The Biblical Languages

Started by Foadle, March 21, 2014, 10:07:44 pm

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With so many translations of the Bible out there, some of which seem to have very different interpretations of what a scripture is saying to others, I thought I would pose the question: How much does not being fluent in the Biblical languages impact our ability to understand the Bible? And does it impede depth of understanding? 

On that same basis does it leave us open to being misled? For example I have seen it where a word in the Bible is given a "meaning" in the Hebrew which suited the individual's purpose but when I looked it up myself actually meant nothing of the sort.

Your thoughts?


I believe that you are not hindered by not knowing as the Strongs and a good Lexicon can help you overcome all that.  I do believe that without some in depth study it becomes quite possible to lose something


I used to use a four translation parallel extensively, and found that all of the translations in it, (KJV, NASB, Amplified,1984 edition NIV), all said basically the same thing, just differently.  Some were stronger on a significant point in one place and weak in another, but if taken on the whole the differences aren't significant. 

Where I think we lose something in not having a cultural reference.  Some of the things in the Bible are very Jewish, but not just that, very period Jewish.  Fortunately, we have a very BIG God, and the scriptures are the guard rails not the only communication.   
I used to worry and stress and strive to "do my part," never believing that I had done enough of "my part."  Now I see my part as casting it off on Him, doing what I believe He is giving me, and letting it just be His problem.  I don't have to fix everything, but I get to work along side of God.


when i was in the military i was in an artillery unit.  we used forward observers to give us instructions on target locations; the more observers we had in different locations, the more accurate our first round would be as we plotted the target locations reported and used them to 'triangulate' the actual location of the target - that's how i see using different translations, commentaries, dictionaries, etc.

but for me, understanding the Bible starts with hearing from God; not an audible voice or even an articulated thought, but a 'seeming' if you will (Luke 1:3).  for years, when i read Matthew 27:46 or Mark 15:34, something bothered me.  i knew that God had promised that he would never leave or forsake someone who was faithful to believe Him, so it didn't make sense that God had forsaken Jesus - the only person who ever lived who fully believed God.  a day came when it 'seemed good' to do some research on this, so i went to my trusty e-sword bible and started reading commentaries - something i usually don't do.  when i got to Clark's commentary i saw something different.  Clark maintains that this is a quote from Psalms 22:1 (as do most commentaries), but he proposes that Psalms 22:1 was potentially transliterated incorrectly:

begin quote:

However, some think that the words, as they stand in the Hebrew and Syriac, are capable of a translation which destroys all objections, and obviates every difficulty. The particle למה  lamah, may be translated, to what - to whom - to what kind or sort - to what purpose or profit: Gen_25:32; Gen_32:29; Gen_33:15; Job_9:29; Jer_6:20; Jer_20:18; Amo_5:18; and the verb עזב  azab signifies to leave - to deposit - to commit to the care of. See Gen_39:6; Job_39:11; Psa_10:14, and Jer_49:11. The words, taken in this way, might be thus translated: My God! my God! to what sort of persons hast thou left me? The words thus understood are rather to be referred to the wicked Jews than to our Lord, and are an exclamation indicative of the obstinate wickedness of his crucifiers, who steeled their hearts against every operation of the Spirit and power of God. See Ling. Brit. Reform. by B. Martin, p. 36.
Through the whole of the Sacred Writings, God is represented as doing those things which, in the course of his providence, he only permits to be done; therefore, the words, to whom hast thou left or given me up, are only a form of expression for, "How astonishing is the wickedness of those persons into whose hands I am fallen!" If this interpretation be admitted, it will free this celebrated passage from much embarrassment, and make it speak a sense consistent with itself, and with the dignity of the Son of God.

end quote.

ultimately, i think it's what we 'hear' from God through our spirit that makes the dead letter of the bible come alive; mental ascent and intellectual knowledge of words and languages are merely helps to what God 'speaks' to us directly; reports we can use to 'triangulate' the actual meaning of a specific scripture (or scriptures) once we've been led by God to focus on it.
Joh 17:3  And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.


The word itself tells us to study.

There are many good concordances, lexicons, word studies and other helps.

It does take much study, just to come to a place where one's foundation is sufficient so that one can begin learning.