Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Hebrew & Greek

How much and how deep the Church at large has fallen! How little Hebrew and Greek make up the Curriculum of Bible or Theological Colleges in the region! Some may have one or two introductory courses to fulfil certain accreditation requirements or fulfil certain "spiritual" needs ((just to tell the world the College offers Hebrew or Greek), but it is at best scratching the surface when most students after 3 or 4 years of theological training know next to nothing about the two biblical languages. At best they pick out some word studies, some may even comment on them in their sermons but their knowledge of Hebrew and Greek is at best superficial. Reading church history (not to mention the first few centuries of mostly Greek theologians) is one antidote. Luther was excellent in Greek and has sufficient proficiency in Hebrew while John Calvin was master of both Hebrew and Greek where most of Calvin's commentaries were on the OT books. When Calvin lectured and taught, he first read out the Hebrew text aloud and commented on the Hebrew text and expound on it exegetically with all its theological richness either in Latin or French.
How many church leaders in high positions or senior pastors or Seminary lecturers can do that now, I wonder? If there is a new reformation, there must be a corresponding love for the Bible and understanding of the Bible in its original languages. I wrote in my book, Departure Points that the main requirement for my choice of College or University when I first studied theology was that it offered both Hebrew and Greek in the first year of the undergraduate degree. In fact, I was the only student at the University of Auckland who enrolled in both Hebrew and Greek in my first year. Perhaps I did not explain that in detail in my book, but I failed to convince the Academic Dean and the Principal of my former College in Singapore to offer Greek in the first year. For three or four years, I have argued that if elementary Greek and Hebrew were offered in the 2nd year of a 3-year MDiv, there is no way any student can graduate with any level of proficiency in the two languages over just two Semesters or one year of study and over the course of time, many students told me that they knew next to nothing after graduation and die a death none the sooner for the lack of use. 

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