Monday, February 2, 2009

Sounds Like Greek to Me

I recently endeavored to translate a book of the New Testament on my own. Previously, my knowledge in Greek was about as extensive as the alphabet, some Christianese vocabulary, and enough time in a lexicon to be dangerous with Greek text. I just recently finished teaching a class on 1 Peter, the content was fresh in my mind and I had done several word studies during my lesson preparations as well, so I decided to make 1 Peter my first translation challenge. 4 verses into the first chapter, and I have some fun anecdotes that you may find helpful in your own Greek study, or at the very least, amusing.
  1. "us" and "you" are dangerously similar: hemas, hymas... so, it can be very easy to believe that Peter's readers were given new life so that Peter and the other Apostles could have an imperishable inheritance. Something didn't feel right about that one.
  2. Lexicons lie... ok, so maybe they don't lie, but they don't tell the whole truth. While I'm looking at an 11-letter word with what appears to be not one but two suffixes, Strong's saw fit to spare me the trouble and only give the meaning of the 5-letter root.
  3. The eleventh commandment should have been: Thou shall not use the same word to mean both "for" and "to."
  4. My high school English teachers might be interested to hear this: I praise God for punctuation.
  5. Learn your alpha beta gammas (abc's). If you insist on finding corollaries with the English alphabet, give up now. P is R. Y is G. U is M. Oh, and a different-looking U is also U... and sometimes Y... and, yes, just give up now.

I'm sure I'll have more to share as time goes on, but in all seriousness, I am very much looking forward to learning this language. As many of you have experienced, I'm sure, re-reading the same passage years later can often bring new meaning to light, or new perspectives to bear. I am hoping the same happens with this adventure, and I pray that God blesses my time and draws me nearer to Him.

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