Re: Reasons for Greek. . .

From: George Gunn (
Date: Sun Jun 23 1996 - 19:55:02 EDT


Several reasons for studying Greek:

1. Because of the doctrine of verbal inspiration (assuming you believe it),
2Ti 3:16; 2Pe 1:20-21. If we believe the original words came from, then it
is important for us to know the original words. Note how Paul bases one part
of his theological argument on a grammatical subtelty of a single word in Ga
3:16. Only a knowledge of Greek (and Hebrew and Aramaic) can provide this.

2. Because of the language God used for the revelation of the New Testament.
As you know, the NT is in Koine, or common, Greek. God gave the NT
revelation at the "fulness of the time" (Ga 4:4). One of the things that
made this time "full" was the availability of a common lingua franca
throughout the civilized world (thanks to Alexander the Great). It was not
quite the Attic Greek of the philosopher, poet and statesman, nor was it the
official Latin of the government in Rome, nor the Hebrew (Aramaic?) peculiar
to the Jewish authors of the NT, nor any of the local languages spoken in
various locations throughout Asia Minor, etc. It was the common man's
language, because God desired the common man to understand it. Koine Greek
has long since ceased to be spoken, and we will never know it as well as the
first century citizen of the Roman empire, but we do have so much available
to us for learning it, that the modern, serious Christian really is
compelled to do as much as he can to learn as much of biblical Greek as he
possibly can.

3. Because of the spirit of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura! One of the
great ironies of history is that though Jerome translated the Bible into
Latin in order to make it available to the common man in his own language
("Vulgate" means essentially the same thing as "Koine." As Latin became more
common and Greek became less common, Latin eventually surpassed Greek as the
lingua franca, at least in the West), the Roman Catholic Church later
outlawed translations of the Bible into the common languages for most of the
Middle Ages. The Vulgate, which had originally been given so the common man
could understand the Bible, was used to keep the Bible away from the common
man who no longer knew Latin. By contrast, the Reformation was accompanied
by a renewed interest in studying Greek and Hebrew (note the efforts of
Reuchlin and Erasmus) so that responsible translations could be put forth.
Shall we now limit ourselves to the translations of men, when, with a little
diligence and effort, we can learn these beautiful languages that God has
chosen for the revelation of His word?

4. Because of ambiguities and errors in the available translations. Many
examples could be given at this point, but the specific examples depend upon
the translation you are currently using, so I will refrain from giving any
specifics here. But let me assure you that there is no English translation
on the market that is devoid of both ambiguities and errors. This is due in
part to the fact that no two languages have identically synonymous sets of
vocabularies, grammars, or syntaxes.

I certainly hope these reasons help your friend to make an intelligent and
responsible decision, and keep him from being intimidated by a pastor who
may have been too lazy to study Greek. I may tell you, that I have been in
the pastoral ministry for sixteen years, and have found that the effort I
spent studying Greek and Hebrew in Bible College and Seminary has benefitted
me tremendously in the study and preparation of sermons.

George Gunn
Prof. Bibl. Languages
Shasta Bible College

At 02:58 AM 6/23/96 -0700, you wrote:
>Hello Scholars,
>I was wondering if you could help me encourage a friend of mine. This
>friend was discouraged by her pastor from studying Greek. I was wondering
>if you could give some solid reasons why her studying Greek is not a waste.
>We gave her some good reasons, but I was thinking that you have heard this
>type of argument before and are better prepared with some good replies.
>Ministers are not cooks, but physicians and therefore should not study to
>delight the palate, but to recover the patient
> Jean Daille "A Puritan Golden Treasury"

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