Photo and Commentary ©2021 by Maylan Schurch
Friday, October 22, 2021

Whenever I drop in at a Half-Price Books store, one of the first places I go is to the Religion section. I’m mainly looking for Biblical reference books I might not already have.

A week or so ago I came upon this shelf of “old friends.” I own about half these books, and they’re ones that people attending seminary during the era I did would have added to their library if they were interested in the languages of Scripture. I naturally wondered whether this glut of familiar volumes meant that a pastor had retired, so I opened a few, and discovered the same person’s name inside each. Sure enough, retirement—or possibly death.

Anyway, let me introduce you to a few of my helpful friends. There are two thin ones on the far left, and though they’re different shades of blue, they’re the same book: Synopsis Quattuor Evangeliorum, which means “Synopsis of the Four Gospels.” As you probably know, several stories show up in more than one gospel, and if you’re familiar with Greek, you can read these parallel stories side by side, to notice their slight differences.

The big maroon one is Concordance to the Greek Testament, which works like a regular concordance except that it skips the English and goes straight to the Greek. The very thin and delightfully used-looking bluish book next to it was compiled by Adventist professor Dr. Sakae Kubo, and is called A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. As you’re spelling your way through a Greek chapter, it tells you what the hard words are.

Two-thirds of the way across the photo is the pale, tan Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar, about which I can guarantee you that if you own it, you never crack it open. Too, too tough. A couple of books to the right is a wide black volume with gold print—a side-by-side Hebrew-English Bible. Then comes the familiar maroon Greek testament many students have used, and the green Dana and Mantey Greek grammar.

Excellent as these resources are, however, I go to them only occasionally. Instead, when I study for my sermons I first of all print out my Scripture passage in four well-established and fairly literal English translations (NKJV, NIV, ESV and NRSV), plus the original language. Most of the insights I discover in my study come from the English versions.

And that’s my point. You don’t need Hebrew and Greek to study your Bible and gather real meaning from it. The Holy Spirit stands ready to help you deepen your knowledge of God and your love for Him as you read it carefully and prayerfully in your own language.

Want to review what the Bible has to say about itself? Click the link below: