Why Study Greek at All?

Dr. Rod Decker knows Greek. Very well. And he’s thought carefully about how and why to learn it, how and when—and when not—to use it in preaching. I urge students in Greek classes, especially higher level courses, to read this paper by Dr. Decker.

In it you’ll find wisdom like this:

I often tell my students that if you cannot show a local church audience the meaning of a passage from an English Bible, then should think twice as to whether you really want to insist on a particular interpretation.

I’ve said nearly the same thing (just replace “passage” with “word”) about the generally agreed upon meaning of the Greek word ἀγάπη. Thanks for making me feel more confident, Dr. Decker.

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

1 thought on “Why Study Greek at All?”

  1. Although a pastor or teacher can refer to Greek or Hebrew too much, this does not mean that we should never refer to Greek or Hebrew. Those who use the KJV or even other translations sometimes have to explain what the English word means. In his paper, Dr. Decker avoids this somewhat by referring to different translations in order to clarify the KJV. So why is it wrong to refer to what the Greek or Hebrew words mean? Example: In 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah asks the people “How long halt ye between two opinions?” [KJV]. Most translations translate this sentence about the same way, except the RSV, which comes closer to the literal Hebrew. A literal Hebrew translation would be “How long you limping between two crutches?” The Hebrew words used convey images that are very helpful in picturing the idea Elijah is trying to impress upon the people. Let’s be careful we don’t “throw the baby out with the bath water” because some (many?) misuse Greek and Hebrew.

    Additionally, this paper seems to have been prepared for the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics, whose steering committee includes people from Dallas Seminary and Grace Seminary. Very curious.

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