The Bible represents the source of spiritual truth for evangelical Christians. The original language of the New Testament was Greek and subsequently was translated directly to English. Therefore, analyzing the original Greek words might be useful to better understand the intent of the New Testament writers.
Teleios studied the utility of interpreting the Greek words in Bible study by analyzing the verbs and nouns in the book of Ephesians 1:1-14 translated from the English King James Version. Two graduate students from Dallas Theological Seminary, who each had completed 3 years of Greek course work, independently analyzed the text by grading the included words using a well-known Greek lexicon, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
The results showed there were 73 verbs or nouns in the 14 verses analyzed. The primary grader found 10 (14%) words for which the Greek definition did not add useful information to the corresponding English word.
In contrast, the Thayer lexicon helped clarify the English word definition in 19 (26%) instances. In 6 (8%) further instances the lexicon added historical information that highlighted the meaning of the English word.
In 37 (51%) additional occasions the lexicon provided a more precise definition to the English word based either on the word’s history (n=7) or how it was used in other verses in the New Testament (n=30).
In one case (1%) the Greek definition provided a plausibly better definition for the word.
The secondary grader disagreed with the first grader’s analysis for 6 (8%) words.
This study showed that using Thayer’s Greek lexicon has multiple advantages in performing consistent Bible study among students including: clarifying or adding historical context to the English term, adding more precise definitions to the meaning, or adding a possible better definition, than supplied in the King James version.
More research is needed to fully understand how to maximize current Bible study tools to gain the most in understanding the Bible.
Other findings from Teleios Research are on our website.
WC Stewart, Z Skarka, E Armstrong, JA Stewart, LA Nelson
About Teleios – Teleios is a non-profit foundation that seeks to demonstrate the truth of scripture and the Christian faith through scientific methods by providing evidence for the positive results of a biblically-based lifestyle. Prior studies conducted by Teleios have shown that the practice of the Christian faith (praise, prayer, fellowship, service and Bible study) and security of salvation increases well-being while reducing guilt.