5 Reasons Studying Greek Is Worth the Pain

To learn Greek will require some drudgery. But, as they say, “No pain, no reading the Greek New Testament.” I well remember sitting at my desk in grad school, cramming vocabulary into my head like a duck willingly stuffing its body for foie gras. At that desk I said to myself, This is boring and hard and I really don’t like it I need sugar or TV or a TV program about sugar. [Read more…]

Someone Plagiarized My Book a Century Before I Was Born

In my recent book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, I argued that there were two major kinds of archaic words in the KJV, not one.

And in the most flagrant example I’ve ever seen of plagiarism by time machine, I just discovered a commentator from 150 years ago saying precisely the same thing.

In his Lectures Exegetical and Practical on the Epistle of James, published in 1871, Robert Johnstone quotes a verse from the King James Version: [Read more…]

Search Original Languages for Word Meaning with Unique Logos Tools

When you’re studying Greek or Hebrew, searching morphological forms with Logos is a huge timesaver. Ἀγάπη (agape) in the dative singular? Got it! A third-person singular Hebrew verb in Qal stem with a 3MS pronominal suffix? Bam!

But Logos can see something else in the Bible that you might not realize: meaning.

A computer can parse forms fairly well given a few rules; that is, a lot of such work can be done automatically. But it takes many man-hours and coffee breaks to teach the computer to see meaning in the Bible. It literally takes years to mark up the Bible with all that data. But it’s worth it. Now you can search the original languages for a meaning—like the figurative use of “brother” as opposed to the literal, or like the most frequent subjects or objects of a given verb. And that means you can execute more targeted searches, with fewer but more accurate results. You can find what you need to find in your Bible study. [Read more…]

How to Do a Bible Word Study in English the Easy Way

I love writing for sharp readers; they keep me on my toes. And recently, on my post “The Easy Way to Do a Responsible Bible Word Study,” after studying the word hilasterion, one of them presented me with a challenge: [Read more…]

How to Choose Your Next Read

I used to feel a lot of pressure to read must-read books. I felt guilty when I saw books on my friends’ shelves that I clearly should have read by that time. Things like Calvin’s Institutes, and whatever else my more advanced peers in biblical studies had read. I still feel some of that pressure, and I think some of it is healthy.

But then one of my favorite writers, Alan Jacobs, liberated me. He recommended that I drop out of the Vigilant School of the Must-Reads and live my reading life under the sign of Whim. I should read what I want. [Read more…]

How to Use Logos Like a BibleWorks Pro

My first serious Bible software program (December, 2002) was BibleWorks, and as soon as I got it I was hooked. I persuaded dozens of others to get it, and I even became an unofficial BibleWorks trainer for about ten years. I taught multiple whole-Saturday sessions on the software. I still use BibleWorks for one ongoing project. Everyone I knew from the company was a true Christian brother and a class act. I’m genuinely sad to find out that BibleWorks is closing up shop. [Read more…]

The Easy Way to Do a Responsible Bible Word Study

Oh man. They give me these topics sometimes. I’m supposed to make responsible Bible word studies “easy.”

Next week: Middle East Peace Negotiations for Beginners.

But no—we can do this. We can. Because the key word is “responsible,” and that mainly means you avoid claiming more for your Bible word study than your work really justifies. And the best way to do that is to calibrate your expectations beforehand. What are you actually hoping to accomplish from a Bible word study?

These five easy steps will show you both what to expect and how to get there. [Read more…]

What’s the First Thing You Need to Know About NT Greek?

I’m in the middle of a series of posts on learning Greek, and each time I write I find myself wanting to start by holding up a warning sign. Here’s the last one, I promise (sort of): “Greek is not math.”

The first thing you need to know about New Testament Greek is that it was a normal human language spoken by real people in all social strata throughout the ancient Western world during the three centuries on both sides of Christ’s birth. These speakers and their language are now dead, but they left a whole lot of important writing and unimportant writing—which is important. [Read more…]

4 Simple Language Principles That Will Improve Your Bible Study

Learning New Testament Greek is a fantastic idea, and perhaps an intimidating one. I don’t want to add to the difficulty.

And I also kind of do.

I have a suggestion that will help you in the long run: try learning about language more generally before learning Koine Greek in particular. [Read more…]

Should Barbarians Get to Have God’s Words?

Salmon are anadromous.

That’s a $25 word that feels how terms found in encyclopedias are supposed to feel: formal, scientific. It’s in a higher register of English.

But if you know a little Greek, you’ll see immediately that all it means is “running back.” The salmon “run back” upstream to spawn. And it’s not to avoid confusion with American football that we say anadromous instead of “running back”: it’s because in our culture, scientificky terms are supposed to sound highfalutin.
[Read more…]