Why Do We Learn Greek and Hebrew?

And why do we not learn Latin? (Or Dutch, French, <u>or</u> German) But that is the subject of a different post.

As the time for Ordination Exams begins at the end of this week for many of my PC(USA) colleagues here at Pittsburgh Seminary I am beginning to wonder at the purpose of teaching the primary languages. For the vast majority it is nothing but a hurdle that will be jettisoned after Tuesday afternoon of next week when exegesis papers are due. If I was a professor who spent hours laboring over the instruction of Hebrew and Greek the shear knowledge that what I was teaching was a nuisance for most and an outright waste of time for the majority would cause me epileptic fits. No wonder most department heads have a hard time encouraging the faculty to teach these courses. (Of course a notable exception is at PTS where Dale Allison and Robert Gagnon teach Greek, though I am sure both are somewhat disheartened in the understanding that most of their students are not that interested in having a working knowledge but in knowing enough to pass exams).

This is of course a rhetorical question. The knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is non-negotiable. A direct corollary can be drawn between the abandonment of the linguistic studies and the ignorance/shallowness of the Pastorate. The purposeful ignorance of the original languages (and any other language) is of courseĀ  not a problem that is localized to the PC(USA) or other liberal denominations. It has been my experience that this is a disease that infects most theological students (this one included, for which I am currently paying) despite their individual denominational affiliation and the otherwise orthodox nature of their theology. Is it the lack of focus given to Greek and Hebrew in other courses? The lack of focus in existing clergy? Whatever the reason for the decline of the seen importance of knowing Hebrew and Greek one thing remains true. <u>We</u> as graduate students need to make it a priority to not only take our languages seriously and to make a concerted effort to help the new students understand the vital nature of knowing how not only to translate but develop a love for the words used by the Holy Spirit through the hands of Moses, the scribes, Apostles and the other writers of Holy Writ as well as the knowledge of properly applying the tools to preaching, teaching, and, believe it or not, Pastoral Care.

One Term Down, Two to Go

As I finish up this term at PTS I wanted to say a few things about the classes I have taken and the classes that are coming up.

This Term was pretty much a wasted three months. While my Greek Exegesis class with Dr. Dale Allison, Jr. was fascinating to the tilt, I am not sure I learned a whole lot about exegeting a text. Theodicy was on the other hand a fascinating class filled with all kinds of useful adages and readings. I highly recommend it if you get a chance to take it (not that any of the people reading this will likely be in a position to…). Though the professors defense of NPP left a lot to be desired.

Well that ends completely the classes that were worth anything this term. The next two classes which I was enrolled this Fall were a total waste. Intro to Ethics, which was neither really Christan nor really useful (that is unless your college did not require an Ethics course, then this may have been good for you to take). Dr. Hainsworth is a nice professor but I would lobby to teach other things if I were her. PS01: Education was horrendous. We never really learned anything and our sections honestly justed turned into a theological debate that rarely (if ever) engaged the texts we were supposed to be reading.

Well thankfully I have been assured by Seniors at PTS that my last term was the worst I would experience at PTS. Let’s Hope.

Anyway next term will allow us to tackle some more meatier subjects like Pastoral Care, Christology, and the Gospels. Also for those of you who recall I will also be taking a course at what one of my dear professors at PTS referred to as “where the wackos are”, Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary on Reformed Worship. As I said before I am hoping RPTS gives a much needed respite from Liberalism and ignorance. We’ll see….

Here is to a good Winter Term!!!