Why the Original Languages?
The Value of Hebrew and Greek to Pastors and Bible Teachers

     1. Without some knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you cannot understand the critical commentaries on the Scriptures, and a commentary that is not critical is of doubtful value.

     2. Without some knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you cannot satisfy yourself or those who look to you for help as to the changes [
in the English text of the English Revised Version (and subsequent versions) from the English text of the Authorized Version].

     3. Without some knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you cannot appreciate the critical discussions, now so frequent, relating to the books of the Old and New Testaments.

     4. Without some knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you cannot be certain, in a single instance, that in your sermon based on a Scripture text, you are presenting the correct teaching of that text.*

5. Without some knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, you cannot be an independent student, or a reliable interpreter of the word of God.

     6. As much knowledge of Hebrew can be secured, with the same method, under the same circumstances, by the same pupil, in one year, with the aid of the Interlinear [Hebrew-English] Old Testament [edited by George Ricker Berry], as can be gained of Latin in three years. Greek, though somewhat more difficult, may be readily acquired within a brief period with the aid of [Berry's] Interlinear [Literal Translation of the Greek] New Testament (which contains a lexicon) and an elementary Greek grammar.

     7. The Hebrew Language has, in all, about 7,000 words, and of these 1,000 occur in the Old Testament over 25 times each.

     8. The Hebrew grammar has but one form for the Relative pronoun in all cases, numbers and genders; but three forms for the Demonstrative pronoun. The possible verbal forms are about 300 as compared with the 1,200 found in Greek. It has practically no declension.

     9. Within ten years the average man wastes more time in fruitless reading and indifferent talk, than would be used in acquiring a good working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek that in turn would impart to his teaching that quality of independence and of reliability which so greatly enhances one's power as a teacher.

     10. There is not one minister in ten who might not if he but would, find time and opportunity for such study of Hebrew and Greek as would enable him to make a thoroughly practical use of it in his work as a Bible-preacher and Bible-teacher.

* See also Why Learn Greek and Hebrew?


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Material reproduced from The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament by George Ricker Berry (Wilcox & Follett Co., Chicago, 1897). Bold-faced emphasis added.

Page content last modified October 25, 2017.