Biblical Greek in Context

Well, ETS/IBR/AAR/SBL came and went. I did my very best to show restraint when walking through the book exhibits. I think I did a pretty good job for the most part—took home 13 books and only had to buy two of them.

But, Peeters publishing house finally won out in the end. I couldn’t pass up this new volume in the Biblical Tools and Studies series.


Even so, I’m surprised I didn’t buy every volume they had in the series. But, as many of you know, Peeters—though not as bad as Brill—does not sell cheap books. Conference price for this gem was $50. Like I said, though, I couldn’t pass it up. Which brings me to a very important lesson I’ve learned about myself:


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Review of Youngblood’s “Jonah: God’s Scandalous Mercy”

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 8.30.35 AMNew Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has released their newest edition of The Journal of Baptist Theology and Ministry. It includes my review of Kevin Youngblood’s excellent commentary on the book of Jonah. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

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N.T. Wright on the Pericope of the Adulteress

I decided to peruse several commentaries I have on the book of John to see what they have said about the pericope of the adulteress. Do they say it’s original or not, and what are the reasons offered for their decisions?

What I found, as you might have already guessed, is that virtually every single one of them claim that the pericope was a later addition to the Gospel and provide two reasons for this conclusion: 1) it is not included in many of the earliest extant manuscripts of the Gospel, appearing first in the Greek-Latin diglot of the fifth century Codex Bezae and 2) it disrupts the Tabernacles discourse which would be remedied with no lose to the narrative/discourse if omitted.

But, and here’s where one might find himself or herself frustrated to no end, none of these commentaries provide any sustained reason for why or how it interrupts the discourse, only that it does.

I found it interesting, however, that N. T. Wright provides arguments in favor of its omission due to its interruption of the Tabernacles discourse as well as arguments in favor of its inclusion due to the fact that, if omitted, the discourse suffers when interpreters look for a reason for the character change Jesus undergoes later in chapter eight. He writes:

There is a puzzle about this story. It doesn’t really seem to fit here. Chapters 7 and 8—omitting this passage—seem to flow on reasonably well. And, tellingly, the earliest copies of John’s gospel do in fact run straight on from 7:52 to 8:12, missing this story out altogether. At the same time, some manuscripts put it in, but in a different place. Some have it as an extra story after the end of the gospel. Some even place it in Luke’s gospel (and it has to be said that the way the story is told is, if anything, more like Luke than like John). That’s why some translations of the Bible put the story in brackets, or add it to the end as an ‘appendix’.

At the same time, there is something to be said for reading it here, where a lot of manuscripts do have it. John 7 has Jesus teaching in the Temple during the festival of Tabernacles, and the crowds and authorities getting increasingly interested in asking who he is and what he’s about. John 8 has an altogether darker tone, with Jesus accusing the Judaeans of wilfully misunderstanding him, failing to grasp what he’s saying, and wanting to kill him, because they are following the dictates of ‘their father, the devil’. Chapter 8 contains some of the harshest things Jesus is ever recorded as saying. What has happened?

It is as though Jesus has come face to face with the real problem at the heart of the Judaean attitude—to him, to God, to themselves, to their national vocation. We won’t understand the chapter if we think of the Judaeans as simply interested bystanders trying to make sense of a curious teacher newly arrived in town. If we read it like that, Jesus appears irrationally angry and dismissive, and indeed that’s what they seem to have thought too (see verses 48 and 52). John, writing the chapter, is well aware of the impression Jesus was making.

The chapter fits, in other words, with a change of mood brought on by something which has caught Jesus’ attention, and has made him realize just how steeped in their own patterns of thinking his Judaean contemporaries had become—and how devastatingly unlike God’s patterns of thinking they were. So, whether or not the story of the woman and her accusers originally belonged here, it certainly helps us to understand the chapter which it now introduces. The chapter as it now stands begins with people wanting to stone a woman to death; it ends with them wanting to stone Jesus. Perhaps that, too, is trying to tell us something.*

Whatever one concludes about the originality of the pericope of the adulteress to John’s Gospel, it does not suffice to say that omitting the story remedies all problems within the discourse of the Gospel. We should investigate what ties, themes, and elements are developed and strengthened by its inclusion, what elements become more difficult to explain upon its removal, and what elements are easier to explain and make more sense when excluded.

Just because everyone else says it’s so don’t mean you proved it!

Tom Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 11–112.

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Book Announcement

pericopeadulteraeLast April, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a conference on the  Pericope Adulterae. Conference participants discussed whether or not the passage of the woman caught in adultery was original to John’s Gospel or if it was a later interpolation.

I’m pleased to announce that the essays from the conference will be published by Bloomsbury’s Library of New Testament Studies!

The book will be titled The Pericope of the Adulteress in Modern Research and will be co-edited by David Alan Black and Jacob N. Cerone (!). The contents of the volume with their tentative titles are below:

Foreword:  Gail O’Day

Preface: David Alan Black

Introduction: Jacob N. Cerone

Chapter 1: John David Punch – “The Piously Offensive Pericope Adulterae

Chapter 2: Jennifer Knust – ” ‘Taking Away From’: Patristic Evidence and the Omission of the Pericope Adulterae from John’s Gospel”

Chapter 3: Tommy Wasserman – “The Strange Case of the Missing Adulteress”

Chapter 4:  Chris Keith – “The Pericope Adulterae: A Theory of Attentive Insertion”

Chapter 5: Maurice Robinson – “The Pericope Adulterae: A Johannine Tapestry with Double Interlock”

Chapter 6: Larry Hurtado – “The Pericope Adulterae: Where from Here?

Make sure to keep an eye out for its release. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as it gets closer to publication.

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Greek Morphology of the Afternoon

Yesterday I mentioned that the ω and ουσιν endings of the first singular and third plural respectively were not as straight forward as we might like to believe. Instead of overloading the few that made it through the post, I decided to save this discussion for a different day. Today is that day.

Technically, according to Smyth’s Greek Grammar for Colleges, the present active indicative first singular has no ending. This might seem odd since λυω has the stem form λυ. But why the ω? The ω comes from the omicron, the thematic vowel.

Since there is no ending, the thematic vowel, omicron, lengthens, becoming ω. Thus:

λυ + ο + ø ending
λυ + 0
λυω <– lengthened omicron becomes omega

Now that we’ve solved the case of the lengthened omicron, we can turn our attention to the enigmatic ου in the third person plural of λυουσι(ν).

Would it surprise you to know that the third person plural ending is actually νσι(ν)? Here’s how we get λυουσιν:

λυ + ο + νσι(ν)
λυ + ο – ν + σι(ν)
λυ + ο + σι(ν)
λυ + ου + σι(ν)
λυ + ουσι(ν)

When the ν combines with the σ, the ν drops out. Greek makes up for the loss of the ν through compensatory lengthening. Thus, the thematic vowel omicron becomes the diphthong ου.

The more you know!

(nb: The original third plural ending was οντι and is retained as such in Doric Greek. In Attic Greek, τ very often becomes σ. Thus, οντι becomes ονσι, which drops the ν because of the νσ combination, and then lengthens the thematic vowel to ου and producing the final form ουσιν)

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Greek Morphology Lesson of the Evening

If you’ve learned Greek, you know that the present active indicative paradigm for λυω is:

λυω      λυομεν
λυεις    λυετε
λυει      λυουσιν

You also learned that the ε and the ο are not a part of the “true” person-number endings of the verb.

λυω      λυομεν
λυεις    λυετε
λυει      λυουσιν

(nb: I haven’t bolded the ω and ου because I don’t want to overwhelm you by telling you that more is involved in the formation of those forms. So…just disregard that for now).

Have you ever wondered why we have ει instead of ε for λυεις and λυει?  I, for one, just accepted it as being a part of the person number suffix endings. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Let’s take the third person singular λυει for example. It comes from the verb λυω, which means that the stem of this verb is λυ. But it’s “true” ending isn’t ει. It’s σι. Whence comes σι?

Well, the theme vowel (ε, ο), which comes between the stem and the ending would be, in this example, an ε. This is according to the rule that says ο is the theme vowel when before μ or ν, and an ε before any other letter.

That gives us the following form:

λυ + ε + σι

But Greek doesn’t like having an intervocalic (between two vowels) sigma. Thus, the sigma drops out:

λυ + ε – σ + ι

That leaves us with:

λυ + ε + ι

And, according to the rules of contraction, the epsilon contracts with the iota to form the diphthong ει, giving us the final form:


Stay tuned to find an explanation for why we have ω in the first singular and ουσιν for the third plural.

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Greek Morphology Lesson of the Evening

Have you ever wondered whence comes the nominative singular for ear, οὖς, when the genitive is ὠτός?

Well, with third declension nouns, it is best to find the stem of the word by going to the genitive singular and removing the ος ending. That leaves us with ωτ.

But why the ου and where did the τ go?

Well, when we add the nominative singular ending σ to the τ  on the stem of the word, the τ drops off because the combination τσ is not permitted within Greek. This leaves us with ως. But why ου?

Often, though not always, when a word loses a consonant or consonants, a vowel is lengthened to make up for the loss. This is called compensatory lengthening. Thus, ως becomes οὖς.


ωτ + ς [stem + ending]
ω – τ + ς [stem – τ (because dentals and sibilants don’t play well with each other + ending]
ω + ς [stem + ending]
οὖς [stem (compensatory lengthening due to loss of τ) + ending]

ὁ ἔχων ὦτα ἀκουέτω (translated “he who has ears, let him hear”)

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