Stimulus Volume 20 Issue 2 - Jul 2013


The Women who Followed Jesus: Part 1
Jacqueline Lloyd

The "Light on the Hill" Paradox: Hearing the Sermon on the Mount with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Jordan Redding

The Voice
Geoff New

Educated Guesses
Yael Klangwisan

Worship Leading and the Systems Model of Creativity
Caleb Driver

Cyclic Time and the Glorious Wounds: Articulating a Christological Account of Forgiveness
Cameron Surrey

Models and Metaphors
Nicola Hoggard Creegan

Responding to Secularisation: Modern Dangers and Postmodern Opportunities
T. Mark McConnell

St Imulus

Freudian Slips
Ruth McConnell

Book Reviews


Putting Stimulus together usually involves several rounds of copy editing. On the one hand I try and ensure that all the articles conform to the house style; on the other I aim for sentences that are crisp and f low easily. Often this involves thinking carefully about the placement of commas and other punctuation marks. I am sure that readers will judge how well I do this, but I try and use enough commas to ensure that the sense is clear, but not too many. I find this to be a delicate balance, since I don’t want to do all the work for you, but neither do I want to leave sentences ambiguous or unclear. Lynne Truss mentions James Thurber, who wrote for the New Yorkerin the nineteen-thirties, having ongoing debates with the Editor Harold Ross about commas. Apparently, Ross believed that “there was no limit to the amount of clarification you could achieve if you just kept adding commas,” while Thurber would omit them all if he could.

Jacqueline Lloyd’s article on the women followers of Jesus reminds me in an oblique way of the importance of appropriately placed commas. Jacqueline discusses the women in Luke :1-3, and, while she doesn’t mention this explicitly, Luke tells us in v. 3 that these women provided for (diakoneo) Jesus and his other followers out of their resources. (For what she has to say about this you need to wait for Part 2 of her article in the next issue of Stimulus.) Luke’s use of the verb diakoneo reminded me of the occurrence of the related noun diakonia (service) in Eph 4:12, a text where the presence or absence a comma makes a considerable difference to the understanding of the text.

When William Tyndale translated the New Testament in 1526 he translated Eph 4:11–12 as,

And the very same, made some Apostles, some prophetes, some Evangelistes, some Shepperdes, some Teachers: that the sainctes might have all thynges necessary to worke and minister withall, to the edifyinge of the body of Christ.

Here is a thirty-six word sentence with sixcommas and a colon. And even if the spelling is odd to our eyes, the sense remains clear almost five hundred years later. For Tyndale the role of the “people gifts” that the risen Christ gave to the Church was to ensure that the people of God had “all thynges necessary to worke and minister,” so that the body of Christ would be edified.

Less than one hundred years later the 1611 King James Version appeared, and the two verses are strikingly different. The thirty-seven words are reduced to thirty-six, the colon has gone, but there are four semi-colons. The six commas remain but they are differently placed. And because the KJV seems to think every verse is a new paragraph (not much help if you are trying to follow the flow of anarrative), there is a capital letter at the start of v. 12, even though v. 11 ended with a semi-colon:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

While the translation is much more literal, the sense is quite different. The commas and semicolons in v. 11 seem to indicate that instead of the apostles and others being given to the church, they were given to “some.” I am more interested, however, in the commas in v. 12. The “people gifts” now have three tasks: “the perfecting of the saints… the work of the ministry… the edifying of the body of Christ. While, according to Tyndale, all the people of God were to be involved in “working and ministering;” according to the KJV translators, “the work of the ministry (diakonia)” is what the church leaders are supposed to do along with perfecting the saints and edifying the body of Christ.

I am not familiar enough with sixteenth century British history to surmise what had happened over the seventy odd years between Tyndale and the later translators to make them think that diakonia was to be restricted to church leaders. Clearly, they seemed to think that diakonia was limited to the things that people did in church, and in those days, as now, most people would have sat and listened and prayed and maybe sang, while the “minister” (diakonos) would have done the “ministry” (diakonia). Fortunately, the church has moved on from the King James Version, and while the 1901 American Standard Version and the 1952 Revised Standard Version retained the first comma in verse 12 of the KJV, almost all subsequent versions have omitted it. The Good News Bible seems to preserve the sense better than most (with fortyseven words, four commas and a semi-colon, and the sentence divided into two).

It was he who “gave gifts”; he appointed some to be apostles, others to be prophets, others to be evangelists, others to be pastors and teachers. He did this to prepare all God’s people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ (TEV).

For this translation, as with Tyndale’s, “the work of Christian service” is not restricted to those professionals who stand in pulpits; we are all called to serve God and our contemporaries, seven days a week. As the closing words of the Communion Liturgy in the Anglican New Zealand Prayer Book put it so nicely, we are called to “Go… to love and serve the Lord.” Of course there is no Greek original behind these words, but I guess the verb diakoneo (serve) would fit really well.

Aside from Jacqueline Lloyd’s article on the women who “ministered” to Jesus and his other followers there is plenty more to read in this issue. Jordan Redding carries on a conversation with Bonhoeffer on what discipleship means in the Sermon the Mount, specifically in the call to be the “light on the hill.” We follow this with an article from Cameron Surrey on a Christological account of forgiveness. Mark McConnell, a colleague at Laidlaw, contributes an article on secularisation, and Caleb Driver from Vision College in Hamilton follows up Mark Keown’s recent article on music and song in church worship with a discussion of the complexities involved in leading sung worship in contemporary Pentecostal/Charismatic churches. The usual columns and a set of book reviews rounds off the issue. We trust you will enjoy this issue of Stimulus, and that it will stimulate your minds and hearts.

Philip Church