Re: Brunner on Diabolos

Ted Brunner writes:

> All of this means that those who really want to understand the Greek
> New Testament must be able to read Greek.  Read it well, that is.  

While I agree with this in principle, it is somewhat elitist.  However,
having a good grasp of a language IS essential to picking up nuances
that are associated with words and their contexts.  

He continues,

> Not
> merely Koine, but (especially!) classical Greek.  Not Greek-English
> dictionaries, but Greek text.  Lots of it. 

I strongly differ.  While reading Classical Greek well and alot certainly
will aid in the ability to read Greek, it may not be especially helpful
in understanding the usage of words in the NT.  Koine Greek is not
Classical Greek.  They are separated by many years and by purposes. 
A good knowledge of Septuagint Greek and and writings of the 
time period 100 BCE - 100 CE would be far more beneficial.  But even then,
one must be careful.  Words used in one context may mean something very
different in another verbal, even when spoken by the same person within moments
of one another.  So, being able to read Greek well, even Classical Greek, will
not ensure that one can determine the meaning of a word.  Giving close 
attention to contexts and collocations (groupings of words) will.

> The root diabol- in its
> various permutations (e.g., diabolos, diabole, diabolikos, etc.)
> occurs 9,524 times in the TLG data bank (with only 37 of those
> instances in the N.T.), and that's only the beginning:  there are tens
> of thousands of verbal forms derived from ballein and its compounds.

So?  It is a fallacy to think that a word's cognate will give insight into 
its meaning.  Consider the word "awfull".  Its present meaning of "terrible"
is very far removed from its original, and etymological meaning of "to fill 
with awe".  The usefulness of cognates must be demonstrated, not assumed.
> The bottom line:  exegesis may be one thing, but philology is another.
> A true understanding of the meaning of a word requires training and
> hard work.  I myself would hesitate to provide a definitive meaning
> (or, better, definitive meanings) for the Greek word diabolos unless
> and until I had done a lot of painstaking research.
Be sure to do it properly, however!

Glenn Wooden

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