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.
Notes from Dr. Bill Warren’s presentation at NOBTS Colloquium, “Bible Translation as Missions,” Oct. 2014 (“Bible Translation as Missions” Colloquium)
Observations from a Textual Critic
- A call for training in Greek and Hebrew
- A call for awareness of textual criticism
- A call for noting textual information in the translation via notes
- A call for checking the segmentation of the text versus the original text
- A call for notes on the importance of variants for understanding the text even when not original — some are likely original to the setting, but not to the text
- Missions both promotes the translation of the Bible and is moved forward by the translation of the Bible
- Bible translations can become key aspects of Christian life, so need to be done with as much excellence as feasible within the context and time constraints
- Translations need to reflect major textual information both within the translation and in the notes included in the translation
If we’re not involved in Bible translation and Bible promotion, I think there’s a real question about what we’re really doing. It doesn’t mean everyone ought to be involved in Bible translation, but everyone ought to be involved in Bible promotion.
Νυνὶ δὲ μένει πίστις, ἐλπίς, ἀγάπη, τὰ τρία ταῦτα…
So now ‘faith, hope, love’ remains, these three…
—1 Corinthians 13:13
Consider how “faith, hope, love” are set apart in 1 Corinthians 13:13:
- They group as “these three,” though they’re in a context in which “faith” and “hope” are not discussed.
- The verb is singular, not plural (“remains,” not “remain”).
- There is no conjunction separating the three (“faith, hope, love,” not “faith, hope and love”).
The emphasis of this verse is “love.” Paul shows that it is supreme with the beautiful language of 1 Corinthians 13. Why do faith and hope go with love here? “Faith, hope, love” does not make sense as a conclusion unless the three were an established unit in Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian believers. The grammar says as much.
“Faith, hope, love,” is a category of gifts that is “better” (12:30) than all the spiritual gifts mentioned in this section (chapters 12–14). This triad, or triplet, is a set of gifts for all believers. Paul contrasts them with other gifts which the Spirit gives individually, like prophesy, tongues and knowledge (12:11). The other gifts are also given temporarily, but the three “remains” into Christian maturity (13:8–13).
Paul puts the three on a pedestal, so to speak. Love is among these better gifts, and is the “best.” Love is what makes every other spiritual gift good to build up others in the church (chapter 14). Love is what makes us most like God, whom we are coming to know fully (13:12). To lift love beyond compare, Paul puts it in the good company of these universal and abiding gifts of the Spirit, “faith, hope, love.”