Greek European Culture

Greek Language

Theological ambitions

Although great effort has been put on this site’s language pages, I won’t stop emphasizing that knowledge of Greek is not in itself able to provide understanding of the texts. Here is a question (“When will I write theology?”) and an answer by a person of good will (I don’t doubt), that “I’ll wait until my knowledge of Greek (and hopefully Hebrew) is good enough that I can just sit down and read the text and then turn and have a conversation in Koine (or Hebrew) with my wife about the text. At that point, I’ll be ready.”

This answer may mean that, “I know enough about these matters, but I don’t feel confident enough to write without knowing at least Greek, if not Hebrew.” It may also mean, “I won’t know enough, until I know also Greek.”

There have been very many people knowing Greek, yet unable to become theologians. Others became theologians without knowing Greek (unless we say that Augustine was not a theologian). There have been even scholars with ambitions lower than this, classical philologues knowing the language perfectly, yet equally unable to understand not st John, but even Thucydides.

If theology is the logos (speech and understanding) that is inspired by the Divine Logos, the Son of Man, then theology needs only that and can be expressed in all languages, of course in a variety of ways. In Greek it can become more philosophical, while in other languages it can have different qualities, but the theological property does not depend on a specific language.

The very mentioning of Hebrew, that is, of a language that did not produce any Christian theology at all, since none of the Christian writers used Hebrew, reveals rather a philological than a theological interest, a confusion in any case, to discover the supposed “roots” of Christianity, in a place where Christianity did not grow!, i.e. in Hebrew.

1 Comment

  1. Vasiliki Didaskalou

    I heard a wonderful sermon from a truly gifted Archimandrite of the church who died very recently. He was such an inspired man that he has been given the affectionate term of “the New Chrysostom” because of his amazing gift to articulate and explain the Bible with the theology of the church.

    He said, that a piece of paper will never mean you are a theologian … nor are you a theologian simply because you have mastered the art of discussing theology with your academic intellect … a true theologian, in the strict sense of the word, is one who is able to talk about God through his heart because he has been given this gift from God! Not because of how much he has read or learned but because of God’s mercy alone and the humility and prayer that this person has.

    This is an amazing revelation. If one considers that none of the Apostles were learned in scriptures or language … and purely because of the tongues of fire their own tongues were loosed … one is amazed at how quickly God’s wisdom can be moved through you and not invented by you … some spend a lifetime wanting this and doing everything to achieve it … and others in a split second are given this gift – because of God himself.