Is it worth studying Greek?

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BillS | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 1:29 PM

George Somsel:

Super Tramp:
If Thayer merits an "irrelevance" warning label, George Somsel merits a "sarcasm" warning label.Hmm

Moi?  Surprise

Now kids, don't make me come back there... LOL

Grace & Peace,
Bill


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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 1:30 PM

ROGER JIMENEZ:
Remember Todd, Paul "saw" and taught the Gospel from his rabbis perslpective, previous encounter with Jesus of course! And also he had no Gospel to teach, he saw it in OT, that's waht we call "by revelation" of the Scriptures

But WHY did God bother to reveal it to Paul unless God wanted to save each one of us the trouble of digging it out of the Old Testament? Also, Hebrews 1:1-2 (whether or not Paul was the author) makes it clear we have the message now. God can not be discovered unless He reveals Himself.  God wants to be discovered and has revealed himself.  I am comforted to know these verses: Matthew 7:7 and Proverbs 25:2 . The one thing that jumps out at me is we have to pursue Him.

Our worldview will influence how we receive the Bible. Is God Creator AND Sustainer of all things? If He is Sustainer, then to what degree? Does the Bible contain the words of God or is it the Word of God? Again, to what degree?

Two examples of why deeper study is needed are
 Judges 11:30-39 Did Jeptha really offer his daughter as a blood sacrifice on an altar?
 Titus 1:12 Did the Apostle Paul personally believe all Cretans are liars? Or was Paul just amazed at Epimenides' pronouncement

A surface reading of each text would suggest "Yes." Deeper study would suggest "No." Is it possible the deepest study will show it really is "Yes?" At some point we must accept on faith that God is able and does in fact preserve His message unto us. If culture, passage of time, linguistic evolution or heretics can corrupt it, we must hold the whole Bible suspect. After all, claiming the Bible is inspired in it's original autograph doesn't help us since we don't have ANY of the original manuscripts. Not even Hebrew. Faith has to be a factor. Even Bart Ehrman would agree with that.

The Apostle Paul had much more than a rabbinical education. He understood Roman politics, Hebrew religion, Greek philosophy and rhetoric. If you are going to retrace Paul's steps in arriving at the message, you will need to take advantage of the Perseus collections and more. Hebrew alone will not suffice.

Pauline Studies Collection (10 vols.) Patemoster
Pauline Studies Library (35 vols.) Logos/T&T/IVP
SPCK Pauline Studies Collection (3 vols.)
Fortress Press Paul Collection (17 vols.)

Once again, you won't live long enough to replicate Paul's knowledge. Grab some background commentaries and learn from dozens of scholars who had  life-long investments in a single focus. "Standing on the shoulders of giants..."

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ROGER JIMENEZ | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 1:33 PM

Super Tramp:
If you find value in the study of Hebrew, I'm surprised you would not see the same for Greek.

In essence, I agree with you, Surper Tramp. But let me rephrase my question, in the sense that, if the study of Greek should not be taken by the hand of the Hebrew context, instead of wasting time in the study of its syntax and language itself. If you study Shakespeare, you're not going to study in German, far less, not going to study that language as such, or its structure, or syntax.

Its importance (of Greek) as a vehicle for spreading the Gospel, no discussion. How important is English? How important is it French? Take an example. What does "Easter"? What does "Christmas"? What has come to mean?

How do words lose their meaning and force? When you cut their root, that is, its context.

Christmas = gifts, Easter = vacation.

At the end, we don't teach the Gospel, but we try to adapt, or hooked to the cultural force. Now who has the power, the truck or trailer?

Thanks for your time Super Tramp.

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BillS | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 1:34 PM

Super Tramp:

Once again, you won't live long enough to replicate Paul's knowledge. Grab some background commentaries and learn from dozens of scholars who had  life-long investments in a single focus. "Standing on the shoulders of giants..."

Hi Matthew,

Agreed we won't live long enough to replicate... agreed grab some commentaries & learn... standing on the shoulders...

Nevertheless, without attempting the work, can we really gain the undertanding we want? Or even appreciate fully what Paul said?

If what we're really about is "faith seeking understanding," then I think both approaches are valid & helpful & complimentary.

Grace & Peace,
Bill


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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 1:51 PM

BillS:

Agreed we won't live long enough to replicate... agreed grab some commentaries & learn... standing on the shoulders...

Nevertheless, without attempting the work, can we really gain the undertanding we want? Or even appreciate fully what Paul said?

If what we're really about is "faith seeking understanding," then I think both approaches are valid & helpful & complimentary.

I agree 100%. It all comes back to the purpose you have in studying. I am not even saying everyone should have the same purpose. God may want one person to focus on archeology related to the Bible, others may be called to counseling, still others to health care.The Bible is rich in meaning. If we ever think we grasp it all we have become victims of self-delusion.

I am tickled pink to have the study tools in Logos. I will never master Greek and barely grasp Hebrew in my lifetime. I'm grateful to George S. and others for their hard study in the original languages and do not fault anyone else for going after Hebrew on the deepest level. But for most of us, Logos will suffice very well for our life callings.

 

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Mike Tourangeau | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 1:56 PM

ROGER JIMENEZ:

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I was wondering, is it worth studying Greek? Is Greek really important for understanding the Gospel? Say, "faith", its meaning, its roots in Hebrew (first appears in Exodus 17.12, meaning "steady"), does it have anything to do with the concepts of faith in Greek? Isn’t it more important to study the Gospel in Hebrew context and then, if material, study it in Greek?

Now, what tools do we have in Logos to maintain this point of view? I mean, to studying Gospel in his context in Hebrew. Thanks for your contribution.

Roger, I am one who has decided it would be good for me to have a working knowledge of Greek. As a church planter/father/ ETC I find it very difficult to get time to study, but I REALLY love it.... it is a hobby for me really.

Should you decide to go ahead with it, I recommend  "Basics of Biblical Greek" by Mounce. If you follow his system it will be helpful.

I have found it helps me see the force and nuance of the author's construction, some things just seem to "stick out" that do not to me in the english (probably because my familiarity with the english). With an "interlinear" you do not see the constructions of the sentence (at least in the ones I have seen). It usually follows the English, here you might miss the emphasis in the thought.

Do you have to use Greek. No..... would you enjoy it, get confidence from your conclusions from the text? Probably. In the end its your call... 

 

 

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ROGER JIMENEZ | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 2:30 PM

Hi Bill, I even trying to learn English! Let me tell you, I've worked hard to understand and answer in English. (En realidad solo hablo español.), but in the front lines!

Check this:

"Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the LORDיהוה said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess." (Jos 13:1) There is a risk to die without complete our assignment. But Paul did complete his!. "I have finished the race" (2Tim 4.7) I hope to say the same.

I have the Scholar's, trying to find resources to support this good fight.

Thanks for your suggestions.

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 2:58 PM

ROGER JIMENEZ:
Hi Bill, I even trying to learn English! Let me tell you, I've worked hard to understand and answer in English. (En realidad solo hablo español.), but in the front lines!
   You write very well in English

ROGER JIMENEZ:
In essence, I agree with you, Surper Tramp. But let me rephrase my question, in the sense that, if the study of Greek should not be taken by the hand of the Hebrew context, instead of wasting time in the study of its syntax and language itself. If you study Shakespeare, you're not going to study in German, far less, not going to study that language as such, or its structure, or syntax.
Yes, I think the Greek should be understood in light of any Hebrew it is based upon. But a majority of the New Testament is original content not found in the Old Testament. Sometimes the New is in contrast to the Old rather than a continuation of it. I also believe we can learn from the Septuagint, the Church Fathers, and even the newfangled stuff like discourse analysis.  I do not give any external sources equal weight to scripture.

Logos offers many ancillary works to aid in our understanding:

  1. The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon
  2. The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research
  3. The First Bible of the Church: A Plea for the Septuagint 
  4. A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (4 vols.) 
  5. Judaism and Christianity Collection (7 vols.) 
  6. Josephus and the New Testament
  7. Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers 
  8. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture ~ not currently available directly from Logos.com
  9. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels (8 vols.)
  10. Discourse Analysis and the New Testament: Approaches and Results 
  11. Greek New Testament Discourse Bundle (7 vols.)  
  12. Biblical Hebrew: A New Approach Using Discourse Analysis 

 

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mab | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 3:26 PM

I managed to do three semesters of Greek, but I could only do one semester of Hebrew. It's not really meant for most students to master the language, but it really makes sense to be steeped in learning more of the language as we go on. I wish I could have had another couple of semesters of Hebrew so that I could get around the text at least as well as I can with Greek. 

FWIW, I've come to the conclusion that there are more than a few Hebraic thoughts in the NT, but the terms are mostly given in Greek rather than Hebrew or Aramaic since the Septuagint was the most available copy of the Old Testament and more people were able to read Greek. 

The mind of man is the mill of God, not to grind chaff, but wheat. Thomas Manton | Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. Richard Baxter

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 3:29 PM

Super Tramp:
Yes, I think the Greek should be understood in light of any Hebrew it is based upon.

I would be extremely careful in attempting to relate the Greek of the NT to Hebrew.  There are some who contend that a/the gospel(s) was/were written in Aramaic.  Some attempt to find an Aramaic background to the words of Jesus.  I do not accept this thought.  The NT was written in Greek for a Greek-speaking church.  There may be some Semiticism in Paul and perhaps in certain portions of the gospels such as the words of Jesus during the crucifixion, but I would be hesitant to go beyond those limits.  The understanding of the NT cannot be based upon a backtranslation of the Greek of the NT into Aramaic before its meaning can be discerned.

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 4:01 PM

George Somsel:

Super Tramp:
Yes, I think the Greek should be understood in light of any Hebrew it is based upon.

I would be extremely careful in attempting to relate the Greek of the NT to Hebrew.  There are some who contend that a/the gospel(s) was/were written in Aramaic.  Some attempt to find an Aramaic background to the words of Jesus.  I do not accept this thought. 

I don't either, George. I think there is a very minor portion of the Greek New Testament that involves Hebrew, namely, the quotes from the Old Testament. I am not even sure Jesus read from the Law and the Prophets in Hebrew in the synagogue.

As for gleaning the original context, not even the Talmud agrees with itself what the original interpretation was. The humorous thread on bathroom regulations shows that. (Remember? Do we use the round stone or the edged stone first? Embarrassed ) If those closest to the original can not agree, how can a bunch of modern Gentiles figure it out?

                                                  Lost in Translation....

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Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 4:23 PM

What's troubling about your point George (and I agree) is that Matthew quoted Jesus mainly from the LXX but for his own quotes, mainly used the hebrew.

 If one can't find the original language of the speakers, what validity (beyond claims) is there in 'autographs'.

"I didn't know God made honky tonk angels."

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 4:45 PM

Denise Barnhart:

What's troubling about your point George (and I agree) is that Matthew quoted Jesus mainly from the LXX but for his own quotes, mainly used the hebrew.

 If one can't find the original language of the speakers, what validity (beyond claims) is there in 'autographs'.

Did he really quote from the LXX or did the gospeleers simply quote from the LXX since that's what the Churches used?

george
gfsomsel

יְמֵי־שְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בָהֶם שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְאִם בִּגְבוּרֹת שְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְרָהְבָּם עָמָל וָאָוֶן

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 5:43 PM

Denise Barnhart:
What's troubling about your point George (and I agree) is that Matthew quoted Jesus mainly from the LXX but for his own quotes, mainly used the hebrew.

Big Smile Would you be positing that God is more concerned with reaching the lost than sticking to one "official" language? Big Smile

There has to be a reason the other three Gospels were not using any Hebrew. Could it be Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience? Could it be the Vatican knew what they were doing when they allowed mass to be said in the vernacular? Could it be Wycliffe Bible Translators are on to something big translating directly from the original into the target language? Could it be people do not have to learn 1611 English or Koine Greek or Aramaic or Hebrew to read God's Word? Finally, could it be nobody has to get circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law to become a Christian? Whoa!!!

Alex Trabec told me to put it in the form of a question.

 

 

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BillS | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 5:50 PM

Super Tramp:
life callings

Now there's the REAL reason to choose one way or the other... not gifted for languages? don't worry about it... grab the commentaries... gifted? God's invitation...

Many blessings to you!

Grace & Peace,
Bill


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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Oct 17 2011 10:03 PM

Mike Tourangeau:

I have found it helps me see the force and nuance of the author's construction, some things just seem to "stick out" that do not to me in the english (probably because my familiarity with the english). With an "interlinear" you do not see the constructions of the sentence (at least in the ones I have seen).

Thankful for visual filter highlighting that can be done using interlinear resource tagging, which can be helpful to see force and nuance of the author's construction.  Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long Greek sentence that has two present active indicative verbal uses in Eph 1:7 and Eph 1:14

Fascinating to ponder middle voice usage in Eph 1:4, 10, 11 along with singular and plural usage.

Likewise Thankful for interlinear resource tagging so can display Louw-Nida numbers for pop-up with contextual range of Greek word meaning.

Keep Smiling Smile

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BillS | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 18 2011 8:40 AM

Super Tramp:
Yes, I think the Greek should be understood in light of any Hebrew it is based upon. But a majority of the New Testament is original content not found in the Old Testament. Sometimes the New is in contrast to the Old rather than a continuation of it. I also believe we can learn from the Septuagint, the Church Fathers, and even the newfangled stuff like discourse analysis.  I do not give any external sources equal weight to scripture.

Yes

Grace & Peace,
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Fred H. | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 18 2011 10:41 AM

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:10–13, ESV)

Only by the mercy and grace of God do any of us know truth.  The Pharisees knew Hebrew and missed their messiah.  By grace through faith I am a child of God and I don’t know Greek.  My mom then became a child of God and she doesn’t know Greek.  My mom’s mom then became a child of God and she didn’t know Greek.

By God’s grace, in the Holy Spirit’s power and for His glory I preach the Word of God for the truth that it is.  Greek tools have helped me understand the text better.  Standing on the shoulders of others has helped.  But the fact remains;  The Word of God is the Word of God and the job of illumination of the truth belongs to the Holy Spirit.  He who has an ear let him hear.

Now, just to be clear I’m grateful and thank God for those that He has called to really understand scripture in the original languages, the original contexts and have a heart and a passion to do the study and research.  I’m thankful for those who can defend truth and the Bible.  This is important and helpful to the body.  But, I humbly submit to you that while we all need (and desire) to serve Christ as one body we still individually follow Jesus.  What Jesus leads me to do is different (same Spirit, different calling) than what He leads you to do.

I say all of this to encourage anyone out there who God is leading to any ministry.  Don’t let the world’s system dictate what path you take.  Follow Jesus.  One does not need a doctorate to preach the Word of God.  To preach the Word one needs to follow Jesus.  Follow Him in His leading to brothers that will sharpen you, provide accountability, encourage you, pray for you and provide Godly wisdom as you pursue after Christ in your calling.  And be sure of this; God is in control and in that pursuit God may or may not send you to seminary, and He may or may not have you study Greek and/or Hebrew; but by grace and through faith He will give you everything you need to serve Him for His glory.

Grace, peace, joy and love to you all, Fred

In His Peace, Fred

 “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, ESV)

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ROGER JIMENEZ | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 18 2011 5:07 PM

Fred H.:
What Jesus leads me to do is different (same Spirit, different calling) than what He leads you to do.

Yes Fred. I totally agree. I assume that all here participate with that in mind. I guess. Regards.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Oct 18 2011 5:37 PM

I haven't weighed in on this discussion yet, but here goes.

Yes, it's worth studying Greek.

As you know Roger, translating from one language to another is always an imprecise art. Something is always lost in the translation. I know this is true because I speak Spanish as a second language. Going from English to Spanish or vice versa can be a challenge.

In the same way that English is not Spanish, Hebrew is not Greek (or should I turn those two around?). So, in order to catch some of the nuances of the New Testament, knowing Greek is a very useful tool. It is also useful for refuting those who use Greek badly -- and there's plenty of that in both English and Spanish speaking countries.

You suggested above that New Testament Greek should be understood based on Hebrew usage. I find that odd. I'm not sure I can refute the idea, but I've never heard it before. What I do know is that there is no certainty that many of the New Testament writers even knew Hebrew. The first language of most in Palestine was Aramaic, and for many their second language was Greek. Paul, who had a higher education than most, knew Hebrew, and it's possible others did too. But when they spoke Greek they used Greek idioms with an occasional semiticism, not the other way around.

The opening of most of Paul's letters is a good example of the mixing of semitic and Greek cultures when his salutations included the phrase "Grace and Peace to you." The common greeting in Greek culture was chara (joy!), Paul seizes that greeting and changes it to charis (grace). The common greeting among those of Jewish culture was shalom (or salam), Paul just translates that to the Greek word "Peace." Knowing a little Greek helps us see remember that those first churches were a mix of cultures: gentile & Jewish Christians.

A final reason to study Greek is that Greek has a very different grammatical structure than Hebrew. In some ways Greek is closer to Spanish than Hebrew is (verbs especially), and Hebrew has nothing close to the case endings required and used in subtle ways in Greek. Understanding the grammar of how the New Testament writers, inspired by the Spirit wrote, helps in hearing the full range of what the Spirit was saying, when He said it. Just think of all the ways that Spanish subjuntivo never quite translates well into English.

Knowing some Greek, as knowing some Hebrew, is a tool to help us understand the Scriptures better. The Spirit has led many people into great things who did not know these languages. But He has also led many who do. Since I'm not one to lean on my own understanding, I want to know what the text says, what it meant to those to whom it was first written, and what it means for us today. Knowing a bit of Greek (or Hebrew) helps with that first step and a little with the second. It's just a tool, but it's a very helpful tool for the pastor who has it in his 'tool box.'

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