Being interested in language, grammar and word usage in general, I found this to be of interest-  those of you interested in theology might  as well-the below writings are taken from the various links provided. While the Greek language is often very straightforward, I realize there are subtleties that can make translating it no easy task- here it appears as if things originally quite direct and simple are changed by phrasings and either =/-  words- for what purpose I don’t have even Sunday school to fall back on, but  one has to wonder how and why the original meanings were changed and ask oneself who benefits? That said, in perusing these links, it was an education in how it  certainly appears much meaning was altered, and some things simply invented. Some of the articles give very specific examples of how wording can affect what ones takes away from a passage. Again, I’m certainly no theologian or bible scholar, but found it interesting nevertheless. 



The meaning of certain words. Probably the most important kind of influence exerted by the Semitic languages on New Testament Greek is in the meaning of certain theological and ethical terms.

 It also contradicts the promotion of Hebrew as the only ‘acceptable’ language to God, and as the “language of heaven”.

Some speculate that the Jews did this “amazing” job of selectively editing multiple copies already in worldwide circulation. According to the Jews themselves, they “burned” all copies which they obtained. They didn’t want to just change the written names of God and Christ, they wanted to completely stamp out “Christianity”, the belief in Christ.

          If Matthew were considered primary to Mark, this would mean that the writer of Mark had intentionally made slight alterations in meaning to the Matthean text he copied/translated in order to cast the Jewish disciples and people in a bad light. Such a thought must have been intolerable to theologically committed scholars, and to others who wished to remain in good standing with their Christian colleagues and editors. It is still intolerable to some today, as evidenced by what one scholar said at a Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting, as reported by Daniel B. Wallace.24.1 This scholar confessed, “I cannot hold to Matthean priority because of Mark’s decidedly harder readings.”      The readings are “harder” only because it is hard for theologically committed scholars to believe that the writer of a gospel could have been pro-gentile and anti-Jewish.

The Greek outlook on religion and morals differed greatly from that of the Jews, and Greek terms were of course used to reflect the Greek outlook. But the Septuagint translators used these terms to represent Hebrew words which reflected Jewish meanings, and thus gave these Greek terms a new meaning. It is often this new meaning which attaches to these words when they are used in the New Testament.

One example is the Greek word nomos, which is usually translated “law.” In Greek the basic meaning of nomos is “custom” or “convention,” for the Greeks held that law was simply codified custom. But in the Septuagint the word is used as the equivalent of the Hebrew term torah, which means strictly “instruction” and which was applied to the Books of Moses, “the Law.” To the Hebrews, law meant not codified custom, but divine instruction imparted through Moses and his successors.

Thus when the New Testament writers wished to speak of law, not in the sense of man’s convention, but in the sense of God’s revealed will, the noun nomos lay ready at hand. Much the same took place with regard to a number of words, including names and titles of divine beings, psychological terms, and words denoting such theological concepts as righteousness, mercy, sin, atonement, sacrifice, propitiation, and reconciliation.

Contrast in extreme terms.

    Contrast in Hebrew is often stated in extreme terms for the sake of emphasis. The words of Malachi 1:2-3, “I loved Jacob, but Esau I hated,” illustrate this feature of Hebrew speech. A New Testament example is the Lord’s solemn affirmation, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). What Jesus means of course, is that his disciples must give all other objects of love second place in relation to him—a meaning brought out in the parallel passage in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Luke’s version preserves the Hebraic style, Matthew’s the Greek.

Various pleonasms, or ‘fillers.’.

 Hebrew often describes activity with a wealth of detail which the Greeks would find unnecessary, though perhaps colorful, as for example, “he arose and went,” “he lifted up his eyes and saw,” “he took and planted.” New Testament examples include Matthew 13:33, 13:46, 25:16, Luke 15:18, Acts 5:17. Frequently the verb archomai “I begin” is used pleonastically (see Mark 1:45, 5:17, 6:7), but it is not redundant in a passage like Acts 1:1 (Acts continues what Jesus literally began to do and teach.

More Sources :  Semitisms in Greek and How to Detect. Them


H. F. D. SPARKS Right arrow Full Text (PDF)

Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt By Hildegard Temporini, Wolfgang Haase (most is in English online, despite title)

One thought on “Semitisms:Translation Changes Biblical Meaning

  1. stuka1488 says:


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