Friday, February 03, 2006

Greek Readings

Regular readers may notice the addition of a new feature in the left column- a daily passage from the Greek New Testament. I found this on some other sites (which ones I now cannot remember) and decided to add it here as an encouragement to pastors to labor in the original languages.

If you are unsure of the value of knowing and using Greek and Hebrew, or if you could use some more encouragement in the task I highly recommend a little piece written by Scott Hafemann for the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology back in 1999. The piece is written in response to the question:

“Is it genuinely important to use the biblical languages in preaching, especially since there are many excellent commentaries and pastors will never attain the expertise of scholars?”
Hafemann’s response is excellent! The rest of the article also contains responses to similar questions about the value of church history, etc. by people like Timothy George and Don Carson.


Adam Winters said...

Hmm, no feedback on daily Greek readings as of yet. Maybe Hebrew daily readings would inspire more blogger response? ;)

Let's see, now. Here's the rough rendering:
Then comes with them the Jesus into a small field being called Gethsemane and he says to the disciples; sit there until [which, who, text variant?] after going there I might pray.

It wasn't supposed to be a secret was it?

Ray Van Neste said...

Good! It is interesting that tehre has been little response here. I just hope folks followed teh link to Hafemann.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Thanks for the "daily Greek reading". I'm going to link this to my blog. Anyone know of an English "daily reading" that could likewise be linked to one's blog?

I did follow the link to Hafemann. It is a good response with which I generally agree. I especially liked: "It is precisely because there are so many excellent commentaries available today that the use of the biblical languages in preaching becomes more important, not less. The proliferation of commentaries and resource materials simply means proliferation of opinions about the biblical text."

Nevertheless, I believe Hafemann overstates the dilemma in his four basic choices. I have known and know pastors who know nothing of the original languages who can and do weed through this proliferation of opinions through thoughtful meditation, comparison of scripture with scripture, etc. That is quite different from deciding on an understanding based on the favorite cover color, shortest, most recent, cheapest, etc.

Have enjoyed your blog thus far.

Steve said...

Could you (or a fellow blogger!) elaborate on the use of Greek syntactical categories and how they enhance the expositor's preaching? How will the man/women/child in the pew benefit? Examples?

Also, what about the Pastor who does not use NT Greek or even know about the categories of NT greek? How is their message less affected?

Ray Van Neste said...

This is a big question, but I'll try to say somethign brief. Are you referring to uses of noun cases? Or verb tenses? This is fairly broad.
Hafemann mkaes a key point that the benefit is not in little isolated cases but in following mroe closely the overall flow of thought.
That being said syntactical cateories of noun cases can help you to think through various possible ways a certain phrase can be understood. A translation often must choose just one. Verb tenses are often overplayed, so a good grasp here can protect you from overzealous errors often made by preachers and commentators alike.
Th epastor who does nto know Greek can still study well. he simply is shut out from some good help. he can make use of good resources in which someone else can describe to him nuances from the Greek text.

Steve said...

In my earlier post, I was thinking of an intermediate grammar such as Wallace's "Beyond the Basics" and the categories he uses.

Also, has anyone read or know about "The Practical Use of the Greek New Testament"
by Kenneth Wuest? Comments on this book? Other books like it?

Ray Van Neste said...


The primary benefit from the categories that Wallace details will be in helping the preacher wrestle better with the text. The benfit to the listeners is more indirect. Usually it will not lead to specific statemetns in a sermon. Ratehr it will give you a more firm grasp of what is going on in the passage so that you can do a better job of explaining and applying.

I have not read the Wuest book, but in his other books Wuest quite often overdoes his Greek, i.e. he draws out more than is really there.