Linguistic Criticism: 3 Ways It Can Aid Bible Study

woman on computer for a post about linguistic criticism

We learn our first language with relative ease. It’s only when we study a second or third language that we can begin to appreciate language’s complexity. Even if we master the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of another language, we will still stumble on idioms, metaphors, and other cultural references. The best way to navigate a different language is to have a native speaker as your guide.

But who’s here to help us with biblical Hebrew and New Testament Greek? With no living first-language experts to guide us, these are “dead languages.” Countless interpreters have wished they could ask Moses, Isaiah, or Paul exactly what they meant by certain uses of Hebrew or Greek.

To effectively study a book written in “dead languages,” we must look to other language systems for help. This field of study is called linguistic criticism, and Linguistic Criticism in Logos Bible Software will introduce you to the concepts, terminology, and methodology of the discipline. The third volume in the Lexham Methods Series, Linguistic Criticism, will improve your Bible study in three ways:

  1. Appreciate the complexity of language study. We can read the Bible in English today only because scholars labored through the difficulties of language-learning. As they continue to study living languages, they’re able to translate and interpret the Bible’s dead languages more accurately. Linguistic Criticism will help you understand what is involved in deciphering Hebrew and Greek.
  2. Strengthen your Greek or Hebrew. As linguists gain greater understanding about languages and how people learn them, they adjust their teaching methods. If you have studied Hebrew or Greek, Linguistic Criticism will give you the bigger picture of how languages work and show you the place of the biblical languages in broader linguistic patterns.
  3. Evaluate interpretations more effectively. Many commentators support their perspectives with arguments based on how languages work—arguments you may not have the tools to evaluate. Linguistic Criticism will equip you to discern the validity of an interpretation rooted in a linguistic argument.

The Bible we have today was written in languages unfamiliar to most Bible students—and even for those who have studied the biblical languages, the quest for understanding is never finished. Linguistic Criticism will increase your understanding how biblical languages work and guide you toward deeper, more meaningful Bible study than ever before.

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Get the Lexham Method Series today. 

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Written by
Wendy Widder

Wendy Widder (Ph.D., University of the Free State) is the author of Daniel in the Story of God commentary series (Zondervan) and "To Teach" in Ancient Israel: A Cognitive Linguistic Study of a Biblical Hebrew Lexical Set (deGruyter). She lives in the Twin Cities, where she teaches Old Testament courses as an adjunct professor and does freelance writing and editing.

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Written by Wendy Widder