This blog explores and examines the intersections of rhetoric, race, and religion.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The Surprising Truth Behind Biblical Prophecies
Ask most people what happens to prophecies in the Bible, and the response will be that they get fulfilled. But that popular answer is based on a fundamental translation mistake. The Bible doesn't say that prophecies come true. Here's what led to that widespread misunderstanding.
Greek has a verb plerow, commonly pronounced “play-ROH-oh.” It primarily means “fill,” and appears throughout the Bible. Romans 15:13, for example, reads, “May the God of hope fill [plerow] you with all joy.” In Matthew 13:48, the word refers to a dragnet that is “full” of fish. And so on.
Because the English word “fulfill” contains the word “fill,” translators wrongly thought that the Greek word plerow could mean “fulfill” in addition to “fill.” But language doesn't work that way.
Just as “supplant” in English is different than “plant,” and “supply” is different than “ply,”plerow doesn't jump in meaning from “fill” to “fulfill.” These pairs only have superficial similarities in common, and looking at internal structure in this way leads people astray. (Read more about why.)