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English Grammar to Ace New Testament Greek
By Samuel Lamerson
ZondervanCopyright © 2004 Samuel Lamerson
All right reserved.
Mark 5:2-3 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.
We have a new resident at our house. He was a gift from the local humane society and his name is "Buddy." Buddy is a large, beautiful golden retriever. The problem is that Buddy seems to have been mistreated by his former owner, which has led to certain eccentric behaviors. He has a great deal of difficulty going through doors (a very serious problem for a dog who needs to go outside); he walks around the house most of the time with all the grace of a pig on ice skates, his feet slipping and sliding with every step. Moreover, he is deathly afraid of thunderstorms-a fact that we discovered when we came home to find the cat door torn off its hinges and resting around Buddy's neck like some sort of a square collar. In short, Buddy can be a nuisance, which is, I am sure, why his former owners gave him away.
The man in today's Scripture reading is just such a nuisance. He doesn't know how to act, he won't wear his clothes, he breaks the chains whenever anyone tries to control him. If there was a "human dog pound," he would be there. Instead, he lives by himself, out in the cemetery where no one cares about him. The amazing thing is that Jesus comes and changes everything. With a few words he delivers the man from the grasp of Satan and gives him his life back. The man puts his clothes back on and sits down, and his life is forever altered for the better.
We have kept Buddy, though I have often been tempted (and, yes, have even threatened) to take him back to the pound. I suppose the reason why I have not taken him back to the pound is because he needs us. And in truth we need him to remind us of what God has done for us. He has taken us into his family, and even though we are fearful and less than graceful, and we even break things, he still loves us.
The message of Christianity is that we all belong in the pound. But we have been adopted into the family of God through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us be thankful to God for the ultimate sacrifice of his son, Jesus.
Science fiction author Ray Bradbury, when asked where he comes up with his ideas, refers to his "noun list." He makes lists of nouns and then develops characters, stories, and even novels based on a single noun. You can see that the noun is a very important part of the English language. It is as important, if not more important, in Greek.
The noun, as you may remember from your elementary English class, is a person, place, thing, or idea.
* person: Abraham, John, Matthew, Moses
* place: Nazareth, Bethlehem, Galilee
* thing: sickness, water, hand
* idea: truth, peace, fear
Nouns, then, can name something that you can touch (a door, a person) or something you can only think about (truth, love). Nouns are the backbone of sentences. They are not what make sentences move along (that would be verbs), but they are what does the moving or are moved along. How then are the English nouns like and not like Greek nouns?
Similarities. In Greek the nouns indicate a person, place, thing, or idea, just as they do in English. There are, however, certain important differences in the nouns of these two languages.
Differences. (1) In English most nouns do not have gender. That is, most nouns that do not refer to living beings are neither masculine nor feminine. This is not the case in Greek. Every noun is either masculine, feminine, or neuter. This does not indicate anything about the meaning of the noun; rather, it is simply the way that those who spoke the language thought of these words. You will learn to determine the gender of a noun based on the article that is attached to the vocabulary word when you learn it.
(2) A second difference has to do with a noun's function in the sentence. In English we are able to determine the subject generally because it occurs before the verb.
* John hit the ball. ("John" is the subject; his name occurs before the verb.)
* The ball hit John. ("Ball" is the subject; it occurs before the verb.)
In Greek, by contrast, we are able to tell what function nouns play in the sentence not by their place but by the ending that occurs on the noun. This is what we mean by declension. Greek, unlike English, is a highly inflected language. That means that the reader can tell how a noun functions in a sentence, regardless of where it occurs, simply by its ending. In Greek, nouns are divided into three different classes (called declensions) and each class has its own small quirks. There are several important things to remember:
* A different declension is simply a different way of spelling. It does not affect the meaning of the noun.
* All nouns take the same article. That is, despite the fact that there are three different declensions of endings for nouns, there is only one set of endings (three genders) for the article. Thus, the article will remain constant despite the change in ending of the noun. See chapter 3 on the article.
Excerpted from English Grammar to Ace New Testament Greek by Samuel Lamerson Copyright © 2004 by Samuel Lamerson. Excerpted by permission.
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