Using Greek

Good article about using greek in our Bible studies at DouglasJacoby.com. He advocates a rather high level of study for those who want to read adn study the Bible in the original Greek, and for good reason:

It is simply not realistic that a Greek scholar will be produced through dabbling, any more than that one can determine the answer to a calculus problem without having gone through the prerequisite steps: basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, analytic geometry, derivation and integration. Does this seem right?

As one preacher quipped, "I know just enough Greek to be dangerous." As Alexander Pope quipped, "A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain; And drinkly largely sobers us again." Pope is right; and the languages of sacred scripture are not fit subjects for dabbling. In other words, if we are going to learn Greek, let's "drink largely"—go for it!—aiming for excellence.

I've often grown weary of those who insist on using the Greek often in their quoting and teaching of scripture. As if God was not capable of providing us with a suitable translation of scripure in English, and we must understand the original language to understand the Bible. Certainly there are pitfalls in any translation, but it seems that the core of Christianity and the heart of God is clear.

2 Comments

As you can see, I've gone WAY back in reading your site. I had to jump at this one. As one who goes to the original Greek often, let me defend this practice by saying that ANY translation is just that: the best attempt by translators to re-say in English what was already said in Greek. To that end, studying the Greek can often make the histical and literary background of the Bible come more alive than ever. This is not at all to say that English, German, Chinese or any other translation is not capable of conveying the truth. Far from it. In fact, if we fallen humans understand any truth of God at all, it's because the Holy Spirit has shown it to us (our "natural man" does not understand or accept the things of God). Now here I am speaking of translations, not "paraphrases" such as the "Message" or other trash. Rather, God chose to use certain words when inspiring the Bible, and those word have literary and culteral meaning to the hearers. All I'm saying is that there's nothing suspect about going back in finding what those words were and what they meant to the recipients... lest we fall into the modern syndrome of pouring 20th century meanings into Biblical concepts. For example: Love. Knowing 'agape' from 'eros' from 'phileo' can help greatly when countering modern false understandings of "love." Also realize that the reason you HAVE a Bible in English is because someone went to the Greek. There is a reason why quality seminaries spend time teaching Greek and Hebrew, and why so many heresies can only be "proven" using 20th century language with 20th century connotaions. Again, this is not to besmirch modern translations, only to say that if you really want to get to the nitty gritty, you have to skip the middle man (English, German, whatever) and go to the original. Besides, Greek is beautiful.

Wow, you did go back a ways! That's cool. I think DJ's criticism there was more against those who look up a word or two to prove their point. They are not looking for truth but a confirmation of their preconcieved notions. They only look far enough to find it, and no farther. He is not agianst the study of greek, only the casual dabling that leads to more confusion, not more understanding.



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  • Wow, you did go back a ways! That's cool. I think DJ's criticism there was more against those who look up a word or two to prove their point. They are not looking for truth but a confirmation of their preconcieved not...

  • As you can see, I've gone WAY back in reading your site. I had to jump at this one. As one who goes to the original Greek often, let me defend this practice by saying that ANY translation is just that: the best attempt...

    Phil in CA
    Using Greek
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