What Language Should I Learn?


Sweet sentiment, but that’s neither the question he asked nor the answer he sought.

This kind of answer insults those who have taken the time and effort, out of love of God, to learn other languages so that laypeople like us can benefit from their efforts. If not for people like those, we will have no Bibles in English. Language studies is not a worthless endeavour, and this notion of “no need for another language” is an erroneous one.

An Evangelical pastor told me once, correctly, that reading the New Testament in English is like watching TV in black-and-white. You get the message, but not in its fullness. Reading it in Greek (or the Old Testament in Hebrew) is like viewing the same show, but in full colour.


I had to learn Latin, Hebrew, and Koine Greek for my PhD studies in Theology. And, those in the PhD program also have to have a credit for a modern language that is not English. Luckily, I learned French and Dutch as a child and learned German when I worked in Switzerland, so I was able to test out on that one.

Hebrew is not so bad once one learns the alphabet.


Greek or Hebrew or both.


Both ashkenazim and sephardim used hebrew only as a liturgical language though, if I remember right? They used yiddish and ladino respectively as their ordinary language.


I studied the Azkenaizic Hebrew with a Rabbi (Reformed Temple) and their Scriptures were written in that form of Hebrew. Never used it as a daily language. For that, many spoke Yiddish, since they were primarily from Central and Eastern Europe (Poland, Hungary and Russia or Belo-Russia. I did not learn to speak it as a language, as is used in Israel now, but to read the Scriptures in what we call the Old Testament. Was amazed at some of the differences between the English translations and the Hebrew! Especially in the 10 Commandments it was noticeable. I also compared some of the Hebrew to the King James Version of the English language Old Testament, and saw a lot of differences in that version!


I would say whatever language you decide to learn, learn English grammar first, especially the subjunctive. Perhaps diagramming sentences isn’t a bad idea either. And as many ancient languages are inflective, learn how not to think in a subject-verb-object manner.


I agree, know English very well prior to learning another language. Many languages are not spoken or written as they are in English. For instance, in Spanish, instead of saying “the black dog” you will actually say “the dog black”. Other languages (Japanese, Farsi and Arabic are “backwards” from English. Hebrew is also. Knowing English well helps to adapt to other languages. Also, you must learn to think in those forms. I find when I learn a new language, I often dream in it prior to speaking it fluently. Learning to speak first is easier, then reading them. I could not read Farsi (Persian) but spoke it fluently. In Hebrew, could read, and read out loud what I read, but could not speak it as a language.


I can’t speak Hebrew, either, at least not much. For the PhD Theology program we are only required to know how to read and write it. I can understand it, for the most part, when it’s spoken to me, but I would never say I’m fluent in spoken Hebrew.


boker tov

I am going to vote for Hebrew. There’s a lot of online resources to help learn the essential/common phrases - found it relatively easy to learn phonetically. The written language on the other hand…not so much. :slight_smile:


But would that be the Biblical/Masoretic, or the modern Israeli version?



Would be regular everyday Hebrew used in Israel today.


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