Greek seems like a hard language, and you are sure to be put off by the complex presentation of it that inevitably happens at the higher levels of church clergy. But people have been scared away from it unnecessarily. It’s not complex. It was a real language. Real people spoke it.
Hundreds of millions of people put their trust into the work of a handful of men who have been responsible for the transmission of the Scriptures from their original languages. Hardly anyone reads them in the original languages. The thought patterns of the author, the deliberate word choices, and the intentional obscurities of the texts are all but lost and can never be meditated on by anybody.
We are in fact told not to look to closely at original texts unless we are instructed on the “proper” way at a seminary under “qualified” Ph.Ds. Yet which seminary of which sect? And which Ph.D. of which doctrinal bias?
In the case of Islam, a great majority of Muslims read the Qur’an in its original language, or learn to. They will tell us that it must be read in Arabic and that translations are not to be relied upon. They would consider a watered-down paraphrase of the Qu’ran an abomination.
Conversely, a typical clergyman or pastor will tell us that a gross paraphrase of the Bible is “just as good as any other” because after all the “Holy Spirit can use anything”. Laypeople have not realized the amount of trust they have extended to translators. Were the translators being faithful and honest, really? Unbiased? Factual? Lets put forth this question, if Bible translations were labeled this way:
- New International Interpretation
- New Living Interpretation
- King James Interpretation
- Good News Interpretation
- New American Interpretation
- English Standard Interpretation
Would you buy any of them? Would you entrust your life to what you read? Any yet many do, blindly following the advice to “simply trust” that “the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth.”
As was the case with the lawyers, scribes, and religious authorities of Jesus’ time, the Christian authorities today are playing the people with a massive gimmick of “Don’t ask too many questions, just trust us.” It is a gimmick that is worth a lot of money, fame, and accolades. It doesn’t take much (especially these days) to look up in dictionaries and lexicons the words that are consistently fed to us by the grandees. All one has to do is log on to the Internet. I believe this is a noble thing to do. Do not believe everything you hear.
Most, if not all, of the Bible has been defaced and skewed linguistically through heavy religious bias. One good example is 1 Peter 3:7. Greek and Hebrew have no specific words for husband/wife. Occasionally Greek words may have a broad meaning, and the translator must choose, as is the case with sunoikeo. Sunoikeo occurs only once in the NT, in Peter’s exhortation.
sunoikeo συνοικέω 1
I.to dwell together, Plat., etc.; ς. τινί to live with, Aesch., etc.
2.to live together in wedlock, cohabit, Hdt., Eur., etc.; τούτων συνοικησάντων γίνεται Κλεισθένης from their marriage sprang Cleisthenes, Hdt.
3.metaph., ἄχθος ᾧ ξυνοικεῖ the grief with which he is associated, Soph.; so, ς. φόβῳ Eur.; ἡδοναῖς, ἀμαθίᾳ Plat.; ἱππικοῖς ἐν ἤθεσι ξ. being versed in the ways of horses, Eur.
b.reversely, with the thing as subject, γῆρας ἵνα πάντα κακὰ κακῶν ξυνοικεῖ old age with which all evils are associated, Soph.; of the poisoned robe of Hercules, to cling closely, id=Soph.
II. to colonise jointly with, Κυρηναίοισι ς. Λιβύην Hdt.:—Pass., of a country, to be thickly peopled, Xen.
Source: Liddell and Scott. An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1889.
Many times words are just outright changed because they are thought to be “figures of speech”. Maybe the text is a figure of speech, and maybe it isn’t. Translators are no longer translators but interpreters when they change the words. This is why Bible translations are largely speculations and not what’s actually there. Hypotassomenai [G5293], meaning those-being-subject, is a participle verb and not an imperative command. In 1 Pet. 3:5 it is translated correctly, “…those hoping into God, ordered themselves, being subject [hypotassomenai] to their own men.”
It suddenly becomes difficult to argue that something is an imperative command when it isn’t. Take note of how Peter spoke of women and men in the plural, not singular. An accurate, and far less biased translation of 1 Peter 3:1-7 would therefore be this:
Likewise the women, those-being-subject [hypotassomenai] to their own men, in order that even if any are disobedient to the word, through the up-turn of the women, without a word they will be won over having beheld your pure up-turn in fear.
Who should not be the outwardly plaiting of hair and putting around of things of gold, or the dressing of garments of the world…
“Up-turn” comes from the Greek noun 391 anastrophḗ (from 303 /aná, “down to up” and 4762 /stréphō, “turn”) – properly, up-turning. In external Greek literature it means turning back, recourse, etc. (see Liddel).
Peter grouped a bunch of nouns into three symbolic points as seen in bold. Kosmos in this sentence is always interpreted as “adorning” and plugged into the first part of the sentence. But this is the literal reading of the the sentence and it has always confused scholars since kosmos is a nominative noun. The only verb in the statement is to be found at the beginning. It is fascinating that out of 186 instances of the word kosmos in the New Testament, meaning world, this one time we are told that Peter had in mind something totally different. Taking into account the definite articles (the) we can read “the secret” rather than “a hidden” and “the meek, tranquil spirit” rather than “a gentle quiet spirit”:
but rather the Secret Man of the heart, in the incorruptible Meek and Tranquil Spirit, who is before Theos, of great cost.
The men, likewise, dwelling [colonizing jointly] with them, according to knowledge, as to a weaker vessel — to the woman– imparting honor, as also being joint-heirs of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered.
1 Peter 3:7 literal
When it comes to the original, the concepts and thinking of the writers suddenly becomes far less clear. The NT, along with the OT, is a plethora of obscurities hidden from the common man by all who interpret it. Euphony (making it sound good, sensible) is their goal, not translation. Those who really know the languages of the Bible would readily admit they understand a great deal of what is in there, if they were honest. However, in a position of authority or a good paying relgious position it is preferable to them to not be so transparent. Why if the grandee doesn’t have a clue about so many of these texts, how could any lay person? So the game continues—what the lay-person doesn’t know, won’t hurt him.