Mounce Archive 3 — Does Theology Trump Context When Defining Biblical Words?
Everyone needs a sabbatical once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from Koinonia blog until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some of our favorite and most popular posts for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.
Today's selection from Dr. Mounce's archive is actually a post from the elder Mounce. While Bill was traveling, his father, Robert Mounce, asked a rather interesting question:
"To understand a Biblical word or phrase shall we turn to theology or context?"
Good question. And one that's sure to provoke a conversation about the dynamics between biblical studies and systematic theology.
Read Robert's thoughts and then add your own voice to the conversation in the comments by sharing how you balance context and theology when defining biblical words.
In the first chapter of Revelation, “grace. . . and peace” is sent from three different sources: from God (“the one who is, and who was, and who is to come”), from “Jesus Christ,” and from “the seven spirits before [God’s] throne” (1:4-5). And who are the “seven spirits?” That‘s the question.
The customary answer is, “The Holy Spirit, of course.” The Trinity is expected because “Father, Son and Holy Ghost” is such a well- known ecclesiastical expression. However, the three-fold designation, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” occurs only once in the entire Bible (Matt 28:19). The question is, to understand a Biblical word or phrase shall we turn to theology or context?
William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.
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