In a week Hebrew and Greek professors will be confronted with that perennial one word question:
Why study the original biblical languages?
The Reformation reminds us why. “Ad fontes!”—To the fountains, or sources!—was their battle cry for a reason. For it was when Reformation Europe rediscovered the ancient languages that the Bible's impact as a shaping force accelerated.
In fact, after his conversion, Martin Luther was convinced that “we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.” He goes on:
The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall…lose the gospel… (emphasis added, 120)
Gary Pratico and Miles Van Pelt highlight Luther’s convictions in Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar. In addition to teaching the language itself, they provide inspiring insights in the importance of studying the biblical language.
I often need to be reminded how crucial this is for my vocation. Today brother Luther provides five insights into why the languages are vital, not only for our profession, but for the gospel itself.