Why Learn The Biblical Languages – Professor Elizabeth Groves of Westminster Seminary

Posted on September 26, 2009


  1. Your translations are “trustworthy.” But…
  2. Often, there is much richness in the original languages that forces a “choice” in the receptor language. With that choice comes a loss of meaning; we are missing something in the translation.
  3. Often there are things you simply cannot translate (such as structural grammar and poetry).
  4. You can also know just enough Hebrew and Greek to be dangerous. So, knowing the language is also protection, a guarding of the text, and a caring for the “flock” who is being taught.
  5. We ought to want to read it for ourselves, simply because of our love and affection for the God who has given us this text, 4/5ths of which are in Hebrew, and 1/5th which is in Greek.

— VIA —

I would add…

6. Language is the carrier of the human experience, i.e. “culture,” (emotions, feelings, meaning), etc. And to simply think and work in one language is to miss out on other ways in which God has revealed Himself to people throughout history.

7. The goal is not to be able to translate the original languages, but to be able to think, operate, and understand in the original (source) language.

8. When one engages in this multiplicity of human experiences, to be able to think, operate, and understand in these diverse ways, it can actually change and revolutionize “what” and “how” people think and believe. In other words, the very “ideas” (in the sociologically defined sense) of a person, their worldview, their presuppositions and biases are all challenged and shaped. Given all the dogmatic, ignorant, and unintelligent ideas and theologies that exist out there, we must realize that we are perhaps faced with two options: 1) value and promulgate the original languages, or 2) be satisfied with the absence of a text-honoring and thoughtful faith.

Posted in: Theology