Monday, October 18, 2010

Should seminary students learn Greek and Hebrew?

It is the beginning of term at Ashland and although I am not teaching Greek this year I am still hearing the question, why do I need to learn Greek or Hebrew?

Over the years I have swung between the extremes. On the one hand, I have mounted a vigorous defense of biblical languages in a seminary curriculum. On the other, I have privately wished that the only students in my Greek class were the ones that chose to be there.

The question is an important one. The modern pastor is very busy and is more of a general practitioner than a specialist. Working with languages takes time. Although we teach students Greek and Hebrew few have the time week in and week out to put in the kind of effort required to translate the chosen passage for the Sunday sermon. Most pastors do not have a large church staff if any at all. This means that they are in constant demand and are often propelled from crisis to crisis. While weddings are usually planned months in advance funerals are not. It is common for a pastor's normal week to be "interrupted " by a death in the congregation, a family that is falling apart, or some other emergency. And of course this does not include the pastor's family.

Of course there are many good translations to which the pastor will turn. In this case they may not translate their selected passage, but they have the ability to work with some quality commentaries that deal with the original languages. But this leads to the question of how much students need to study the languages to function.

One problem that I have often observed is that studetns are often better in one language than the other. Someimtes this depends on which language they took first. A student who takes Hebrew first may experience language fatigue when it comes time to take Greek next year. It is not uncommon for a student to leave seminary with more competence in one of the two languages. Rarley do they return to studying languages after seminary to improve the one in which they are deficient.

And what about the problem of the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament? I have to admit that at times I see a disconnect between our teaching of Hebrew to Christian students who will use the New Testament. Better than 90% of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testaement come from the Greek version rather than the Hebrew. And the differences between them can be significant. If you use the Hebrew Bible, for instance, there is no virgin birth for Matthew to refer to in Isaiah. If we are reading the Bible as Christians, than why don't we read it in the language that Paul and others used which was, for the most part, Greek (LXX) rather than Hebrew.

I also wonder about what we as professors require versus what we actually practice. I am aware of many a New Testament scholar who would defend the need for students to learn Hebrew, but cannot read it themselves. I am bothered when we insist that our students be able to do something that we cannot. For the record, I have kept up on my Hebrew, but only after I was personally convicted by the above type of situation. I realized my Hebrew was slipping and concluded that if I wanted my students to read Hebrew I had better be able to read it too.

Added to all of this is the fact that many seminaries are dropping the language requirements. It is possible to get an MDiv without any Greek or Hebrew. And these courses are not being replaced with more Bible. This strategy is being used to shorten the total hours required to earn the degree. Students take 4-6 less classes and spend less money.

What are your thoughts? Are original languages important to ministry formation? Should seminaries continue to compel students to take Greek and Hebrew?


  1. YES!!!!!!! Seminary students should be required to take both Hebrew and Greek just as they are required to take basic Hermeneutics. How can one seriously (professionally)study the Bible without at least solid exposure to the two major original languages?
    I am a small church pastor, and therefore a generalist. I still do my own textual work before looking at others' and occasionally this includes Greek or more likely Hebrew (it's easier and I like it better). I have certainly not kept my studies in these languages very sharp,but it is not all gone and I know where to get help. Furthermore, there are basic understandings that I learned that help me immensely as I take advantage of the scholarly work of others. Without the training I received, I would not be able to access the more technical commentaries and would miss much depth in my study and preparation.

    Not only that, but people in all the congregations I served have always asked me to give them some insight from Greek or Hebrew about some more difficult passages and I have always been able to say, "I'll take a look at that and get back with you," or "hold on, I'll get the book and we can look at it."

    Keep the languages. I am not in favor of watering down the qualifications for an advanced degree. It seems to me that if the Lord has called us to this work, we ought to be able to trust the Lord for a little bit of help in Hebrew (and in funding the extra 4-6 hours).

    1. It is amazing how people say the Bible is Gods word, yet we are told to learn Greek and Hebrew, what for? so we can correct Gods Word.
      And what we must also remember that the so called Greek has been changed so much and still is been changed, the Bible was writen over 400 years ago, does it not stand to reason that it is right, i have heard Pastors say that this word in the Bible should be whatever, no go back to when it was writen and the meaning then, God promised to preserve his Word not ours.

    2. I agree!!! God preserved His WORD in English!!! The reason pastors want to use the greek and Hebrew is to sound smart. But that means if I don't know greek or Hebrew I cannot study the Bible correctly and I must come to my pastor to TRULY understand what a verse is saying!! WRONG!! The Bible said that's the Holy Spirits job when we read the PRESERVED WORD in ENGLISH!! ( I am also a Pastor)

    3. I don't know how one can argue as a pastor that "God preserved His WORD in English!!!" First, Anonymous stated that "Greek has been changed so much and still is be changed." Well, so hasn't the English language! We no longer speak as Shakespeare or even as they spoke 20 years ago. Languages are fluid and change based on and with the cultural using it. Words leave languages and words enter it. Definitions change (look at decimate being used to suggest total destruction when it just means 10%).

      Second, Anonymous number 2 here says the WORD is preserved in English. Well which translation? The NASB? The NIV? The ESV? The NLT? Oh wait how about the Message? Or perhaps the Queen James Study Bible? Which ENGLISH was preserved?

      Ephesians 4:11 - And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers

      Again as a pastor I don't know how you basically talked yourself out of a job (what's the point of you if people don't need a pastor to help them translate or understand difficult passages?). What about Ephesians 4:11 "preserved in English" says God also gave these others to equip and build up the church. The Holy Spirit needs to be in these people's lives to accurately do what they do, but God uses these other people to also teach and explain His Word to His people.

      Now as to the article itself, this is what I think about the languages. I think it ought to be the students choice to pursue it if interested. If professors believe it to be important they need to sell it to the students. Help them see why. Help them get excited to study it. Not force it per the curriculum. God doesn't equip us all in the same way. Some pastors will use the languages later on. Others will not and they will have wasted a year or more of their life being required to learn it. That was one or more years kept out of ministry. I myself am at a seminary that teaches 5 classes of Greek and 4 of Hebrew. I question whether as a pastor if I need 2.5 years of Greek and 2 years of Hebrew? Yet, that's their program. I wish I could tailor to include two semesters of each and be done with it. I would then know the basics and be able to use most commentaries and Logos bible software to help me when I need to use it. I just don't know that I need to be on the same level as the scholars paid to do translation. I'd love to be, but I am not sure I am gifted to get down to study it this way my whole life. Perhaps I will...perhaps I won't. But I believe freedom to choose is always great. Let the institutions "sell" it and let the students decide if they think the trade off and hard work is worth it and what they plan to do in ministry.

    4. Michael GroetzingerJune 28, 2016 at 11:17 AM

      Bill, I was most impressed at your enthusiastic affirmation that the study of Greek and (especially) Hebrew not be cast aside in the interest of keeping or gaining students. I am Jewish and like your students, all Jewish males after their Bar-Mitzvah at the age of 13 have a decision to make;To keep up with my Hebrew studies and deepen the understanding of the Torah in the holy tongue (L'shon ha-kodesh) or, as is far too often the case, let it slide and treat it like something you HAD to do get your ticket validated, so to speak. I am now 55 and I try to read either from the Torah or the Siddur every day, not to say that I miss a day here or there.Even if a person learns to "read" the Hebrew, articulating the accents properly so you get that beautiful flow I find unique to Hebrew, that alone is inspirational...the grammar and vocabulary will come, but I feel that the student first must fall in love with the beauty of the sound of Hebrew. Sincerely, Michael Groetzinger

  2. I agree with everything Jim West just posted on the matter. :)

  3. Paul,

    I just posted a response to him.

  4. I have done much more with my Greek than my Hebrew since seminary. I do wish I would have kept up better on my Hebrew, and I do still purchase a Hebrew grammar here and there, but the Greek is what I deal with much more regularly.

    I do believe that both should be kept up on, sprinkled with some Aramaic, but I am not sure what the best way is to go about this.

    John, how do you keep up with your Hebrew? Is it general reading, grammar review, etc.?

  5. As a pastor currently serving in a small church, regular and extensive use of biblical languages is next to impossible. John, your assessment of the average week is definitely accurate. Nonetheless, I wil be forever grateful for my gained wisdom from language study.

    My language classes were spiritually forming and shaped my understanding of the biblical world. While I am not be able to translate all that well anymore, I still have a better understanding of the worlds in which the Old and New Testament were written because of my language study. This affects how I approach Scripture and how I think about God. These two things are paramount to my work as a pastor.

  6. Matt,

    I read in the Hebrew. I spent two years reading large portions of the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew as a way to strengthen my skills. As the old saying goes, practice, practice, practice.

  7. While it is probably true that most pastors will not continue in their particular ministries with the same proficiencies in the biblical languages they had when they were in seminary, they WILL have a key understanding and background necessary for proper biblical understanding and interpretation. I think the biblical languages requirements are CRITICAL/CRUCIAL for all MDiv programs because of the understanding that they provide ... and there are a few methods of keeping up with your biblical languages on a regular basis. One of which I am aware is that called "More Light for the Path" by Drs. David and Morvin Baker and Dr. Elaine Heath. THis is a daily devotional in English, Greek, and Hebrew with each devotion (in all three languages) taking up merely one page each. It is published by Baker Books. I am sure there are others but I am particularly fond of this one.

  8. The solution is to make seminary class less about writing formal research papers, less about taking classes in the soft sciences and more about reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew and writing exegetical digests which use resources,and having professor led discussions about ministry and life implications.

    Not to say that systematic theology or ministry methodology do not matter, they do. But knowing the Bible matters more.

  9. I am not a Biblical Studies professional, but I did wander my way through a year of seminary. That brief sojourn did include three semesters of Greek. (I never got around to Hebrew.) Even that brief term of study impressed upon me the value of language study to the task of scripture interpretation. In essence, the translation of the text from the original language into English or another language IS the first interpretation of the text. The translation process forces the translator to wrestle with foundational issues in interpretation that would be missed if an English text is used. Missed because someone else already resolved them in the way they considered best. True, most issues encountered are not ones that the average Christian sitting in the pew would find interesting or even understand. So, why bother with them?

    We are considering the value of original languages to professional leaders of the faith. Those "technical issues" of language form part of the foundation of the Theology of the Christian faith. If the leaders of Christianity do not encounter those issues and resolve them, they would be in the position of Nicodemas of whom Jesus said, "You are a leader in Israel and you do not understand these things?" If a Seminary claims to train "Professional" leaders of the Christian church, it needs to require language study.

  10. i still reject the notion that time is the issue. it isn't. i pastor a church of over 300 active members, i teach for QHST, i edit for the scandinavian journal of the OT, and i edit volumes for publication in the copenhagen seminar series. i still have time for hospital calls, blogging, sermon prep, visitation, funerals, weddings, tv watching, annoying people, making phone calls, writing letters, reading, writing book reviews, working on commentaries, publishing books, and a whole bunch of other things. and IM LAZY! so i imagine that people with drive and will could do way more. if- IF they wanted to.

    as i tell church folk all the time- people have time for all the things they WANT to do. if they dont WANT to do it, their first excuse is 'i dont have time'. it's a big fat lazy lie.

  11. Thanks for those good honest thoughts John, I have responded with another idea on my blog.

    I'd love to hear more from you on the LXX question, it is something I think needs some serious thought given to it, and it relates to the relatively unexplored problem of how text critical issues relate to theology, something which tends to get brushed under the carpet!

  12. Better than 90% of the Old Testament quotations in the New Testaement come from the Greek version rather than the Hebrew.

    Dr. Byron:

    I believe Lee Martin McDonald gives this 90% figure in his book on The Biblical Canon (FYI - get the third edition, third printing - printings 1 and 2 had errors), but from my at-present reading of R. Timothy McLay's The Use of the Septuagint in New Testament Research (via Logos), I wonder if that might be too high. McLay gives a more nuanced and complex explanation of the ways and reasons a LXX reading (and hence a NT use of it) may seem to depart from a literalistic back-translatable Greek version of the Hebrew.

  13. It is possible to get an MDiv without any Greek or Hebrew.

    Say it isn't so!!!!

    You have got to be kidding me!!!!

  14. To the seminaries that are dropping language requirements for an MDiv--Shame on you! It sounds to me that it is not really a time/money issue as much as it is them following worldly values. "Your" time is much more important. Let's get "you," "your" degreee quicker. "You" don't really need a solid foundation in a language as "you" write "your" Sunday sermon. "You" can find all that "you" need in a good commentary of "your" choice. Get the picture?

    1. Michael GroetzingerJune 28, 2016 at 11:46 AM

      Beth...Bravo! I am Jewish and it is heartening to hear words such as yours. I made it my business to read the Christian scriptures and the situation with the dropping of the languages (upon which everything they will study is built upon!) reminds me of Paul: Paul was finding it difficult to convince the gentiles to adopt certain commandments of the Torah (Kashrut (dietary laws) and especially circumcision). Paul's solution? We both know, but let's summarize for those that might not: Paul essentially said, "You find the food restrictions and the commandment of circumcision too hard or objectionable? NO PROBLEM--we'll just by-pass the stuff you don't want to bother with from that Torah of the Most High!" We know that Paul's playing fast and loose with the Holy Torah caused a break in fellowship with, Peter, if I am not mistaken? The men who actually KNEW Jesus. I feel, as you do, that the dropping of languages, most especially Hebrew since that is the source,is going down a very slippery slope for these someday clergy men and women. Sincerely, Michael Groetzinger. PS-- I really think you nailed it with the litany of "YOU", that is really what it is coming down to, isn't it?

  15. As a first year, first term, seminary student, I thought it would be a good idea to comment on your blog. I am taking Hebrew during this Fall 2010 term and although it is difficult, I think it's very important. During my search for a seminary to attend, I ran across several that lacked in or didn't require language(s). However, I looked away from them because I felt that learning the languages the Bible was written in seemed rather important to the foundation of my theological eduation. The Hebrew and Greek language requirements at Ashland Thelogical Seminary was one of the reason I came here!

  16. John, can you provide me proof of your second last paragraph (seminaries dropping the languages)? I've heard this for some time, and as far as I can tell it is a myth, perpetuated because we assume seminaries are caving in to students whining :-) We're doing a curriculum review, and during my research into 30 seminaries of similar size, I only found one seminary that dropped the languages. About 1/4 reduced it to one language, but the majority still require Hebrew and Greek in some form. Out of curiosity what is the M.Div. requirement at Ashland? (your website doesn't have the program tracks handy. (btw, you should tell your webmaster that Ashland's website is not compatible with Safari, the 4th most used browser)

  17. Danny,

    Yes, many main-line denominations are dropping the languages.A Methodist seminary just to the south of us has no language requirements. We require five quarters of Greek and Hebrew. While many Evangelical seminaries still require language, the "mainline" seminaries are dropping them as are those that are all online. Although they may not be accredited they are our "competition".

  18. I think the author is correct and has a great point! I do agree that seminary students (as well as non-seminarians) should have exposure to Greek and Hebrew. Why should it be just for seminarians and pastors? How about teaching Hebrew and Greek in the churches for free rather than in an institution that requires a great deal of money? The American educational system is atrocious and the way Hebrew and Greek are taught in the institutions is not conducive to learning, retention, experience, joy, or practicality. Many students go through the language classes in a few semesters and are overloaded with the nuances of Hebrew and Greek without any real tangible experience in using it. Many of them forget the material only to be washed over with more material from another class. Language is better learned through immersion and not through lectures, text books, quizzes, and exams.

  19. I actually agree with the dropping of the language requirements. Students should be required to pass proficiency tests in both languages before graduation. I see the lack of interest from seminary students in learning Greek and Hebrew. Requiring a passage of a competency test is in line with other professional degrees. My school has dropped their language requirement much to my displeasure.

  20. So, are you saying drop the requirement but give an exam?

  21. I have found the language topic is normally looked at from the stance of both Heb and Greek or nothing. I would recommend a 3rd option. 2 semesters of Hebrew OR 2 semesters of Greek. Leave the decision up to the student from that point. I really am not sold on 12 hours of languages for guys that will not utilize it week in and week out. I say on of the other.

  22. I appreciate all of these comments. However, I am a local church pastor with the time constraints you mention and I would find it very difficult to fit in enough time to spend 4-6 hours exegeting or translating the original languages.

    To say that one has enough time for what they WANT but they don't WANT to do it is awfully condescending. What about my pastor friend up the street who has a child in a wheel chair and devotes as much time to him as his wife does and to the rest of his large family? You would imply that his priorities are out of line because he doesn't spend time in the original languages?

    He loves his flock and faithfully preaches / teaches similarly to the way that I do (we have talked about this before) from the very good bounty of English translations along with the use of language tools such as CWSD / Strong's / BDB / etc, reference of solid commentaries, and contextual research.

    I think you can get the job done without in-depth knowledge of the languages. Although I do think that one needs at least 1 introductory course in Hebrew and Greek to gain insight into them. It's interesting that I was actually less likely to cite the Greek or Hebrew in a sermon after just one course in each!

  23. I have been a pastor since 1986, and while I appreciate some of the comments on this board pertaining to the biblical languages, I don't appreciate the condescending tone of some of them. Everyone is in a different situation when it comes to ministry. To say someone is lazy or lying about having the time to study the Greek and Hebrew is just ignorant. And by the way, just because you are a student of both or either language doesn't qualify you to be a good preacher. Preaching is a gift from God, and there are plenty of biblical language scholars who shouldn't be up on the pulpit, because they don't have the gift of preaching.

    I am also in agreement that seminaries shouldn't drop the language requirements, but maybe they should screen applicants a little better to keep out those who think they are smarter or better than others.

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. ''If you use the Hebrew Bible, for instance, there is no virgin birth for Matthew to refer to in Isaiah.''

    Quotation above is a common misunderstanding. Only source for Hebrew of the Bible is the Biblical Hebrew itself because there are only few other sources outside of it to find out what the words of the Hebrew Bible mean. For this reason you need to make your own mind what Isiaiah 7:14 is by comparing those few similar words in the Hebrew Bible in their contex. Later Jewish use or propaganda is not enough. Final result is that Isiaiah 7:14 speaks about virgin.

    1. Alma= young woman. The whole verse is contextually about Ahaz' day so if one is willing, perhaps this is a non-holy Spirit virgin birth??

    2. Michael GroetzingerJune 28, 2016 at 12:23 PM

      There seems to be an awful lot of strong talk, much of it thinly veiled insults cloaked with the safe, but cowardly "anonymous". Nearly every "anonymous" comment has been laced with cynicism and an acrid aroma of disrespect. Especially egregious was the "anonymous July 2, 2012"--"Later Jewish Use or Propaganda is not enough." This has the unmistakable stench of anti-semitic sentiment. Everything you purport to hold dear and consider holy is the result of The Master of The Universe, whose interest in the Jewish People (am Yisrael, just to brush up on your Hebrew,or IVRIT) and their survival through impossible odds have given you your religion. Pastor Brown has responded to these craven "Anonymous" posts with spiritual calm even though he is being somewhat disrespected. You should take a cue or two or three from this humble servant's example. PS-- If you wish to engage in provocative, challenging discourse, have the courage to at least sign your name to it...surely if you've said nothing to be ashamed of there is no problem of owning it in print?

  26. The OG translators used the Hebrew Bible and found that in Greek it was to be translated παρθενος and those translators were Jewish. Handy to know both translations if you are dealing with theology.
    I wonder if med school profs ponder dropping anatomy from their courses? How many of you would like a physician working on you who skipped the 'optional' anantomy class.

  27. I didn't make it all the way to a pastor and the area I have particular intetest in actually forced me back into Greek! (Messianic views: the NT is a renewal of the OT; false use of the word kainos when if the NT was a renewal, anakainidzo would have been used.)

  28. As online translators become more and more accurate, I think the need to learn the languages diminishes. The languages remain very important. Martin Luther once said "We shall have a hard time preserving the Gospel without the languages." However, because of better and better technology, the importance of actually learning the languages diminishes. Why spend several semesters mastering a dead language when you could use the gifts of technology that God has given us to translate the texts. Additionally, you may see more young men chose to enter a pastoral vocation if the languages were no longer required.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I am curious about your last line. Do you really see languages as preventing men and women from entering ministry? Not all degrees require them so there are options other than one requiring languages.

  29. "I wonder if med school profs ponder dropping anatomy from their courses? How many of you would like a physician working on you who skipped the 'optional' anantomy class."

    Not a valid analogy. The NT and OT patriarchs used the languages of their day for communication. As the gospel spread throughout the Gentile world, there was no mandate (from the apostles or God) to learn Hebrew (and by extension in our day, Greek) to be an effective preacher/teacher/bishop for the church. Anatomy in med school is the "domain model" that is inherently cross-cultural and unchanging. Language and cultures morph over time and have a need to be dealt with in a culturally connective form.

    I'm not saying the language requirements should be dropped, but so far the arguments presented (and this analogy in particular) haven't given credence to keeping it.

  30. Students do not need to study Greek and Hebrew to understand it! It must be spiritually discerned. The majority of people that have impacted the world for Christ were simple, uneducated people who spent a lot of time in their prayer closet and less time doing things that are legitimate but keep you out of fellowship with God! Look at America today! A demon-possessed society where sodomites abound, even in the church! This is the spirit of blasphemy (Revelation 13:1-2). The church in America needs to repent of her worldliness and backslid-den shepherds who are more concerned about themselves and their retirement than lost souls! Todd Humphreys S.T.M. Nova, Ohio

  31. As a church member I have been blessed when a pastor digs deeper and shares about the Greek or Hebrew meaning of a verse. The few times I've witnessed to cultists, the Strong's Concordance has shed light I could not have known without it. I think millions of church goers may have stayed with the church and the truth of God's word if they had been taught deeper theology. In these days filled with so much deception, maybe it's even more imperative that we more fully arm the church with the truth? As well, as a long time believer, some of the Bible has become dull. Greek and Hebrew breathe new life into the verses...or rather into me.

  32. Baptists: Please throw your Greek lexicons in the trash!

    Why do Baptist always want to go to the Greek to understand the Bible? It is as if Baptists do not trust their English Bibles: "Sorry, hold on a minute, I need to check the original Greek before we can believe that God really loves the whole world as your English Bible seems to say in John 3:16...we can only know for sure if we understand and read ancient Greek."

    When God promised to preserve his Word...did he really mean that he would only preserve it on 2,000 year old parchment and papyrus in ancient forms of Greek and Aramaic?? Did God really intend that the only people who could REALLY know what he had to say to mankind...would be ancient Greek-educated Baptist Churchmen?? Is the non-ancient-Greek- speaking layperson sitting in the pew supposed to just shut his English language Bible and sit at the feet of these Baptist Greek scholars to learn what God couldn't explain himself in plain, simple ENGLISH??

    Do you REALLY believe that God intended for only Baptist, Greek-speaking Churchmen to understand the Gospel? Because that is really what Baptists are saying, because the Greek scholars of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, and the Methodist Church think that Baptist Greek scholars are all WET on their positions that the Bible does not support infant baptism and that baptism MUST be by immersion!

    Is it really possible that ONLY Baptist Greek scholars truly understand ancient Greek, and that the rest of the world's Greek scholars completely bungle the translation of the New Testament? How is that possible? It defies common sense. And if I hear another Baptist start talking about how the Greek genitive case proves that the Baptist position is correct, I swear I'm going to puke! Seriously, every time I get into a discussion about Biblical translation with a Baptist he starts in with the genitive case nonsense. If you want to understand the genitive case in a Greek document...I suggest you confer...not with a Baptist...but with a GREEK!

    Instead of all this ancient Greek nonsense, which Baptists seem to have a fixation on, I suggest that every Christian layperson do this:

    1. Obtain a copy of four different English language translations of the Bible. Read each one of these "problem passages", as Baptists and evangelicals refer to them, in each of these English translations.
    2. God's true meaning of the passage will be plainly understandable after comparing these four English translations.

    You do NOT need to read the ancient Greek text unless you want to delve into the study of ancient Greek sentence structure or some other nuance. God promised he would preserve his Word, and the English-speaking people of the world have had the Word of God IN ENGLISH since at least William Tyndale (1300"s??). Dear Baptists...PLEASE stop insisting on using the ancient texts to confuse Christian laypeople of God's simple, plain message of the Gospel!

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    an orthodox Lutheran blog

  33. What about the work of W.E.Vine and his Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words? W.E.Vine was a scholar was he not? Are we as Christians to say we can't learn anything from him? If parishioners and laymen really are serious about their Bible study I would encourage them to use his book. The problem is most Church going people are not serious students of the Bible. They seem content to let someone else explain it to them, but the Bereans in Acts 17:11 were not content to even let the Apostle Paul explain to them, they decided to search the scriptures themselves. Less people would get involved in Cults if they truly had a prayer life and searched the Scriptures themselves to find the truth! Also I am not against Seminary students learning Greek and Hebrew as long as they stay away from Bible versions that have been corrupted thanks to Westcott and Hort! Seminary students and Parishioners both should stay with the Authorized KJV!

  34. Thanks for all of your ideas. I’ve taught a two year Greek program five times through over about 15 years and I concluded something different than most of you, but perhaps something that is not contradictory to what you all shared. I suggest we are teaching the wrong things in Greek classes. I concluded I was teaching the wrong things and changed my class during in cycle, and during my 5th cycle I taught much, much differently than during my 1st cyle.

    What do we teach? We have students memorize morphology paradigms. We have students memorize English glosses for Greek words. We give several semesters of quizzes, midterms and finals on students’ abilities to regurgitate this information that is quickly forgotten. We don’t teach them to exegete till the end of their third or fourth semester.

    I have concluded, and suggest to others, that we start teaching students to understand a morphologically marked New Testament and LXX. Parsing with 100% accuracy using a morphologically marked text only takes six or so weeks. In contrast, many teach to sight parse with 60% accuracy for some two years.

    I have concluded, and suggest to others, that we teach students to exegete. Most any student can stand six weeks of torture memorizing information, and then after six weeks, move onto the fun and profitable stuff of exegesis.

    I did this and ended up with one exegetical paper the first semester and three exegetical papers in each of the other three semesters (that is a total of 10 quality papers!). The first semester I covered John 1-12, second the rest of the Johannine corpus, the third-Pauline corpus, fourth semester was the rest of the New Testament.

    Here’s the kicker. I would give a surprise vocab test and after my method of “little to no memorization,” the students knew by memory an analogous number of words to those students I used to have memorize the vocab lists. Also, my students I had write exegetical papers were able to sight parse as well as past students I tortured to memorize those paradigms.

    Exegesis and valuable insights are most important. Let’s teach those first. Then if anyone wants to memorize the New Testament for fun, let them memorize after they know how to exegete.

    I suggest, however, that few are exegeting very well. I suggest there are great insights into the Greek that most pastors and most commentators are missing. I suggest that many are missing key questions, and many don't know what questions to ask. I suggest the following are some of the key questions and few seminary graduates, and few seminary teachers, can answer these questions:

    Why does a Greek author choose aoristic, imperfective or perfective aspect? (I think Porter, Campbell, Wallace and Fanning do not provide an adequate answer.)
    Why does a Greek author choose past, present or future time?
    Why does a Greek author use syntactically grammatical but uneconomical word order?
    What is "syntactically grammatical but uneconomical word order?" (Most of my Greek scholar friends lack a viable syntactic theory for Greek, for English, or for any language).
    How do words mean? (Most of Greek scholar friends lack a viable semantic theory for Greek, for English, or for any language).
    How does the historical, cultural, social, and psychological background effect word meanings in the Greek Bible?

    Just some of my ideas,

    Mark Beatty, MA, THM, PHD, JD, MBA
    Web: (in some disarray but hope to fix up by June 2014)

  35. I think every Christian should at least make an attempt to learn some Hebrew and Greek. As the old saying goes "Knowledge is power". One can never have to much knowledge on a subject. Plus the Lord and most of his early followers were Jewish and spoke Hebrew. And when the first Gentiles were saved they spoke Greek. I think that learning Greek and Hebrew reminds us of our past and shows respect for the early Christians. Plus Jesus is Jewish, so I think learning at least Hebrew shows respect for His culture.

  36. We are not saved by what we KNOW but by what we Believe!
    author unkown

  37. I live in a country where islamic tradition is majority. and having them as neighborbood ruled our the very possibility of biblical illiteracy. for they always chanted their prayer and their reading in the original languages and some of those fanatics ready to attack any faith that is unable to withstand their examinations. fortunate for me, my parents, not christians themselves, but decided to put me on an evangelical-runned school. I even though was not yet baptized, but had curiousity to the teaching of Christ.
    one day I asked my teacher(who taught christianity as a subject, who herself a seminary graduate and a preacher at the church,) out of personal eagerness about how we got our bible, does it just pooped out into our native language. she answered well that actually the bible original language was greek for a half, and hebrew/aramaic for another half. then I asked her whether she read that language, and to me dissappointed she answered that she just dont need it, then after that point I lost her. but thanks God, when I grew up older I met this preacher, very versed in Greek and everything he did in sermons he quoted from greek, and for me personally, it shed lights on the versions in my hand

    what I want to make point is, there is no need for a person to know greek to be saved and became a part of the Church. but a knowledge of Greek or Hebrew or aramaic or latin or syriac, can shed lights to the blurry meaning sometimes unavoidably done in translations. that way we can appreciate Christ's Teaching and from that point on, we can stand in firm to another bunch of fanatics try to ridicule this glorious and sweet and divine Teaching!
    may God bless his Church and his people

  38. Taking Hebrew in the seminary told me why God waited until Greek was the universal language before sending the Messiah. He didn't want the New Testament to be written in Hebrew as well as the Old.