Luther on the Importance of Biblical Languages

Luther on the Importance of Biblical Languages

John Hobbins over at Ancient Hebrew Poetry made a good post recently about Martin Luther’s thoughts concerning the importance of Hebrew and Greek.  I thought I would share a couple of his quotes (but do read his original post!).

“Let us then, foster the learning of languages as zealously as we love the Gospel. For not for nothing did God have His Scripture written down in these two languages alone: the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New in Greek. The languages, therefore, which God did not despise but chose above all others for His Word we, too, ought to honor above all others.

And let us be sure of this: we shall not long preserve the Gospel without languages. Languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained. They are the case in which we carry this jewel. They are the vessel in which we hold this wine. They are the larder in which this food is stored. And, as the Gospel itself says, they are the baskets in which we bear these loaves and fishes and fragments.”

(From Luther’s “To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany, 1524)


“The Hebrew language is held of little account because of a lack of dutifulness or perhaps out of despair at its difficulty …

Without this language there can be no understanding of Scripture, for the selfsame New Testament, though written in Greek, is full of Hebraisms.”

(From Luther’s “Table Talk” in 1532 again, August 9,
as recorded by C. Cordatus)


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I’m a husband, father, and one of those friends who has a terrible habit of not returning phone calls.  I’m really just trying to figure out what it means to follow Jesus, and I enjoy meeting great people along the way and maybe having a chance to spend time talking about things deep and trivial.

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