Once Again, the Greek Word Pharamakia in Revelation 18:23 Does Not Refer to Big Pharma

"...among New Testament Greek scholars, there is no controversy here, which is quite telling, since they have devoted decades of their lives to studying the language. How is it that people who cannot read a word of Greek know better?" - Michael Brown

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T Howard's picture

Quote:
In short, among New Testament Greek scholars, there is no controversy here, which is quite telling, since they have devoted decades of their lives to studying the language. How is it that people who cannot read a word of Greek know better?

After many years of sitting under various teaching and preaching in the church, I have concluded that those who know the biblical languages the least try to use and explain the biblical languages the most. I can't tell you the number of times I've been told what agape, ekklesia, hypomeno, etc. really mean using etymology and exegetical fallacies. When I've pushed back, they almost always have asked, "Well how do we know the Greek scholars are right?"

And, with that, I end the conversation.

Bert Perry's picture

One thing that strikes me is that if you read it in context, it's hard to get to that position even if you don't know Greek.  I taught a little bit about exegesis to my church's teens this summer, and joked about how "context, context, context" was the biggest thing in exegesis in the same way that a realtor will note that the most important things in real estate are location, location, and location--and he'll give you the same answer if you ask him what the capital of Arkansas is.  (h/T Dave Barry I believe)

But to the point here, it strikes me that what is going on is that the people making the "pharmacy" claim simply want a hammer with which to beat Merck, J&J, and other companies making prescription drugs for our benefit.  It's a classic example of "reading into the text", and it happens far too often in our circles.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

josh p's picture

T Howard wrote:

 

Quote:
In short, among New Testament Greek scholars, there is no controversy here, which is quite telling, since they have devoted decades of their lives to studying the language. How is it that people who cannot read a word of Greek know better?

 

After many years of sitting under various teaching and preaching in the church, I have concluded that those who know the biblical languages the least try to use and explain the biblical languages the most. I can't tell you the number of times I've been told what agape, ekklesia, hypomeno, etc. really mean using etymology and exegetical fallacies. When I've pushed back, they almost always have asked, "Well how do we know the Greek scholars are right?"

And, with that, I end the conversation.

Don't forget dunamis/dynamite and the aorist is "snapshot action in time." I have a whole one year of Greek and even in those classes I learned to basically be quiet because I haven't learned even the basic yet. Carson's book Exegetical Fallacies is excellent. 

T Howard's picture

josh p wrote:

Don't forget dunamis/dynamite and the aorist is "snapshot action in time." I have a whole one year of Greek and even in those classes I learned to basically be quiet because I haven't learned even the basic yet. Carson's book Exegetical Fallacies is excellent. 

Oh yes, misunderstanding and misstating the significance of the Greek verb tense forms during a Sunday school lesson or sermon is legion. That and "word studies" are the biggest culprits. Before I went to seminary, I too was guilty of this stuff. And, you're right, first year Greek taught me to shut my mouth.

One of the reasons people often misuse and abuse word studies is that they are using Strong's, Thayer's, or Vine's. If you know the limitations of each of these resources, you can avoid the common issues. But, most believers don't, and because these resources are free online tools, that is what your people use often without discretion.

Dan Miller's picture

I have taken a year of Greek, but that's not what's needed here. You look up a word in an English dictionary and you find a dozen meanings. But that doesn't mean that you can just pick whichever meaning you want. Words mean different things and context limits the choices - no matter what language. 

T Howard's picture

Dan Miller wrote:

I have taken a year of Greek, but that's not what's needed here. You look up a word in an English dictionary and you find a dozen meanings. But that doesn't mean that you can just pick whichever meaning you want. Words mean different things and context limits the choices - no matter what language. 

Agreed. However, I think it's safe to say that most Americans don't know how language works, particularly syntax and grammar. That is why many guys entering seminary struggle with the biblical languages because they don't even understand how English works. Throw on top of that the teaching they've received in their literature classes (if they've taken any) that meaning is based on the reader not the author. Throw on top of that antiquated Greek / Hebrew language tools (like Strong's and Vine's), which actually encourage the reader to view the Greek or Hebrew word under consideration as having a single meaning regardless of context and as having a meaning that is often derived from the word's etymology.

It all combines into a hot mess.

A good first year Greek class helps to begin peeling away some of that mess.

David R. Brumbelow's picture

I have great respect for Greek & Hebrew scholars, but we also know that the experts can sometimes be wrong. 

Also, knowing the biblical languages does not solve all interpretation issues.  That is why you sometimes have Greek scholars on different sides of the issues. 

Sometimes, instead of doing their own research, they rely on quoting other experts. 

There are some Greek scholars that become bullies pushing their view and implying it must be right because they know Greek and you don’t.  All the while knowing there can be different ways to interpret Greek, just as English or any other language. 

A few more thoughts:

http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2016/01/must-preacher-know-greek-and...

David R. Brumbelow

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I've had no Greek or Hebrew at all, but I have had to learn and use a 2nd language for over 30 years now, and I still find nuances of my 2nd language that I hadn't realized before.  I used to use my Strong's pretty much as some posters have described above, though not quite indiscriminately.  I didn't just pick any meaning of the word, but I did try to see which word meaning fit the context (as well as I could without training), but I'm sure I made plenty of mistakes.

Now, my experience with a 2nd language has taught me to be much more careful with what I can look up from the Hebrew and Greek lexicons.  Those references are still a help, but I have to be very cautious and realize that they give me enough knowledge to be dangerous, not enough to be a scholar.  I don't recommend that the layman remain ignorant, or just depend on those with the knowledge, but my personal principle is that if I find something doing research that seems at all "novel," I make a point to ask those I trust who have more training in the biblical languages.

Dave Barnhart

T Howard's picture

The good news is that given today's technology, anyone who wants to learn to read and understand the biblical languages can do so for less than $500 / language. For example, if you want an easier start to learning biblical Greek, pick up Mounce's, Greek for the Rest of Us, and use the corresponding "Bible Study Greek" video series and resources. If you want the challenge of taking college / seminary-level first year Greek, choose his Basics of Biblical Greek text and his "Biblical Greek" video series and resources. If you have Logos, you can buy all these resources through Logos.

After going through Mounce's first-year Greek text, you can then purchase Dan Wallace's intermediate Greek text, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and his corresponding video series. Again, all these resources are also available for Logos.

If you're not a fan of Mounce, you can choose David Alan Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek, and use his corresponding video series. There's also Plummer and Merkle's Beginning with New Testament Greek, and their corresponding resources. They also published an intermediate Greek text, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek, Revised.

Want to learn biblical Hebrew? Pick up Pratico and Van Pelt's Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, and use their corresponding video series and resources. This will get you through first-year Hebrew.

Last week, I purchased their video series on Logos so that I could go back through my biblical Hebrew.

So, honestly, anyone can learn the biblical languages if they have the time and desire to do so.

 

Bert Perry's picture

....is that though I've not taken any formal Greek (apart from learning the alphabet the honest way, as variables in equations in engineering and physics) and just a smattering of Hebrew, is that I had the blessing of being led to Christ by a linguistics major and a history education major--and of course the theme "usage determines meaning", and the history of how words are used, is key.  They also got me hooked on references that are a touch more academic than the glossary in the back of Strong's concordance, to the point where I have generally been puzzled when someone accuses me of getting definitions from thence--my response being "um, Strong's is a concordance, not a dictionary.  I'm using little Kittel, Moody's Hebrew, and B-D-B."

Biggest errors I tend to see (or claim? ) are reading one or two English semi-equivalents as the "only" meaning of a word, using a minority usage of a word to try to redefine its majority usage, and in general trying to use dictionary equivalents instead of boring down to the etamology and asking "why did the speakers of this language use this word this way?"  One of my favorite examples is how the word for patience in Greek, makrothumia, literally means long or great passion.  I don't have an answer on why this means patience, but it's fun to contemplate.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

T Howard wrote:

The good news is that given today's technology, anyone who wants to learn to read and understand the biblical languages can do so for less than $500 / language. For example, if you want an easier start to learning biblical Greek, pick up Mounce's, Greek for the Rest of Us, and use the corresponding "Bible Study Greek" video series and resources. If you want the challenge of taking college / seminary-level first year Greek, choose his Basics of Biblical Greek text and his "Biblical Greek" video series and resources. If you have Logos, you can buy all these resources through Logos.

After going through Mounce's first-year Greek text, you can then purchase Dan Wallace's intermediate Greek text, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and his corresponding video series. Again, all these resources are also available for Logos.

If you're not a fan of Mounce, you can choose David Alan Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek, and use his corresponding video series. There's also Plummer and Merkle's Beginning with New Testament Greek, and their corresponding resources. They also published an intermediate Greek text, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek, Revised.

Want to learn biblical Hebrew? Pick up Pratico and Van Pelt's Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, and use their corresponding video series and resources. This will get you through first-year Hebrew.

Last week, I purchased their video series on Logos so that I could go back through my biblical Hebrew.

So, honestly, anyone can learn the biblical languages if they have the time and desire to do so.

 

Hey, you can go through Dr. Bill Barrick's Hebrew course for free through his website.

http://drbarrick.org/lectures/

T Howard's picture

pvawter wrote:

Hey, you can go through Dr. Bill Barrick's Hebrew course for free through his website.

http://drbarrick.org/lectures/

Thanks, that is another great resource!

So, all that's left for the individual who wants to learn the biblical languages is time and hard work. Yes, it will take some time to achieve reading proficiency in the biblical languages. It will take hard work memorizing vocab and a few important grammar rules. However, If you don't put in the hard word to master the vocab and basic grammar rules, you'll never reach reading proficiency.

That being said, in addition to the tools to learn the biblical languages, there are many tools available now to help you keep proficient in the languages once you learn them.

Bill Mounce's Blog - For an Informed Love of God

Robert Plummer's Blog - Daily Dose of Greek

Wayne Slusser's Blog (formerly Rod Decker's) - Greek for a Week

David Alan Black's Blog & NT Greek Portal

I just picked up this book from Amazon: Daily Scriptures: 365 Readings in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin

You can also create a daily Bible reading plan in Logos to go through all or parts of your GNT or BHS on a regular basis. Buy a reader's edition of the GNT or BHS. Right out of seminary, I created a reading plan to go through the Torah in my BHS in a year. I'm currently in Revelation and will finish reading through my GNT by year's end.

So, like I said, there are a lot of tools to keep your reading proficiency once you take your biblical language classes.  But, it does take time, commitment, and hard work.

 

 

 

josh p's picture

Thanks guys for posting all these great resources! I've been using the Daily Dose of Greek app which is good but I think, for where I'm at, that Mounce vlog will be better. I like how he explains the grammar more thoroughly and also sentence diagrams. 

RajeshG's picture

T Howard wrote:

The good news is that given today's technology, anyone who wants to learn to read and understand the biblical languages can do so for less than $500 / language. For example, if you want an easier start to learning biblical Greek, pick up Mounce's, Greek for the Rest of Us, and use the corresponding "Bible Study Greek" video series and resources. If you want the challenge of taking college / seminary-level first year Greek, choose his Basics of Biblical Greek text and his "Biblical Greek" video series and resources. If you have Logos, you can buy all these resources through Logos.

After going through Mounce's first-year Greek text, you can then purchase Dan Wallace's intermediate Greek text, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, and his corresponding video series. Again, all these resources are also available for Logos.

If you're not a fan of Mounce, you can choose David Alan Black's Learn to Read New Testament Greek, and use his corresponding video series. There's also Plummer and Merkle's Beginning with New Testament Greek, and their corresponding resources. They also published an intermediate Greek text, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek, Revised.

Want to learn biblical Hebrew? Pick up Pratico and Van Pelt's Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, and use their corresponding video series and resources. This will get you through first-year Hebrew.

Last week, I purchased their video series on Logos so that I could go back through my biblical Hebrew.

So, honestly, anyone can learn the biblical languages if they have the time and desire to do so.

I have read the OT in Greek very extensively using Brenton's parallel Greek-English edition of the Septuagint and found that reading to be tremendously valuable. What do you think of that work as a Greek resource?

T Howard's picture

Rajesh,

I'm not familiar with that resource, but reading the LXX is another great way to improve your Greek reading proficiency. Just recognize that the LXX vocab will be somewhat different than the GNT, and so you will likely need to reference your lexicon more.

In addition to the LXX, I'd recommend reading through the Greek texts of the Apostolic Fathers. I have Michael W. Holmes's diglot edition of the Apostolic Fathers. I'd couple that resource with Wallace's A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers.

The advantage of reading the Apostolic Fathers is that most people aren't familiar with them and so they can't "guess" what the passage says like you often can with the GNT based on your familiarity with the English translation. This, then, requires you to really comprehend the Greek that you're reading.

RajeshG's picture

T Howard wrote:

Rajesh,

I'm not familiar with that resource, but reading the LXX is another great way to improve your Greek reading proficiency. Just recognize that the LXX vocab will be somewhat different than the GNT, and so you will likely need to reference your lexicon more.

In addition to the LXX, I'd recommend reading through the Greek texts of the Apostolic Fathers. I have Michael W. Holmes's diglot edition of the Apostolic Fathers. I'd couple that resource with Wallace's A Reader's Lexicon of the Apostolic Fathers.

The advantage of reading the Apostolic Fathers is that most people aren't familiar with them and so they can't "guess" what the passage says like you often can with the GNT based on your familiarity with the English translation. This, then, requires you to really comprehend the Greek that you're reading.

I have not read much at all in the Apostolic Fathers; thanks for that info.

I have found the LXX valuable for identifying additional examples to use in teaching beginning Greek students basic grammar and syntax. The greatest benefit for me may be the numerous direct connections to the GNT that I have found that have significant exegetical and theological relevance.

I would like to read the Apocrypha in Greek/English someday for similar reasons.