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."


Blake White said...

Good words, esp. as I am drowning in Schreiner's syntax class.

Dr. Rod Decker said...

The link to the Luther essay on my site should preferably be to it's current location at:

The link given in the post above is to my old, no longer maintained site.


Rod Decker

Joel Willitts said...

Indeed an important message to promote, although it can be easily written off as just the kinda thing one would expect a biblical scholar to say. We need pastors to be making these types of appeals. The seminaries are just giving the church what it wants. They have to stay afloat so they are market driven like every business. I'm afraid coming from us it will only be ignored--we would say such things.