I have a question about how to get the best meaning from the context of the Bible (How to understand what the writer’s intent was). I was wondering since no Bible translation is perfect, is it good to get a Hebrew and Greek interlinear Bible? I have used one from a download online called Scripture4all. I am only 16, but I want to learn how to do this. I have printed out your notes, like Inspiration, and Inerrancy, Biblical Texts and Bible Translations, & Reliability and Inspiration of the Bible (editor’s note: These are all power points available at the site) and they seemed to help. One other random question. I heard the AMP Bible translation is very strange? I read it and it seemed to help. What do you think?
There are many tools available for the student who wants to discover the meaning of the original autographs of the New and Old Testament. One of these is a Hebrew or Greek interlinear Bible. I use my Greek interlinear quite often. To be honest, I do not believe this is the most important or useful tool, but it is a secondary one. The reason is that the interlinear does give you the Greek or Hebrew word corresponding to the English word in whatever version the interlinear is tied to, but it does not give you the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew word. For that, one must go to a Greek of Hebrew lexicon. This is fine and can be helpful, but I find my NIV Exhaustive Concordance to be a more useful tool. It is a concorcance, but much more. When you look up an English word, it will give you all passages in the Bible with the same English word, which is really great, but it will also give you a number which is a link to the Greek or Hebrew word. Using the reference, you can find the original word, along with a definition of the word, as well as all other uses of that word in the Greek or Hebrew Bibles, and where the word shows up. My experience is that this gives you a more nuanced idea for the meaning of the original word.
I can say a LOT more about how to discover the meaning of the original language. There is an entire science for this. It is called hermeneutics. You should look up the power point and outline on hermeneutics is the power point section at the web site, as well as the seven-hour class on the topic at the site (available in the EFC store). Let me make one more comment about English versions and discovering as close to the original meaning as possible. I have heard it said that a little knowledge of Greek or Hebrew can actually be counter-productive. Unless one is very deeply steeped in the original language, knowing a little Greek or Hebrew can actually give one a false sense of knowing how to determine the meaning of the original autographs. I believe that for those who know absolutely no Greek and Hebrew there is a great way to determine as close to the original as possible. This is to gather together several translations, look at the various translations of a particular passage, and let the “average” of the different translations be a guide to the original meaning. This may be a somewhat crude way to discover the meaning of a particular phrase or word, but I have found it to be fairly reliable. The problem is that in many cases no single English word is a perfect translation for a particular Greek or Hebrew word. Translators provide you with several possible different translations. Seeing the range of different translations will give one a pretty good idea of the range of meanings of the original word or phrase, which will give you an excellent sense of the meaning of the passage. I hope this will help you to get started.
I think that the Amplified Version can be helpful. It is really pretty bad for reading in a public, group setting, and it is rather awkward to read, but it can be a quite helpful tool to understanding the meaning of the original. I would not suggest this be your only resource, but it can be a helpful one.