Exegesis is different to reading NT Greek. While exegesis is an important tool, the ability to read NT Greek provides the reader of the New Testament with insights and benefits that those who only do exegesis can only imagine they have. Here are four key benefits of reading over exegesis.
Word meaning has meaning
Word studies are a source of many exegetical fallacies because establishing the meaning of a word from a lexicon, or worse, from Bible software can pigeonhole your understanding of a word. Words have a lexical range of meanings that will vary based on the context. The same is true in any language.
Not only this, but authors use language differently. Paul uses prepositions differently to Luke. John seems to particularly enjoy the metaphors found in parables. All authors use certain words and phrases to make their point in their own unique way. The problem is that you'll miss the nuances if all you do is word studies.
The ability to read NT Greek allows you to see the different lexical nuances the authors use and how they use the words to compile thoughts and arguments. Sure, a word study will suggest certain word meanings. But, how do you know which one is right without a natural feel for how the language and words work?
Syntax is more than a puzzle
Picking your way through a Greek text of course is about more than just looking up what words mean. But it is also about more than just the tense, voice and mood of a verb too. Parsing verbs and declining nouns are important clues in the text to help us understand the meaning, but too often these are turned into major points of exposition without warrant (I'm sure you've heard someone preach about how the aorist tense is important).
It is more important to see how the different syntactical components work together to create the thought that the author is trying to communicate, than any significance in specific components. This doesn't mean that every jot and tittle is not important – (it is). But the details are like the strokes of the painters brush, they're not the whole picture. Each syntactical element contributes to a larger point. If you're not reading the text, there is a temptation to make too much (or too little) of the syntax.
The ability to read NT Greek helps you to see what is significant and what is not, without having to break out books or look up words.
Original thoughts in their own words
While we are blessed to have so many modern translations to choose from, no translation is a substitute for reading the text in the original language. Translations change words, even within the same context, obscuring the meaning of the text. Sure, you can go to another translation for comparison, but that other translation may have a different translation philosophy which changes some other aspect of the text.
Reading the Greek allows you to simply simply the entire process. Reading Greek enables you to read the original author in the words they were divinely moved to write. Simply put, this makes the original author's intended purpose clearer. In turn, you gain greater understanding of how the text is significant for the original readers, and also for you and those you minister to.
Read NT Greek to slow you down
Western society is all about rushing. So we rush through our Bibles just like we rush through everything else. Because there is a learning curve associated with reading in a different language, this forces you to slow down. This also means that you're forced to analyze words and phrases in new ways.
We are commanded to meditate on the word of God (Josh 1:8), and we are given positive examples of meditation (Ps 1:2). The value of meditation is that not only are you required to memorize the text, but you're repeating it to yourself. This also takes place when you're reading the Greek text directly. You're having to think about the words and syntax and mull over words and their connections in your mind so that you get them right.
Rather than become frustrated by the slow pace of reading, let it drive you to think more richly about the word of God. If you read NT Greek, the slower speed will affect your soul in a positive way as you engage with the text more fully.
Build your intellect
You might be surprised (I am) just how many retirees are learning Greek. One of the great benefits of learning to read NT Greek is that it does challenge your brain to work in ways it is not used to. This has the benefit of creating new streams of activity in your neural systems, keeping your mind active and sharp.
Not only this, but there is a whole realm of material you can engage with if you can read the Greek text. Academic books become more accessible because you understand the Greek words they're using. Even non-academic books become easier, because you become used to reading unfamiliar texts, making many books quicker and easier to read.
These are just a few of the benefits. There are many others which you'll discover as you learn to read NT Greek.
Regardless of whether you've never studied Greek before or if you've been doing exegesis for years, you can learn to read the Greek New Testament fluently. You too can benefit from a richer knowledge of the New Testament, and of Christ.
To find out more about how you can successfully learn to read NT Greek, check out the Master New Testament Greek Mastery Membership. Join the waitlist and receive my free PDF, 7 mistakes people make when they try to learn Greek alone.