The New Testament vocabulary, as compared with the Septuagint, shows a far more distinct classical strain… In 2 Corinthians, 17% of the vocabulary is found in Plato, while 5% represents that author’s share in the language of Deuteronomy. We are certain that less Hellenistic books of the New Testament, such as 1 Peter, Hebrews, and James, would show an even greater preponderance.

This pure element is constantly showing itself. In parts of Hebrews and Acts one can sometimes forget for a moment that the Greek is Hellenistic. But the classical element in the New Testament vocabulary is usually made indistinct by the thoroughly Hellenistic character of the grammar and syntax. This is further helped by the Jewish cast of thought which underlies the actual words.

Accordingly, in a book like the Epistle of St. James, where the Greek is forcible, and often beautiful, there always remains a certain Hellenistic monotony, a lack of flexibility, which mars the general impression. In this connection there are many anomalies displayed by the various writers, difficult of explanation. Thus St. Matthew’s Gospel, which has probably the most Hellenistic and Hebraistic tone of any New Testament book, and the least pretence to style, has fewer actual Hebraisms than the Gospel of St. Luke, and a far more even and natural flow than St. Mark’s work, which is often rugged and inelegant. On the other hand, St. Luke, while capable of perhaps the most truly classical cast of language, goes beyond all the other New Testament writers in the use of vernacular expressions.

No doubt these points have, underneath them, explanatory facts which have never come to light. But the minutiae of individual variations only serve to give greater weight to phenomena of general agreement. Mistakes are often made by affixing the stamp of universal validity to what are only the predilections of individuals. Speaking generally, one may say that the desire after clearness and lucidity, which excludes all other aims, combined with the circumstances of the writers, their Jewish modes of thought, and the decay of the classical speech, made it impossible for classical Greek to be a predominating factor in the language of the New Testament. Yet it can be said with accuracy that its claims are far more powerfully vindicated in the sphere of vocabulary than in any other. Dry statistics render this unassailable. It is unnecessary, after what has been done in the case of the Septuagint, to attempt an analysis of the more ancient portion of the New Testament vocabulary. The elements which compose it are the same, though they are present in a greatly intensified degree, and specially so as regards the more classical portion of them…

We find numerous relations between the authors of the “Common Dialect” and the New Testament writers. These relations are not found so much to hold of special classes of words. They rather belong to the language as a whole, though perhaps they are most prominently seen in connection with new compounds and words formed in various ways from elements which already exist in the ancient tongue. The New Testament vocabulary is about equally related to the vocabularies of Polybius, Diodorus, Philo, and Josephus. It must be said, however, that the resemblance to Philo is more important, as it is repeatedly found in the case of words which appear nowhere else in literature…

Perhaps Plutarch stands nearest of all to the New Testament vocabulary, though this comes out especially in the case of certain books. In 2 Corinthians, as has been noted, 31% of the words occur in him as well. In the more narrative parts of the New Testament the proportion would be certainly far smaller. A good many of the coincidences in words are due, no doubt, to the subject-matter of Plutarch’s works, and to their semi-philosophical colouring, which finds a parallel in the theological portions of the New Testament. But it often happens that, besides the resemblances in vocabulary, Plutarch’s use of words already found in classical authors sheds striking light on their significations in the New Testament.