The Use of Greek, Hebrew (and Aramaic) in Preaching

As I mentioned, the issue I brought up yesterday about pastors maintaining a certain acquaintance with scholarship in the biblical languages was predicated on the languages being important in the first place.

Andy Naselli has a post that highlights this issue, linking to Scott J. Hafemann’s thoughts (SBJT 3:2 (1999)), and quoting him at length on the best reason he has for pastors using the languages in preaching: tracing the flow of the argument of the text. The whole article (which includes other scholars) is worth reading but especially Hafemann’s thoughts on this issue.

The primary practical reason he gives to learn the languages is this:

[T]he confidence and humility it will bring to our ministries, while at the same time saving us countless hours of exertion and frustration. One hour with the text is worth ten in secondary literature. And at the more important theological level, learning the languages affirms the nature of biblical revelation, restores the proper authority of the pastor as teacher, and communicates to our people that the locus of meaning and authority of the Scriptures does not reside in us, but in the text, which we labor so hard to understand. We learn the languages because we are convinced of the inerrancy, sufficiency, and potency of the Word of God.

He said one other thing in there that lines up with one strand of my research that I will quote and leave for discussion another time: “…since every translation is the embodiment of thousands and thousands of interpretive decisions; a translation is a commentary on the Bible without footnotes.” I can see you salivating for more!


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