The Pornification of the Pulpit... MCTS Blog

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- The Pornification of the Pulpit - Phil Johnson at the Shepherd’s Conference

The Pornification of the Pulpit - Phil Johnson at the Shepherd’s Conference

* Posted by Barcelou
* March 13, 2009

The title above was given to Phil Johnson’s recent Shepherd’s Conference sermon. I finished it this morning and find it a very challenging critique of tendencies of my own soul. May the Lord help me!

Below is from a lecture I give to my Elementary Greek students about Koine Greek and implications for the level we preach at/to in our own day. I don’t think we should use the language of common street-talk (not necessarily becasue it’s common, but becasue it is too often fraught with things that ought not to be spoken about [Eph. 5:12 and its context]) nor the language of the Academy. Read on.

The Greek language has the longest recorded history of any European language (3,500 years). There are five periods of its development: 1) Prehistoric – prior to the 8th century B.C.; 2) Classical – to 300 B.C.; 3) Hellenistic – to A.D. 500; 4) Byzantine – to A.D. 1450; and 5) Modern.
The earliest form of the Greek language stretches back to the 13th century B.C. Classic Greek, used by writers from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century B.C., was “capable of exact expression and subtle nuances.” Classic Greek possessed several dialects (i.e., dia [“through” or “by”] + lego [“to speak”]; the form of a language peculiar to a given geographic area). Attic, a dialect, became the most used form of Greek due to the influence of Alexander the Great. As he conquered the world, he took Greek culture and language with him. As the language spread, it adapted and altered. This adapted and altered form of Attic Greek is what we call Koine.
Koine means “common” and refers to the common language of the day in a given geographic area. It was a simplified form of Classic Greek. Koine Greek is found in the Septuagint (LXX), the New Testament, and the Apostolic Fathers.
Up until the last century, some scholars surmised that Koine Greek was a combination of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Others thought it was a “Holy Ghost” language created by God for use in the Bible alone. Archeological finds in the 19th century in Egypt, however, have proved that it was the common, conversational language of the day at the time of the writing of the New Testament. This discovery was made by a German pastor, Adolf Deissmann. Deismann’s study of manuscripts found in Egypt showed that the Greek of the New Testament “was neither bad Greek nor a special divine language, but rather that it represented the language of everyday life of the first century, Greek as it was spoken by people of the educational and cultural level of the writers of the NT” (Harold Greenlee). This is not to say that the Koine Greek of the New Testament was the language of the street. Daniel Wallace points out that there are three types of Koine: vernacular, literary, and conversational. Conversational Koine was the spoken language of educated people. He points out that the syntax of the manuscripts examined by Deismann and the syntax of the New Testament are not the same. The syntax of the New Testament is more complex than that of the papyri and less than that of literary Koine. The New Testament, then, was written in “conversational” Koine with some overlap into both the vernacular (Mark, John’s writings, and 2 Peter) and the literary (Luke-Acts, Pastorals, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, Jude).
Koine Greek was the universal language of the Roman Empire at the time of the writing of the NT. This is very important for preachers to remember. When God revealed Himself through Christ and his revelatory organs, he used the everyday language of the common, though educated citizen. This reminds us that we should seek to be clearly understood by those who listen to us and in a language and dialect known and used by them. We should preach to a level higher than common street-talk, yet lower than that of the Academy.

In case anyone is wondering, my sources include: Wallace, David Alan Black, Harold Greenlee, and Mounce.


Nice! Thanks, Randy! So we should be getting something more like Sproul and Macarthur, less like Driscoll, but not a seminary theology lecture either. That makes sense.

Rich Barcellos

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not against utilizing cultural buzz words for communication effectiveness. I am against "silly talk" and "coarse jesting" as Paul says in Ephesians 5:4. The silly talk and couarse jesting of that passage refer to sexual things.
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