Handling the Hebrew Text
By Warren W. Wiersbe
Pastors with a year or two of New Testament Greek can generally use the many fine basic tools now available and not be at the mercy of the commentators. But when it comes to the Old Testament text, even a student with a year or two of Hebrew may feel a bit nervous. Therefore, some suggestions for a basic library are in order.
Start with An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words by W. E. Vine and expanded by Unger and White (Nelson). Vine did the New Testament section, but Unger and White added the Hebrew vocabulary to make this a true handbook for the entire Bible. All words are coded to the Strong’s Concordance numerical system. This is a plus.
Then add The New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies by William Wilson (Kregel). This volume lists the Old Testament words in English, with their Hebrew equivalents, and codes them to Strong and to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, edited by Harris, Archer and Waltke (Moody). By using Wilson, in a few seconds you can get the information you need about the significant Old Testament words.
A few words about TWOT mentioned above. These two volumes are filled with linguistic treasures to help you better understand and apply the Old Testament. TWOT gives you what the lexicons omit and then adds much more. The careful exegete needs this set.
The New Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew-English lexicon is also coded to Strong; so you can use it easily, even if your Hebrew is rusty. It is published by Associated Publishers and Authors.
The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament is our favorite of this genre. Edited by John Kohlenberger, it is published by Zondervan in four volumes, or in one.
The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by B. Davidson has been a dependable tool for many years. It was originally published by Bagster and is now available from Zondervan.
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Eerdmans) has material on the Semitic background of New Testament words, so don’t overlook it. Also, there are articles on key Bible words in the Bible encyclopedias and dictionaries.
Using these tools won’t make you an expert, but at least they will help you do original study for your Old Testament preaching.
When asked about the use of translations and other such tools, Emerson replied, “Why swim the river when there is a bridge?” Perhaps these “bridges” will keep you from drowning as you expound the riches of the Old Testament Scriptures.
|The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, revised under the editorship of R. K. Harrison, assisted by Howard Vos and Cyril J. Barber, Moody Press. The articles are up-to-date and the graphics greatly improved. You will find this a helpful and dependable tool, even if you may not follow the Scofield school of Bible interpretation.|
|They Went That-a-Way by Malcolm Forbes, Simon and Schuster. This is a collection of accurate accounts of how the great and famous died. The collection includes a variety of people, including John Dillinger, Buddy Holly, Sitting Bull and even Thomas Paine. This is a great source of illustrations!|
|Commenting and Commentaries, Charles Spurgeon, Kregel Publications. This is a fine guide for the pastor wanting to build the “classics” into his library. The longer I study and preach, the more I appreciate digging again “the old wells.”|
|God Has Spoken, J. I. Packer, Baker Book House. This book deals with inspiration and inerrancy, with an emphasis on the personal enjoyment and use of the Bible.|
|God’s Words, J. I. Packer, Baker Book House. This is a study of 17 “key Bible words,” such as world, sin, election, death and so on.|
|No Falling Words, Dale R. Davis, Baker Book House. The author presents historical and theological material from Joshua in a way that can only excite the expositor who wants to open the text.|
|The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires, Servant Publication. This is a must reading for the serious believer.|
|Knowing the Truth about Heaven and Hell, Harry Blamires, Servant Publication. Blamires not only deals with doctrine, but he shows the practical import of doctrine on daily life.|
|Lives of Famous Christians, Tony Castle, Servant Publication. Here are 1500 brief biographies of people who have been important in the life and growth of the church, including contemporary figures. A handy guide for quick reference. (I also recommend Tony Castle’s The New Book of Christian Quotations, another Servant publication.)|
|Saved in Eternity and Safe in the World, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Crossway. Expositions of John 17:1-5 and 6-9 respectively. Lloyd-Jones was a mighty expositor of the Word, and even those who may not accept his Calvinism do benefit from his practical messages.|
|Proverbs, A Commentary on an Ancient Book of Timeless Advice, Robert L. Alden, Baker Book House. The author covers every verse, even though some of the comments are brief. He shows how to understand Proverbs and how to make it relevant to today’s world. You will find excellent homiletical ideas here.|
2ProphetU is an online magazine/website, started by Warren Wiersbe and Michael Catt, to build up the church, seek revival, and encourage pastors.