In the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the bride’s father, Gus, loved to throw out the challenge, “Give me a word, any word, and I show you how the root of that word is Greek.” When offered a noun built on the Japanese words for “to wear” and “a thing,” he was undaunted, replying, “Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word himona. It mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!”
Well, one doesn’t have to go as far as Gus to be impressed by the great debt the English language owes to Greek. Consider these words, which employ Greek expressions found in the original text of the New Testament:
Odometer (hodos/road or way, as in John 14:6, “I am the way,” plus metreo/to measure, as in Mark 4:24, “It shall be measured to you”). This device records how far a vehicle has traveled.
Sarcophagus (sarx/flesh, as in 1 Peter 1:24, “All flesh is as grass,” plus phago/to eat, as in Matthew 26:26, “Take, eat; this is my body”). The limestone crypt breaks down dead bodies so that the bones might be gathered for storage in an ossuary.
Economics (oikos/house, as in Mark 11:17, “My house shall be called . . . a house of prayer,” plus nomos/law, as in Matthew 5:17, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law”). Those who would steward the financial fortunes of a nation trace their occupation to the servant who oversaw the financial affairs of the home.
Xylophone (xylon/wood, as in 1 Corinthians 3:12, “If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,” plus phone/sound, as in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “If the trumpet give an uncertain sound”). The bars of this percussion instrument are often made of rosewood.
Hypodermic (hupo/under, as in Matthew 8:9, “a man under authority,” plus derma/skin, as in Hebrews 11:37, “They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated”). A hypodermic needle delivers its medicine under the skin.
Hyperbole (huper/above, as in Ephesians 1:22, “appointed him to be head over everything,” plus ballo/throw, as in Mark 12:42, “She threw in two mites”). When we use hyperbole, we cast an exaggerated account up over the literal fact of the matter.
Catastrophe (kata/down, as in Luke 4:9, “If thou be the Son of God, cast theyself down,” plus strepho/to turn, as in Matthew 5:39, “but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”). Here is a disastrous downturn of affairs.
Seismograph (seismos/earthquake, as in Revelation 6:12, “and, lo, there was a great earthquake,” plus graphomai/to be written, as in Revelation 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life”). This machine records the intensity and duration of the earth’s shaking.
Psychology (psuche/soul, as in Matthew 11:29, “You shall find rest unto your souls,” plus logos/word or reason or matter, as in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word”). This discipline purports to be the study or science of the soul.
So if you undertake the study of biblical Greek (as in the BibleMesh course), you may well come to a richer understanding of your own English language along the way. And while “kimono” won’t work, “sandal” (sandalion) surely will, as in Acts 12:8, “Bind on thy sandals.”