Get Rid Of The Gloss and Get The Truth.
At the time when the New Testament was written the lingua franca, or universal language, of the civilized world was Greek. It would have been unbelievable for the people of that time to think that the future lingua franca would be English, a language birthed in Britain. The Emperor Claudius had only just conquered the uncivilized blue painted tribes there and it would be many years before the conquest would be complete.
From around 500AD the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes and other tribes invaded and settled in Britain. In 1066 the Normans conquered the land and French became the official language. As time passed the combination of French and Anglo-Saxon started to form the foundations of the English language as we know it today. Even so the common tongue throughout the Western world remained Latin.
From the 17th century on the British Empire grew until it became the largest the world had ever seen. By 1922, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, one-quarter of the world's population, and covered more than 13,000,000 square miles, approximately a quarter of the Earth's total land area.
The long-standing influence of this widespread domination of other cultures was that the English language became the lingua franca around the world. For example all airline pilots and ground controllers converse in English, no matter what the airline or nationality of the pilots.
Looking at the world today it is quite possible that the lingua franca a thousand years from now will be Mandarin Chinese. Imagine if you can a scholar of the future looking at the USA of today. If his sources for research are 20th century dictionaries and the classical books of Dickens, Bronte, Twain and Austen, then he might well conclude that the happiest city in the USA was San Francisco. This would be obvious to him because it had the highest percentage of gay people.
However, if that researcher eventually came across later dictionaries and literature from the 1950’s onward, he or she would then conclude that, rather than being the happiest city in the USA, San Francisco was the most degenerate. Quite a difference!
What has this to do with gloss and anyway, what is a gloss? A gloss is a word or phrase inserted into a Biblical text where the translator had no real source evidence as to the meaning of the original word. They depended upon the context and their doctrinal position to decide what the word or phrase originally meant.
Nearly every New Testament translation of today follows the traditional translations, which were published long ago. Since that time thousands of papyri have come to light that reveal the exact meanings of these hitherto unknown words.
For example the Greek word υποτασσω (hupotasso) is generally translated as ‘submit’ rather than the more accurate ‘support’. The oft-quoted verse ‘Wives, submit to your husbands’ (Ephesians 5:22) does not occur in any known Greek text. The meaning of the text (verses 21 and 22) is that husbands and wives should support each other.
Similarly the Pharisees question to Jesus about divorce in Matthew 19:3 is usually translated as –’is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Usually taken to mean is it OK to have a divorce? Jesus reply in verse 9 would seem to indicate that he was totally against divorce unless it was on the grounds of sexual immorality.
However, we now know that the Pharisees were really asking Jesus’ opinion on the legality of an ‘Any Matter’ divorce.
The Rabbi Hillel had taught that divorce for ‘Any Matter’ was legal. This type of divorce was becoming very popular because there was no court case and no grounds had to be shown. Also it was only open for men.
On the other hand the Rabbi Shamai had taught the traditional grounds for divorce, based on Exodus 21:10-11, which was for sexual immorality, and open to both men and women.
Jesus was only answering their specific question about this ongoing dispute. He was not saying that divorce then, or at any time in the future, was only on the grounds of sexual immorality.
There are many examples of glosses that need to be written out and updated in the light of ongoing research. In the process the meaning of some passages of scripture may change quite radically. Learning the true meaning and getting rid of each gloss is very challenging.
This is the same challenge that scholars of the future may face when they research the true state of affairs in today’s San Francisco. From ‘happiest city’ to the ‘most degenerate’ is quite a jump.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’. The traditions of men and the long held doctrinal positions based on incorrect translations will not set us free. The truth is contained in the word of God as it was originally written to the original readers within the context of their situation at that time.
If we want to be truly free then we must seek to get rid of the gloss and get to the truth.