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Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by UnchartedSpirit, May 29, 2007.
Who can't read the bible in the origional Hebrew or Greek manuscripts?
We don't have the ORIGINAL manuscripts. We have reliable copies, though.
There must always be those scholars, true to the faith, who are learned in Hebrew and Greek and can instruct us on the meaning of the original text. These men and women safeguard the integrity of our translations, and bring the Word of God into many other languages where it has not been available.
But, I think fluency is superfluous to the general work of the local church. Rather, I think is makes sense to give pastors and lay members the right tools to be able to consider the fullness of meaning in an original language and the context of concepts and words in the Scriptures. Such tools like a decent concordance and lexicon, and commentaries like Robertson's Word Pictures.
The American church (the biblical, evangelical church, that is) seems to be ever learning, and never doing. Let's work on bringing the light of the gospel to relationships and bring the divorce rate back down below 50%. Let's bring the peace to the inner city (I live in Philadelphia, where murders are skyrocketing). Let's be good stewards of the resources we have, good givers, good senders, good doers. Solid theology requires a trustworthy translation of the Scriptures. We have many, so let's put the Word into practice!
All that being said, I think you're handicapped only if your service for the kingdom requires the use of Hebrew and Greek! You aren't handicapped in so many areas to which you could devote many lifetimes of service.
I don't do Greek of Hebrew fluantly, but I do know how to decipher both. Hebrew is more difficult but I've gotten some fantastic tips from a friend (a Messianic Jew) who understands Biblical Hebrew almost as if it's his first language.
My point is that, after I investigated a number of debatable passages, I do think those of us who rely solely on the English are handicapped somewhat by mistranslations and by the inadequacy of the English language to express some things that are much easier to understand in the Greek. I suspect we also simply don't recognize some Hebrew figures of speech and translate them improperly.
But I don't think you need to learn Greek and Hebrew to overcome most of that handicap. I think it's enough to have reliable sources from people who do know the languages well. It also helps to use more than one good translation, and helps to avoid the bad translations. Unfortunately, we could probably argue for the rest of our lives which ones are good and which ones are bad.
My one tip for the day is to avoid like the plague any source who uses logical fallacies in translation. They sound so convincing but they're usually dead wrong. For example, someone noted that in the Greek for, "God works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure," the Greek word for "works" is "energeo". He said that, because we get our word "energy" from the Greek, you can interpret the verse to mean "God energizes you to will and to do..."
This is a very popular logical fallacy. It's almost always a mistake to find the English derivative and plug it back into the verse as if it will enlighten you as to the meaning of that verse. Energize is simply not what the Greek word means. That's why it's not translated as "energizes".
(By the way, the "to do" part of that verse is also from the word "energeo".)