Thoughts on Greek from Not-So-Greek-Scholar

greek text
I have been immersed in the study of the Greek language for the past year and, by God’s grace, I will continue to be immersed in it over the years. In light of that, here’s a few short non-technical thoughts about what I have learned outside of parsing words, verbal roots, and examining sentence structure.

  1. Greek, just like any other language, isn’t something you master after reading a textbook or hearing lectures. It takes time. A long time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  2. Because biblical Greek is just that–biblical–the goal is not to master it. Read that again. If my identity is in learning a language, even an important one, I will be severely dissatisfied  The point of studying a biblical language, just like any other spiritual discipline, is to be mastered by the Master. Greek isn’t an end in itself. It is a means to being conformed into Jesus’ image.
  3. Greek scholars are smart. I appreciate their hard work, devotion, and endurance in their translating and teaching.
  4. Leap-frogging from that, your New Testament–ESV, NIV, TNIV, NASB, NLT–is highly reliable (your Old Testament is reliable as well, don’t worry). So, don’t be that guy or gal in a Bible study that says, “Well, the Greek really says…” There may be some nuances here and there that should be emphasized. Yes, we can draw out things in preaching and teaching to give a richer sense. But by and large, the Bible within arms reach of you right now is gift. Enjoy it.
  5. One more leap: because this is true (#4), be thankful if you have a Bible in your own language. What a grace of God that people can read the Bible in their own language and do not have to rely on “experts” to do it for them! That should elicit worship and awe in our hearts to God.
  6. Greek is beautiful and you can learn it. Audit a class at your local Bible college or seminary. If you like learning at your own pace, try out the new Bible Mesh Biblical Languages courses (they offer Greek and Hebrew). If you are in the Omaha or Lincoln area, check out Miqra, where I took my classes.

Anybody Out There?

If you want to listen to good folk/world rock-influenced music, may I suggest to you the little known album Anybody Out There? by Burlap to Cashmere (1998).  If there’s one album, out of a handful, that I regularly turn to, it’s this one.

For all I know, the band is not together anymore and Anybody Out There? was their only full-length release.  They were formed in New York in the mid-90s.  Their name supposedly comes from an episode of The Bob Newhart Show. Their sound is a mix of Greek dance, back-woods folk, radio pop, and piano-driven ballads.

Songs like “Digee Dime,” “Eileen’s Song,” “Good Man,” and “Chop Chop” just make you happy.  “Basic Instructions” makes you want to dance at a big, fat, Greek wedding.  “Treasures in Heaven,” “Ancient Man,” “Skin is Burning,” and the title track work your mind over the railing.  “Divorce” and “Scenes” are rather eerie stories that will show you the darker side of the band.  The final track, “Mansions,” will make you longer for a better world than the one we have now.

Check it out.  Happy listening!