From: Edgar Krentz (ekrentz@lstc.edu)
Date: Wed Mar 12 1997 - 09:30:16 EST

>I can't resist using ROlf's statement about the meaning of a word
>in clasical Greek to make a comment. In my baptism byfire into clasical
>Greek this semester, I have found that anything I know about the
>definitions of words in Koine has little or nothing to do with their
>meanings in calssical Greek, and that most of the grammar I know doesn't
>match either. For example, in 1 Corinthians, a BHMA is a place of
>judgement. In classical Greek, according to LSJ, it never has any such
>meaning but refers more likely to the podium or proconsul. There is in
>fact no suitable definition in LSJ for BHMA in 1 and 2 Corinthians.

I couild not believe that Ken really wrote the above--especially about 1
and 2 Corinthians. And that for two reasons:

(1) LSJ defines BHMA, inter alia, as raised platform or tribune from which
a person speaks, ... also in a law court. Also of the tribunal of a

(2) The term never occurs in 1 Corinthians. It does occur in 2 Cor 5:10,
where the above definition fits entirely--as it does in Matt 27:19, John
19:13, Acts 12:21; 18:12, 16, and 17; 25:6, 10, and 17; and Rom 14:10. The
only passage where this legal definition will not fit is Acts 7:5. And that
lists every passage using BHMA in the NT!

>This has meade me even more wary of mixing classical and Koine
>vocabulary or grammar than before. I wouldn't say they are mutualy
>exclusive, but I have seen time and time again in LUcian, Thucydides and
>Josephus that the probable NT semantic domain of a word and the
>classical domain of the exact same word my or may not intersect. IN
>mathematical terms those two things form two sets that, it seems to me,
>do not always share any set members in common.

Unfortunately, no human language--including the Greek of the NT--is as neat
as a mathematical formula. I suspect that people acquainted with a broader
range of Greek texts will see how the semantic domain(s) of a term in
classical and koine Greek do intersect, even in a term like DOXA, where the
LXX/NT sense of glory and the wider range (opinion, reputation, status) do

>So does the clasical
>meaning of (HGEOMAI have anything to do with Phil 2? Maybe, maybe not.
>It should NOT be assumed that it does. For my money, classical Greek
>and Koine are about as close to each other as ENglish and French.

I would say that Ken's last comparison truly limps. If he had said as close
as 20th century British English and Shakespeare--or better some of the
prose writers of Elizabethan English, such as the translation of Luther's
Galatians commentary into English by Edwyn Sandys, his analogy would be
much better.

Of course there are terms that have some different connotations in the NT,
just as there are between British and American English. Bonnet is the hood
of a car, as the boot is its trunk. Trucks are lorries, and nursing means
to hold on your lap, a napkin is a diaper, while a biscuit is a cookie.

>years of NT Greek left me completely unprepared for Lucian ot THucydides.

Finally, Ken, you lump Thucydides and Lucian together as if they are
contemporaries, when some 500+ years separate them. Perhaps you need to
look up the archive of the classics list and read the long recent
discussion of the definition of Koine Greek.

Would you consider the LXX Koine Greek? The Didache? 1 Clement? The
Martyrdom of Polykarp? Ignatius? You approrpriate the term Koine for the NT
alone. But Koine is a much broader category, just as English is. English
today includes everything from novels, the editorial page, and the sports
page to the comics -- Calvin and Hobbes, Dagwood and Blondie, etc. It even
includes the ungrammatical, badly spelled essays of high school, college,
and seminary students. That is why BAGD is not based on the NT alone, but
on a broad and deep acquaintance with the whole range of Greek literature
and the non-literary papyri, which include wills, contracts, bills of
lading, tax records and personal correspondence.

As you can see, the broad generalizations which Ken makes in his posting
appear too sweeping to me to be maintained. On the other hand, Ken, it
probably made you feel much better to state your feelings. With that I have
a great deal of empathy (another good Greek loan word into English).

Edgar Krentz, New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Tel: [773] 256-0752; (H) [773] 947-8105

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