Logos Pro Summer Training: Root Words

Each week this summer the Logos Pros will teach you how to master the tools and resources of Logos Bible Software. You’ll get some pointers and some study questions. This week: studying root words without tripping over Bible study fallacies.

English words don’t always mean what they used to mean. Discovering a word’s root, its history, is not a reliable way to discover what it means now. A butterfly is not a stick of highly concentrated milk sailing through the air.

The same error is more than possible when studying words in the Bible. A term’s real meaning is not determined by its root or its etymology but by its usage. In other words, biblical word studies should focus more on how a term is used in context and less on where it came from.

But accessing the root of a word can still be very useful in responsible Bible study, especially when multiple separate English words—such as justify and righteous, or serve and minister—actually derive from the same Greek roots. As we will see in this video, root studies can remind readers that two apparently unrelated terms share an important thread of meaning.

Recommended Resources

Study Questions

  1. Find the root for νόμος (nomos), the Greek word for “law.” Do any of the related words surprise you?
  2. What are the dangers of using root words in exegesis? How do you avoid them?