Greek in the Pulpit – Being Honest With Limitations

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I love this story from David Black and his book, “It’s Still Greek to Me” in warning ministers to not preach making points from the original languages,

“When Harvard presented Andrew Jackson with an honorary doctorate in 1833, Jackson had a small problem. His schooling was meager, and the ceremony was in Latin. To express his thanks, he thundered out all the Latin he knew: “E pluribus unum, my dear friends! Sine qua non! Quid pro quo!” Many pastors have been less honest with their audiences.” – Black, 155

That last sentence really hits home. He prefaces that story by saying, “The most insidious error is to think that one has arrived.” Using original languages in preaching should be done with much caution by the vast majority of preachers. It might be wise to avoid using original languages in the pulpit altogether, except on the rarest of occasions, lest the congregation get the false impression that they will never properly understand scripture unless they learn Greek and Hebrew.

One Response

  1. While some versions of the Bible are obviously better than others, a passage from any version that has been digested in heart and mind, if it has been rethought, reshaped and reinterpreted through a broken heart, can, without a word of Hebrew or Greek, move mountains that are being shouldered by many in the pew.

    But, that is the problem with the evangelical world. We do not see many ministers exposing their souls and spirits that have been pummeled, shredded and weakened by reality, making self be as one with the hearers. What we often see are egos performing for the “we have to look perfect for the world” crowd; and that usually comes out very light, regardless of how often those big and heavy lexicons are referred to.

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