Technically speaking...what is grace?
Here's what David A. deSilva had to say about this in his book, "Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity, Unlocking New Testament Culture."
Grace, then, held two parties together in a bond of reciprocal exchanges, a bond in which each party committed to provide what he or she (or they) could to serve the needs or desires of the other. Public benefactions were frequent, particularly as a means by which local elites reaffirmed or increased their stature in the public eye. Such graces did not form long-lasting bonds of mutual commitment, but friendship relations and personal patronage did. In the case of social equals, this amounted to an exchange of like goods, and services, always within the context of mutual loyalty and commitment. Between a social or political superior and his or her juniors, goods and opportunities were channeled down from above, and respect, public praise and loyal service were returned from below, again within the context of mutual commitment. Giving was to be done for the sake of generosity and bringing another benefit, and not with a view to material profit from returns. Receiving, however, was always to be accompanied by the desire and commitment to return grace for grace. Though often profitably compared to a dance that had to be kept "grace-full" in a circle of giving and receiving, these relationships were far more than ornamental or recreational (as dances are). They formed the bedrock of society, a person's principal assurance of aid and support in an uncertain and insecure world. (pages 118-119)So, you see, grace was the warp and woof that quilted people into a societal fabric. It was a common word; a word that spoke to people's needs. For many, it spoke to their deepest needs.
The use of the common vernacular has a way of sewing the meaning of a message into the very life of the one listening to that message. Paul, more than any other author, used that commonly known word to thread his message into the lives of anyone who would listen to him. I've often said that communication is the most intimate thing two or more people can do since it is the one thing that makes physical changes to the brains of those involved in the conversation--nerons change. Grace should do that.
Let me ask a another question. When you hear the word grace, does the concept of a religious, technical term come to mind? If it does, then that is unBiblical. Certainly, the Bible added meaning to the common word grace. It gave it something uncommon. Grace by its very nature will always be uncommon (until people's deepest need is fully relieved by the re-creation). However, it didn't make grace mean something different. It didn't turn a common word into a technical word, an ethereal, other-worldly word. It simply expanded it to encompass the need of eternal importance--one's soul. Grace was a common word applied to something of a larger-than-the-world worth. It was expanded by the text to apply to far more than food, and shelter, a person's worth in society, and other basic needs. But, in spite of this application, it was still a common, non-technical word.
Please understand that while I question the use of the English word grace, I most certainly am not undermining the very nature of what we Christians refer to when we use the term grace. I'm simply raising the question about how we communicate that beautiful truth, especially in our Bibles. Indeed, I'm asking whether we communicate the beautiful truth of it at all, if we use a word that in our common tongue doesn't mean what the original authors meant by their use of the word.
In our effort to make Better Bibles, how do we handle this? Should we use an uncommon word out of a sense of protecting God's truth, unlike the original authors who used a common word? Or, do we find a common word that communicates God's truth to the people who so desperately need to hear it?