December 28, 2008

Ancient Greek was Heathen

I've said for years, "There is no such thing as Biblical Greek." That's true, if you know what I mean. Paul had to re-define "agape" for the Corinthians because pre-christian Greeks had no concept or experience of loving "unconditionally", and this is what makes scripture such a miracle of divine communication. Jesus and the NT writers had to use low, earth-bound words to describe high, spiritual truths. Imagine an eskimo trying to tell an amazon tribesman what "snow" is! That's how foriegn Jesus Christ is to fallen man. Greek OR english words fail utterly... that is, without God's touch on the readers/hearers.

Sadly, I never expected a lot of christian scholars to agree with this. So it was wonderfully refreshing to see Eric Sowell and Esteban Vasquez (along with several of their commenters) celebrating the "buried footnote" of someone named Moises Silva, who said: "Ideally, students learning biblical Greek should do so only within the context of learning Hellenistic Greek generally..." Esteban agrees we should get away from the idea NT Greek "is some kind of "Holy Ghost language." Amen! This also reminds me of something Doug Chapin said to Mike Sangrey in August, which I loved: "Oh dear, those pesky native speakers just won’t stick to the dictionary definition."

On a related note, John Hobbins wondered last week why the Chronological Study Bible is currently outselling all the most popular translations. I don't know if it'll last, but for now I'm guessing it might be because ordinary believers feel like they need about as much help trusting God for one translation as another, but what they're most hungry for (that they're NOT getting) is CONTEXT.

Sorry for shouting. This just gets me excited. ;)

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