By Dr. William Varner, Professor of Bible & Greek
I want to give you three brief reasons why I think that an undergraduate student should consider studying Greek and Hebrew.
I once read a quote from a NT Greek professor, Moises Silva. He said that the greatest benefit in knowing Greek is not the clever insights and “golden nuggets” that you can unveil from the New Testament; its greatest value is helping you to understand what a text does not mean. I agree that this is one of the best values of knowing the languages. There is a lot of stuff spoken by cultists and well-intentioned teachers that simply is based on a wrong understanding of how language works. And you need to raise a red flag and say, “Hold on, the language doesn’t say that!” Now tell me that this discernment is not vital to the church today.
Another reason that you need some familiarity with the languages is so you can evaluate the commentaries that are an essential part of your sermon and lesson preparation. You need to evaluate the claims of those commentaries, and some basic language skills will help you to do that. Related to this is the whole issue of Bible versions. If you are not at least competent in the languages, you really cannot advise your parishioners and class members about the strengths and weaknesses of either the KJV-only folks or those who think the most recent breezy paraphrase is the final divine gift for which we have been waiting.
If you do not know the languages, you will always read your Bible through a veil. Get rid of that veil, and you see the real message that lies hidden in English translations. As a writer in Greek once told his protégé, this effort will both “save yourself and also those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).
For more information on a Bachelors in Biblical Studies (B.A.), emphasis in Biblical Languages click here or email Dr. Varner at firstname.lastname@example.org.