The Greek & Hebrew Languages – A Simple Overview (2016)

Greek ~ Genesis 43:13-18               Hebrew ~ Genesis 43:13-18 

Greek & Hebrew Languanges

Introduction (Updated: 07/2016)

Both the Hebrew and the Greek have their own particular differences which are utilized by God, and which presents God’s message to man in a diversity of style and effectiveness that complement each other.

The Hebrew (Old Testament) language displays vividness, conciseness, simplicity and denseness, and is very poetic and therefore necessitates many more English words in its translation is due to its vagueness; and therefore its ability to utilize puns, and many other rhetorical devices; which add color and nuances to the language beautifully.

Whereas in comparison, the Koiné Greek language (New Testament) is beautiful, rich, and harmonious, a very specific language, technical, efficient and effective; an excellent tool for vigorous thought and religious devotion.

These are characteristics which make it an excellent language for debate, philosophy, logic, and science, due to its strength and vigor; a language of argument with a vocabulary and style that penetrate and clarify phenomena rather than simply describe verbiage.

It takes many more English words to translate a single Greek word into English, yet for a different reason than the Hebrew, because of its specificity and exactness. It is perhaps the most precise form of expression found in any language, far beyond the English, Latin, or Oriental languages. This is one of the closest to perfect languages in man’s existence, making it more than appropriate as God’s tool of communication to man.


Concerning the precision and methodical nature of Koiné (Greek: “common“) Greek; it should be understood that the Hebrew Old Testament Scriptures were translated into this “common (common dialect, as opposed to Attic dialectKoiné Greek is an ancestor of modern Greek and the first supra-regional dialect in Greece, becoming the lingua franca for the Eastern Mediterranean and ancient Near East throughout the Roman period due to the conquest of  Alexander the Great [336 BC to 323 BC], and therefore became the common language of the known world ~ 300 BC to AD 300), Greek three centuries before the time of Christ, known as the Septuagint (meaning: “seventy,” [the abbreviation LXX is found in your Bible margins when referring to it, and come from the Roman alphabet symbolizing “70”] because seventy [72?] translators were used in its translation.  It took fifteen years to finish, from 285 to 270 B.C., and was commissioned and paid for by Ptolemy II Philadelphus [285-245 B.C.], his father was Ptolemy I, one of the four generals who slit up the kingdom of Alexander the Great after his death.  Ptolemy I and his son ruled the area of Egypt), and was what Christ and the disciples used as their Scripture in their day.

This is why many times there is an inconsistency between our New Testament quotations of Old Testament passages, and the Old Testament passages themselves. 

Jesus in the temple reading

The reason that the two Testaments are not exactly the same, is that our Protestant Old Testament is based upon the Hebrew Masoretic Text (the Hebrew Old Testament that was not codified until the 8th century A.D.), and Jesus and the disciples were quoting from the Greek Septuagint translation of the (Hebrew) Old Testament Scriptures, which explains the differences seen between the two (many Christian translators believe that the 8th century Hebrew Jewish translators used variant Hebrew words in the Masoretic translation to attempt to distance their translation from the Christian Bible which at the time used the Septuagint Old Testament; they believed Christianity was an evil cult), translations.

The supernatural outcome of having a (Septuagint) Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament is the ability to specifically understand the Hebrew words used in the Old Testament, as they are laid next to the (specific) Greek – paralleled. 

So as to define the Hebrew according to the Greek; thus setting aside the vagueness that was originally introduced, as well as gaining the ability to cross-reference each with each other, and have both of the Testaments comparable at the same time. 

And in the process, acquiring greater insight into both; as seen in the New Testament quotes of the Old Testament which are made more precise and clear, and the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament with greater understanding.

Image behind the curtain - 0

It’s like God presented Himself in the Old Testament while still behind a veil to the Jews
(the Hebrews“), more mysterious and at arm’s length. 

Jesus washing apostles feet - Big

Yet, in the New Testament, Jesus revealed God in a more personal, detailed and intimate manner, in Himself
(which is where we get the idea of: “having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour)

We also have God presenting His written word in the specificity of the Greek language in the New Testament, and eventually (c. 280 BC presenting a more precisely regarding the Old Testament as seen in the Septuagint

Jesus - the author and Finisher

Jesus Christ is the revelation of God the Father that was never seen before in such specificity. 

In the Old Testament we see the actions of God; in the New Testament we see this personality in the person of Jesus Christ.

Both of these languages are dead languages, meaning that they are permanently set – they do not change (which is important to us, in that consistency and uniformity are assured), and are therefore excellent tools for translation purposes with set meanings; even though our English is a living language, which is fluid – always changing; and therefore mandates a greater deliberation in translation.


Chicken and a pig 2

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’
is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast:
the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

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Faith Bible Ministries Blog ~ An Online Study of the Bible

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” ~~~~~~ This online Bible study series addresses primary New Testament words in their original language - Koinè Greek - as opposed to mainly using the English translations; which is like adding color to a black-and-white picture.

Faith Video Ministries

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

Faith Bible Ministries

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God"

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