The Concordant Method
A.E. Knoch

As an earnest Bible student, desiring to understand the word of God, I discovered that practically all solid progress in the recovery of truth during the last century had come through the use of the concordance. I found that those of my friends who based their study on a concordance made the surest and speediest advance in their knowledge of God. Hence I also began to test and correct my ideas as to the meaning of Bible words by tracing them through all their occurrences. The immense profit and pleasure of this plan awoke in me a strong desire to do all in my power to assist others in this safe and satisfactory method of assuring themselves of the real revelation which God has given.
But I found that even keen students of exceptional intelligence were not able to derive much benefit from concordances based on English translations. Only those who used concordances based on the original languages received real help. And even they were harassed by using a version which continually counteracted the benefits of their concordant study. So it gradually dawned on me that it was foolish to fill my mind with a discordant version if I hoped to advance in the knowledge of God. It would be just as save to tangle up a ball of twine before trying to use it.
Thus it was that the idea of a concordant version suggested itself to my mind. Instead of correcting current translations occasionally by a concordance, why not make a version which is already concordant, so that the simple reading of it will give all the benefits otherwise won by prolonged and arduous study? Indeed, such a version might do far more to bring the unschooled reader into accord with the truth than would be possible by the patient and prolonged study of a concordance. For instance, it would be easy to explain what the soul is if our translators had never rendered it life. It would be an impossible task to correct all the mistranslatings in the minds of Bible readers. Why not make a version in which psuchê is always soul, and zôê life?

A Reverent Method

No one could honestly object to this method, for it is not based on human scholarship but on a worshipful recognition of the divine Author's ability to make Himself understood. Most versions always render zôê life, so that no one is at a loss to know the significance of the word. But how few know what soul means! That is because it is not uniformly translated. In the Hebrew Scriptures it is rendered by over forty different expressions, such as appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, ghost, heart, lust, man, mind, pleasure, but especially by life. The Greek word is rendered mind, heart, and life (more than thirty times) besides soul.

A Sane Principle

I appeal to the sanctified common sense of the saints, "the spirit of a sound mind" (2Ti.1:7). If the holy spirit intended us to understand life in so many places where the original has soul, why was not the word for life used? I came to the definite conclusion, which has been strengthened by tests extending over a quarter century of study, that wherever possible, each word in the original should be represented in translation by only one English word. Then the English reader, seeing this English word in all of the correct contexts, subconsciously acquires its exact signification and force and color.
Another principle I found to be of just as great importance. The same illustration will serve. Even the word life has lost its distinct meaning by being used for soul. No one would tolerate such a translation as : The first man Adam was made a living life." Why, then translate "Take no thought for your life"? (Lu. 12:22). Why not "Do not worry about the soul"? No English word should do duty for more than one word of the original. This is quite as necessary as using only one English word for each Greek or Hebrew expression. Between the two we have the best possible safety device for insuring purity, clarity, and accuracy in the translation of God's holy word.

A Simple Short Cut

The CONCORDANTVERSION is not another burden for the student to bear, but an easy, simple, short cut to knowledge which would cost him more than a lifetime of study by any other method. Instead of giving him a puzzle to solve, it gives him the solution. He does not need to study a concordance of the original to find out the exact meaning of any word. First, he is assured that he has the nearest English equivalent. Second, he knows that when he sees it he may depend upon it that the light of the context is true and not a false beacon to lead him astray.
The greatest benefit will come, not to the student as such, but to the humble reader who will simply use the version and allow the contexts to color each word and define its force for him. He will be a constant attendant in the school of God, quite independent of human learning or scholarship.

Not a Modern Version

The CONCORDANT is not a "modern" version. Neither is it archaic. The method is such that little regard could be paid to the outward embellishment of thought. All appearances are subordinated to truth. Yet truth is itself so desirable and beautiful that only the superficial and unbelieving will prefer error because it is arrayed in robes rich and venerable. The living Word was not clothed in sumptuous garb to entice the eye. He had no form or comeliness. There was no beauty, that they should desire Him. So is the written word. The desire to dress it up is of the world and not of God. Those who despise its meanness ally themselves with the throng who crucified the Lord of glory.
We are warned that, in the latter eras, religious men will want their ears tickled rather than their hearts aroused (2Ti.4:3). They will prefer the musical to the true. Familiar, finely phrased error will appeal to their ears rather than inspired facts to their minds. But truth has a spiritual harmony and sweet accord which no dissonance can mar, and which is unutterably more pleasing to the anointed ear than all the music of mere sound.

Based on the Orignal

The concordant method of studying the scriptures uses a concordance to discover the meaning of a word, not in any version, but in the original. It is based on its occurrences in the Hebrew, Chaldee, or Greek, however it may be translated into English. The aim is to discover the usage and fix its signification by its inspired associations. It is in line with the linguistic law that the meaning of a word is decided by its usage. In this version the efficiency and value of this method has been greatly multiplied by extending it to the elements of which words are composed and by combining with it the vocabulary method, which deals with each word as a definite province of the realm of thought which must be carefully kept within its own boundaries.

Word Analysis

The evidence for the exact force of a given expression is multiplied many times if we separate it into its elements. Take one of the two words which are usually rendered "foundation". Its elements are DOWN-CAST, and the Greek has found its way into English in the word catabolism. The element DOWN brings in two hundred witnesses, while CAST commands over fifty, These we may call its near relatives. They arouse a suspicion in our minds that DOWN-CASTing is a strange and unlikely word for "foundation". It does not suggest building up but casting down. By testing this new thought in all the contexts we discover that DOWN-CASTing means disruption, not foundation.

The English-Greek Sublinear

Not only does the separation of the Greek vocabulary into its elements help in fixing its true meaning, but it enables us to build up an artificial English-Greek for use in the Sublinear which brings the two languages together in a most interesting and profitable way. The reader who knows no Greek is easily able to follow and grasp the idiom of the original, and to enjoy God's revelation in the very mold in which He cast it. There is the same relation between His thoughts and words, and between the words themselves that exists in the inspired autographs.
Such an English-Greek translation is by far the best instrument for making a version in which the thoughts, rather than the identical symbols of thought, must be used. The human mind at its best is limited. The keenest intellect needs this assistance. The mathematician might be able to count without the use of figures. But how far could the science of mathematics go if it had no numerals? So the Elements used in this version help to convey the precise values of the Greek into the English. Such a word as repentance in far more colorful when we find that, in Greek, it is called "after-MIND".

Grammatical Standards

Still greater is the gain in the grammatical elements. Take the word usually rendered Who hath abolished (2Ti. 1:10). Now we know that death has not been abolished yet. From the ending of the word we see that its grammatical elements associate it with indefinite verbals, which do not state the time of the action. Hundreds of other passages, where this form is used, focus their light on this, and we are practically compelled to render it Who abolishes. The great value of this change is instantly evident, for we can literally believe it, though we could not believe that death has been abolished.
We unhesitatingly make two tremendous claims for concordant uniformity in transferring the grammatical elements into English. The probability of such renderings being correct is increased many fold, for all the evidence is continually before us, and subject to scrutiny. Moreover, even if a standard should be wrong, or, what is more likely, is not a perfect equivalent, the very fact that it occurs in all the divine contexts will tend to modify and correct it. Uniformity in rendering Greek grammatical elements into English is even more important than present exactness, for it is the only way to eventual exactitude.
We have taken the Greek grammatical elements and given to each a corresponding English form. Any one can see what confusion will result if we should not always translate a past by a past, a future by a future, and a present by a present. We must fort out our equivalents in this way or truth is turned into pious error. The very fact that there is a special form of the past proves that the indefinite is not a past. If the past can be rendered I wrote, the indefinite must be different. The existence of the present incomplete form, I am writing, bars the indefinite from this rendering. If we assign all available English forms except the Greek indefinite and have nothing but the English indefinite left, that alone goes far to prove the correctness of I write. No other method can be so save or satisfactory.

 

from CONCORDANT GREEK TEXT © 1975 Concordant Publishing Concern

 


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