Full Text for Homiletics 2- Volume 20 - How do you do exegesis with little or no Greek? (Video)

Homiletics 2 File 20 Professor Carl Fickenscher II Question by: Nick >> NICK: Okay. I hope I'm not admitting something too scandalous here, but what if a guy isn't too confident of his Greek or doesn't know it at all? I'm not saying that's me, of course. Oh, well, okay. What do I do, then? Do I go to commentaries instead? >> PROF. FICKENSCHER: Well, Nick, I appreciate your honesty, and all of us would probably confess that we're not as good in Greek as we would like to be. As I said before, there certainly are a lot of things that you really can do, but let's say, for example, that you're not even able to use the Greek alphabet, so even looking things up alphabetically is not possible for you. It's still better to wait on those commentaries a little bit longer. Here in Step 6, there are some tremendously important insights that you can discover just from the English. Step 6 is to compare parallel passages and conduct word studies. Parallel passages, of course, are those places where the same text, the same incident, is accounted in more than one book of the Bible. Now, in the case we've been looking at here, the Transfiguration of Christ, the Transfiguration is detailed in all three synoptic gospels, in Matthew, Mark, and in our text in Luke. Before you look at the commentaries and see what they have to say, it's certainly very helpful to look at the other parallel passages, at the account of the Transfiguration in Mark and Matthew. Now, when you do that, what you want to look for particularly is the differences among the various parallels. Some people make this mistake: They assume that when there are parallel passages as in this particular case, three different gospels then even though you're preaching on Luke 9, you're also going to roll into your sermon Matthew 17 and Mark 9, the parallel accounts of the Transfiguration. Now, certainly you want to be aware of every detail that Matthew and Mark add to the full picture of the Transfiguration, because everything they also add to the accounts are true and you don't want to contradict in your sermon on Luke anything that they have said. But really, as you look at the parallels, you're trying to discover what the differences are, and then try to discern why those differences might be significant when you're preaching on this particular text. There are a couple of reasons for that. The simplest reason is that next year, it's very likely that you will choose to preach on the Transfiguration account from Matthew, when the pericopal system moves from year C back to year A, and you don't want to be in the position of having to preach the same sermon year after year after year. No, this year you're preaching on Luke. Next year, if you also preach on the gospel for Transfiguration Day, you want to have a sermon that is different because of the unique elements in Matthew's account, and, the year after that, also in Mark's account. The other reason that it's very helpful to look for the differences is that the particular gospel writer was inspired to pick up particular nuances or particular details of the account that help to advance the theological message that he has been inspired to convey. One example of this, as we look at our text in this particular case, is to notice that the exodon, the departure of Jesus from Jerusalem, is only discussed in Luke's account. Remember we noticed in Verse 31 that Elijah and Moses, with Jesus, are talking about this departure. Now, that is only mentioned in Matthew's account of the Transfiguration, not or rather, in Luke's account of the Transfiguration, not in Matthew's or in Mark's. That would suggest to us that it is a very significant element in what Luke is inspired to present to us in his particular gospel. We've already mentioned in our overall look at the gospel of Luke that Jerusalem is very, very much the focus in Luke's gospel. More so than the other gospels. And this would be an example of that very sort of thing. If you're preaching on Luke's account, for example, as, let's say, you are this year, then it certainly is incumbent upon you to present the Transfiguration as this essential preparation for Jesus' death and resurrection that will take place in Jerusalem. By the way, the other gospel parallels of the Transfiguration have unique elements as well. For example, only in Matthew's gospel after the Heavenly Father has spoken and the disciples have fallen down in fear before Jesus does Jesus say, "Arise. Do not be afraid." Now, there's a real sermon in that, isn't there. That the very same Jesus whom the disciples have now seen in all of his heavenly glory is still the very human Jesus that they have known for these now almost three years of ministry, the same very human Jesus with whom they could be very, very close and have a very personal relationship. So that kind of difference that you would identify in comparing the parallel passages, Matthew, Mark, and here Luke, will give you some very exciting accents for the preaching of the text this particular year. Now, in addition to just the parallel accounts of the same incidents, as we see in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, there are certainly countless other cases where particular words are used in many different scriptural contexts. Here, we're talking about word studies, and this can be done also very effectively just beginning with the English language that you have available. The first and most obvious source for comparing usages of words in various locations would be the marginal notes that you'll find in any excellent study Bible. For example, in my New American Standard Study Bible, in the right hand and left hand margins, the outside margins, it will have notes indicated by lowercase letters that show where other particular phrases or where particular phrases are used in other places in scripture. For example, in our account here, when we begin at the very very first portion of the passage in Verse 28, and some eight days after these sayings, my initial note tells me that the parallel passages are located in Matthew 17:1 8 and Mark 9:2 8. But also if we wanted to see at the end of that Verse 28, about Jesus going up the mountain to pray, well, I have a note here that to pray, Jesus praying, is also discussed in Luke 3:21, Luke 5:16, Luke 6:12, Luke 9:18 and so on. And that would be the case throughout the entire passage. Time and time again, particular phrases or particular elements that occur in other places in scripture are noted. As I said, most good study Bibles have the same sort of device. For the Concordia Self Study Bible, the notes are actually between the two columns, and they work in exactly the same way. That, of course, is your first and best source for doing any kind of word study. Another excellent source and this also is certainly available in English would be a large significant concordance like Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, or this one, Young's Complete Concordance. This works in English, and so by simply looking at the text at hand let's say, for example, if you wanted to look up "departure" in Verse 31 now, let's say that you didn't know that it was exodon from the Greek, you could also still look up the word "departure" and in English, and find other places where "departure" is used in scripture. And as you compare some of those other usages of that simple English word, it might begin to give you the indication that it points to a departure like the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt, the exodus or the exodon that is really behind that word in the Greek. The concordance then, of course, is a way to find where particular words are also used in other passages of scripture. The point in comparing these words in other places in scripture is to see how words are used in different contexts, and you know how often we are able to discern a meaning of a word by the context. We have a context, of course, in our own chosen lesson, but by comparing other contexts, we can see where perhaps there might be a different flavor of the word than we would discern in this one context alone. These word studies can be very, very helpful in answering the questions that remain for us as we have worked through Step 5. And, again, notice we're working with English and we haven't gone to the commentaries for the answers yet. Finally, one more tool for this Step 6 to do the word studies would be actually books that do word studies for us. The two primary texts for this kind of thing would be the classic, the Kittle Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, by Kittle. This is a large multivolume set that is well worth acquiring, if you have the resources to do so. It's also available in good theological libraries. And there is an abridged set of Kittle as well. And then there is a three volume set, which is excellent, the dictionary the New International Dictionary of the New Testament by Colin Brown, editor. This is usually called "Colin Brown," among us. And this will also, like Kittle, look at particular words using the English as the subject headings, and show how those words are used in various places in scripture. And in Colin Brown, for example, it will look at the way the the word is used in classical Greek, which is a little different from New Testament Greek, it will look at the way it's used in the Old Testament in the Septuagint, the Septuagint being the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, and then it will look at how the word is used also in the New Testament. It will give many examples of where this word is actually used and give a little commentary on the use in those particular settings. Colin Brown is excellent, as is Kittle, for an outstanding index which does enable someone who does not have access to the Greek to find the large majority of the words that you would want to track down. Again, the point of all of this, in terms of word studies and looking at concordances for parallel passages, would be to discover how, in different contexts, particular words or, in parallel passages, events are described and used. That is a very helpful step in the process of invention.