Hebrew Instead of Greek

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Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Benefits depend upon one's abilities.

Hebrew grammar is much simpler than Greek.
Hebrew vocabulary is more difficult than Greek (over 8,600 unique words in Biblical Hebrew, over 5,400 unique words in Biblical Greek). In other words, you will memorizing around 60% more words in Hebrew.

If you have an affinity for English grammar, go with Greek.
If not, and your ability to memorize is good, go with Hebrew.

My Romanist seminary years were steeped in Latin (yes, I know, I know), so Greek was what I went with first, given the cognate similarities. Hebrew came easily, as I did not have to "think" grammar as much as I had to memorize words (which I was quite good at in my youth).

One other consideration based upon my experience. I have spent the majority of my formal studies and interests in the NT, so my Greek retention is far greater than my Hebrew.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Greek opens up both the NT and gives you a foundation for reading the Patristic writers in the original. Plus it makes learning Latin much easier.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I'm good with languages (probably not the gift of tongues). Greek in college helped me learn German and Latin. I struggled with Hebrew at first, though.

Greek is easier to get started but then you hit a steep curve.
Hebrew is a nightmare to get started but it's relatively easy after that.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Greek, by far, has been harder for me to grasp grammatically than Hebrew because there are three genders and four cases, and they change for singular and plural. That was tough. Also, no set word order.

As for Hebrew, the struggle is with the letters being so different from English, and the rules for vowels, but those are only issues when you begin, the grammar is much simpler, and the words don’t seem to morph under such complex rules.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Greek, by far, has been harder for me to grasp grammatically than Hebrew because there are three genders and four cases, and they change for singular and plural. That was tough. Also, no set word order.

As for Hebrew, the struggle is with the letters being so different from English, and the rules for vowels, but those are only issues when you begin, the grammar is much simpler, and the words don’t seem to morph under such complex rules.
It sounds here that you are saying that Hebrew has a steeper learning curve to start, but that Greek has much more to understand in order to really master its use.
 

RBachman

Puritan Board Freshman
I love Hebrew, but Greek is far more useful in the long run. One thing I have observed is that a strong skill set with Greek is more critical in deep Biblical studies since so much of our doctrinal interest, debate, and understanding is based on carefully understanding the NT. There were very rare moments I needed to deep dive the MT on some point (some of the homosexual debates are a case in point), but my experience has been that this happens often in Greek. It is helpful to be able to take a Greek pericope and see what the various possible translations could be within the understood rules of Greek grammar and vocabulary usage. This helps in building your understanding and confidence around the important texts that support important doctrines. For those who are going into the ordained ministry this is also helpful when dealing with someone with different/errant views, but the inability to do anything but read their English Bible. I say this not to justify weaponizing one's Greek skills, but rather to be in a position to help a brother or sister understand some of the difficulties in building complex theology solely on an English translation. To those of us not in the ordained ministry it is fun to mess with Jehovah's Witnesses - so there is something there for us too!
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
It sounds here that you are saying that Hebrew has a steeper learning curve to start, but that Greek has much more to understand in order to really master its use.
That’s been my experience since the morphing of words is so involved in Greek.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
The New Testament, especially the Epistles, were given to us as our main textbooks on what the theology of the NC now really is, so would make sense to use Greek to understand them better and more complete fashion.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
The New Testament is the manifestation of the NC to be sure, though there's much said about the NC in the Old Testament as well, so some knowledge of Hebrew too certainly wouldn't hurt.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
The New Testament is the manifestation of the NC to be sure, though there's much said about the NC in the Old Testament as well, so some knowledge of Hebrew too certainly wouldn't hurt.
Yes, would be ideal to be able to be fluent in both biblical languages, but had to choose just one, would choose the Koine Greek.
 

NoutheticCounselor

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks everyone. Just looking at the Hebrew alphabet is intimidating! The letters Daleth, Waw, Kaph, and Resh look almost exactly alike! It looks like it would be really hard telling them apart! Not to mention that Cheth, Tav, and Heh look almost the same as well!
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Thanks everyone. Just looking at the Hebrew alphabet is intimidating! The letters Daleth, Waw, Kaph, and Resh look almost exactly alike! It looks like it would be really hard telling them apart! Not to mention that Cheth, Tav, and Heh look almost the same as well!
Learn the song and you will soon get the hang of it:
:)
 

RBachman

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you! The song will be very helpful. Any pointers on telling some of the letters apart? Many of them look almost exactly the same!
Practice writing them. I got scrap paper and just practiced writting line after line of a letter until I got it right. Then practice reading them. If you don't own a copy of the MT, there are plenty of free Hebrew texts on line to use to practice. Actually its not as hard as it may at first seem. But hold on to your hat when you start the vowel markings and accent marks! Once you get the basics, make it a daily habit to read some text out loud. My first Hebrew prof made us pinky-swear to read a chapter per day from the MT out loud. We didn't take it too seriously until he started making us do recitations in class.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I agree, practice writing the letters.

You don't need perfect script, either. Make block letters: http://www.behrmanhouse.com/resource_room/hebrew-handwriting-chart
Long ago I sat down with a condensed glossary from one of my Hebrew grammars and wrote out words on business card stock. Hebrew at the top, English in lower right under my thumb. I carried them in my wallet and flashed through them whenever I walked or waited somewhere.

The act of writing them out helps to quickly get used to the alef-bet ( ;) )
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Read the letters in large print. It's amazing what a difference a point or two difference in font size can make to the readability of a Hebrew text.
 
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