Many people over the years I’ve seen since beginning my studies into Christianity, refer to the ‘Hebrew Bible’ — i.e. the Old Testament. In contrast, I’ve only seen the term ‘Greek Bible’ (referring to the New Testament) for the first time in the last two weeks. Sometimes, we forget that John never tells us Jesus said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), He tells us Jesus said “ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν”, that is, in Greek. In the last few weeks I’ve begun learning the Greek of the New Testament in order to be able to read the Greek Bible in its original language. And I think this is very important.
I’ve learned a number of things in my studies and as I’ve been understanding all the rules of Greek grammar (variations of the definite article, cases, etc). I’ve seriously expanded my knowledge in one realm of my life I never thought would really change all that much. Besides learning the Greek itself, I’ve discovered a number of very important figures in the scholarship responsible for translating our Bibles into English (such as William D. Mounce), I’ve learned English doesn’t actually come from Latin (even though it borrows a lot from it), and I’ve even learned that many of those physics signs, such as α (alpha), β (beta), γ (gamma), δ (delta), θ (theta), μ (mu) and others all actually derive as Greek letters. Secondly, the Greek Bible wasn’t written in modern Greek, it was written in Koine Greek — that is, the form of Greek that rapidly spread around 300 BC as Alexander the Great started taking over the world and was used up until about 300 AD. The word ‘Koine’ means common, and the reason why we refer to this form of Greek as ‘Koine Greek’ is because it was the common language of much of the world in the age of Jesus, including that of the entire Roman Empire. Jesus’ native language was Aramaic, but he, including his followers, knew Koine Greek, since probably everyone was bilingual at the time (many of whom live in America and Canada may not intuitively know this, since most of us here only speak one language, i.e. English).
However, I think there’s something more important here than all these factoids (such as the fact that our word ‘alphabet’ comes from a combination of the terms alpha and beta, the first two Greek letters), and it’s actually understanding the New Testament and being able to read it as the Evangelists transcribed it. The truth is, there are some good translations out there — some really good translations, in fact, there are translations out there that will be able to make you understand the text of the Bible better than if most people tried to learn and read the Greek of the New Testament for themselves. However, no translation is absolutely perfect, since a perfect translation is impossible between any two distinct languages. Uncovering the New Testament in its original brings you one, important step forwards to understanding the message and advent of Jesus. This is a goldmine for any believer, and it gets even better once you understand that you can only read some of the really advanced and good commentaries out there by knowing Koine Greek (and also Hebrew if you want to read a technical commentary on the Old Testament). So, I’ve decided to take the path of learning Koine Greek, and I invite you to follow me as well on this exciting path.