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Learning Greek without reason!












Previous posts insist that learning Greek by itself won’t help. Here follows a discussion I had with a visitor, a clear example of why Greek can be absolutely useless. The discussion may be also useful to those who are interested in the matter of baptism. It can be also useful as an example of how Protestants essentially keep the Catholic mentality!

Comment:

I’m a bit puzzled. Are you teaching Ancient Greek or New Testament Greek, or both? You have texts for both, but Ancient Greek is to New Testament Greek what King James English is to modern English – for example Baptism in Ancient Greek meant immersion, but by the time the New Testament was written, the definition of the word had expanded to include sprinkling. Forgive me if you already know this, but surprisingly, many experienced church Pastors, even those fluent in Greek, do not, mistakenly insisting on Baptism by Immersion. I want to learn both Ancient and New Testament Greek, but I want to be sure which one I am studying at a given time.

Reply:

Since you mention the example of “Baptism”, I must say that this is the first time I hear such a definition. Baptism means immersion. This is not only the ancient, but also the New Testament meaning. This is also explained by Luther: “Luther urged, in opposition to the standard practice of pouring, that baptism should be by immersion. He pointed out that the word in the Greek language means ‘To plunge something entirely into the water, so that the water closes over it,’ and urged that immersion should be the mode of baptism. Today, however, the general practice of the Lutheran Church is to administer baptism by pouring, although immersion is also permitted” (A Compend of Luther’s Theology)

Please don’t let yourself be misguided by your current religious practices and affiliations. Not only as regards the learning of Greek, but also your overall thinking. To stay to the present example, of Baptism. You are in a wrong way if you try to justify this or that religious practice, immersion or sprinkling or whatever, by just finding out the definition of a Greek word. If you are going to study the New Testament your thinking should be theological and not only linguistic. In such a case you would first ask yourself, what is the purpose of Baptism (beyond the way it is performed), what is its meaning for our life? Baptism is the turning of the whole of man away from sin and close to God. This “whole” of man symbolically fits to a complete immersion in the water, as you can guess, so that, even if Baptism could mean “sprinkling”, a church should rather interpret it as a complete immersion.

2nd letter:

Thank you very much for your clarification. I felt a little presumptuous as a beginner in bringing up the subject to an expert. Consequently, I’m afraid I came off sounding a little combative, which was not my intention. But it is precisely because I am looking at this from a theological standpoint that I was concerned.

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2 Comments

  1. Vasiliki Didaskalou

    At least you didnt have to go into a discussion about the translation of “adelfos” into the English (not so generous) word of “brother” … then you really would have had some fun!

  2. Les

    Loved the post which was both informative and pithy. I hasten to add that I am not a scholar of Greek (although I would love to learn ancient Greek) nor am I at all religious. The phrase”In any case, it is sad to meet with a person that chooses to ignore learning in order to save a little ego (and this wanting to be a Christian!) ” is particularly telling.
    Shalom
    Les

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Three Millennia of Greek Literature