Greek Word origins

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John Salmon | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Dec 30 2010 7:37 AM

Hello all, first post here.  I'm about [] this far from buying a Scholar's Library package with BDAG and HALOT.  My intentions are to learn much more than I do now about Greek and Hebrew word study, and in so doing unlock more meaning in my study of the Bible.  I am a database administrator and simple layman, but I took a semester of Biblical Greek in college (18 years ago) and hope one day to complete the "Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew" video series with Logos.

Two things fascinate me particularly when listening to learned Bible teachers--hearing the origin of the meanings of Greek and Hebrew words, and hearing information about the "life and times" that illuminate scripture.  For example, a pastor or teacher might say, "this word comes from military origins and has in its meaning the idea of a soldier preparing for battle, listening intently for the trumpet to sound..."  One such description was given by John MacArthur recently talking about the "last trump" of 1 Cor 15:52 and relating it to the Roman armies' three trumpet blasts in preparation for moving a company of soldiers out to battle.

A second example is from John 8:12, "I am the light of the world," which was illumined (pardon the pun) to me by Charles Morris on Haven Today--he set the scene in Jerusalem of the tall lamps for the feast of booths having just been extinguished after lighting the entire area for the duration of the feast...and that Christ's words were spoken into the even more palpable darkness afterward..."whoever follows me will not walk in darkness..."

Examples like that second one send chills down my spine.  Even simple connections like the "charcoal fire" over which Peter warms himself, and on which Jesus cooks breakfast on the beach, astound me with their quiet intensity.

My question is this: digging for these treasures requires the Holy Spirit's help, hard work, and the right tools.  I feel like I currently have a teaspoon and dinner fork for tools.  I'd like to find at least a pickaxe and shovel, if not a backhoe and dynamite.  What tools are the most effective in the Logos 4 world for this kind of truth mining?

 

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Donnie Hale | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 7:48 AM

Welcome to the forums, John.

If I may be so bold, consider a couple of resources:

http://www.logos.com/product/6874/exegetical-fallacies-second-edition

http://www.logos.com/product/3419/introducing-new-testament-interpretation

The former is focused on fallacies related to interpreting scripture. The latter has a nice section on the same topic and is otherwise very helpful on tools and techniques for interpreting the New Testament.

I mention these because of the "etymology fallacy" (a.k.a. "root fallacy"), which is a correction to the belief that the root of a word necessarily has to do with the word's current meaning or meaning in a particular context. It may, but very frequently it doesn't. I think you're pretty safe with BDAG (for the N.T.).

Hope this helps,

Donnie

 

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Kevin Becker | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 8:56 AM

John Salmon:
 For example, a pastor or teacher might say, "this word comes from military origins and has in its meaning the idea of a soldier preparing for battle, listening intently for the trumpet to sound..."  One such description was given by John MacArthur recently talking about the "last trump" of 1 Cor 15:52 and relating it to the Roman armies' three trumpet blasts in preparation for moving a company of soldiers out to battle.

This assertion would come from noticing that a word is used in non-biblical texts describing military action. The first place to look would be at BDAG to see how the word is defined and look at example usages, both in the Bible and other literature referenced by the entry for the word in question. If you want to look at the history of the word before the NT, you'll want to get Liddel-Scott (a lexicon for classical Greek words).

Its entries are online and can be accessed via the right click menu in a Greek Text (under lemma)

Then click on LSJ. However, you want to be careful with this lexicon, frequently words have changed meaning from the usages in Liddel-Scott and the NT. (EDIT: If you are going to follow this line of research Carson's Exegetical Fallacies is neccesary reading) Many of the Greek works referenced can also be found at the Perseus website. If you are using a good commentary they should give you references to the various places in Greek literature to back up their assertions. 

John Salmon:
A second example is from John 8:12, "I am the light of the world," which was illumined (pardon the pun) to me by Charles Morris on Haven Today--he set the scene in Jerusalem of the tall lamps for the feast of booths having just been extinguished after lighting the entire area for the duration of the feast...and that Christ's words were spoken into the even more palpable darkness afterward..."whoever follows me will not walk in darkness..."

This type of insight can be arrived at a lot of times by reading Bible Backgrounds works (both Primary and Secondary texts). See http://www.logos.com/bible/background for a lot of what Logos offers in the regard however, the Zondervan Bible Background Commentaries are missing from that list.

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Rich DeRuiter | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 9:04 AM

John Salmon:
What tools are the most effective in the Logos 4 world for this kind of truth mining?

Reflecting on these three examples, I'd suggest looking at some of the Bible background commentaries available in Logos. There are two that I've found helpful: the IVP Old Testament and New Testament Bible Background Commentaries. But the only place I can find them on the Logos web site is as part of the "Essential IVP Reference Collection". BTW, that's an excellent collection of resources. The little, but very helpful "Pocket Dictionary..." set of resources alone are gold mines of quick information on a large number of topics. Very helpful - though obviously not as complete as they could be. This has been one of my favorite purchases, and I'd highly recommend it, especially to someone without a lot of formal theological training.

BTW, I agree with Donnie's and Kevin's suggestions as well.

 Help links: WIKI;  Logos 6 FAQ. (Phil. 2:14, NIV)

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Mike Aubrey | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 9:14 AM

Kevin Becker:
This type of insight can be arrived at a lot of times by reading Bible Backgrounds works (both Primary and Secondary texts). See http://www.logos.com/bible/background for a lot of what Logos offers in the regard however, the Zondervan Bible Background Commentaries are missing from that list.

Maybe try: http://www.logos.com/products/search?Topic=Biblical+Studies&Topic_Biblical+Studies=Bible+Backgrounds

We have a facet for Bible Backgrounds inside the "Biblical Studies" facet.

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 9:18 AM

John Salmon:
A second example is from John 8:12, "I am the light of the world," which was illumined (pardon the pun) to me by Charles Morris on Haven Today--he set the scene in Jerusalem of the tall lamps for the feast of booths having just been extinguished after lighting the entire area for the duration of the feast...and that Christ's words were spoken into the even more palpable darkness afterward..."whoever follows me will not walk in darkness..."

That is a suggestive idea. I wonder if it is true? If you examine the scripture there is no reference to the actual timing of Jesus' words other than that they occurred on the last day of the feast (which introduces another discussion about the position of 7:53-8:11). He may or may not have said this as lamps were extinguished, but you can not say this with any scriptural authority. You can find a number of references to the lighting of the feast of tabernacles. One commentator links Jesus' saying with the lighting of torches and lamps on the seventh day of the festival rather then when they were extinguished. I believe brother Morris may have said more than he can fully defend. Never-the-less knowing about the great lights during this festival does give added significance to Jesus' words during the time it was held.

If you purchase Logos you will have some tools available to evaluate statements like this and find out background information to illuminate your study (no pun intended). The IVP Bible Background Commentaries are helpful for this. So is the Dictionary of NT Background. Of course many good commentaries contain background when it helps illuminate the text.

Pastor, North Park Baptist Church

Bridgeport, CT USA

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Mike S. | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 10:06 AM

John Salmon:
Hello all, first post here.  I'm about [] this far from buying a Scholar's Library package with BDAG and HALOT. ... hope one day to complete the "Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew" video series with Logos.

Hello John,

I would strongly suggest that you hold off on BDAG and HALOT for a variety of reasons, and instead use that money to get the "Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew" video series. In fact you'll find that the instructors point you away from Lexicons (at least until you have more language skills) and towards other resources (TWOT & DBL for Hebrew as an example, and I would suggest NIDNTT for the Greek side). As one of the instructors puts it roughly: "lexicons give you a list of glosses, not definitions".

Oh yeah, Carson's fallacy book should go hand in hand... good to even have in print to share with others at times.  

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John Salmon | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 6:04 PM

Thanks for the suggestions.  As for whether or not the darkness preceded Jesus' statement, even if it didn't, the mere fact that before I heard Morris' statement, I had no clue about the lights or lack thereof, or their connection to the feast.  It certainly adds a kind of understanding of the text that I have been missing given my limited resources.

I really like the Zondervan recommendation above, am considering the IVP reference series, and have taken to heart the recommended books on exegesis and avoiding fallacies.  I'm a bit on the fence with regard to original language study tools...some seem way over my head, some seem accessible (BDAG / HALOT) and useful, but I do see the point that others have made that knowing a palette of English words that could possibly mean what a given Greek or Hebrew word means does not get at the interpretation of the text, the true meaning, directly.

Perhaps another example, while not specifically Greek...would help answer my questions about what tools to get.  I've wondered about Jeremiah 7:13 (and a few other locations with the same phrase) where it says "when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen" (ESV) but other versions like KJV render it "and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking."  Two different people I've asked have just basically shrugged and said "it's a Hebrew idiom that can be translated either way."  How would I go about researching the differences between "rising up early" and "persistently" or "repeatedly?"

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Kevin Becker | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Dec 30 2010 7:34 PM

John Salmon:
 I've wondered about Jeremiah 7:13 (and a few other locations with the same phrase) where it says "when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen" (ESV) but other versions like KJV render it "and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking."  Two different people I've asked have just basically shrugged and said "it's a Hebrew idiom that can be translated either way."  How would I go about researching the differences between "rising up early" and "persistently" or "repeatedly?"

The King James is "more literal" but the modern translations understand how Hebrew works better. The best way to research this is to look in grammars that will help you to understand the nuances of the language. For example IBHS (Waltke O'Connor) says of this particular construction is an Adverbial Complement that the force of the infinitive is repetitive... i.e. I rose up early in the morning so I would have time speak about it continuously or repeatedly. You probably don't have the grammar but here's a link anyway logosres:wltkhebsyn;ref=Page.p_589;off=1660

The easiest way to see if a grammar in your library mentions a construction/idiom is to run an Exegetical guide on the passage. You will get a list of all the places a grammar lists that reference. However, to make the most of a grammar means learning the language it covers.

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