RE: Computers and misinterpretation of Scripture

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Tue Aug 04 1998 - 21:58:16 EDT

I am one of those new era types who had a copy of Gramcord before he could
read Greek competently. When I've worked my way through grammars, I've done
many searches to see if what the grammars said was true, and this has
helped me decide which grammars to trust. It has also provided me with many
examples to illustrate the concepts discussed in the better grammars.

Scholars like A.T. Robertson had an amazing grasp of the New Testament, and
could often cite most of the passages that illustrate a particular point.
There are times that I do a Gramcord search and come up with the same list
of passages that he cites. He must have had an amazing record-keeping
system. I imagine he read the text over and over again, taking notes,
perhaps on cards, and organizing them as he went. At the end of the
process, he had an indexed set of notes, and all that reading must have
done him good!

I've been reading Greek for only a few years, but when I want to understand
something in the Greek grammar, I can often turn to Gramcord, commentaries,
A.T. Robertson, etc., and see the fruit of someone else's serious
scholarship. I can also post a question on B-Greek. That doesn't make me
A.T. Robertson, Dale Wheeler (who does much of the grammatical tagging for
Gramcord), Edward Hobbs, or Carl Conrad, but I sure know a lot more than I
would if I hadn't been enriched by the scholarship of A.T. Robertson, Dale
Wheeler, Edward Hobbs, or Carl Conrad. (I'm leaving out lots of other
B-Greekers from whom I learn a lot - please don't be offended if your name
isn't here!)

The fact is, you can get a lot of information on Greek these days more
easily than you used to. But lack of information about Greek has never
stopped people from asserting things about "the original Greek" loudly in
sermons, often based on nothing more than a Strong's concordance and
perhaps a copy of Vine's Dictionary (which is quite good, for the most
part). I think more access to accurate information is a good thing.

Incidentally, I think this is a classic Populist vs. Purist debate. Today's
orchestras are much better than orchestras of the past - just listen to the
best recordings of today and compare them to some older recordings if you
don't believe me - and I think a lot of this is because so many people have
widespread access to classical music. Electronic tuners, which no serious
musician would touch when they first came out, were frowned on because a
real musician should be able to get the pitch right by ear. Today,
orchestras play in tune much better than they used to, and electronic
tuners solve many arguments among musicians whose ears are pretty good, but
who disagree about whose pitch is off.

But there's also a lot of mediocre-to-good musicians playing for their own
pleasure as well as they can because they appreciate music. And that's a
good thing too. These amateur musicians (and I'm one of them!) are the
fruit of the same popularization that has produced some of the best
musicians in history. Me, I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never play the
flute like James Galway or Paula Robeson. I love to listen to them, but I
also enjoyed playing my flute at the prison tonight, and I don't intend to

The same thing may happen with Greek. We may get a lot more people learning
Greek, period. I hope that Bible software, B-Greek, Little Greek, etc. make
it much easier to get into Greek. Most people who learn Greek will not be
A.T. Robertson. However, the same popularization of Greek will produce real
scholars as well, giving them easier access to information than their
predecessors. It will always take many years to get really dangerous in
Greek, but perhaps those who devote the same time and energy to their study
as A.T. Robertson may get just a little further because they can use their
time more efficiently. Perhaps there will be more of them because we have
made it easier to get into Greek in the first place. And this
popularization does produce some top-notch scholars, these scholars will be
the best corrective to the errors of beginners.

Look, just a few years ago I could barely read Greek. I can look through
the B-Greek archives and laugh at some of my naive questions. But through
B-Greek, we have some very good scholars answering questions for many
people who never would have gotten into Greek in the first place without
the computerization of Bibles. People have been very gracious with their
time, and helped me all along the way. Computerization has not only made
information more accessible, it has made some top-notch scholars more
accessible. I think we're experiencing a popularization of Greek. I think
that's a good thing. I think that B-Greek has a very important role to play
in it.


Jonathan Robie

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