Published on February 16, 2016 by Todd Scacewater

Zondervan, 2012 | 304 pages

All Greek students remember that prepositions can be a bit slippery, used as they are with varying nuances. And they have been cautioned against “theology by preposition.” Yet with all this duly noted, an understanding of prepositions remains very important for accurate exegesis of the Greek New Testament – and therefore for theology. And there are few better equipped to guide us with this careful balance than Murray Harris.

In his Prepositions and Theology Harris does not set out to provide a comprehensive treatment of prepositions (that may be found elsewhere). Nor does he relate the usage of prepositions in the New Testament to earlier and later Greek, although he does make some comments along these lines along the way. “Nor does this book purport to be a ‘theology of the prepositions,’ as if prepositions in themselves can express theology.” His goal, rather, is to provide “a study of numerous places in the Greek New Testament where prepositions contribute significantly to the theological meaning of the text.” As Harris clarifies, “Prepositions in themselves do not carry theological meaning, but the way they are used invests them with theological import.”

Harris’s work is marked by the following features:

  • All of the 17 New Testament “proper” prepositions are dealt with.
  • Discussion of key repeated phrases that use a particular preposition
  • Brief consideration of all 42 “improper” prepositions, with a detailed consideration of seven “theologically significant occurrences”
  • A classification of the use of prepositions in compound words
  • A layout that is very “user-friendly” and easily accessible to all Greek students
  • Explores both literary and broader theological contexts
  • Greek font―not transliteration―used throughout
  • Comprehensive indexes to hundreds of verses, subjects, and Greek words

Harris writes, “This volume is offered to the reader in the hope that it may encourage close study of the Greek text of the New Testament, sine interpreting the text grammatically – including giving attention to the nuances of prepositions – is the necessary prelude to understanding it theologically.”


D.A. Carson

This book, a greatly expanded treatment of Murray Harris’s earlier study of Greek prepositions of the New Testament, will not only increase the rigor of the exegesis of many more generations of students, but will enrich the work of pastors and commentators for decades to come. Highly recommended.

Anthony C. Thiselton

This book is immednsely learned, thorough, and relevant to its subject. It will be of great help to all New Testament exegetes. Murray Harris rightly shows how the meanings of Greek prepositions are varied and subtle, and resists any lazy assumption that one preposition represents one or two “basic” meanings mechanically.

I.  Howard Marshall

Murray Harris is a highly respected grammarian of New Testament Greek with a gift for precise interpretation of the text and the ability to convey the results of his studies clearly and helpfully. This careful study of the use of prepositions is to be warmly welcomed for the fresh light that he sheds on many well-known problem-passages involving their use, and students at all stages of learning will bless him for it.

A wonderfully useful resource – one of those to keep handy on the desk for frequent use.

Fred Zaspel

Buy the books

Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament

Zondervan, 2012 | 304 pages