Greek (TR) New Testament Verbs

Yes, I am back from the dead, literally after a 2 years time off. Having gone through some hard lessons, the most Job-like situations, yet praising not just in those trying of my faith issues, but FOR them. I had a lot to learn – God’s grace is more real than ever, and HE has increased my faith as never before. I did lose most of my life the way it was (don’t ask why, I am a sinner, a lot was me, and some was God’s learning stool in the corner. I look forward to sharing what I feel the Holy Spirit has commutated to me, then was lead to understand and verify in GOD’S HOLY WORD. It is God’s Word alone that counts, not a man’s reasoning. Therefore, I am not talking a relations from God, we have all we need in His book. I am speaking about understanding much more about the Greek verbs, which are much deeper than two or even 4 years of academic teaching. What a pity that we love the titles of men, producing professional leaders, which was NOT what Jesus did. Even Paul had to be re-educated for the new mystery that God would reveal, the church as found in the Scriptures. This is nothing new, simply rediscovering that which had been taught for centuries before when HE was preeminent, and we were Bond-Salves, unlike today where we are so self-serving that even the ministry is filled with leaders, to be seen of men, rather than foot-washers to serve the flock. We must dig deep, not live with 30 minute teachings, which display how self-centered we have become, from Doctors who have been taught doctrines of demons. You must learn to fish for your-self, stop simply regurgitating simplistic teachings, but go onto the meat of God’s Word.

As for this tool that I am presenting to help in this endeavor, using e-Sword (free) online software, you can break down the Greek verbs found in the e-Sword Bible section, called the “KJV+TVM” (stands for “Tense,” “Voice,” and “Mood” of TR Greek verbs), and in the e-Sword Dictionary section, called just “TVM.”

These 2 modules can be obtained (free) from me. Simply put TVM in the subject line to my personal email at:; and I will send it. The TVM found in the “KJV+TVM” Bible is in BRACKETS (Strong’s Greek word numbering system are in parentheses) is in are the TVM to be defined in the “TVM” Dictionary.

If you have problems I will leave my personal cell in the return email (I am in an location where I cannot have a cell Mon-Fri; 8am to 5pm; Central Time.) I can also send you Zip files of everything below and more.

I am having email problems, so remember, “Perseverance is one of the strongest acts of faith.”) Screen Shots below as well as other helps.

Grace & Pease to you, Brent Lyle Bolin

Greek Grammar – Verb Index

A Simple Look

In Greek, time does bear upon the meaning of tense, the primary consideration of the tense of the verb is not time, but rather the ‘kind of action’ that the verb portrays.

Present Tense 
The present tense usually denotes continuous kind of action if in imperative, subjunctive, and optative).

It shows ‘action in progress’ or ‘a state of persistence.’ When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time – it is currently happening.

Perfect Tense 
The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect. In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.

Imperfect Tense 
The imperfect tense shows continuous or linear type of action just like the present tense. It always indicates an action continually or repeatedly happening in past time. It portrays the action as going on for some extended period of time in the past. 

Aorist Tense 
The aorist is said to be “simple occurrence” or “summary occurrence”, without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the ‘punctiliar’ tense. ‘Punctiliar’ in this sense means ‘viewed as a single, collective whole,’ a “one-point-in-time” action, although it may actually take place over a period of time. In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense.

The mood of a verb has to do with the statement’s relationship to reality.

The indicative mood is the only mood conceived of as actual while with the other three moods (imperative, subjunctive, and optative) the action is only thought of as possible or potential.

Indicative Mood 
The indicative mood is a statement of fact or an actual occurrence from the writer’s or speaker’s perspective. Even if the writer is lying, he may state the action as if it is a fact, and thus the verb would be in the indicative mood. It may be action occurring in past, present, or future time.

Imperative Mood 
The imperative mood is a command or instruction given to the hearer, charging the hearer to carry out or perform a certain action.

Subjunctive Mood 
The subjunctive mood indicates probability or objective possibility.

Optative Mood 
The optative is the mood of possibility, removed even further than the subjunctive mood from something conceived of as actual. Often it is used to convey a wish or hope for a certain action to occur.

Voice indicate who is doing the action.

Active Voice 
Grammatical voice indicates whether the subject is the performer of the action of the verb (active voice), or the subject is the recipient of the action (passive voice). If the subject of the sentence is executing the action, then the verb is referred to as being in the active voice.

Passive Voice 
Grammatical voice indicates whether the subject is the performer of the action of the verb (active voice), or the subject is the recipient of the action (passive voice). If the subject of the sentence is being acted upon, then the verb is referred to as being in the passive voice.

Middle Voice 
The Greek middle voice shows the subject acting in his own interest or on his own behalf, or participating in the results of the verbal action. In overly simplistic terms, sometimes the middle form of the verb could be translated as “the performer of the action actually acting upon himself” (reflexive action).


Present Tense:            Continuous Action (Never stops)   

The present tense represents a simple statement of fact

or reality viewed as occurring in actual time.  In most cases 

this corresponds directly with the English present tense.

Some phrases which might be rendered as past tense in English

will often occur in the present tense in Greek.  These are

termed “historical presents, ” and such occurrences dramatize

the event described as if the reader were there watching the

event occur.  Some English translations render such historical

presents in the English past tense, while others permit the

tense to remain in the present.

Present Tense with the indicative mood represents contemporaneous action, as opposed to action in the past or future. In moods other than in the indicative mood, it refers only to continuous or repeated action.

Perfect Tense:             Action Completed in the Past (With results in the Present)

Certain antiquated verb forms in Greek, such as those related to seeing (eidw) or knowing (oida) will use the perfect tense in a manner equivalent to the normal past tense. These few cases are exception to the normal rule and do not alter the normal connotation of the perfect tense stated above.

The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in

English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been

completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be


Jesus’ last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI (“It is finished!”)

is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense,

namely “It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely,

once and for all time.”

Certain antiquated verb forms in Greek, such as those related

to seeing (eidw) or knowing (oida) will use the perfect tense

in a manner equivalent to the normal past tense.  These few

cases are exception to the normal rule and do not alter the

normal connotation of the perfect tense stated above.

Second Perfect Tense:

The second perfect is identical in meaning to that of the

normal or “first” perfect tense, and has no additional effect

on English translation.  The classification merely represents

a spelling variation in Greek.

Imperfect Tense:         Continuous Action in the Past Time

The imperfect tense generally represents continual or repeated

action.  Where the present tense might indicate “they are

asking, ” the imperfect would indicate “they kept on asking.”

In the case of the verb “to be, ” however, the imperfect tense

is used as a general past tense and does not carry the

connotation of continual or repeated action.

Pluperfect Tense:       Punctiliar Action in Past with Results Continuing in the Past

The pluperfect tense in Greek occurs rarely.  It corresponds

in a single Greek word to the sense of the English pluperfect,

which indicates an event viewed as having been once and for

all accomplished in past time.  In contrast, the perfect tense

reflects the final completion of an action at the present

moment described.

In translation the Greek pluperfect may not always follow the

rendering of the English pluperfect, due to excessive wordiness.

The English pluperfect is normally formed with the past tense

of the “helping” verbs “to have” or “to be, ” plus the past

participle, e.g., “He had finished.”   The English perfect

is formed by the present tense of the helping verb plus the

past participle, e.g., “He has finished.”

Second Pluperfect Tense:      

The second pluperfect is identical in meaning to that of the

normal or “first” pluperfect tense.  It has no additional

meaning or effect on English translation, and merely reflects

a spelling variation in Greek.

Future Tense:             Continuous Action in the Future

The future tense corresponds to the English future, and

indicates the contemplated or certain occurrence of an event

which has not yet occurred.

Second Future Tense:

The “second future” is identical in meaning to that of the

normal or “first” future tense.  The classification merely

reflects a spelling variation in Greek of the “first future”

tense, and has no effect on English meaning beyond that of the

normal future.

Aorist Tense:              Action Occurred in the Past (“Once & for all”) to connote certainty

The aorist tense is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar

action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without

regard for past, present, or future time.  There is no

direct or clear English equivalent for this tense, though it is

generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations.

The events described by the aorist tense are classified into a

number of categories by grammarians.  The most common of these

include a view of the action as having begun from a certain

point (“inceptive aorist”), or having ended at a certain point

(“cumulative aorist”), or merely existing at a certain point

(“punctiliar aorist”).  The categorization of other cases can

be found in Greek reference grammars.

The English reader need not concern himself with most of these

finer points concerning the aorist tense, since in most cases

they cannot be rendered accurately in English translation,

being fine points of Greek exegesis only.  The common practice

of rendering an aorist by a simple English past tense should

suffice in most cases.

Second Aorist Tense

The “second aorist” tense is identical in meaning and

translation to the normal or “first” aorist tense.  The only

difference is in the form of spelling the words in Greek, and

there is no effect upon English translation.


Active Voice:             Subject Causes the Action (Object Receives Action)

The active voice represents the subject as the doer or

performer of the action.  e.g., in the sentence, “The

boy hit the ball, ” the boy performs the action.

Middle Voice:             Subject & Object Receives the Action

The middle voice indicates the subject performing an action

upon himself (reflexive action) or for his own benefit.  E.g.,

“The boy groomed himself.”  Many verbs which occur only in

middle voice forms are translated in English as having an

active sense; these are called “deponent” verbs, and do not

comply with the normal requirements for the middle voice.

Passive Voice:            Subject Receives the Action (Object Causes Action)

The passive voice represents the subject as being the

recipient of the action.  E.g., in the sentence, “The boy was

hit by the ball, ” the boy receives the action.

Middle / Passive Voice: When a “Deponent Verb,” form, is almost always translated as being in the active voice.

Many of the so-called “deponent” verbs can have either a

middle or passive form.  These are normally translated as

having an active voice, since they have no active form in

their outward spelling.  At times, however, they retain their

middle or passive significance.

The middle voice of active verbs If an active verb was used in the middle voice, a complete vocabulary or dictionary will list the middle forms with the corresponding translation in the same entry. A general formula like “The subject does something in his/her/its own interest” will often point you in the right direction, but beware: read the next paragraph.

Middle Deponent Voice:

The middle deponent forms in almost all cases are translated

as being in the active voice.

Passive Deponent Voice:

The passive deponent forms in almost all cases are translated

as being in the passive voice.

Middle / Passive Deponent Voice:

The middle or passive deponent forms in almost all cases are

translated as being in the active voice.

MOOD ________________________________

Indicative Mood:        Mood of Certainty (A Reality) – The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact. 

if an action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it will be

rendered in the indicative mood.

The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact.  If an

action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it will be

rendered in the indicative mood.

Subjunctive Mood:     Mood of Probability (Tentative Potential)

The subjunctive mood is the mood of possibility and

potentiality.  The action described may or may not occur,

depending upon circumstances.  Conditional sentences of the

third class (“ean” + the subjunctive) are all of this type, as

well as many commands following conditional purpose clauses,

such as those beginning with “hina.”

Optative Mood:          Mood of Wishing (A Possibility)     

A Wish that Implies a “Contrary to Fact Subjunctive”

                                    (something you wish, but know is impossible)

The optative mood is generally used in the so-called

“fourth-class” conditions which express a wish or desire for

an action to occur in which the completion of such is

doubtful.  By the time of the New Testament, the optative mood

was beginning to disappear from spoken and written Greek, and

such rarely occurs in the New Testament.

In a few cases, verbs in the optative mood stand apart from a

conditional clause to express the strongest possible wish

regarding an event.  The most common of these appears in the

phrase “mh genoito” (AV, “God forbid”; NKJV “Certainly not”).

Imperative Mood:       Mood of Command (Continued Commitment, a Command)

The imperative mood corresponds to the English imperative, and

expresses a command to the hearer to perform a certain action

by the order and authority of the one commanding.  Thus,

Jesus’ phrase, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” Mr 1:15

is not at all an “invitation, ” but an absolute command

requiring full obedience on the part of all hearers.

Infinitive Mood:         

The Greek infinitive mood in most cases corresponds to the

English infinitive, which is basically the verb with “to”

prefixed, as “to believe.”

Like the English infinitive, the Greek infinitive can be used

like a noun phrase (“It is better to live than to die”), as

well as to reflect purpose or result (“This was done to

fulfil what the prophet said”).

Participle Mood:       

The Greek participle corresponds for the most part to the

English participle, reflecting “- ing” or “- ed” being suffixed

to the basic verb form.  The participle can be used either

like a verb or a noun, as in English, and thus is often termed

a “verbal noun.”

Imperative Sense Participle Mood:

This reflects a Greek participle which implies that a command

to perform the action is implicit, even though it is not

outwardly or directly expressed.

Impersonal Mood:

The impersonal mood is used only in a few verb forms which do

not conjugate in the full sense.  The most common of these is

the Greek word “dei, ” which is most often rendered “it is

necessary” or “one must.”

Imperative Sense Participle Mood:

This reflects a Greek participle which implies that a command

to perform the action is implicit, even though it is not

outwardly or directly expressed.

NO TENSE_OR VOICE__________________

In a number of places certain verbs are cited in Perschbacher’s

“The New Analytical Greek Lexicon” which do not have any tense

or voice directly stated.

In almost all of these cases, one can assume that the tense is

Present and the voice is Active, especially when the sense is

that of a command (Imperative).


First-Person:              Applies to the Speaker (“I” – “We”)

Second Person:           Applies to Person Hearing that Meet Conditions (“You”)

Third Person:             Applies to (“He” – “She” – It / They)


Singular Number:       Applies to a Specific Person

Plural Number:           Applies to All

OTHERS ________________________________

Adjective:                    Defines (Modifies) a Noun

Adverb:                       Defines (Modifies) a Verb


Brent’s Teaching Notes

In Koiné Greek, verbs ending in “oo” indicate that what is already on the inside is then displayed on the outside (which is not the same as asserting that what is seen on the outside creates what is on the inside, in fact it is antithetical to this).  Due to not being aware of this Greek grammatical principle divisions have been created within the English speaking church, to the extent that denominations have been severed concerning such teaching as “works as a part of faith,” as opposed to “faith alone” regarding salvation, as well as the Christian walk.

(Examples used: Jas_2:21; Rom_4:3-5; Mat_17:2;  Joh_1:14;  Eph_3:16 )

One of the main texts that have been used to assert that works are necessarily a part of faith is taken from James 2:21, which would appear to indicate that Abraham was saved not by faith alone, but when works were added, as seen in:

Jas_2:21 ~ “Was not Abraham our father justified  [Greek: dikaioo] by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar”

James is not saying that Abraham’s works made him justified before God, but that Abraham’s works were the outside manifestation of what had already taken place on the inside, Abraham was already justified by God prior to this event.

In this passage, James is referring to Abraham’s offering of Isaac as proof of his faith which is referred to in Genesis chapter 22, when Abraham was over 125 years old, perhaps even 130 years old (making Isaac at least thirty years old, and as far as some topologists are concerned, Isaac would’ve had to been thirty-three years old to fit the typology of Christ’s crucifixion).  Yet, we understand that Abraham’s saving faith in which God counted it “for righteousness” occurred over at least forty years prior to this as recorded in:

Gen_15:6 ~ “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Therefore, it is impossible for James to be stating that Abraham was saved by faith when he offered up Isaac more than forty years after Gen_15:6, which is when he displayed saving faith (in which God counted it as righteousness) by believing God’s promise concerning becoming a mighty nation, by first having a physical son of his own.  What is easily understood especially in light of the Greek grammatical principle concerning Greek verbs ending in “oo”, is that James is stating that what was already on the inside of Abraham, saving faith in God, was fully displayed in the act of him being prepared to take the life of his son according to God’s direction. 

This also clears up the misunderstanding that somehow presupposes that James teaching on faith is opposed to Paul’s teaching on faith.  By example, Paul states in: 

Rom_4:3-5 ~ “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth [Greek: dikaioo] the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”   

Here, Paul is quoting from Gen_15:6, when Abraham was around 85 years old, and is being justified according to his faith by God.  Paul uses the same Greek verb for justifieth, indicating that he then was exercising that faith that had already dwelt on the inside concern in God and his promises.  We must remember that it was God that ten years before had instructed Abram to leave his home and relatives to go to a new land that God would later show him.  Abram delayed his departure until his father had died (according to Stephen ~ Acts 7:4), then disobeyed God by taking his nephew Lot with him.  So though Abraham had faith in God, it had not matured to the place of confidence that would mandate obedience.  Yet, the scripture is quick to tell us that it was his belief in God’s promise, not Abram’s works wherein God saw his heart and imputed righteousness to him.

We understand that justification is God’s declarationthat a person be treated as if he is innocent of the charges made against them.  It is a declarationof immunity, being acquitted, not a pronouncement based upon evidence, but in spite of it.  In reference to justification, Paul declares in:

Rom_4:1-8 ~ “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Therefore, what James says in Jas_2:21 & Jas_2:23; agrees with Paul says in Eph_2:8-9; whereas James states that Abraham displayed (What was on the inside was exhibited on the outside) his saving faith by his work (Deed), of trusting God when he was preparing to present his son as a sacrifice, this was 40-50 years after he was already saved by his faith in God as recorded in Gen_15:6 (Paul states in Rom_4:3; 4:9; Gal_3:6, that Abraham received his salvation when he first exercised faith back at Gen_15:6).

Another example concerning Greek verbs ending in “oo“(which indicate that what is already on the inside is then displayed on the outside) can be found concerning the Transfiguration of Christ as recorded in:

Mat_17:2, regarding the Transfiguration of Christ, where the word: transfigure (Greek: metamorphoo), means to change the appearance or form, yet it does not denote the change of the substance of that thing, but simply its appearance (with the use of this word, transfigure, we are forced to focus on Christ’s physical appearance). And with the verb utilizing the “oo,” ending we further understand that the change referred to here is to display the radiance of his glory physically, exhibiting what is already on the inside, to the outside, which is Christ’s Divinity in visible form.

Joh_1:14, which speaks about Jesusincarnation, states that he tabernacled (Greek: skennoo), also translated: “dwelt among us.” As seen from above, with this Greek verb (such as tabernacled) ending in “oo“, it indicates that “what is on the inside is displayed on the outside.” The verb is used here concerns Jesus being made flesh, in regards to Him displaying in His behavior (on the outside ~ in regards to the use of the word tabernacled among men, we are forced to focus Christ’s behavior), that which had already existed in His essence, His Holiness as the only begotten Son of God, the “Word (Greek: Logos: “the literal communication”) of God, Personified.”

Eph_3:16, concerning the word: strengthened (Greek: krataioo), concerning the believers who have been strengthed on the inside by the Holy Spirit which should be exhibited on the outside. What we must also understand concerning this word, strengthened (noticed that it is past tense in the English), is that in the Greek grammar, it is in the passive voice, meaning that the person receives the power from another, not from themselves; and that it is in the aorist tense, meaning that the action occurred in the past (it occurred “Once & for all.” The action occurred or was made possible when Jesus died on the cross, giving the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to indwell the believers according to salvation as adopted sons of God) and it is in the indicative mood, meaning that it is a complete certainty (A reality ~ it is a done deal, completed). Therefore, with this in mind, what this verse indicates is that by becoming a believer and therefore having the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there is power available to the believer which indwells on the inside and should be displayed on the outside. This is what true witnessing is all about; this is what 1 Peter 3:15 also alludes to.

NOTE: If you use a Greek Parallel Interlinear New Testament, you will notice that the spelling for the verbs referenced above (justification, transfigured, dwelt, and strengthened) in the Greek language do not display two “o,” just one. This is because in a Greek Parallel Interlinear New Testament, the Greek words are combined into cognates and not distinguished individually.  However, if you utilize a Bible Dictionary on Greek (Such as: Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words; Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, Larry Richards;  Jamieson, Fausset, Brown; Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Kenneth S. Wuest; Word Meanings in the New Testament, Ralph Earl; Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible & Word Studies, Spiros Zodhiates), as well as any of the current computer dictionary programs; the spelling of the individual words will be with the double “0” ending.  Thayer’s Greek Dictionary is used concerning the above translation.   

Concerning grammatical reference to the utilization of “oo” in Greek verbs wherein its usage “indicates that what is already present on the inside is then displayed on the outside:” Dr. Wayne A. Barber’s book, “The Surrendered Walk,” page 28 gives reference, as well as other books and manuals which teach Koiné Greek.

It is not saying that there is only an exterior application, but that there is an interior meaning that is expressed in the exterior as well.  It is simply stating the fact that the outside is showing what’s going on the inside.


In Koiné Greek, when two nouns are connected with the conjunctive, and(Greek: kia [G2532]), and ONLY one has the definite article, (Greek) ho [G3588]), while the other noun does not have the definite article; the two nouns are speaking about the same thing in essence, they are referring to the same person or thing; not separate entities.  An example of this can be found in Luke 19:23, which states:     

“…let him deny himself, and [Greek: kia] take up his [Greek: ho] cross daily…” (Luk_9:23)

The definite article can normally be found in one of three different spellings in the Greek; ho, hay, to (Greek: [G3588]), though there are other definite articles which apply as well.  In most cases the definite article is translated into the English: “the,” “this,” “these,” “that,” “his,” “he,” “her,” “she,” “some,” “it;” as well as other pronouns .

And IF these conditions are not met exactly, then the two nouns are NOT the same in essence, and are not synonymous, but separate (example of where the nouns are separate can be found in: Rom_8:17, Act_6:8, ).

Therefore, what this verse is saying is that denying yourself is the same as picking up your cross, the two are the same in essence. Very simply, Christ is defining how we pick up our cross, how we crucify the flesh, how we die to self; which is to done by denying ourselves.   

Another very notable example of this grammatical principal (called the “Granville Sharpe Rule of Greek Grammar”), is found in Eph_4:11, which states: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some(Greek: ho [G3588]), pastors and (Greek: kia [G2532]) teachers.” Therefore, some pastors and teachers referred to here is speaking about the same person who is responsible for both functions, not two separate individuals – these two nouns, pastors and teachers are not two people but one person who holds two functions.

This principle is called the “Granville Sharpe Rule of Greek Grammar.”  See: “AND” in the “Topic Notes” for further proof concerning this.


  • In Koiné Greek, there are 2 different words translated into the English word for another

1). Another, of the same of the same kind.
2).Another, of the same of a different kind.

1). Whereas the Greek word (allos) [G243], translated “another” in the English means: another of the same type.
2).The Greek word (het’eros) [G2087], translated into the English word “another,” actually means: another of a different type.

 An example of this is seen when comparing Joh_14:16, and Act_7:18. The John 14:16 passages states:

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another (allos) Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever”

And Act_7:18, which states:

Till another (het’eros) king arose, which knew not Joseph.”

In the first example, the word for “Another” as in Joh_14:16 means: the same of the same kind, in connecting Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as being of the same essence.

However, the second example of the word “Another”, as in Act_7:18 is an example of: the same of a different kind.  Here, Stephen in giving the Old Testament Bible study, declares that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was not Egyptian (we learn from Isa. 52:4, that he was an Assyrian); he was “another king,” but of a different race.  When Moses speaks about this Pharaoh, it does not give any details as to there being any difference (though the Septuagint and the Talmud state the difference).  Moses states in Exo_1:8:

there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph”      


  • Contrary to Fact Reasoning“: are statements which sound like they are stating if a condition is met, then the result could be obtained as well
  • This is seen in Rom_9:3, where it seems that Paul would trade his salvation for his brothers, the Jews. 

Paul states: “I could wish”: Imperfect Tense (continuous action in past time), Optative Mood (rarely used in NT); the optative mood of a verb that is expressive of a wish that implies a contrary-to-fact subjunctive; something you wish but know is impossible. The grammar implies it is an absolute impossibility.

  • Other examples seen which are not native to the grammar are:
  • Mat_11:14; which seems to state that if they would’ve received the kingdom of heaven, then John the Baptist would have fulfilled the prophecy concerning Elijah. 
  • Heb_6:6, which states: “if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
  • Heb_10:38, which states: “now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”  
  • Other examples are: Mat_6:30; Mat_12:26-27; Mat_24:24; Mar_10:12; Mar_13:22; Luke 11:18-19; Luke 12:26; Romans 8:31; 1 Corinthians 15:13-17; 1Co_15:29; Galatians 2:21; Galatians 4:15; Philippians 2:1; Philippians 4:8…  

These Scriptures are examples of “contrary to fact” (many times the word if is used) reasoning, wherein a contrast is given simply for the sake of the contrast, yet the example is impossible to be fulfilled.  It is a way of arguing a negative that can never be achieved.  It’s like saying if you could hold your breath long enough you could swim with the fishes

      See Conditional Clauses Below (in these “Topic Notes”)


  • Schenectady“: a form of error in statement where the general is misplaced by the specific, or the specific is misplaced with the general


  • Principle of Contradiction“: (i.e. Law of Non-contradiction) involves contradictory statements that cannot both at the same time be true

A person cannot be a believer and a nonbeliever at the same time, however:

  • A person can change from a nonbeliever to a believer, but. 
  • Due to the nature that defines what a believer is (eternally saved is to be “Born Again” Joh_3:3), a person cannot change from a believer to nonbeliever.  The changing is done by God, not by the will of man. 
  • Therefore, if an apostate is a non-believer who at one time intellectually knew the truth, yet chose not to submit to it (then God does not make them born-again – Rom_8:29-30), then they can never become the believer.

A classical Islamic philosop noher, Ibn Sina, once said of the Principle Contradiction: “Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as to be not beaten, and to be burned is not the same as to be not burned.”


  • Post hoc ergo propter hoc“:(Latin) is noted as a classical error in Reasoning or Logic and also in the discipline of Critical Thinking (all diverse sub-forms in philosophy), which is referred to as a Logical Fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) which states, “Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one.”

It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause, coincidental correlation or correlation not causation. It is subtly different from the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc, in which the chronological ordering of a correlation is insignificant.

Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection. Most familiarly, many superstitious beliefs and magical thinking arise from this fallacy.

The form of the post hoc fallacy can be expressed as follows:

·  A occurred, then B occurred.

·  Therefore, A caused B.

·  When B is undesirable, this pattern is often extended in reverse: Avoiding A will prevent B.

An example is:

More and more young people are attending high schools and colleges today than ever before. Yet there is more juvenile delinquency and more alienation among the young. This makes it clear that these young people are being corrupted by their education.

A biblical example is:

Where Balak, king of the Moabites said to Balaam, “I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.”  (Num_22:6)

Balak assumed that it was the prayer of Balaam that brought the curse, rather than the fact that God chose to curse those that he had Balaam pronounced a curse upon.  Balaam was not the cause of the curse, simply a fact to display it.  God, and God alone chooses who to bless or curse.


Conditional Clauses

Concerning the use of the word “if,” in the English translation of the Greek New Testament.

To begin with we need to do a little boring grammar introduction in order to fully understand this first word – if, bear with me, there’s a reason (to those students of the Greek language, I am aware that this is rather simplistic; but I don’t want to get too bogged down in the weeds).  In the Greek grammar the words translated into the English words “if” are what are considered conditional clauses, of which there are 4 major types.

  1. If and it’s so; “since,” or “indeed” Rom_6:5; Rom_6:8; Rom_8:11; Rom_8:31; Rom_11:21; 2Ti_2:11
  2. If and it’s not so;
  3. If; maybe it’s so and maybe it’s not so;
  4. If I wish it was so but probably not;

Protasis    In linguistics, a protasis is the subordinate clause (the if-clause) in a conditional sentence. For example in a sentence of the form, “if X, then Y”, the protasis is the X …

Apodosis  In linguistics, an apodosis is the main clause in a conditional sentence. For example in a sentence of the form, “If X, then Y”, the apodosis is Y (expressing the conclusion). …

Conditional sentences are “If …, then …” statements. They make a statement that if something happens, then something else will happen.

The ‘if’ clause is referred to as the ‘protasis‘ by grammarians. It comes from the Greek words ‘pro’ (meaning before) and ‘stasis’ (meaning ‘stand’). So the ‘protasis’ means ‘what stands before’ or ‘comes first’ as far as these two clauses are concerned. The ‘then’ clause is termed the ‘apodosis‘; it is what ‘comes after’ the protasis.

Logical Relationship between Protasis and Apodasis
There are a number of different relationships that can exist between the protasis and apodosis. It is important that you try to distinguish between these relationships for sake of more clearly understanding the text. Please also note that there can be some overlap between these three relationships.

They could represent a Cause-Effect relationship, where the action in the protasis will cause the effect in the apodosis. For example Romans 8:13b, “…but if by the spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.”

They could show a Evidence-Inference type relationship, where the apodosis is inferred to be true based upon the evidence presented in the protasis. This will often be semantically the converse of the ‘Cause-Effect’ relationship. For example 1 Cor. 15:44, “If there is a soulish body, there is also a spiritual one.”

Or, the relationship could be one showing Equivalence between the protasis and apodosis, which is actually a subset of the Evidence-Inference relationship. For example Gal. 2:18, “…if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor.”

Classification of Greek Conditional Sentences
Greek has more ability than English in describing the kind of relationship between the protasis, and the apodosis. It is possible for the writer/speaker to indicate whether the protasis is true or not. Actually they can indicate if they are presenting the protasis as ‘assumed true (or false) for the sake of argument’. In order to indicate this kind of relationship between the protasis and apodosis, Classical Greek traditional had four kinds of conditional sentences, based upon what tense and mood the verb occurs in and upon some helping words. These are much the same in Koine (Biblical) Greek, with slight variations.
(Please see link to the PDF chart below for a detailed description of formation and examples of conditional sentence.)

First Class Condition
– Is considered the ‘Simple Condition’ and assumes that the premise (protasis) is true for the sake of argument. The protasis is formed with the helping word ei (‘if’) with the main verb in the indicative mood <verbs1.htm>, in any tense <verbs1.htm>; with any mood and tense in the apodosis.

Second Class Condition
– Is known as the ‘Contrary-to-Fact Condition’ and assumes the premise as false for the sake of argument. The protasis is again formed with the helping word ei (‘if’) and the main verb in the indicative mood. The tense of the verb (in the protasis) must also be in a past-time tense (aorist <verbs1.htm> or imperfect <verbs1.htm>). The apodosis will usually have the particle <grkmisc.htm> an as a marking word, showing some contingency.

Third Class Condition
– Traditionally known as the ‘More Probable Future Condition’, the third class condition should actually be split into two different categories, the ‘Future More Probable Condition’ (indicating either a probable future action or a hypothetical situation) and the ‘Present General Condition’ (indicating a generic situation or universal truth at the present time). It is formed in the protasis using the word ean (ei plus an = ‘if’) and a verb in the subjunctive mood <verbs1.htm>. The main verb of the protasis can be in any tense, but if the condition is a ‘Present General’, the verb must be in the present tense <verbs1.htm>.

Fourth Class Condition
– Is usually called the ‘Less Probable Future Condition’ and does not have a complete example in the New Testament. The fulfillment of this condition was considered even more remote than the Third Class Condition. It was formed with the helping word ei and the optative mood <verbs1.htm> in the protasis. The apodosis had the helping word an and its verb was also in the optative mood.


The reason this is so very important to the average Bible reader, is because many times when individuals run into the word “if” in the Bible, they misapply the wrong class condition and therefore change the meaning of the passage. 


Expanded Insights into Greek Grammar

Greek Grammar ~ Verbs

         Verbs (3 Kinds)

Verbs are divided into 3 groups: finite, infinitive, and participle

Finite Verbs: (5 elements):

  • Tense (Present – Imperfect – Perfect – Pluperfect – Aorist – Future)
  • Voice (Active – Middle – Passive)
  • Mood (Indicative – Subjunctive – Imperative – Optative)
  • Person (First – Second – Third)
  • Number (Singular & Plural)

Infinitive Verbs:

  • Have No Person
  • Only Singular (No Plurals – Though used with Plural Substantives)
  • Always Neuter (In Gender)
  • Function as Both Verbs & Nouns (Called: Verbal Nouns)
  • Tenses – 4 (present – perfect – aorist – future)


  • The participle is a verbal adjective having tense and voice like a verb, and case, gender, and number like an adjective.  Participles function as adjectives, adverbs, substantives, and verbs.  All articular participles are either adjunctive or substantival, and all adverbial and verbal participles are anarthrous.  However not all anarthrous participles are adverbial,  but may be adjectival, adverbial, substantival, and verbal.  
  • Adjective:  1) The part of speech that modifies a noun or other substantive by limiting, qualifying, or specifying and distinguished in English morphologically by one of several suffixes, such as -able, -ous, -er, and -est, or syntactically by position directly preceding a noun or nominal phrase.  2) Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as white in the phrase a white house.
  • Adverbs:  The part of speech that modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb. Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, such as so, very, and rapidly.
  • Substantives: 1) Expressing or designating existence; for example, the verb to be.  2) Designating a noun or noun equivalent.  3) A word or group of words functioning as a noun.

  • Verbs:  The part of speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence in most languages.  Any of the words belonging to this part of speech, as be, run, or conceive.  A phrase or other construction used as a verb.  The part of speech that expresses existence, action, or occurrence in most languages.

1. Finite Verbs

Tenses: Tense is the most important grammatical consideration in exegesis.  The emphasis is on the kind of action (aktionsart), not the time of action.  Time enters into the meaning of tense, but it is almost always a secondary factor.  In the indicative mood, present tense is indicated by the present tense and past time by aorist or imperfect tense, but the kind of action is the first consideration of meaning.  There are two types of actions (aktionsart):

            1).  Progressive (action in progress) and

            2).  Completed (action completed and certain). 

When a writer does not wish to specify the kind of action but wants instead to focus on the meaning of the verb itself, without reference to the progress or completion of the action, he uses the aorist tense.  Aorist denotes “unspecified” and means simply that the author intended no emphasis on the kind of action.  The aorist tense occurs most often in the New Testament, but has little significance for the exegete.  Only the “happenedness,” or event character, of the verbal action is indicated by the aorist tense. 

Present Tense:     Continuous Action (In the Indicative Mood, Present Time)

When using the present tense, the writer views the action as being in progress.

Present Tense with the indicative mood represents contemporaneous action, as opposed to action in the past or future. In moods other than in the indicative mood, it refers only to continuous or repeated action.

  • Progressive:   This present tense has its focus on the linear progress of the action.  (“I am amazed … you are now in the presence of deserting” – Gal_1:6)
  • Historical:      Past events in the narrative maybe stated in the present tense to make the action more vivid to the reader. (“he saw Jesus … and said ” – Joh_1:29)
  • Indirect

      Disclosure:     In a quoted statement, tense indicates time in relation to the original speaker.  Present tense in a quoted statement, then, needs time present to the speaker (“we thought he                                             was a prophet,”  the original statement in this instance was “he is a prophet”)

  • Gnomic:          That which is axiomatic, or that which usually happens or can be expected to happen, is put in the present to focus on the progress of the action (“a healthy tree bears healthy                                     fruit” – Mat_7:17)
  • Cognitive:       Attempted action is sometimes put in the present (“for which of my miracles are you trying to stone me” – Joh_10:32)
  • Futuristic:      The reference may refer to a future event when the action will occur (“.. If I go .. I will Come” – Joh_14:3) which is beyond doubt, a fact, & presented as such in the present tense.
  • Aoristic:          Sometimes the writer will use the present without any intention of focusing on the progressive action.  He may choose the present because it is the only possible tense to                                            focus on at the present time (“Jesus is healing you right now” – Act_9:34)

Imperfect Tense:  Continuous Action in the Past (In the Indicative Mood, Past Time)

When using the imperfect tense, the writer views the action as being in progress in the past.

  • Progressive:   The imperfect focuses on past action in progress (“he sat there … and watched for a while“)
  • Customary:     The imperfect can refer to a pass custom (“at the feast he used to release … a single prisoner.” – Mar_15:6)
  • Iterative:         The imperfect may focus on the reoccurrence of an action in the past (“they kept on saying, “hail, King!” – Joh_19:3)
  • Inceptive:        The imperfect sometimes focuses on the beginning of some past process (“her fever vanished, and she began to wait on them – “Mar_1:31)
  • Cognitive:       The imperfect can express attempted action in past time, see Luk_1:39.
  • DesiderativeThe use of the imperfect can be a polite way of softening a remark, see Rom_9:3. (“I would not mind hearing the man myself” – Act_25:22)

Perfect Tense:      Punctiliar Action in Past with Results Continuing into the Present

When using the perfect tense, the writer is focusing on the completion of the action and use the results as certain and positive.

The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated. Jesus’ last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI (“It is finished!”) is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely “It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time.” Certain antiquated verb forms in Greek, such as those related to seeing (eidw) or knowing (oida) will use the perfect tense in a manner equivalent to the normal past tense. These few cases are exception to the normal rule and do not alter the normal connotation of the perfect tense stated above.

  • Intensive:        Most often the perfect intensifies or confirms the certainty of the existing result of an action (“stands condemned if he eats” – Rom_14:23)

The perfect always refers to time present to the writer into existing results of a past action. 
The certainty of the existing fact is emphasized.

  • Consummative:    The perfect may focus slightly more upon the completion or consummation of the action, but it is still intensive, see Act_5:28.
  • Iterative:         The completed action may have occurred ever peaked point in time, but it is still intensive, see Joh_1:18.
  • Dramatic:       The perfect they add in tense dramatization to the narrative, see Mat_13:46.

Pluperfect Tense: Punctiliar Action in Past with Results Continuing in the Past

When using the pluperfect tense, the writer is focusing on the completion of action at a point in past time.  The use of the pluperfect can be classified in the same way as the uses of the perfect. The pluperfect Israel or in the New Testament. 

Aorist Tense:        Punctiliar Action (Time can be past, present, or future; generally past)

When using the aorist tense, the writer is not focusing at all on the kind of action.

  • Historical:      This is the tense used for narrative as a matter of course.  The writer uses the arrows when he wants merely to state that something has now, without signifying or                                      emphasizing the kind of action (“he sat down on the right side” – Heb_1:3)
  • Inceptive:        The context may make clear that the writer was focusing on the beginning of an action (“he became poor” – 2Co_8:9)
  • Culminative:   The air roast may have interviewed the end of the action (“you have left” – Rev_2:4)
  • Epistolary:      A writer sometimes took the viewpoint of His reader and considered a future action as past (“he has testified to” – Rev_1:2)
  • Dramatic:       The aorist on a rare occasion expresses a state of mind just reached were a present fact as past (for dramatic effect), see Joh_13:31 & Luk_16:4

Future Tense:      Continuous Action in the Future (On occasion can be punctiliar, it is the only tense that reflects the time of action)

When using the future tense, the writer is expressing primarily future time.

  • Predictive:      Most often the future tense simply focuses on the future occurrence of an action (“he will teach you” – Joh_14:26)
  • Progressive:   Sometimes the context or the verbal idea seem to require that the action be in progress, “I am happy and shall continue to rejoice.
  • Imperative:     The future is sometimes, though rarely, I used to express a command, see Luk_1:13.
  • DeliberativeThe future may be used to ask what ought to be done, see Joh_6:68.

 Voices: Expresses the relationship of the subject to the action.

Voice is the form of the verb which indicates how the subject is related to the action area there are three voices; active, middle, and passive.

Active Voice:        Indicates the Subject Produces the Action, Does the Action

Shows that the subject is himself performing the action indicated by the verb.  The subject either producers, performers, or causes the action.       

Middle Voice:       Indicates the Subject Initiates the Action & Participates in a Result of the Action

Indicates that the subject participates in the results of the action or acts upon himself, for himself, or is in His own interest.  Reflexive pronouns are often used in the translation of the middle into English (“I wash myself“).  The use of the middle voice is quite rare in the New Testament.  (“he went off and hanged himself” – Mat_27:5).

  • Direct              This is basically reflexive in force.  (rare in the NT)
  • Indirect           The indirect middle voice will occur when the subject is acting so as to cause an effect in the subject’s own interest.  This is important because it signifies that the action is closely                   related to the subject, or is related to this subject in some special and distinctive sense which the writer wishes to emphasize (this is the most common use of the middle voice)
  • Permissive      The permissive middle voice may represent the agent as voluntarily yielding himself to the results of the action, or seeking to secure the results of the action in its own interest.
  • Reciprocal      The reciprocal middle voice with a plural  Subject may represent an interchange of effort between the acting agents.

Passive Voice:      Indicates the Subject is Acted upon, Receives the Action

(the forms of which are the same as those of the middle except in the future and aorist tense) is much more common than the middle and indicates that the subject is being acted upon.  The subject receives the action of the verb.  (“he was accused by the Jews” – Act_22:30)

The passive voice represents the subject as being the recipient of the action. E.g., in the sentence, “The boy was hit by the ball,” the boy receives the action.

A verb is said to be deponent (misplaced) if it has an active meaning in context but a middle or passive form.  If it’s aorist has a passive form, a deponent is called a passive deponent; if it’s aorist was a middle form, it is called a middle deponent.

Moods: Expresses the relationship of the action to reality from the speaker’s point of view.

Verbs are found in four moods: the indicative, subjunctive, optative, and imperative.  These are called finite moods because the person is defined by the ending.  Infinitives and participles are also sometimes classified as moods.  Moods indicate the relation of the action to reality as conceived by the speaker or writer.  By using one mood or another, the speaker affirms either the actuality or the possibility of the verb idea

Indicative: Mood of Certainty (A Reality)

The indicative is the mood which affirms actuality or certainty.  It is a mood of simple statements of fact, but is also used in questions and negative statements.

The indicative mood is a simple statement of fact. If an action really occurs or has occurred or will occur, it will be rendered in the indicative mood.

Subjunctive:         Mood of Probability – A Measure of Uncertainty (Probable Reality)

The subjunctive is the mood which affirms objective possibility.  It assumes that a verbal idea is not now a fact that may become one.  The action is possible, but it depends upon certain objective factors.  It is a mood of probability.  It is used in exhortations of the first person (called hortatory subjuntives) as well as in deliberative questions, prohibitions, and conditional sentences.

Optative:               Mood of  Wishing – A Possibility  (Possible Reality)

The optative is the mood of the subject of possibility.  There are strong contingencies as far as the speaker is concerned, but the action is conceivable.  The optative is very rare in the New Testament.  The optative of wish is the most frequent, especially in statements which means something hoped for.

Imperative:          Mood of Command – It Expresses Volitional Possibility (Potential Reality)

The imperative is the mood of command or entreaty.  It is the weakest mood and affirms only pollution all possibility.  The speaker is not saying that something is in fact happening (indicative), or may happen (subjunctive), or could happen (optative), but only that he wants or intends it to happen.  This is a mood used in commands and prohibitions.


First Person         Applies to the Speaker (“I” – “We”)

Second Person     Applies to Person Hearing that Meet Conditions (“You”)

Third Person        Applies to (“He” – “She” – It / They)


Singular               Applies to a Specific Person

Plural                   Applies to All

2. Infinitive Verbs

Infinitives are verbal nouns.  Like verbs, they have tense and voice and may have subjects and objects; like nouns, they have substantive functions and may be themselves subjects or objects of clauses.  Although infinitives are not inflected, they have case relations which may be known by the prepositions which govern them or by the article modify them.  The subject of an infinitive is in the accusative unless the subject of the infinitive is the same as the subject of the main verb.  It may be easier to understand the function in translation of infinitives if we consider that they all refer to the “circumstance” of doing something. 

In any of the uses except indirect discourse, an article in the appropriate case may proceed the infinitive; this article seems to serve no other purpose than to make case relations obvious.  Quite frequently infinitives occur in prepositional phrases with the article so that the proposition strengthens the idea of a purpose, cause, result, or time.

Indirect Disclosure (“he thought the men were chasing Him”)

Complementing Verbs (Infinitives used with verbs of wishing, trying, avoiding, asking, allowing, hindering, being able – “a good tree cannot bear [or, is not able to bear] bad fruit – “Mat_7:18)

Substantival (Rom_13:8; Rom_7:18)

Purpose (“I did not come to destroy” – Mat_5:17)

Result (“…so he can open” – Rev_5:5)

Time (“before they came together” – Mat_9:18)

Cause (“because he knew” – Joh_2:24)

Epexegetical (The infinitive complements adjectives, add verbs, and nouns – “pure religion is this, looking after orphans” – Jas_1:27)

Absolute (This usage is found only in – Heb_7:9)

Imperative (This uses found only in Rom_12:15, Php_3:16, and possibly in Luk_9:3).

3. Participle / Verbs

Participles are adjectives; they describe nouns or pronouns (which may be express or implied).  Participles always agree with the noun or the pronoun modified, so that in the Greek one does not have to guess about which word is being described.  Determine the gender, number, in case of the participle so that you will relate it to the right now were pronoun.

Note the following English sense: hanging in the tree, the man saw the parachute.  If this were Greek, hanging would agree with Peter that man or the parachute, making it clear which one was hanging. 

Participles are also adverbial: they often modified the Main verb of the kernel sentence more than the subject of the verb: while the man was hanging in the tree, he saw another parachute descending (here, hanging limits saw, although it still relates to the man).  As adverbs, participles share the characteristics of verbs and have tense and voice; they may take adverbial modifiers or have a direct object.

In addition to the adjectival and adverbial functions, participles may supplement the main verb in some way: he saw another parachute the sending (dissenting modifies parachute but also supplements saw into notes a state in which perceived).

Written by Benjamin Chapman, Th.M., Ph.D.

                                        Greek Verbs ~ More Insights                        

The GreekVerb, as in English, the verb is the focal point of action. The verb is usually the key word in the sentence and serves as the most important part of interpretation. The verb is a word that describes action or state of being.

As in most languages, the Greek verb has tense, voice, mood, person, and number. The verb must agree with its subject in person and number. For example, if the subject is third person, the verb must be third person.

Tense in English is restricted to the time when the action of the verb takes place. That is, tense is either past (“I wrote”), present (“I am writing”), or future (“I will write”). In Greek, however, tense provides two elements – time of action, and kind of action (also called aspect). With time, the meaning may be either past, present, or future. When kind of action is indicated, it expresses progressive, undefined, or perfected action. Progressive action implies a continuation of action. Undefined action means that the action is thought of as a simple event and says nothing about whether or not it is a process. Perfected action describes the action as having been completed with the result of the action continuing.

No element of the Greek language is of more importance to the student of the New Testament than the matter of tense. A variation in meaning exhibited by the use of a particular tense will often dissolve what appears to be an embarrassing difficulty, or reveal a gleam of truth which will thrill the heart with delight and inspiration….The development of tense has reached its highest in Greek, and presents its greatest wealth of meaning. ‘Among all known ancient languages none distinguishes manifold temporal (and modal) relations of the verb so accurately as the Greek’.6

Voice is that quality of the verb that indicates the relationship of the subject to the action. If the subject does the action, then the verb is in the active voice. In the example “John hit the ball.” Hit is in the active voice because the subject, John, did the action. If the subject receives the action, the verb is in the passive voice. In the example, “John was hit by the ball.” The subject John “was hit” by the ball making the action passive voice. If the action is returning to the subject, then the voice is middle. In the example “John hit himself,” the subject, John, participated in the action, either directly or indirectly.

Mood provides the thought with the aspect of reality. For example, “the child runs,” relates the idea that the child is running in the present. To say, “if the child runs,” relates the idea of the possibility of the child running in the present. Mood represents the attitude of mind on the part of the speaker.” There are two moods in Greek, (1) the real mood – called the indicative; and (2) the potential mood – which includes (a) the subjunctive (may, might), (b) the optative (may –expressing more hesitation than the subjunctive), and (c) imperative (command).

Person provides the thought with whether the subject is speaking (first person – I, we), is being spoken to (second person – you), or is being spoken about (third person – he, she, it, they).

Number – whether the subject is singular or plural. The verb agrees with its subject in person and number.

Written by John Peter Pappas, Th.M, Th.D

Greek Verbs ~ A Short Definition

Just like Greek nouns, the Greek verb also changes form (the Greek ‘spelling’, so to speak). The form changes based upon the subject of the verb and the kind of action indicated. As was mentioned earlier, Greek is a fully “inflected language.” Each Greek word actually changes form (inflection) based upon the role that it plays in the sentence. The stem of the verb shows the basic meaning or action of the word, but the ending (or ‘suffix’) changes to show various details. Not only the ending of the verb may change, but the verb form may have a ‘prefix’ added to the beginning of the verbal stem. Sometimes the actual stem of the verb may change or may add an ‘infix’ to indicate certain other details.

The prefix, suffix, and verbal stem all combine together to define a certain form of a verb. Each verb form indicates a specific meaning.  There are five basic parts (or aspects) that are clearly defined or indicated by every Greek verb form. These five parts are: Person, Number, Tense, Voice, and Mood.  See below for details of these five aspects of Greek verbs.

Grammatical Person of Verbs

There are three main classes of grammatical person in both English and Greek. Person indicates the form of the verb (and also pronouns) which refer to:

1) the person(s) speaking (First Person)
2) the person(s) being spoken to (Second Person) and
3) the person(s) being spoken of or about (Third Person).

For example: “Because I live, you shall live also.” John 14:19b “He lives by the power of God.” II Cor 13:4.

First Person: ‘I live’ – the person speaking (i.e. ‘I’) is the subject of the verb.
Second Person: ‘you live’ – the person being spoken to (i.e. ‘you’) is the subject of the verb.
Third Person: ‘He lives’ – the person being spoken about (i.e. ‘He’) is the subject of the verb.

Grammatical Number of Verbs

The concept of grammatical number is quite straightforward in both English and Koine Greek. It is the property of a verb (and nouns and pronouns also) which indicates whether the reference is to one (singular) or to more than one (plural). (Classical Greek at one time had a ‘dual’ number which made a distinction for ‘two’, besides the customary singular and plural.)

Each grammatical person (First, Second, and Third) can be either singular or plural in number.

For example:

Singular Number: “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life,…shall be able to separate us from the love of God,” (Rom. 8:38-39).

Plural Number: “For we are His workmanship,” (Eph. 2:10a).

    Grammatical Voice of Verbs

Active Voice

Grammatical voice indicates whether the subject is the performer of the action of the verb (active voice), or the subject is the recipient of the action (passive voice). If the subject of the sentence is executing the action, then the verb is referred to as being in the active voice.

For example: “Jesus was baptizing the people” (paraphrase of John 3:22; 4:1,2). “Jesus” is the subject of the sentence and is the one that is performing the action of the verb; therefore the verb is said to be in the “Active Voice”.

Passive Voice

Grammatical voice indicates whether the subject is the performer of the action of the verb (active voice), or the subject is the recipient of the action (passive voice). If the subject of the sentence is being acted upon, then the verb is referred to as being in the passive voice.

For example: “Jesus … was baptized by John in the Jordan” (Mark 1:9). “Jesus” is the subject of the sentence, but in this case He is being acted upon (i.e. He is the recipient of the action), therefore the verb is said to be in the “Passive Voice”.

Middle Voice

The Greek middle voice shows the subject acting in his own interest or on his own behalf, or participating in the results of the verbal action. In overly simplistic terms, sometimes the middle form of the verb could be translated as “the performer of the action actually acting upon himself” (reflexive action).

For example: “I am washing myself.” “I” is the subject of the sentence (performing the action of the verb) and yet “I” am also receiving the action of the verb. This is said to be in the “Middle Voice”. Many instances in the Greek are not this obvious and cannot be translated this literally.

Verbal Moods

The aspect of the grammatical “mood” of a verb has to do with the statement’s relationship to reality. In broad terms, mood deals with the fact of whether the asserted statement is actual or if there is only the possibility of its actual occurrence. “Whether the verbal idea is objectively a fact or not is not the point: mood represents the way in which the matter is conceived” (Dana & Mantey). If the one asserting the sentence states it as actual, then the mood reflects this, regardless of whether the statement is true or false.

The indicative mood is the only mood conceived of as actual while with the other three moods (imperative, subjunctive, and optative) the action is only thought of as possible or potential.

Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is a statement of fact or an actual occurrence from the writer’s or speaker’s perspective. Even if the writer is lying, he may state the action as if it is a fact, and thus the verb would be in the indicative mood. It may be action occurring in past, present, or future time. This ‘statement of fact’ can even be made with a negative adverb modifying the verb (see the second example).
This is in contrast to one of the other moods (see below) in which the writer/speaker may desire or ask for the action to take place.

For example: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.”  Rev. 12:11 “God is not mocked.” Gal. 6:7

Imperative Mood

The imperative mood is a command or instruction given to the hearer, charging the hearer to carry out or perform a certain action.

For example: “Flee youthful lusts.” 2 Tim. 2:22

Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive mood indicates probability or objective possibility. The action of the verb will possibly happen, depending on certain objective factors or circumstances. It is oftentimes used in conditional statements (i.e. ‘If…then…’ clauses) or in purpose clauses. However if the subjunctive mood is used in a purpose or result clause, then the action should not be thought of as a possible result, but should be viewed as a definite outcome that will happen as a result of another stated action.

For example: “Let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Heb 10:23

“In order that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church…” Eph 3:10

Optative Mood

The optative is the mood of possibility, removed even further than the subjunctive mood from something conceived of as actual. Often it is used to convey a wish or hope for a certain action to occur.

For example: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thess 5:23

Verb Tenses

Time & “Kind of Action” in Greek Verbs:

In English, and in most other languages, the tense of the verb mainly refers to the ‘time’ of the action of the verb (present, past, or future time). In Greek, however, although time does bear upon the meaning of tense, the primary consideration of the tense of the verb is not time, but rather the ‘kind of action’ that the verb portrays. The most important element in Greek tense is kind of action; time is regarded as a secondary element. For this reason, many grammarians have adopted the German word ‘aktionsart’ (kind of action) to be able to more easily refer to this phenomenon of Greek verbs.

The kind of action (aktionsart) of a Greek verb will generally fall into one of three categories:

1) Continuous (or ‘Progressive’) kind of action.
2) Completed (or ‘Accomplished) kind of action, with continuing results.
3) Simple occurrence, (or ‘Summary occurrence’) without reference to the question of progress.

(This is sometimes referred to as ‘Punctiliar’ kind of action , but it is a misnomer to thus imply that, in every instance, the action only happened at one point of time. This can be true, but it is often dependent on other factors such as the meaning of the verb, other words in the context, etc.).

It is an important distinction to understand (and it will be discussed more fully later) that the only place in which ‘time’ comes to bear directly upon the tense of a verb is when the verb is in the indicative mood. In all other moods and uses the aktionsart of the verb tense should be seen as primary.

Present Tense

The present tense usually denotes continuous kind of action. It shows ‘action in progress’ or ‘a state of persistence.’ When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time.

For example: “In Whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.” Eph 2:22.  “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” Heb 10:25

Aorist Tense

The aorist is said to be “simple occurrence” or “summary occurrence”, without regard for the amount of time taken to accomplish the action. This tense is also often referred to as the ‘punctiliar’ tense. ‘Punctiliar’ in this sense means ‘viewed as a single, collective whole,’ a “one-point-in-time” action, although it may actually take place over a period of time. In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense.

For example: “God…made us alive together with Christ.” Eph 2:5

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phil 1:6

Imperfect Tense

The imperfect tense shows continuous or linear type of action just like the present tense. It always indicates an action continually or repeatedly happening in past time. It portrays the action as going on for some extended period of time in the past.

The idea of continual action in the past does not apply when the verb “to be” is in the imperfect tense. There it should be considered a simple action happening in past time, without regard to its “on-going” or “repeated happening” in the past.

For example: “For you were once darkness, but now light in the Lord.” Eph 5:8

Perfect Tense

The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on, in full effect. In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.

For example, Galatians 2:20 should be translated “I am in a present state of having been crucified with Christ,” indicating that not only was I crucified with Christ in the past, but I am existing now in that present condition.

“…having been rooted and grounded in love,” Eph 3:17

Future Tense

Just like the English future tense, the Greek future tells about an anticipated action or a certain happening that will occur at some time in the future.

For example: “We know that if he is manifested, we will be like Him, for we will see Him even as He is.” 1 John 3:2

Pluperfect Tense

The pluperfect (‘past perfect’) shows action that is complete and existed at some time in the past, (the past time being indicated by the context). This tense is only found in the indicative mood and is rarely used in the New Testament.

For example: “…and they beat against that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” Matt 7:25

Future Perfect Tense

There is also a future perfect tense in Greek which is very rare in the New Testament. It is only formed by periphrasis in the New Testament is much like the past perfect, only the completed state will exist at some time in the future rather than in the past.

Non-Finite Verb Forms

A participle is considered a “verbal adjective”. It is often a word that ends with an “-ing” in English (such as “speaking,” “having,” or “seeing”). It can be used as an adjective, in that it can modify a noun (or substitute as a noun), or it can be used as an adverb and further explain or define the action of a verb.  For example: Adjectival use: “The coming One will come and will not delay.” Heb 10:37
Adverbial use: “But speaking truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things.” Eph 4:15

The Greek infinitive is the form of the verb that is usually translated into English with the word “to” attached to it, often used to complement another verb. It can be used to function as a noun and is therefore referred to as a “verbal noun”.

For instance, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). In this sentence, the words “to live” are an infinitive in Greek and are functioning as the subject of the sentence (a noun).

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Greek Grammar – Nouns


Modern Greek has four cases:

Nominative, for subjects of sentences
Genitive, denoting possession.

Accusative, for objects (direct & indirect) of sentences.

Dative, for indirect objects, instruments of action, and other uses.

Vocative, for calling (usually we call people, but every object has a vocative case  it might be a character in a story).

Case: Greek is an inflected language; nouns have about 8 forms to indicate relationships to other nouns in sentences, which consist of 4 singular & 4 plural.  Subject-object relationships are shown by case, not by word order as in the English.  

Nominative Case:     

  • Subject  The most common reason for the normative is to indicate the subject of a sentence (“fear seized everyone” – Act_2:43)
  • Pedicate  … always takes the normative (“the Word of God” – Joh_1:1)
  • Apposition  Any case may take another noun in the same case to describe it further . The two nouns are considered equal, such as, “Philip the evangelist.”
  • Address  The case she used for addressing all nouns is the vocative.  Only the singular as a separate form and is rare.  Thus the normative singular and plural are often used for the vocative.
  • Appellation  The normative may be used for names when they are being indicated – Act_7:40.
  • Exclamation  Short exclamations are in normative – Rom_7:24.
  • Absolute  Rare, a word will up here in the normative with no apparent connection to the rest of the sentence – Mar_1:1.

Genitive Case:

  • Possessive  The person to whom something belongs is put into the genitive.  This stresses the person rather than the thing, as in Mat_18:8.  It defines or describes by showing whose something is (“those who belong to Christ” – 1Co_15:23)
  • Partitive  The genitive can indicate the whole of which something is a part (“some of the scribesMar_2:6)
  • Subjective  The genitive is used for the subject, or doer of action implied by a noun of action (“lust of the flesh” – 1Jn_2:16),  and also: (“baptism as a result of repentanceMar_1:4),  The subjective genitive can be difficult to distinguish from the possessive genitive.  Probe the context for the author’s focus)
  • Objective  The genitive is used for the object, or received of action implied by a noun or adjective (“the message about the cross” – 1Co_1:18)
  • Absolute  Very frequently a noun or pronoun in the genitive with a participle in the genitive will have no apparent grammatical relationship to the rest of the sentence.  The genitive noun should then be translated as the subject of a dependent clause, “We shall live if God wills.
  • Verbal Object  Many verbs of emotions, sensation, sharing, ruling, etc. take their objects in the genitive case (“the dead will hear the voice” – Joh_5:25)
  • Material or Contents  The contents or material of which something is made are in the genitive ( “the net containing fish” – Joh_21:8)
  • Qualitative  A quality which could have been ascribed by the use of an adjective might be put in the genitive (“in flaming fire” – 2Th_1:8)
  • Epexegetical  A noun may be in the genitive to explain another noun (“a down payment which is the spirit” – 2Co_5:5)
  • Comparison  The noun or pronoun for which a comparison is made is in the genitive (“stronger than I” – Mat_3:11)
  • Relationship  Relationship can be indicated with the person in the genitive case even though specific words of  relationship is omitted except for its article (“I learned that David the (son) of JesseAct 13:22)
  • Kind of Time  Kind of the time, as opposed to point of time, is given in the genitive (“he came to Him during the nightJoh_3:2)
  • Price or Value  The amount or value of something may be in the genitive (“sold for a pennyMat_10:29)
  • Source  The source of something is given in the genitive (“which you heard from meAct_1:4)

Dative Case:

  • Indirect Object  The more remotely concerned person is in the dative (“he said to them“)
  • Means  A noun in the dative may show the means of a accomplishing some action (“they came by means of a small boat Joh_21:8)
  • Instrument  The dative can show the instrument with which something is accomplished (“he kept slashing himself with stones” – Mar_5:5)
  • Association  The dative can indicate friendly or hostile association with someone (“they are fighting with him“)
  • Location  The place, time, or sphere in which something happens or exists is in the dative (“he will be raised on the third day” – Mat_20:19)
  • Manner  The dative can show the manner in which something is done (“they beat us in public” – Act_16:37)
  • Possession  When possession is shown in the dative, the stress is on the thing possessed (“they did not have a place” – Luk_2:7)
  • Verbal Object  Some verbs take their objects in the dative, particularly verbs of serving, showing, trusting, following, telling to, commanding, and obeying (“Sopater accompanied himAct_20:4)
  • Advantage or Disadvantage  This use of the dative designates the person whose interest is affected (“I determined this for myself” 2Co_2:1)
  • Reference  A noun in the dative is sometimes to be translated (“with reference to …” “he died with reference to sin Rom_6:10) and also: (“has been done by himLuk_23:15)
  • Cause  The cause of an action is sometimes, though rarely, put in the dative (“so they would not be persecuted because of the cross of Christ” – Gal_6:12)

Accusative Case:

  • Direct Object  This is the most frequent use of the accusative (“I see you“)
  • General Reference  The subject of an infinitive, or the person to whom the action refers, is put in the accusative – unless it is the same as the subject of the verb (“I want men to pray,” “I want prayer as far as men are concerned” – 1Ti_2:8)
  • Double  There may be two objects in the accusative (“he will remind you of everything” – Joh_14:26).  An object & a predicate may both be in the accusative (“to give His life as a ransom” – Mar_10:45)
  • Cognate  A direct object with the same meaning as its verb can be in the accusative (“I have bought the good fight” – 2Ti_4:7)
  • Verbal Subject  Some passive verbs retain their subjects in the accusative (2Th_2:15)
  • Extent of Time or Space  The accusative indicates the extent of time or space required by something (“he stayed five days“)
  • Oaths  The accusative is used with the oaths (“I beg you in the name of God” – Mar_5:7)
  • Adverb  The accusative may denote the manner in which something is done (“give as freely” – Mat_10:8)
  • Reference  A noun in the accusative is sometimes to be translated (“with reference to …”) (“with reference to the things that relate to God” – Rom_15:17)
  • Absolute  An accusative is sometimes, though rarely, without apparent grammatical relation to the sentence.  Compare the genitive absolute (“since you are so knowledgeable” – Act_26:3)

Declension: Nouns pattern in three ways which are called declenions; to read Greek, one must be able to recognize the case in each of the three declensions.

Gender: Most nouns of the first declension are feminine.  Most nouns of the second declension (-oz) are masculine; the third declension -on may be masculine, feminine, or neuter.  The gender of all nouns is indicated in the lexicon by the presence of the: ovfor masculine, hvfor feminine, or tovfor the neuter article.

Vocative: When addressing a proper noun, the vocative case is used; this bit case form is often the same as the noominative, but sometimes adds -e to the noun stem.   


Verb Endings: Verbs have pronominal suffixes which automatically indicate subjects.  These are called personal endings (variations are caused by contraction with stem vowels).  Primary tense forms are those used with present, future, and perfect tenses; secondary tenses are in perfect, aorist, and pluperfect.

Personal Pronouns: Personal pronouns are used mainly for emphasis or to indicate subjects implied verbs.  The first and second persons (I, you) have a case forms each (4 singular, 4      plural); the third person has 24 forms since the genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter) are indicated.  The third personal pronoun is also used with two other meetings: as an adjective in the predicate position, it intensifies the subject of the verb and means, “self.”  When used as an adjective and the attributive position it means simply “same.”

Relative Pronouns: Who, Which, etc.

Interrogative Pronouns: Who?, What?, etc.

Indefinite Pronouns: Someone, something, etc.  The forms are the same as those given above for the interrogtive pronoun except for the accent.  The indefinite pronoun is enclitic, and usually does not have an accent. 

Demonstrative Pronouns: This, that, etc.

Reflexive & Reciprocal Pronouns: “of one another,” “of myself, yourself, himself”

The preceding was created by Benjamin Chapman, Th.M., Ph.D.

                                 GREEK NOUNS ~ A Short Definition

A noun in the Greek language is viewed just like the English noun. But because Greek is a highly inflected language (i.e. the form of words change to indicate the role each word plays in the sentence), a noun changes forms based upon its relationship to other words and how it functions in the sentence. The stem of the noun contains the basic meaning of the noun, but a suffix is added to indicate the noun’s role in the sentence. The endings are changed according to certain patterns, or ‘declensions’, that indicate what is the number, case, and gender of the noun form. To “decline” a noun means to analyze it and break it down into its basic parts according to number, gender, and case – see below. (‘Declension’ is a subset of the broader term ‘inflection‘, in that it only refers to nouns and pronouns, not to verbs. There are a number of different patterns in which nouns decline; these patterns are referred it using the first and first  to as ‘paradigms’.)

Grammatical Number of Nouns

Number can either be singular or plural. A noun that is in a singular form indicates “only one”. A noun that is in the plural form indicates “more than one.” In English, most nouns change forms depending on whether it is singular or plural. However, some nouns and pronouns do not change form for singular or plural; e.g. “you” – singular, and “you” – plural. The Greek language always makes a distinction between singular and plural forms.

Grammatical Gender of Nouns

Gender, as it relates to nouns and other substantives in the Greek language, does not necessarily refer to “male” and “female”. It refers to grammatical gender, which is determined purely by grammatical usage and must be learned by observation. Although nouns referring to people or animals that are obviously “male” or “female” would normally (but not always) be classified as masculine or feminine accordingly, the gender of most nouns seems to be somewhat arbitrary. Every noun must fall into one of three categories of gender: masculine, feminine, or neuter. The fact of gender, when considering a word in isolation, is of little importance to the student of the Greek New Testament. But in analyzing a sentence as a whole, gender may play a key role, especially when considered along with the adjectives, pronouns, and relative clauses that may be present. Taking note of the gender may alter altogether what a sentence may seem to be saying in English.  For example: “And receive…the sword of the spirit which is the word of God”( Eph 6:17). The word “sword” in Greek is feminine gender and the word “spirit” is neuter gender. So it is important in this sentence to find out what is the antecedent of the relative pronoun “which”. (i.e. What is the “which” referring back to?) The word “which” in this sentence is neuter, therefore it is referring back to the word “spirit” and not “sword.” Thus this sentence means: “And receive…the sword of the spirit which (spirit) is the word of God.”

Noun Cases

The term “case” relates to substantives (nouns and pronouns) and adjectives (including participles). It classifies their relationship to other elements in the sentence. Noun cases are formed by putting the ‘stem’ of the noun with an ‘ending’. The case form is shown by the ending of the word. There are four different case forms in Greek. The four cases are Nominative, Genitive, Dative, and Accusative. Following is a discussion of these four different cases. There is another case not included in the four main noun cases because it is so closely related to the nominative: the Vocative. (Note that in the following definition of each noun case, it only refers to nouns which are not in prepositional phrases. When a noun is the object of a preposition, the preposition usually dictates the case of the noun).

Nominative Case
A noun or pronoun that is the subject of the sentence is always in the nominative case. Likewise a noun that is in the predicate part of a sentence containing a linking verb should also be in the nominative case.  For example: “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph 5:25). The word “Christ” is in the nominative case in Greek and is therefore the subject of this sentence.  Galatians 5:22 says: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, …” As the subject of the sentence, the Greek word for “fruit” is in the nominative case. Likewise the words in the predicate part of the sentence, that are equated to “fruit” by the copulative verb “is”, are also in the nominative case in Greek.

Genitive Case
For the most part, the genitive is often viewed as the case of possession. In more technical terms one noun in the genitive case helps to qualify another noun by showing its “class” or “kind”. The genitive case has more uses than most other cases, but in general a noun in the genitive case helps to limit the scope of another noun by indicating its “kind” or “class”. It is generally translated into English with a prepositional phrase starting with the word “of”. The most common use of the genitive is to show possession (although it does not necessarily indicate actual, literal ownership).

For instance: “the servant of the high priest” (Mark 14:47). The words “of the high priest” are in the genitive case in Greek and modify the word “servant”. (In Greek the word “of” is not present, but it is supplied in English in the translation of the genitive case). Here the genitive helps to qualify “which” servant the writer is referring to. It is helping to limit the sphere of all servants to a particular one. 

And: “But you have received a spirit of sonship…” (Rom 8:15). Again the word “sonship” is in the genitive case, telling what kind of spirit we have received.
(Please be sure to see the list of ‘Reference Sheets‘ where the genitive and other uses and classifications can be printed out for quick reference.)

Dative Case
The dative is the case of the indirect object, or may also indicate the means by which something is done. The dative case also has a wide variety of uses, with the root idea being that of “personal interest” or “reference”. It is used most often in one of three general categories: Indirec DNS particulart object, Instrument (means), or Location. Most commonly it is used as the indirect object of a sentence. It may also indicate the means by which something is done or accomplished. Used as a dative of location, it can show the “place”, “time”, or “sphere” in which something may happen.  For example: (Indirect object): “Jesus said to them“, or “he will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask” (Luke 11:13).

(Instrument or Means): “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by (by means of) prayer and petition prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). In this sentence, there is a single Greek word translated into the phrase “by prayer” showing the means by which to let our requests be made known to God.
(Location): “… and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matt 20:19). The phrase “the third day” is in the dative case, showing the time in which Jesus will be raised. In this sentence, there is no Greek word present that is translated into the English word “on”; it is added to show the meaning of the dative of location.

Accusative Case
The accusative case is the case of the direct object, receiving the action of the verb. Like the other cases, the accusative has a wide variety of uses, but its main function is as the direct object of a transitive verb. The direct object will most often be in the accusative case.
For example: “As newborn babes, long for the guiless milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2). The word “milk” is in the accusative case and is functioning as the direct object of the transitive verb “long for” (or “desire”).

Vocative Case
The vocative is the case of direct address. It is used when one person is speaking to another, calling out or saying their name, or generally addressing them. With many nouns, the case form of the vocative is the same as the nominative, but the context and function leave no question as to whether the person is being addressed or, contrariwise, spoken about. (Note that, obviously, the vocative is used most often in conjunction with the “second person” form of the verb).  For example: “… Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Here Stephen is directly addressing the Lord, so the form of “Lord Jesus” is in the vocative case. (Note that the verb “receive” is also in the second person, as would be expected).   Written by Corey Keating at


Strong Problem –

Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 86-91.
Bible Criticism. Criticism as applied to the Bible simply means the exercise of judgment. Both conservative and nonconservative scholars engage in two forms of biblical criticism: lower criticism deals with the text; higher criticism treats the source of the text. Lower criticism attempts to determine what the original text said, and the latter asks who said it and when, where, and why it was written.
Most controversies surrounding Bible criticism involve higher criticism. Higher criticism can be divided into negative (destructive) and positive (constructive) types. Negative criticism denies the authenticity of much of the biblical record. Usually an antisupernatural presupposition (see MIRACLES, ARGUMENTS AGAINST; MIRACLES, MYTH AND) is employed in this critical approach. Further, negative criticism often approaches the Bible with distrust equivalent to a “guilty-until-proven-innocent” bias.
Negative New Testament Criticism. Historical, Source, Form, Tradition, and Redaction methods (and combinations thereof) are the approaches with the worst record for bias. Any of these, used to advance an agenda of skepticism, with little or no regard for truth, undermine the Christian apologetic.
Historical Criticism. Historical criticism is a broad term that covers techniques to date documents and traditions, to verify events reported in those documents, and to use the results in historiography to reconstruct and interpret. The French Oratorian priest Richard Simon published a series of books, beginning in 1678, in which he applied a rationalistic, critical approach to studying the Bible. This was the birth of historical-critical study of the Bible, although not until Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752–1827) and Johann David Michaelis (1717–1791) was the modern historical-critical pattern set. They were influenced by the secular historical research of Barthold Georg Niebuhr (1776–1831; Romische Geschichte, 1811–12), Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886; Geshichte der romanischen und germanischen Volker von 1494–1535), and others, who developed and refined the techniques. Among those influenced was Johann Christian Konrad von Hofmann (1810–1877). He combined elements of Friedrich Schelling (1775–1854), Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), and orthodox Lutheranism with historical categories and the critical methods to make a biblical-theological synthesis. This model stressed “superhistorical history,” “holy history,” or “salvation history” (Heilsgeschichte)—the sorts of history that need not be literally true. His ideas and terms influenced Karl Barth (1886–1968), Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976), and others in the twentieth century. Toward the close of the nineteenth century, capable orthodox scholars challenged “destructive criticism” and its rationalistic theology.
Among more conservative scholars were George Salmon (1819–1904), Theodor von Zahn (1838–1933), and R. H. Lightfoot (1883–1953), who used criticism methods as the bases for a constructive criticism. This constructive criticism manifests itself most openly when it considers such matters as miracles, virgin birth of Jesus, and bodily resurrection of Christ (see RESURRECTION, EVIDENCE FOR). Historical criticism is today taken for granted in biblical studies.
Much recent work in historical criticism manifests rationalistic theology that at the same time claims to uphold traditional Christian doctrine. As a result, it has given rise to such developments as source criticism.
Source Criticism. Source criticism, also known as literary criticism, attempts to discover and define literary sources used by the biblical writers. It seeks to uncover underlying literary sources, classify types of literature, and answer questions relating to authorship, unity, and date of Old and New Testament materials (Geisler, 436). Some literary critics tend to decimate the biblical text, pronounce certain books inauthentic, and reject the very notion of verbal inspiration. Some scholars have carried their rejection of authority to the point that they have modified the idea of the canon (e.g., with regard to pseudonymity) to accommodate their own conclusions (ibid., 436). Nevertheless, this difficult but important undertaking can be a valuable aid to biblical interpretation, since it has bearing on the historical value of biblical writings. In addition, careful literary criticism can prevent historical misinterpretations of the biblical text.
Source criticism in the New Testament over the past century has focused on the so-called “Synoptic problem,” since it relates to difficulties surrounding attempts to devise a scheme of literary dependence that accounts for similarities and dissimilarities among the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Theories tend to work with the idea of a now-absent Q or Quelle (“Source”) used by the three evangelists, who wrote in various sequences, with the second depending on the first and the third on the other two. These theories were typical forerunners of the Two-Source theory advanced by B. H. Streeter (1874–1937), which asserted the priority of Mark and eventually gained wide acceptance among New Testament scholars. Streeter’s arguments have been questioned, and his thesis has been challenged by others. Eta Linnemann, once a student of Bultmann and a critic, has written a strong critique of her former position in which she uses source analysis to conclude that no synoptic problem in fact exists. She insists that each Gospel writer wrote an independent account based on personal experience and individual information. She wrote: “As time passes, I become more and more convinced that to a considerable degree New Testament criticism as practiced by those committed to historical-critical theology does not deserve to be called science” (Linnemann, 9). Elsewhere she writes, “The Gospels are not works of literature that creatively reshape already finished material after the manner in which Goethe reshaped the popular book about Dr. Faust” (ibid., 104). Rather, “Every Gospel presents a complete, unique testimony. It owes its existence to direct or indirect eyewitnesses” (ibid., 194).
Form Criticism. Form criticism studies literary forms, such as essays, poems, and myths, since different writings have different forms. Often the form of a piece of literature can tell a great deal about the nature of a literary piece, its writer, and its social context. Technically this is termed its “life setting” (Sitz im Leben). The classic liberal position is the documentary or J-E-P-D Pentateuchal source analysis theory established by Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) and his followers (see PENTATEUCH, MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP OF). They actually attempted to mediate between traditionalism and skepticism, dating Old Testament books in a less supernaturalistic manner by applying the “documentary theory.” These documents are identified as the “Jahwist” or Jehovistic (J), dated in the ninth century B.C., the Elohistic (E), eighth century, the Deuteronomic (D), from about the time of Josiah (640–609), and the Priestly (P), from perhaps the fifth century B.C. So attractive was the evolutionary concept in literary criticism that the source theory of Pentateuchal origins began to prevail over all opposition. A mediating position of some aspects of the theory was expressed by C. F. A. Dillman (1823–1894), Rudolph Kittle (1853–1929), and others. Opposition to the documentary theory was expressed by Franz
Delitzsch (1813–1890), who rejected the hypothesis outright in his commentary on Genesis, William Henry Green (1825–1900), James Orr (1844–1913), A. H. Sayce (1845–1933), Wilhelm Möller, Eduard Naville, Robert Dick Wilson (1856–1930), and others (see Harrison, 239–41; Archer; Pfeiffer). Sometimes form-critical studies are marred by doctrinaire assumptions, including that early forms must be short and later forms longer, but, in general, form criticism has been of benefit to biblical interpretation. Form criticism has been most profitably used in the study of the Psalms (Wenham, “History and the Old Testament,” 40).
These techniques were introduced into New Testament study of the Gospels as Formgeschichte (“form history”) or form criticism. Following in the tradition of Heinrich Paulus and Wilhelm De Wette (1780–1849), among others, scholars at Tübingen built on the foundation of source criticism theory. They advocated the priority of Mark as the earliest Gospel and multiple written sources. William Wrede (1859–1906) and other form critics sought to eliminate the chronological-geographical framework of the Synoptic Gospels and to investigate the twenty-year period of oral traditions between the close of New Testament events and the earliest written accounts of those events. They attempted to classify this material into “forms” of oral tradition and to discover the historical situation (Sitz im Leben) within the early church that gave rise to these forms. These units of tradition are usually assumed to reflect more of the life and teaching of the early church than the life and teaching of the historical Jesus. Forms in which the units are cast are clues to their relative historical value.
The fundamental assumption of form criticism is typified by Martin Dibelius (1883–1947) and Bultmann. By creating new words and deeds of Jesus as the situation demanded, the evangelists arranged the units or oral tradition and created artificial contexts to serve their own purposes. In challenging the authorship, date, structure, and style of other New Testament books, destructive critics arrived at similar conclusions. To derive a fragmented New Testament theology, they rejected Pauline authorship for all Epistles traditionally ascribed to him except Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, and Galatians (Hodges, 339–48).
Thoroughgoing form critics hold two basic assumptions: (1) The early Christian community had little or no genuine biographical interest or integrity, so it created and transformed oral tradition to meet its own needs. (2) The evangelists were compiler-editors of individual, isolated units of tradition that they arranged and rearranged without regard for historical reality (see Thomas and Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels [281–82], who identify Dibelius, Bultmann, Burton S. Easton, R. H. Lightfoot, Vincent Taylor, and D. E. Nineham as preeminent New Testament form critics).
Tradition Criticism. Tradition criticism is primarily concerned with the history of traditions before they were recorded in writing. The stories of the patriarchs, for example, were probably passed down through generations by word of mouth until they were written as a continuous narrative. These oral traditions may have been changed over the long process of transmission. It is of great interest to the biblical scholar to know what changes were made and how the later tradition, now enshrined in a literary source, differs from the earliest oral version.
Tradition criticism is less certain or secure than literary criticism because it begins where literary criticism leaves off, with conclusions that are in themselves uncertain. It is difficult to check the hypotheses about development of an oral tradition (Wenham, ibid., 40–41). Even more tenuous is the “liturgical tradition” enunciated by S. Mowinckel and his Scandinavian associates, who argue that literary origins were related to preexilic sanctuary rituals and sociological phenomena. An offshoot of the liturgical approach is the “myth and ritual” school of S. H. Hooke, which argues that a distinctive set of rituals and myths were common to all Near Eastern
peoples, including the Hebrews. Both of these approaches use Babylonian festival analogies to support their variations on the classical literary-critical and tradition-critical themes (Harrison, 241).
Form criticism is closely aligned with tradition criticism in New Testament studies. A review of many of the basic assumptions in view of the New Testament text have been made by Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, and I. Howard Marshall, The Origins of New Testament Christology and I Believe in the Historical Jesus. Also see the discussions in Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture and Introduction to the New Testament as Canon, and Gerhard Hasel, Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate and New Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate.
Redaction Criticism. Redaction criticism is more closely associated with the text than is traditional criticism. As a result, it is less open to the charge of subjective speculation. Redaction (editorial) critics can achieve absolute certainty only when all the sources are used that were at the disposal of the redactor (editor), since the task is to determine how a redactor compiled sources, what was omitted, what was added, and what particular bias was involved in the process. At best, the critic has only some of the sources available, such as the books of Kings used by the writers of Chronicles. Elsewhere, in both the Old and the New Testaments, the sources must be reconstructed out of the edited work itself. Then redaction criticism becomes much less certain as a literary device (Wenham, “Gospel Origins,” 439).
Redaction critics tend to favor a view that biblical books were written much later and by different authors than the text relates. Late theological editors attached names out of history to their works for the sake of prestige and credibility. In Old and New Testament studies this view arose from historical criticism, source criticism, and form criticism. As a result, it adopts many of the same presuppositions, including the documentary hypothesis in the Old Testament, and the priority of Mark in the New Testament.
Evaluation. As already noted, higher criticism can be helpful as long as critics are content with analysis based on what can be objectively known or reasonably theorized. Real criticism doesn’t begin its work with the intent to subvert the authority and teaching of Scripture.
Kinds of Criticism Contrasted. However, much of modern biblical criticism springs from unbiblical philosophical presuppositions exposed by Gerhard Maier in The End of the Historical Critical Method. These presuppositions incompatible with Christian faith include deism, materialism, skepticism, agnosticism, Hegelian idealism, and existentialism. Most basic is a prevailing naturalism (antisupernaturalism) that is intuitively hostile to any document containing miracle stories (see MIRACLES IN THE BIBLE; MIRACLES, MYTH AND). This naturalistic bias divides negative (destructive) from positive (constructive) higher criticism:
Positive Criticism (Constructive)
Negative Criticism (Destructive)
Text is “innocent until proven guilty”
Text is “guilty until proven innocent”
Bible is wholly true
Bible is partly true
Final Authority
Word of God
Mind of man
Role of Reason
To discover truth (rationality)
To determine truth (rationalism)
Some of the negative presuppositions call for scrutiny, especially as they relate to the Gospel record. This analysis is especially relevant to source criticism, form criticism, and redaction criticism, as these methods challenge the genuineness, authenticity, and consequently the divine authority of the Bible. This kind of biblical criticism is unfounded.
Unscholarly bias. It imposes its own antisupernatural bias on the documents. The originator of modern negative criticism, Benedict Spinoza, for example, declared that Moses did not write the Pentateuch, nor Daniel the whole book of Daniel, nor did any miracle recorded actually occur. Miracles, he claimed, are scientifically and rationally impossible.
In the wake of Spinoza, negative critics concluded that Isaiah did not write the whole book of Isaiah. That would have involved supernatural predictions (including knowing the name of King Cyrus) over 100 years in advance (see PROPHECY AS PROOF OF THE BIBLE). Likewise, negative critics concluded Daniel could not have been written until 165 B.C. That late authorship placed it after the fulfillment of its detailed description of world governments and rulers down to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (d. 163 B.C.). Supernatural predictions of coming events was not considered an option. The same naturalistic bias was applied to the New Testament by David Strauss (1808–1874), Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965), and Bultmann, with the same devastating results.
The foundations of this antisupernaturalism crumbled with evidence that the universe began with a big bang (see EVOLUTION, COSMIC). Even agnostics such as Robert Jastrow (Jastrow, 18), speak of “supernatural” forces at work (Kenny, 66; see AGNOSTICISM; MIRACLE; MIRACLES, ARGUMENTS AGAINST), so it is sufficient to note here that, with the demise of modern antisupernaturalism, there is no philosophical basis for destructive criticism.
Inaccurate view of authorship. Negative criticism either neglects or minimizes the role of apostles and eyewitnesses who recorded the events. Of the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and John were definitely eyewitnesses of the events they report. Luke was a contemporary and careful historian (Luke 1:1–4; see Acts). Indeed, every book of the New Testament was written by a contemporary or eyewitness of Christ. Even such critics as the “Death-of-God” theologian John A. T. Robinson admit that the Gospels were written between 40 and 65 (Robinson, 352), during the life of eyewitnesses.
But if the basic New Testament documents were composed by eyewitnesses, then much of destructive criticism fails. It assumes the passage of much time while “myths” developed. Studies have revealed that it takes two generations for a myth to develop (Sherwin-White, 190).
What Jesus really said. It wrongly assumes that the New Testament writers did not distinguish between their own words and those of Jesus. That a clear distinction was made between Jesus’ words and those of the Gospel writers is evident from the ease by which a “red letter” edition of the New Testament can be made. Indeed, the apostle Paul is clear to distinguish his own words from those of Jesus (see Acts 20:35; 1 Cor. 7:10, 12, 25). So is John the apostle in the Apocalypse (see Rev. 1:8, 11, 17b–20; 2:1f.; 22:7, 12–16, 20b). In view of this care, the New
Testament critic is unjustified in assuming without substantive evidence that the Gospel record does not actually report what Jesus said and did.
Myths? It incorrectly assumes that the New Testament stories are like folklore and myth. There is a vast difference between the simple New Testament accounts of miracles and the embellished myths that did arise during the second and third centuries A.D., as can be seen by comparing the accounts. New Testament writers explicitly disavow myths. Peter declared: “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales (mythos) when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Paul also warned against belief in myths (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:14).
One of the most telling arguments against the myth view was given by C. S. Lewis:
First then, whatever these men may be as Biblical critics, I distrust them as critics. They seem to lack literary judgment, to be imperceptive about the very quality of the texts they are reading . . . If he tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he had read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavour; not how many years he has spent on that Gospel . . . I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. [Lewis, 154–55]
Creators or recorders? Unfounded higher criticism undermines the integrity of the New Testament writers by claiming that Jesus never said (or did) what the Gospels claim. Even some who call themselves evangelical have gone so far as to claim that what “ ‘Jesus said’ or ‘Jesus did’ need not always mean that in history Jesus said or did what follows, but sometimes may mean that in the account at least partly constructed by Matthew himself Jesus said or did what follows” (Gundry, 630). This clearly undermines confidence in the truthfulness of the Gospels and the accuracy of the events they report. On this critical view the Gospel writers become creators of the events, not recorders.
Of course, every careful biblical scholar knows that one Gospel writer does not always use the same words in reporting what Jesus said as does another. However, they always convey the same meaning. They do select, summarize, and paraphrase, but they do not distort. A comparison of the parallel reports in the Gospels is ample evidence of this.
There is no substantiation for the claim of one New Testament scholar that Matthew created the Magi story (Matt. 2) out of the turtledove story (of Luke 2). For according to Robert Gundry, Matthew “changes the sacrificial slaying of ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,’ at the presentation of the baby Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:24; cf. Lev. 12:6–8), into Herod’s slaughtering of the babies in Bethlehem” (ibid., 34–35). Such a view not only degrades the integrity of the Gospel writers but the authenticity and authority of the Gospel record. It is also silly.
Neither is there support for Paul K. Jewett, who went so far as to assert (Jewett, 134–35) that what the apostle Paul affirmed in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is wrong. If Paul is in error, then the time-honored truth that “what the Bible says, God says” is not so. Indeed, if Jewett is right, then even when one discovers what the author of Scripture is affirming, he is little closer to knowing the truth of God (cf. Gen. 3:1). If “what the Bible says, God says” (see BIBLE, EVIDENCE FOR) is not so, then the divine authority of all Scripture is worthless.
The early church’s stake in truth. That the early church had no real biographical interest is highly improbable. The New Testament writers, impressed as they were with the belief that Jesus
was the long-promised Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16–18), had great motivation to accurately record what he actually said and did.
To say otherwise is contrary to their own clear statements. John claimed that “Jesus did” the things recorded in his Gospel (John 21:25). Elsewhere John said “What . . . we have heard, we have seen with our eyes, we beheld and our hands handled . . . we proclaim to you also” (1 John 1:1–2).
Luke clearly manifests an intense biographical interest by the earliest Christian communities when he wrote: “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1–4). To claim, as the critics do, that the New Testament writers lacked interest in recording real history is implausible.
The work of the Holy Spirit. Such assumptions also neglect or deny the role of the Holy Spirit in activating the memories of the eyewitnesses. Much of the rejection of the Gospel record is based on the assumption that the writers could not be expected to remember sayings, details, and events twenty or forty years after the events. For Jesus died in 33, and the first Gospel records probably came (at latest) between 50 and 60 (Wenham, “Gospel Origins,” 112–34).
Again the critic is rejecting or neglecting the clear statement of Scripture. Jesus promised his disciples, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26).
So even on the unlikely assumption that no one recorded anything Jesus said during his lifetime or immediately after, the critics would have us believe that eyewitnesses whose memories were later supernaturally activated by the Holy Spirit did not accurately record what Jesus did and said. It seems far more likely that the first-century eyewitnesses were right and the twentieth-century critics are wrong, than the reverse.
Guidelines for Biblical Criticism. Of course biblical scholarship need not be destructive. But the biblical message must be understood in its theistic (supernatural) context and its actual historical and grammatical setting. Positive guidelines for evangelical scholarship are set forth in Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics” (see Geisler, Summit II: Hermeneutics, 10–13. Also Radmacher and Preus, Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, esp. 881–914). It reads in part as follows:
Article XIII. WE AFFIRM that awareness of the literary categories, formal and stylistic, of the various parts of Scripture is essential for proper exegesis, and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many disciplines of biblical study. WE DENY that generic categories which negate the historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.
Article XIV. WE AFFIRM that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact. WE DENY that any such event, discourse or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.
Article XV. WE AFFIRM the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense, that is, the meaning which the writer expressed. Interpretation according to the literal sense will account for all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text. WE DENY the
legitimacy of any approach to Scripture that attributes to it meaning which the literal sense does not support.
Article XVI. WE AFFIRM that legitimate critical techniques should be used in determining the canonical text and its meaning. WE DENY the legitimacy of allowing any method of biblical criticism to question the truth or integrity of the writer’s expressed meaning, or of any other scriptural teaching.
Redaction versus Editing. There are important differences between destructive redaction and constructive editing. No knowledgeable scholars deny that a certain amount of editing occurred over the biblical text’s thousands of years of history. This legitimate editing, however, must be distinguished from illegitimate redaction which the negative critics allege. The negative critics have failed to present any convincing evidence that the kind of redaction they believe in has ever happened to the biblical text.
The following chart contrasts the two views.
Legitimate Editing
Illegitimate Redacting
Changes in form
Changes in content
Scribal changes
Substantive changes
Changes in the text
Changes in the truth
The redaction model of the canon confuses legitimate scribal activity, involving grammatical form, updating of names, and arrangement of prophetic material, with illegitimate redactive changes in actual content of a prophet’s message. It confuses acceptable scribal transmission with unacceptable tampering. It confuses proper discussion of which text is earlier with improper discussion of how later writers changed the truth of texts. There is no evidence that any significant illegitimate redactive changes have occurred since the Bible was first put in writing. On the contrary, all evidence supports a careful transmission in all substantial matters and in most details. No diminution of basic truth has occurred from the original writings to the Bibles in our hands today (see OLD TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS; NEW TESTAMENT MANUSCRIPTS).
O. Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament
W. R. Farmer, The Synoptic Problem
R. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art
G. Hasel, New Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate
R. Jastrow, “A Scientist Caught between Two Faiths” in CT, 6 August 1982
P. Jewett, Man as Male and Female
E. Krentz, The Historical-Critical Method
C. S. Lewis, Christian Reflections
CT Christianity Today
E. Linnemann, Historical Criticism of the Bible
———, Is There a Synoptic Problem?
G. M. Maier, The End of the Historical Critical Method
Marshall, I. H., The Origins of New Testament Christology
A. Q. Morton, and J. McLeman, Christianity in the Computer Age
E. D. Radmacher and R. D. Preus, Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible
J. Robinson, Redating the New Testament
E. P. Sanders, The Tendencies of the Synoptic Tradition
A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament
B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins
R. L. Thomas, “An Investigation of the Agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark,” JETS 19, (1976)
R. L. Thomas, “The Hermeneutics of Evangelical Redaction Criticism,” JETS 29/4 (December 1986)
J. W. Wenham, “Gospel Origins,” TJ 7, (1978)
———, “History and The Old Testament,” Bib. Sac., 124, 19671
JETS Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
JETS Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Bib. Sac. Bibliotheca Sacra
1 Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 86-91.
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 662-68.
Redaction criticism is a historical and literary discipline which studies both the ways the redactors/ editors/authors changed their sources and the seams or transitions they utilized to link those traditions into a unified whole. The purpose of this approach is to recover the author’s theology and setting. Redaction criticism is the third of four “schools” of criticism developed in this century to study the Gospels and other biblical narratives: Form criticism, which seeks the original or authentic tradition behind the final form found in the Gospels but tends to assume that the Evangelists were mere scissors-and-paste editors who artificially strung together the traditions they inherited; tradition criticism, a stepchild of form criticism, which tries to reconstruct the history or development of the Gospel traditions from the earliest to the final form in the Gospels but often ignores the contribution of the Evangelists; and literary criticism, which bypasses the historical dimension and studies only the final form of the text, assuming that the value of the Gospels is to be found apart from considerations of originating event or author. Redaction criticism originally developed as a corrective to areas of neglect in form and tradition criticism, but it functions also as a corrective to excesses in literary criticism.

  1. The Process of Redactional Inquiry
  2. The Origins of Redaction Criticism
  3. The Methodology of Redaction Criticism
  4. The Weaknesses of Redaction Criticism
  5. The Place and Value of Redaction Criticism
  6. The Process of Redactional Inquiry.
    Redaction criticism must build upon the results of source criticism, for the final results are determined in part by one’s choice of Markan or Matthean priority (see Synoptic Problem). The most widely held hypothesis remains the Oxford, or four-document, hypothesis of B. H. Streeter, who taught that Matthew and Luke utilized two primary sources, Mark and Q, along with their own secondary sources (M and L). Redaction critics begin with this assumption and study the alterations which the Evangelists made to their sources. This means that redactional study is most relevant for Matthew and Luke, less so for Mark (we don’t know what sources he may have used) or John (independent for the most part from the Synoptics; see Synoptics and John).
    Redaction critics work also with the results of form and tradition criticism, assuming the process of tradition development but studying primarily the final stage, the changes wrought by the Evangelists themselves. When examining Luke’s redaction of the crucifixion narrative (see Death of Jesus), these scholars ask which of the three “last sayings” peculiar to Luke (23:34, 43, 46) may have been added earlier by the community and which were added by the Evangelist. They believe that these changes to the tradition provide a clue to the Evangelist’s theological intentions and the life-situation (Sitz im Leben) of his community.
    This is accomplished by asking why the changes were made and by seeking consistent patterns in the alterations made by the redactor. Such modifications denote redactional interests or theological tendencies on the part of the Evangelist who introduced them. In Luke’s crucifixion narrative two such tendencies might be noted: a christological stress on Jesus as the innocent righteous martyr (exemplified also in Lk 23:47, “Surely this man was righteous [dikaios]”) and an emphasis on the crucifixion as a scene of worship (seen in the absence of negative aspects like the earthquake, in the redaction of the taunts which in Luke are contrasted with Jesus’ prayer for forgiveness, and in the fact that two of the sayings are prayers).
    Finally, the setting or situation of the Lukan church is reconstructed by asking what led to these changes. This is of course a speculative enterprise, but most critics believe that sociological factors hinted at in the text were behind the pastoral concerns which determined the final form. Thus redaction criticism is interested in both the theological interests and the ecclesiastical situation behind the Gospel texts.
  7. The Origins of Redaction Criticism.
    There were several precursors to this movement, such as W. Wrede’s “messianic secret”; N. B. Stonehouse’s study of christological emphases in the Synoptic Gospels; R. H. Lightfoot’s Bampton lectures of 1934, which studied Mark’s theological treatment of his sources; or K. L. Schmidt’s form-critical treatment of the Markan seams. Like the origins of form criticism via three German scholars working independently in post-World-War-1 Germany (Schmidt, Dibelius, Bultmann), redaction criticism began in post-World-War-2 Germany with three independent works—those of Bornkamm, Conzelmann and Marxsen.
    G. Bornkamm launched the movement with his 1948 article, “The Stilling of the Storm in Matthew,” later combined with articles by two of his students in Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew. He argued that Matthew not only changed but reinterpreted Mark’s miracle story (see Miracles, Miracle Stories) into a paradigm of discipleship centering on the “little faith” of the disciples as a metaphor for the difficult journey of the “little ship of the church.” In a 1954 article, “Matthew As Interpreter of the Words of the Lord” (expanded to “End-Expectation and Church in Matthew” and included in the volume mentioned above) Bornkamm considered Matthew’s Gospel as a whole, stating that for Matthew eschatology is the basis for ecclesiology: the church defines itself and its mission in terms of the coming judgment.
    N. Perrin states, “If Günther Bornkamm is the first of the true redaction critics, Hans Conzelmann is certainly the most important” (28). Conzelmann’s study of Luke began with a 1952 article, “Zur Lukasanalyse,” later expanded into The Theology of St. Luke (1954). He challenged the prevalent view by arguing that Luke was a theologian rather than a historian; the delay of the Parousia led Luke to replace the imminent eschatology of Mark with a salvation-historical perspective having three stages—the time of Israel, ending with John the Baptist; the time of Jesus (the “center of time,” the original German book title); and the time of the church (see Luke, Gospel of). According to Conzelmann the kingdom (see Kingdom of God) in Luke has become virtually a timeless entity, with the Parousia no longer the focus. Mark’s brief interim has become an indefinite period, and the church is prepared for prolonged conflict in the lengthy period before the final judgment.
    W. Marxsen in his Mark the Evangelist (1956) was the first to use the term Redaktionsgeschichte, and the first and most influential portion of his work described the differences between form and redaction criticism, asserting that form-critical research has missed the third Sitz im Leben (after the situations of Jesus and the early church), namely that of the
    Evangelist. His method is called “backwards exegesis,” which interprets each pericope from the perspective of those preceding it. By this theory Mark used the John the Baptist (see John the Baptist) story not to tell what happened but rather to provide a base for what came after, the story of Jesus. Marxsen’s actual theory regarding Mark was much less influential; he stated that Mark wrote to tell the church to flee the terrible persecution during the Jewish War of A.D. 66 and to proceed to Galilee where the imminent return of the Son of man (Parousia) would take place.
  8. The Methodology of Redaction Criticism.
    The difficulty in redactional research is determining with some degree of probability that a redactional nuance is present in the text. The discipline is prone to highly speculative theories because the methodology as well as the thoroughness of the search completely determines the results. Marxsen, on the one hand, makes Mark a Jewish-Christian work centering on an imminent Parousia, while Weeden, on the other hand, turns Mark into a Hellenistic work countering a “divine man” heresy (see Divine Man/Theios Aner) by recasting Mark’s battle with his opponents in the form of a dramatic conflict between Jesus (= Mark) and his disciples (= Mark’s opponents). Few interpreters have followed either theory because both failed to consider all the evidence. The key to redactional study is a good synopsis of the Gospels, which becomes the basis for the research. A scholar compares the Gospel accounts, compiles the differences and then studies the resultant data by means of the following stages of analysis.
    3.1. Tradition-Critical Analysis. The historical development of the pericope from Jesus through the early church to the Evangelist is determined by applying the criteria of authenticity to the passage: (1) Dissimilarity (the tradition is authentic if it exhibits no ties to Judaism or the church); (2) multiple attestation (the pericope is repeated in several of the primary sources like Mark, Q, M, L or in more than one form); (3) divergent patterns (it is contrary to emphases in the early church); (4) unintended evidence of historicity (details which suggest an eyewitness report); (5) Aramaic or Palestinian features (Semitic constructions [see Languages of Palestine] or Palestinian customs which point to a early origin); and (6) coherence (it is consistent with other passages proven reliable on the basis of other criteria). These in and of themselves do not prove authenticity, of course, but they can demonstrate that the tradition goes back to the earliest stages and they do shift the burden of proof to the skeptic.
    These criteria were originally developed under a so-called hermeneutic of suspicion which assumed that the stories were “guilty unless proven innocent,” that is, they were nonhistorical unless shown otherwise. However, it has repeatedly been shown that the criteria when used in this manner have proved inconclusive, and most today use them more positively to trace the text’s development. In this way tradition criticism provides the data for the form-critical and redaction-critical stages which follow. Nevertheless, demonstrating the text’s reliability (the positive side) is an important step in itself since it grounds the interpreters in history and forces them to realize that they are not just tracing the ideas of Mark or Matthew (a danger of redactional study) but also the very life and teachings of the historical Jesus (see Historical Jesus).
    Tradition criticism used in this way is an important step prior to carrying out redactional study. Its primary value lies in the area of historical verification, for it links redactional study with the quest for the historical Jesus and anchors the results in history. One danger of redaction criticism is the tendency of many critics today to take an ahistorical approach—to study the Gospels as purely literary creations rather than as books which trace the life of Jesus. Tradition criticism provides a control against such tendencies. Moreover, the study of the history of the
    development of the text, though admittedly speculative at times, leads to greater accuracy in identifying redactional tendencies. By tracing with greater precision how an author is using the sources and how the sources have developed, the results of redactional criticism will be established on a stronger data base.
    3.2. Form-Critical Analysis. Before beginning the detailed study of a pericope it is crucial to determine the form it takes, since the interpreter will apply a different set of hermeneutical principles to each sub-genre in the Gospels. A pericope can take the form of a pronouncement story (the setting and details lead up to a climactic saying of Jesus); miracle story (some emphasizing the miracle or exorcism, others discipleship, christology, cosmic conflict or the presence of the kingdom); dominical saying (further classified by Bultmann as wisdom logia, prophetic or apocalyptic sayings, legal sayings or church rules, “I” sayings and similitudes); parable (further subdivided into similitudes, example stories, and one-, two- or three-point parables depending on the number of characters involved); event or historical story (episodes in Jesus’ life like the baptism or Transfiguration—often labeled “legends” because of their supernatural nature); and passion story (considered a separate type even though the passion narrative contains several actual “forms”; see Passion Narrative). In the final analysis the formal features help more in the stage of composition criticism than in redactional study, but these are two aspects of a larger whole and therefore form-critical analysis is an important part of the redactional process.
    3.3. Redaction-Critical Analysis. The interpreter examines the pericope and notes each time the source (Mark or Q) has been changed in order to determine whether the alteration is redactional or stylistic; that is, whether it has a theological purpose or is cosmetic, part of the Evangelist’s normal style. While this process is obviously more conducive for Matthew and Luke, since sources in Mark are so difficult to detect and John is so independent, most scholars believe that a nuanced redaction criticism may still be applied to Mark and John (though without many of the source-critical techniques). The principles which follow are intended to guide the student through the process as it applies to all four Gospels. There are two stages—the individual analysis of a single pericope, and holistic analysis which studies redactional strata that appear throughout the Gospel. These aspects work together, as the data emerge from the individual studies and are evaluated on the basis of recurring themes in the whole.
    3.3.1. Individual Analysis. The text of the synopsis should first be underlined with different colors to denote which readings are unique to a Gospel, which are paralleled in Mark and Matthew, Mark and Luke or Matthew and Luke (Q), and which are found in all three. The next step is to evaluate the data. S. McKnight (85–87) notes seven ways the Evangelists redact their sources: (1) They can conserve them (important because this also has theological significance for the Evangelist); (2) conflate two traditions (as in the use of both Mark and Q in the temptation story of Matthew and Luke); (3) expand the source (e.g., Matthew’s added material in the walking-on-the-water miracle, Mt 14:22–33; cf. Mk 6:45–52); (4) transpose the settings (as in the different settings for Jesus’ compassion for Jerusalem in Mt 23:37–39 and Lk 13:34–35); (5) omit portions of the tradition (e.g., the missing descriptions of demonic activity in the healing of the demon-possessed child, Mt 17:14–21; cf. Mk 9:14–29; see Demon, Devil, Satan); (6) explain details in the source (e.g., Mark’s lengthy explanation of washing the hands, Mk 7:3–4; or Matthew changing “Son of man” to “I,” 10:32; cf. Lk 12:8); or (7) alter a tradition to avoid misunderstandings (as when Matthew alters Mark’s “Why do you call me good?” [Mk 10:18] to “Why do you ask me about what is good?” [Mt 19:17]).
    By grouping the changes the student can detect patterns which point to certain theological nuances within the larger matrix of the story as a whole. Each change is evaluated in terms of potential meaning; that is, does it possess theological significance as it affects the development of the story? For instance, Matthew changes the endings of both Mark 6:52 (“Their heart was hardened,” cf. Mt 14:33, “Surely you are the Son of God”) and 8:21 (“Don’t you understand yet?” cf. Mt 16:12, “Then they understood …”). In both Gospels these two sets of endings conclude the group of stories centered on the feedings of the five thousand and four thousand. It is likely that the differences are due to Mark’s stress on the reality of discipleship failure and Matthew’s emphasis on the difference that the presence of Jesus makes in overcoming failure.
    3.3.2. Holistic Analysis. The individual analysis is now expanded to note the development of themes as the narrative of the whole Gospel unfolds. Decisions regarding single accounts are somewhat preliminary until they are corroborated by the presence of similar themes elsewhere. Also, these steps enable one to discover redactional emphases in Mark and John, for which the interpreter has difficulty noting sources.
    The “seams” in a Gospel are the introductions, conclusions and transitions which connect the episodes and provide important clues to the theological purpose of the author. They often contain a high proportion of the author’s own language and point to an Evangelist’s particular reasons for including the pericope. For instance, the two seams in Mark 1:21 and 3:1 provide a synagogue setting for the christological emphasis on Jesus’ authority in word and deed as he confronts the Jewish leaders. Also, the summaries in a Gospel are redactional indicators of theological overtones. An example of this would be Matthew 4:23 and 9:35 (introducing the Sermon on the Mount [see Sermon on the Mount] and missionary discourse, respectively), which contain similar wording and summarize Jesus’ itinerant missionary activity. The threefold emphasis on teaching, preaching and healing are major theological emphases in Matthew.
    Editorial asides and insertions are key indicators of the theological direction a narrative is taking. John has long been known for his tendency to add explanatory comments to describe the significance more fully, as in his famous commentary (3:16–21) on the soteriological significance of the Nicodemus dialog (3:1–15). In similar fashion, repeated or favorite terms show particular interests. Again, John is the master of this technique; nearly every theological stress is highlighted by terms which appear nearly as often in his Gospel as in the rest of the NT together (e.g., alētheia [85 of the 163 NT uses; see Truth], zōē [66 of the 135 NT uses; see Life], or kosmos [105 of the 185 NT uses; see World]) and by word groups of synonymous terms (e.g., the two terms for “know,” two for “love” or five for “see”).
    Finally, theme studies (McKnight calls this “motif analysis”) trace the development of theological emphases within the Gospel as a whole. Here one reads through the Gospel, noting the theological threads which are woven together into the fabric of the whole. For instance, one of Mark’s primary themes is discipleship failure, introduced in Mk 4:38, 40 and then emerging as a major emphasis in the “hardened heart” passages of Mk 6:52 and 8:17 (see Hardness of Heart). The passion predictions are contrasted with the disciples’ failure (Mk 8:31–33; 9:31–34; 10:32–40). Chapter 14 contains several scenes of failure (Mk 14:4–5, 10–11, 17–20, 27–31, 37–40, 50–51, 66–72), and the Gospel ends on a note of discipleship failure (Mk 16:8).
    Mark is a special test case for holistic analysis and for redaction criticism as a whole. If one accepts the prevalent theory of Markan priority, then there are no obvious sources (Matthew and Luke have Mark and Q) with which to compare Mark in order to determine redactional peculiarities. The traditions behind Mark are very difficult to detect, and no scholarly consensus has yet emerged as to their identity. As a result there is a bewildering array of theories regarding
    the redactional nature of the Second Gospel. In order to overcome these problems, R. Stein (positive regarding the possibilities) and M. Black (skeptical about the possibilities) have proposed several criteria for redactional research: (1) Study the seams, insertions and summaries; (2) determine whether Mark has created (a controversial criterion) or modified traditional material; (3) note Mark’s process of selecting and arranging material; (4) ask whether Mark has omitted material (also controversial because the question always arises whether Mark has omitted an emphasis or been unaware of it, e.g., the famous Matthean addendum to the divorce passage, “except for adultery”); (5) study Mark’s introduction and conclusion; and (6) elucidate Mark’s vocabulary, style and christological titles. When all these tools are used together, the Gospels of Mark or John open themselves to redactional study.
    3.4. Composition-Critical Analysis. The task is incomplete so long as one focuses only on the redactional changes, so most recent redaction critics wish to study the traditions included as well as the redactional modifications. Obviously, each Evangelist unified tradition and redaction into a larger whole in producing a Gospel. It is erroneous to examine only the redaction.
    3.4.1. The Structure. The way the Evangelist arranges material tells a great deal about the meaning of the whole. At both the micro and macro levels the rearrangement of the inherited tradition is significant. In the temptation narrative Matthew and Luke reverse the last two temptations (see Temptation of Jesus). Most believe that Matthew contains the original order and that Luke concludes with the Temple temptation due to his special interest in Jerusalem and the Temple (Lk 4:9–12). But it is also possible that Matthew concludes with a mountain scene for thematic reasons (Mt 4:8–10; cf. 5:1; 8:1; 14:23; 15:29; 17:1). At the macro level, one could note the quite different things which Mark and Luke do with Jesus’ early Capernaum-based ministry, with Mark placing the call to the disciples first, due to his discipleship emphasis (Mk 1:16–20), and reserving the rejection at Nazareth for later (Mk 6:1–6), while Luke begins with Jesus’ inaugural address and rejection at Nazareth (Lk 4:16–30) in order to center upon christology, reserving the call of the disciples for later (Lk 5:1–11).
    3.4.2. Intertextual Development. Each Evangelist arranges pericopes in such a way that their interaction with one another yields the intended message. Intertextuality at the macro level is the literary counterpart to redaction criticism at the micro level, for the Evangelist uses the same techniques of selection, omission and structure in both. This is exemplified in Mark’s strategic placing of the two-stage healing of the blind man in Mark 8:22–26 (found only in Mark). On one level it forms an inclusion with the healing of the deaf man in Mark 7:31–37, stressing the need for healing on the part of the disciples (note the failure of Mk 8:14–21, in which the disciples are accused of being both blind and deaf!; see Blindness and Deafness). On another level it metaphorically anticipates the two-stage surmounting of the disciples’ misunderstanding via Peter’s confession (Mk 8:27–33, only a partial understanding) and the Transfiguration (Mk 9:1–10, at which time they glimpse the true nature of Jesus, cf. esp. Mk 9:9).
    3.4.3. Plot. Plot refers to the interconnected sequence of events which follows a cause-effect pattern and centers upon conflict. The student examines how the characters interact and how the lines of causality develop to a climax. For redaction criticism this means especially the individual emphases of the Evangelists. The differences are often striking, as in the resurrection narratives. Mark follows a linear pattern, tracing the failure of the disciples and concluding with the women’s inability to witness (Mk 16:8). This is countered by the enigmatic promise of Jesus to meet them in Galilee (Mk 16:7; cf. 14:28), apparently the place of reinstatement (note Mk 14:28 following 14:27). Matthew constructs a double-edged conflict in which the supernatural intervention of God (Mt 28:2–4) and the universal authority of Jesus (Mt 28:18–20) overcome
    the twofold attempt of the priests (see Priest, Priesthood) to thwart the divine plan (Mt 27:62–66; 28:11–15).
    3.4.4. Setting and Style. When the Evangelists place a saying or event in different settings, they often produce a new theological thrust. For instance, Matthew places the parable of the lost sheep (Mt 18:12–14) in the context of the disciples and the church, with the result that it refers to straying members, while in Luke 15:3–7 Jesus addresses the same parable to the Pharisees and scribes, so that it refers to those outside the kingdom.
    Style refers to the individual way that a saying or story is phrased and arranged so as to produce the effect that the author wishes. There can be gaps, chiasm, repetition, omissions and highly paraphrased renditions in order to highlight some nuance which Jesus gave his teaching but which is of particular interest to the Evangelist. Here it is important to remember that the Evangelists’ concern was not the ipsissima verba (exact words) but the ipsissima vox (the very voice) of Jesus. They were free to give highly paraphrastic renditions to stress one certain aspect. One example is the Matthean and Lukan forms of the Beatitudes, which most scholars take to be derived from the same occasion (Luke’s “plain” can also mean a mountain plateau in Greek). In Matthew the central stress is on ethical qualities (“blessed are the poor in spirit,” Mt 5:3), while in Luke the emphasis is on economic deprivation (“blessed are you poor,” Mt 5:20; cf. “woe to you rich,” Mt 5:24). Both were undoubtedly intended by Jesus, while the two Evangelists highlighted different aspects.
  9. The Weaknesses of Redaction Criticism.
    Many have discounted the value of redaction criticism due to the excesses of some of its practitioners. Primarily, it has been the application of redaction criticism along with historical skepticism that has led some to reject the approach. As a result of the influence of form and tradition criticism in the past and of narrative criticism in the present, the historical reliability of Gospel stories has been called into question (see Gospels [Historical Reliability]). Certainly some critics have begun with the premise that redaction entails the creation of Gospel material which is unhistorical, but this is by no means a necessary conclusion.
    Techniques like omission, expansion or rearrangement are attributes of style and are not criteria for historicity. Another problem is redaction criticism’s dependence on the four-document hypothesis. It is true that the results would look quite different if one were to assume the Griesbach hypothesis (the priority of Matthew). However, one must make a conclusion of some sort regarding the interrelationship of the Gospels before redactional study can begin, and most scholars have judged the four-document hypothesis to be clearly superior to the others (see Synoptic Problem).
    As in form criticism, redactional studies tend to fragment the pericopes when they study only the additions to the traditions. Theology is to be found in the combined tradition and redaction—not in the redaction alone. The movement to composition criticism has provided a healthy corrective. The Evangelists’ alterations are the major source of evidence, but the theology comes from the whole. Similarly, there has been a problem with overstatement. Scholars have often seen significance in every “jot and tittle” and have forgotten that many changes are stylistic rather than theological. Once again, composition criticism helps avoid excesses by looking for patterns rather than seeing theology in every possible instance.
    Subjectivism is another major danger. Studies utilizing the same data frequently produce different results, and thus some argue that no assured results can ever come from redaction-critical studies. The only solution is a judicious use of all the hermeneutical tools along with
    cross-pollination between the studies. Interaction between theories can demonstrate where the weaknesses are in each. Subjectivism is especially seen in speculations regarding Sitz im Leben, which are too often based on the assumption that every theological point is addressed to some problem in the community behind the Gospel. This ignores the fact that many of the emphases are due to christological, liturgical, historical or evangelistic interests. The proper life-situation study is not so much concerned with the detailed reconstruction of the church behind a Gospel as in the delineation of the Evangelists’ message to that church.
  10. The Place and Value of Redaction Criticism.
    A careful use of proper methodology can reduce the problems inherent in redaction criticism, and the values far outweigh the dangers. In fact, any study of the Gospels will be enhanced by redaction-critical techniques. A true understanding of the doctrine of inspiration demands it, for each Evangelist was led by God to utilize sources in the production of a Gospel. Moreover, they were given the freedom by God to omit, expand and highlight these traditions in order to bring out individual nuances peculiar to their own Gospel. Nothing else can explain the differing messages of the same stories as told in the various Gospels. There is no necessity to theorize wholesale creation of stories, nor to assert that these nuances were not in keeping with the original Gospels. Here a judicious harmonizing approach like that espoused by C. Blomberg is valuable. In short, redaction criticism has enabled us to rediscover the Evangelists as inspired authors and to understand their books for the first time as truly Gospels; not just biographical accounts but history with a message. They did not merely chronicle events but interpreted them and produced historical sermons.
    Until redaction criticism arose, Christians tended to turn to the epistles for theology. Now we know that the Gospels are not only theological but in some ways communicate a theology even more relevant than the epistles, because these truths are presented not through didactic literature but by means of the living relationships reflected in narrative. The Gospels are “case-study” workbooks for theological truth, yielding not just theology taught but theology lived and modelled. Redactional study enables us to reconstruct with some precision the theology of each of the Evangelists by noting how they utilized their sources and then by discovering patterns in the changes which exemplify themes developed through the Gospels. The whole (tradition, redaction and compositional development) interact together to produce the inspired message of each Evangelist.
    In this way the reader understands the twofold purpose of the Gospels: to present the life and teachings of the historical Jesus (the historical component) in such a way as to address the church and the world (the kerygmatic component). History and theology are valid aspects of Gospel analysis, and we dare not neglect either without destroying the God-ordained purpose of the Gospels. While redaction criticism as a discipline centers on the theological aspect, it does not ignore the historical nature of the Gospels. Finally, redaction criticism is a preaching and not just an academic tool. The Gospels were originally contextualizations of the life and teaching of Jesus for the reading and listening audiences of the Evangelists’ time. They were biographical sermons (one aspect of the meaning of the term “Gospel”) applying Jesus’ impact on his disciples, the crowds (see People, Crowd) and the Jewish leaders to first-century readers and listeners. This is perhaps the best use of life-situation approaches, for they show how Matthew or Luke addressed problems in their communities and demonstrate how they can address similar problems in our churches.
    BIBLIOGRAPHY. C. C. Black, The Disciples according to Mark: Markan Redaction in Current Debate (Sheffield: JSOT, 1989); G. Bornkamm, G. Barth and H. J. Held, Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963); D. A. Carson, “Redaction Criticism: On the Legitimacy and Illegitimacy of a Literary Tool,” in Scripture and Truth, ed. D. A. Carson and J. Woodbridge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) 119–42; H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke (New York: Harper and Row, 1960); W. Kelber, “Redaction Criticism: On the Nature and Exposition of the Gospels,” PRS 6 (1979) 4–16; W. Marxsen, Mark the Evangelist: Studies on the Redaction History of the Gospel (New York: Abingdon, 1969); S. McKnight, Interpreting the Synoptic Gospels (GNTE 2; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988) 83–95; E. V. McKnight, “Form and Redaction Criticism,” in The New Testament and Its Modern Interpreters, ed. E. J. Epp and G. W. MacRae (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1989) 149–74; G. R. Osborne, “The Evangelical and Redaction Criticism: Critique and Methodology,” JETS 22 (1979) 305–22; idem, “Redaction Criticism,” in New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, ed. D. A. Black and D. Dockery (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991); N. Perrin, What Is Redaction Criticism? (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1969); E. J. Pryke, Redactional Style in the Marcan Gospel: A Study of Syntax and Vocabulary As Guides to Redaction in Mark (SNTSMS 33; Cambridge: University Press, 1978); J. Rohde, Rediscovering the Teaching of the Evangelists (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968); E. P. Sanders and M. Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1989); S. Smalley, “Redaction Criticism,” in New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Principles and Methods, ed. I. H. Marshall (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) 181–95; R. H. Stein, “What Is Redaktionsgeschichte?” JBL 88 (1969) 45–56; idem, “The Proper Methodology for Ascertaining a Markan Redaction History,” NovT 13 (1971) 181–98; idem, The Synoptic Problem: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987) 231–72.
    G. R. Osborne2
    JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
    PRS Perspectives in Religious Studies
    GNTE Guides to New Testament Exegesis
    JETS Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
    SNTSMS Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series
    JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
    NovT Novum Testamentum
    G. R. Osborne Osborne, Grant R., Ph.D. Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, USA.
    2 Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 662-68.

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“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ~~~~~~ This online Bible study series addresses primary New Testament words in their original language - Koinè Greek - as opposed to mainly using the English translations; which is like adding color to a black-and-white picture.

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