From: Eric and Karol-Ann Weiss (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 00:41:54 EDT
From Benjamin Chapman and Gary Shogren, GREEK NEW TESTAMENT INSERT (pp.
"Preachers and teachers frequently give the impression that Greek
exegesis is a mystical craft, designed to open whole worlds of meaning
to the initiated. 'In the Greek, this word _literally_ means ...' they
intone, and they leave their hearers gasping, 'I would never have found
that in the passage!' They 'learn' that Greek words possess stronger
magic than their English equivalents. Nevertheless, such an approach is
almost invariably wrong-headed and erroneous. ... A note of warning! If
you do a massive word study on, say, akoloutheo in Matt. 8:19, and after
all that work decide that in fact it means nothing more than 'to
follow,' a meaning you could have gotten right out of the NIV, you may
become disenchanted with the value of all your Greek learning. After
all, how can you say, 'In the Greek, this word _literally_ means "to
follow,"' when anyone with a Bible can readily spot that? In fact, you
may have stumbled on the true value of Greek exegesis: that while it
occasionally yields insights into individual words, its goal is to help
you to follow the flow of sentences and paragraphs."
A few things to tell your students based on what I think I have learned
from what little Greek training I have had:
- They will be able to interact with scholarly - not just "layperson" -
- They will be able to see and understand and explain to inquisitive
non-Greek readers/parishioners why different translations render verses
- They will notice thought-flows and word repetitions and word-plays in
the text that are obscured by translation, or maybe even impossible to
translate (at least into English).
- They will notice the emphases in passages that an inflected language
like Greek allows the writer make, as word order is quite flexible.
- They will have to STUDY the text, and read it more slowly than in
their native language - which will often cause them to mull over what is
being said/written, with the result that at times it becomes meditative
and contemplative - even worshipful - and not just "reading."
- They will be in a sense "thanking" and "honoring" those who spent the
arduous hours and months and years and decades of their lives learning
the Biblical languages in order to give people translations in their own
languages. By studying and learning Greek, your students will be
affirming the importance and value of what many unnamed and forgotten
persons understood and devoted their lives to.
"Eric S. Weiss"
B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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