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Evgw, eivmi to; A[lfa. Greek for Bible Study. Class #1 Introduction, Alphabet, Pronunciation, Translations. kai; to; w =. An example. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God ; - Ephesians 2:8 What is the gift?

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Greek for bible study

Evgw, eivmi to; A[lfa

Greek for Bible Study

Class #1

Introduction, Alphabet, Pronunciation, Translations

kai; to; w=

An example
An example

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; - Ephesians 2:8

  • What is the gift?

  • Th/: ga;r cavritiv evste sesw/smevnoi dia; pivstewV kai; tou:to ouvk evx uJmw:n qeou: to; dw:ron

The dangers of learning a little greek pp xviii xx
The Dangers of Learning a Little Greek (pp. xviii-xx)

  • A little knowledge can be dangerous!

  • Remember you are learning how to use the tools of Greek. You will not be a Greek expert by taking this class.

  • After this class, you will sound authoritative to others. Be careful!

  • Guard your heart from pride (James 4:6).

  • Humbly rely on those who ARE Greek scholars.

  • Remember Prov. 1:7.

Koine greek koinhv
Koine Greek (koinhv)

  • Koine, or biblical Greek, is the type of Greek we will be learning.

  • Koine means “common,” as it was the common language of the people.

  • Because Koine was a universal language, it was very easy for the New Testament to spread during the first century.

  • It is also significant that God used a common, universal language to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to people.

Alphabet helps
Alphabet helps

  • If you can say the name of the letter, you know the sound of the letter.

  • Though you don’t need to know the capital letters right away, you’ll need to learn them in order to read in the Greek NT.

  • g normally has a “g” sound, but when it is followed by g, k, c, or x, it is pronounced as a n which has a “n” sound. Hence, a[ggeloVis pronounced, “angelos.”

  • Sometimes an iota occurs underneath an a, h, or w. This is called an iota subscript. This type of iota is not pronounced, but it is significant for meaning.


  • ai – as in aisle

  • ei – as in eight

  • oi – as in oil

  • au – as in Sauerkraut

  • ou – as in soup

  • ui – as in suite

  • eu & hu– as in feud

Breathing marks
Breathing Marks

  • Every word beginning with a vowel or r has a breathing mark

  • Smooth – not pronounced

    • j

    • ajpostoloV

    • jIsrahl

  • Rough – pronounced as an “h” sound

    • J

    • Juper

    • Jrabbi

Breathing marks1
Breathing Marks

  • Every word beginning with a dipthong takes a breathing mark over the second vowel

    • Aijtew – “I ask”


  • Greek has three accent marks:


  • There are four punctuation marks found in the Greek New Testament:


Ejn ajrch: h\n oJ lovgoV kai; oJ lovgoV h\n pro;V to;n qeovn kai; qeo;V h\n oJ lovgoV.

Ou[twj ga.r hvga,phsen o` qeo.j to.n ko,smon( w[ste to.n ui`o.n to.n monogenh/ e;dwken( i[na pa/j o` pisteu,wn eivj auvto.n mh. avpo,lhtai avllV e;ch| zwh.n aivw,nionÅ

An example john 1 18
An Example: John 1:18

  • NKJV - No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

  • NASB - No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

  • NIV - No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

  • NLT - No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God andis near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us.

4 reasons why there are differences in translations
4 Reasons Why there are Differences in Translations

  • Textual Differences

  • Philosophical Differences

  • Interpretive Differences

  • Translation Differences

Textual differences

Textual Differences

Sometimes translations are different because we don’t know what the words were in the original text.

Textual differences1
Textual Differences

  • A textual difference means that translators are not certain what the exact words were in the original text.

  • Remember that none of the autographs (originals) of the Bible have been found.

  • However, enough early copies of the Bible have been found such that the vast majority of the time there is agreement as to the exact words of the original text.

Textual differences2
Textual Differences

  • For the Old Testament, the tedious practices and careful training of the Scribes resulted in accurate copies being made over the years.

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls helped confirm the accuracy of the Old Testament manuscripts.

Textual differences3
Textual Differences

  • For the New Testament, copying procedures were not as tedious as with the Old Testament, but many more copies of the New Testament were produced.

  • The vast number of copies allows scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with a high degree of certainty. This is called “textual criticism.”

Textual differences4
Textual Differences

  • However, sometimes scholars disagree about the original text.

  • It is important to remember that these differences are minor, and do not change any major doctrines of Scripture.

  • None the less, sometimes translations are different because we don’t know what the words were in the original text.

Textual differences5
Textual Differences

  • For example: 1 Peter 1:22

    • NASB - Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart

    • ESV - Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart

Textual differences6
Textual Differences

  • When dealing with manuscripts, generally speaking the “earlier” reading is to be preferred.

  • Sometimes older translations are different than more recent translations because they relied on “later” manuscripts.

The king james version
The King James Version

AD 100 400s 1200s 1611 1800s 1900s

New Testament


King James Translation completed, based on later manuscripts

Earlier, more accurate manuscripts discovered

Modern translations appear, based on earlier, more accurate manuscripts

The king james version1
The King James Version

  • Most of the time, variations between the KJV & modern translations are no big deal: 2 John 3

    • KJV - Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

      kuri,ou VIhsou/ cristou/

    • NASB - Grace, mercy and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

      VIhsou/ Cristou/

The king james version2
The King James Version

  • However, sometimes they are a big deal: 1 John 5:7

    • KJV - For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

      o[ti trei/j eivsin oi` marturou/ntej en tw/| ouvranw/|( o` path,r( o` lo,goj( kai. to. {Agion Pneu/ma\ kai. ou-toi oi` trei/j e[n eivsin

    • NASB - For there are three that testify:

      o[ti trei/j eivsin oi` marturou/ntej(

The king james version3
The King James Version

  • The KJV & NKJV are not bad translations, since we know the places where they differ with earlier manuscripts.

  • Usually, the KJV & NKJV will note any manuscript differences in a footnote.

  • However, it may be easier to adopt a newer translation which is based on earlier and thus more reliable manuscripts

Philosophical differences

Philosophical Differences

Sometimes translations are different because translators have different philosophies of Bible translation

2 main philosophies of bible translation
2 Main Philosophies of Bible Translation

  • Formal equivalence, also called “literal translations” or “word for word” translations. Examples include the Revised Standard Version (RSV), King James (KJV) and New King James Versions (NKJV), and the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

  • Dynamic equivalence, also called “functional equivalence” or “paraphrase” translations. Examples include the New Living Translation (NLT), New International Version (NIV), Contemporary English Version (CEV), Today’s English Version (TEV) and The Message.

Some examples 1 peter 1 1
Some Examples – 1 Peter 1:1

  • GK - Pe,troj avpo,stoloj VIhsou/ Cristou/ evklektoi/j parepidh,moij diaspora/j Po,ntou( Galati,aj( Kappadoki,aj( VAsi,aj kai. Biquni,aj

  • NASB - Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen

  • NLT - This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God's chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.

Some examples eph 4 26a
Some Examples – Eph. 4:26a

  • GK - ovrgi,zesqe kai. mh. a`marta,nete

  • ESV - Be angry and do not sin

  • NIV – “In your anger do not sin”

  • NLT - And "don't sin by letting anger control you.

Formal equivalence
Formal Equivalence

  • Formal equivalence translations seek to reproduce the grammatical form, structure, and language of the original text, not just the meaning.

Formal equivalence1
Formal Equivalence

  • PROS

    • Least interpretive

    • Preserves the form and structure of the original

    • Least prone to the bias of the translator

    • Reflects a high view of the inspiration of Scripture

    • Reflects a desire to let the reader determine meaning, not the translator

Formal equivalence2
Formal Equivalence

  • CONS

    • Puts more responsibility on the reader to determine meaning.

    • Sometimes translations can come across feeling “wooden” or awkward.

    • Sometimes trying to reflect the formal structure of the original obscures meaning.

    • Sometimes certain Formal Equivalent principles, such as translating the same word in the original with the same English word, results in poor translations.

Dynamic equivalence
Dynamic Equivalence

  • PROS:

    • Often result in smoother, easier to understand translations.

    • Generally allow for younger age groups or less literate people to understand meaning.

    • Take less work on the part of the reader to determine meaning (the translator does more interpreting for the reader)

    • Sometimes offer a refreshing, and often devotionally appealing approach to Scripture reading

Dynamic equivalence1
Dynamic Equivalence

  • CONS:

    • More interpretive and usually overly interpretive.

    • Often exercise too much freedom in translation since grammatical structure is usually viewed as having little connection to meaning.

    • Masks more of the original structure and language.

    • More prone to the bias of the translator.

    • Gives more weight to English style than the form of the original.

    • Often reflects a low view of the inspiration of Scripture.

    • The translator, not the reader, is given the most responsibility in determining meaning.

    • Usually employs more gender-neutral language.

So what type of bible should i use
So what type of Bible should I use?

  • Use a formal equivalent translation as your regular Bible and for Bible study.

  • Use dynamic equivalent translations as you would commentaries, and for devotional reading (compare with a formal equivalent translation).

  • But more importantly, understand why translations are different and use them each accordingly.

Interpretive differences

Interpretive Differences

Sometimes translations are different because translators aren’t certain what the words in the original mean.

Interpretive differences1
Interpretive Differences

  • Even when the original words are known and translators agree philosophically, sometimes it is not clear what the original means. For example: Ruth 1:13

    • Hb - ~K,êmi ‘daom. yliÛ-rm;-yKi(

    • ESV – “for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake” (Naomi is bitter because Ruth is suffering)

    • NIV – “It is more bitter for me than for you” (Naomi’s life is more bitter than Ruth’s life)

Interpretive differences2
Interpretive Differences

  • For example: 2 Cor. 5:14

    • Gk - h` ga.r avga,ph tou/ Cristou/ sune,cei h`ma/j

    • NASB - For the love of Christ controls us

    • NIV - For Christ's love compels us

    • NLT - Christ's love controls us.

Translation differences

Translation Differences

Sometimes translations are different because translators don’t agree on how to translate a particular word or phrase into English.

Translation differences1
Translation Differences

  • Even if the original words are known, a translators’ philosophies are the same, and the meaning of the word or phrase is known, translators may disagree on how to translate it into English (often influenced by translation philosophy). For example: Matt. 27:25

    • Gk - To. ai-ma auvtou/ evfV h`ma/j kai. evpi. ta. te,kna h`mw/nÅ

    • ESV - "His blood be on us and on our children!“

    • NLT - "We will take responsibility for his death -- we and our children!"

Translation differences2
Translation Differences

  • Gk - o]n h`mei/j katagge,llomen nouqetou/ntej pa,nta a;nqrwpon kai. dida,skontej pa,nta a;nqrwpon evn pa,sh| sofi,a|( i[na parasth,swmen pa,nta a;nqrwpon te,leion evn Cristw/|\

  • ESV - Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

  • NASB - We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

  • NLT - So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect1 in their relationship to Christ.

4 reasons why there are differences in translations1
4 Reasons Why there are Differences in Translations

  • Textual Differences

  • Philosophical Differences

  • Interpretive Differences

  • Translation Differences

Other challenges
Other Challenges

  • Audience

  • Ambiguity

  • Implicit information

  • Filling out the story

  • Potential misunderstandings

  • Inclusive language

  • Theological biases

  • Sensitivity & Euphemisms


  • Do the exercises in chapters 1-4 (use the online interlinear)

  • Read chapters 1-4. If you’re dying for more, read chapters 5-8 in preparation for next week’s class.

  • Teach the Greek alphabet song to your parents, children, grandchildren, or to a random child you come across in Wal-mart.