Have you ever read a Bible passage in its original language?

hebrewbibleIf you’re an evangelical churchgoer, chances are you’re familiar with the Sunday morning “mini-Greek-lesson”—the part of a sermon where the preacher refers back to a Bible passage’s original language in order to better explain its meaning.

Reading a Bible passage in its original language doesn’t unlock any hidden secrets that are missing from modern English translations, but it can be helpful in interpreting challenging passages. For this reason, I’ve long felt that even a basic, introductory knowledge of Greek or Hebrew (just enough to look something up in a Greek or Hebrew dictionary and understand the information there) is a very worthwhile goal for Christians to pursue, given the chance.

Have you ever read part of the Bible in the original language in which it was written? How did it affect your Bible study in general? If you don’t currently know Greek or Hebrew, do you plan to study one or both of them in the future?

Share your thoughts!

14 Responses to “Have you ever read a Bible passage in its original language?”

  • Virginia D says:

    I am a teacher in our church and most lessons are prepared following the Greek and Hebrew. I believe it really does unlock a depth and add richness of understanding to the word of God. It’s not difficult to understand, it just requires a little investigation and a good concordance!

  • Know i have not ever read the word/bible in it’s original lauguage would love too if it was taught to me or show to me it would be a dream and a blessing come true. how ever i know that it is a many of people that have not but would really love too do such a thing as to read the original word grace unto to you amen.

  • I took two years of Biblical Greek in college. The course was advanced and challenging and I felt like I barely scratched the surface. I think about four years of Greek would give you the tools and skills necessary to start feeling confident.

    The problem of merely looking up Greek words is that words have context. Dictionaries are helpful, but shouldn’t be relied upon in a confident way when trying to rightly divide the word of truth. It’s easy to get goofy doctrine out of that. Most “greek-lessons” in sunday school is often intellectual posturing and gives little more accuracy (and often inaccuracy) than what the translators have given (because translators know what the greek is saying more than your run of the mill sunday school teacher).

    When you start reading Greek words in context, you discover that syntax is very complex and varied. You’ll have a genitive form, for example, and it could be 20 different options. Each one changes the meaning. And unless you have a good handle on syntax, you’re just guessing.

    So a little knowledge, like with everything else, is dangerous.

    What I’ve been very impressed with since taking Greek and graduating from seminary is how brilliant so many of our English translations are. Unless we’re very versed in greek, our English translations tell us more about a text than doing word studies. Good translators should be upheld as church heroes.

    My favorite translation is TNIV because it not only gets at the meaning of things (that word-for-word miss, like NASB and KJV) but it is gender-accurate (not “gender-neutral,” as is often misunderstood… my least favorite is the ESV for it has gender bias and was translated with that purpose in mind). For a good book on translation, check how How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth by Fee. In that book you’ll get a real glimpse of the difficulty of Bible translation, what translations are more helpful than others, and a brief history of how we arrived at the English translations we have today. I highly recommend it.

    If there’s one thing every follower of Jesus needs is confidence in the Scripture. Having an understanding of how we got it and how it was translated is a big step in that direction.

    • i love how you put that dale could not have sad it better and by the way i did not know that the greek launguage was so diffcult to learn you just taught me something and i would not have ever thought that any launguage was ever be consider as bias esv do you mind telling me what is esv is thank you for your input as it has made me more a where of the different language aroung the world and in the bible ty again sister sharon.

  • johnchandy says:

    I am from Kerala iam read bible only malayalam and english still i am not read origin language bible l think so difficult original.I like to study. God will worship me if i can do it. Thank you for all brothers and God bless you understand all Bible language.

  • Jason says:

    I took three years of greek, and two years of hebrew :)

    What Dale said is right, context is king. Little things about words, such as their parsing, only serve to make the context even more clear than it already is. If there’s no context, and the whole point is the word means this or that… Probably better off not using any greek/hebrew at all.

    Words do have varying meanings, but to lump all the meanings together into one is a bad approach, because a word doesn’t mean everything all-together, it means different things in different contexts. Hope this helps :)

  • To know how to read the bible in its original language will help us unlock the context.

  • Nathaniel says:

    I haven’t yet… it has alway been something I desired to and intend to do

  • Thabo Motau says:

    I believe i will read the original bible for more understanding about the God cause i believe that if the holy spirit revealed everything through other translation. what more about reading the original translation.

  • eleni says:

    I,am greek and ifeel blessed because i can pray and read the bible in the original language.To learn to read in ancient greek you need years.Is incredible difficult.I was excellant student in modern and ancient greek ,and ifind it hard.God bless you for your try.But i read,it know in english ,and i promise you is perfect .It does not change anything. you need it if you want to debate with a moslem maybe, or when you are going to teach the religion.

  • du hoc uc says:

    To know how to read the bible in its original language will help us unlock the context.

  • Mike says:

    I’m looking for an EXACT word for word translation of Greek to English of the NEW TESTAMENT.(not a watered down version) Anyone know where to look, Thanks!

  • Kettly says:

    NO! I haven’t and it is my most desire to learn.

  • richard tuong says:

    i love God and His word. God has used me as a Sunday School teacher in our Vietnamese church and we feel so much bless by the guidance and reveals of the Holy Spirit when we study His word. i strongly desire to learn His word in original scriptures in Greek and Hebrew. And also believe it should help us to understand the depth and the richness of His word. i’m really love to learn and get to understanding of what’s the True meaning of the words (nouns, verbs, adverbs…) of Greek/Hebrew translate to English. Anyone know where to find them, please help! Thanks and God bless!