SOME IMPORTANT GREEK THEOLOGICAL TERMS
Hagia Graphia: Holy Scriptures. He Kaine Diatheke: The New Testament. Septuaginta: Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. Tradition says that it was translated by 70 translators. Sometimes the NT writers quoted from it rather than from the Hebrew OT.Koine dialektos: Common language. The NT was written in Koine Greek, the common form of Greek spoken by the everyday man, rather than Classical Greek, which was for the more educated. Classical Greek was the language which the Greek philosophers had used, but had pretty much been replaced by Koine by the time of Christ. The Septuagint is in Koine, as are the writings of the Greek church fathers.
Autographa: Autographs, original writings. This refers to the original manuscripts of the books of the Bible, which we no longer have. Only the autographs are inspired. Copies are inspired only insofar as they accurately reproduce the words of the autographs. Apographa: Copies of an original.
Homolegoumena: Accepted by all. Antilegomena: Disputed by some. Most of the books of the NT were accepted without dispute by all the early Christians. But some early Christians questioned the inspiration of a few books, such as 2 Peter, Jude and Revelation. Canon : Measuring stick, canon. Refers the canon of Scripture, the collection of inspired books which are the measure of Christian faith and practice. Apocrypha: Non-canonical writings; not necessarily heretical, and generally revered for historical or devotional content. The Catholic Church accepts some books as canonical for the OT (such as the Books of Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, etc); Protestants and Jews consider these to be apocryphal. Liberals and Catholics sometimes use the term Deutero-canonical (second canon) to refer to these books. There are also a number of NT apocryphal books, but almost nobody but early heretics considered them inspired. Pseudepigrapha: False writings. Ancient Jewish or Christian books which claimed to be written by persons in the Bible (such as Elijah, Isaiah, Moses, even Adam and Eve!), but were forgeries and frauds usually containing considerable heresy. See 2 Thess. 2:2.
Exegesis: Reading out of a writing what is in the writing. Eisegesis: Putting into a writing what is not in it. The first is valid; the second is not.Hermeneia: Interpretation, hermeneutics. We are to use the right hermeneuties (principles of interpretation) in studying the Bible, so that we are putting God’s Word into our hearts rather than putting our words into His mouth. Bible-believers use what is called theHistorical Grammatical Method; Liberals use the Historical-Critical Method.
Theologia: Theology. From the Greek words Theos (God) and logos (word, science). Hence, theology is the study of God, the Science of God.Prolegomenon: First word, the introduction to a science that lays down its basic principles. Theological Prolegomenon includes the doctrine of Scripture, since all true theology must be based on the Bible. Paradeigma: Paradigm, law, idea. Theology includes the formulation of statements about God. Dogma: Dogma, the basic truths of theology, the fundamentals of the faith, the essential truths of the Gospel without which there is no salvation. Cf. I Cor. 15:1-4. Apostasia: Apostasy, the rejection of Christianity in whole or in part by one who once accepted it. One who does so is an apostate. Apologia: Apology, defence. Generally refers to the defence of Christianity against non-Christian philosophy or false religions.Polemia: Polemics, generally refers to the defence of Christianity against false kinds of Christianity, such as cultism, Liberalism or Romanism. Cf. Gal.1:8-9. Elenchus: The logical refutation of an error.
Theos: God. Atheos: No God, or without God. Agnostos: Unknown. Hence, an agnostic is one who claims that he does not know if there is a God, whereas an atheist says there is no God. Both are liars, for both already know God exists (Rom.1:18-23). Pantheos: All-God. Pantheists say that all is God and God is all. Apotheosis: The error that says that a person can be deified, becoming God. Several cults and forms of the Greek Orthodox Church teach this. Cf. Gen. 3:5. Autotheos: God-in-Himself. Theonomos: Law of God. Theonomy stresses the Law of God in both testaments and today. Theophania: Manifestation of God, such as the burning bush, pillar of fire, and especially Christ (thus a Christophania).
Akathleptos: Uncontainable. God is infinite. Hence, the whole universe cannot contain Him. The terms also refers to the incomprehensibility of God. No man can know everything about God. We can know Him personally, but not exhaustively, not even in Heaven.
Anthropomorphos: Anthropomorphic, in the form of Man. God uses human terms to describe Himself, even though He is not a man. For example, the arm of the Lord. Anthropopatheia: Anthropopathy, in the emotions of Man. Scripture ascribes certain human emotions to God, which may be weaknesses in Man but not in God. God has emotions, but not passions. He is angry, but does not lose His temper. God condescends to speak of Himself in human terms like this so that we can begin to understand Him.
Ousia: Essence, substance. In the 4th century, there was a major dispute as to the essence of Jesus Christ. The orthodox believers, such as Athanasius, said that Jesus is homoousios, of the same essence as God the Father. Heretics such as the Arians said that Jesus is homoiousios, of a similar essence of the Father. Some said that He was homoios, or similar in outlook or morality rather than similar in essence. Still other heretics said that Jesus was heteroousios or anomoios , both meaning different in essence from the Father. The Council of Nicea (AD 325) rightly affirmed the full deity of Christ and stated in the Nicene Creed that Jesus Christ is “of one substance with the Father”.
Theotokos: God-bearer. The Council of Ephesus, re-affirming the deity of Christ, said that Mary was the “Bearer of God” and not just of a person who was merely human. Later Catholicism preferred to translate this as “Mother of God”. Protestants recoil at this, and prefer the termChristotokos, bearer of Christ, for Mary was the mother of Jesus in His humanity, not in His deity. God has no mother, nor should we deify Mary.
Theanthropos: God-Man. Jesus is both God and Man. Not part God and part Man, but wholly both. He is the only man that was also God, and also the only time God became a man. Hypostasis: Person. Thus, the Hypostatic Union refers to Jesus having two natures in one person. Various heretics said he had only one nature and one person (Monophysitism), two natures and two persons (Nestorianism), one person and a sort of third nature produced by the hybrid of the two natures (Eutychianism), and other heresies. The Council of Chalcedon rightly affirmed that Jesus has one person and two natures, which are inseparably united but remain distinct without deifying His humanity or humanizing His deity. Hence, Christ has a dichotomia, or dichotomy, of natures. Humans, on the other hand, are a dichotomy in another way. We are both physical and spiritual. We have one person and one nature. Some Christians erroneously think Man is a trichotomia, trichotomy of body-soul-spirit, each differing from the other as much as the other. But the NT speaks of the soul and the spirit in basically the same way.
Autodidaktos: Self-taught. Specifically refers to how Jesus learned some things in His humanity from the Holy Spirit or from His own deity rather than from Mary, Joseph or the rabbis. Luke 2:40-52 shows this in Him even at an early age. Yet, we can also say that there were some things He chose to learn in His humanity through human teachers.
Kenosis: Emptying. The Kenosis Theory wrongly says Jesus emptied Himself of all deity when He became a Man. But the NT says He did not cease to become God; He became the God-Man. He merely limited the exercise of the privileges of deity in His humility (Phil.2:5-8).
Eucharistia: Thanksgiving. Some churches use the term Eucharist for the Lord’s Supper because the NT speaks of it as an ordinance of thanksgiving (cf. I Cor. 11:24).
Leiturgia: Religious service. Some churches use much liturgy, or symbolic ceremony. The NT, in contrast with the OT, is notably simple in its religious ceremonies. Even baptism and the Lord’s Supper are free from the later details added by some churches. So too the order of church meetings – decent and in order (I Cor.14:40), but relatively uncomplicated.
Adiaphora: Things indifferent. Neither right or wrong in themselves, but can be either. Antinomos: Antinomian, against the Law. Wrongly says the Moral Law is abolished (Matt.5:19). Neonomos: Neonomian, the Gospel is a new Law, obedience to which saves. Synergismos: Working with. Wrongly says we are saved by God’s works and ours together. Monergismus: Working alone. Rightly says we are saved by God’s works alone.
(For fuller definitions of these and other terms, see Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985).