I studied Greek and Hebrew at seminary. If you’re curious about how I’ve continued to study the biblical languages while on the field, here are some things I’ve used:
- Anki software for vocabulary review
- Daily Dose of Greek videos by Dr. Rob Plummer (a gifted teacher and former missionary)
- Accordance software for in-depth study of biblical languages
- Logos software, along with Translator’s Workplace, for biblical commentaries and other resources
- A good book: David Alan Black’s Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek
- I haven’t kept up with Hebrew… (my great Hebrew teacher must be watching; I came across his textbooks in the small bookshop of our small Himalayan town)
The internet is good enough to depend on for videos and large software packages (sometimes letting it run overnight). It wasn’t that way when I came to the field.
I prefer digital materials for research but not reading. My use of biblical languages is for research. Besides, books are heavy and costly to transport overseas. I can carry a digital library with me as a I travel.
See How I’ve Used the Biblical Languages on the Field.
This is a running list of practical ways I’ve used Greek and Hebrew in missions work. This isn’t a list of how I wish to use the languages, but just an honest look at how I have.
- I regularly check Greek when I work with Bible translation teams. This happens when there’s a question and discussion about a key term, or when reviewing their work for a consultant check (the final stage of approval by an expert).
- I help translation teams to access biblical resources and I occasionally read Greek for them in commentaries.
- I occasionally check Greek when teaching a Bible book to pastors. Last fall I taught Titus and this spring, Colossians. This kind of use is for my own benefit and to prepare for the confusion that comes when teaching verse by verse to speakers of another language and with their Bible.
- When I teach weekly at church, I read multiple English versions as one way to meditate and study. If there’s a verse with significant differences between the versions, that’s a signal to check the biblical languages.
- I use software entirely for biblical languages and resources, not hard copies (Accordance for languages, Logos for commentaries and other references).
- I haven’t used Hebrew.
- I don’t know Aramaic.
If you’re curious, see Ways I’ve Studied the Biblical Languages on the Field.
Have you read this short article by John Piper, “Missions, Orality, and the Bible: Thoughts on Pre-, Less-, and Post-literate Cultures”? He puts the orality movement into perspective then characteristically challenges its underlying assumptions and encourages immediacy of the Scriptures. Piper published the article near nine years ago but it should still add to the current discussion.
Whether you aspire to serve across culture and language or to preach the Word in your own, consider what responsibility you have to bring the written Word to unreached oral learners. And then consider what responsibility you have to bring oral learners to the written Word.