Language is important. We judge people by the language they use. We understand or should I say misunderstand people by the language they use. You may find yourself in a conversation using language and specifically cultural phrases, which we call idioms... that is commonly understood in our culture today. And why do I want to talk about this? Because idioms and the translation of idioms are one of the most misunderstood elements when people try to interpret the scriptures. I would dare say that many mistakes, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings about scripture derive from our fundamental error with idioms.
It is hard for many of us to think that the culture of Jesus’ day had idioms that were indigenous to them. They had cultural phrases that were understood in the Hebrew language, what we would call Hebrew idioms. What if I told you that our scriptures were chalked full of idioms that were very clear in meaning to the original audience of the 1st century New Testament, but when translated into the Greek and ultimately into another language like English, that the meaning gets lost, and can lead to great errors? What looks like code words or esoteric phrases in the English is not code at all, more often than not they are Hebrew idioms that we don’t understand after 2,000 years removed from their original culture and language. What if I told you that many of these Hebrew idioms when put in their proper context actually are very clear? They are easily understood. So, take a journey with me as we examine idioms in language and more specifically the Hebrew idioms in scripture that we often miss as I have titled this podcast, “Understanding Idioms Will Make or Break our Interpretation of Scripture.”