I ask this question because when I read or study the Bible, it sometimes takes me quite a while to figure out what the Bible is saying because the text seems a little "dense" (like in Romans or Hebrews) or even a little "abstract" (like in 1 John or something).

I was wondering, is this the way the Bible sounds in the original languages it was written in? Or were the writers much clearer in their writings and the meanings of their words are only muddled in translation?

Do some books of the Bible actually sound a little "dense" or "abstract" even in the original Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek they were written in or does it just sound that way in our (English) translations?

I'm not familiar with a whole lot of translations (and how they were translated) but I'm thinking of some popular English translations such as the KJV and NKJV.

  • I think you need to explain a little more. What translation are you using ? And what Greek text is that translation based on ? : are significant and appropriate questions to consider. Welcome to BH, please check the Tour and Help (below) to see how we operate.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 30, 2020 at 12:49
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    Thanks! Updated. Apr 30, 2020 at 16:04
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    I think it has more to do with the fact that the bible was written like two thousand years ago (and some even older than that), so it's hard for us to understand their style and relate to their worldview. The Hebrew and Aramaic versions of the OT are sometimes just as hard to read (I do not read Greek so I can't say), simply because a lot of words can simply not be deciphered (book of Samuel is perfect example), and their archaic style is completely foreign to us. Narratives are usually easier to grasp because they are written in simpler vocabulary and are less prosaic and archaic.
    – bach
    May 1, 2020 at 14:21
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    You're not helping yourself by using translations that aren't written in natural contemporary English. You're not 500 years old, so you probably shouldn't be reading the KJV.
    – curiousdannii
    May 1, 2020 at 23:43
  • @Bach... Yeah, that makes sense. My question was mostly focused on the language and style of the text, which you helpfully pointed out is very different from what we're used to reading today. May 2, 2020 at 18:48

2 Answers 2


Is the Bible any easier to understand in Hebrew (or Aramaic/Greek) than it is in English?

Reading the Bible in its original languages enables a more profound analysis than translations allow. The latter miss or distort important elements and points which are skillfully embedded in the original text. Reading a translation is oftentimes tantamount to reading a variation of the story, whether because the languages at issue are too different from each other, or because with a translation comes an agenda (especially where influence and power are at stake).

An example of distortion is page 15 of Has Lot Lost The Plot? by George Athas. The paper cites a phrase which various translations to English, including modern ones such as NRSV, inaccurately depict Lot's [married] daughters as virgins. That inaccuracy impliedly mischaracterizes Lot, portraying him as someone perverse enough to lightly give away his daughters to evildoers.

But proficiency in Hebrew/Koine is not enough. Knowledge of environmental elements, such as culture, idiosyncrasy, and so forth also helps. For instance, in When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Harold S. Kushner reminds the audience that the concept of autumn in Middle East (freshness, relief from dryness), is the opposite of that in the Western world (namely, decay). That subtlety influences how some statements in the Book of Job are interpreted.


Is the Bible any easier to understand in Hebrew (or Aramaic/Greek) that it is in English?

It is easier to understand it, in the language that your most proficient, For many reading the Bible seems daunting, but do not be discouraged, the Bible can help you have a happier and more satisfying life.

Understanding the Bible​—What Will Help You?

Have the right frame of mind.

At Luke 10:21 below are the words directed by Jesus to his heavenly Father, they tell us that to understand the Bible you must have the right mental attitude. God's wisdom is revealed to the humble, the sheep-like people, people that are teachable. If you have any negative preconceived ideas about what the Bible teaches, try to set them aside and let God help you.

Luke 10:21 (NASB)

21 At that very [a]time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I [b]praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.

Prepare your heart, by prayer.

The Bible was inspired by the spirit, of God, its message will become understandable to you with the help of that spirit. You must pray for such help. Notice how this was the concern of the psalmist who wrote:

Psalm 119:34 (NASB)

34 Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law And keep it with all my heart.

Psalm 65:2 (NASB)

2 O You who hear prayer, To You all men come.

King Solomon prays to God to fulfill the promises made to his father David .1 King 8:23:53

Get help from those that have spend their time reading the Bible.

The Bible is like a puzzle, some parts are easy to understand, but others are difficult and you may need help. One such person was the Ethiopian eunuch,a court official of Candance, He was a Jewish proselyte who had a good knowledge of the OT scriptures, yet he needed help to understand. Read Acts 8:26-38 If you taking Bible lessons, ask for the scriptures which support such teachings, do not take everything for granted, even if you believe in the same thing.

Reading to understand.

Do not just read to cover material. Actively think about what you are reading. Ask yourself questions like these. What qualities do I see in the person I am reading? How can I apply this in my life?

Select a reliable modern-language translation.

Select a translation that is easy to read and understand, avoid translations that use out- of- date words that you do not know, so look for a Bible that uses easy to understand language that will touch your heart.

Use modern technology, many Bibles are available online and can be downloaded. Certain versions use additional tools that allow you a quick comparison of similar verses for clarification. Use Bible study tools. Bible study tools such as maps of the land of Israel will help you locate places and put events in perspective.

Vary your approach.

If reading the Bible from cover to cover seems daunting, why not stimulate your interest by starting to read portions that especially appeal to you. If you want to find out about famous people in the Bible, you could try character -base reading. For example

Mary: (Jesus mother) Matthew chapters 1-2, Luke chapters 1-2, John2:1-2 and acts !;12-14, 2:1-4

Abigail: 1 Samuel chapter 25

Esther: Esther chapters 2-5, 7-9

Rebekah: Genesis chapters 24-27

Sarah: Genesis chapters 17-18, 20-21, 23, Hebrews 11:11 and 1 Peter 3:1-6

Abraham: Genesis chapters 11-24 and 25:1-11

David: 1 Samuel chapters 16-30, 2 Samuel chapters 1-24, and 1 Kings chapters 1-2

Jesus: The Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John.

Moses: Exodus chapters 2-20, 24, 32-34, Numbers chapters 11-17, 20-21, 27 and 31, Deuteronomy chapter 34.

Paul: Acts chapters 7-9, 13-28

Peter: Matthew chapters 4,10,14-16-17, 26. Acts chapters 1-5, 8-12

Noah: Genesis chapters 5-9, Noah, for example, took about 40-50 to build the Ark.

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    Ozzie it looks like ninety percent of your post does not even address the OP's question, and the ten percent that you do devote to his question can hardly be considered an answer at all (It is easier to understand it, in the language that your most proficient??). I think you ought to edit this post to give it more focus.
    – bach
    May 3, 2020 at 2:05
  • Bach I agree with you, but the only person that can truly answer such a question is a person who is proficient in all three languages and cultures. I am proficient in Demotic Greek,and English. Many Greek words for example do not have one-to-one correspondence with English words in terms of their meaning. Also, Greek sentence structure differs radically from English structure. Since many of the Greek Koine words are in use in today's Greek, I have noticed such differences in the translations. The point I wanted to stress is ,if your mother language is English,then read it English. Tks May 3, 2020 at 18:30
  • Definitely read it in your native language, but also in any other languages (and translations) you are able to read. Doing so offsets any bias a particular group of translators may have unintentionally introduced (or intentionally). And helps get a deeper insight into words that have multiple meanings. A good example is John 1:5, where a Greek word in different versions is “extinguish,” “understand,” or “overcome.”
    – WGroleau
    May 21, 2023 at 17:03

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