70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know

By Matthew Richard Schlimm Published
Paperback image ISBN: 9781426799969 $19.99 Buy
eBook image ISBN: 9781426799976 $19.99 Buy
How basic Hebrew can save Christianity from becoming a boring and meaningless religion.The basic message of the Bible can be understood in any language. At the same time, many biblical texts are hard to understand because they don’t quite make sense when translated into English. Something is missing. Quite frequently, what readers miss has been lost in translation. Maybe there is a pun or wordplay in the original. Sometimes names like Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Eden just seem like names to us but have meanings that are essential to the story. Many Hebrew words have multiple meanings, but the English translators have to just pick one (for example, the same Hebrew word can mean both hear and obey). Even more common are Hebrew words that have much wider meanings than their English translations. A few examples are the Hebrew words rendered as remember, covenant, walk, gates, love, cleanliness, holiness, glory, wisdom, and fear. The original language allows various parts to click together like well-constructed puzzle pieces. With Hebrew in mind, interpreters see new details they didn’t realize were missing before. They make new connections. They immerse themselves in scripture more fully.

That’s where this book comes in. Learning a language is like learning a worldview. Those who learn biblical Hebrew can better understand not only what biblical authors wrote, but also how they thought. Unfortunately, those insights come only after years of study. This book is about getting right to the important, exciting insights. It’s an opportunity to be transformed by the renewing of our minds as we better understand how biblical authors used their language to express their experience of God and the world.

If you are just beginning to study Hebrew and want the insights and motivation to continue or if you have no intention of learning biblical Hebrew but want to better understand the Bible, this book is for you!


Hallelujahshalomamen . . . these words roll easily off our tongues in Christian worship and theological conversation with little thought as to the richness and range of their meanings. So an accessible resource introducing scripture readers to the most familiar Hebrew words would have been, in and of itself, enough to make Schlimm’s book a worthwhile read. In 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know, however, Schlimm gives us so much more. With warmth, wit, and a little help from Star Wars, Schlimm invites us to journey into the biblical world and explore Hebrew words from the inside out. Highlighting specific biblical passages in which each word is found, Schlimm takes the opportunity to offer penetrating exegetical insights, perceptive theological reflection, and helpful connections between the biblical and contemporary world. The result is a resource that is sure to usher laypeople, pastors, and theology students alike into a deeper understanding of scripture and of the character of God.”

—Amanda W. Benckhuysen, Professor of Old Testament, Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI

“Schlimm’s handbook guides modern Christians through the weighty theological concepts of the Old Testament in a charming and accessible way. His conversational style, witty humor, and personal anecdotes draw the reader into the world of the Hebrew text. This book provides readers with a deeper understanding of the ancient Jewish foundations of Christian belief and will, I hope, inspire them to take up further study of the Hebrew language.”

—Jeremy M. Hutton, Professor of Classical Hebrew Language and Biblical Literature, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI

“I tell all of my students that Hebrew is the most important class they can take in seminary. Matthew Schlimm’s book gives us seventy reasons why. Whether you’ve studied Hebrew before or it’s your first time thinking about the message of the Old Testament, this book will help you see how language and theology intersect. You’ll say: hallelujah, amen! And you’ll know what you’re talking about.”

—Joel LeMon, Associate Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

About the Author

Matthew Richard Schlimm

Matthew Richard Schlimm (Ph.D., Duke) is Professor of Old Testament at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Iowa. He has published numerous books and articles and served as one of the editors for The CEB Study Bible. He is also an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, having served churches in Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina.