulp Fiction 3’s definition of “hallowed”. Just from reading in the context of this post I understand “to be holy” or “to make holy” to be the best educated assumption of the meaning. It is my interpretation, and that is what keeps the bible and its meaning relevant. Interpretation. Moreover, this personal interpretation is very important to religion as a whole. It would not be beneficial to keep altering and translating the words of the bible. Like many works of art-and I would consider the bible to be a work of art-the more you stray from the original the less value the work has. The bible does not need to be written in laymen’s terms for everyone to understand it. A person who is less versed in religion should still have the opportunity to read the bible as it was meant to be read and then form their own understanding and interpretation.

True Grit 4

I'd have to agree that Hallowed is best interpreted to mean "to be holy" or "to make holy". In the context of the Lord's Prayer, it says "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name". I believe that to say, we pray to God in heaven who is the holiest of all. As for reading the bible, I feel like there should be a certain translation of Bible for those who may just be starting out in their faith or may not understand much of it at all. Everyone should have the opportunity to read the Bible and be able to interpret it for their own, yet still be able to understand what it's saying. On the other hand, I don't believe the Bible could be or should be "dumbed down" for those who might not understand it. It should be up to the reader to do their research and take time to carefully read.

The Mission 21

I honestly dont know what to think about this post. I, myself, am not a religious person at all so that side of me believes that in order to spread God's word, the bible must be readable for all levels of religious followers. But I also know what its like to have someone try and be apart of something when they are not fully committed or understand the holliness of the subject. There for it is my belief that the bible should be something you have to study extensively in order to understand. I would probably say that I think the correct bible should be more complex than simple so when someone takes the time to study and understand the ways of the Lord then they can say the put in the time and dedication to say theyve earned to title of christian.

The Mission 5

I'm not religious and the first time I started reading the bible, in this class, I had a very hard time. I do still find it difficult to read, especially the New Testament. But I doubt many non believers are going to suddenly decide to pick up a bible and read it like a novel. I'm sure if they really want to read and understand it they would take a class, get a study bible like the one in class, or maybe take a bible study at a church.

True Grit 5

Wow, I will not lie that I never really understood the “Hallowed be your name” just always knew that I was supposed to say it along with the congregation in church. I think the most heart stabbing part is that God is pure and calls us to obey his commandments, sanctifying Him through our obedience. I may just speak for myself but as a young generation of Christians I feel we take the commandments and only want to apply them to where the fit in our lives without hurting our image. I know convicting as it is I probably on a daily basis abuse one or three commandments. Something that is to make us pure I guess just makes me want to think all these rules to live by and no room for fun.

Nell 2

The Bible is such a powerful tool. It has been used to make laws, define roles of family, as well as husband and wife, and shows how truly amazing God is. The only downfall is that the Bible is not an easy read. I feel that is what makes it even more remarkable. Someone needs to take the time to study it to fully understand things from it. This process helps them learn about the Bible, being to understand it, and truly develop faith from the texts. I feel on that puts the time and effort into learning from the Bible will have a deeper faith. I feel as though there is not one right way to Hallow God’s name. It is a different process for everyone individually, as a family, and as a church. There are so many ways to praise God and have a one on one relationship with Him.

Dead Man Walking 5

I agree with the statement in the post. A good Bible is not one that is instantly clear to anyone, including those who have no experience with religion. Any part of accepting a religion is learning about it. People should make efforts to discover new things and not wait for it to reveal itself. There are many ways to practice Christianity, there is not just one correct way to do it.

Pulp Fiction 5

I agree with the post and all those who say that a good Bible is not necessarily easy to understand. The more than we translate and add simplicity to the Bible, the further away from the true message we go. The original writings obviously had to be translated to English as Hebrew is not a common language, but translating the Bible doesn’t mean the meaning had to change. Too often we tend to go for the easier route in order to save time. This seems to be the case when people want the Bible to be made simpler so that anyone can understand it. This also begs the argument that the Bible means different things to different individuals based on their life experiences. Who is to say that a simple understanding of the Bible is the right one?

Chariots of Fire 1

I partly disagree with this statement: “A seeker, a non-religious person, even a seasoned believer, stands a chance of understanding the Bible if and only if she reads it in the context of a community that makes the text its rule of faith and practice.” This is not true. People are and should be able to understand some version of the Bible without being in a particular context every time they read it. Some people are in the middle of a community/country/city with no church and hardly any other Christians—yet they can read it and understand a lot of it. They may understand it better with other Christians around, but they certainly have a chance to understand it without others.

Truman Show 4

I agree more with the first argument of which is the better Bible. I don't think the better Bible is one that a non-scholar would need to pore hours over to understand. That takes away from what the Bible, and early Christianity, stand for. Jesus was all about getting people to believe, and the only way for someone to believe is for them to first understand. If someone green to the Bible doesn't comprehend what they are reading and get sucked into its content, they will never have a desire to delve deeper into scripture.

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  • Ricoblog
    by Rick Brannan, it's the baby pictures I like the most
  • Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
    Nick Norelli's fabulous blog on Bible and theology
  • SansBlogue
    by Tim Bulkeley, lecturer in Old Testament, Carey Baptist College (New Zealand). His Hypertext Commentary on Amos is an interesting experiment
  • Ancient Near Eastern Languages
    texts and files to help people learn some ancient languages in self study, by Mike Heiser
  • Midrash, etc.
    A fine Hebrew-to-English blog on Midrash, by Carl Kinbar, Director of the New School for Jewish Studies and a facultm member at MJTI School of Jewish Studies.
  • Phil Lembo what I'm thinking
    a recovering lawyer, now in IT, with a passion for a faith worth living
  • Roses and Razorwire
    a top-notch Levantine archaeology blog, by Owen Chesnut, a doctoral student at Andrews University (MI)
  • Scripture & Theology
    a communal weblog dedicated to the intersection of biblical interpretation and the articulation of church doctrine, by Daniel Driver, Phil Sumpter, and others
  • Scripture Zealot
    by Jeff Contrast
  • Serving the Word
    incisive comment on the Hebrew Bible and related ancient matters, with special attention to problems of philology and linguistic anthropology, by Seth L. Sanders, Assistant Professor in the Religion Department of Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Singing in the Reign
    NT blog by Michael Barber (JP University) and Brad Pitre (Our Lady Holy Cross)
  • Stay Curious
    excellent comment on Hebrew Bible and Hebrew language topics, by Karyn Traphagen, graduate, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia PA (archive)
  • Sufficiency
    A personal take on the faith delivered to the saints, by Bob MacDonald, whose parallel blog on the Psalms in Hebrew is a colorful and innovative experiment
  • The Sundry Times
    Gary Zimmerli's place, with comment on Bible translations and church renewal
  • Sunestauromai: living the crucified life
    by a scholar-pastor based in the Grand Canyon National Park
  • ta biblia
    blog dedicated to the New Testament and the history of Christian origins, by Giovanni Bazzana
  • Targuman
    by Christian Brady, targum specialist extraordinaire, and dean of Schreyer Honors College, Penn State University
  • Targuman
    on biblical and rabbinic literature, Christian theology, gadgetry, photography, and the odd comic, by Christian Brady, associate professor of ancient Hebrew and Jewish literature and dean of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State
  • The Biblia Hebraica Blog
    a blog about Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, the history of the Ancient Near East and the classical world, Syro-Palestinian archaeology, early Judaism, early Christianity, New Testament interpretation, English Bible translations, biblical theology, religion and culture, philosophy, science fiction, and anything else relevant to the study of the Bible, by Douglas Magnum, PhD candidate, University of the Free State, South Africa
  • The Forbidden Gospels Blog
    by April DeConick, Professor of Biblical Studies, Rice University
  • The Naked Bible
    by Mike Heiser, academic editor at Logos Bible Software
  • The Reformed Reader
    by Andrew Compton, Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (focus on Hebrew and Semitic Languages) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • The Sacred Page
    a blog written by three Catholic Ph.D.s who are professors of Scripture and Theology: Michael Barber, Brant Pitre and John Bergsma
  • The Talmud Blog
    a group blog on Talmud News, Reviews, Culture, Currents, and Criticism
  • Theological German
    a site for reading and discussing theological German, by Mark Alter
  • theoutwardquest
    seeking spirituality as an outward, not an inward quest, by David Corder
  • This Lamp
    Incisive comment on Bible translations in the archives, by Rick Mansfield
  • Thoughts on Antiquity
    By Chris Weimer and friends, posts of interest on ancient Greek and Roman topics (archive). Chris is a graduate student at the City University of New York in Classics
  • Threads from Henry's Web
    Wide-ranging comment by Henry Neufeld, educator, publisher, and author
  • Tête-à-Tête-Tête
    smart commentary by "smijer," a Unitarian-Universalist
  • Undeception
    A great blog by Mike Douglas, a graduate student in biblical studies
  • What I Learned From Aristotle
    the Judaica posts are informative (archive)
  • Bouncing into Graceland
    a delightful blog on biblical and theological themes, by Esteban Vázquez (archive)
  • Weblog
    by Justin Anthony Knapp, a fearless Wikipedian (archive)
  • Writing in the Dust
    A collection of quotes by Wesley Hill, a doctoral student in New Testament studies at Durham University (UK), and a Christian who seeks the charism of chastity
  • גֵּר־וְתוֹשָׁב
    by David Miller, Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Judaism, Briercrest College & Seminary, Caronport, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • ואל-תמכר
    Buy truth and do not sell: wisdom, instruction, and understanding - a blog by Mitchell Powell, student of life at the intersection of Christ, Christianity, and Christendom
  • משלי אדם
    exploring wisdom literature, religion, and other academic pursuits, by Adam Couturier, M.A. in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

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  • Ancient Hebrew Poetry is a weblog of John F. Hobbins. Opinions expressed herein do not reflect those of his professional affiliations. Unless otherwise indicated, the contents of Ancient Hebrew Poetry, including all text, images, and other media, are original and licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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