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Book Reviews > Bible, general > More Light on the Path

Ray VanNeste

Ray VanNeste
Director of the RC Ryan Center for Biblical Studies and Assistant Professor of Christian Studies

More Light on the Path
David W. Baker and Elaine Heath
Details: 1998, Baker Books, Amazon.comISBN: 0801021650
Posted: July 3, 2002

One of the heritages of the Protestant Reformation is an interest in and esteem of understanding the Bible in the original languages. Indeed, A. T. Robertson, the great Southern Baptist Greek scholar, wrote,

There is nothing like the Greek NT to rejuvenate the world, which came out of the dark ages with the Greek Testament in its hand. Erasmus wrote in the Preface of his Greek Testament about his own thrill of delight: ‘These holy pages will summon up the living image of His mind. They will give you Christ Himself . . . they will give Him to you in an intimacy so close that He would be less visible to you if He stood before your eyes.’ The Greek New Testament is the New Testament. All else is translation. (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1919), xix.)

However, the real challenge for many of us seems to be maintaining, amidst the busy schedule of a pastor, what has been learned in classes. The key for maintenance and for translating the memorized principles into something useful for life and ministry is regular reading of texts. Yet this is often difficult, especially in the beginning, because one must spend so much time looking up difficult words and forms. This, I think, is why so many give up, deciding they would rather study Scripture than a lexicon. Now, however, Baker Book House has provided an excellent tool to address this problem- the recent book, More Light on the Path: Daily Scripture Readings in Hebrew and Greek, by David W. Baker and Elaine Heath (with Morven Baker). The authors of this book have done a great service for anyone who wants to learn to read biblical Greek and/or Hebrew by organizing daily readings from both testaments in the original languages including lexical helps with each reading. Therefore, one can read a passage hopefully without any need to consult other books.

By arranging the texts into daily readings with a prayer or meditation, the book also helps one in the all-important task of wedding one's academic study and devotional life. Since the readings are short, this book can easily be included in regular devotional reading. If the reading of the original languages can become a part of one's daily life and can be incorporated into one's devotional life, much benefit can be reaped. This book is a great help in that effort.

The readings are arranged to give small portions from both testaments for each day. The readings are arranged topically with each week focussing on a certain topic, often in conjunction with the liturgical calendar. Some may wish that the readings were arranged so as to go through an entire book or section consecutively, but the given arrangement allows the reader to interact with a wide range of texts from varying sections and genres. The lexical helps do seem to be uneven at times, however. It seems to me that more help is given for the Greek readings (even identifying forms of eivmi,) and less to difficult Hebrew forms. This may be due to the fact that the primary author (David Baker) is a Hebrew scholar or it may be due to the fact that my Hebrew is not as good as my Greek!

I have really enjoyed this book, myself, and heartily commend it to pastors who want to revive or maintain their reading of the languages and to students who are just learning these languages and want to make them a part of their devotional life from the very beginning. In closing, it may be appropriate to cite a paragraph from the foreword, by Eugene Peterson:

Translators do their best to keep our Holy Scriptures available and accurate for us in our mother tongue. And their “best” is the very best- no age or language has been as blessed in devout and skilled translators as ours. But there is nothing quite like working with the original languages on their own unique terms. A translation is still a translation. I have a friend, a professor in these biblical languages, who tells his students that reading a translation is like being kissed through cellophane- however ardent and well-planted the kiss, it lacks a certain immediacy.(5)

May the Lord grant that we as ministers of His glorious gospel might pursue greater intimacy with Him through a greater knowledge of His word. May we be faithful stewards of this message entrusted to us (2 Tim 1:13-14).