3 tools for learning the original languages


Listening to D.A. Carson talk about how he threatens to throttle his students who use phrases like, “the Greek says…” in their sermons during a lunchtime Q and A at TGC got me thinking:

It’s probably a really good idea to learn biblical Greek and Hebrew at some point.

While there are a lot of great tools out there for doing word studies and whatnot, there’s a lot that we can miss if we don’t have an understanding of how sentences are constructed, verb tenses and so forth.

So how do we get started, especially if we might find a seminary level course a bit overkill for our purposes?

Here are three tools I’ve found and am considering trying out:

1. BibleMesh. BibleMesh’s mission is to “return the biblical languages to the life and ministry of the church.” They want Greek and Hebrew to be accessible to everyone in the church, something their web-based learning system seems to do quite well. Greek First Steps course runs $39 and covers the following:

The Greek First Steps course is suitable for beginners and provides the essential information that the new student needs to start reading Greek, including the alphabet, pronunciation, and getting started with learning Greek vocabulary.

This course is also included in the cost of Greek Reading 1 (which costs $525). The way they’ve structured their courses is to have you learn by reading the Bible itself, and they provide lots of resources to help you learn how to pronounce things properly. Go to biblemesh.com to learn more.

2. Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools without Mastering Biblical Greek. This is a book by William D. Mounce and one I’ve got sitting on my bookshelf right now. The goal of the book is essentially a crash-course in the basics of biblical Greek.

You don’t have to be a Greek student to understand biblical Greek. If you’d love to learn Greek so you can study your Bible better, but you can’t spare two years for college or seminary courses, then Greek for the Rest of Us is for you. Developed by renowned Greek teacher William Mounce, this revolutionary crash-course on ‘baby Greek’ will acquaint you with the essentials of the language and deepen your understanding of God’s Word. You’ll gain a sound knowledge of basic Greek, and you’ll learn how to use tools that will add muscle to your Bible studies. In six sections, Greek for the Rest of Us will help you:

  • Recite the Greek alphabet
  • Read and pronounce Greek words
  • Learn the Greek noun and verbal system
  • Conduct Greek word studies
  • Decipher why translations are different
  • Read better commentaries

Greek for the Rest of Us broadens your knowledge still further with an appendix on biblical Hebrew.

Learn more or buy it at: Amazon.

3. Basics of Biblical Greek. This learning pack by Mounce contains “everything you need to learn the original language of the New Testament, no matter if you are already enrolled in a class or learning on your own.” It includes:

  • Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures, featuring 36 video lessons accompanying the passages in the textbook.
  • Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook, with study exercises and passages for translation practice.
  • Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary Cards, including 1,000 vocabulary flashcards for studying.
  • Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary Audio, to help with correct pronunciation and ordered according to the textbook.
  • Biblical Greek Laminated Sheet, for a quick reference guide to common language questions.

Learn more or buy it at: Amazon or Westminster Books.

These are just a few of the options I’ve found so far, besides taking a seminary-level course (which may be the best option for some).

Are you interested in learning the original languages, or are you doing it right now? What tools have you found helpful?

4 thoughts on “3 tools for learning the original languages”

  1. Pingback: Get serious about your studies: how should you read the Bible? | Blogging Theologically

  2. This has been on my mind for some time. I have even gone so far as to investigate seminary classes (both in class and by correspondence) on the subject. I would like to learn both Hebrew and Greek. Your suggestions seem to be more focused on Greek. I would be curious to see what’s available for Hebrew.

    1. Yeah, I’m definitely focusing a bit more on Greek here (there just seem to be more resources available for self-directed study). BibleMesh has Hebrew courses available which might be a good starting point. Heritage in Cambridge might have a distance ed course, too.

      1. I did stop by Heritage to investigate auditing a language class. I didn’t think of checking out their distant learning. I will have to do that.

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