A Method of Making a New Testament Word Study -- By: Stanley D. Toussaint

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:477 (Jan 1963)
Article: A Method of Making a New Testament Word Study
Author: Stanley D. Toussaint

A Method of Making a New Testament Word Study

Stanley D. Toussaint

[Stanley D. Toussaint, Instructor in New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

Word studies certainly do not fulfill the ultimate in New Testament exegesis, but nevertheless they are basic and fundamental for an accurate interpretation of the New Testament. Accurate exegesis (and true exegesis by nature is accurate) must consider a multitude of other pertinent materials such as textual criticism, grammar, syntax, theology, historical background, the occasion of the book, its purpose, the context of the passage, and characteristics of the writer. However, it is just because word studies are so fundamental and basic that they are important. For the novice in expository preaching or the seasoned exegete, word studies are a foundational element in his studies.

The Importance of Word Studies

There are a number of reasons why it is advantageous and profitable for New Testament students to make their own personal word studies. First, it aids the student of the New Testament in gaining perspective and depth in his understanding of the word in question. In all probability he will come to the same basic conclusions as are found in his lexicon. However, his study will have given him a clearer understanding of the word and a greater appreciation of its possibilities and nuances. Second, word studies afford the interpreter of the New Testament a check on the authority of his lexicons. Burton affirms: “…No earnest student can consent always and on all points to accept on authority even of the ablest lexicographers the opinions which he has to hold on matters as

vital as those with which New Testament lexicography has to deal.”1 Third, as a result of his word studies the novice will be able to use his lexicon with better understanding and greater facility. The allusions to the Hebrew, the Septuagint, and non-Biblical Greek will take on added meaning. Finally, the expositor will find in his word study a wealth of illustrative material for sermons and Bible studies. Some of the incidents in the classics and Koine Greek will both lighten and brighten that “heavy” explanation. In the final analysis, word studies are important for the hearer or reader as well as the teacher or writer.

Some Basic Principles

A word study should be historical. Throughout its long history the Greek language, as any living tongue, has undergone change.2 On the basis of these developments the history of Greek is generally divided into five periods—the primitive or formative perio...

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