5 Reasons to Check Out Noet’s Black Friday Sale


From November 27 through November 30, you can save up to 33% on select Noet Bloomsbury Academic resources. Featuring expert scholarship, commentaries, original-language texts, and translations these collections and bundles provide the ultimate opportunity to engage with classical antiquity. If you’re interested in the philosophy, literature, or history of ancient Greece and Rome, this is the sale for you! Check out all deals right now.

Here are five reasons to study with Bloomsbury Academic resources:

1. Delve Into Philosophy

Humankind has always been inquisitive, striving to understand the meaning of life, the nature of knowledge, the mysteries of love, and more. During this search for answers, philosophies have been developed, debated, and defended. This centuries-long debate continues to this very day.

Bloomsbury Academic offers the best in philosophy resources. Looking for a thorough introduction to the philosophy of the ancient world? The eight-volume Bloomsbury Academic Philosophy Collection guides you through the major philosophers and worldviews of the ancient world—Platonism, neoplatonism, stoicism, Epicureanism, and skepticism—and how they continue to impact Western thought today. Even if you don’t agree with the philosophies, exploring their arguments can help you strengthen your own beliefs, sharpen your critical thinking skills, and illuminate the diverse worldviews that exist today.

Interested in a particular philosopher? Bloomsbury Academic offers collections of Plato’s dialogues and Aristotle’s works. Each collection features scholarly introductions, annotated texts, and select translations, helping you engage with these great minds like never before.

2. Understand the Cultural Climate of the New Testament Era

The New Testament came together at a time when diverse cultures, worldviews, and philosophies were in collision. Biblical writers, such as John and Paul, lived within this time and often wrote in direct response to the different beliefs they encountered. By understanding the world they lived in, you can better understand what they wrote. The 10-volume Bloomsbury Academic Greek and Roman Studies Collection delivers a wealth of information about life in ancient Greece and Rome—the diverse religious beliefs, traditions, classes, and politics—helping you understand the cultural context of early Christianity.

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Imagine reading the timeless works of Homer, Sophocles, and Herodotus in their original Greek.

Bloomsbury Academic’s Beginning Greek with Homer equips you to study Greek while reading one of the inaugural works of Western literature—the Odyssey. This guide begins with the Greek alphabet and translation exercises, then takes you through the epic poem in 25 sections.

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How Should Κοινή Greek Be Pronounced?

Man pronouncing letters

I’m going to give you two sets of overlapping opinions on this issue, one set you should listen to and then my own set.

This post is aiming mostly for the person who has no opinions on the issue, and was only dimly aware that opinions existed. You need to know there’s disagreement, and you need to have a basic grasp of why that is.

An Accredited Opinion

For a fully accredited opinion, let’s turn to trained linguist, long-time Greek teacher, published grammarian, and author of an excellent first-year grammar, the late Rod Decker:

The pronunciation of Greek in its various historical stages is debated by scholars. Several proposals have been made. This textbook provides two choices. One is a form of what is called Erasmian pronunciation. This is usually selected for its pedagogical value, not for historical purposes. Some form of Erasmian pronunciation is fairly standard in academic circles. It is not what Greek sounded like in the Koine of the first century, but it has the pedagogical advantage of distinguishing vowel sounds, many of which have similar pronunciations in other systems. Some people think Modern Greek pronunciation should be used to teach Greek, but that is anachronistic and certainly not accurate, though it may be closer to Koine than Erasmian. Others have proposed what is probably a fairly accurate reconstruction of first-century Koine. One of the better-known proposals is Randall Buth’s “Reconstructed Koine” (for further information on this system, including audio material, see his Biblical Language Center). That would be a better option than the modern system, and your teacher may prefer that you use it. If so, see the alternate pronunciation given in chapter 1 along with whatever supplemental materials your teacher may provide.

For students learning to read Koine Greek for academic or ministry purposes, pronunciation is mostly (but not entirely) a convenience. Personally I use a traditional Erasmian system, freely acknowledging that it is not an accurate representation of exactly what Jesus and Paul sounded like when they spoke Greek. If you were learning to speak Greek (either Koine or modern), then pronunciation would obviously be far more important.

Linguists such as Geoffrey Horrocks have done unbelievably detailed work in diachronic linguistics (tracing the form of a language through time) to figure out what the predominant Κοινή pronunciation rules were in given time periods. But Decker basically argues that pedagogical and ministry purposes trump strict accuracy, and I think his advice is sound. That’s a big reason Erasmian pronunciation has stuck around since Erasmus: it has demonstrated its utility, given the church’s most common purposes for learning Greek. Decker contributed to a (pricey) book of essays called Linguist as Pedagogue which deals in greater detail with the issues involved in teaching Greek.

An Overlapping Opinion

Now my idiosyncratic, loosely accredited opinion. By reading on, you agree to the terms and conditions associated with loose idiosyncratic accreditation.

Other things being equal—and they’re not—I would tend to prefer to pronounce μονογενής the way John did and δικαιοσύνη the way Paul did. I think there may be hidden value for textual criticism in the careful study of pronunciation. Just as, to this day, if I produce a typo it’s likely to be a homonym or malapropism of what I meant to say, I believe that some errors of ancient copyists might be more explicable to the amateur textual critic if he or she knew how that copyist pronounced Κοινή.

I also think, though I register Decker’s misgivings (not quoted), that Κοινή Greek should be spoken—or at least read out loud—more often than it is in American classrooms. I think there are hidden benefits for exegesis that come from knowing in one’s bones that Greek Is Not Math.

But there are natural limits to the confidence we can have in the way we’re pronouncing Κοινή. Imagine being a Swahili-speaking scholar in the year 2790, after the Great Conflagration has burned up most English literature. You will be able to provide some answers to the question, “How did English speakers of the 21st century pronounce their O’s and their R’s?” But you may miss out completely on the vocal fry of the Valley girls, the finely articulated drawl of the Charlestonians, and any other kind of dialectical (or idiolectical!) speech that somehow doesn’t survive in archaeological remains.

I applaud those who are resurrecting conversational Κοινή, but at the moment I end up going with my pragmatic American instinct. Erasmian punctuation makes it easier for English speakers, at least, to learn the language, and there are no native Κοινή speakers around to wince or (as the French are famous for doing) look down their noses at our mistakes. If teaching Κοινή Greek as a spoken language takes off, I’ll be glad to amend my opinion. But for now I’ll stick with the tried, even if we know it’s not true.

Greek Is Not Math

shutterstock_229035061 (1)Plenty of Bible interpreters treat New Testament Greek the way my three-year-old girl treats my one-year-old boy: with well-meaning, blundering over-attention that ends up making him cry. Evangelical scholar and linguist Moisés Silva has a hilarious little piece in Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation in which he shows what this over-attention looks like by applying it to English (you just have to read it).

People, Silva says, find a lot of meaning that isn’t there in vocabulary, syntax, and verb tenses. They treat Greek like it’s a math problem: they assume that if they plug in the data and turn the crank they’ll get a definitive answer to whatever interpretive question they’re asking. I’ve heard numerous such exegetes say that Greek is the most exact, unambiguous language ever invented.

Μὴ γένοιτο. I do believe that the Bible gives definitive answers to human questions, but I don’t believe that Greek is math. Koine Greek, like Hebrew and English and Swahili and Old Norse, had to be used by regular people (Koine means “common”) who didn’t have vast education and couldn’t hold on to all the fine shades of meaning often supposed to be hidden in Greek. I’m not saying there are no subtle nuances in the Greek New Testament, only that the path to finding them doesn’t end with parsing and case uses.

Here’s my point: you need exegetical tools that will help you remember that you’re dealing with a human language and therefore achieve the level of interpretive certainty the text actually justifies. We cannot forget that good interpretation weighs various factors; it doesn’t just count them.

Let me make a recommendation if you’re learning Greek: your ears are two of your most valuable tools in language acquisition, and they will help you—on an almost subconscious level—to remember that Greek is a genuine human language and not math. Logos includes easy access to Greek audio pronunciations in several key places where you’ll be working as you learn.

And another recommendation: make general study of linguistics, and study of Greek linguistics in particular, part of your Greek study from the beginning. Some resources I and the other Logos Pros recommend:

Why Do People Learn Κοινή Greek?


One of the things that really fascinated and even awed me after I asked for comments from readers of this Greek email list is that so many of you have taught yourselves Greek.

Now, my experience is not universal, but I judge learning languages on one’s own to be, let’s say, uncommon. When I tell people that I speak Spanish tolerably well, every one of them without exception says, “I took Spanish in high school, but I don’t remember a word of it.” (High school Spanish teachers, could you not at least get hola into their heads?)

I’m in print arguing that the real motivation most people have for learning Spanish, French, German, or Chinese is what sociologists who have studied second-language acquisition call “money.” But knowing Κοινή Greek is unlikely to bring fortune, as I know all too well.

So why do people who are done with school study a language whose native speakers are all so dead? What makes people turn off the TV—a choice that probably ought to be investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee—and instead pull out a Κοινή Greek grammar book? Why do people learn Greek?

Because God spoke it.

Now I know it’s not quite that simple; I’m an ICBI kind of Christian familiar with the necessary theological distinctions. I know that God didn’t dictate the Bible to scribes but used the personalities and experiences and even the literary proclivities of the Scripture writers. I know that at least in books like Deuteronomy he used an editorial process (Moses didn’t write about his own death and burial). I also know that, as the KJV translators said,

The very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession, … containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.

Christians do not view the Bible the way Muslims view the Qur’an—as valid only in its original form. English (and Spanish, and French, and German, and Chinese) versions carry God’s authority.

But people who want to get closer to God, to understand him better, sometimes feel an impulse that nothing but the study of Greek (and Hebrew) can fulfill. They are frustrated when the precise import of a particular turn of phrase in Peter’s second epistle eludes them—because what God says matters to them. And they don’t want to teach the Bible to others without the particular kind of confidence that only comes from parsing the participles for yourself.

Luther took Greek and Hebrew so seriously that he said, “We will not long preserve the gospel without the languages”! In a letter “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools,” Luther wrote,

The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit [Eph. 6:17] is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out [Matt. 14:20], they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall not only lose the gospel, but the time will come when we shall be unable either to speak or write a correct Latin or German.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 360.

I’m wary of claiming too much for Greek and Hebrew, and so is Luther:

A simple preacher (it is true) has so many clear passages and texts available through translations that he can know and teach Christ, lead a holy life, and preach to others. (Ibid., 363)

But Luther’s 500-year-old opinion is still, it seems to me, valid today:

But when it comes to interpreting Scripture, and working with it on your own, and disputing with those who cite it incorrectly…; that cannot be done without languages. (Ibid., 363)

I care about linguistic minutiae in the Greek New Testament, but not as ends in themselves. Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves what our goal is in our work.

New Greek students, remind yourself why you’re slogging.

Experienced exegetes, remind yourself why you slogged.

God has spoken, and it is our privilege and responsibility, we students of the languages, to listen especially closely.49819


If you’re studying on your own and want some help, Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos 6 is now available.

Words of Delight


I have a friend who began college as a religion major because he didn’t know what else to do, but who is now pursuing a PhD in English. He wasn’t much of a reader in high school, kind of a slacker, really—until one day in a freshman Old Testament class he sat transfixed as his professor performed a literary analysis of a biblical text. It was an epiphanic moment: “That’s what I want to do,” he told himself. He had found his true calling, and he now applies his literary skills to everything from the Bible to Kurt Vonnegut. There are massive differences between those two anthologies of literature, of course, but an important similarity: both are in fact literature. Both use literary devices; people can hardly write without them, whether they’re divinely inspired or not.

Leland Ryken’s book
Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible contains foundational words of wisdom for anyone who wants to study Scripture faithfully and carefully using the insights of literary study.

Ryken starts, however, with a complaint:

Traditional biblical scholarship has combined theological and historical approaches. It has been preoccupied with questions of authorship and origin. It has tended to break a biblical text into fragments and has been alarmingly indifferent to preserving the unity of passages. Theological approaches have been preoccupied with reducing the Bible to abstractions and propositions. Historians have been preoccupied with questions of the accuracy of the Bible’s references to events. (20)

Ryken doesn’t deny that questions of theology and history are important when it comes to Bible study, but he proposes that they have tended to obscure a “literary” approach to Bible interpretation, one which recognizes the meaning embedded in literary forms.

A literary approach to the Bible….is concerned not only with what is said but also with how something is expressed. In fact, a literary approach refuses to separate meaning from form (broadly defined). After all, everything that is communicated in a piece of writing is communicated through the form in which it is embodied. (20)

Ryken comes at the study of the Bible from his own field of literature. He is a sensitive reader who discerns literary devices such as metaphor, metonymy, understatement, and zeugma. There is no substitute for reading Ryken’s book, but this very day in your Bible reading you can use the wisdom in this paragraph:

Literature has its own forms and techniques, and its own way of expressing truth. Stories, for example, tell us about life through setting, character, and action. We cannot get the message of a story without first interacting with the settings, characters, and events that make up a story. Poems communicate their meaning through images and figures of speech. As a result, it is impossible to determine the meaning of a poem without analyzing figurative language. A literary approach is thus characterized by a focus on the form and characteristics of a passage as the key to what it says. (20–21)

Words of DelightOne of the strengths of Ryken’s book is that he performs literary analysis of Bible texts “live,” as it were, and one of the first passages Ryken tackles in Words of Delight is the story from Judges of the Israelite hero Ehud and the oppressive Moabite king Eglon. Ryken’s literarily trained eye notices details many other eyes won’t. And isn’t that what we’re interested in as Bible readers? We want every scrap of meaning God has revealed, because even in a story about a fat king being assassinated, God is telling His people something about himself.


If literary analysis is not in your toolbelt, or if you need strategies and examples to help you teach it to others, then I encourage you to buy and read Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible.

How to Avoid the One-Meaning Fallacy

The one-meaning fallacy assumes that every Greek or Hebrew word has only one meaning. Basic translation theory tells us that this is not the case. However, even if you’re aware of this fallacy, you may be using resources that are steering you in the wrong direction.

In this segment from Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos 6, Johnny Cisneros shows you how the one-meaning fallacy can sneak up on you when using Strong’s numbers and how you can avoid it by using additional lexicons. He walks you through each step, using the word kosmos in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15 as an example.


Learn more about this Mobile Ed course and pre-order today to save 57%. Don’t wait—the course is shipping November 19!

Gospel Writing at SBL

Gospel Image

In just over a week I will be heading to Atlanta to attend ETS/SBL for the first time. One of the sessions I’m most excited about is A Dialogue with Francis Watson’s Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective in the Matthew section on the afternoon of November 23 at SBL. Some of the foremost Gospels scholars of our day will be discussing one of the most significant recent contributions to the field.

In contrast to the conventional account of gospel origins that overlooks or undervalues reception, Francis Watson in Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective argues that “a single yet diverse reception process unites initial responses to Jesus by his followers with the articulation of the fourfold canonical gospel, by way of a transmission of tradition in which gospel writing plays a central role. This canonical perspective can accommodate many of the standard account’s individual findings, while relocating them within a fundamentally different and more comprehensive framework” (p. 6). Essentially, this study aims to provide a historical account for the genesis of the canonical gospel (dispensing of the prevailing end-of-first-century terminus ad quem and canonical/noncanonical boundary) that is at the same time sensitive to hermeneutics and theology.

In Part One, Watson first describes how Augustine harmonized gospel differences. Having argued that Augustine’s principles of gospel harmonization shaped subsequent Western understanding of gospel relationships and basically set the canonical gospel up to be dismantled by the Enlightenment, Watson continues on to tease this out with a chapter focused on Lessing and Reimarus. This first part essentially provides a background to how we got to current state of the “synoptic problem.”

Part Two is the heart of the book, and arguing against Q is the heart of Part Two. While he sees the potential usefulness of Q, Watson nonetheless asserts:

[Q] entails a radical reconstruction of Christian origins in which the real, historical Jesus is set in opposition to the canonical gospels, Paul, and the mainstream church. In conjunction with the quest it enables, Q is the definitive expression of liberal Protestant ambivalence toward catholic Christianity (p. 118).

In this section Watson spends two chapters arguing for what is alternatively referred to as the Goulder theory or Farrer theory—that Luke used Mark and Matthew in composing his Gospel (Watson prefers to refer to this simply as the L/M theory).

Subsequent to this detailed argument against Q, Watson reassess the significance of the Gospel of Thomas in light of the nonexistence of Q, arguing that “Thomas preserves certain formal characteristics of the primitive Christian Sayings Collection (SC), a genre that predated the synoptic gospels and that remained important throughout the second century.” (p. 221). Watson’s main contention here is that if Thomas is read in light of its genre, crucial evidence of presynoptic sayings transmission comes to light in a way that legitimizes the replacement of the Q hypothesis by an SC hypothesis, thereby shifting the key to synoptic origins from a hypothetical document to extant noncanonical material. Watson takes a similar approach with the Gospel of John, removing canonical boundaries and bringing noncanonical material brought into play; specifically, he argues for the Egerton gospel as a source for the Gospel of John. Watson concludes Part Two with an investigation of parallel interpretive processes in the gospels attributed to John, Thomas, and Peter to further develop his contention that gospels later deemed noncanonical can help the origin of the four gospels later deemed canonical.

The third and final part of Gospel Writing turns to Watson’s canonical construct. He sees “canonical” as an ascribed status rather than an inherent one; as such, Watson rejects the typical canonical/noncanonical distinction in gospels origin and instead adheres to a precanonical/canonical perspective in which gospels proliferated unchecked in the precanonical phase. Through extensive interaction with the writings of Clement, Eusebius, and Irenaeus, he argues that the fourfold gospel remained a work in progress until well into the fourth century with prior testimony neither clear nor universal. Watson’s masterful study next looks at the fourfold gospel’s practical implications for Origen and then its portrayal in early art and liturgy, before concluding with seven theses on Jesus and the canonical gospel.

Gospel WritingFrancis Watson’s Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective is a must-read for all with academic interest in gospels studies. From the intermediate student (whether formal or self-taught) to the Gospels/NT scholar and everyone in between, there is plenty of stimulating and paradigm- shifting content for all. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to see/hear top scholars in the field interact with this book, especially with the more controversial and ground-breaking conclusions. In the SBL dialogue session with this book, Mark Goodacre will interact with Watson’s contention that an SC hypothesis should replace Q. Richard Burridge will give a paper on the biographical genre of the gospels, and whether this explains their development and their later recognition as canonical. Jonathan Pennington will present a paper in which he has adopted Watson’s canonical perspective, comparing and contrasting Matthew’s view of epistemology with other Gospels (both canonical and noncanonical) as well as SCs. Jens Schroeter will look at what Watson’s perspective means for the Gospel of Matthew in the process of “Gospel Writing.” The session will conclude with a response from Watson and a time of discussion.


Helping Students Keep Up with Greek

Here’s a great question for you Greek students to ask, and a helpful (I hope) answer for you Greek teachers to give. J.H. writes:

I am a second-year student in [a theological seminary] in Nigeria. I am presently taking Greek Grammar 1. My challenge after each lecture is forgetting the endings I learned previously as a result of the ones learnt anew. I would be grateful if you could provide some tips to enable me to keep up.


I’ll give three answers: theological, a practical, and a technical.

1. Theological Answer: Love and Self-Control

Love for something will motivate you in all your learning—love for pleasing your teacher, for besting your classroom nemesis, for impressing a potential mate, for good marks. You should be motivated by the highest and best loves: love of God and neighbor. (See the earth-shakingly good C.S. Lewis essay “The Weight of Glory,” which probes the issue of motivation better than anything I’ve ever read outside Scripture.) Pray for Spirit-filled love for God’s Word and love for the people you’ll serve with your education (Galatians 5:22). Pray also for Spirit-filled self-control in times of drudgery (Galatians 5:23). Interestingly, even the secular language-learning textbook I’ll reference in point 3 spent significant time discussing the “affective domain,” motivations for language learning. Christians, ideally, ought to have the best motivations.

2. Practical Answer: Language and Life

Pedagogical experts have observed that people have different learning styles. But everybody on earth initially learns language—and was designed by God to learn language—the same way: by listening to it being used in daily speech. No two-year-olds have ever successfully been made to learn language via parsing charts. The written form of an established language like English or Koine Greek is going to be somewhat different from the spoken form (we write things we would never say, and vice versa), but don’t let the death of Koine as a spoken language sever the link between Greek and real life. In other words, try to read real-life Koine Greek as soon as possible, to see how it gets used in the New Testament and other Koine literature, even if you have to look up every single word. It will help if you are reading something like the Apostolic Fathers in Greek, which comes with English translation.

3. Technical Answer: How to Learn a Second Language

I am by no means an expert in the process of learning languages, but having acquired a few of them at varying levels of proficiency over the years, I have some reflections. I also did some digging in one of the most recent textbooks on SLA (Second Language Acquisition)—the rigorous Teacher’s Handbook, Contextualized Language Instruction. I could go into a lot of detail, but the upshot dovetails quite nicely with my previous paragraph: language acquisition is “socio-cultural,” requiring a range of competencies that go far beyond memorization of paradigms and declensions. Here’s a line from the book that shows a little of what I mean: “Neither the knowledge of [a grammar] rule, nor the use of the rule when consciously constructing sentences, directly contributes to [language] acquisition—only the repeated use of the resulting utterances serves as the input from which linguistic competence is implicitly abstracted.” (21) Koine Greek is no longer a spoken language (though there are some very interesting attempts to resurrect it as one). But if you can work with a study group, pronounce words out loud, and even try to form sentences of your own, research shows that you’ll come out ahead.


Diminutives and the Nelly Effect


Most people who speak English know that Bobby, Billy, Betsy, and Benjy are all short for something else. Your little Suzy will likely one day outgrow her nickname and revert to the more adult “Susanna.”

But nicknames sometimes go through a reverse process, taking on a life of their own disconnected from their progenitors. Everybody who spoke English in years past used to know that “Nelly” was short for “Helen,” but the connection between the two has weakened: the most prominent “Nelly” today (Google says) has “Nelly” on her birth certificate, not “Helen” (interestingly, she got the name from a Soviet gymnast named Нелли whose parents were very unlikely to know Nelly’s English derivation). The diminutive form “Nelly” has established its own independent existence.

A diminutive is a word or affix that indicates small size or, often, the quality of lovableness or familiarity. “Nelly” and “Suzy” are names you give to a lovable little girl in your family. You don’t call a grown Susanna “Suzy” unless you have established a certain amount of that familiarity.* The diminutive is a term of endearment.

Unless it isn’t. Like with “Nelly.”

So how do you know whether a diminutive in English—or in the Greek New Testament—is a Suzy or a Nelly, a term of endearment or a form that has established its own existence and shed its associations with lovability?

Usage. As in all language, usage determines meaning. If, broadly speaking, “Nelly” is no longer used to express endearment or small size, then it’s no longer a diminutive.

Little Greek Dogs

Finally to the Greek: κύων is Koine for “dog.” It occurs just five times in the New Testament, because (surprise) the New Testament doesn’t talk about dogs very much. But there’s another Greek word for “dog” that appears four times, and it’s a diminutive: κυνάριον.

The -αριον affix is what makes the word a diminutive, just like “-sie” in English turns toe into tootsie, Beth into Betsy. In Greek, an ὄνος is a donkey; an ὀνάριον is a little donkey. A παῖς is a child; a παιδάριον is a little child.

But the Nelly effect is visible in Greek diminutives in the NT: when Peter draws a sword and strikes the high priest’s servant, he cuts off his ὠτάριον. Presumably, grown men in arrest parties in NT times didn’t have cute little ears.

Likewise with κυνάριον: it appears in basically one NT pericope, the conversation Jesus has with the Syrophoenician woman. He says it’s not right to throw the children’s bread to the κυνάριον, and she deftly replies (I’ve always loved this passage) that even the κυνάρια get to eat the scraps that fall off their master’s table (Matt 15:26–27; Mark 7:27–28).

Did Jesus really mean to specify that you don’t throw the kids’ food to little dogs? Maybe. Some interpreters have thought so over the years, and Jesus is surely capable of that kind of subtlety. Maybe he chose that word because littler dogs are likely to be inside homes, not big dogs. But most students of NT Greek today see the Nelly effect here: Jesus is just using an alternate form for “dogs,” with no comment on their size or lovability.

In a helpful and rigorous article in the journal Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics, Jonathan Watt lists a few other “faded” or “bleached” diminutives:

ὀνάριον (“donkey-DIM”), παιδίον/παιδάριον (“child-DIM”), κοράσιον (“girl-DIM”), νεανίσκος (“boy-DIM,” Matt 19:20, 22…), and θυγάτριον (“daughter-DIM”).**

And this is important to more than just Jesus’ conversation about dogs and scraps; it makes a difference—doesn’t it?—if John addresses “my children,” or “my little children” eleven times in his first epistle. People who study Greek do so because they want a greater level of insight into the text of Scripture, or they want to be able to say “Thus saith the Lord” in the pulpit with a greater degree of confidence.

Certain features of a given language wear away over time, like St. Peter’s toe at the Vatican. And some features grow in complexity. Greek is no exception. Watch for the Nelly effect.

*Even the professionals who go by the diminutive forms of their names—such as “Suze” Orman—do so in part (I judge) because they want to establish a girl-next-door familiarity and trust.

**Here’s a direct link if you have BAGL. The “Semantics and Pragmatics of Diminutives” chart in that article is worth the price of the journals. Very interesting.

For those interested in Greek linguistics, senior editor of BAGL Stanley Porter has recently written a collection of essays, Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice. He includes a number of fascinating topics, and ends with exegetical praxis.

5 Reasons You Should Use Pre-Pub


What’s the best way to get the latest Logos resources at the best possible price? By participating in a program called Logos Pre-Publication (Pre-Pub). Here are five reasons to get started.

1. Pre-Pub gives you the best deal

Using Pre-Pub means you get the lowest price. Prices start low and go up depending on what stage of Pre-Pub a book or collection is in. The earlier you pre-order, the more you’ll save.

2. Pre-Pub enlarges the scope of your research

When we ship you a completed Pre-Pub it expands the size of your Logos library, powers core features, and maximizes the potential of software tools. Your new resource broadens the scope of your study immediately—allowing you to incorporate new data that makes your research more comprehensive.

3. Pre-Pub adds titles to your library as soon as they’re ready

All books in Logos go through the Pre-Pub system. Once funded, a book goes straight into production and ships to you when it’s finished. Every pre-order contributes to the book’s production and the faster we receive your orders, the sooner the book will show up in your library.

4. Pre-Pub funds big projects

Whether it’s a commentary series or a or a large reference work, Pre-Pub gathers customers together to fund the production of large works that are indispensable for historical and theological research, as well as better Bible study. Without Pre-Pub funding, many of the most important resources we offer would’ve never been available in Logos.

5. Pre-Pub allows you to order Kent Yinger’s The New Perspective on Paul: An Introduction for just $0.99

Pre-Pub has more than 1,300 products collecting orders. Including commentaries, systematic theologies, and the great books of the Western tradition, Pre-Pub has something for everyone. This year alone we’ve sent more than 29,000 resources into production—so start participating in Pre-Pub today by pre-ordering Kent Yinger’s The New Perspective on Paul: An Introduction for only $0.99.


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Pre-order The New Perspective on Paul: An Introduction for just $0.99 now!