Category Archives: Biblical Greek

The Language of the New Testament

THE ORIGINAL LANGUAGE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT Hebrew or Greek?  by Giuseppe Guarino. This book will prove the case for a Greek original of the New Testament.

We got the New Testament in Greek. Koinè Greek, used in a form we can call Biblical Greek. The Author was recently confronted with some claims that Greek was not the New Testament actual language of composition. Then he asked himself: were the autographs of the New Testament actually written in Greek or Hebrew, Aramaic, or whatever language or dialect was spoken by the Jews in Israel during the first century? He investigated the matter and found enough reasonable evidence to come up with convincing ideas. They are collected in this book, hoping they will be a satisfactory answer to those interested in this challenging question.

BUY IT ON AMAZON

Softcover: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1708735585

e-book: www.amazon.com/dp/B07L7N14HB

 

Introduction (from the book)

This collection of considerations is a personal review of facts I have learned and thoughts I have meditated on the challenging topic described in the title of this book.

We got the New Testament in an “original” Greek. I was recently confronted with some claims that this is not its actual language of composition.

So, I asked myself: were the autographs of the New  Testament actually written in Greek or Hebrew or even Aramaic, or whatever language or dialect was spoken by the Jews in Israel during the first century?

I investigated the matter and found enough reasonable evidence to come up with convincing ideas. I collected them here.

I pray the results of my study will give a satisfactory answer to those interested in this challenging question.

Sicily, 9th December, 2018.

 

Chapter 1

The Language of the New Testament

As far as evidence is concerned, the original Text of the New Testament has been handed down to us through manuscripts which contain it in Greek.

The question has recently been asked me: Are you sure the original New Testament was actually written in Greek?

The New Testament is a collection of books written independently, at various times and in different places, for specific immediate needs or purposes.

In this perspective, and for the sake of convenience, we will discuss about those books separately.

The initial question, in fact, must be thus reviewed: were any or all of the books of the New Testament originally written in another language that was not the Greek in which they have travelled down through the centuries?

If we rely on external, objective, evidence only, we must answer the preceding question positively. There is, in fact, no manuscript attestation that can actually compete with the over six thousand representing the Greek originals of the New Testament.

The Church has constantly relied on the Greek manuscripts as a witness to the original text of the Christian Scriptures. And, apart from some references to Hebrew autographs, like Matthew for example, we have no other serious candidate for a non-Greek original language.

The above made me always state, and I confirm it now, that the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

The first century Greek spoken everywhere in the Roman Empire is called Koinè. But I prefer to refer to Biblical Greek when speaking of the language of the Septuagint or of that of the New Testament.

Koinè was the language of commerce, of contracts and documents. It was the language spoken everywhere in the former Greek empire founded by Alexander the Great.

The peculiarities of the language of the Scriptures became even more evident in the hands of the early Christians.

So many conjectures, suppositions and ideas can be added to the above statement which represents facts as they are. So many details of the language of the New Testament can be investigated.

The purpose, my purpose, is not and cannot be arguing or trying to prove or disprove this or that theory, but to deepen and widen our understanding of the holy scriptures, their meaning, authority and authenticity.

If I wanted to shock the readers I would say that all the books of the New Testament were basically written in Hebrew, this term being a general way to address the language currently spoken in Israel during the times of

 

Jesus – if it was biblical Hebrew or Aramaic, we will say something about it later. In fact, even if Paul, Luke, or any other inspired author entrusted their thoughts and ideas to the Greek language, their mother tongue, frame of mind and the environment in which they lived was Jewish, Semitic. The Faith they were writing about was based on Hebrew Scriptures. Very probably in their work they consulted some reliable early document in Hebrew – abundant evidence shows the latter is more than an assumption.

Had the New Testament been written all in Hebrew it could have not been more Jewish than it is the way it was delivered to us.

I believe this to be a fact.

After I learned Greek, studying the original text made it clear for me how necessary it was to learn at least some Hebrew.

This is why I call the Greek of the Septuagint and its consequent New Testament evolution, Biblical Greek. Because it is a derivation of Koinè. It started there, but then it took a path of its own, which is also deeply connected to the development of the Jewish Faith that we call Christianity.

Just a few examples.

Matthew 1:1 reads: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (King James Version).

I choose the KJV here because we need to look at a literal translation. The opening of this gospel is so deeply Jewish that no translation in any language can change this fact.

If it had been originally written in Hebrew, the translator(s) in Greek must have rendered it faithfully

 

and literally, so that, in practice, the Greek is no less Semitic than a Hebrew autograph.

The KJV follows a literal translation criteria, which I actually like.

We all know there are different ways of translating a text from one language to another.

For the way in which I read the Bible, I always had a preference for the literal approach. Other ways will inevitably reflect the personal ideas and opinions of the translator(s).

Translating literally is sanctioned by the New Testament itself, since the Greek we read today clearly shows

  1. Hebrew thoughts in a native speaker’s mind or
  2. Reference to written sources, documents, or
  3. Even autographs.

The New Testament in Greek keeps all the flavor, the Semitisms, the atmosphere, the terminology of Hebrew-Jewish language and culture.

The New King James Version tries to move a bit further in Matthew 1:1 and renders: “the book of the generation” so the reader may have access to the idiomatic correspondent expression in English: “the genealogy.

This is more conveying the meaning in our modern current language than simply translating it, for the sake of being more understandable and make sense to the English speaking reader.

The NKJV doesn’t continue this way for the rest of the verse. It is just like the KJV: “the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

The Amplified Bible will fulfill its purpose and further dig into the meaning of Mt 1:1, which, of course, is not so evident to the non-Jewish mind or those who are not familiar with the Scriptures: “The book of the ancestry (genealogy) of Jesus Christ (The Messiah, the Anointed), the son (descendant) of David, the son (descendant) of Abraham.

The English word “son” perfectly translates the Greek here, which, in turn, literally renders the Hebrew, and conveys the idea of descent and not of a direct father-son relationship. This frame of mind is not found here in Mt 1:1 only. See James 2:21, Romans 4:1, 12, 16, Acts 7:2, just to name a few.

Anyway, focusing on the Hebrew language only can also lead us astray.

If not by the authors, Greek was chosen by the supposed translator(s) of the New Testament, who must have been convinced that it could serve their purpose well.

Neglecting the importance of Greek is dangerous and can be an (even involuntary) attempt to undermine the witness of the Church.

In the next chapter I will give the reader a quick introduction of the Greek language in general, then I will move to discuss evidence in favor of Greek autographs and the possibility of non-Greek autographs.

 

 

 




In principio… Giovanni 1:1-18

di Giuseppe Guarino

Scarica qui il pdf dell’articolo  In principio… Gv 1,1-18

Non è facile tradurre. Bisogna valutare molte cose prima di stabilire che metodo adottare, valutando i destinatari del proprio lavoro, innanzi tutto e poi se si tratta di un testo che andrà ad essere utilizzato per la semplice lettura o per lo studio.

Il mio nuovo libro “IN PRINCIPIO…” è uno studio sul prologo di Giovanni. Ecco la versione che proporrò – soggetta ancora ad essere rivista. Ho tradotto cercando di far comprendere al lettore italiano del XXI secolo le sfumature del testo greco e del sostrato ebraico. Cosa non facile e che può anche esporre a critiche, dovendo qua e là fare delle scelte che vanno oltre la letteralità del testo. In particolare, è noto l’uso della congiunzione “e” in ebraico, che ha un senso molto più ampio della nostra semplice congiunzione. Il testo greco risente di questo semitismo. Nella nostra lingua non iniziamo mai delle frasi con “e”, ma in ebraico questa è una consuetudine. Noi preferiamo alternare “quindi”, “allora”, “comunque”, ecc. La “e” compare circa 17 volte in 18 versi. Si tratta di un uso che in italiano non ha paralleli. Se invece apriamo il libro della Genesi in ebraico, o anche nelle sue traduzioni letterali, troveremo la “e” all’inizio di quasi ogni frase. Questo ho cercato di smussarlo nella traduzione. Altri dettagli li discuto di seguito, dopo la traduzione.

GIOVANNI 1:1-18.

“In principio era Colui che è la Parola

Egli era con Dio

ed era Dio.

Egli era in principio con Dio.

Tutto è stato creato tramite Lui e senza Lui nulla sarebbe venuto all’esistenza di ciò che è stato creato.

In Lui era la Vita e la Vita era la luce degli uomini.

La luce splende nelle tenebre perché le tenebre non la possono sopraffare.

Vi fu un uomo, mandato da Dio, il cui nome era Giovanni. Egli venne per testimoniare della Luce, affinché tutti credessero per mezzo di lui.

Egli non era la Luce, ma era stato inviato affinché testimoniasse della Luce.

Colui che è la Luce vera, che illumina tutti gli uomini che vengono al mondo, era.

Era nel mondo,

il mondo è stato creato per mezzo di Lui,

ma il mondo non lo ha conosciuto.

Venne quindi ai suoi,

ma i suoi non l’hanno ricevuto.

Ma a coloro che l’hanno ricevuto, i quali credono nel suo nome, Egli ha dato l’autorità di essere figli di Dio. Costoro non da sangue, né per volontà della carne, né per volontà d’uomo, ma sono generati da Dio.

Colui che è la Parola si è incarnato ed ha dimorato fra noi. Noi abbiamo osservato la Sua gloria, quella dell’Unigenito dal Padre, pieno di grazia e verità.

Giovanni ha testimoniato di Lui gridando: “Egli è colui del quale io vi dissi: ‘Colui che viene dopo di me, ma ha la precedenza su di me, perché era prima di me’”.

Tutti abbiamo ricevuto dalla sua Pienezza, grazia su grazia. Perché la Legge è stata data tramite Mosè, ma la Grazia e la Verità per mezzo di Gesù Cristo.

Dio non lo ha visto mai nessuno. Il Figlio unigenito che è nel seno del Padre (è la Parola che) lo ha rivelato”.

 

Discuto brevemente delle mie scelte, in maniera da poter raccogliere qualche commento che mi aiuti nella stesura del mio libro, per rendere un servizio migliore al corpo di Cristo.

 

Ho tradotto: Colui che è la Parola

Il problema che incontra ogni traduttore nella versione della parola greca logos, è che essa è al maschile in greco, ma al femminile in italiano. Il problema nasce dal fatto che poi, per conseguenza, passare al pronome soggetto maschile usato nelle frasi che seguono riferite al logos crea un errore grammaticale in italiano, anche se il brano è troppo noto per mandare fuori strada il lettore. Buona la soluzione della Nuova Diodati, che cerca di aggirare l’ostacolo. Io ho preferito sfruttare l’occasione portami dalla presenza dell’articolo davanti a logos, ho, ed ho tradotto Colui (ho) che è (sottinteso) la Parola (logos).

 

Ho tradotto: Tutto è stato creato tramite Lui

Sembra interessare poco gli autori biblici di incorrere in ripetizioni, che invece suonano piuttosto male nella nostra lingua. Ho alternato “tramite” a “per mezzo di” proprio per evitare una ripetizione.

 

Ho tradotto: La luce splende nelle tenebre perché le tenebre non la possono sopraffare.

Qui ho osato dare un significato tutto semitico ad “e”, traducendo con “perché”. Credo che ci possa stare.

 

Ho tradotto: ma era stato inviato affinché…

Ho cercato di mettere in grassetto le parole che palesemente non vi sono nel testo originale ma che possono chiarire il senso di una frase nella nostra lingua.

 

Ho tradotto: ma il mondo non lo ha conosciuto.

Vorrei trovare un verbo o una espressione più adatta che semplicemente “conosciuto”, che è la traduzione letterale del verbo, ma non trasmette l’idea dell’originale. Vi è infatti in greco più di un modo per esprimere il “conoscere”. Giovanni stesso è molto attento nei suoi scritti ad usare l’uno o l’altro termine disponibile in greco. Mi ripropongo di valutare se posso utilizzare un altro vocabolo senza passare dalla traduzione alla parafrasi del testo.

 

Ho tradotto: Venne quindi ai suoi

Ho cercato di evidenziare ulteriormente un crescendo che mi sembra evidente.

 

Ho tradotto: non da sangue, né per volontà della carne, né per volontà d’uomo

Credo che queste espressioni siano intrise di cultura ebraica, e mirano a togliere ogni dubbio che solo Dio può fare di noi dei figli di Dio: “non si eredita, non è per appartenenza, né perché lo decide un uomo”, è questo il senso delle parole di Giovanni – ma mi discosterò così tanto dal testo solo nelle note, per non scadere, come ho detto prima, in una parafrasi del testo.

 

Ho tradotto: Colui che è la Parola si è incarnato ed ha dimorato fra noi

Menomale che in italiano esiste il verbo “incarnarsi” che può rendere in maniera meno oscura il letterale “si è fatto carne”. Anche qui ho tradotto ho logos con “colui che è la Parola”.

 

Ho tradotto: Il Figlio Unigenito che è nel seno del Padre (è la Parola che) lo ha rivelato

Come ho ampiamente giustificato nelle mie varie pubblicazioni, prediligo senza remore il testo Maggioritario. Qui esso si traduce con grande semplicità “Figlio Unigenito”. Non invidio i sostenitori del testo alternativo – ne esistono un paio di versioni, con e senza articoli – che, a mio avviso, non ha senso ed è solo una corruzione gnostica del testo originale.

Aggiungo “è la Parola che” prima di “lo ha rivelato” perché non so trovare un termine che traduca il greco senza fare perdere il senso della frase. Esso infatti letteralmente corrisponde a “dichiarato”, si tratta di una rivelazione verbale, perché fa riferimento alla “Parola” iniziale, al logos, che, appunto, rivela Dio, lo rende visibile e comprensibile.

 

Nel libro proporrò anche una traduzione interlineare ultra letterale, con note testuali e approfondimenti sulle parole in greco.

 

 

 

La scritta sulla croce ed il nome di Dio

di Giuseppe Guarino

Versione PDF l’iscrizione sulla croce ed il Tetragramma

Purtroppo si è diffusa con un entusiasmo ingiustificato la convinzione che l’acronimo della scritta sulla croce di Gesù come citato da Giovanni 19:19 sia niente meno che il nome divino (YHWH) rivelato a Mosè. Purtroppo questa affermazione è infondata ed invito chiunque se ne faccia promotore a consultare attentamente l’affidabilità delle fonti alle quali fa riferimento ed evitare di farsi trascinare da ingiustificabili entusiasmi, dannosi all’evangelo ed alla causa di Cristo.

Nel 2015 avevo già letto di questa “interpretazione” e ne ho ampiamente discusso con un uomo di Dio, il quale anche lui trascinato da tanto entusiasmo, nella sua buona fede, non conoscendo l’ebraico, dava per scontata la preparazione di chi l’ha partorita. Ho preso il Nuovo Testamento in una traduzione in ebraico e gli ho semplicemente mostrato Giovanni 19:19 in quella lingua: non compare nessun tetragramma!

Esaminiamo la scritta nelle sue varie lingue.

ITALIANO

Pilato fece pure un’iscrizione e la pose sulla croce. V’era scritto:

GESÙ IL NAZARENO, IL RE DEI GIUDEI

GRECO – lingua originale del Nuovo Testamento

ἔγραψε δὲ καὶ τίτλον ὁ Πιλᾶτος καὶ ἔθηκεν ἐπὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ· ἦν δὲ γεγραμμένον· ᾿Ιησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν ᾿Ιουδαίων

EBRAICO – si legge da destra verso sinistra

ופילטוס כתב על־לוח וישם על־הצלוב וזה־דבר מכתבו
ישוע הנצרי מלך היהודים

Vediamo più da vicino la sola iscrizione

ישוע הנצרי מלך היהודים

Vediamola parola per parola

היהודים
מלך
הנצרי
ישוע
dei giudei re il nazareno Gesù

Le iniziali delle quattro parole sono dunque:

יהמה

Per far uscir fuori il Tetragramma, ecco come bisogna tradurre Giovanni 19:19.

     הַיְּהוּדִים
ומֶלֶךְ
הַנָּצְרִי
שׁוּעַיֵ
dei giudei e re il nazareno Gesù

Come vedete, alla parola “re” viene premessa la consonante “waw” ( ו ), la congiunzione ebraica. Cambia così la traduzione del testo che diventa: “Gesù il nazareno e re dei giudei”. Ma non è quello che dice il testo greco originale, è una forzatura. In questo modo soltanto, accostando le iniziali delle quattro parole, avremo il Tetragramma.

יהוה

Tempo fa mi trovavo a parlare con un fratello circa un brano della Bibbia del quale lui proponeva una traduzione un po’ singolare, ciò perché diceva di preferirne la versione inglese, che a modo suo “italianizzava”. Gli feci presente il suo modo di tradurre era doppiamente errato, perché non era fedele al testo greco originale, ma nemmeno a quello in inglese – lingua che non conosceva a sufficienza da poter tradurre correttamente. Ciò non sortì alcun risultato e, sebbene sia una cara persona, si ostinò a voler continuare nella sua idea. Me ne dispiacqui, ma di più non potei fare.

Anche Lutero nel tradurre un brano della sua Bibbia si fece prendere la mano. In Romani 3:18 aggiunse l’avverbio allein (solamente) che non si trova nel testo originale.

Ho scritto questo articolo per diversi motivi.

  • È così che apprendiamo la Verità, andando ad esaminare il testo biblico con metodi quasi cabalistici? Che principi di esegesi sono questi, quali brano biblico li sostiene e motiva?
  • Non scuote le certezze di chi partorisce certe affermazioni il fatto che per duemila anni NESSUNO fra gli interpreti e studiosi della Parola di Dio, di ogni provenienza e livello culturale, abbia mai sostenuto qualcosa di simile?
  • Ci rendiamo conto di quale responsabilità abbiamo nei confronti dei credenti più semplici che non possono avere accesso al testo originale? Io vi assicuro che sento un grande peso ogni volta che scrivo su argomenti tanto delicati e sono molte di più le cose che non scrivo che quelle che scrivo, perché prima di parlare conto fino a cento, ma prima di scrivere fino ad un milione.

Per chi parla inglese consiglio un sito web molto bello, tenuto da un credente che ama l’ebraico e lo presenta al popolo cristiano con grande semplicità e competenza. Ho visto che la sua posizione in materia è esattamente uguale alla mia e ciò mi ha ulteriormente spinto a scrivere su questo argomento. Questo il link al suo commento.

https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Sign_Cross/sign_cross.html

(visionato il 9 aprile 2020)

Visti i tanti brani che attestano la divinità di Gesù e con tanti meravigliosi spunti di riflessione che ci offre la Scrittura, la nostra fede sul Dio fattosi uomo non può poggiare su motivazioni inconsistenti o interpretazioni fantasiose, ma deve essere frutto di una sana ed intelligente interpretazione della Bibbia, ragionata in preghiera e guidata dallo Spirito Santo.

Catania, 11 aprile 2020

ISCRIZIONE ERRATA

ISCRIZIONE CORRETTA

 

Superman moderno “messia”

di Giuseppe Guarino

Finora abbiamo discusso in maniera “seria” delle lingue originali della Bibbia. Eppure conoscere l’ebraico ed il greco biblici può anche aiutare a capire fenomeni sociali e culturali che nascondono dei significati altrimenti meno facilmente rintracciabili.

Superman è considerato il primo supereroe della storia dei fumetti. La sua prima avventura venne pubblicata nel giugno del 1938 sulle pagine del n.1 della rivista a fumetti “Action Comics” che lo vide subito in copertina.

Action Comics viene ancora oggi pubblicato con successo dalla DC Comics che ha da poco festeggiato il numero 1.000 – e per una rivista mensile non è traguardo da poco.

Tanti i motivi del successo di Superman e della figura del supereroe in genere, diffusasi negli anni a seguire, dando origine letteralmente a centinaia di personaggi: Batman, Capitan Marvel, Spiderman, Fantastici Quattro, Avengers, ecc.

Il successo immediato di Superman presso il grande pubblico è senz’altro dovuto alla popolarità della concezione ebraico-cristiana di un “Messia”, un essere dotato di potere sovrannaturale che viene dal cielo per salvare l’umanità. Se a prima vista potremmo pensare che si tratti di una coincidenza, approfondendo, invece, vedremo che di una coincidenza non si tratta.

Jerry Siegel era di famiglia ebraica ed è cresciuto in un sobborgo ebraico di Glenville, dove conobbe Joe Shuster, con il quale creò Superman.

Superman cade dal cielo. È dotato di poteri superiori alla norma e li usa per difendere i deboli e la giustizia, perché la sua personalità è votata al bene senza compromessi ed al servizio del prossimo.

Sulla terra l’alter-ego di Superman assume l’identità di Clark Kent, timido giornalista. Ma il vero nome “alieno” dell’eroe è Kal-El. El (אל) è una parola ebraica che viene tradotta “Dio” ed è anche utilizzata, nella forma al plurale, per la prima designazione di “Dio” in Genesi 1:1, Elohim (אלהים). Kal-El deriva quindi apertamente dall’ebraico “voce di Dio”.

La parola Krypton, usata per il pianeta di origine del supereroe, invece, è di origine greca e significa “nascosto”. Il padre di Superman, Jor-El che prova invano a salvare il suo popolo dalla distruzione, ricorda molto da vicino i profeti ebraici che, in maniera altrettanto frustrante, hanno provato a mettere in guardia il popolo di Israele nei periodi di grande crisi della sua storia.

Che dire poi del grande nemico di Superman, Lex Luthor?

Adesso dobbiamo ricordarci che l’ebraico si scrive con soltanto le consonanti. Togliendo le vocali Luthor diventa LTHR. Non è certamente una coincidenza che queste quattro consonanti si ritrovino anche nel nome del nemico più grande del popolo ebraico, HiTLeR. Cambiando le vocali di Hitler ed invertendo il senso di lettura delle prime tre consonanti, ne verrà fuori proprio Luthor.

A mio avviso, se i supereroi hanno così tanta e sicura presa sull’immaginario collettivo ciò è almeno in parte dovuto ai richiami alla sensibilità religiosa collettiva evocata dai riferimenti ebraico-cristiani del suo archetipo, Superman.

Con in prossimo articolo, torneremo al testo della Bibbia .

 

The Christian Counter

 

Matteo Capitolo 1

di Giuseppe Guarino

MATTEO Capitolo 1 – Gesù il Messia promesso

Continuiamo i nostri studi sugli originali (ebraico, aramaico e greco) della Bibbia. Rimaniamo ancora su Matteo.

Vorrei che questo studio che presento non venga visto come un sostegno per certe interpretazioni estreme ebraiche (cabalà) o, peggio, discipline esoteriche (numerologia). Come spesso constatiamo il diavolo scimmiotta e perverte meravigliose realtà della parola di Dio per sedurre e confondere. Ma se ci atteniamo alla Scrittura senza fantasticare ed andare oltre, non potremo mai sbagliare.

Matteo è intriso di cultura ebraica. Abbiamo visto il riflesso dell’uso semitico nel greco originale di Matteo e nelle traduzioni letterali già dal suo primo verso. Sembra un dettaglio di scarsa importanza. Non lo è affatto, invece. Perché più semitici sono i vangeli, più il loro testo dimostra:

1) La loro autenticità – provengono dal mondo ebraico dal quale la Chiesa si staccherà davvero solo dopo il 70 d.C.

2) La loro antichità – le date tradizionali sono oggi di nuovo le più attendibili, quelle che fanno risalire al periodo apostolico la loro composizione;

3) La loro attendibilità storica – screditata da chi è interessato in ogni modo a demolire in questo modo in maniera indiretta l’autorità spirituale della Parola di Dio.

Il capitolo 1 di Matteo è una noiosissima lista di nomi che spesso saltiamo – dai, siamo onesti! Le genealogie non sono lì per la lettura, comunque, ma per lo studio. Almeno una volta, però, meglio dargli un’occhiata; sebbene, oggettivamente, nella semplice lettura e meditazione quotidiana della Parola di Dio possono risultare di poca utilità. Eppure se il Signore le ha ispirate e volute parte della Bibbia deve esserci un motivo – E un motivo c’è!

Dopo aver elencato 42 “generazioni” fino a Gesù, scrive significativamente Matteo:

Così, da Abraamo fino a Davide sono in tutto quattordici generazioni; da Davide fino alla deportazione in Babilonia, quattordici generazioni; e dalla deportazione in Babilonia fino a Cristo, quattordici generazioni.” (Nuova Riveduta)

Quante volte abbiamo letto questi versi e ci siamo chiesti cosa davvero volesse dire Matteo? Io quasi ogni volta che aprivo le prime pagine del Nuovo Testamento. E siccome Dio risponde se noi chiediamo, tanto ho chiesto che mi ha risposto – ne sono convinto. La differenza fra chi comprende la Bibbia e chi non la comprende non è nell’intelligenza o nella sapienza umana che si possiede. Per questo quando apro la Bibbia mi affido totalmente a Dio, perché Egli non nasconde i significati della Sua Parola a chi lo ama.

Guardate nello stesso Vangelo di Matteo. Qual è la differenza fra i discepoli di Gesù e gli altri? Nella loro intelligenza o livello culturale? Non credo – sebbene non fossero degli stupidi ignoranti come alcuni a volte li dipingono. Loro si avvicinavano al Maestro e lo interrogavano, chiedevano, con fede, non come coloro che lo volevano solo mettere alla prova, ma con profondo amore ed un cuore aperto, per conoscere la volontà di Dio. Vedi Matteo 13.

Da Abramo, padre della nazione ebraica a Davide, primo re che unifica il regno e lo rende forte e stabile, vi sono 14 generazioni.

Attraverso Samuele Dio promette a Davide:

Quando i tuoi giorni saranno compiuti e tu riposerai con i tuoi padri, io innalzerò al trono dopo di te la tua discendenza, il figlio che sarà uscito da te, e stabilirò saldamente il suo regno. Egli costruirà una casa al mio nome e io renderò stabile per sempre il trono del suo regno. Io sarò per lui un padre ed egli mi sarà figlio; e, se fa del male, lo castigherò con vergate da uomini e con colpi da figli di uomini, ma la mia grazia non si ritirerà da lui, come si è ritirata da Saul, che io ho rimosso davanti a te. La tua casa e il tuo regno saranno saldi per sempre davanti a te e il tuo trono sarà reso stabile per sempre

Troviamo qui la promessa del futuro Messia (Unto, Cristo) che sarebbe venuto ed avrebbe regnato sul trono di Davide per sempre.

Forse per noi non è così semplice comprendere il fatto che alle lettere dell’alfabeto ebraico vanno associati dei numeri. Questo perché nella nostra lingua i numeri e le lettere sono distinti. Così non era in ebraico (e nemmeno in greco). Noi utilizziamo i numeri arabi per esprimere le cifre del nostro sistema decimale. In ebraico anche questo compito spettava alle ventidue consonanti che ne compongono l’alfabeto.

Come si scrive Davide in ebraico?

Come ho già evidenziato l’ebraico si legge da destra verso sinistra, ma proprio in questo caso ciò è ininfluente.

Andiamo a considerare il valore numerico delle singole lettere della parola e considerarne il valore complessivo.

ד (4) ו (6) ד (4)

4 + 6 +4 = 14

14 + 14 + 14 = 42. Dove troviamo questo numero altrove nella Scrittura?

1 Samuele 13:1 ci dice che 42 furono gli anni che regnò Saul. Quindi 42 ci parla del periodo di attesa fino alla comparsa di Davide come re – unto di Dio. Unto è la traduzione italiana della parola ebraica “Messia” e di quella greca “Cristo”.

Anche la lista delle generazioni da Abramo fino a Gesù dimostra che lui è il Messia promesso ad Israele! Matteo, il perfetto piano di Dio nella storia e lo Spirito Santo lo testimoniano: non vi è nessun altro che dobbiamo attendere, Gesù era colui che le Scritture annunciavano dalle prime pagine della Genesi (vedi Genesi 3:15).

Così, da Abraamo fino a Davide sono in tutto quattordici generazioni;

Fino alla comparsa del primo grande re di Israele trascorrono 14 generazioni

da Davide fino alla deportazione in Babilonia, quattordici generazioni;

Per 14 generazioni la stirpe di Davide regna, finché il popolo viene deportato in Babilonia.

e dalla deportazione in Babilonia fino a Cristo, quattordici generazioni

Dopo quel evento nessun discendente davidico regna in Israele. Fino alla nascita di Gesù del quale diceva giustamente la scritta sulla croce: “Questo è Gesù, il re dei Giudei” (Matteo 27:37)

Traggo dal sito www.hebrew4christians.com la tavola dove viene specificato il valore numerico delle consonanti dell’alfabeto ebraico.

 

 

The Christian Counter

Lesson 2 – Biblical Greek: Reading Exercise

Gospel of John 1:1-8

 1  ᾿Εν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος. 2 οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. 3 πάντα δι᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν ὃ γέγονεν. 4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων· 5 καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. 6  ᾿Εγένετο ἄνθρωπος ἀπεσταλμένος παρὰ Θεοῦ, ὄνομα αὐτῷ ᾿Ιωάννης· 7 οὗτος ἦλθεν εἰς μαρτυρίαν, ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός, ἵνα πάντες πιστεύσωσι δι᾿ αὐτοῦ. 8 οὐκ ἦν ἐκεῖνος τὸ φῶς, ἀλλ᾿ ἵνα μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ φωτός.

Watch any video online that reads the above passage.

I suggest the following video. It shows a conventional academic pronunciation of Greek.

 

Then read it out loud as many times as you think is necessary. You must be able to read pretty easily this passage before moving on.

If you record your voice (very easily done with cell phone these days), I will be glad to listen to your reading.

 

 

 

Lesson 1 – Biblical Greek: How to read Greek

by Giuseppe Guarino

The Greek alphabet is not so different than ours. At the same time, it is clear that it is different enough to cause some problems to us, who are totally depended on the Latin alphabet to write our western languages.

The change of letters from one alphabet into another is called “transliteration.” It is a common practice we find in the New Testament, where many Hebrew words were transliterated (Amen, Hallelujah) into Greek. Also, many Greek (and Hebrew) biblical words have been transliterated and adopted into our language without being actually translated – Baptism, Apostle, etc.

We will use the transliteration process first in a written form – as an exercise. Later it will take place in the mind of the student only. At last, the student will be able to recognize the Greek letters, just like the Latin and be able to read in Greek.

Greek has 24 letters. 17 Consonants. 7 Vowels.

 

Α α – A – Alpha

Β β – B – Beta

Γ γ – G – Gamma

Δ δ – D – Delta

Ε ε – E – Epsilon

Ζ ζ – Z – Zeta

Η η – E – Eta

Θ θ – Th – Theta

Ι ι – I – Iota

Κ κ – K – Kappa

Λ λ – L – Lambda

Μ μ – M – Mi

Ν ν – N – Ni

Ξ ξ – X – Chi

Ο ο – O – Omicron

Π π – P – Pi

Ρ ρ – R – Rho

Σ σ – S – Sigma

ς             S       Sigma end of the word

Τ  τ – T – Tau

Υ υ – U – Upsilon

Φ φ – F – Phi

Χ χ – Ch – Chi

Ψ ψ – Ps – Psi

Ω ω – O – Omega

 

Accents and breathings.

Accents and breathings were not part of the original Greek language. The Alphabet we – and the Greeks – use was officially adopted by the Athenians in 403/402 BC. But accents and breathings were invented by the Hellenized Alexandrians later on. For centuries, writing in Greek manuscripts continued as scriptio continua, which means simply that one letter was followed by the other, with no accents, no breathings, no punctuation and all in capital letters.

The critical editions which are in use today will provide every kind of possible help we need to read Greek easily and understand the text with much less difficulties.

I will spare the student the tedious and useless – let me say it – study of accents and breathings, which, without having any knowledge of Greek is truly a nightmare. He or she will easily get used to them and even understand their natural use when growing in the knowledge of the language.

 

How do we read ancient Greek?

Shakespeare’s writings are read today in the only English accent we know: today’s. The Old Testament is read by the Hebrews following today’s pronunciation. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

No-one actually knows how English was pronounced in the XVII century or Hebrew 3000 years ago. No-one knows how Greek was read when Homer wrote his poems.

That is why I strongly suggest that the same principle can be applied to the Bible and it is quite nice to apply modern Greek pronunciation when we read the New Testament too.

It is also true that in academic circles some choose to pronounce Greek differently. It is common practice to adopt the so called Erasmian pronunciation, which practically reads word the way they are written following the sounds I listed above when identifying the letters of the Alphabet.

In my course of study, I prefer to make things as easy as possible for the student. This is why we will start with the Erasmian pronunciation, but, in time, we will begin to approach and actually improve the fun – yes, the fun ! – of knowing Greek by understanding it as read my today’s Greek native speakers.

Exercise. Read out loud and transliterate the following Greek words. You can send your work to my e-mail (guarinous@yahoo.com) I will be more than glad to review it. Also, do not hesitate to contact me for any question you might need to ask.

Examples.

ἡ ζωὴ –   Life – HE ZOE.

ἡ ἀλήθεια – Truth – HE ALETHEIA

ἡ ἐντολὴ – Commandament

γράφω – To write

Ἀδελφοί          – Brothers

ἡ ἀγάπη – Love

ἡ σκοτία – Darkness

καὶ – And

ψεύστης – Liar

ὁ θεὸς – God

ὁ κόσμος – World

τὸ πνεῦμα – Spirit

ὁ χριστός – Christ

ὁ διάβολος – Devil

Ἀγαπητοί – Beloved

ἡ νίκη – Victory

ὅτι          – Because

ἡ καρδία – Heart

εἰ – If

ὅτι          – Why

ὁ ἀντίχριστος – Antichrist

ὁ υἱὸς – Son

Introduction to Biblical Koinè Greek: the Language of the New Testament

The Language of the New Testament. My studies convinced me that the books which are part of the New Testament were all written before the end of the first century in the most widely spread language of the time: Greek.

Why Greek?

During those days the Roman Empire was the leading world power, ruling over the lands around the Mediterranean Sea. But its military conquest had not been able to affect the extension of the supremacy of the Greek language and culture. Just like the fall of the British Empire did not mean the end of the diffusion of the English language, also in the ancient world neither the death of Alexander the Great, the first agent of worldwide hellenization, nor the division of his empire, nor the Roman conquest were able to remove the Greek influence. On the contrary, the Romans themselves were fascinated and seduced by the Greek world.

In the third century BC, in Egypt, under the Dynasty of the Tholomeos, the Bible began to be translated into Greek. This version of the Hebrew Scriptures began very early to be called the Septuagint, which means Seventy (abbr. LXX) because of the number of the original translators and the providential   circumstances  under  which  the  Pentateuch’s Greek version was completed. Whether history or myth, the name remains to this day.

What was the type of Greek used for the Septuagint?

Just like today’s English can be distinguished in its derivations: British, American, Australian, etc… The Greek of the third century BC, being a language spoken worldwide, also by non native speakers, offered a variety of choices.

Classical Greek was the elegant, sophisticated literary language. It was used by the intellectuals, philosophers and writers. But the LXX’s translators prefered Koiné Greek, a less rhetorical, more practical, accessible, elastic, fluid form of language. More open to innovation and to the introduction of new words, it was definitely more fit to express the Hebrew religious language. The latter was characterized by a very rigid, well fixed technical terminology, fundamentally impossible to be fully translated into classical Greek and that, by consequence, needed a form of language that could be better adapted to a better expression of foreign ideas and culture.

The Septuagint is an object of very deep study up to this day. It is indeed hard to underestimate the importance of the LXX version of the Old Testament, its contribution for a better understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures, facts and terminology. It also influenced the New Testament as we examine the original language in which it was written, that is a later development of the same Koiné Greek of the LXX.

Jesus’ mandate was to spread the good news throughout the whole world.

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 – NKJV)

you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 – NKJV)

The most obvious thing was that the apostles and the disciples would choose a language for the Scriptures of the Christian faith that would ensure the growth of the Church outside  of  the boundaries of the Jewish nation. Koiné Greek was perfect for this purpose.

Literarily speaking the New Testament – as well as the Old – is not the work of one single writer. Usually when we read the various translations, the change of the language and the presence of a translator will naturally uniform the style of the books of the Bible. But if we read the originals we will suddenly notice the different linguistic characteristics of each writer.

If we compare Mark to John, both words and style could hardly be more different. Paul writes even in a very peculiar way. He has a perfect knowledge both of Greek and Hebrew, which is quite evident in the accurate terminology that he displays to lay the foundations of the Christian doctrine.

Luke writes the introduction to his gospel in classical Greek, elegant and rhetorical in style, which made his work more popular among the sects hostile to the Jewish heritage.

All of the authors of the books of the New Testament – and I feel authorized to say, also the Holy Spirit – have given up artificial structures of literature, in order to embrace the vivid and accessible vernacular of the people.

The repercussions of this choice are amazing and we experience them on a daily basis when we read the Word of God, understand and live it.

The Greek of the New Testament is simple and clear, but by no means elementary or simplistic. It is not sophisticated for the simple reason that it is intended to communicate – not to boast knowledge and technique, but it never gives up its own identity and the characteristics. These traits, which make it a literary phenomenon of its own, are those with which almost every culture had to confront itself ever since the New Testament was written.

It is worthwhile notice that the Hebrew influence on the biblical Greek gave rise to a new religious terminology which would enrich the Greek vocabulary so that it could properly describe the truths of the Christian religion.

As far as the Greek influence on the Hebrew religion is concerned, there might be different opinions on the subject, since it is objectively a far more complicated matter. Personally, I believe that though the Jews might recognize the value of the Greek language, their religious identity was too strong to be contaminated with Hellenistic practice and beliefs. The strong influence of Antiocus Epiphanes or other rulers who tried to impose paganism, rituals and thought, simply led some to deny their Jewish heritage by accepting the Hellenic philosophy. In a few words, orthodox Judaism, after the Babylonian captivity of the sixth century BC, was not inclined to compromise with any foreign culture as time and circumstances have abundantly left evidence in history.

Going back to our main topic, the language of the LXX and of the New Testament, was simple, innovative; clear, live and stimulating.

Let’s see some examples in detail.

The Greek word “agape” (in the original Greek alphabet: αγαπη), which is famous also to many who have nothing to do with biblical Greek, is a peculiar word from the LXX and the New Testament. It is not found in classical Greek. The King James Version translates it “Charity”, which corresponds to modern “love” used by more up to date versions.

Another famous Greek word is “zoe” (ζωη) which means “life”. We find it used in particular in the gospel of John, where such a colloquial word has been enriched to the extent of reinventing it altogether, keeping only the original form of it, but to express and communicate wonderful new meanings.

In its original meaning, zoe has nothing of the deep spiritual meanings that the apostle attaches to it.

There is one word which is really worth not only mentioning but also considering.

We find it in the book of Revelation: “pantokrator” (παντοκράτωρ), which means “Almighty”.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “He who is and He who was and He who is to come, The Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

Outside of the book of Revelation we find this same term in 2 Corinthians 6:18.

John took the word Pantokrator from the LXX translation where it thus rendered the Hebrew expression which in our Bibles is usually translated as “Jehovah of hosts” (ASV) or “Lord of Hosts” (KJV). In Nahum 2:13 the LXX reads Kyrios Pantokrator (κύριος παντοκράτωρ), literally: “Lord Almighty“.

Why did the LXX translators choose to do so?

The Greek Pantokrator was used to translate the Hebrew term Sebaoth (צבאות) also in ancient books of the Bible. It literally reviews the original Hebrew word (Jehovah of Hosts) giving it a more universal meaning, becoming its Greek evolution, expressing the absolute sovereignty of God over all creation and every creature.

The Greek term itself might even have been created to translate the Hebrew here. This would explain why some other Old Testament books of the LXX do not translate the word but simply transliterate it into the Greek alphabet: κύριος σαβαωθ, (Isaiah 1:9), which has been translated in English as: “Jehovah of Hosts” (ASV).

There is another expression used by John in the same context which is indeed worth mentioning. Addressing God as “the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come” I believe he gave the equivalent in the Greek language of the Hebrew יהוה as much as “Pantokrator” translates the Hebrew צבאות (Sabaoth).

John knew the Tetragram, the Name of God revealed to Moses, YHVH (in Hebrew alphabet יהוה), but instead of transliterating it from the Hebrew, applying a similar process that brought to the birth of the word “Almighty”, he thinks it better to try to simply communicate the immediate meaning of that Name in Hebrew.

The four Hebrew consonants are vocalized in the Masoretic text as follows: יְהוָֹה If we simply add the vowels’ symbols to the consonants, we’ll read in our alphabet the familiar YeHoVaH.

Asher Intrater is a Messianic Jew. He writes in his book “Who ate with Abraham?” that the sequence of the three vowels “e” (sh’va), “o” (holom), “a” (patach), indicate the root of the future, present and past tense.

We might even conclude that the phrase found in Revelation 1:8 was an attempt to render the Jewish name of God (צבאות יהוה) “Adonai Sebaoth” following the principles of the LXX translators, expanding the narrow Hebrew expression Sebaoth, giving it a meaning, a religious meaning, for the Greek speaking world when interpreted it as “Pantokrator”, which is in English “Almighty”.

So the national צבאות יהוה (Adonai Sebaoth) – “Jehovah of Hosts” – becomes the  universal “Κύριος ὁ Θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ” which the ASV renders in English: “Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Another very important Greek word is Logos (Λόγος) used by John in his gospel, in order to fully explain the relationship of Jesus with the Father and the Creation, before becoming a man. Logos is usually translated as “Word”.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Logos is found in Greek philosophy long before it was used by John. This must not entitle us to believe that the apostle was looking outside of the Hebrew world in order to find ideas that could express the eternal state of the Savior, but a Greek terminology was simply borrowed in order to express a deeply Semitic concept.

The Greek fathers of the Church, such as Justin Martyr (second century), took the chance of this familiarity of the Greek speaking world with the idea and term of Logos to preach Jesus in a way that might be familiar to the non-Jewish people.

Nothing happens by chance – every believer must be deeply convinced of this.

The Hebrew language was born and raised along with the Faith in the Personal God of the people who spoke it: that is why it perfectly conveys the facts and ideas of the Jewish religion.

The Greek language had reached quite a large diffusion and the necessary maturity when it came in contact with the Old Testament: in the right hands it could express any concept, abstract or practical. It became the language of the Septuagint and later that of the New Testament, the perfect means through which the faith in Jesus might be shared with people virtually everywhere.

A universal language for a universal message

There are some who try to recover the Jewish heritage of our faith by simply recovering in our Bibles the Hebrew original names of God (Jehovah or Yahweh, Elohim, etc.) of Jesus and even the apostles.

With due respect, it is not necessary to go back to Hebrew names or terminology in order to believe to be more faithful to the pure original doctrine of Jesus and the apostles.

Also because, taking a closer look at the language of the New Testament, we understand that the attitude of the early Church pointed to a totally different direction.

I am by no means trying to underestimate the importance of the study of the Jewish linguistic and cultural background in order to develop a better understanding of the New Testament, of the teachings of Jesus and of the Christian doctrine and practice. But at the same time, it is vital to understand that we must not neglect the universal linguistic heritage embraced in the New Testament when choosing the Greek language to convey the message of the new faith.

Let us consider a practical example, Isaiah 7:14.

 “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa 7:14 Jewish Publication Society – 1917)

Therefore Adonai himself will give you people a sign: the young woman will become pregnant, bear a son and name him ‘Immanu El [God is with us].” (The Complete Jewish Bible – ed. 1998)

The above Jewish translations render the Hebrew word העלמה (transliterated in our alphabet as: ha-almah) as “young woman.”

Matthew so quotes this passage in the New Testament: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23 – NKJ)

The Greek original of Matthew renders the Hebrew word העלמה (ha-almah) of Isaiah 7:14 with “ἡ παρθένος” (he parténos), a word which inequivocably refers to a “virgin”.

If we put too much stress on the original Hebrew of Isaiah 7:14 we will miss the fulfillment of the virgin birth of Jesus of this precious Old Testament prophecy. Because the Hebrew word meant also “young woman” but the important detail is that this “young woman” implies a “virgin”. The Septuagint, the Greek translation much older than the New Testament sanctions the view of Matthew. It renders Isaiah 7:14: “ἰδοὺπαρθνος ἐν γαστρὶ ἕξει”.

The contribution of the Greek language in the correct understanding of a Hebrew original is here undeniable.

Monotheism was exclusive of the Jewish nation. Hebrew was the language that described the Jewish faith, its beliefs, God, etc. But in the New Testament the Gospel is universal and it takes a universal language to be able to express the new Faith to new believers, most of Greek cultural background,  not linked by any national bond or birthright, but by love..

Paul tore down the walls between Jewish and non-Jewish Christianity. His missionary activity was all directed to the people living outside of Israel, both physically and ethnically.

For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” (Romans 11:13 – NKJ)

A very important step toward the universal message of the Gospel is substituting the ineffable Old Testament Name of God with the accessible and universal Kyrios, Lord.

This is evident in a very important passage of the epistles of Paul.

… that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13 – NKJV)

If Paul had inserted here the Tetragrammaton, he would have openly contradicted the basic value of his statement, since among the “whoever” he included even those who could not pronounce or had any knowledge at all of the Hebrew HaShem (The Name) of God יהוה. On the contrary, he speaks of God as Kyrios, so that virtually everyone and everywhere knew what he was talking about and could be saved by calling upon the name of the Lord. The last quotation in Romans 10:9-13 is an Old Testament passage which included the Tetragrammaton, יהוה!

Paul’s quotation recalls the Septuagint Greek translation.

πᾶς   γὰρ ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίου σωθήσεται (New Testament)

καὶ ἔσται πᾶς,         ὃς ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα κυρίου, σωθήσεται (Septuagint)

The Greek text of Joel 2:32 available for Paul must have been the same as the one we consult today.

In the New Testament the national God who revealed Himself to Moses a יהוה, becomes Lord of every man  (Kyrios) calling upon His name.

The national bond of God with Israel is now substituted by relationship, which starts when anyone, anywhere open their heart to God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13 – ASV)

New wine into new wineskins

We saw how the Greek of the New Testament took the Hebrew terminology. This guaranteed that continuity which was desirable, between the Old and the New Testaments.

At the same time, the circumstances were new, the language was new and the new faith had to shed light on many details of the Revelation now become more evident because of the incarnation of the Son of God.

Philo was a Jewish “philosopher” who live in Alexandria, Egypt, between 50 BC and 50 AD. His teachings on the logos, the word (see John 1:1) closely resembles that of Paul and of John and it must have been relying on the Jewish thought of the time as the Targumin confirm.

But the apostles move forward, they report something that the official Jewish religion failed to see. They openly declare that the logos was manifested in the flesh, became a man: Jesus of Nazareth.

The epistle to the Colossians introduces a terminology which has no parallel in Hebrew.

“ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ εὐδόκησε πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα κατοικῆσαι.” (Colossians 1:19).

For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.” (NKJV)

The word πλήρωμα (pleroma), “fullness”, has here specific traits. It is a technical word which includes what Paul himself will clarify later in the same epistle. No trace of this terminology is found in the New Testament: the new faith needed new words!

“ … ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς,” (Colossians 2:9).

for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Paul is using a language which is so accurate! His terminolgy leaves no room for any doubt whatsoever on the fullness of the Deity of Jesus. If others today think otherwise, the apostle Paul has no fault at all.

“τὸ πλήρωμα” is the sum of all the divine attributes and qualities of God.

“θεότητος” is Godhead, a word that you will not find anywhere else in the New Testament.

Such terminology was never found in the Old Testament.

Another wonderful quality of our Lord Jesus Christ is

described by the word  εἰκὼν, image, which Paul uses in Colossians 1:15: “ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου.”

In English: “He is the image of the invisible God.

Again, this statement has no parallel in the Hebrew Scriptures.

The beginning of the epistle to the Hebrews has such a wonderful Christological terminology! It is almost impossible to exactly translate it into English.

“ὃς ὢν ἀπαύγασμα τῆς δόξης καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως αὐτοῦ”. Which the New King James renders: “… who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…

Both “εἰκὼν” and χαρακτὴρ express very deep Christological concepts and could be introduced in the Christian language, thanks to the high speculative level of the Greek language. Similar words are not referred to the Messiah in the Old Testament. Greek helped the holy men of God to shape the doctrine of the new faith in Jesus.

John wrote in his Gospel using a terminology that shaped the Christology of the Church. The prologue recalls the solemnity of the Genesis account of creation.

In the beginning was the Word (Gr. logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).

Philo wrote about the logos, the Word, too. He does it from a Jewish perspective and very probably influenced by the Jewish speculations of the time on the matter. In his wonderful work “On The Creation”, also known as “De Opificio Mundi”. There Philo speaks of the “θείῳ λόγῳ”, a phrase that C. D. Yonge translates as “Divine Reason”, but that we can also interpreta s “Divine Word”, since logos in Greek can mean both “reason” and “word”.

John says more than Philo. The apostle connects to his Jewish roots, because their interpretation was not entirely wrong. But adds: “Θεὸς ἦν ὁ Λόγος”, “The Word is God”.

John knows something that Philo did not know and could not know. The apostle’s knowledge of the Word was personal and direct, not simply speculative like Philo’s.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 –  NKJV)

The Jewish commentators had altrady spoken of the manifestations of God through what or who they called “Memra”, in Aramaic or “Davar” in Hebrew. When the New Testament (as well as Philo) speaks of a logos of God, revealed to mankind in the person of Jesus, it gives a universal message that has a meaning both for the Jewish people and for the Gentiles, since a common Greek term becomes the perfect means to express a deeply Hebrew idea.

The apostles themselves, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were the first to deliver the message of the Gospel to the non-Jewish. They did so, speaking of the wonders of God in the only universal language of their time: Greek.

The God of Moses was remembered in Israel as the one who set the people free from the slavery in Egypt. But to the Gentiles He was now proclaimed as the Almighty God, Creator of all things and above all the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom He had sent to save mankind – those who received Him in their hearts as Lord and Savior.

The Hebrew heritage of our faith is quite intriguing. But we cannot simply stop at the contemplation of the old covenant. The apostles moved on. They promoted the use of a language which made their message universally understood: being accessible is far more important than the purity so cherished even then by certain Jewish circles. Not the words themselves are sacred, but the message they deliver.

HaShem, il Nome, יהוה, is not sacred in itself, but Holy is the God that we address by that name. If יהוה cannot even be pronounced, the idea which it recalls is too distant from the Gospel, Kyrios, Lors, becomes no less sacred if Holy is the God we are calling upon.

If יהוה had freed Israel from Egypt and given the Law to the people, now Godi s the Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the light of what has been said so far, I am sure the student of the Bible will agree on how important it is to seriously study the New  Testament Koinè Greek language in oder to better understand “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude v.3)

 

 

 

Biblical Greek Lessons

The following are a series of biblical Greek lessons for beginners

INTRODUCTION – where I explain why the Greek language was chosen to write the Christian Scriptures.

LESSON 1 – How to read Greek

LESSON 2 – Reading Exercise

I published the whole course, made of 23 lessons plus 1 introduction, that can be completed in a year, studying 2 lessons a month.

Buy it on Amazon as

softcover: www.amazon.com/dp/1987720318

hardcover: www.amazon.com/dp/B09NTD3Q1D

e-book: www.amazon.com/dp/B07KX9SFG2

 

YOUTUBE Biblical Greek Lessons

 

Here are some books, which I edited, that can be very useful in your study of the Greek New Testament. Click on the Covers to know more and eventually, if you need them, buy them on Amazon.