The Importance of Taking Scripture Back to Its Original Languages

in Word

This title should immediately bring at least a couple of questions to mind such as, "I can barely understand the Bible in English, why would I want to take it back to another language?" The reason is preciously that, that the Bible was not written in English. Sometimes the author's true intent does not come across clearly in the translation and at other times the translation can be just plain wrong. I'll give you some good examples of that and go into more detail on the importance of taking the scriptures back in just a moment.

Another question you're probably asking yourself is, "How hard is this? Do I have to learn another language or literally re-translate the whole Bible back to its original languages?" The answer is no, it's as simple as using a dictionary and you don't have to take the entire Bible back, just one word at a time when needed.

The tool for this is a concordance. It has every single word in the Bible in it. In the back of the concordance there are two dictionaries. A Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary for the Old Testament and a Greek dictionary for the New Testament. As you read the scriptures, take a word that you don't know the meaning of, are interested in, or that looks like could effect the meaning of the scripture you're reading. Simply look it up in the concordance as you would any dictionary. I've picked the word "angel" to look up for us.

When you come to the word angel in the concordance, you'll find every place in the Bible where that word is found. The book, chapter, verse, and even the placement in that verse is given to make sure you have the exact word you're looking for. The word angel may appear in the verse twice but could have different meanings so the concordance gives you a piece of the verse to make sure you have the exact word you're looking for to translate back.

To the right of the word you'll see a number, in this case it's 4397. This number corresponds to one of the two dictionaries in the back of the concordance. Since the word I've picked is in the Old Testament, we'll look in the Hebrew dictionary and see it's the word malak, and it means "messenger". Just as with any dictionary, you'll find the spelling, in this case in both languages, the definition, the pronunciation, and sometimes even the etymology of the word and its root.

As you can see, taking the scriptures back to their original languages with a concordance is really that simple to do and again, you don't have to take the whole Bible back to it's original language, just one word at a time when you want to or when you feel it's necessary to the overall meaning of the verse.
Now, back to the reason why we should take the scriptures back to their original languages. The original King James version of the Bible came with a letter that stated they did the best they could to translate the Bible but that you, the English reader, should double check their work for accuracy. They were right and you'll find it becomes necessary right off the bat.

I'm sure everyone knows the first two verses of the Bible, but how accurate are they in English? Let's take a look.. "1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2. And the earth was without form and void;" At first glance in English, the second verse looks like a continuation of thought of the first verse. In the beginning God creates the universe and here sits the earth in space, void and without form awaiting what most Christians believe are the six days of creation. But in Hebrew this is a much different verse.

First let's take a look at the word "was" in verse two. It's concordance number 1961 and it's the Hebrew word hayah which means "be, become or come to pass." Since it's past tense here in Genesis, it should have been translated "became." Now these two verses take on a whole new meaning. In the beginning God created the universe period. No time frame given of when this happened or how long it took. Most scientist believe the universe is almost 14 billion years old and this verse does not contradict that opinion. The second verse would now read "and the earth became without form and void". The earth wasn't created without form, it became that way. This now not only infers that there was a destruction that took place here, not a creation, but that there was a time before this destruction also. This destruction is known as the katabole in Greek and the dividing line between the first and second Earth age to theologians. We now live in the second Earth age which is what Genesis 1:3 begins to describe.

We can confirm that the Earth became this way as opposed to being created this way by also taking back "without form" and "void". The phrase "without form" is concordance number 8414 or the word tohuw in Hebrew. It means to lie waste, as in a desert, again inferring a byproduct of destruction. The word tohuw appears in only two other places in the Bible. We see it again in Isaiah 45:18 where it states that God created the Earth "not in vain", as tohuw is translated here, but to be inhabited. The Bible can not contradict itself so one of these verses must be translated wrong and it's Genesis 1:2, the Earth became tohuw, it was not created that way. The only other place this word appears is in the actual account of this destruction as given in Jeremiah chapter four where you can read of every phase of this destruction and how the "fruitful place" became a "wilderness."

The word "void" is concordance number 922 and is the Hebrew word bohuw, meaning an undistinguishable ruin. Ruin, as in was in good shape but became destroyed. I can build a house but I can't build a ruined house. This word also shows that this state of the Earth is a result of a destruction and not of a creation.
So from these first two verses of the Bible we can see how very important it is to take the scriptures back to their original languages and verify their translations. One or two small changes can dramatically alter what we thought to be the case. We've read that what is commonly known to Christians as the six days of creation are really more like the six days of refurbishing and that there was a time before this age that was utterly destroyed by God.

We've also seen how easy it is to do this. As simple as using a dictionary.

I hope this article has inspired you to dig a little deeper into God's word and that you learned at the same time how to better study God's letter to you, the Bible.

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Jerry Melisaratos has 1 articles online

CEO of Sunrise Kitchens Incorporated and owner of Hidden Manna Publishing, Author of the new book, Five W's of God - The who, what, where, when, and why of God and His plan for creation. Five W's of God is the whole story of God in a nutshell. If you've ever wondered where the races came from, how Noah got animals like penguins on the Ark, where Cain's wife came from, what is hell, or where the dead are, this is the book. Viewable at http://www.fivewsofgod.com, Amazon.com, and bn.com.

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The Importance of Taking Scripture Back to Its Original Languages

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This article was published on 2010/03/29