In my Blowing Smoke article, I highlighted the value of digging deeper into the original Biblical languages. In that vein, it is interesting to read what F.F. Bruce wrote on the inside front flap of the dust cover for my Vine’s dictionary.
“There can be no true biblical theology unless it is based on sound biblical exegesis, and there can be no sound biblical exegesis unless a firm textual and grammatical foundation has been laid for it.”
Admittedly, when I first read that back in the mid 1980’s, I had to whip out the Webster Collegiate English dictionary. (Yet another huge volume to clutter my desk!)
Biblical theology: The teaching about God as advanced by the Bible, untainted by the philosophies of personal preferences.
Exegesis: A critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture
To put the above into easily understood terms, I wrote a note to myself: “We cannot correctly understand who God is and what he wants of us (according to the Bible) unless the original-language words are correctly translated and their context is accurately rendered. Indeed, both are a challenge because even if the word is correctly translated, it can still be contextually wrong. This can readily be seen by looking at many of the verbs and adjectives used in both Hebrew (and Aramaic) and Greek and note that several English words are used. In fact, this is the whole basis of the Amplified Bible – that it parenthetically includes various English words to help the English-speaking reader get a more well-rounded idea of what was being conveyed by the Bible writers.”
So more than a cursory reading of the Bible is necessary to build strong faith.