20 Oct 2011

"Biblical" Greek

Submitted by Stephen Winters

I do a lot of thinking about many of the concepts and principles of life. I also do a lot of thinking about the meanings of many different Bible verses that I "learned" as a child and young adult.

I often look up the definitions of Greek words so that (hopefully) I can better understand a verse in the New Testament. In looking up the definitions in a Greek dictionary, I see that many words have a both religious definition at the top and then have "other" non-religious definitions at the bottom. I have found that the religious definitions often make the work unclear or hard to understand, or it brings some "spiritual" (magical) meaning to the word.When religion gets in the middle of defining greek words, it seems that the definitions get all muddied up and magitized (or sprititualized).

I'm not a Greek scholar, but in my limited understanding it seems that the non-religious meanings of the words make a lot more sense to me. So I've developed a habit to mostly disregard and look past the religious meanings of words.

I also don't think that Greek was a religious or a Christian language. I think that it was just a plain language of the times. Which means, I really wonder if, and doubt that, those religious meanings were part of the original Greek language.

It is my understanding that "Biblical" Greek was actually just the common language of the day.

"Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, (known as Archaic), c. 5th–4th centuries BC (Classical) , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD (Hellenistic) of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek. The language of the Hellenistic phase is known as Koine ( common ) or Biblical Greek, the language from the late period onward has no considerable difference from Medieval Greek." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek

What is called "Biblical" Greek (which is really Hellenistic Greek) spanned the time from the 3rd century before Christ to the 6th Century after Christ, although it seems to have its roots back to the 9th century before Christ.

Now, what does this mean? It would seem apparent that Greek was not a religious language, but just the regular language of it's time. I question the whole concept of putting "Christian" meanings to the common non-religious words. For example, let's look at the meanings of some Greek words.

Let us start with the word "word", as in "In the beginning was the Word...."

Greek Definition of "Word"

G3056 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G3056 λόγος logos (log'-os) n.
1. something said (including the thought)
2. (by implication) a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive
3. (by extension) a computation
4. (specially, with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)
[from G3004]
KJV: account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say(-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work
Root(s): G3004

It is clear to me that definition number 4, "the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ)" was not a part of the original Greek language that was spoken at the time of Christ. The Greeks with whom the language originated did not know or believe in Christ. in fact, it would seem apparent that the Greek language was in existance centuries before Christ came to earth. So, how could the word "word" have the religious meaning, refering to Christ, since they had no reference point to even associate the word with Christ.

Greek Definition of "Spirit"

G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n.
1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze
2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit
3. (humanly) the rational soul
4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc.
5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon
6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit
[from G4154]
KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind
Root(s): G4154
Compare: G5590

Now, let us look at the Greek definition of the word "Spirit". Read down through all the definitions. When we come to the definitions 5 & 6 we see that they are religious definitions. If we eliminate the religious definitions (that were probably added later, see what the other definitions say.

When looking up the definitions of "Biblical" Greek (which can be presumed to really be a non religious Greek), look through all the definitons and eliminate any religious definitions. I would presume that this would bring us to a closer true definition of meaning of the words.

When we eliminate the religious definition of the Greek words, it would seem that we would come up with a better understanding of what was actually written and what it meant.


Greek Definition of "Scripture"

Consider how a couple regular Greek dictionaries define the Greek word


Dictionarist Defines γραφή like this:

Greek To English - γραφή  n. hand, quill, script, writ, Scripture, style, writing

Wicktionary Defines γραφή like this:

γραφή (grafí) f

  1. alphabetism
  2. writing (written letters or symbols that express some meaning)
  3. script (written characters)
  4. hand (style of penmanship), handwriting

Now let's look at how a "Biblical" Greek dictionary define

G1124 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries)
G1124 γραφή graphe (graf-ay') n.
1. a document, i.e. holy Writ (or its contents or a statement in it)
[(not given)]
KJV: scripture

Notice how the religious definition of "Holy Writ" has been added to the regular Greek  definition. Again it seems that the religious definition has to be added in order to try to make the word into a "holy writing" in order to try to prove that the Bible to be the "Word of God".

So, if you strip away the non-original religious definitions to the words, the supernatural interpretation of is taken away. The the Bible is put into the status of a regular book, which it is.


Since I have mostly put aside using the religious definitions of the Greek, the New Testament has never been clearer to me. And, I think, the meaning has change to (my perceived) actual word usage, not the religious meaning word usage.



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