Why Study Greek and Hebrew?

From Issue: Discovery 9/1/2014
Greek Inscription

If you are like a lot of young people, you have probably wondered why it is important tounderstand some things about the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages. How can it help Christians know more about God’s Word if we know more about the languages in which the Bible was originally written? To answer that question, we can take a look at how languages relate to each other.

In the United States, we speak English. Everything we say or write, for the most part at least, is in the English language. But if you have ever gone to a foreign country, where few people speak English, you may have had to depend on someone to tell you what other people were saying. For example, if you go to France and visit the Eiffel Tower, most of the people there will likely be speaking French, not English. If you wanted to know what other people were saying, you would need someone called a translator.

A translator can be very helpful in a situation where we don’t understand a foreign language and need to communicate with other people. But sometimes, translators can make mistakes. For example, words can often have more than one meaning. When a word is used that has several meanings, we must rely on the translator to make the right decision about which word to use in the translation. But sometimes the translator chooses the wrong meaning and we are not able to properly understand what is being said.

Because the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, those who do not know those languages must rely on translators to understand the Scriptures. But what happens if the translators make a mistake? We might misunderstand the meaning of a part of the Bible. For this reason, it can be very helpful to learn about the languages of the Bible.

Knowing the biblical languages, or at least how to look up the meanings of the original words, can be very important in assuring that we know what the Bible writers were communicating to their original audiences.


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