Heidegger's Bible Handbook: New Testament in General: The Dialect of the New Testament

13. The idea of the diction is able to be called, both ἑλληνικὴ/Hellenic, Greek or Grecian, and Hellenistic, and ἰδιωτικὴ or vulgar. Yet it is not so Hellenistic that it is able to be said to be a peculiar Dialect of the Greek language. The arguments of Salmasius.


Joseph Scaliger

Whether the form or idea of the Greek diction of the books of the New Testament is to be called simply ἑλληνικὴ/Hellenic, Greek or Grecian, with the majority; or ἑλληνιστικὴ/Hellenistic, with Scaliger,[1]Heinsius, and others; or ἰδιωτικὴ or vulgar with Salmasius, my opinion matters little. For, to what profit are these entanglements of words? It is certainly Greek or Grecian, and of the sort that was commonly in use at that time, when the Evangelists and Apostle wrote, although abounding in Hebraisms especially (so that all might understand the supplied New Testament to harmonize and agree with the Old even as far as the diction; and so the domestic Jews are not able to despise its novelty, and the foreign gentiles are not able to suspect it of diversity), and some other Dialects recognized by Most Learned Men, Pasor,[2]our Wyss,[3]Johannes Vorst,[4]and Gataker.[5] It is also Hellenistic, because it was used, developed, and received by Hellenists, that is, Greeks or foreigners with respect to origin, but proselytes of worship or religion, dwelling among the Jews at Jerusalem and elsewhere. Finally, it is also ἰδιωτικὴ/rudeor vulgar, because it was used by those that were ἰδιῶται λόγῳ, rude in speech, as Saint Paul characterizes himself in 2 Corinthians 11:6, that is, because he commended himself, not with the persuasive words of human Wisdom, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect,[6]but by demonstration of power and of the Spirit.[7] Therefore, just as there is a Poetic style of the Poets, a Rhetorical style of the Rhetoricians, and a historical style of the Writers of History; so nothing prevents the style of common people from being called common or vulgar. Nevertheless, it is not able to be called Hellenistic in such a sense that it is a peculiar Dialect of the Greek Language, thus differing from common and purer Greek, as the Italic or French Language differs from the Latin; the Arabic, Syriac, and Chaldean from the Hebrew; the Danish, English, and Dutch from the Teutonic. That fabrication of a distinct Dialect of the Greek Language, and of a distinct name, namely, Hellenistic, if I be not mistaken, the Most Illustrious Salmasius in his Commentario de Hellensitica has most solidly refuted, with many arguments brought forward; of which sort are, that there was not nation, no people that made use of it, no certain location or region, in which it was of use: that not one of the ancients mentions a Hellenistic dialect: that there were no Hebrew Hellenists, after whom this Græco-Hebraic language was able to be denominated: that the Hellenists were not those by whom the scrolls of the Old Testament were written; so that neither are the Hellenists those by whom the books of the New Testament were written: that neither the Septuagint Translators, nor other translators of the Bible, nor the Apostles, wrote in the Hellenistic language: finally, that the language of Hellenisticis fabricated out of nothing, with no reason or authority, at least in the sense in which it is obtruded.


[1]Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) was a skilled linguist and developed into one of the most learned men of his age. During the course of his studies and travels, he became a Protestant and suffered exile with the Huguenots. He was offered a professorship at Leiden (1593), a position which he eventually accepted and in which he remained until his death. [2] Etyma Nominum Propriorum. Georgius Pasor (1570-1637) was a Reformed theologian and learned philologist; he served as Professor of Theology at Herborn (1607-1626) and Professor of Greek at Franeker (1626-1637). [3]David Wyss (1632-1700) was a Swiss Reformed theologian and educator. He served as Professor of Philosophy (1662-1669), of Hebrew and Catechetical Theology (1669-1676), and of Theology (1676-1700) at Bern. [4] De Hebraismis Novi Testamenti. Johannes Vorst (1623-1676.) was a German Lutheran philologist, theologian, and educator. He served as librarian to the Elector of Brandenburg (1660-1676). [5] De novi instrumenti stylo dissertatio. Thomas Gataker (1574-1654) was an English minister and theologian. He was in his day regarded as a critic of unsurpassed skill, learning, and judgment. On account of his great learning, he was invited to sit as a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. [6]1 Corinthians 1:17. [7]1 Corinthians 2:4.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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