Monday, April 14, 2008

[Xanga] A misinformed foray into the camp of Greek.

Especially around this time, people are always talking words about "Peace on Earth and goodwill towards men." But yo, straight up now, tell me, is that necessarily Biblical? The phrase itself, "peace on earth," appears only once in the Bible, and in this far different context: hink not that I am come to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to `set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.?(Matt. 10:34) (a verse that is, in itself, highly misunderstood and quoted. Jesus is not a justification for theologies of Empire, people).

Rather, the verse that most people are quoting is this, Luke 2:14: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." Nothing about peace on earth, but rather, peace among men on earth. And which men? Only the ones "with whom He is pleased"?


Nah it doesn't have to be all like that though. Let's go back and break it down. The Greek of Luke 2:14 says this: "doxa en uyistoiV qew kai epi ghV eirhnh en anqrwpoiV eudokiaV."

The first three words are the phrase "glory in the highest", then "qew", that is, the dative of God, "for/to God," so, "Glory in the highest for God," or as it's usually translated, "Glory to God in the highest."

"kai" simply means "and".

"epi ghV " means "on (the) earth".

So, so far what we have is: "Glory to God in the highest, and, on the earth...". Now we fill in the last part, the big part that we're looking at: "eirhnh en anqrwpoiV eudokiaV."

"eirhnh" is a nominative, a subject, meaning "peace".

"en anqrwpoiV" is a prepositional phrase: "anqrwpoiV" is another dative, "for/to men," and "en" is a preposition whose meaning, when combined with a dative is "with", so these two words mean "with men".

"eudokiaV." This is the big one. It's a genitive singular adjective, with the base, "eudokia", meaning "will, choice, good will, benevolence, delight, favor, or desire". And it might be a descriptive genitive, modifying "eirhnh": "Peace, that of good will/favor". It might also be a genitive of means, "Peace, by means of good will, with all men." It might be one of twenty other things, man, the genitive crazy on its different uses. But the point is, it's very possible, if not likely (as far as I understand, which is highly limited) that this "peace on earth, among men" is not as broad or general as we might, in our quieter moments, desire.

I guess all that I'm saying is that we have to be real careful, as Christians, when talking reckless, running our mouths about "peace on earth." Because that is not necessarily what God, through the sacrifice of His Son, has brought about: He brought about peace on earth "en anqrwpoiV eudokiaV." And without a clear understanding of that latter phrase (which will not only rely on careful Greek, but also thorough and mature understanding of other parts of Scripture), one must be very careful when hoping for "peace on Earth," lest one's thoughts turn from "peace on Earth" to the "peace of Earth" (John 14:27).

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