How we know what we know--about Koine?

richard smith rbsads at
Tue May 7 06:56:16 EDT 2002

Dear Carl,

Thank you for your post. It was helpful for a beginner to read such a

The first thought which came to mind from the initial post of "How we know
what we know" was that we know because of the traditions of teachers and
students, continuing from the time of KOINE Greek itself.

We know because we can compare multiple versions of Greek language which
are as well or better known than NT Greek, and have been studied since the
respective times of the writers and speakers, because earnest and
scholarly people have desired and worked diligently to enjoy the real
fruits of the ancient Greek mind.

We know because today earnest and scholarly people can discern KOINE
differences and can source those differences from Semitic and other
influences, because these scholars seek to improve knowledge of KOINE by
studying modern archeological discoveries.

We know because the best efforts of faithful scholars and students both
today and in our tradition have given the evidence.

We know because these earnest scholars and students as continuously
challenging and correcting what we know.

We know because we study the language ourselves, and it can be understood.
 (In my case, it can be understood sometimes.)

My limited understanding as far as a iterative force in a perfective (vs
imperfective) tense is that the tense is the writer's (speaker's)
presentation of the action. It is often a rhetorical choice, especially
when not pre-determined by lexical or contextual matters. The objective
action which is described might be iterative, but using a perfective tense
means that the action is described as completed and whole.

Scholars seem to be close to the original language with regard to aspect
and tense.  Close enough to have their work accepted as reliable for
study.  (I am convinced that if I continue to study, my understanding of
aspect will eventually reach the I level on Chuck's scale.)

With regard to word meaning, however, is it possible that we do not
understand adequately various nuances?

Mark Powell, taking I think a narrative critical approach, makes a point
regarding the inaccuracy of translating BASILEA as kingdom.  Understanding
BASILEA as a cognate means that the English equivalent should more
accurately be also a cognate.  He suggests the noun "reign."

This, I think, will help me with several exegetical questions regarding
the kingdom (the reign) of God.

How do we know what we know?  Did 1st century listeners hear the word
BASILEA as "kingom" or as "reign" when Jesus spoke about the good news of


Richard Smith
Chattanooga, TN

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