self-restraint in the synoptics

On the way to the gym this morning, I was congratulating myself on the restraint that I showed at bible study last night.

One of the books I’ve read as part of going to college mentioned that the author would never allow a first year college student to preach. A first year, he says, has their head so full of theological terms that at best, no-one can understand them.

And this has been my issue at times. There’s a danger in having learned so much, that you want to share it with people who really aren’t interested in these tiny details.

I have a habit of using the word “eschatology” whenever I can, in bible study, hoping that people will be comfortable with it by sheer repetition (it’s another word from Greek, and it covers the “end times” or the “end of the world”).

So: my level of self-restraint: instead of using the theological term “synoptic gospels”, I said “Matthew, Mark, and Luke” – same meaning, in this case, but much easier to understand. The “synoptic” gospels are the ones written in much the same way (the fourth gospel, John, has a different approach), and are – some say – all based on Mark, and some additional material common to Matthew and Luke.

The exciting thing, though, was on the way to the gym. I was, as I said, congratulating myself on my self restraint, and thinking about the word “synoptic”.

Suddenly, I realised not just that “synoptic” comes from Greek, but that I knew the words that combine to form the word: syn – σὺν – meaning together with, and optic meaning “eye” (I only know opthalmos – οφθαλμος – so far: there’s probably another word or two that would be a closer fit).

Though I don’t yet have a concise answer to “Why are you studying Greek?”, I think this is part of it: to have a better understanding of meanings – especially in reading the New Testament.

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1 Comment

  1. The sad thing is that I often don’t realise what is “normal” English and what is not! But yes it does get better than it is at first!

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