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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Greek and Hebrew

Over the years people have asked me if you need to know Greek and Hebrew to get the most out of the Bible.  No.  It can help in some cases but more on that later…  Robert Traina, author of the seminal work, Methodical Bible Study – by the way if you have a book on Bible study and Traina’s book is not in the index or bibliography or referenced in some other way in the work, find another book.  Back to Traina, in about 1983 or so, a group of us spent a week at Asbury Seminary where Traina took us through the key parts of his method.  We were to read MBS before we got there.  It was a life changing event for me.
Knowing Greek and Hebrew is not essential to get great observations in Bible study.
During the week Traina focused on helping us to make better observations on the text in Bible.  There was none in the room with access to the original languages.  I remember that someone asked Dr. Traina if we needed Greek or Hebrew to make good observations.  He answered in the negative further stating that the English translations are good enough that whatever observations we can make with them would serve us well in study.  He further suggested the need to compare translations.  Significant differences in the handling of a text, he suggested, would highlight places in the Bible where the originals were hard to translate and signal to those of us who did not have access to the original languages a place to examine more thoroughly.

Since that week I have studied both Greek and Hebrew.  I have found that what Dr. Traina told us that weekend to be good advice.  Comparison of the translations is a great way to determine where to dig deeper.  There are some things knowing the language will help.  The great thing is that the tools for those of us who have not had the opportunity to study the languages have vastly improved.  In the next day or so I will share some ways to access these to assist your study.