Most modern Christians, Catholic or not, are well versed in Latinate theological terms and notions. But how well do they know the Greek words and ideas of the Scriptures themselves? Despite that the Greek New Testament has been back in the West for several centuries now, its vocabulary still has not become a part of the mental furniture of the common Christian. Logos, agape, kyrie eleison.... Can you go any further? And more importantly, how well do you understand these words, words that were spoken, prayed, discussed, and debated almost every day in the ancient church?
Even if the only Greek you know is "alpha" and "omega", Barclay's little classic is an enjoyable and accessible place to start your word studies. (It might even encourage you to learn Greek!) In a series of graceful short essays, Barclay examines a few dozen important or interesting words in light of their biblical and classical usage; what he comes up with is one part philology and one part devotional reading.
For the student who has some Greek, this book will remind him or her why one studies Greek in the first place. It should also cure the beginning student of the tendency to impose English meanings and connotations on Greek words, treating the Greek as if it were only elaborate dress for his own thoughts--a code, and not a language.
Written in 1964, some of the information might be out of date in the scholarly world; also, considering that a number of the words have been the subjects of whole books, one must not expect Barclay's accounts to be the end-all and be-all. But there is much good to be had from this book, and I recommend it both for individual study and small-group discussion.