Prepositions are important in the exegesis of the Greek New Testament, but they are at the same time very slippery words because they can have so many nuances. While Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament rejects the idea of a “theology of the prepositions,” it is a study of the numerous places in the Greek New Testament where prepositions contribute to the theological meaning of the text.
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“From the point of view of historical development, prepositions did not ‘govern’ the case of a noun but rather helped to define more precisely the distinctions indicated by the case forms or were added to recapture original meanings; the accusative basically denoted direction (‘Whither?’); the genitive, separation (‘Whence?’); and the dative, location (‘Where?’).” (Page 28)
“Given the general tendency in Hellenistic Greek toward relative laxity of usage and ‘overlap’ of function with respect to prepositions, the exegete should not assume that a change of preposition, a change of case with a repeated preposition, or the use or nonuse of a preposition in successive phrases or parallel passages always marks a change of meaning. A writer may merely wish to avoid repetition or vary his style (see Turner, Style 76–77, for the Johannine corpus).” (Page 40)
“Nor does this book purport to be a ‘theology of the prepositions,’ as if prepositions in themselves can express theology. Rather, this is a study of numerous places in the Greek New Testament where prepositions contribute significantly to the theological meaning of the text. Prepositions in themselves do not carry theological meaning, but the way they are used invests them with theological import.” (Page 13)
“P. Bortone has successfully defended his central thesis that ‘the history of Greek prepositions, if analysed in its entirety, is largely congruent with the ‘localistic hypothesis’ that concrete spatial meanings are the earliest ones, and entirely congruent with the ‘unidirectionality hypothesis’ that spatial meanings evolve into non-spatial ones but not vice-versa’” (Page 28)