Monday, 12 June 2017

Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek"

This book is extremely popular with Protestant seminaries, and rightfully so. This is even tangent to the reason why I am writing this short blog post.

To keep things honest, I have not read nor studied the complete book. I have done my best to avoid Mounce as much as possible due to him not being Orthodox, and due to the stated fact that his Grammar and approach to Biblical Greek is not academic, but rather pastoral, and hence is not free of heterodox denominational bias and eisegesis. Though he is honest about this.

Recently I came into possession of the Third Edition of his Grammar due to my purchase of Accordance XII and their Greek Expert Collection; it is included. Researching some Greek cases I was mixing up this afternoon, his BBG was searched by me using all my tools in Accordance. I found my answer, and it was ironically BBG that settled the issue for me; I decided to check out more of the chapter and came across the quote below from Walter W. Wessel (religion unknown at the time of composing) in the beginning of Chapter 13, in the "Exegetical Insight" section:
        δικαιοσύνη is one of the great words in Christian theology. Basically it means, “the character or quality of being right or just.” It is a word used to describe God. He is in the ultimate sense the Just One (Rom 3:5, 25). It is also used to describe the righteous life of the believer, i.e., a life lived in obedience to the will of God (Rom 6:13, 16, 18, 19, 20; Eph 6:14, etc.).
But the most important use of δικαιοσύνη in the New Testament is to describe the gracious gift of God by which through faith in Jesus Christ one is brought into a right relationship to God. Such a relationship is apart from law, i.e., apart from the works of the law—we can do nothing to obtain it. However, the “Law and the Prophets,” i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures, testify to it. It was all a part of God’s redemptive plan that we should have been put into a right relationship with him through his Son.
Luther was right when he wrote: “For God does not want to save us by our own but by an extraneous righteousness, one that does not originate in ourselves but comes to us from beyond ourselves.”
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and δικαιοσύνη.
For educated non-Protestants the eisegesis is evident, and for those reading to whom it is not I point you to the correspondence between the Protestant Reformers and Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II  here, here, and here. These issues are all the more important in our current month as my own Patriarch (who currently sits on the same throne as Jeremiah II) leads us further away from the position presented by Jeremiah II to the Lutherans of his time.

So, to be clear, Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek is not appropriate for Orthodox Christians who are neophytes in the realm of Greek; instead, I point those Orthodox who are interested to Stephen W. Paine's Beginning Greek: A Functional Approach; and feel free to ask me anything if you need help.

To finish this post, I just want to say I am not purposely trying to state anything about Protestant Greek Grammar. If it were not for Protestants my Koine Greek wouldn't be at the level it is currently; however, as Orthodox we need to beware the Protestant obsession with "exegesis" of the Greek texts and the divergent paths our Tradition and theirs are on.

Mögen auch zwei miteinander wandeln, sie seien denn eins untereinander?
Amos 3:3, Luther Bibel 1912

εἰ πορεύσονται δύο ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καθόλου ἐὰν μὴ γνωρίσωσιν ἑαυτούς;
Amos 3:3, LXX Rahlfs-Hanhart 2006

Monday, 15 May 2017

Daily Dose of Greek Summer Challenge 2017

This past Saturday morning in my emails from DDG was this (you will also need this). I already follow the Daily Dose of Greek on top of my actual daily Greek studies, and I think this is a good idea and encourage you all to give it an attempt.

The challenge is to do one or more of the following every day (or at least every day that the DDG ends up in your email):

1. Watch each daily video twice, or review the previous day's video before the new one

2. Get a new notebook and handwrite each verse

3. Use the DDG Accountability Sheet

4. Buy an Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (here) or Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament (here) volume and commit to reading 5-10 minutes a day (Dr. Plummer suggests Ephesians for EGGNT and Revelation for BHGNT).

I'm attempting the challenge by watching the videos twice. Also by handwriting the verses in the notebook I use for writing down unknown Greek words, ideas for homilies, and jiu-jitsu techniques after classes (sorry, as a poor seminarian a new Moleskin was downvoted by my wife); using the Accountability Sheet, and I ordered the BHGNT on Revelation. It is that last point which needs to be addressed.

I recently wrote a paper about inaugurated eschatology in the Gospel of John. A good section of that essay dealt with the differences between "Protestant exegesis" and Orthodox Christian hermeneutics. Long story short: they are not the same. The Orthodox understanding and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures is clearly stated by St. Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov in The Arena, Chapter 9: On Reading the Gospel and the Writings of the Fathers:

The whole New Testament can be called the Gospel, since it contains nothing but the Gospel teaching. . . . The reading of The Herald is indispensable. It is an aid to the right understanding of the Gospel and consequently to the most exact practice of it. Moreover, the rules of the Church require that Scripture should be understood as the holy Fathers explained it, and not at all arbitrarily. By being guided in our understanding of the Gospel by the explanation of the holy Father [sic], by the explanation received and used by the Church, we keep the tradition of the holy Church.

Since both the series of books in #4 are heterodox (I am unaware as to whether or not they are heretical), and since I'm not doing "exegesis" (read this here by a Protestant with two Doctorates critical of the aforementioned) I decided upon the BHGNT. I also made my choice due to a couple of additional reasons: A. the late Rodney Decker contributed the volumes on Mark for this series; B. the description of the book reads that it 

. . .offers teachers and students a comprehensive guide to the grammar and vocabulary of Revelation. A perfect supplement to any commentary, this volume’s lexical, analytical, and syntactical analysis is a helpful tool in navigating New Testament literature. But more than just providing an analytic key, David Mathewson leads students toward both a greater understanding of the Greek text and an appreciation for the textual, rhetorical, and interpretive intricacies not available in English translations. This handbook is an essential tool for the serious student.

No mention of exegesis, though it does mention "an appreciation for . . . interpretive intricacies." We'll see, but as "a perfect supplement to any comentary" (reason C.), while keeping St. Brianchaninov's word's in mind, I took my unread copy of the late Archbishop Averky Taushev's Orthodox commentary of the Apocalypse off the self to read along with it.

So there you have it, an Orthodox take on the Daily Dose of Greek's Summer Challenge 2017. Dr. Plummer does a lot of good by doing what he does, and I thank him very much as his videos have helped me. Now, if he'd drop that horrible Erasmian pronunciation and just pronounce Greek the way Christ Himself did that'd be great... ;) 

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Greek Differences

I've finally begun to know enough Greek internally that recently I've become cognizant when there are errors in Greek texts and/or English translations from an Orthodox Christian point-of-view. So here I will list examples as I encounter them in my life. Feel free to send me others.

* * * * * 

Liturgy on Sunday, March 12th 2017 - 55. Κυριακὴ Βʹ τῶν Νηστειῶν

Mark 2:1

Καὶ εἰσῆλθε πάλιν εἰς Καπερναοὺμ δι’ ἡμερῶν καὶ ἠκούσθη ὅτι εἰς οἶκόν ἐστι.

...εἰσῆλθεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς Καπερναούμ· καὶ ἠκούσθη ὅτι εἰς οἶκόν ἐστι.

* * * * * 

Liturgy on Sunday, March 26th 2017 - 57. Κυριακὴ Δʹ τῶν Νηστειῶν

Μάρκ. θʹ 24

καὶ εὐθέως κράξας ὁ πατὴρ τοῦ παιδίου μετὰ δακρύων ἔλεγε· Πιστεύω, Κύριε· βοήθει μου τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ.

Καὶ εὐθέως κράξας ὁ πατὴρ τοῦ παιδίου μετὰ δακρύων ἔλεγε· Πιστεύω, Κύριε· βοήθει μου τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ.

1611 KJV - And straightway the father of the child cried out and said with teares, Lord, I beleeue, helpe thou mine vnbeliefe.

RSV - Immediately the father of the child cried out[a] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”


  1. Mark 9:24 Other ancient authorities add with tears

Monday, 6 March 2017

ReadGreek2ME: Why ORAL aspect in Greek is important?

ReadGreek2ME: Why ORAL aspect in Greek is important?: I posted the following contribution to G-Greek and I will get back to that. Randall, From the time that the Church was establish in Jerus...

ReadGreek2ME: A very interesting book, even if it is not directl...

ReadGreek2ME: A very interesting book, even if it is not directl...: The  Heresy  of  Orthodoxy : How Contemporary Culture's Fascination ... Andreas J. Köstenberger ,   Michael J. Kruge...

ReadGreek2ME: Some additional explanation on my method of Learni...

ReadGreek2ME: Some additional explanation on my method of Learni...: I would like to make a note about immersion.  In the weekly liturgical cycle of the Orthodox church the book of psalms is read once a week...