Thursday, April 26, 2018

2018 Inter-Korean Summit and the parable of "the father and two sons"

Yung Suk Kim

I have tears in my eyes, seeing the above scene that both leaders hold hands together and cross the dividing line together. This historic summit of South and North Korea is reminiscent of the parable of "the father and two sons" in Luke 15:11-32. President Moon Jae-In acts as "the father in the parable" in some sense. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean Leader, may be compared to the younger son/brother in the parable. Kim is younger than Moon by 31 years. Moon welcomes Kim so open-mindedly and warmly. 

[Moon is waiting for Kim]

The older brother/son in the parable represents the right-wing parties and anti-communists in South Korea who don't like this summit. 

But a new history is being made right now in the Korean peninsula, as Kim said. 

[Left column: Kim Yeo Jung's writing on Feb 10 at her visit to the Blue House in South Korea; she was a special envoy sent by her brother, Kim Jung Un. Right column: Kim Jung Un's writing at the summit, April 27, 2018, about two months after her visit to South Korea. She wrote: "I hope Pyongyang and Seoul will get closer to Korean people's heart, expecting prosperity and reunification." Kim Jung Un wrote: "A new history starts now. Now is a time of peace. I stand at the starting line of the new history."]

Peace is possible because of the mutual trust. Kim is crossing the dividing line of the DMZ and enters into the South Korean territory. This is a very symbolic scene. He comes home in a sense. I pray that a peace treaty will come along the way. In the video footage, we see various movements of them back and forth. First, Kim crosses the dividing line into the south. This is the first time that the North Korean Leader has ever crossed into South Korea since 1953. Then Kim suggests that Moon also cross the line into North Korea; so they cross into the North together. Then, they cross back to South Korea. It is all a matter of the 5 cm-high dividing line at Panmunjom, which is only 60 km north of Seoul and about 150 km south of Pyongyang.

There was a devastating war in Korea from 1950 to 1953. The war stopped in 1953 with the armistice treaty made. This means both sides are at war technically. It needs to end. In the borderline between the South and North, the small blue-painted temporary houses were built after the armistice to conduct meetings to manage unnecessary tensions or conflicts. Through this small route between the blue-painted houses, they meet and cross the borderline back and forth. Healing and reconciliation must start right away. Love is stronger than hatred. They agreed to end the war and move toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 

Facing each other with full smiles

One step away from shaking hands

Kim is crossing a 50-cm-high dividing block between North and South Korea

Shaking hands in so close a distance


For a planted pine tree

Stone reads: "we plant peace and prosperity"

Walking in the forest

Tea time and secret conversation in the northern corner of the footbridge

Hugging like father and son

Showing hands

First ladies: Lee Sul-Ju and Kim Jung Sook (right)

At the dinner reception


The guy in tears is one of the key persons who prepared this meeting: Seo Hoon, CIA Dir. 
The front person is Lim Jong Suk, the chief executive, and secretary in the president's office

before farewell

at farewell


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A student's word energizes me

Teaching is a hard job.
Sometimes I don't know how students receive what I am teaching.
Sometimes I am exhausted.
But sometimes I hear or receive affirming words from them. 
That is my reward. 
I got this following from one of my students:
"I have REALLY enjoyed being in your class, Dr. Kim. You don't spend a lot of time trying to prove how smart you are. Instead, you spend your time pouring into us. Being in your class has changed my personal theology and enhanced not only my ministry but my personal relationship with God. Please don't ever change. You said in week 2 that you will not apologize for being you. I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate you. God bless you and your family."

I have another one coming from the other person a day later:

Dr. Kim,
I just wanted to acknowledge your work.  I truly get lots of good things from your articles and your books.  I have even bought some of your books for personal reading.  Your journey has produced some great, informative and helpful work.  Have a wonderful day!

Here is another one coming on Teacher's Day:
Blessings Dr. Kim, I'm xxx your African Ghanaian Graduate student at Virginia Union University, Richmond.  God bless you increasingly for the great impact you've made on my ministry. With the revelation of the anatomy of the New Testament, I'm by God's Grace making rapid progress in ministry. The collection of your few books I have has become my main source of reference as far as the historical Jesus is concerned. Thank you so very much and bless-up! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Translation issues in Rom 3:21-26 and Gal 2:20

Yung Suk Kim
Romans 3:21-26:

New Revised Standard Version
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

The most neutral translation of a genitive case phrase is to provide "of" in between the head noun and the substantive. That is, when we translate dikaiosyne (righteousness) theou (of God), we can translate it as "the righteousness of God." By this English readers may know this is a genitive phrase, which must be carefully interpreted. We find this kind of "of" combined genitive in English Bibles: for example, the body of Christ, the love of God, the body of sin, the blasphemy of the Spirit, the sin of the world, and etc. In each case of a genitive, we have to say which genitive meaning is meant. Sometimes, the use of a genitive is obvious in a sentence: "Who shall separate us from the 'love of Christ'? (Rom 8:35). Here the "love of Christ" means Christ's love (not your love for Christ); so this is a subjective genitive meaning. Now when it comes to "pistis christou" (faith of Christ), another Greek genitive, the NRSV didn't follow the neutral policy of translation as it did with "the righteousness of God." Instead, the NRSV translated it as an objective genitive: "faith in Christ" (see 3:22 and 26). This is a problem of inconsistency about the translation. In order to be consistent, the NRSV should have translated "pistis christou" as "faith of Christ," whose genitive meaning needs interpretation. I am certain that both of these genitive phrases mean the subjective sense: God's righteousness and Christ's faithfulness. Among many evidence that I may find from Paul's undisputed letters, the most decisive evidence is this: If Paul had intended "faith in Christ" in the above passage, he could have used the prepositional phrase with "en": "pistis en christo" instead of the genitive case because "pistis en christo" clearly conveys believer's faith in Christ. But Paul used a genitive phrase in Romans and elsewhere in the undisputed letters. Therefore, we can safely say that here the genitive "pistis christou" must mean Christ's faithfulness. Actually, if we read Romans as a whole (or Galatians), we can further feel confident that Paul means a subjective meaning of Christ's faithfulness through which God's righteousness is revealed for all who have Christ's faith. You may wonder then why the NRSV is inconsistent in its translation of a genitive.  

Common English Bible
21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

Now compare NRSV with CEB. The immediately noticeable things are clear; CEB translates "dikaiosyne theou" as "God's righteousness" which is a subjective genitive. Likewise, "pistis christou" as "the faithfulness of Jesus" which is a subjective genitive meaning (Jesus' faithfulness). Yet CEB is also inconsistent in its translation; for example, "faith in him" (v.22) is an interpretation of "those who believe." There is no "in him" in Greek. More surprisingly, "faith in Jesus" (v.26) is also an interpretation of the genitive "pistis christou," which can be a meaning of either subjective or objective genitive. In order to be consistent, the CEB could translate like this: "the one who has the faithfulness of Jesus." In the end, what it did in verse 26 is to confirm the doctrine of justification by faith: "to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous." Rather, the plain meaning of this is: "God justifies the one who has the faithfulness of Jesus" which is coherent with "pistis christou" in v.22.

New International Version (old version)
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--  26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

NIV renders the Greek genitive cases of "the righteousness of God," and "faith of Christ" as the objective meaning. It interpreted for readers that these genitive cases are meant to be objective meaning. I disagree! Paul's gospel is not about "how I am saved" but about "how we become children of God." What you see here in this translation is an imputed or imparted righteousness to believers. It is like God having lots of righteousness and distributing to believers once and for all. This is a forensic salvation perspective or old perspective on Paul. Again, I don't think Paul is concerned about the Western-view of an individualistic justification. He is a thorough community person. He says in Rom 9:2-4: "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race,  4 the people of Israel." His vision is the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles. Another problem is found in v.26. Why does NIV change righteousness to justice because there is a same Greek noun "dikaiosyne" used here? "His justice" is chosen here to evoke the satisfaction theory of atonement in which God's moral justice is satisfied by Christ's sinless death. That is something we don't see in the text though it is not impossible to read that way. Likewise, God is "just" instead of "righteous." "Pistis christou" is also interpreted as "faith in Christ" throughout.

Galatians 2:20:

New Revised Standard Version
20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

"en pistei zo te tou hioue tou theou" in Greek means "I live in the faith of the Son of God" (genitive phrase). Paul simply says here: "I live in Jesus' faith" if this means a subjective genitive. Paul says now Christ lives in him, and therefore, he lives with Christ's faith. That is a most natural flow of meaning. But NRSV takes this as an objective genitive meaning, so making Paul put his faith in Jesus. This is very awkward. 

Common English Bible
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.     

CEB does a great job in this verse because it clearly designates faith here as Jesus' faith. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

"To return is the movement of the Way"

"To return is the movement of the Way"
(fǎn zhě dào zhī dòng, from Dao De Jing 40)

Hebrew Bible:
שׁוּב (shub), which means "to turn back"

 New Testament:
μετάνοια (metanoia), which means a "change of mind."

The question is,
"To what should we return or turn back?"