Sunday, September 14, 2008

Learn to Read the Greek New Testament

Learn to Read the Greek New Testament

The Bible was not written in a special dialect but in the every day language of the people, reflecting the culture of the day. The international language or lingua franca at the time of Jesus was called common Greek, or in Greek: Koine Greek. Just as English is the international language of today, and people from all over the world are taught it as a second language, so Koine Greek was the second language of most people of the world that Paul traveled.

Each author in the New Testament used Greek in a slightly different way - sometimes multiple styles as they addressed different audiences or had secretarial and editorial assistance from others, or edited and compiled stories from others (see the begining of Luke for example). Each author and audience have their own cultural background which is reflected in the way they write - consider the diverse backgrounds of Peter (a fisherman), Paul (a religious scholar), Matthew (a tax collector) and Luke (a doctor).

When Bible translators translate into English and other languages, they also have a specific cultural and theological background, as well as a specific purpose and audience in mind. Few translations retain the same characteristics as the original source, and most either deliberately or accidentally introduce interpretation and retarget to a specific kind of language and style that reflects their objectives.

This bring us to the purpose of this blog. Only by reading the Bible in the original language can you have access to what the author actually said - and by making use of commentaries and other resources that assume a knowledge of Greek, you can then also start to understand how it related to the original author and audience, and how it relates to your needs and those of your church and community.

This blog is maintained by Dr B Ward Powers with the help of his son Prof. David M Ward Powers. Ward is a well known theologian and Bible expositor, and author of many books including the acclaimed NT Greek textbook "Learn to Read the Greek New Testament" that is designed specifically to help people learn to read the Bible in Greek by reading the Bible in Greek! All examples and exercises are taken from the New Testament, and there are no artificial sentences contrived to illustrate points, and no exercises in translating English into a Greek that is no longer actively spoken or written. This blog will allow you to ask questions about Greek, the interpretation of the Bible, and current issues and debates. It will share with you answers that Ward is giving in his classes, or has written in response to email queries.

What it becomes is up to you!

David M W Powers
B Ward Powers

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