Monthly Archives: June 2014

Review: Mastering Greek Vocabulary, Thomas Robinson.

downloadOne of the goals of my just-completed New Testament Greek course was to build our Greek vocabulary.  Vocabulary has always been hard for me — I tend to think in big-picture terms and find flashcards and rote memorization dull.  Thankfully we used Robinson’s book, which is organized both by root and by frequency.

Robinson’s book has six main parts:

  1. Identical Greek/English Words: about 250 words that are identical in Greek and English: e.g., ἄβυσσος and abyss.
  2. Cognate Groups: this section, the heart of the book, lists Greek roots in order of their frequency of use, listing all words derived from each root.
  3. Derived English Words: English words derived from Greek with explanations of exactly how, e.g. glossolalia, surgery.
  4. Prefixes and Suffixes: Lists and explains common Greek prefixes and suffixes, e.g. the suffix -σις, meaning “action or something that results from action,” often “-tion” in English.
  5. Identical Prefixes and Suffixes: A short chart of prefixes and suffixes common to English and Greek, such as the alpha-privative in “agnostic” and “atheist.”
  6. Words Occurring 10-19 Times: Words worth memorizing from the New Testament that don’t have a room in common with other words.

In the past I have used Metzger’s Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek, a standard for Greek students.  However, I found its definitions to be sometimes idiosyncratic.  Robinson has far more information when it comes to etymologies and word roots.  For example, take their respective entries for the root αγγελ, “message.”  You can see which one gives more information!





I found Robinson’s book a really useful guide to taking apart Greek words and seeing how relations between words make a difference.  For example, the root παι/παιδ, “child/education,” gives us both παιδεια, “discipline, instruction,” and ἐμπαιγμός, “public ridicule.”  Putting too much stock in etymology can be dangerous — “understand” has nothing to do with standing under something — but sometimes one wonders what cultural assumptions underlie word relations.

Anyway, I found Robinson’s book useful, more so than Metzger’s.  Another book in the same vein is Van Voorst’s Building Your Biblical Greek Vocabulary.  I have not used Van Voorst’s book, but its counterpart, George M Landes’ Building Your Biblical Hebrew Vocabularyis superb.

Sunday roundup #7: 6.15.14

Finals and the Patristics Blog Carnival have consumed my life for the last few weeks, so this is a bit overdue.  For those on the academic treadmill — I hope your summer will be fruitful and relaxing.

1.  David Bertaina writes on dialogues in the Qur’an:

My hope is that more scholars of Qur’anic studies may be interested in exploring the possible role of question-and-answer material in the Qur’an’s development. As a starting point, I would suggest that this process did not consist of direct borrowing or influence from Syriac texts. Nor is it appropriate to reduce Qur’anic material to Syriac or Christian Arabic debates or a mixture of interreligious conversations. Rather, the Qur’an is an active agent that witnessed question-and-answer events, suggesting its familiarity and comfort with Late Antique question-and-answer styles, both in oral and written form. Given that bilingual Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians were familiar with this material, we should not be surprised to witness the Qur’an employ its own arguments in a similar vein.

2.  Abram K-J reviews a linguistic guide to Jude.

3.  Ben Irwin worries about the plethora of specialized Bible versions — with a later update on the Duck Dynasty Bible.

I’d been working for an evangelical publisher for almost five years. I loved my job. I loved publishing Bibles — and I published a lot of them. Study Bibles. Youth Bibles. Audio Bibles. We had a Bible for everyone…or at least we aspired to.

We wanted more people to read the Bible. And for a time, I thought publishing more Bibles was the best way to make that happen.

But standing in that synagogue — hearing about the role scripture played in the lives of those who had gathered there — I started to question that assumption.

4.  J.K. Gayle at BLT asks what language Jesus spoke:

What was the language of Jesus in the LXX? According to his Greek-language translator, it was Ἑβραϊστί (or “hebraisti”). Well, that raises lots of questions, doesn’t it? Who is Jesus in the Septuagint? Who is his translator? And most importantly — given“The Latest Jesus-Speak” — what is “”hebraisti”? Is it Aramaic? Is it Hebrew?

5.  J.K. Gayle also looks at bad binaries in translating and interpreting Mark:

The cliché here seems to be that the human Jesus gets angry, that flying off the handle in indignation is not something God would do. Humans are emotional this way. Gods are more dispassionate.

6.  NPR asks how Mormons can learn languages so fast:

The training center is widely recognized as one of the best language-instruction institutes in the world, though that’s not the only thing that’s taught. In a matter of weeks, these enthusiastic young students will be speaking foreign languages fluently enough to spread the gospel.

7.  And, although it’s totally not relevant to this blog, I have been enjoying Dan Fincke’s posts on “How to Criticize Religion”: here, here, here, and here.

Patristics Carnival XXXV: Pentecost Edition!

Patristics Carnival XXXII

Blessed Pentecost!  Welcome to Patristics Carnival XXXV!

Since the Easter edition, a plethora of patristics posts have popped up.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

A quote to set the tone, courtesy of Weedon:

And we know that the eunuch who was reading Isaiah the prophet, and did not understand what he read, was not sent by the apostle to an angel, nor was it an angel who explained to him what he did not understand, nor was he inwardly illuminated by the grace of God without the interposition of man; on the contrary, at the suggestion of God, Philip, who did understand the prophet, came to him, and sat with him, and in human words, and with a human tongue, opened to him the Scriptures. Acts 8:26 —St. Augustine, Preface to On Christian Doctrine, Par. 7

Now, let the fun begin.


An Open Orthodoxy writes about Athanasius on the Incarnation.

German for Neutestamentler dialogues with T. Michael Law on Origen.

Roger Pearse has a series of posts on Severian of Gabala, a theological adversary of John Chrysostom, including motives for studying him, a list of works, and some translations.

And last, Will McDavid shares a beautiful reflection on the Resurrection.

Gnostics and other Heretics

Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio has an interview with a contemporary Christian Gnostic.  Larry Hurtado weighs in on the fragment of Jesus’ wife.  Jeff Marx muses on the errors of Gnosticism.

Seumas MacDonald challenges us to reconsider how we label heresies.

Theological Graffiti writes on Justo Gonzalez and Christological heresies.  He continues with a two-part series on an “Open, Unitive, and Liberative Christology”: one and two.

From Our Patron Saint

Rod, who has rekindled this carnival and recruited me onto it, has some work of his own.  Check out his thoughts on grace in Clement in Wesley, on divine apatheia in Moltmann and in the Stoics via Richard Beck.

If you Want More…

Roger Pearse’s commissioned translation of Origen on Ezekiel has just come out.  And if you can get there, check out the Summer Patristic Studies Program at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology this summer.

I hope you have enjoyed this latest installment.  Look forward to September for the next carnival.  I hope you are having a Spirit-filled Pentecost!

Five Days until Patristics Carnival XXXV!

Hi everyone!

My fellow blogger Rod at Political Jesus has asked me to volunteer to host Patristics Carnival XXXV.  It will be up June 8 for Pentecost — so please get your posts in to me by June 7 so I can include them!  To get an idea of the content, check out Patristics Carnival XXXIV.

The rules are the same as always:

Any blog entry dealing with an aspect of Patristics included, but not limited
to textual studies of a patristic writer, translations of the patristic
writer, historical research on the patristic period, reflections on the
connections of the Church Fathers to today, influence of patristic authors in
theological writing (I’m sure there are more categories possible, so, the
rule is submit or ask and we’ll figure it out as we go).

In this carnival, posts on historical theology prior to the Catholic and Protestant Reformations, articles on these topics, new developments and news, book reviews will all be eligible for this carnival.

To submit nominations for the carnival, place a comment on this post (the reminder for submissions) or email me at JDHOMRIGHAUSEN [at] GMAIL.COM.

In the meantime, pray for me as I go into finals next week in my hopelessly long quarter-system academic year!