Greece, GreeksAid to Bible Understanding
official religion of the empire. This made Greece a part of Christendom.
Today Greece controls a land area of 50,944 square miles (131,945 sq. kilometers) and has a population of 8,612,000 (1966 estimate).
GreedAid to Bible Understanding
Inordinate or rapacious desire; covetousness. Greed can manifest itself in love of money, desire for power or gain, voraciousness for food and drink, sex, or other material things. The Scriptures warn Christians against this degrading trait, and command that they should avoid association with anyone calling himself a Christian “brother” who practices greediness. (1 Cor. 5:9-11) Greedy persons are classed with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, men kept for unnatural purposes, thieves, drunkards, revilers and extortioners, and, indeed, greedy persons generally practice some of these things. If an individual does not turn away from his greediness, he will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) In condemnation of foolish talking and obscene jesting, the apostle Paul commands that fornication and uncleanness or greediness “not even be mentioned among you.” This may mean that, not only should such practices not exist among Christians, but also they should not even be a topic of their conversation, as for the purpose of gratifying the flesh.—Eph. 5:3; compare Philippians 4:8.
BECOMES MANIFEST IN ACTIONS
Greediness will manifest itself in some overt act that will reveal the individual’s wrong and inordinate desire. The Bible writer James tells us that wrong desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin. (Jas. 1:14, 15) The greedy person can therefore be detected by his actions. The apostle Paul states that being a greedy person means being an idolater. (Eph. 5:5) In his greedy desire such a one makes the thing desired his god, putting it above the service and worship of the Creator.—Rom. 1:24, 25.
ALIENATES FROM GOD
Christians have come out from a world filled with all forms of bad conduct. Paul points out that, not only are such things carried on, but they are pursued with greediness, greedily sought after. Persons practicing these things are “alienated from the life that belongs to God.” Those becoming Christians find that Christ their Exemplar was free of such things and hence they must make their minds over, putting on the new Christian personality. (Eph. 4:17-24; Rom 12:2) At the same time they are living among greedy persons of the world and must be careful to maintain cleanness as illuminators in the world.—1 Cor. 5:9, 10; Phil. 2:14, 15.
Greediness for dishonest gain would disqualify a man from being a ministerial servant in the Christian congregation. (1 Tim. 3:8) Since such men are to stand before the congregation as examples, it follows that the principle would apply to all members of the congregation. (1 Pet. 5:2, 3) Especially is this seen to be true in the light of Paul’s statement that greedy persons will not inherit the Kingdom.—Eph. 5:5.
RELATED TO COVETOUSNESS
In the Christian Greek Scriptures the Greek words used for “greediness” and “covetousness” are closely related. Jesus Christ stated that covetousness defiles a man (Mark 7:20-23), and warned against it. He followed this warning with the illustration of the covetous rich man who, at death, no longer had benefit from or control of his wealth and was also in the lamentable state of not being “rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21) Christians are told that their life is “hidden with the Christ” and that they must therefore deaden their body members as respects covetousness, hurtful desire and all uncleannesses.—Col. 3:3, 5.
GreekAid to Bible Understanding
A language belonging to the Indo-European family of languages, the tongue of those believed to have inhabited east-central Asia or west-central Europe. (Hebrew is from the Semitic, another family of languages.) Greek is the language in which the Christian Scriptures were originally written (aside from Matthew’s Gospel, which may have been written first in Hebrew) and in which also appeared the first complete translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, namely, the Septuagint Version.
There are three main types of language: (1) isolating, without inflection of its words, and using such devices as word-order for variety of expression, as does Chinese; (2) agglutinative, making use of separable prefixes, infixes and suffixes, as does Turkish; (3) inflectional, achieving variety in expression by means of stems, prefixes and endings. Greek is an inflectional language.
Little is known of the history of the Greek language prior to 1500 B.C.E. In fact, its history is quite obscure prior to the time of about 1000 B.C.E. Due to isolation caused by geographical divisions, a number of different dialects were forming from what appear to have been the original three dialects, Aeolic, Doric and Ionic. The Attic dialect, of Athens, was a development from these, based chiefly, some authorities say, on the Ionic. Attic was the classical Greek. From 330 B.C.E. to 330 C.E. was the age of koi·neʹ Greek, a mixture of differing Greek dialects of which Attic was the most influential. The synthesis of Koi·neʹ was brought about by the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, in whose army were representatives from all the Greek tribes, and whose conquests caused Koi·neʹ to become an international language. From 330 C.E., when the seat of Roman government was moved from Rome to Constantinople, until 1453, when the Turks captured that city, Byzantine Greek was spoken. Since then, modern Greek has held sway. Some scholars have a different outline of the history of Greek, but it is generally agreed that these were the general epochs.
Koi·neʹ had a very distinct advantage over the other languages of the day, in that it was almost universally known. Koi·neʹ means common language or dialect common to all. How widespread the use of koi·neʹ Greek was can be seen from the fact that the decrees of the imperial governors and of the Roman senate were translated into Koi·neʹ to be distributed over the Roman Empire. Accordingly, the charge posted above Jesus Christ’s head at the time of his impalement was written, not only in official Latin and in Hebrew, but also in (koi·neʹ) Greek.—Matt. 27:37; John 19:19, 20.
Regarding the use of Greek in the land of Israel, one scholar comments: “Although the main body of the Jewish people rejected Hellenism and its ways, intercourse with the Greek peoples and the use of the Greek language was by no means eschewed. . . . The Palestinian teachers regarded the Greek translation of the Scriptures with favor, as an instrument for carrying the truth to the Gentiles.” (Hellenism, Bentwich, 1919, pp. 115-117) Of course, the primary reason for the Septuagint Version was for the benefit of the Jews, especially those of the Dispersion, who no longer spoke the pure Hebrew, but were familiar with Greek. Old Hebrew terms involving Jewish worship came to be replaced by terms Greek in origin. The word sy·na·go·geʹ, meaning “a meeting together,” is an example of the adoption of Greek words by the Jews.
Koi·neʹ used by inspired Christian writers
Since the writers of the inspired Christian Scriptures were concerned with getting their message across with understanding to all the people, it was not the classical, but the koi·neʹ Greek that they used. All these writers themselves were Jews. Though they were Semitic, they were not interested in the spread of Semitism, but in the truth of pure Christianity, and by means of the Greek language they could reach more people. They could better carry out their commission to “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) Also, the Koi·neʹ was a fine instrument by which they could express well the subtle intricacies of thought that they desired to present.
It is easy to see, in reading the Christian Greek Scriptures, that they are based to a tremendous extent on the Hebrew Scriptures and well reflect the thought of these earlier inspired writings. And, under the influence of holy spirit, what the Christian penmen wrote in Greek expressed accurately the revelations opened up by Jesus Christ, at the same time being in harmony with and illuminating the Hebrew Scriptures. Professor A. T. Robertson says: “Westcott has true insight when he says of N. T. Greek: ‘It combines the simple directness of Hebrew thought with the precision of Greek expression. In this way the subtle delicacy of Greek expression in some sense interprets Hebrew thought.’” (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 92) Actually, the Christian writers also influenced the Greek language by bringing in new expressions in order to convey their message of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Koi·neʹ was a development from the classical Attic Greek. While Attic Greek contained many vernacular expressions, the Koi·neʹ added a great many more, making it more cosmopolitan, simplifying the grammar, and so forth. While avoiding the artificial and pedantic style of some of the classical writers, the penmen of the Christian Greek Scriptures nevertheless used many classical words. They rose, in their use of koi·neʹ Greek, in dignity and restraint, far above the common trivialities and vulgarisms of the everyday Koi·neʹ in the nonliterary Greek papyr, found mostly in Egypt. Professor Robertson comments particularly on Luke and Paul and says of the latter: “That Paul could use the more literary style is apparent from the address on Mars Hill, the speech before Agrippa, and Ephesians and Romans.” (Acts 17:22-31; 26:1-23) He says also, “Take the parable of the Prodigal Son, for instance. In literary excellence this piece of narrative is unsurpassed.”—Luke 15:11-32.
Therefore the inspired Christian writers gave to koi·neʹ Greek power, dignity and warmth by reason of their exalted message. Greek words took on a richer, fuller and more spiritual meaning in the contexts of the inspired Scriptures.
All present-day European alphabets stem either directly or indirectly from the Greek alphabet. However, the Greeks did not invent their alphabet; they borrowed it from the Semites. This is apparent from the fact that the Greek alphabetic letters (of about the seventh century B.C.E.) resembled the Hebrew characters (of about the eighth century B.C.E.). They also had the same general order, with a few exceptions. Additionally, the pronunciation of the names of some of the letters is very similar; for example: alʹpha (Greek) and ʼaʹleph (Hebrew); beʹta (Greek) and behth (Hebrew); delʹta (Greek) and daʹleth (Hebrew); and many others. Koi·neʹ had twenty-four letters. In adapting the Semitic alphabet to the Greek language, certain Semitic consonants were allotted to vowel sounds.
STYLE OR METHOD OF WRITING
Greek began first to be written from right to left, as Hebrew still is today, and then alternately from right to left and from left to right, back and forth from line to line, just as a farmer plows his field. Later, all lines were written from left to right as in English today. Sometimes, also, in the beginning, the lines were written either from the bottom of the page upward or from the top downward, but gradually all lines came to be written from left to right successively from the top to the bottom.
The Greek vocabulary is quite abundant and exact. Sufficient words are at the Greek writer’s disposal enabling him to make fine differentiation and to convey just the shade of meaning that he desires. To illustrate, the Greek makes a distinction between ordinary knowledge, gnoʹsis (1 Tim. 6:20), and intensified knowledge, e·piʹgno·sis (1 Tim. 2:4), and between alʹlos (John 14:16), meaning “another” of the same kind, and heʹte·ros, meaning “another” of a different kind. (Gal. 1:6) Many English words have incorporated Greek as well as basic roots, resulting in making the English language more precise and specific in expression.
Nouns are declined according to case, gender and number. Related words, such as pronouns and adjectives, are declined to agree with their antecedents or that which they modify.
Generally koi·neʹ Greek is shown to have had five cases. (Some scholars enlarge this to eight.) In English there is usually no change in form for nouns except in the possessive case and in number. (Pronouns, however, are subject to more changes.) But in Koi·neʹ each case usually requires a different form or ending, making the language much more complicated than English in this respect.
In English there are both a definite article (“the”) and an indefinite article (“a,” “an”). Koi·neʹ Greek has but a single article ὁ (ho), which is in some respects the equivalent of the definite article “the” in English. But concerning this feature of Greek it is said that nothing is more native to or inherent in Greek language than the use of the article, and that to discuss it exhaustively would fill a book; also that “the development of the Greek article is one of the most interesting things in human speech.” (A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 754) In this regard Greek stands in striking contrast with two of the languages quite close to it, Sanskrit and Latin, neither of which has the article. Also, whereas the English definite article “the” is never inflected, the Greek article is inflected as to case, gender and number, just as the nouns are.
By means of the article, the specific is set apart or differentiated from the general or adjectival. For example, at John 1:1, the word the·osʹ, “god,” in its first occurrence in the verse, has the article before it. This distinguishes it from the same word the·osʹ without the article in its second occurrence. A literal English translation of the Greek reads: “In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word.” (ED) The first the·osʹ here, having the definite article, obviously refers to Jehovah God the Creator. But the second the·osʹ has no article in Greek. In the English translation, the indefinite article “a” is supplied where no article appears in the Greek. Since, in Greek, the anarthrous noun (noun without the article) can be general or adjectival, the second the·osʹ here is rendered in modern translations as “the Word was a god [general]” (NW) or “the Word was divine [adjectival]” (AT; see also Mo).—Compare The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures.
The Greek article is used not only to set off substantives, as with English, but also with infinitives, adjectives, adverbs, phrases, clauses and even whole sentences. The use of the article with an adjective is found in the Greek at John 10:11, where the literal rendering would be: “I am the shepherd the fine