Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vincent's Word Studies

Thanks again to Olive Tree for giving me a four-volume, 2600 page resource that I can carry in the palm of my hand. On the bookshelf, it would take up about seven inches of space.

Vincent’s Word Studies is a cross between a exegetical commentary and a Greek lexicon. It goes into great detail on the vocabulary of the New Testament. Beyond just the meaning of the word, it gives background on the historical usage, how it is used in other places, writing style and other subtle nuances that you can’t put in a translation but can reveal through a tool like Vincent’s.

To use this tool you don’t have to be a Greek scholar. The intention of Marvin Vincent, from the preface, was to put the reader of the English Bible nearer to the standpoint of the Greek scholar, by opening to him the native force of the separate words of the New Testament in their lexical sense, their etymology, their history, their inflection, and the peculiarities of their usage by different evangelists and apostles.

This morning I was looking at John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The material went on for pages. Here is the breakdown of what was covered: in the beginning, the Word, was with God, and the Word was God. Each of those phrases was broken down and dissected. In the end, I could see the vast amount of truth and theology represented by this one verse.

Here is more from the preface that explains the value of a resource like Vincent’s:

The biblical student may therefore profitably combine two distinct lines of study; the one directed at the truth of scripture in mass, the other at the medium or vehicle of the truth in detail. A thorough comprehension of scripture takes in the warp no less than the woof. Labor expended upon etymologies, synonyms, and the secrets of particles and tenses, upon the wide range of pictures and hints and histories underlying the separate words and phrases of the New Testament, is not thrown away, and issues in a larger result than the mere accumulation of curious lore. Even as nature fills in the space between the foreground and the background of her landscapes with countless details of form and color, light and shadow, so the rich details of New-Testament words, once apprehended, impart a depth of tone and a just relation and perspective to the salient masses of doctrine, narrative, and prophecy.
Much of my Bible reading is just going through text. I read and ponder the words as they go through my mind. Other times I get hung up on a word, phrase or concept and tear it apart. Through that study, there have been occasions where I have found a particular interpretation or belief I had didn’t line up with the pure Word of God. It’s not comfortable to go through the process but very comforting to know that things I believe are rock solid and I can share them with confidence. That is the value of resources like Vincent’s and the portability of the Olive Tree Bible reader makes that kind of study possible anywhere.

Philip

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