Learning to Read the “Creature”

I’m learning to read all over again. Phonics, syllabification, accenting – the whole nine yards. For my purposes, learning the Greek language means, primarily, learning to read the Greek language. That’s because I don’t plan on having casual conversations in outdated Koine Greek. Rather, I’m learning Greek in order to read that collection of New Testament books originally written in Greek.

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And so, I practice my reading. Slowly, clumsily, I sound out my words. I feel like a little child. Whatever proficiency I have in reading English seems to have courteously stepped aside in silence, leaving me to engage this unfamiliar “Creature” alone. And the Creature appears to me massive, while full of intricacies: like a living basilica. It is always making sounds, and somehow, though slightly intimidating, the sounds are inviting. They are distinguishable and always attended by a sense of intentionality, but I only partly understand their meanings. I already know enough of the Creature to know it doesn’t mind my current ignorance. It seems happy that I’ve decided to stay and listen.

A friend in my Greek class on Monday told me that he finds such joy in his Greek homework because “it’s the language of the Bible.” He said this with such a sense of wonder, that my inward skeptic, perhaps from nervousness, chuckled a little at what bore the semblance of superstition. But ultimately, his eagerness warmed my heart and drove me to ask myself, “Well, why am I learning this language?” Do I not also believe that there is great value in entering into the original language of the God-breathed text? While meaning can be translated and English Bibles are in a large sense just as much God’s Word, do I not also desire nearer and fresher insights into the minds of the biblical authors by way of the unique flavor of the words in which they penned their inspired thoughts?* Of course I do. And isn’t this vision enough to stir in my heart joyful anticipation as I study vocabulary and countless paradigms? Of course it is. My classmate’s wonder is in fact the very thing I must sustain in myself if I am to succeed in learning Greek this year. Oh Lord, please help me to do so.

The Creature is wild, and largely unknown. But there is nothing to fear. I am loved by the One who spoke it into existence, and though He uses it to speak of His fullness, He is much, much bigger than it.

*I’m still working toward a solid understanding of the doctrine of Scripture (inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy, sufficiency, etc.), especially as it relates to later manuscripts and translations of the Bible. I am aware that my articulation of it here is somewhat vague. I have tried my best to at least keep it from being misleading.

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