If you go back to the Greek ...

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I'm having difficulties understanding exactly what concordances and Lexicons tell us. I listen to preaching from a lot of sources and I very often hear "if you go back to the Greek (Hebrew)". So I try to go back and I usually find it doesn't say what the preachers said at all. Apparently I'm going to another Greek. I know part of the problem is that I don't know Greek at all, so the only thing I can use is my Strongs and whatever lexicon my Online Bible program uses. I don't think I'm looking for faults or problems. I just always want to know what the Word says and I don't think God would keep His Word from me because I don't know Greek.

-- Bob Ross (brobob@cyou.com), October 21, 1998


Bro. Bob,

Like you, I've been (at times) amused by some people's usage of the phrase, "If you go back to original Greek [Hebrew]", or one of my favorites, "In the ORIGINAL manuscripts...."

While, I certainly agree that much can be learned from word origins, I usually get a bit turned off by the "original manuscripts" talk. No one today has seen an orignal manuscript, knows anyone who's seen an orignal manuscript, talked to anyone who's seen an original manuscript, etc."

I think, for my humble opinion, that if your Strong's Concordance doesn't confirm a person's statement, it's likely to be a mistake on the speaker's part.

Just a thought. :)

Tony Rush

-- Tony Rush (trush@sportron.net), November 10, 1998.

In my studies I have found Thayer's Greek definitions and Brown, Driver and Briggs' Hebrew definitions to be of great help. These dictionaries are a part of PC Study Bible Reference Library Plus which is BibleSoft software. (I am not selling software, but thought this might be useful advice.)

God Bless.

-- Cordell Day (dundeegoat@a0l.com), November 16, 1998.

When I go back to "the original Greek"........wait a minute. I thought the original Greek had perished. Oh, yeah. It has.

But when I go to the extant Greek texts, I must choose between Westcott-Hort/Nestle-Aland/UBS and the Textus Receptus. I choose the Textus Receptus. I find that the King James Bible says it all. Greek studies are interesting but unnecessary.

Greek word studies are interesting but God was just as much involved in giving you the King James Bible as he was the "original" that no living human being has ever seen, touched or read. If you can't read Greek, you're not missing anything. As a matter of fact, when is the last time you ever heard of a soul winning Greek professor? You won't.

-- Greg "Fudge" Miller (gregmiller@outofseason.com), March 05, 1999.

I have to disagree with you there, Greg. Greek study is sometimes useful. Have you ever read the Bible in a language other than English? I have (German to be precise; I lived there 5 years). English is not as expressive as the Greek or other languages in some instances (the word "love" immediately comes to mind). While it is more than possible to study and understand the Bible in the English language, and to preach it accurately, for those who so desire a glimpse into the Greek (or Hebrew, for that matter) it can be a beneficial experience.

My only beef with people who say, "The original Greek says..." is that it is possible to baffle your audience with supposed brilliance by saying something that is over their heads. So it must be used with care. Especially if you are getting your information from second hand sources. I have found erroneous quotations by noted authors before, after checking their explanation with a lexicon. Of course, doing your own homework is a different subject (said with a slight smile).

-- Jon F. Dewey (jdewey6299@aol.com), April 12, 1999.

I just want to reiterate that I study the 1550 Stephens Greek New Testament and enjoy my studies. But I do not think that it is healthy to make believe that Greek studies are "necessary". And I don't think that you would want people to think this, either. This practice has lead many to believe that they need to rely on someone else since they, "don't know the original languages."

I speak from firsthand experience. I can't tell you how many times good men and women have put their trust in a preacher and blindly followed that man because "He can read the original Greek." I would also be hard-pressed to count the numerous occasions when I have heard people say that they do not have personal Bible study because they feel sure that the English Bible has innacuracies and error that a person can only know of if they can "read the Greek."

I do think that Greek (and Hebrew) studies are time well spent. What I do not believe is that they are necessary. And I urge my fellow ministers not to portray the study of original languages as though it were a necessity for Biblical understanding. Some of the greatest preachers and most greatly-used men and women in church history couldn't read Greek or Hebrew if their lives depended upon it.

There are also some terribly misconstrued notions. For example, the word "love". The idea that agape and phileo were used in the Greek language to demonstrate different types or levels of love is simply not true. If you will run the references in the Greek New Testament of your choice, you will find that the context of the uses of these words demonstrates that each of these two words were used in multiple ways to express every sort of love. Agape is used for fatherly, brotherly, general, intimate. etc., as is phileo. (See Dr. Sam Gipp's, "The Answer Book, sold by Bethany Bookstore for an example of this research.)

In four years of frequent Greek word study I have become well- convinced that the greatest use of this type of study is to confirm the accuracy of our Bible and not to demonstrate innacuracies or shortcomings, which is what most preachers of our day seem bent upon doing. As I study the 1550 Stephens TR Greek NT, it serves to confirm my faith in God to keep His word as I see just how accurate and trustworthy the Authorized Version really is.

-- Greg "Fudge" Miller (fudge@outofseason.com), April 12, 1999.

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