Miles Van Pelt, Associate Professor of Old Testament and Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS speaks about the importance of the original languages for biblical study. Miles has helped produce several popular books and resources for original language study including Basics of Biblical Hebrew and Vocabulary Guide to Biblical Hebrew. Dr. Van Pelt encourages pastors and scholars to a renewed sense of the importance and efficacy of biblical study in Greek and Hebrew.
An excellent interview with Miles Van Pelt on the importance of the Original Lanuages and the importance of studying, learning, and maintaining them for ministry.
Michael Kruger has a very helpful website called Canon Fodder, that I would encourage anyone interested in the study of the New Testament to check out. In this article he discusses some of the benefits of learning and maintaining the languages after initial study. I encourage you to visit the link below and give it a read.
Why the Biblical Languages Matter - Even if You Forget Them
If you are a Christian then you believe that all Scripture is inspired by God. You believe that He is behind every word, directing every word, and that He has preserved His word for us today. But have you ever thought about how God inspired the Bible? Have you thought about how the Holy Spirit guided the men to write down the precise words which God wanted them to write?
Should we just blindly accept the Scriptures?
For some, the response to these questions would be, “I just believe the Bible and take God at His word” or something to that effect. Some people just accept everything, no questions asked. Some would say that my questions in the previous paragraph are overly critical and could breed skepticism. But is that true? Should we just simply accept things of such importance and magnitude without knowing why or how? I do not believe so.
We believe and accept the gospel by faith, but as Christians we should seek to understand as much of it as possible, and know why we believe what we claim to believe. The same is true of the Scriptures. We don’t just tell people, “believe in the gospel”, we have to first explain to them what the gospel is and why they must believe in it. The same is also true of the Scriptures. It is not right to say, “The Bible is God’s word, period. Just believe it and don’t ask any questions”.
As a student of New Testament Greek, I found this Psalm of David (Black) very relevant and timely. If you've spent any time studying this language then this will resonate within you. Two parts of this Psalm really hit home with me: the scourge of participles, and the comfort of appendices and charts.
A Psalm of David (Black)
My textbook is my guide, I am never in need.
It makes me learn the conjugations.
It leads me beside the declensions.
It restores my confidence in grammar.
It guides me along the paths of exegesis
For its publisher's sake.
Even though I face the scourge of participles
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me.
Your appendices and charts,
They comfort me.
You prepare an answer for me in the presence of my teachers.
You anoint my mind with wisdom.
My soul bursts with pleasure.
Surely my textbook will follow me
All the days of my life,
And I will remain a Greek student forever.
Who is your favorite New Testament writer? Some of us may have clear preferences, while others may be hard pressed to choose. Some, such as myself, like the simplicity and practicality of John. Others like the beautiful literary style of Luke. While others like the style of Paul.
Who is your favorite writer? Who are you most edified by reading? If you have one, what is your favorite NT book in Greek? Please share opinions, thoughts, reasons, etc, and let's make a discussion out of it.
Beware of the Greek New Testament. It is dangerous and may cost you your life. Now you are probably thinking, "What!? Greek being dangerous? What are you talking about?" This is usually not what one thinks of when the study of the NTG is mentioned. Oh how we have forgotten the past...
I came across the following words by James Hamilton and would like to share them with you all. Some may suppose them to be humorous. May it never be. They struck me as being anything but such, rather I found them to be edifying, challenging, and utterly sobering.
The following are misunderstandings which I have learned are quite common regarding NTG, especially for those who do not know the language. I admit, that before beginning to study the language, I innocently believed some of these. This article and these explanations are not meant to be negative, belittling, or attacking in any way. However as the study of Greek is so often attacked and misunderstood, the following is an attempt to bring clarity and closure on these common objections and misunderstandings, and inform the Body of Christ of the truth. There will be some overlap in several of these points, therefore it is best to read the article as a whole:
1. All somebody needs to do is learn enough Greek to be able to use study tools and look the word up in a dictionary/lexicon or on the computer, find its definition, and apply it to the verse in question. Therefore, we only really need to know enough Greek for Word Studies. If we can do that, then there is no real other need to go deeper.
This belief results from the assumption that Greek words typically have one meaning which can be found by looking in the dictionary, then applying it to the passage. Most Greek words do not have just one meaning. There are several factors which determine the final outcome of the meaning of the word, namely context. Yet, how often do we hear in a sermon, “This word in the Greek means…”? or "In the original text it says" "In the original this word means". When you hear these words it's often time to be wary. Those words often provide the introduction to misleading information. It would be more accurate and truthful to say, “This word in the Greek/original translates here as…”
In the words of David Alan Black, "Most Greek words are “polysemous”, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)”
It can be then, very dangerous to define a word simply based on looking in a lexicon and then applying what you find there or clicking a button in a computer program and getting a quick answer, without actually knowing the language and its grammar and correct function. While word studies can be profitable if done correctly, for the above mentioned reasons, they can also be highly dangerous if the user does not know what they are doing. It can be just a matter of moments before a detrimental exegetical fallacy is committed that does no justice to the text, but only harms it and its hearers. Even more so, Greek is useful for far more than just word studies. It is such a rich and deep language in which many treasures are found. Why settle for a translation, second hand knowledge, when we can go to the original source?
For info about correct word studies see this page: Functional Greek
Also see this blog post about Common Exegetical Fallacies
2. Greek is a very difficult language to learn. Only those with special language learning abilities or language gifting can learn it. The average Christian probably could not learn Biblical Greek.
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