Biblical Languages and Bible Software

Today’s guest post is from Johnny Cisneros, Product Manager for Systematic Theology, and co-instructor of Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software.

Moving from Digital Crutch to Digital Tool

Greek

When I was taking Greek and Hebrew, professors and teaching assistants continually warned us, “Don’t rely on Bible software to help you because it will become a crutch.”

They said that with good reason. The whole point of the language course was to be able to read the Greek New Testament or Hebrew Bible at sight (i.e. with little or no help from a parsing guide or lexicon).

In order to reach that goal, we spent the first year memorizing paradigms, vocabulary, grammatical terms and constructions, and doing basic translation. Weekly assignments could take anywhere from three to nine hours to complete. This went on for about twenty weeks.

I still have fond memories of sitting at a local coffee shop, filling out a custom made spreadsheet for Greek verb paradigms. I even bought a whiteboard for home so I could write out Hebrew verb paradigms first thing in the morning (crazy, I know). Each paradigm memorized was like another trophy earned.

But I learned that not every student felt the way I did. Not every student wanted to get involved in scholarship. Not every student made their own paradigm spreadsheets. At some point during the first year, they lost heart—unable to see the payoff. Faculty encouraged students to persevere with the promise that in the second year they would see that value of what they had learned.

But in first year, when the goal is identify everything word, form, and construction by sight, is software a crutch?

Yes.

So how can we call our software a tool?

Simple. We changed the goal.

Our goal in Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software is not for you to sight read the Greek NT or the Hebrew Bible without the helps. Instead, it’s to understand how to use the helps for interpreting the Bible. Do we still require you to be able to accurately identify the form of a particular word? Absolutely! But we don’t make you memorize a chart; we use our Visual Filter technology. After all, the inability to recognize liquid aorist verb at sight is not what makes a preacher “dangerous” with the biblical languages; it is being uninformed as to how the aorist tense works.

In Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software we introduce you to the grammatical concepts of a second year course, bypassing the paradigm chart and vocabulary that are supposed to be memorized in the first year. We show you how those concepts connect to English Bible translations, comparing their interpretations of the Greek and Hebrew. We open up commentaries that make use of the original languages so that you can get more value out of your library. And we demonstrate how you can apply those concepts to our original language tools and databases, the majority of which are unique to Logos Bible Software. Finally, we include principles for interpretation so that you can avoid some of the common mistakes.

Not only are these objectives more relevant for a teaching ministry, but the approach is sustainable in ministry.

So whether you are a student, pastor, or professor, there is something here for everyone. Order your copy of Learn to Use Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software today and move from digital crutch to digital tool.

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6 Responses to “Biblical Languages and Bible Software”

  1. lester June 9, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    I preordered “Learn to use Biblical Greek and Hebrew”. I also desire to learn to sight read the Greek NT and Hebrew Bible. Is there any Logos Software available that can help me?

  2. Daryl Musson June 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    I can’t wait!!!!!

  3. Antoine RJ Wright June 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Good post; and while it only partially applies to me (I’ve not done as much with Greek and Hebrew as I probably should have), it does speak to the idea of a digital crutch that we stumble into without knowing sometimes. Thanks for this, it was definitely a needed reminder of where not to go with digital tools.

  4. K Randolph June 10, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    OOoooohhhh! I must be a dinosaur! In my day, teachers urged us not to use analytical lexicons. But since all I wanted to do was to read the text, I didn’t care about memorizing the minutiae of grammar, I used those crutches.
    After reading both the Old and New Testaments in their original languages many times, I now have a couple of warnings:
    Some of the New Testament authors wrote some pretty crappy Greek. Only Luke, in the three books that he authored or co-authored, used really good Greek. John in particular wrote as if he were putting Greek words on an Aramaic grammar.
    Old Testament grammar is only imperfectly understood and the Masoretic points are sometimes wrong. Therefore relying on computer software could actually lead a student astray.
    The important thing is to get into the text and read, read, read.

  5. George Kelley June 11, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    I guess one could say any thing outside of the Bible is a crutch; commentaries, word studies… 99% of Logos Software. That said, I am not proficient in Greek or Hebrew (I personally only know of a few pastors that are proficient in these). Even they rely on other things than their memorization and knowledge of these languages. They consult the same books that I do for deeper understanding of the scriptures.
    I believe that God gives different gifts and abilities to those whom He calls to the ministries. You can get a room full of pastors and you can perceive their different passions in particular parts of the ministry. You through in a few missionaries and then you will see there are differences between those called to pastor and those called to do mission work. I know that each one thinks that his particular passion should be the passion of every preacher.
    Although, I do not have the same gifts as some, I avail myself to strive to be proficient as they are in their particular gift. For me it is work, because I’s not as passionate as they, but I use the tools, such as Logos software to help my deficiencies.
    Yes I signed up for the upcoming “Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software” because of my deficiencies or maybe lack of motivation. So for me I thank God for this software, if it is half as they say it is.
    GeorgeT

  6. Jayson Bradley June 21, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    Lester,
    Thanks so much for your question. You should definitely check out the Product Guide for Greek Bible Texts & Tools. Pay particular attention to the Learning Grammars section about halfway through the page.
    Thanks again,
    Jayson