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What did Jesus Actually Say?

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Unlike a Simile

Genesis 11:7 LEB
Come, let us go down and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand each other’s language.”
But what if Jesus actually did want to say something as insane as “Hey everybody, this bread right here in My hand is also my human body”? Forget the philosophy for a moment. Just ask the linguistic question.
If Jesus wanted to convey some miraculous impossible-super-divine way of being a piece of bread, what other words could he have used? But if a dynamic verse like “is” is not enough, is an adverb or prepositional phrase really going to make a difference.
So we are left with the thought - what if Jesus wanted to say something insane?
Psalm 119:105 LEB
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

It “is” the Copula

“is” is used to combine meanings in a mysterious way, in order to flesh out our understanding of the things we are talking about. Even in its weakest form, the metaphor, “Is” is always a verbal fusion, a powerful utterance insisting that the two are not the same are indeed the same after all. That’s why old school grammar teachers called “is” the copula .. is copulates ideas.
Every human language that exist has a way to do this. A few ancient “caveman speak”-style languages, like Hebrew, technically hide the copula. Gordo strong. Gordo wise. But this is not because they do not have “is” They only consider “is” so basic and obvious that there is no need verbalizing it. We do much the same thing when we hide “is” behind an apostrophe “s”
So when the ancient Godro, son of someone, would talk about this or that without ever saying the word “is” out loud, the minds of those around him natively understood that the “is” was there. Because Gordo can not ‘do” wise or eat wise or run wise, he must be wise or at least consider himself so.
This deep dive into linguistics is important for Jesus’ Words of Institution. Both Hebrew and Aramaic, languages Jesus would have spoken as mother tongues, function with a silent copula. If Jesus was speaking these languages in the Upper Room, He could not have said “This IS my body,” because there is no way to say “is” in either tongue. Instead, he would have said “This, My body.”
For some, this is the silver bullet needed to end all conversation on the meaning of His words. In one fell swoop, all contention for the bread actually being Jesus comes collapsing down. All those years of Church tradition and theology that say otherwise are based on words that aren’t even there in the original!
Of course, aside from thereby making the claim that Hebrew could only ever speak in metaphor and had no way to say real things, it more dangerously also means that Scripture, alone, is NOT what we are to put our trust in. We should be our trust in the original monographs and hold all teachers and translators as fallible — and trust the Revealed Word but not blindly. Scofield for example, taught a corruptible theology and pointed at the Word for proof.....

Hypothetical Backflips

John 16:15 LEB
Everything that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he takes from what is mine and will proclaim it to you.
It is important to make clear we do not know what language Jesus spoke in the Upper Room. This argument in many ways is an exercise in imaging things. But it is also a great proving ground for testing the way we read scripture.
For the moment, let’s grant the argument that Jesus spoke Aramaic on that night in the Upper Room. If such were the case, than there is no choice but to believe that the authors of the New Testament then chose to translate what He said into Greek. When they did so, for some reason, they inserted the copula. They added the word IS to Jesus’ words. You might think, “Of course they did. They had to translate the metaphor.” But this is just the thing: the Greek does not need to have IS inserted at all.
Greek is an odd duck of a language. Greek likes to have its cake and eat it too. In the common Greek of Jesus day, Gordo could have said Gordo wise or Gordo is wise. Depending on how he felt or if he was in a hurry. Just like we can say it is or its. No one misses a beat, we don’t even think about it.
But IF Jesus instituted the Supper in Aramaic and therefore couldn’t use the word IS as God’s way or enshrining the metaphor, then when the apostles translated it into common Greek, they really made a mess of things. Rather than translate it literally and woodenly, as they were perfectly capable of doing, rendering This my body into Greek, they instead took the time to ADD a physical word.
More! They did not add the word symbolizes, although they could have, and should have if that is what is was meant. Nor did they add the word represents, nor the phrase IS LIKE, nor IS AS IF. Instead all four of the writers, very intentionally, took the Aramaic meaning to be most clearly carried into Greek by inserting the lonely copula. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they wrote “This is my body.”
This must cause us to think...

The Legacy of a Misstep

Matthew 14:31 LEB
And immediately Jesus extended his hand and caught him and said to him, “You of little faith! Why did you doubt?”
If Jesus wanted His words to be taken as a picture or metaphor, then we must admit this much: they are a vague and disruptive symbol. If their meaning is not plain, then there is no clear meaning to them at all. But if Jesus wanted to give us a simple statement of a miraculous and mysterious reality. He used the only word human language has give for making such claims. He could not have said it any other way, nor did he.
In a Bible where Jesus often explains parables but never explains miracles, it’s impossible is a terribly poor argument against His plain meaning. More than terrible, it has been historically cataclysmic. For once we started down this nonbiblical path of judging the Scriptures by our understanding, we could only eventually find ourselves subsumed beneath the reign of doubt.
Why not question the reality of Jonah? Who is to stop us from questioning a tall tale about five pieces of bread and two fish, or walking on water, or rising from the dead? Once Scripture is subjected to what we are willing to believe possible, what IS means quickly becomes the least of our worries. By the time we are done applying our doubts to the rest of the Bible there is nothing left. We flee from doubting :is: to doubting “often: to doubting “wine” to doubting forgiveness.
It should not surprise us that after giving such thinking pride of place for so long, skeptical minds have moved on to questions about 6 days, and marriage and sin and hell. It’s not a wonder that the licence to doubt has lead to version of Christianity that preach not only a symbolic supper but a symbolic death for the Son of God.
What remains now is the unfortunate truth: There is no passage of Scripture that teaches us to question the scripture. But there are many that insist that it is clear. The Bible says many things , but God can not do what He says is NOT one of them
If we are to have any hope in surviving the doubt driven storm we can no longer assume old assertions, inferences and speculations. We now stand face-to -face with the wrath of God against an unbelieving culture, pressed down under cover of deep darkness. From 2000 years ago, Jesus Himself sits with us, staring across the table with eyes fully aware of the terror that awaits Him. He has only a little time left, a few more words to say. This is , is what He left us.
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