Beware of Fool’s Gold in “Golden Nuggets” From the Greek

We’ve all heard some “golden nuggets” from the Greek (or Hebrew) given by pastors or found in study guides or commentaries. We should be careful that the gold in the golden nugget is not fool’s gold. Consider this discussion in Rodney Decker’s work Reading Koine Greek (Baker Academic).

“We refer to the person/thing to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done as the indirect object. This is usually one word and most commonly occurs (in English) between the verb and the direct object. For example,

Meghan threw Liam an apple.

In this sentence we say ‘Liam’ is the indirect object, because he receives the action (and the apple also). The subject of this sentence (the doer of the action) is ‘Meghan.’ The direct object is ‘apple,’ since this is what is thrown. Consider a variation of this example:

Meghan threw an apple to Liam.

This second sentence says the exact same thing but uses a prepositional phrase (‘to Liam’) instead of an indirect object. English does not have a separate case for the indirect object; Greek does.”

But the inspiration for my thought about “fool’s gold” came from the footnote to this text. Decker continues,

“Would you agree that English is sometimes weird? It can say the same thing two different ways with no difference in meaning. Actually, that is very normal. It is the same way in Greek. Do not try to make every little difference in Greek the basis for some special nuance—a ‘golden nugget.’ As you hear people talking about the Greek NT (whether commentators, preachers, or Bible study leaders), it is often a safe rule of thumb that their reliable knowledge of Greek is inversely proportionate to the number of ‘golden nuggets’ that they find in the text.” (p. 47n.5)

Reading Koine Greek



About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
This entry was posted in Misc. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Beware of Fool’s Gold in “Golden Nuggets” From the Greek

  1. Drewe says:

    Amen! In our quick fix society, we all love ‘one simple trick’ that will make our messages better… Funny, some of the ‘greek’ nuggets I remember from messages of long ago, now that I am studying, are plain scary.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s