F2F Radio: FTU-002 “God or Mammon”
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Continuing in the On-The-Fly series, “Fathoming The Unfathomable: Bringing Eternal Principles into Space-Time,” the Biblical word Mammon has been on my mind. What does it mean? Why have some translators transliterated the word rather than translate it? And of course, the most important, how does it apply to us today?
First, we should define Translation, Transliteration, and Paraphrase. Then look at why the Greek, Latin, and English translators decided to keep some original language words in their translations.
A translation is “a written or spoken rendering of the meaning of a word, speech, book, or other text in another language.” [Oxford Dictionary]
Transliteration is to “write or print (a letter or word) using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or script.” [Oxford Dictionary] (Example
A paraphrase is to “express the meaning of (the writer or speaker or something written or spoken) using different words, especially to achieve greater clarity. [Oxford Dictionary]
In layman’s terms, a translation is coveying the words into another language (preferred). A paraphrase is conveying meanings into another culture (risk of misunderstanding and alteration). A transliteration is introducing the word(s) themselves into different languages and cultures (good, provided you research the newly created word).
Languages Spoke in Biblical Times
The common language in the Biblical Mideast in the day was Aramaic. It has been around forever, and it was the ordinary person-to-person language. Greek was a more official language propagated by the Greeks civilization earlier. And Latin was the new incoming language of government, business, and scholarship mandated by the Roman occupiers. Hebrew used by the Priests, Scribes, and the Synagogs. So, most likely, Jesus spoke in Aramaic most times, speaking to the general masses and perhaps Hebrew (AKA Jewish Aramaic) in the Synagogs or to predominantly Jews and Greek or Latin to the government officials (though they knew Greek as well).
The New Testament is in Ancient Greek (which has virtually nothing to do with Modern Greek). There were even some times Paul explained to the Romans officials he was going to speak to the locals:
“When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, motioned to the people with his hand; and when there was a great hush, he spoke to them in the Hebrew dialect, saying..” – Acts 21:40 -NASB
Yet it was written in the book of Acts as Greek. I bring this up because there were times the authors and translators did not translate into Greek but kept it in Aramaic or Hebrew. I think this might be because there were nuances to the word not adequately conveyed by any word in Greek. Or, perhaps the word was rare and not well understood, so, kept to be “safe.” I think Mammon was one of these times.
Here are a few other examples of preserving the original spoken word:
“Taking the child by the hand, He *said to her, ‘Talitha kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk,” -Mark 5:41-42 [NASB]
“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'” -Matthew 27:46 [NASB]
Now to our subject tonight
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” – Matthew 6:24 [KJV]
The NASB has decided to translate “mammon” to “wealth” but was compelled to add this footnote:
“Greek mamonas, for Aramaic mamon (mammon); i.e., wealth, etc., personified as an object of worship.”
I would expound on this footnote. Mammon is the personification into one’s whole worldview and lifestyle of loving, seeking and obtaining wealth for obtaining power and prestige, and the exercising of that power.
It is not just seeking wealth or power. This Spirit of Mammon is not satisfied with either. It is a consuming drive for more. And the reward of having it is the oppression of others and their exclusion, confirming your power and glory. Millionaires seek to billionaire stats and what force it brings. Now there is a race for the first trillionaire. The corporate latter leads to the CEO, and it’s power and wealth.
It starts as a reasonable, perhaps even a noble goal, which is the gateway for lust and greed. As you allow it to grow, it will eventually take over the driving. You cannot serve your Noble Goal and Mammon.
The Spirit of Mammon At Work Today
Why I think I am drawn to this at this time is we are seeing the colossal results of the Spirit of Mammon running wild.
- Bolshevist attacks on the US Constitution.
- Vicious attacks and lies via the Media and Politicians clearing a path to power in their fantasy of totalitarian rule.
- Charities being unprecedentedly used to steal money and deprived of those they were created to help.
- The Graft and corruption in government in levels hard to quantify the billions stolen from the taxpayers.
- The common killing of the unborn being demanded even past the time of live birth.
- Human Trafficking being promoted and shielded by those tasked with protecting those trafficked.
- The Stock Exchanges and Banking institution are unbridled to create and falsify value and transactions creating a bubble whose breaking will dwarf the “Fall of Babylon.”
- The threat of wars and mass oppression abound.
All of these are the fruits of the Spirit of Mammon. But in our own lives far less glamorous but just as dangerous of infection from these Spirit of Malice. We have to ask ourselves, WHY am I driven? WHY do I need more? WHAT is the end goal of the drive. WHEN is enough? Do I excuse the oppression or exclusion of others’ needs for my wants? WWJD?
Whether it is literal history or a parable of sorts, the Garden of Eden encounter with the Serpent is a telling narrative of what we are seeing playing out today.
The Garden Choices Set The Tone and Terms
“The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die… Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman… “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” -Selections from Genesis 2-3 [NASB]
I did not want to quote the whole two chapters, just the main point.
The choice was given them to, as I would paraphrase it, “Have experiential personal knowledge of the difference between Good and Evil” and lead by the lust for power of “Being Like God” (the goal of the Spirit Of Mammon) they and we are learning the hard way. But, in the end, it will be an eternal lesson.
I think we are in the Latter Days spoke of by Jesus, which will be the culmination of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil driven by that very Spirit of Mammon.
The VERY OBVIOUS bottom line written across the sky in its obviousness, Humans CANNOT serve God (living out His policies) and serve Mammon (living out its policies). Not even a little as a little WILL ALWAYS lead to more and ultimately to destruction in all applications.
This is why I think the Sermon on the Mount” is the most critical work in all of history. All of Jesus’ sayings are warnings and guidelines alike.
The Kingdom of Heaven more valuable than Mammon.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” -Matthew 13: 44-46 [NASB]
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” -Luke 12:16-21 [NASB]
“But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it, and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” -Luke 6:49 [NASB]
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!“ -Matthew 6:19-23
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