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This article covers some things I’ve learned over the years regarding bib’cal research. Thought it might be of interest here. The examples will probably sound familiar. 

Thoughts?

( https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/3-ways-not-to-use-greek-in-bible-study/?amp )

Edited by socks
So, I lit a fire. Isn’t it good. Norwegian Wood.

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2. Scholars Are Necessary: Avoiding the Cult of the Amateur 

When it comes to Bible study, many Christians seem to think that knowing Greek is like a magic bullet that will unlock all the secrets of biblical meaning. I once thought this, and then I began studying Greek. The main thing I learned in the first couple of weeks of class was that most of what I thought I knew about Greek was malarky. Turns out that agape and philos aren’t really different kinds of love after all, and the gospel isn’t really the “dynamite” of God. In many ways, Greek is much more mundane than I had thought. It resolves some questions but also creates others.



Well, that right there tells us a lot about the experience we had in TWI.

 

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23 minutes ago, Rocky said:



Well, that right there tells us a lot about the experience we had in TWI.

 

Good article overall.    Over the years, some of the same points were posted here as well, which is a promising sign for those who thought of them independently and posted them.

 

Our experience in twi was echoed there.  One problem was confusing amateurs for real researchers.  We ended up with some off stuff.  With the "usage is more important than breaking down the Greek word into its components" department, we had examples like  "ekklesia" - which is "assembly" by usage to everyone except twi and ex-twi, since they look at the components and see "called out" and stop there, ignoring the usages.         An unrelated point due to amateurs running the show was how we ended up with things like the Intermediate Class including....   "The KJV says 'mortify' here. Know what that means?  That means 'blow to smithereens.' "  From the first time I sat through that, I knew it was wrong, since I knew "mortis" meant "death", and the Greek word was "nekrosate", and  "necros" means "death", which makes sense.   "Kill off" might be a fair translation for the KJV's  "mortify".    The only conclusion I can draw is that someone knew what a  mortar cannon and mortar rounds are, and GUESSED it somehow related to the text even though they didn't have explosives in Palestine in the first century AD.     They did have the "mortar-and-pestle" thing for compounding herbs and so on, since that's truly an ancient "invention", but that "device" had nothing to do with the verse, either.    (I would have been a bit more understanding if they'd said "grind to a powder" rather than "blow to smithereens".) 

 

The sad part is that we had the capacity to look up the usages fairly easily- with either a Concordance or a Greek Lexicon,  but we were never encouraged to read the context to determine the meaning-  we were encouraged to get the meaning, then read that into each occurrence, which is backwards.

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Kind of like how katabole means "overthrow" because of its etymology, never mind that it couldn't possibly mean that.

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17 hours ago, WordWolf said:

...we were never encouraged to read the context to determine the meaning-  we were encouraged to get the meaning, then read that into each occurrence, which is backwards.

sorry... it's not that I don't agree that there was way far too much emphasis and focus put on greek... but I'll have to take exception to your blanket statement.

(and yeah... I was a part of the research fellowship there for several years.)        

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We were told to see things in context but far too often the context was defined for us.

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6 hours ago, TLC said:

sorry... it's not that I don't agree that there was way far too much emphasis and focus put on greek... but I'll have to take exception to your blanket statement.

(and yeah... I was a part of the research fellowship there for several years.)        

Well, congratulations that your experience- in the "research fellowship" -  didn't match mine -out there in the living rooms.   Where I sat, we were encouraged to get the meaning, then read that into the occurrences.

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9 hours ago, Raf said:

Kind of like how katabole means "overthrow" because of its etymology, never mind that it couldn't possibly mean that.

Right.  Looking at all the usages showed at least one where there was no way whatsoever it could possibly mean that,  but cg insisted that "katabole"  which breaks down into "casting down",  could not possibly mean "a founding" (which is what just about everyone else agrees it means and is translated that way), but rather an "overthrow", and then came up with a lengthy, circuitous,  flawed set of teachings revolving around it.   If he'd just looked at all the usages, he'd have realized it couldn't mean that.  Even Bullinger- who believed that- noted quite prominently the verse where it should not be translated accordingly (which is odd but at least it's honest.)
 

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9 hours ago, WordWolf said:

Well, congratulations that your experience- in the "research fellowship" -  didn't match mine -out there in the living rooms.   Where I sat, we were encouraged to get the meaning, then read that into the occurrences.

my, my... such snarkiness.  confirms why I don't much visit or post here anymore.

fyi (not that I much give a chit),  said fellowship didn't even exist in the 70's, and was mentioned only to indicate the broader extent of what I saw and experienced over the years I was involved, from "the living rooms" all the way through to some of the depths of being (corps) on staff at HQ for as many years as I was,  but, I guess you speak for everyone else that was involved during those years, and what I saw and experienced must be the anomaly...

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Usually when a verse was read in a teaching, the practice of flipping to several other seemingly random verses (used before, scripture build up), maybe ranting on one of those random verses for 20 minutes, and then returning to the original verse at some point, if there was time left, . . . was the general practice.  Getting the context was was like studying a painting after getting of the tilt-o-whirl.  Yeah, it all became Greek to me.

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WordWolf:  

"The sad part is that we had the capacity to look up the usages fairly easily- with either a Concordance or a Greek Lexicon,  but we were never encouraged to read the context to determine the meaning-  we were encouraged to get the meaning, then read that into each occurrence, which is backwards. "

 

TLC:

"sorry... it's not that I don't agree that there was way far too much emphasis and focus put on greek... but I'll have to take exception to your blanket statement.

(and yeah... I was a part of the research fellowship there for several years.)"       

 

WordWolf:

"Well, congratulations that your experience- in the "research fellowship" -  didn't match mine -out there in the living rooms.   Where I sat, we were encouraged to get the meaning, then read that into the occurrences. "

 

TLC:

"...but, I guess you speak for everyone else that was involved during those years, and what I saw and experienced must be the anomaly..."

 

Guess about that if you must, but this is another example about how different people in twi, in different places in twi, at different times in twi,  had different EXPERIENCES in twi.   I spoke about MY experience (and used words like "mine" and "where I sat" to make that clear).   Some other people posted things similar to what I said, but can-and do-speak for themselves just as you did for yourself.   As you said, YOUR experience seemed to have lacked that specific problem.  I didn't doubt that, but mine HAD IT, so I posted accordingly. It would have been nice if my experience LACKED that problem, but it didn't.   If you must read into that, then you must,  but I don't think anyone else did.

Edited by WordWolf
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1 hour ago, Bolshevik said:

Usually when a verse was read in a teaching, the practice of flipping to several other seemingly random verses (used before, scripture build up), maybe ranting on one of those random verses for 20 minutes, and then returning to the original verse at some point, if there was time left, . . . was the general practice.  Getting the context was was like studying a painting after getting of the tilt-o-whirl.  Yeah, it all became Greek to me.

The "rant on random verses for 20 minutes" thing really got popular during the lcm era.  vpw did it too, sometimes, but with a lot more style so it wasn't as obvious.  There were homespun analogies that pretended to connect, and so on. ("Private interpretation" never had anything to do with "letting the hounds loose on the prey" or anything like that, except in vpw's mind.)

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Context is a significant part of PFAL - how the Word interprets itself. Immediate, extended context, etc.

History, geography and culture provide contexts in which to understand the Bible, and that was prominent in PFAL.

One of the biggest takeaways from PFAL for me was to read the Bible. I'm looking at my 1970 hard bound copy of Bullinger's "How to Enjoy the Bible" right now and it contains a huge amount of information and guidance for anyone wishing to begin layering their reading and study skills. I recommend it to ex Wayfers when we're talking about this and that if I find they haven't ever read it or dove into it. The connection between Ethelbert and VPW will be obvious to PFAL grads who learned much of the same material in PFAL as a means to understanding Christian faith as a living reality. It's interesting to me that the academic approach of EWB was first used then dropped by VPW for his own rhetorical style of teaching PFAL.

I think we must accept that fact that when working with a written form of communication that is first constructed from ancient samples written in an ancient language that must then be translated through several layers of refinement to get a modern version, the outcome must be an interpretation. When anyone says that a translation is accurate to the original and "according to usage" as VPW said, interpretation is required. Yes yes yes, let's let the Word of God speak for itself. Once we construct a complete sample that we believe represents the best possible record and translate it into English, a language made up of many many other languages, the result will require interpretation.

The net results can look like the unwieldy statements of an Amplified NT, not due to an over wrought torturing of the content but because it may require many english words to specify anything close to an exact translation of the Koine Greek words. "As the spirit guides" indeed, but where words can be vague, the heart gets the impression of the message clearly. Thus, the "spirit" teaches us, as we read and study.

How well VPW or anyone else uses any of these tools is a measure to be discussed but where I see that article putting a person is to crack the book, allow others to guide and help you learn and don't go the "sophomore's shuffle" route just because we have some tools to use, whether we're newbies or elders. Stay meek, read, and enjoy.

Article quote:

"I’m not saying that Greek word studies are bad, or totally unnecessary (after all, we are not native Greek speakers). But unless you do them properly, they’ll simply give you the illusion of knowing something when you really don’t. Most of the time you’ll do better to simply compare a number of solid translations like the NASB, ESV, NIV, and NLT. After all, the people who translated these Bible versions understand Greek far better than you or I ever will. So don’t throw away their expertise. And as you read, pay attention to the context. An ounce of good contextual analysis is worth a pound of poorly done Greek word studies.

(I'd add don't rely solely on a single teacher or source either, over the long haul. I do have some basic fundamentals that I feel solid about and I can move amongst many different sources without fearing anything at all. After all, if I ask God for Him to teach me, is He going to fool me and lie to me?  Of course not. So there's every reason for trust and confidence - it''s HIS Word, not mine.)

"So take your English Bibles and read carefully. When you do word studies, avoid the root fallacy, take advantage of scholars’ expertise, and remember that context is king. In short, read, reread, and reread again. It’s not as flashy a study method, and it probably won’t make you feel (or look) as smart, but it’ll give you much more accurate results."

(Actually by reading and working context, you'll probably look very smart because you'll know what's in the Book, and not just lists of verses organized by topic, in your head. Few are those who say they "believe the book" who have ever read it in it's entirety. Not reading it all and saying I believe it would say something about how I believe. It. The book thing......It's worthwhile to do so, I highly recommend it, taking one's time, "no worries mate", just enjoy the ride. )

Edited by socks
I always liked Perry White.
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Good article; thanks for posting.

See the recommendations for looking at several English versions (or if you're a non-native English speaker, perhaps in your mother tongue instead or as well).

I'd like to suggest that people UNDERSTAND ENGLISH WELL.  That means: having a good vocabulary - the wider your vocabulary, the more you will pick up nuances.  Have a good understanding of grammar - the more you understand that, the better will be your understanding of the "actual" and the hypothetical,   How many tenses in English do you know the names of, for describing past events? Or describing future events? (Hint: there's more than one of each!)  What about the subjunctive?  

It was perfectly obvious to me right from sess.1 of PFAL that VPW didn't understand English grammar - I "forgave" him that, thinking that the entirety of the video teaching was perhaps more important to understand.  But I later heard those same mistakes made by purported "teachers" and ultimately at twig level.

I say: if you don't understand your native language, your mother tongue, and its nuances - how the heck do you think you understand a foreign language, and an ancient one at that, with all its nuances?   

 

Think of the differences in meaning between "I walk down the street" and "I am walking down the street." 

"I walked down the street" compared with "I have walked down the street" and "I was walking down the street"

"I will walk down the street" and "I shall walk down the street" and "I will be walking down the street" and  "I shall be walking down the street."

"I may walk down the street" and "I may be walking down the street." 

"I may have been walking down the street" and "I could have been walking down the street."

These are all legitimate tenses, some mean more or less the same depending on context, but others have big differences in meaning.  You probably understand the differences without being able to articulate them clearly. You may know the names of some of the tenses, or you may not.  The choice of auxiliary verb can make a big difference too.  There are many other tenses in the English language. 

Other languages have different tenses that are not directly equivalent to those of the English language.  

 

That's before we get into things like word order, and different moods - are the words you read meant to be taken at face value, are they ironical or humorous, do they in fact mean the opposite of what they say? 

And spelling.  And words that have more than one meaning in English, of which there are several examples in the Bible.  And words that look a lot like another, but are widely divergent in meaning ("false friends," these are sometimes called). 

 

Seriously, folks, improve your knowledge of English and you will improve your understanding of not just the Bible but a whole host of other things as well.  Those scholars and academicians who have worked on Bible translations have a wide vocabulary and a wide understanding of grammar in English and the other language(s).  That's why they were chosen for the task.  Undoubtedly there were disagreements, or at least discussions, over the choice of English words or phrases to express Greek words or phrases, according to the translators' own vocabularies and understandings.  You can best respect their efforts by improving your own ability to comprehend.

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It certainly would help avoid problems like "It says 'mortify' and that means 'to blow to smithereens' and 'the difference in meaning between 'thoroughly' and 'throughly' is...."   and other issues that resulted from teachers whose grasp of English wasn't as good as they thought it was.

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Etymology (= where it comes from, how it's built up) of the word Mortify:

late 14c., mortifien, "to kill, destroy the life of," from Old French mortefiier "destroy, overwhelm, punish," from Late Latin mortificare "cause death, kill, put to death," literally "make dead," from mortificus "producing death," from Latin mors (genitive mortis) "death" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").

Religious sense of "subdue the flesh by abstinence and discipline" is attested from early 15c. Sense of "humiliate, chagrin, vex" is recorded by 1690s (compare mortification). Related: Mortified; mortifying.

Note the "root words" Mer- and Dhe- or Facere, and how these have developed and compounded to make one word over millennia; there are quite a number of steps to get to the word we use today.  (See, you can do word studies in English, too!).  The kids' word "deadify" sums up "mortify" exactly.

If you'd known that the "mort" or "mer" part meant, or had connotations of, Death, you'd've understood this right from the beginning.  Perhaps you did, but chose to accept someone else's explanation (more fool you!).  If you know any French, you'll recognise the word "mort" meaning dead. Or if you know any Spanish, you'll recognise the word "muerto" meaning dead.  French and Spanish are more directly from Latin than English is, so these are also worthwhile languages to study (along with "improve your English").

If you find a new word in the English language, it's always worthwhile checking its etymology and this will definitely help you expand your vocabulary.  You will see one, two or maybe more "root words" (as above) and you will then begin to be able to recognise these "roots" in other words.

 

If you aren't willing to put this effort into understanding your native tongue - don't waste anybody's time showing off your puffed-up ego in expounding on ancient Greek words.

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Twinky, I think that's excellent advice and insight. 

Over the years I've seen both in myself and others that when it comes to the Bible we kinda bring who we are "to it" when we read. And it's that way with anything we do, isn't it? I do think, without being "elitist" about it, that we'd all benefit from what you're saying and so much misunderstanding comes from just not knowing or following simple stuff. 

Plus, everyone may sit that and read and listen and nod and say "amen" at the right times but two people can have very different understandings of what they're hearing and reading and just as certainly different applications of the "same thing" into our individual lives. 

I've been studying Bullinger's scope of scripture again, the structure stuff. I always enjoyed it and it's an area that PFAL didn't get into much but that fits with reading for context. 

Structure really highlights the literary side of the Bible, as a written book. The ups and downs, the flows, and how it follows and fits with the language itself. The repetition of an idea and how it's contrasted, how it's expressed throughout a chapter, a "book" and then across the entire Bible. I see it revealing meaning and emphasis without adding much need for interpretation or interpolation. And it's something that doesn't seem lost between languages, Greek, Aramaic, English. It follows the content, the ideas, and exposes the essence of the meaning of what's written just by reading it. 

I'm working on an old project with it, the similarity to music and various musical forms. We know music is written and follows a wide range of rules and reg's, depending on the type, etc. I'm not an expert in all of them by any means, but the fundamentals are pretty easy to understand even if you just listen to music and know what you like. Musicians of all stripe have always used improvisation and very effectively for compositions where the core of the score is written, say a melody or even an idea, and the actual notes then played may vary in performance. Mozart used improvisation in his composing, and sometimes would draw from initial sketches he'd either write out or have in his head when he performed those pieces. This is done all the time in music when someone takes a piece of music and produces different versions of it, "improvises" in it. Achieving different end results while using the same harmonic structures is done all the time, as well as using different harmonic structures against a melody.....it's "different" but it's a product of the melody or even a re working of the melody itself that fits into the original composition in it's entirety. 

The Bible does some of the same things, which makes sense really - both are written forms of communication that have a living expression to be heard and seen. So it follows that they'd be similar. 

* I meant to add - I think that's how the "truth" of "God's Word" is mean to be lived in each individual life. People get really hung up on the nuances and every little detail being exactly this or that, in the human rendering of what we learn about in the Bible and are given by God. 

It's like saying, if we were dancing everyone would have to do the same routine, the same steps and move the same way as each other at the same time. Regimented, coordinated, controlled. Planned. Expected. Repetitive. (Boring?)

I believe it all gets lived out in a much broader, grander scale of activity, where the basics are rendered in a diversity of ways that is vast in number, as each of us individually renders out "the living Word", the "logos" 

- which is how the Bible describes the way the spirit of God works in each of us in the "Body of Christ"...."members in particular"....

We contain the vast glory of God when we insist on regimentation, and we constrain the ability of each of us to naturally/spiritually produce a living performance of God's Word when we do. 

So on the one hand we adhere to the rules and regs....and on the other we then produce our works, our "fruit" which then has the qualities of joy, peace, etc. that the Bible takes about, "fruit of the spirit", not just feel good stuff but real stuff. 

Thinking of it like music, and performance, and improvisation, it comes to life for me.

 

 

 

Edited by socks
"Why is there BACON in the soap???!?"
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Socks, music is a very good way of thinking how something is a "whole," with scope for improvisation and development.  Good post!

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