Friday, December 9, 2011

Greek is good vs. Greek is gone

While many of my other classmates are celebrating the “end” of their Greek class this semester, I hear the familiar phrase, “I’ll never have to do that again”. Unfortunately, I will have to be the bearer of bad news (the κακηγγελιον if you will). Greek doesn't end yet.
In our Life and Letters of Paul class, we were tasked each week to translate about ten verses or so from the letter we were examining on that day. In the “Book of Revelation” class that I sat in on when I visited, they began the session by translating a part of the book of Revelation used in The Messiah. I have a hunch that Jesus and the Gospels will call for Greek translation as well.
I have some good news too (or ευαγγελιον, for that matter); it does get easier. The more one works with the language the better they will get at it, especially if it’s classical Greek. It does begin overwhelmingly in a one semester course, but now there are only a few Greek surprises that will come our way. We can work with Greek now and not even for a grade! It can be for fun! (Hah, Greek for fun…guess that gives away that I would consider myself a Greek geek huh?)
Learning the intricacies of the Greek language can provide meaningful insight on several passages of the Bible. Even the different ways to translate a genitive (a possessive or distinctive form of a noun) can have a significant impact on how to communicate in faith languages. Consider, for example, the translation often rendered in Paul’s letter’s “the faith in Jesus Christ” which can be legitimately rendered “the faith of Jesus Christ”. This little change suddenly affects our understanding of Paul’s connection between "salvation" and Christology in a way that should be addressed and identified.
In the end, Greek can be one of the most valuable tools for anybody wrestling with the Bible. It has rough patches and might be very frustrating a lot of times, but I can’t help but urge those discouraged by Greek to not fret or worry, it will get better and I’m sure there will be Greek geeks like me to help if necessary!
Whether Greek is good or Greek is gone, congratulations are in order for my classmates who have conquered their semester of Greek! Way to go and ευχαριστεω υμων…I hope I got that right, I’m not too good at formulating a Greek sentence. Something to work on I suppose J
Until next Friday!

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