Greek and Hebrew
Sometime in the near future I will be studying biblical Greek and Hebrew - how different are these from the modern versions and will it completely mess me up to study them here first? I have found some discussion on Hebrew here https://www.duolingo.com/comment/16387182 but more information and individual opinions would be welcome.
Roughly, biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew share most of their vocabulary (in the rebearth of Hebrew, they picked the vocabulary from the bible) but the sentences' structure is different. In my opinion, it will help you if you learn modern Hebrew first because you'd already be able to read and you'd already know the vocab, and both grammars are different enought for it not to mess you up. The advantage is also that you'd be able to speak Hebrew ;) but there's also a disadvantage being that it'd be more work for you to learn yet another language.
Yes, for sure it would be helpful to learn the Hebrew alphabet. Just to add to the discussion of the differences between biblical and modern Hebrew, it's very roughly the equivalent of Shakespearean and modern English. (I'm saying this as a student of both forms, not as a native speaker.) With biblical Hebrew, you're dealing with a smaller vocabulary and more need to figure out meaning from context, plus a more compact way of expressing concepts that includes a lot of suffixes/combined words. So that makes it easier and harder than modern Hebrew. :)
koine greek, the language of the new testament, is the main ancestor of modern greek, and they really differ from each other in lexicon, grammar, phonetics etc., but koine is understandable by contemporary greek people, in contrast to ancient greek. being a revived language, modern hebrew is closer to ancient hebrew than modern greek to koine, although it has a lot of differences.
It's comparing apples and oranges. The differences between Early Modern English and Present Day English are completely different to the type of differences found between Biblical and Modern Hebrew. Also, Shakespeare isn't exactly representative of the average English speaker from that time. His poems are full of his own whimsical creations, and I've heard that people would have struggled to understand parts of his plays at the time, not just nowadays.
I know the common comparison is to Shakespeare, but personally I think it's more like Chaucer and modern English.... Biblical Hebrew is much more of a struggle at times for modern Hebrew speakers (depending on the specific chapter though). That being said, it can definitely only help. Getting used to the alphabet alone would be a great help, and most roots are the same.