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The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

Do I need to know Greek to really understand the Bible?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

A Greek nun, surrounded by Orthodox priests. (CNS photo by Reuters)

The short answer is no. There are many people in the world who do not know Greek, but have a strong understanding of the Bible academically as well as spiritually. It is unlikely that any Christian you know, including your parish priest, is able to read the New Testament in its original Greek. (The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.) Hopefully you could say of at least some people in your life that they have a deep understanding of the Bible. Thanks to the work of editors and translators like those who produced the New American Bible, someone studying the Bible in English has access to an immense amount of scholarship contained in the introduction, footnotes, and cross-references.

On the other hand, many of the biblical scholars who teach in higher education learned Greek so that they can delve into the linguistic intricacies of the New Testament. Certainly they are privy to nuances of the language that non-Greek readers aren’t, but their role is to share that information so as to help others understand the teachings as fully as possible.

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • DHFabian

    I think a bigger problem we have is that of finding ways to reconcile Biblical teachings with our chosen social policies. We already twist ourselves into pretzels trying to explain-away everything the Bible says about helping the poor, for example.

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