Why to Avoid Using Interlinear Bibles

When many students first begin to learn Biblical Hebrew, they think that a Hebrew-English interlinear bible can really help them in their studies. Unfortunately, they are usually wrong.

What are Interlinear Bibles?

Interlinear Hebrew bibles are just what they sound like they are – between the lines of the Hebrew text of the Bible are words written in English (or some other language) that directly correspond to the meaning of the Hebrew words above or below.

Such a version of the Hebrew Bible may seem very attractive to beginning students (and even some intermediate students as well). This is because beginning students will likely have a limited Biblical Hebrew vocabulary, difficulty identifying irregular verb forms, and a lack of experience in dealing with the peculiarities of Hebrew grammar.

In fact, for beginners, reading the Bible in Hebrew may seem like a daunting task. This task seems easier when a student has an interlinear bible right in front of her that includes an English translation of every single Hebrew word.

Advantages of Interlinear Bibles

There is only one real advantage of using an interlinear Hebrew Bible: it makes reading the Bible in Hebrew seem less scary.

Some people will say that they find they can translate the Bible more quickly using an interlinear, but this is almost never the case. Instead, they are usually simply reading the translation that someone else has provided.

Disadvantages of Interlinear Bibles

The disadvantages of using interlinear bibles far outweigh any advantages. Here are three of the most important reasons why you should steer clear of interlinears:

  • Using an interlinear can give you the impression that you know Biblical Hebrew, when in fact, you do not. Instead, you only know how certain words have been translated from Hebrew into English. And you don’t even have to remember the meaning of any vocabulary words because a translation for every word has already been given to you!
  • Focusing only on translating the Hebrew Bible into English can really hurt your ability to understand the meaning of biblical texts. Biblical Hebrew is a Semitic language and very different from English and other European languages. If you only use an interlinear bible to read the text of the Hebrew Bible, you will be missing many interesting features of syntax, style, wordplay, and poetics, etc. You may even miss a central aspect of a text.
  • People who use interlinear bibles often become dependent upon them. They never actually learn to understand Biblical Hebrew on its own terms – instead, they only understand Biblical Hebrew as it is translated into English.

Final Verdict

If you try to learn Biblical Hebrew from an interlinear bible, at some point you will likely open up a text in Hebrew without an English translation and have extreme difficulty translating it on your own. You also will probably never progress to the point where you can read the Hebrew Bible without turning to English translations.

If you are still convinced that you would like to buy an interlinear Hebrew bible, information can be found by clicking on the image below.However, do be aware that there are several good alternatives to interlinear bibles which can help you to learn Biblical Hebrew and read the Bible in Hebrew at the same time.

Please note: some of the above links are affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Please know that I recommend these products because I think they are helpful for biblical studies. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel they will help you achieve your learning goals.