ESV: original language experts- we all need them!

It is possible that a generation of preachers may grow up relying on the great translation work of the ESV and other translations and preaching from the English Bible with infrequent reference even in preparation to the original languages? Would such a situation be less or more problematic for the church than people with the little knowledge that is often described as a dangerous thing attempting to revise Bible translations themselves? How important is it in your view for every preacher to learn the original Greek and Hebrew for themselves?

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WatchrnVern Poythress respond (Windows Media format).

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Watch Vern Poythress respond (Windows Media format).

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One of the questions is whether every preacher shouldrnlearn Greek and Hebrew, or whether it's sufficient to use an accuraterntranslation like the ESV. I don't think that's an easy question tornanswer because it depends on so many questions and context. I believe thatrncontinued study and access to the original texts is an important part of thernlife of the church as a whole because we constantly need to check our ownrnperceptions of what God is saying against what he said. And that's mostrnaccurately represented, of course, in the original manuscripts.

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The other side of it, however, is that we need torndisseminate this Word of God broadly. And that means that there will be peoplernwho preach because God has called them, but [who are] without all the gifts andrnall the time of study that it takes to learn the original languages. AndrnI’m in favor of that aspect, too.

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I think it’s important to see that Lord designedrnhis people, the church, in a way that we work together. So that if a preacher,rnfor example, without good skills in the original languages has a question, orrnif he’s challenged by some heretical view that claims that it srnbased on some funny thing that supposedly is found in the original languages,rnthat preacher can go to somebody else who does know the original languages andrnsay, “What about this? And then get aid and get ammunition ifrnit’s a heresy that he’s dealing with to address that thing on thernbasis of very good knowledge.

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If we work together, some people’s very goodrnknowledge of Greek and Hebrews is going to help those with little or nornknowledge. I think it’s important to realize two things: One is that thernultimate criterion for settling controversies in doctrine and in the rest ofrnliving is the Bible as it’s found in the original, what God originallyrnspoke and caused to be written. The other side of it, however, is that anrnEnglish translation like the ESV is really a very good representation of thatrnoriginal message, and that we can use that English translation with greatrnconfidence. So you don’t have to have knowledge of Greek and Hebrew inrnorder to be even a preacher of the Word. But you do have to have humilityrnenough to go to other people when you need help.”,1] ); //–>

One of the questions is whether every preacher should learn Greek and Hebrew, or whether it’s sufficient to use an accurate translation like the ESV. I don’t think that’s an easy question to answer because it depends on so many questions and context. I believe that continued study and access to the original texts is an important part of the life of the church as a whole because we constantly need to check our own perceptions of what God is saying against what he said. And that’s most accurately represented, of course, in the original manuscripts.

The other side of it, however, is that we need to disseminate this Word of God broadly. And that means that there will be people who preach because God has called them, but [who are] without all the gifts and all the time of study that it takes to learn the original languages. And I’m in favor of that aspect, too.

I think it’s important to see that Lord designed his people, the church, in a way that we work together. So that if a preacher, for example, without good skills in the original languages has a question, or if he’s challenged by some heretical view that claims that it’s based on some funny thing that supposedly is found in the original languages, that preacher can go to somebody else who does know the original languages and say, “What about this? And then get aid and get ammunition if it’s a heresy that he’s dealing with to address that thing on the basis of very good knowledge.

If we work together, some people’s very good knowledge of Greek and Hebrews is going to help those with little or no knowledge. I think it’s important to realize two things: One is that the ultimate criterion for settling controversies in doctrine and in the rest of living is the Bible as it’s found in the original, what God originally spoke and caused to be written. The other side of it, however, is that an English translation like the ESV is really a very good representation of that original message, and that we can use that English translation with great confidence. So you don’t have to have knowledge of Greek and Hebrew in order to be even a preacher of the Word. But you do have to have humility enough to go to other people when you need help.

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Commentrnon this post for your chance to win a freernESV Bible.

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#16

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Itrnis possible that a generation of preachers may grow up relying on the greatrntranslation work of the ESV and other translations and preaching from thernEnglish Bible with infrequent reference even in preparation to the originalrnlanguages? Would such a situation be less or more problematic for the churchrnthan people with the little knowledge that is often described asrna dangerous thing attempting to revise Bible translations themselves? Howrnimportant is it in your view for every preacher to learn the original Greek andrnHebrew for themselves?

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My response to this reply
This reply highlights the importance of teamwork to the body of Christ. We do not all need to be experts in Greek or Hebrew, but we sure do need such experts as the Church. This particular reply was a reminder to me of my series on teamwork which I will be continuing to post to if a bit erratically! Comment on or trackback to this post for your chance to win a free ESV Bible.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he seves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso.

Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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