NT Greek flash cards

From Dave Black: “Greek students! Richard Sugg has produced an excellent system of free vocabulary cards for my beginning grammar.  If you’re interested in using them, go here.”  The BIG plus?  They coincide with Dr. Black’s NT Greek Grammar!  What are the three keys one need for success in biblical languages?  Vocabulary, Vocabulary, Vocabulary!  (Well, it helps to know the concepts and grammar and all that too, but really, if you don’t know the vocabulary….)

GK Flash cards

Miles Van Pelt on the Biblical Languages

The folks over at the Koinonia blog posted a video of MIles Van Pelt (co author of the Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar text book) where he talks about the importance of learning the biblical languages.  

What got me in this video is his comments about how for him learning and studying the biblical languages is an act of worship (though I tend to think his marriage analogy may be too much – I tend to make the comparison between a black and white TV as compared to color – the difference is pretty significant).

Mark Stevens offers his thoughts and I agree completely that often times the expectations placed on busy pastors to know Greek and Hebrew can be too much – though I might suggest that instead of getting into the text every day, which as Mark notes, for some can be a challenge, just try to get into it a a couple days a week and for sure when doing sermon prep look at the original text as much as possible to keep yourself engaging the original languages.

Let me know what you think. Should study of the biblical languages be seen as an act of worship unto God? Could one man’s act of worship to God be another man’s idolatry?

What say you?

why you NEED to study the biblical languages and linguistics

Eminent Greek Scholar Daniel Wallace of his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics fame has written an article over at the Parchment and Pen blog discussing the merits (or the lack thereof) of a supposedly wildly popular video claiming to explain, from the Bible, why President Obama is “the” Anti-Christ.  Dr. Wallace takes the video apart piece by piece showing the utter falsities of its claims on a solid linguistic  basis.

The narrator of the video in discussion makes many ignorant claims such as that Aramaic is the oldest form of Hebrew, but then contradicts himself when he says the Aramaic Jesus spoke is close to the form of Hebrew spoken today.  Both of these are false claims. Aramaic may have similarities to Hebrew but it is not a form of Hebrew.  Knowing language changes over time, how can he say the Aramaic Jesus spoke  2000 years ago be similar to a language spoken 2000 years later?  Then he goes on to put together some pretty poor exegesis and makes lots of lingusitic leapfrogs and does exegetical gymnastics.  

He did raise a conteroversial issue, did Jesus speak only Aramaic or did he also speak Koine Greek?  This author insists Jesus only spoke Aramaic but I tend to side with Wallace that, of course Jesus spoke Aramaic but it only seems natural, his being a carpenter of sorts (probably specialized in farming tools but did some masonry too) that he would speak some Greek.  It was, afterall, the lingua franca of the day.  Why would he not? 

So, all that to say, his attempt to prove Obama is the AC, from the Bible, is poorly executed.  But more importantly, if folks were aware of even basic exegetical method and linguistic principles along with a basic understanding of the biblical languages, this video would not be as wildly popular as it seems to be – it would be ignored or laughed off the exegetical stage

So, PLEASE study the biblical languages so you won’t keep getting DUPED. 

I report, you decide.

Psalm 62:1 – in translation

I shared some thoughts from Andrew Murray on waiting on God, which he related from Psalm 62:1.  I thought the wording seemed slightly awkward and wanted to see if I could render a smoother reading.  Well, in the BHS it is verse 2 since verse 1 is really the title so some English versions count it as the first verse included in the titles, whereas others separate the title from the first verse. 

So, moving on, here is Psalm 62:2 in the BHS:

אַ֣ךְ אֶל־אֱ֭לֹהִים דּֽוּמִיָּ֣ה נַפְשִׁ֑י מִ֜מֶּ֗נּוּ יְשׁוּעָתִֽי׃

First off, I admit I am not as strong in Hebrew as I would like to be, but unless I am missing something, this cola doesn’t have a verb so it makes it harder to put the sentence together, no?   But I do recognize that דּֽוּמִיָּ֣ה may have a verbal quality to it since conveys a kind of waiting in silence or patience. 

One point of exegesis to consider is the use of  אַ֣ךְ , which occurs six times in the Psalm.  In essense it is a particle of assurance or emphasis.  K-B lists it as primarily an “affirmative emphasizing particle” (e.g., yea, surely) though in some cases it does have restrictive (e.g., only) or antithetic (e.g., however, but) uses.   BDB notes it as an adverb typically used with a restrictive force, emphasizing what follows: a. in contrast to what precedes, howbeit; b. in contrast with other ideas generally, only 1. asseverative, often introducing with emphasis the expression of a truth” and so on.  

So how should it be used in this verse?  Well, it seems like the English translations below chose to go with the more restrictive meaning “alone” or “only.”   Marvin Tate, in his WBC commentary argues for using the affirmative (he recognizes this particle switches between ephasizing and restrictive).  In his translation he uses “Yes.” “Yes, my soul waits calmly for God, from him is my salvation.” 

I wonder, can we use אַ֣ךְ in both senses?  Such as, “Indeed, my soul waits patiently for God alone…”?  Is that too much?  I find myself wanting to use both senses though I know it is not entirely necessary. 

 Some of the English translations seem like they could go smoother then they do:

NAU Psalm 62:1 For the choir director; according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David. My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.

 

 

NET

Psalm 62:1 For the music director, Jeduthun; a psalm of David. For God alone I patiently wait; he is the one who delivers me.

 

NLT

Psalm 62:1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

 

NRS

Psalm 62:1 <To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.> For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.

 

TNIV

Psalm 62:1 For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David. Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.

 Seemed to me like I wanted to do a word or phrase switch with some of these translations.  I see the NAU as being the roughest reading but the rest seem like they need a change in some way.   For example, I like the NRSV the best but want to switch it around to read, “My soul waits in silence for God alone…”   The NLT is good too, its more consise and simpler. 

 

My other point of exegesis concerns the use of the particle prepositon מִ֜מֶּ֗נּוּ.  The English translations all opted for “from” as in “from him comes my salvation.”  I find myself wanting to use “because” because of the first clause.  If I say, “Indeed my soul waits for God alone…” I want to follow it with a “for” or “because,” as in “because my salvation comes from him.”  But the problem is I add an extra word for clarity and in a sense use the particel preposition twice, “from,” and “because.”  Maybe not. 

So, my final translation wants to read something like, “Indeed my soul waits silently for God alone, because my salvation comes from him.”  But I worry this is way to wordy. 

What say you?

Book Review: Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek

linguistics22Thanks to Dave Black for this complementary (and autographed) copy of Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Surevey of Basic Concepts and Applications (Baker Books, 1995).   

Dave Black is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina and is also a farmer!  Here is his blog if you want to learn more. 

You can find some more of Dave Black books here

You can go to my initial postabout the book when I recieved to to see a portion from the introduction on what we can gain from learning about linguistics as it relates to learning NT Greek. 

Reading this book has reinforced in my mind the importance of having even a basic sense of lingusitic principles as they relate to language learning and acqusition.  Language is more than just words and concpets and ideas – it is communication– without it, no one would understand anyone else and perhaps there would not be much understanding of anything really.  Knowing or understanding aspects of lingustics will help in this area.  And to the language student, it will help in understanding the natue of the biblical languages and how they work, which in turn will help one understand the Bible in more profound ways than before.

The purpose of the book was to “concentrate on a linguistic approach to New Testament Greek, weaving together literary, grammatical, and linguistic concerns” (ix).  Black avers “More than ever before, lingusitics is becoming an indispensible element in the theory and practice of New Testament interpretation” (ix).  So this book is his contribution to the discussion of the interrelations between linguistics and New Testament Greek grammar” (xiv). 

The breakdown of the book is as follows: there is an introductiondiscussing the value of linguistics and NT Greek (1-22) where the reader learns that lingusitics isn’t just for that person who is looking to translate Bibles in some remote far away jungle but its also for every person interested in better understanding language and also NT Greek.  

Next we learn about phonology (23-52) (that branch of linguistics dealing with speech sounds) where you learn about plosives, fricatives, glides, and continuants, which are names for the kinds of sounds made.  From there one learns of phonemes, allophones and the suprasegmental features of sounds.   All this can, in some facet, help one catch on to the various literary features of the Greek New Testamentsuch as the use of alliterations, rhythms for poetic and rhetorical analysis of the NT such as the Christ hymn of Philppians 2:6-11 (p.51).  

After phonology comes morphology, the study of words (or units of meaning) (53-94).  Morphology has to do with the derivation of words or how they are formed to create meaning.  Here we learn parts of a word: prefixes; roots; affixes and suffixes.  We learn of derivational and inflectional affixes along with allomorphs.  In addition, there are additive morphemes, prefixed morphemes, and even zero morphemes!   When one can engage in the morphological analysis of nouns and verbs we better understand how words are formed and what their patters are, which in turn can aid in vocabulary acquisition.  This way we are not limited to just rote memorization as most of us are.  You’ll know how a word is formed and whythus easing memorization of the word and others like it (same word class).   In addition, we now know the real usefulness of Bruce Metzger’s Lexical aides for Students of New Testament Greek (1974).

Moving on, the next chapter is on syntax which focuses on how words are combined to form phrases, clauses and sentences. Here we learn the differences between structural and lexical meanings to get to the total linguistic meaning of an utterance (97).  We also learn of structure and content words and how they help build sentences.  If we say “ship sails today” it make no sense, but if we add a structure word such as “the” we can get “The ship sails today” or “Ship the sails today” to help make sense of the words (98).   In this chapter we also learn about immediate consituent analysis, and transformational grammar along with the nature of the Greek sentence and its patterns.  All this will help us know how to analyze a sentence so we know what it is saying to get at its meaning.  

One of the more intriguing chapters for me was the next chapter on semantics (120-141).  Semantics deals with determining the meaning of individual words.  Words have meaning but they need context to help supply that meaning.  If we use the word “turkey” lots of meanings come to mind, a kind of meat, a country, a kind of bird, a score in bowling, an obnoxious child, etc.  Lots of possibilities.  But soon as I say “I had turkey for lunch,” we know which meaning of “turkey” is referred to, though then we may want to know if it was deli meat turkey or the meat right from the bird, but still, words need context to have meaning

So, in this chapter we learn about etemology, whether a word is found in it’s nature or through convention and usage (121).  The thing we have to be careful about here is etemologizing, or as Gordon Fee advises, “don’t get derivation happy.”   This is when we insist that the meaning of a word is based on its derivation.  The all too famous word people do this with is “εκκλησια.” 

Often folks take εκ (a preposition meaning “out of”) and the root καλ (to call) and combine them to think εκκλησια means the church is a group of “the called out ones.”  Then we go off theologizing about how special the church is as a called out people, a separate people, separate from the world (after all we are not to be of it, right?) and go on and on, when this is classic etemologizing.  The reality is, in the NT εκκλησια simply refers to an assembly of people defined by membership, as opposed to οχλος (the crowd).  So, meaning is most often based on useage and not derivation per se (sometimes, but very rarely – form and meaning are not always directly connected). 

So, one has to be careful not to confuse historial information with contemporary usage – historial information can help provide comparison and background information but not the meaning of a word – so becareful on that one (122).  So enough about that – want more?  Get the book! 

The rest of the chapter gets into words and concepts, sematic meanings, rhetorical language.  You learn about synonyms, hyponymns, opposites, and so on.  It’s all good stuff and by the way, the book is meant to be read and not consulted – you need to read it from beginning to end to understand how it all works together

There is a chapter on the history of Greek and here you get a rundown on how it all developed.  See my recent post about linguistics and translation where I reflect on part of this chapter in relation to Greek itself – it may not be quite what Dr. Black was intending but it’s a connection I made. 

The final chapter is on discourse analysis (170-197) and here you get a great quick overview of the book of Philippians through the use of discourse analysis.  What is discourse analysis?  Much of what goes on up to this point is analyzing the smaller parts of language: sounds, words, phrases, sentences.  Now, we analyze the larger parts, the whole unit in which the smaller parts fit.   Whereas syntax analyzes prhases and sentences, discourse analysis anlyzes whole paragraphs and books.  What are we looking for?  Cohesion and Coherence.  We want to know how the sentences link together into larger syntactical units (171) and also make sense of that unit or text. 

That about sums it up!  This is a great book and quite useful!  Please consider getting and reading it!  Thank you Dr. Black for allowing me a copy to reivew – it was a great pleasure!  Be Blessed!

New Book: Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek.

linguistics2I now have an autographed copy of Dave Black’s book Lingusitics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications (Baker Academic, 1995) Courtesy of the author himself – in exchange for a review on the blog of course! And indeed – I’ll get it done quick as I can.  

You can find some more of Dave Black books here.  At least one that is missing from that page is a recent one he edited on the ending of Mark and also that his Greek Grammar has been updated and now has an accompaning workbook

As I already noted in a  previous post:  (consider this as an intital review).

I think this is an important topic and I appreciate that he integrates even basic aspects of linguistics into his Greek Grammar as well.  More than knowing how to read NT Greek, we need to know how a language works and having some understanding of linguistics principles is part of that process. 

In his introduction he asks, “what is it good for?” 

When we study linguistics we are learning how to put the Greek language in its rightful place as a part – perhaps the most technical part – in the text of the New Testament.  Through exposure and practice, we can acquire a broader, more confident command of New Testament Greek.  We can learn why the future of εχω has the rough breathing – an apparent “exception”; why the reduplication of τιθημι “breaks the rules” (it should be θιθημι); how the so-called irregular verbs such as Βαινω are based on consistent linguistic principles; why εργον and work are only superficially different in form.

But more importantly, the study of linguistics can contribute greatly to our understanding of the meaning of the New Testament.   It can help us become more aware of why we understand a text the way we do when we read it, and it can help us talk about the text more precisely, by providing us with a methodology through which we can show how interpretation is in part derived from grammatical considerations.  Linguistics may also solve problems of interpretation by showing us why one meaning is possible but not another.  Above all, however, linguistics can give us a point of view, a way of looking at the text that will help give us consistent analysis, and prompt us to ask questions about the language of the text that we might have otherwise overlooked (pg 3). 

If I had another initial impression of the book – seems to me it could use an reprinting with Dr. Black’s bio on the back updated since I don’t think he’s teaching at Fuller and GGBTS and Talbot, etc but I suppose something like that is both trivial and costly.   He’s at SEBTS now.  

Reading books like this one is one way a busy Pastor can attempt tp stay on top of his or her Greek (along with reading it often) and even help keep understanding of Greek moving forward. 

Thank you Dave Black!

Book to acquire: Greenlee’s Text of the New Testament

greenlee-2When I read things like this – it makes me want to read the book under criticism, and this too while I am at it.   Well, at least in this case.  (I took this idea from Nick). 

Go here for the critical comments of said book.

HT: Dave Black/ETC Blog.

Book to Acquire: Dave Black’s Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Application.

linguisticsSome how, some way, I want to get a copy of Dave Black’s book Lingusitics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications (Baker Academic, 1995). 

I think this is an important topic and I appreciate that he integrates even basic aspects of linguistics into his Greek Grammar as well.  More than knowing how to read NT Greek, we need to know how a language works and having some understanding of linguistics principles is part of that process. 

 

In his introduction he asks, “what is it good for?”

When we study linguistics we are learning how to put the Greek language in its rightful place as a part – perhaps the most technical part – in the text of the New Testament.  Through exposure and practice, we can acquire a broader, more confident command of New Testament Greek.  We can learn why the future of εχω has the rough breathing – an apparent “exception”; why the reduplication of τιθημι “breaks the rules” (it should be θιθημι); how the so-called irregular verbs such as Βαινω are based on consistent linguistic principles; why εργον and work are only superficially different in form.

But more importantly, the study of linguistics can contribute greatly to our understanding of the meaning of the New Testament.   It can help us become more aware of why we understand a text the way we do when we read it, and it can help us talk about the text more precisely, by providing us with a methodology through which we can show how interpretation is in part derived from grammatical considerations.  Linguistics may also solve problems of interpretation by showing us why one meaning is possible but not another.  Above all, however, linguistics can give us a point of view, a way of looking at the text that will help give us consistent analysis, and prompt us to ask questions about the language of the text that we might have otherwise overlooked (pg 3). 

Looks pretty interesting if you ask me!  I am not a lingustics major (though sometimes I think I should have been) so I am not going to go out and read more technical works on this issue – so I think a book like what Dr. Black has put together is and would pretty usseful for pastors and teachers in the church.

Titus 2:13 – The Blessed Hope

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope–the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (TNIV)

Here is in the Greek: προσδεχομενοι την μακαριαν ελπιδα και επιφανειαν της δοξης του μεγαλου θεου και σωτηρος ημων Ιησου Χριστου,  (sorry, still getting the accents down).

 

Question: to what does επιφανειαν της δοξης refer?   The rapture of the Church or the Second coming in general?  Why?

Thanks.

 

John Wesley on the Biblical Languages

Do I understand Greek and Hebrew?  Otherwise, how can I undertake, (as every Minister does,) not only to explain books which are written therein, but to defend them against all opponents?  Am I not at the mercy of every one who does understand, or even pretends to understand, the original?  For which way can I confute his pretence?  Do I understand the language of the Old Testament? critically? at all?  Can I read into English one of David’s Psalms; or even the first chapter of Genesis?  Do I understand the language of the New Testament?  Am I a critical master of it?  Have I enough of it even to read into English the first chapter of St. Luke?  If not, how many years did I spend at school?  How many at the University?  And what was I doing all those years?  Ought not shame to cover my face?

-John Wesley, An Address to the Clergy

HT: Benji Overcash