Sunday, April 23, 2023

Once More: On Detecting Emphasis in the Greek New Testament

I love Greek. I love the new things I'm always noticing when I read my Greek New Testament. In church today, the message was from John 15. And there it was -- something I'd never seen before. John 15:15 reads in your Bible, "But I have called you friends." My Greek Bible, however, puts it this (emphatic) way:

"YOU I have called friends."

Don't think for a moment that that's an accident. It isn't. The doctrine of verbal-plenary inspiration is not just about the words of Scripture. Yes, each word is inspired by God  -- theopneustos -- but so are the tenses and the moods and the voices and the word order and the phrase order and the rhetorical devices used, etc. I don't mean to suggest that translators are under an obligation to bring into English all of these nuances. That would be impossible. There is always some loss when we go from one language to another. I'm not an idealist when it comes to English Bible translations; I'm a realist. But (I repeat), never forget that there are things in the Greek text that are emphatic and that even the most literal Bible translation overlooks. Another example is Jesus's pronouncement, "I give you my peace" (John 14:27). (I discuss that verse here in case you're interested.) I am not surprised that Jesus' statement is so emphatic:

"It is MY peace -- yes, my VERY OWN peace -- that I am giving you." 

I love that expression! You know why? Because that's exactly the kind of peace that I need. And that you need. 

My point? Secondary matters of interpretation may be less important when we read the Bible, but beware of making the less important unimportant.