Class Notes: 2/1/2009

2Tim 2:13-14 To hold to the pattern of sound words one must know the language of the words

The mandate of the PPOG for the church age believer that we are presently examining is found in 2Tim 1:13; where we have the command to retain the "pattern of sound words" or doctrine and in verse 14 we have the command to " Protect” that doctrine.

In verse 13 the word translated "retain" in the NASB, "hold fast" in the KJV and "keep" in the NIV is the second person singular present active imperative of the Greek word "echo" that means to " keep on having" the present tense signifies action in progress or in a state of persistence, the active voice shows that the believer performs the action of the verb and the imperative mood is a command.

So we have the command for the believer and especially the communicator of Bible Doctrine to hold on to and to guard "the pattern of sound words" that have been taught by Paul.

Given the mandate to hold to and protect this "pattern of sound doctrine" we are presently examining the system that pastor is to use for the development of that doctrine.

We have seen that Luther and the other Reformers replaced the Allegorical Hermeneutic of the Catholic Church that used the Latin translations with the Historical Literal Grammatical hermeneutic with it's Isogogagics, Categories and Exegesis from the original languages of scripture.

Last time we concluded with the fact that the New Testament is written in Koine Greek, but we also saw that this fact was unknown to Western translators until the late nineteenth century.

This is of crucial importance because of the many Greek dialects that existed and means that prior to the late nineteenth century the translations performed by translators and expositors who assumed the New Testament was not a Koine Greek manuscript were affected by this ignorance.

This is one of the reasons that the modern translations are more accurate than the earlier translations. Since the Koine Greek is the original language of the New Testament it is worth looking at the development of the Koine Greek language itself.

Regarding this, From Dana, and. Mantey's A Manuel Grammar of the Greek New Testament pages 1-12 we have:

Greek is the most highly developed and at the same time the most clearly defined of all languages. The history of the Greek language extends back to about 1500 b.c.

Previous to Homer, however, the history of the language is wrapped in great obscurity. The development of the language may be divided into five periods:

The Formative Period extends from the prehistoric origin of the race to Homer (c. 900 b.c.). The primitive tribes from which the Greek nation arose were members of the great Aryan family which had its original home somewhere in west-central Asia. In prehistoric times a group of tribes from this original stock migrated into the little peninsula of southern Europe now known as Greece.

The topography of this country is exceedingly irregular. Numerous mountain ranges and the inland penetration of arms of the sea cut the country up into may divisions. As a result of this irregular topography the original tribes were practically barred from intercourse with one another and hence were slow in developing unity of life and language.

There grew a number of different dialects, the chief of which were the Attic, Boeotian \be o' shan\, Northwestern, Thessalian, and Arcadian.

The Attic Greek was the Ionic dialect spoken in Attica whose capital city was Athens.

Boeotian Greek was an Aeolic \e ä' lik\ dialect spoken in Boeotia whose capital was Thebes

Northwestern Greek was spoken in the states of Elis and Achaea

Thessalian was another Aeolic dialect spoken in Thessaly

Arcadian was the dialect spoken in Arcadia.

All these probably developed from three original dialects:

The Doric, spoken in Messenia; Aeolic, spoken in Boeotia and Thessaly; and Ionic, spoken in Ionia and Attica.

The most vigorous and attractive of these was the Ionic which therefore exerted the greatest influence upon subsequent linguistic developments among the Greeks.

The Classical Period. includes the centuries from Homer to the Alexandrian conquests (c. 330 b.c.). In this period the Attic dialect, based chiefly on the old Ionic, secured supremacy. The ancient Greek literature which has come down to us is predominantly Attic.

The Koine Period. (Koine means common language or dialect common to all, or a world-speech.) extends from 330 b.c. - 330 a.d. It is the period the Greek language was freely used and understood throughout the civilized world, being spoken freely on the streets of Rome, Alexandria, and Jerusalem as in Athens.

There were four main causes bringing about the development of the Koine Greek.

Extensive Colonization: The Greeks were a very aggressive people and early learned seafaring from the Phoenicians. As a result Greek colonies were planted on nearly all the shores of the Mediterranean. One of the strongest of these colonies was on the eastern coast of Italy, not far from the center of the Latin world.

The Close Political and Commercial Affiliation of the Separate Greek Tribes:

The common threat of eastern conquerors brought the several tribes of Greece into closer touch and the campaign of Cyrus brought together Greeks of all tribes and dialects into one great army and did much to develop a common tongue.

Religious Interrelations:

Though each Greek tribe had its own tribal gods there was a sense of religious unity among the race. This was particularly true after the establishment of the great national festivities at such religious centers as Olympia, Delos, and Delphi.

Inscriptions upon the statues and memorials of various kinds erected at these enters were in all the leading dialects, and led to the acquaintance of one tribe with the language of another. As the people mingled together at these periodical celebrations, there arose a natural tendency toward a common speech. This factor was certainly very potent in the creation of the Koine.

The Alexandrian Conquests:

The climax of this merging process was reached in the Alexandrian conquests (334.b.c -320 b.c.).

The mingling of representatives from all the Greek tribes in Alexander's army matured the development of a common Greek, and the wide introduction of Greek culture under his direction distributed the common tongue throughout the Macedonian empire.

When Rome conquered this Hellenized territory, she in turn was Hellenized, and thereby the civilized world adopted the Koine Greek. Hence Paul could write his doctrinal masterpiece to the political center of the Latin world in the Greek language.

Dana & Mantey. A Manuel Grammar of the Greek New Testament. pages, 9-10: has the following to say regarding The Greek of the New Testament:

There was a time when the scholars who dealt with the original text of the New Testament regarded its Greek as a special "Holy Ghost " language, prepared under divine direction for the Scripture writers.

When the fallacy of this conception began to grow evident, two opposing schools developed. The Hebraists contended that the Septuagint and the New Testament were written in a Biblical Greek; the Purists contended that they represented variations of the classical Attic.

But beginning with Johann Winer in 1825 there came a revolution in the views of New Testament scholarship relative to this matter. As a result of the labors of Adolf Deissmann in Germany, William Moulton in England, and A. T. Robertson in America, all question has been removed from the conclusion that New Testament Greek is simply a sample of the colloquial Greek of the first century; aka the Koine Greek.

The inspired writers of the New Testament wrote in the ordinary language of the masses, as might have been expected.

Robertson shows that the progress of opinion among New Testament Greek scholars has been for more than half a century toward the conclusion that is now universally accepted that the Greek of the New Testament is but a specimen of the vernacular Koine of the first century.

But the complete establishment of the new method is an accomplishment of the twentieth century. The future will countenance no other view of the Greek New Testament.

There were several ways that the philologists such as Deissmann, Moulton, Robertson, and others established the validity of their thesis, that is, that the Greek of the New Testament was the common language of the first century.

The three most important contributors were:

The Papyri:

This ancient writing material was made from the papyrus reed, an Egyptian water plant. Its use dates back to extreme antiquity, and extends down to the Byzantine period.

Papyri are now discovered in Egypt, where climatic conditions have favored their preservation. They are especially valuable to the student of the Greek New Testament, both because of the wide range of their literary quality and their exhibition of the typical Koine.

They represent every kind of general literature, from the casual correspondence of friends to the technicalities of a legal contract. They represent the ordinary language of the people and it was in this type of language that our New Testament was written.

The Inscriptions:

These are found in abundance on several sites of important centers of Mediterranean civilization. They are found "either in their original positions or lying under ruins. They are usually notices, carved upon slabs of stone for official, civic, and memorial purposes. Their value has been not only literary but also historical.

The Ostraca:

The ostraca were potsherds or fragments of broken jugs or other earthen vessels that were used by the poorer classes for memoranda, receipts, and the like.

As linguistic memorials of the lower classes these humble potsherd texts shed light on many a detail of the linguistic character of our sacred book-that book which was written, not by learned men but by simple folk, by men who themselves confessed that they had their treasure in earthen vessels (2Cor 4:7). And thus the modest ostraca rank as of equal value with the papyri and inscriptions"

So the Greek of the New Testament is but a specimen of the vernacular Koine of the first century. But the complete establishment of this as reality is an accomplishment of the twentieth century.

The future will take no other view of the Greek New Testament. The impact of these last three sentences have tremendous meaning for those who pursue biblical truth. The importance of the discovery that Koine Greek is the language of the New Testament cannot be overstated.

Interpreters up to the late 19th century sought to analyze the Greek New Testament in one of two ways,

Either as a special divinely inspired use of the Koine Greek unique to the Bible or as Classical or Attic Greek.

The work of Deissmann, Moulton, Robertson and others revealed that the language of the Scripture was the common tongue of the Roman Empire of the first century, the Koine Greek.

Realizing that an accurate interpretation of a given word required a fluent understanding of the language in which it was written, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer was motivated to found Dallas Theological Seminary. There he assembled a faculty that placed heavy emphasis on the languages, Hebrew and Koine, along with Systematic Theology.

Accurate theology can only be developed through accurate interpretation of Scripture. Graduates of Dallas were among the first of this century to be regularly prepared in Koine based biblical analysis.

The Bible clearly tells us that it is not the man it's the message. 1Cor 3:5-10; But the message is dependent upon the interpretation. And the interpretation is developed from an accurate translation. And an accurate translation emerges from knowledge of the language. And if the language under scrutiny is misunderstood, then everything falls apart.

The New Testament is not Classical Greek or some "Holy Ghost" Greek. It is Koine Greek, the common, everyday language spoken by the masses in the first century a.d.

In Canonicity by R.B.Thieme Jr on page 57 we have:

Perhaps the two most distinguished philologists of all time were Adolf Deissmann and Herman von Soden. Their tireless studies resulted in important advances toward our complete understanding of the Koine Greek.

Von Soden's life was cut off … before his work could be finished properly; but Deissmann lived to publish his findings. It is to men like these we owe a debt of gratitude for furthering our knowledge of the original Scriptures and their communication and interpretation according to the time in which they were written.

A. T. Robinson states the following in the Preface of Volume 1 of his six-volume series: Word Pictures in the New Testament:

New light has come from the papyri discoveries in Egypt. Unusual Greek words from the standpoint of the literary critic or classical scholar are here found in everyday use in letters and business and public documents. The New Testament Greek is now known to be not a new or peculiar dialect of the Greek language, but the very lingo of the time.

The vernacular Koine, the spoken language of the day, appears in the New Testament.
I have called these volumes Word Pictures for the obvious reason that language was originally purely pictographic.

Children love to read by pictures either where it is all picture or where pictures are interspersed with simple words. The Rosetta Stone is a famous illustration. The Egyptian hieroglyphics come at the top of the stone, followed by the Demotic Egyptian language with the Greek translation at the bottom. By means of this stone the secret of the hieroglyphs or pictographs was unraveled. The pictures were first for ideas, then for words, then for syllables, then for letters.

Words have never gotten wholly away from the picture stage. These old Greek words in the New Testament are rich with meaning. They speak to us out of the past and with lively images to those who have eyes to see. It is impossible to translate all of one language into another. Much can be carried over, but not all. Delicate shades of meaning defy the translator.

And so a dilemma faces the pastor-teacher since the close of the Koine Period of the Greek language. Since 330AD, communicators of doctrine have had the task of translating the Scripture from its original Koine Greek into the native language of his congregation.

Dr. Robertson writes, "It is impossible to translate all of one language into another. Much can be carried over, but not all. Delicate shades of meaning defy the translator."

But what if over the centuries there developed a language that was so flexible and malleable that it was able to readily absorb thousands of words from many languages so that these delicate shades could be communicated? What if that language became so popular that it developed into the equivalent of a modern-day Koine, a common vernacular? Would not such a language be a powerful tool in the communication of the gospel and biblical truth to many nations and peoples?

Such a language has developed and it is our very own English. It's development had modest beginnings and a suspect pedigree but it emerged as the world's lingua franca for the 20th and 21st centuries.

Some comments regarding this can be found in The Mother Tongue: English & How It Got That Way. By Bill Bryson, on pages 46-59:

In the country inns of a small corner of northern Germany, in the spur of land connecting Schleswig-Holstein \shlas' vik hal' shtin\ to Denmark, you can sometimes hear people talking in what sound eerily like a lost dialect of English.

The language is very close to the way people spoke in Britain more than 1,000 years ago. This area of Germany, called Angeln, was once the seat of the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that 1,500 years ago crossed the North Sea to Britain, where they displaced the native Celts and gave the world what would one day become its most prominent language.

Not far away, in the marshy headlands of northern Holland and western Germany lives a group of people whose dialect is even more closely related to English. These are the Frisians whose Germanic tongue has been so little altered by time that many of them can still read the medieval epic Beowulf almost at sight.

In about 450AD, following the withdrawal of Roman troops from Britain, these two groups of people and two other related groups, the Saxons and Jutes, began a long exodus to Britain.

The early Anglo-Saxons left no account of these events for the simple reason that they were functionally illiterate. And yet for all their shortcomings, the Anglo-Saxons possessed a language that was rich in possibilities and once literacy was brought to them, it flourished with astonishing speed.

The main bringer of literacy, and of Christianity, was St. Augustine, who traveled to Britain with forty missionaries in 597AD and within a year had converted King Ethelbert of Kent at his small provincial capital, Canterbury.

With that initial victory, Christianity spread over the island, towing literacy in its wake. In only a little over a hundred years England became a center of culture and learning as great as any in Europe.

No one, of course, can say at what point English became a separate language, distinct from the Germanic dialects of mainland Europe. What is certain is that the language the invaders brought with them soon began to change.

There was a great deal of subtlety and flexibility built into the language and once they learned to write, their literary outpouring was both immediate and astonishingly assured.

One final cataclysm awaited the English language: the Norman conquest of 1066AD.

The Normans were Vikings who had settled in northern France 200 years before. They had given their name to a French province, Normandy. But they had abandoned their language and much of their culture and become French in manner and speech.

The variety of French the Normans spoke was not the speech of Paris, but a rural dialect, and its divergence from standard French became even more pronounced when it took root in England. This had important consequences for the English language of today and may even have contributed to its survival.

Norman French, like the Germanic tongues before it, made a lasting impact on English vocabulary. Of the 10,000 words we adopted from Norman French, some three-quarters are still in use including the words justice, jury, felony, traitor, prison, and parliament.

Because English had no official status, for three centuries it drifted. Without a cultural pivot, some place to set a standard, differences in regional usage became more pronounced rather than less. And yet it survived.

If there is one uncanny thing about the English language, it is its incredible persistence. In retrospect it seems unthinkable to us now that it might have been otherwise, but we forget just how easily people forsake their tongues.

But in Britain, despite the constant buffetings of history, English survived. It is a cherishable irony that a language that succeeded almost by stealth, treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants, should one day become the most important and successful language in the world.

Its lowly position almost certainly helped English to become a similar, less inflected language. By making English the language mainly of uneducated people, the Norman conquest made it easier for grammatical changes to go forward unchecked.

Isolated from the rest of Europe by the English Channel, the Norman rulers gradually came to think of themselves not as displaced Frenchmen but as Englishmen. Intermarrying between Normans and British contributed to the sense of Englishness.

The children of these unions learned French from their fathers, but English from their mothers. For a time, at least up until the age of Chaucer (1350AD), the two languages coexisted.

The harsh, clacking, guttural Anglo-French had become a source of amusement to the people of Paris, and this provided perhaps the ultimate blow to the language in England.

Norman aristocrats, rather than be mocked for persevering with an inferior dialect that many of them ill spoke anyway, began to take increasing pride in English. So total was this reversal of attitude that when Henry V was looking for troops to fight with him at Agincourt in 1415AD, he used the French threat to the English language as a rallying cry.

It is sometimes suggested that our vocabulary is vast because it was made to be, simply because of the various linguistic influences that swept over it.

But in fact this love of variety of expression runs deeper than that. It was already evident in the early poetry of the Anglo-Saxons that they had an intuitive appreciation of words sufficient to ensure that even if England had never been invaded again her language would have been rich with synonyms.

It is true that English was immeasurably enriched by the successive linguistic waves that washed over the British Isles. But it is probably closer to the truth to say that the language we speak today is rich and expressive not so much because new words were imposed on it as because they were welcomed.

In our study to this point we have learned that because of the topography of Greece the ancient Greek language acquired quite a number of dialects. Out from these dialects it was the Attic dialect of old Ionic that emerged as dominant and became known as Classical Greek.

It was the language of fifth-century B.C. Athens and the Age of Pericles.

Due to various influences during the time of the Roman Republic a common language developed known as Koine. This dialect, spoken by all Roman citizens, was the language chosen by the Holy Spirit for the New Testament canon.

It was in this language that the people of the first century were evangelized and learned doctrine.

We have learned that it was not until the late 19th century before it was discovered that the New Testament was not written in some special "Holy Ghost" Greek or the classical Attic Greek but rather the Koine Greek.

It was not until the 20th century that this knowledge began to have a marked influence on biblical analysis, exegesis, and scholarship.

One of the theologians who picked up on this and began to develop a systematic theology based on Koine exegesis was Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer.

His protégé, Robert B. Thieme, Jr., exploited this discovery by becoming an expert in the Koine and then endeavoring to bring into the English language an advanced theology based on a word-by-word analysis of the New Testament Scripture.

He continued this effort for over 53 years as pastor of Berachah Church in Houston, Texas, and we are the beneficiaries of his scholarship and exposition.

© Copyright 2024, Michael Lemmon Bible Ministries. World Rights Reserved.