Friday, April 27, 2012

How to do Proper Word Studies - Dr. Michael Brown

As loyal readers know, Dr. Michael Brown remains one of my favorite authors and biblical scholars. I recently reviewed his latest book, The Real Kosher Jesus and was blessed by its presentation of the gospel. In addition to a passion for the gospel and spiritual awakening, Dr. Brown is a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures and an accomplished scholar. One of his recent radio broadcasts gives guidelines and principles for "How to do Proper Word Studies." The information is highly practical, perfect for those who aren't professional Bible interpreters, and quite entertaining. You can listen to the broadcast below. I have distilled a list of principles, guidelines, tips, and recommendations below to help enrich and encourage illuminating word studies. Dr. Brown promised a follow up broadcast with more details on using specific resources, and both Israel's Divine Healer and Go and Sin No More feature in depth descriptions of how Dr. Brown went through specific word studies, which I may use in later posts.

How to do Proper Word Studies by Dr. Michael Brown (Line of Fire Broadcast)

Dr. Brown explains some of the important principles involved in doing word studies in the Hebrew and the Greek texts, also explaining some of the common word study fallacies. He will also take your calls on this important subject.

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The Word of God is extraordinarily rich, a lamp to our feet, a light to our path, truth, and a tree of life. Take hold of it, feast on it, and you will find eternal life!

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The Word of God calls to me and you. Dig deeper and study more. Ask God to open your heart and mind as you get into the Scriptures, and to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you would know Him better. There are treasures hidden there waiting for you!

Basic Principles for Word Studies

Hebrew and Greek are not magical languages. They are regular languages.

Every word has one meaning in one context. You can’t take the meaning of the word in one verse and apply it to other verses. There are times when an author will have a double meaning. There may be an intentional double meaning, but 99% of the time there is one meaning in one context.

Never go from the English back to the Greek or Hebrew. For example, the fact that we get the word “dynamite” from the Greek word “dunamis” does not actually tell us what “dunamis” means or how to interpret Scripture.

Roots can be misleading. How the word is used in the specific context and how an author uses a particular word in a book or across books is what is important.

Trust the translators. If you find the same choice across a number of translations, it is probably accurate. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth. It’s unlikely that you will be able to correct the translators or find a hidden or uncovered meaning unless you have been studying the languages for many years.

Compare translations.

Never use the dictionary in the back of Strong’s Concordance. It’s not always wrong but it’s often misleading, especially for the Hebrew. Much of the information is out of date or speculative. It is not really a dictionary; instead, it shows the different ways words are translated in the King James Version. Strong’s was meant to be a concordance. Many of the best dictionaries reference Strong’s numbers, so you can use Strong’s numbers to go to better dictionaries.

When looking up a Greek and Hebrew word, look at the word in all of the usages. Replace the word with a blank or with the Greek and Hebrew. For example, “The rock is hard. The test is hard. The desk is hard. The rock is ____. The test is ____. The desk is ____.”  Look at patterns in certain contexts.

Recommended Resources: If you are looking for solid software that anyone can use, Bibleworks is what Dr. Brown uses day to day for studying the text. He also recommends, PCstudybible, and Logos.

Recommended Books: New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis.

Free web resources: Youversion, Biblegateway.

21400: New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis 5 Volumes New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis 5 Volumes
By Willem A. VanGemeren, ed. / Zondervan
56208: New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged One-Volume Edition New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged One-Volume Edition
By Zondervan

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