on understanding the Bible

In my last post linking to Jim West’s blog post urging pastors not to lose their Hebrew and Greek, Robert commented and asked:

I have a question, so do you think it is not possible to learn what the passage means if read in an English translation?

Of course not.  While I strongly encourage anyone to learn the biblical languages, I understand not all are able to seize this opportunity for any number of valid reasons.  While it certainly helps and for many is a real eye opener (knowing the languages) I am not going to say with absolute dogmatism, that if you don’t know the biblical languages or know how to use them that you simply will not or cannot know or understand the Bible – to me that leans too close to gnosticism (a kind of spiritual and intellectual superiority complex). 

Here was my reply:

Robert, I understand.  Yes, thank God for English versions!  Yes, you can understand the Bible without necessarily knowing Hebrew and Greek.  I personally advocate Inductive Bible Study Methods to achieve this (observation, interpretation, application) and also the use of flow of thought analytical diagamming.  For learning to do word studies and such I’d suggest Gordon Fee’s NT exegesis book along with Doug Stuart’s OT exegesis which has good pastor helps.  Also think about getting Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies and Walter Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology (to help with diagramming).  For inductive method stuff, one good book on this is called Grasping God’s Word.  It’s college level but good nonetheless (and has a separate workbook).  The New Inductive Study Bible is also a resource. Precept Ministries also has lots of good stuff for use in the church for teaching Inductive Bible study.

There are lots of other resources to consider, these are jus a few. 

I hope that helps.