Each human language has strengths and weaknesses. The size of its vocabulary gives English great strength. Nearly 4 million words (including species names and biochemical terms) compare to just several thousand each in biblical Hebrew and Greek. This great strength is also a weakness with respect to Bible translation, however, because English is so dynamic (rapidly changing). This volatility requires frequent retranslations from the original biblical languages, while the huge difference in vocabulary size requires many different translations to faithfully and fully communicate the rich meaning, thought, and emotion in the Bible’s original texts.
By no coincidence does the creation-day controversy rage most fiercely among English-speaking Christians. Such readers of the Bible may be unaware of the nuances of meaning in the various Hebrew verbs used to describe God’s creative activities in Genesis 1 and 2. With so many words available in English to describe long time periods (having specific start and end points), many readers don’t realize that in biblical Hebrew only one such word exists. Likewise, English readers may not know that many Hebrew nouns possess multiple, literal definitions.
In an effort to shed light on the age of the earth debate, these resources from RTB address the subtleties of biblical Hebrew and their impact on our understanding of Scripture.
- “From Noah to Abraham to Moses: Evidence of Genealogical Gaps in Mosaic Literature” – series by Hugh Henry and Dan Dyke (see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5)
- “What Does a ‘Very Good World’ Look Like?” – series by Hugh Henry and Dan Dyke (see part 1 and part 2)