Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Biblical languages in life and ministry

Because this blog includes commentary on the modern church and how it relates to the Biblical pattern, I would like to highlight a blog post by Bill Mounce called "The Biblical Languages in Life and Ministry."

In his post, Dr. Mounce warns ministers especially not to use their knowledge of the Biblical languages from the pulpit in such a manner to seem like the "elite few" who have special knowledge that the people in the pew don't have. He also flips up the coin to the other side to reflect on the value of studying the original languages, which he then leaves us to do!

1. I do believe that it is right and good for every believer to have the Bible in  his own language! This is the only way that believers can get on the fast track in getting to know the Scriptures.
2. All too many believers neglect the Scriptures and end up not knowing the Christian faith at all, apart from what they hear in the pulpit, radio or on TBN!
3. I believe that it is essential for every pastor to have studied and to know the Biblical languages. These men are ministers of the gospel of Christ and they should simply want to know what God said in the original languages and not The Message or NLT! I know, I know, I have heard all the excuses!
4. I further believe that there are some "ordinary" Christians from the pew that have the ability to also study the original languages and should make use of the opportunity to study them.

When I was at Bible college in the 80's I also studied the Biblical languages and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It took a lot of hard work and stamina, but it was worth doing it. I am not in the full-time ministry (but would still love to be), but am involved in software development on PC and Mac. Needless to say, I let my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew slip and I know that it has been to my own detriment that I let it go! I find it so much harder in life now to catch up again in Greek and Hebrew. I don't find it so easy like I did when I was in my 20's.

Having said that, I believe that studying the original languages (OL) has great value, not just for preaching and teaching, but also for personal study and devotion.

Knowing the original languages…
1. … in preaching gives confidence to the preacher that he is indeed teaching the truth. Of course, there are those that will twist God's Word, no matter what form it comes in.
2. … can guard against false teaching. Many times preachers say things from the pulpit based on misunderstanding what the Bible says, while knowing the OL could clarify the point up quite easily. The Greek in Jn 1:1 clears up exactly who the Word is and that the Word is God, a case for the Trinity.
3. … can deepen your knowledge of the Scriptures way beyond the superficial. It helps you focus on the words rather than just skim across them.
4. … can greatly assist you in your personal devotions. Picking up on the nuances of the OL will bring awe into your devotions. It will reintroduce that "Eureka!" moment into your daily devotions.

I am sure there are many more points on the value of studying and knowing the original Biblical languages, but I will leave these points for you to think about and perhaps to come up with more on your own!

Read Bill Mounce's follow-up called "Biblical Languages as a Spiritual Discipline."

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