Why Learn Hebrew/Greek

In one week I will begin teaching Hebrew at Oklahoma Baptist University. Many may/have asked why they should learn a biblical language? We learn the biblical languages to read the biblical text. Thus... 

How To Read The Hebrew Bible | My Jewish Learning

Reading Scripture in Hebrew helps to ensure that we carefully read, rightly understand, and correctly articulate the meaning of the text, with humility.

1) Reading in the original language forces you to slow down and savor the text.

In the information age, we are used to speeding through books, articles, blogs, vlogs, and other forms of media at an unbelievable rate. However, as confessional believers, shouldn’t we take our time to grasp God’s actual Word to us? My highschool pastor would read his Bible upside down to ensure that he slowed down and savored the text. Instead of upside down, I suggest the original language! I personally read from an interlinear app on my devices because it allows me to read carefully the original text, but expedites my enjoyment of the language. (more on that in the next post) 

2) Reading in the original language forces you to understand what the text means.

As we read our bibles, we do so to receive God’s word for us! We all have heard people read a bible verse or passage, then give an outrageous “meaning” of the text. But remember, A text simply CANNOT mean what the grammar of that text does not support. 

3) Reading in the original language forces you to focus upon what the text focuses upon.

Reading in the Hebrew allows us to see the focus of the passage. (this is why we should not just handle one verse out of context.) When I listen to other preachers I always have my english paper Bible, and my electronic hebrew/greek with me. I do this so that I can “fact check” the preacher with the text. The most common fallacy in sermons is a wrong focus. The original languages point (much like an English diagram of a paragraph ) to the focal word, phrase, person or action. 

In Hebrew we have numerous beautiful rhetorical features, such as alliteration, assonance, poetic structure, chiasm, marked/unmarked word order, which allow the reader to see the author’s focus. 

However, these beautiful features are often lost in translation. Thus Rabbi Hayim’s quote is fitting. Hayim Nahman Bialik Quote: “He who reads the Bible in translation ...

4) Reading in the original language combats interpretive arrogance.

“Reading in their original language repeatedly calls our preconceived notions about the meaning of these texts to account.” In other words, reading in the original language forces us to yield to the true meaning and implication of the text, not ones that we heard someone else preach / teach. Preachers who I admire (Olford, Sproul, Piper, Dever, McArthur, Dowden, Begg) were / are humble men who remained humble by keeping the biblical text the focus of the sermon / lesson and not themselves or any whitty linguistics. All of these men begin with the original language and prayerfully deliver messages from the text, not the mind.

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