Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Grammar of God

Originally posted in MennoDiscuss:

Greek is often pulled out in converstions about the Bible or theology, as if a grammar is the final word. However, Greek experts are usually humble and recognize that there is much we do not know.

I think that there is much that we cannot prove from the Greek. First of all, no one today speaks the Greek of the NT, because that form of Greek is dead. Yes, some people could possibly learn to speak old English, but it is a dead language, and isn't used in a real way except to understand texts. Even so with Koine Greek-- it is fine for understanding texts, but we can't use even Modern Greek to really help us understand it.

Most of the time when people get into arguments about Greek or Hebrew, they are arguing the positions of their faviorite scholars, not their own understanding-- thus, it is an argument from authority, not from knowledge.

But in reading the Greek Testement, one the most important things I learned is how many things translations seem so clear on that are NOT clear. Every once in a while, I find a new insight from a literal translation that was translated more dynamically, but there are the occasions that I find translators just adding more words than exist in the original. Thus, I think they are trying to clarify too much. Sometimes this is necessary to have it make sense in English, but sometimes the translation just seems like an ideological rather than a literal interpretation.

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