HOLY BIBLE FACTSThe Bible was originally written in greek or aramaic. Due to the fact that it was translated into many languages, this may cause some confusing words between these languages so how...


The Bible was originally written in greek or aramaic. Due to the fact that it was translated into many languages, this may cause some confusing words between these languages so how can we be sure of the meaning of the original Bible the way that it was written. By learning greek?

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do think that learning Aramaic and Greek would allow a person to get much closer to the original meaning of the Bible, and there are many Biblical scholars who do exactly that.  However, without knowing the context in which the Bible was written, there are still likely to be many misunderstandings today.  For example, we don't really know what is meant by "manna," I believe, and there are plants and animals that we are not sure about.  I remember reading somewhere that the word "leprosy" is surely a mistranslation because leprosy apparently did not exist in that area of the world, needing a more humid climate to thrive.  The rich stories of the Bible, though, are important, and have much to teach us, even if we do not have perfect understanding of every word.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As #9 suggests, in addition to understanding the original language a text was written in, understanding the culture in which it was written is also paramount.  Only after that can the details of what is described transcend our 21st century culture and viewpoint.  It's really a case of leaving your own cultural biases behind to discover the timeless truths the authors were intending.  This doesn't just apply to the Bible; any text not written in our time nor in our culture needs the extra effort to be appreciated.  Misinterpreting what has been written is among the gravest of sins.  The misapplication of "Thou shall not suffer a witch to live" altered European History.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many pastors and seminary graduates have learned Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.  I think it can be an important step in understanding the Bible, but perhaps not a necessary one.  If you are hoping to be a pastor or church leader, it might be a good idea for you to learn one of these original Biblical languages.  If you are simply studying the Bible, I would venture to say that it is unnecessary.  There are subtleties in the Bible that we often miss due to translation or culture.  We do not always understand the culture that existed when the Bible was written.  I think learning the culture can be just as important as the original language.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I absolutely agree with the previous post. The truly serious scholar would learn the ancient languages of the Bible and would attempt to use the earliest available texts. At the same time, this scholar would devote serious time and attention to studying the culture, geography, and political history of the peoples and areas represented in the Bible. The context in which the Bible was written is an essential background for complete understanding of the significance of much of the language and meaning conveyed by the language.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can never get to the original meaning of the text with absolute certainty.  Even if you learn Ancient Greek, you are still going to be a modern person with modern understandings of the concepts used to translate those ancient words.  You will not have the point of view of an ancient person or their way of understanding the context and meaning of various words.  So it will never be possible to "be sure of the meaning of the original Bible the way that it was written."

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the posts suggesting that recovering the "original" or "intended" or "precise" meaning of the Bible is very difficult, as it is with practically every ancient text (not to mention many more recent ones -- even ones that are contemporary with us).  Many different contemporary Christians can read read Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew but still often disagree fundamentally about the meaning(s) of the Bible.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The only way to make sure you are really reading the original would be to learn the original langauges. There are plenty of examples of how the original meaning has been lost or slightly clouded by translation, and there is no such thing as a perfect translation, as every language is different. However, we can trust that the people working on Bible translations have made every effort to do a good job.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In concurrence with the above post, one can never hope to arrive with certainty at the exact meaning of the original Bible.  But, considering that the Bible has been transcribed so many times over so many, many years it seems somewhat justifiable to feel that the Bible's meaning and intent are preserved well because it is yet a revered text.

redwine21 | Student
hmm strange how everybody admits that their is false infos
beefheart | Student
If The Bible is the most important message in the history of the Universe and it is a direct revelation from God, why did He present this unique message in a language that he knew was going to die out (Aramaic)? And why did he allow the original texts to become lost? This message is crucial for the everlasting salvation of the human race! How can he have been so casual about it? And DON'T blame humans and freewill, God has to made to take responsibility for some of his actions, he's omnipotent! Why didn't he present his Almighty message to 10 different scribes simultaneously in Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Latin etc etc. Why has he left us clinging to fuzzy copies of copies of translations of copies of an oral tradition from a very small group of anonymous nomads? EVERY post so far agrees that the original Bible is lost and that it is uncertain what it contained! That is an outrageous admission considering the amount of moral and social authority we are compelled to receive from this book. God has been negligent if he is going to judge our everlasting soul based on our acceptance of this hand-me-down, edited, hashed up, bashed about, manipulated, inconsistent, rootless anthology of bronze age mythical stories. @Redwine21, I recommend you find a better way to spend your time than attempting to find the true source of the Christian message. Because in all probability it never existed.