The Practical Use of the Greek New Testament Part IV: The Greek Article in New Testament Interpretation -- By: Kenneth S. Wuest

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:469 (Jan 1961)
Article: The Practical Use of the Greek New Testament Part IV: The Greek Article in New Testament Interpretation
Author: Kenneth S. Wuest


The Practical Use of the Greek New Testament
Part IV:
The Greek Article in New Testament Interpretation

Kenneth S. Wuest

[Editor’s Note: This article is the fourth in a series on the general subject “The Practical Use of the Greek New Testament.”]

It should be taken for granted that the expositor of the New Testament must use the tools of Greek scholarship if he expects to do work of the highest caliber. He labors under the difficulty of being forced to use a translation which is being tenaciously held by the people whom he serves, the greatly beloved Authorized Version, a translation lacking in certain respects when judged by the advanced knowledge of the Greek language which scholars possess today. One of those defects is the treatment accorded the Greek article by the translators of A.D. 1611. That great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson says in this connection: “The translators of the King James Version, under the influence of the Vulgate, handle the Greek article loosely and inaccurately. A goodly list of such sins is given in ‘The Revision of the New Testament’.”1

These inaccuracies are of three classes. Sometimes the definite article is included in the translation when there is no warrant for it in the Greek text. At other times the article is left out when it should have been translated. And at times the Greek article does not lend itself to any translation at all simply because the English language has no idiom comparable to it. In all these instances the English expositor is led astray in his interpretation. There is no place for ignorance in the pulpit of Jesus Christ. One of the most beautiful things in the world is scholarship linked with deep spirituality as seen in an expositor of the Word of God.

“The definite article in Greek is the Greek index finger pointing out individual identity. It frequently does more than that. It marks contrast. It makes the word with which it is used stand out distinctly. It points out an object and draws the reader’s attention to it. The definite article in Greek was

originally derived from the demonstrative pronoun, and it has retained some of the demonstrative force.

“The Greek does not have an indefinite article comparable to the one in English. The absence of the definite article constitutes in Greek, where the context indicates, the equivalent of the indefinite article in English. The presence and the absence of the article must be carefully noted by the Greek student. The presence of the article identifies. The absence of the article qualifies. That is, when the article is used, the emphasis is upon pa...

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