Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Christian University's Sixteen "Payoffs" For Learning The Biblical Languages

It's very rare to see a long list for why someone should learn the biblical languages. I enjoyed reading Mid-Atlantic Christian University's list earlier this evening. I'm posting the list below. If you go to their page, you can read the comments that they provide about each one.
  1. You can study the actual words that the authors wrote. 
  2. You have insight into options that cannot be conveyed in a translation. 
  3. You can gain a better grasp of Scripture and theology. 
  4. You can understand English translations better. 
  5. You can better understand poetry as the author intended. 
  6. You can better understand the literary devices the author used. 
  7. You can better understand the modes of thought of the cultures of the Bible. 
  8. Your study of the Bible is more independent – it is yours! 
  9. You can use more and better understand resources that make reference to Greek and Hebrew: lexicons, word studies, theological works, grammars, concordances, journal articles, commentaries, etc.
  10. You are better able to evaluate the study of others. 
  11. You can preach better expository sermons. 
  12. Your sermons can come to life with meaning and interest. 
  13. You will find that you better understand language in general. 
  14. You will be better prepared for further studies in graduate school. 
  15. At MACU you cannot get an F on your transcript for first semester Greek and first semester Hebrew; they are “fail safe.” 
  16. For fun there are T-shirts available to students and alumni who have completed at least one semester of Greek and Hebrew.
I loved the list! Very cool. Can I add a few more? 
  1. You will pay attention to every word of Scripture. We often get comfortable with the readings in English. Looking at it in the original language forces us to consider "everything that is written down (morphemes, lexemes, mood, tense, voice, person, number, word order, etc.)" (something Dave Black used to tell us in class all the time).  
  2. You get to show everyone at your local church how much smarter you are than everyone else, especially when you pronounce Greek words from the pulpit or put them up on the screen. Students, never, ever, ever, ever, ever fall into this temptation! Your task is to make much of the Lord Jesus Christ when you teach. Like John said about his own ministry, you decrease; he increases. Your responsibility is to faithfully and accurately explain the meaning of a passage. Let your satisfaction come from the silent "well done" that comes from knowing you showed yourself approved. 
  3. You will internalize the Word of God more. When you labor over a passage like you do when you study Hebrew and Greek, you will remember it like never before. The harder you work at something, the more you have to show for it.
  4. You don't have to share the gospel anymore. You are more valuable to Jesus as a Greek scholar than as a missionary. May it never be! Students, don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever fall into this temptation! I don't care how much Greek you know, studying Greek is not your marching orders. The Great Commission is! If you're living for anything other than the Great Commission, you're not living the life Jesus intends for you to live. 
  5. You will be able to do your own textual analysis of passages like, in the New Testament, Matthew 5:22, John 7:53–8:11, the ending of Mark, and others. Why's that King James Version different than your trusty New American Standard Bible? Without a knowledge of the biblical languages, you're at a handicap evaluating textual issues. 
  6. Building on number five above, learning the languages will help you understand more about biblical inspiration. Divine inspiration and the inerrancy of the Word of God deal with the original manuscripts. You don't really understand why there are differences in Bible translations and different manuscripts until you learn a little about the languages. 
  7. David Alan Black will sign and mail you a copy of my book Luke 6:40 and the Theme of Likeness Education in the New Testament. Actually, I mistyped. He only signs books that he has authored, so no free book. Sorry. 
  8. I will sign a copy of Black's Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek and mail it to you. Actually, that's not going to happen either. My study on Luke 6:40 taught me that, "after being fully trained, the disciple will be like his teacher." Like Black, like Hudgins. 
  9. The spiritual benefit from learning the biblical languages outweighs the spiritual benefit from watching The Price Is Right with Drew Carey by a ratio of 120:1. The truth is you will grow spiritually in learning the biblical languages. 
  10. You get to experience God's grace and power in your life, firsthand. I've never met a Hebrew student or a Greek student that didn't say something like, "It was by the grace of God I got through that!" Why would you want to miss out on an opportunity like that? 
  11. You will finally get to understand the issue between so-called "literal" translations and non-literal translations. The goal in Bible translation is not keeping the number of receptor words to the absolute minimum (i.e., one word for one word as much as possible). The goal in Bible translation is faithfully recreating in a receptor language that which is communicated in an original language. 
Alright, it's getting near bedtime. Here's the takeaway: Learning the biblical languages is worth it. Mid-Atlantic has got a great list. I can't stress to you enough how much I appreciate them making their list available online.

Are you interested in learning Greek? Order a copy of Dave Black's Greek DVDs. Check out our New Testament Greek Portal. Check out my YouTube page. Download Jacob Cerone's Quizlet files. Take a class with me at Capital Seminary and Graduate School. Here's another possibility: I've heard through the grapevine that one of my current students is going to teach Greek at his local church in the very near future. Need anything else? Shoot me an email. If I can assist you in anyway, I'd be glad to. Just let me know.

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