“Dad, what’s the point of studying the Bible in Hebrew?”
Probably many of my Hebrew exegesis students have thought it. Only my son had the nerve to ask it.
Basically he’s asking, “Dad, what’s the point of your life?”
Years and years of pouring over jots and tittles, patachs and shureqs, and my epitaph is: “What was the point of it all?”
I could have hit him with my lecture, “Ten Reasons for Studying Hebrew,” but most of them are a bit technical.
I could have sent him the links you’ll find at the bottom of this page, but I reckoned Facebook might have just slightly more appeal.
Instead I simply replied, “It makes you slow down.”
That to me is the single biggest reason for studying the Bible in the original languages. It slows you down and forces you think about every single word and their relation to each other in a way that English cannot do. Understanding English is just too instantaneous, too automatic, too routine.
Just as riding a bike along a familiar road lets you see things you never see in a car, so the plodding pace of studying the Bible in the Hebrew language gives you insights that English translations rarely do.
As Mark Ward wrote in The Power of Slowing Down Your Bible Study: “When you read slowly, details pop out at you, revealing insights you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Slow reading is a skill worth cultivating.”
Mark is highlighting an amazing new tool in Logos called Old Testament Propositional Outlines, which helps even English readers to slow down and really think about the way words relate to one another. It looks quite a bit more complex than the kind of outlines which I teach my students. However, the basic idea is the same, so I agree with Mark when he says:
You simply can’t know what insights will occur from being forced to slow down—until you slow down. That’s a major point of the tool. It’s not that you learn and adopt the technical terminology, much less that you use it in your Bible teaching to sound impressive.
Slowing down study is sufficient reason for me to persevere in teaching Hebrew exegesis. But if you want a few more reasons, click away!