As expected, it was not long before Dr Marple made his appearance in the Library Annexe.
“What about that, Stephen? Floored by the first year! I guessed you might have had something to do with it.”
“I must confess it was not all my doing, Earnest. What clinched the matter for all of us was the evidence of dear old Mary Dymock.”
“Yes, . . . so I understand. . . . That much I finally squeezed out of Morgan and Whitting.”
They both burst out laughing.
“You know, Stephen, I have to hand it to those lads. They are both keenites, and I saw their faces when I read the passage in Hebrews from the NIV. When we got to verse 11, their faces were a picture. I knew what they were thinking, but just let it pass without comment. You see, I’d done my homework as well, and took my cue from Arndt & Gingrich’s Greek Lexicon. I’ve brought it over with me. Listen. They say about the traditional rendering in the AV of that verse, ‘ If this meaning is correct for Heb.11:11 there is probably some error in the text, since the expression could not be used of Sarah, but only of Abraham.’ And that’s right, isn’t it? Only themale could be spoken of founding a seed, not the female.”
“Yes, exactly. That was the answer I gave the lads, and their faces fell. For a moment they thought I was of no further use to them in their enquiry,” said Doc, with a broad smile on his face.
“D’you know, I’ve searched all the versions we have here in the Library, and quite the majority just repeat the traditional view expressed in the AV, about ‘conception’, but the NIV and the Good News Bible were bold enough to change the verse in favour of Abraham instead of Sarah. That’s why I used the NIV in my lecture.”
“Then we were both on the wrong track, Earnest. I must confess that I have learned something myself through those lads and their insistence on getting to the bottom of it. Of course, once we investigated the Greek word, we soon began to get some clarification.”
“And that’s what I’ve done since they spoke to me. The normal word for ‘conceive’ and ‘conception’ is SULLAMBANO. It’s perfectly clear from Luke’s account. Let me find it. . . . Here, in the first chapter, verse 24. ‘And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself for five months.’ Then again in verse 31. ‘Behold you shall conceive in your womb and bear a son and call His name Jesus.’ So if the author of Hebrews had wanted to speak about conception he would have used the infinitive of the verb SULLAMBANO. But he didn’t. You know, Stephen, it never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn, and yet people imagine that because we have doctorates, we must know all the answers. Humbling, isn’t it?”
“Yes . . . . it is. . . . .Cuts us down to size, doesn’t it? . . . But the wonderful part is that we have now understood something more from the records, and that is one step further along the shining path to glory.”
“Thank you for that. You always seem to have an appropriate turn of phrase. What a privilege it is to have you here with us, Stephen, you’re a bastion of stability. . . . Oh well, I’ll be getting back to my study now. I’ve a few more scripts to read before supper.”