Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament

coverThis impeccably researched book is scheduled to release on October 23:

Murray J. Harris. Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament: An Essential Reference Resource for Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

About Harris

Harris presently resides in New Zealand and is professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis and theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Previously he was Warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge.

I’ve profited significantly from his written works, especially these four books:

  1. Jesus as God: The New Testament Use of Theos in Reference to Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.
  2. Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ. New Studies in Biblical Theology 8. Downers Grove: IVP, 1999.
  3. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005.
  4. Colossians and Philemon. 2nd ed. Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2010.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t at Trinity when I was a student there (2006–2010). But I’ve recently enjoyed working with him on a forthcoming project (more on that later), and I’ve heard Don Carson tell some fascinating stories about him. Carson describes Harris as the type of scholar who spends a Sunday afternoon reading classical Greek for pleasure.

Carson recounted a hilarious story. (I think I’m remembering it accurately.) One time a systematic theologian who didn’t know Greek nearly as well as Harris criticized Harris for his Greek exegesis on a debated issue. Harris responded by writing this theologian a respectful and compelling letter—in meticulous Koinē Greek!

About the Book

“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” (p. 13).

The book expands Harris’s classic 45-page appendix in NIDNTT:

Murray J. Harris. “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament.” Pages 1171–1215 in volume 3 of New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Edited by Colin Brown. 4 vols. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.

Harris explains that his book differs from his article in six ways:

  1. All of the 17 New Testament “proper” prepositions are dealt with.
  2. There are many more verses of significance discussed under each of these prepositions.
  3. There is a discussion of key repeated phrases that use a particular preposition.
  4. All 42 “improper” prepositions are briefly treated, with a detailed consideration of seven theologically significant occurrences.
  5. A classification of the use of prepositions in compound words is included; “prepositions in composition often best show their original import” (Robertson 574).
  6. The layout is more user-friendly and a Greek font is used. (pp. 13–14)

You can see the 5-page table of contents and a section from chapter 1 in this 12-page sample PDF. That PDF includes this figure (p. 29):


And here are charts from pp. 32, 241–42:





  1. says

    Thank you!! For this awesome announcement. Harris’s Jesus as God significantly influenced my thesis in researching Hick’s Christology and, of course, his NIDNTT appendix on prepositions is simply rich beyond measure.


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