Wednesday, February 16, 2005

On misusing the Greek text

Several bloggers have noted that Thomas A. Howe of Southern Evangelical Seminary has begun a weblog. One of his articles, on the misuse of the Greek New Testament in preaching and teaching, is good reading for preachers, especially those without extensive training in languages. The articles require a name and e-mail address to register. Here's Dr. Howe:

Of all the misuses of the text, there is no more prevalent misuse than the misuse of the meanings of words. The words of the Greek New Testament are treated as magical entities that are supposed to contain the secretes of the meaning of the Bible. Evangelical Christians treat the Greek of the New Testament as if it were the meaning behind the meaning–much like the Catholic church in the Middle Ages with their allegorical meaning behind the literal meaning. More than frequently you will hear a preacher or a Bible teacher say something to the effect of, “The Greek word means . . .” Often the meaning that is given is either not significantly different from the word in your own translation, or it is some paragraph-long explanation.

Much of the article is devoted to exposing a relatively common misinterpretation of the different words for love in John 21:15-19. It's worth reading.


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