Sunday, February 17, 2008
Learning the Biblical Languages
I must confess that I find it most disconcerting and disappointing that an increasing number of seminaries are considering dumping the study of biblical languages from their programs or else are substituting full-on introductory courses in biblical languages for courses on "biblical language tools" (i.e. how to do a word study and how to use a lexicon without actually learning the languages). To those who fail to see the relevance of biblical languages to becoming a the pastor of a mega-church, I recommend two things:
1. John Currid, Calvin And the Biblical Languages (Rosshire: Mentor, 2006). The blurb reads: "The church today is built on the Reformation’s linguistic heritage yet is in danger of losing that strong foundation. Many seminaries no longer require that their students learn the Biblical languages for their divinity degrees – some do not even teach them! Yet these are the basic tools of any study of the Bible, and if we don’t teach the Bible, then what is the church teaching? If we need encouragement as to what can happen to our sermons and Bible study when we develop a knowledge of the languages that they are written in then Calvin is an excellent encourager."
2. Martin Luther, "To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany That They Establish and Maintain Christian Schools" (1524) available courtesy of Rodney Decker here. Note this quote: "And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages. The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments. If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall not only lose the gospel, but the time will come when we shall be unable either to speak or write a correct Latin or German."