Re: A little Greek

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Wed Aug 28 1996 - 14:55:07 EDT

I want to clarify my position, since there has been some confusion:

A little Greek is a good thing, especially if little Greeks have access to big
With a little Greek, I can read commentaries, appreciate what people say about
the original Greek in discussions, use BAGD or the Little Kittel, and compare
translations to the original Greek.

Besides, reading Greek is cool. The Bible seems more compelling in the original,
and I feel like I'm getting more into the mindset of the people who wrote this.
emphasis in the Greek is often difficult to convey in English.

There are dangers, since little Greeks like me just don't know what they do know
and what they don't know, and people who have enough chutzpah to teach
Greek may also have problems realizing how much they don't know. I speak for
myself here, I don't know how much this applies to other little Greeks.

Little Greeks need big Greeks. They help us understand and appreciate the
that we would misinterpret or miss entirely, assess how far off the wall our
interpretation is, and suggest how we can get more out of the text. That's why
is so great for us!

I think that people who want to really understand the NT should learn Greek if
at all
possible. I get uncomfortable when people suggest that *only* those people who
know Greek have a right to preach, though. In the last year, I've been working
slowly and carefully through 1 John and John, and learning a lot about spiritual
poverty, humility, abiding in Christ, etc. It just so happens that I have a
friend who is
a retired Baptist minister who reads no Greek, and doesn't even read English all
that well. But she has many of the same insights, and has been struck by many of
the same passages in the same way.

I'm also concerned about the power dynamics of Greek. Some people seem to learn
Greek in order to force other people to believe their way, to prove their point
of view.
Learning Greek can be a way of acquiring authority. I'm reminded of Andrew
quote regarding statistics: "He uses statistics as a drunken man uses a
more for support than for illumination". In statistics, illumination often comes
by plotting
your data, clustering your data, scaling it this way or that, and looking for
patterns that
can be tested. I like inductive, exploratory approaches to most things, and I
think that
they are more likely to help you see what is really going on. I think that
humility, open eyes,
and an open mind are more likely to bring us to truth, with or without Greek,
than Greek
with predetermined preconceptions and an intent to prove something. Of course,
if you
have both the Greek and the attitude, that's really what you want.


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