[b-greek] Jewish Idiom in the Greek New Testament

From: Ed Siefert (sieferted@hotmail.com)
Date: Sat May 19 2001 - 11:00:05 EDT

 About a month ago, I responded to an entry about Matthew 24:28,
and expounded on SOMA versus PTOMA (Luke 17:37). I’d now like to clarify
my viewpoint–with special thanks to Carl Conrad for his commentary.
Perhaps this will generate more illumination on the subject.
   Recently, I completed a seven year study of Revelation and the Olivet
discourse, which produced, surprisingly, a 400 page manuscript. One of the
many lessons I learned therein pertains to language and how it differs in
usage. Conversationally, we tend to speak colloquially. But when our
intent is to instruct or clarify, we get more choosy with our words. And
this is even more true when writing.
   Such was the case with the writers who appear in the Bible, as well. So
when seeking to understand them, we have to look beyond common linguistic
practice to find their intent. This is especially true in the New
Testament, where we find for the most part, Jewish writers expressing
Jewish idiom in the Greek tongue. They labored over words to ensure that
their hidden, underlying meanings would come through. And this is why we
find so many unique expressions in the apostle John’s writings: he was a
Jew writing principally to Christian Jews, so he wanted to make sure the
Greek text would represent his thoughts; precisely!
   For Christians in Israel, the target of Revelation, references to
Babylon and all the phrases John took from Jewish resistance literature
were clear. But for the rest of the world, Revelation was a mystery,
clouded in this foreign code. Study of Bible context, beyond conventional
word use, is essential in our search for details contained in the writers’
instructions (Romans 15:4).
   Ed Siefert
   Costa Mesa, CA

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