I’m very excited about a new book from Zondervan by Murray Harris. I had Harris at seminary for a class and he was the commencement speaker at my graduation from Trinity. He is a brilliant man with a deep passion for God. The book is Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament. Harris writes,
“I have long believed—and taught—that there are four areas of Greek grammar that produce the most handsome dividends when special attention is given to understanding them. These ‘Big Four’ are the aorist, the genitive case, the article, and prepositions. Of prepositions it has been rightly said, ‘An in-depth knowledge of a language is not attained until one has total mastery of its prepositional system.’” (14)
Based on this appreciation this book is an expansion of a lengthy appendix written by Harris in volume 3 of The New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology edited by C. Brown. Harris considers all 17 New Testament ‘proper’ prepositions and all 42 ‘improper’ prepositions “are briefly treated, with a detailed consideration of seven theologically significant occurrences.” (13) An example of the latter is the discussion below of the much-discussed translation of Luke 17:21, “the kingdom of God is among you.” This book will be of most use to advanced Greek students but pastors will not want to ignore it and can benefit greatly from much of the material. I recently read an author’s discussion of Luke 17:21. I was stunned that he said Bible translators were “misdirecting” people by translating it as among instead of within. He then quite simply stated “entos doesn’t mean among.” I found his treatment superficial and unnecessarily dogmatic. I commend to you this carefully reasoned treatment from Harris. You may not agree with where he lands but at least you will have a good grasp of the issues involved.
“A clear indication of the scholarly uncertainty about the meaning of ἐντός in this verse may be gained from the fact that of the 25 major EVV, ten have a footnote giving an alternative rendering, four give two alternatives, and one (REB) lists three.”
“There are three main proposed rendering of ἐντὸς ὑμῶν.
- “Within you” (KJV, TV, TCNT, Weymouth, Goodspeed, Barclay, GNB, NIV (1983); LSJ 577a [‘in your hearts’]; Robertson 641; Turner, Insights 61-63). ‘Within’ is undoubtedly the essential meaning of ἐντός (see LSJ 577a-b; Mayser 530 for the papyri; and not ἐντός μου, ‘within me,’ is Pss 38:4; 108:22, LXX). But even if ὑμῶν is generic, the primary referent is the Pharisees, and it seems unlikely, in light of Lk 11:37-54 (esp. vv. 52-54), that Jesus is paying them ‘the compliment of allowing that within their hearts too the Spirit and the kingdom were at work’ (Insights 62). And nowhere else does Luke speak of the kingdom as an internalized, subjective reality; people enter the kingdom rather than the reverse.
- “Among you’ (NEB, JB, NJB, NAB (1988), Cassirer, NRSV, REB, NLT HCSB, TNIV/NIV (2011); H. Riesenfeld, TDNT 8:150). BDAG suggests ἐντὸς ὑμῶν ‘is probably after ἐν σοί (= [God] is among you)’ in Isa 45:14 (340d).
- “In your midst” (Moffatt, RSV, NASB (1960, 1995), NAB (1970), ESV, BDAG 350d; H. Riesenfeld, TDNT 8:150). It is true that elsewhere Luke expresses this sense by ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν (as in Lk 22:27; Ac 2:22) but parallels for this meaning of ἐντὸς may be found in SS 3:10 (in the midst of [ἐντὸς] King Solomon’s carriage was a mosaic pavement) and Polycarp, Pol 3:3 (‘If anyone is in the midst of these [faith, hope, love] [τούτων ἐντὸς] = is engrossed in these virtues, he has fulfilled the commandment of righteousness’).
On this third view, which is to be preferred, Jesus is directing a challenge to the Pharisees and soliciting a response. ‘I myself embody the kingdom you are enquiring about (cf. Lk 10:9, 11; 11:20); it is right here before your very eyes.’ He is saying in effect, ‘Look at what lies in front of you,’ to borrow a Pauline expression (τὰ κατὰ πρόσωπον βλέπετε, 2Co 10:7). They do not need to search elsewhere for signs of the kingdom’s presence. (260-61)
Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament is from Zondervan. It is a hardcover with 304 pages and sells for $42.99.
Murray J. Harris is professor of New Testament Exegesis and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Previously he was Warden of Tyndale House, a biblical research library in Cambridge, England. He presently resides in New Zealand.