Excavating the Bible with Jeff A. Benner
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A Cultural and Linguistic Excavation of the Bible

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. (1 John 1:1, ESV)

Instead of reading the Bible with just our minds, we need to read it with our senses, as well. That is, we need to see, hear, smell, taste and touch it from the perspective of those who lived it. In other words, do not experience the idea of “grace” as an abstract thought in the sense of being favored. Instead, know it through the more concrete experience of Hebrew thought, which is like the experience of coming home after being away for a long period of time.

For me, this journey began in 1992. For the first time in my life, I had recently begun a very serious study of the Bible, inspired in part because my new wife’s church had some beliefs that were very different from my own. I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table with my Bible, a Bible concordance and dictionary and my notepad, doing a study on angels.

Using the Bible concordance, I discovered that the “messengers” Jacob sent to his brother in Genesis 32:3 was in-fact, the same “angels” he met with in Genesis 32:1. The concordance revealed that the Hebrew word behind “messenger” was the very same Hebrew word behind the word “angel”—mal’akh. This raised a few questions in my mind:

“Why would the translator use two different words for this one Hebrew word?”

“Is the translator changing the original meaning of the passage?”

“Where else has the translator been so inconsistent with his translations?”

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this and other similar discoveries in my biblical studies laid the foundation for my Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, published in 2005. I wrote it to bring to light the cultural and linguistic background of the words that form the Hebrew Bible.

The insights into the culture and language of the Bible that I learned while writing the lexicon spurred me on to doing my own translation, the culmination of which was The Torah: A Mechanical Translation[1], published in 2019. Also in 2019 I published my Benner’s Commentary on the Torah.

Now, I invite you to continue this journey with me as we walk through A Cultural and Linguistic Excavation of the Bible, where we will dig deep into the history of the Bible, its people and their language, and uncover hidden truths that have been lost through centuries of mistranslations, misinterpretations and textual manipulation.

Jeff A. Benner

Magnolia, MS. USA
June 28, 2023


1. Accompanying this translation is the Revised Mechanical Translation (RMT), which is occasionally referenced in this work.

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   © 2023 Jeff A. Benner