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Another 3 Reasons Every Christian Leader Should Learn Biblical Languages

Don’t allow self-defensive thoughts like, “So, everything I’ve done for X  years was a misguided waste?” “So, I’m not good enough?” “So! You think I can’t properly interpret the Scriptures in English?” prevent you from taking that next vital step in your dedication to radically improving your knowledge of Scripture. Here are 3 more ways that learning biblical languages can enhance your ministry.

4.     Learning biblical languages will improve your ability to use commentaries. Even if you don’t become a language scholar, a basic introduction to biblical languages will expose you to the controversies, and the technical talk involved in those controversies, that are being hashed over in good commentaries. With even a basic  knowledge of biblical languages you will be better equipped to evaluate the worth of some arguments over others.

There are three ways of interpreting Genesis 1:1.

(1) As a temporal clause introducing a single sentence from 1:1-3, “When God first began to create the heavens and the earth, and the earth was formless and…. 

(2) As a synopsis of the process beginning in 1:2ff, where a formless earth is already in place. Kind of like, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth; here’s how.”

(3) As the first act of creation… the creation of the formless earth.

Without a solid knowledge of Hebrew, you are in no condition to make a judgment.

5.     Learning biblical languages will empower you to do your own word studiesproperly. Words are the core of a language, working together in complex patterns of syntax and semantics to express highly complex ideas. You will gain access to the best tools in the trade for defining and sensing word meaning in context. You will learn to avoid the landmines waiting for the uninitiated.

The Strong’s Concordance, in all its forms, is one of the most abused tools in the history of Christianity, and, yet, it is hard to even image why until you learn biblical languages.

Does bara’ from Gen 1:1 really mean creation out of nothing? No! Is the Greek agape a special “God-type-of-love”? No! These are two of the great word fallacies repeated by thousands.

6.     Learning biblical languages will make you a more astute reader of English Bibles. I didn’t really learn English grammar until I started studying Greek and Hebrew. Prior to that, my reading had been largely intuitive. While learning Greek and Hebrew, my ability to observe the English text, to interrogate it, and to see paths for deeper investigation in it improved radically. Indeed, many of my language students have remarked that, while they learned a lot about Greek and Hebrew in my classes, they learned even more about English.

Mark 5:30 in the NASB reads, “Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” You should, if your grammar skills are up to snuff, recognize the true nature of this grammar. The phrase “proceeding from him” is an adjectival modification of “power.” It says what kind of power went out from Him. (See also, ASV, RSV) This stands in opposition to other translations (ESV, NIV, etc.) that obliterate the modification, as if the statement is nothing more than power went out from him. A keen sense of the importance of this grammar demands an analysis of the Greek… where one finds a clear defense of the NASB. The power that went out from Jesus was The from-him power.

One thought on “Another 3 Reasons Every Christian Leader Should Learn Biblical Languages

  1. That would depend what you mean by mistakes. Misprints? Modern electronic versions are well crafted. Errors of word meaning from the dictionary in the back? I intend to write a blog on this later, but let me say for now: The Strong’s concordance has one purpose—to find greek and Hebrew words standing behind the English… that’s it. Once that is done put it away. The dictionary in the back is filled with word study landmines. Never use the strongs to define words, only to find them. Those dictionaries are a lie from the pit of…. okay, I’ve over done it again… those dictionaries mislead those who don’t know the languages (accidentally) into imagining that translation and word study is easier than it is… that there is some flexibility in translation that doesn’t actually exist. Let me give one example of many that I could give. The Hebrew dictionary in the Strong’s makes no mention of Hebrew Verb Stem… none… and yet the stem of a Hebrew verb is vitally important to meaning. Eg. the word walk halak means walk in the QAL stem, but PACE or WANDER ABOUT or GO THROUGHOUT in the hitpael stem. KILL in the qal means kill, but in the hitpael means suicide and in the hiphil means execute.

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