Seminary exegesis classes

Re: Seminary exegesis classes

Postby RandallButh » February 9th, 2012, 7:10 am

I doubt that one would get to that point by talking about the Greek in Greek, (and Hebrew in Hebrew) for the 2 years of 3-hours-a-week instruction that a typical MDiv or MA would allow.


Well, since spoken pedagogy speeds up the process, they would get to a higher level and it would last longer than without it in the 12 semester credits that you listed. (Mark might call such ideas SLA 101 'second language acquisition 101')
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Re: Seminary exegesis classes

Postby cwconrad » February 9th, 2012, 7:47 am

SusanJeffers wrote:I don't underestimate the value of becoming fluent enough in Greek to do GNT exegesis speaking Greek - I just question whether it could be done in the typical time alloted to Greek instruction in a 3 year MDiv program or a 2 year MA.

For example, a pastor might want to teach an adult education class on his or her denomination's distinctive take on some theological topic, using the relevant Bible passages, consulting denominational resources and commentaries that discuss, in English, the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible passages. Even the Greek-and-Hebrew-deficient typical seminary grad can handle that sort of task. I doubt that one would get to that point by talking about the Greek in Greek, (and Hebrew in Hebrew) for the 2 years of 3-hours-a-week instruction that a typical MDiv or MA would allow.


I do think that ideally exegesis should be conducted in the original language, but the odds against its becoming a common practice are pretty high. My concern is that inadequate competence -- failure to gain proficiency -- in Biblical Greek (a) makes meaningful exegesis of Greek Biblical texts impossible for those who will become pastors and teachers of Bible, and (b) makes critical evaluation of scholarly commentaries on Biblical Greek texts impossible. Even now the commentators either exclude the Greek text under discussion or offer a translation for the Greekless reader who isn't capable of evaluating the adequacy of the translation or interpretation.

Several decades ago I was among faculty in a liberal arts college voting to eliminate a two-year language requirement for a B.A. degree on grounds that a two-year exposure to a language is insufficient to acquire proficiency; better, my colleagues and I deemed it, to make the languages electives. In many seminaries now Greek is elective --- just as well, I think, if proficiency in Biblical Greek is not a desideratum in a pastor. It would be better to leave the serious study of Biblical Greek to universities -- if they can sustain the discipline (they're doing a better job of it now than the seminaries).
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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Re: Seminary exegesis classes

Postby David Lim » February 9th, 2012, 8:25 am

SusanJeffers wrote:I don't underestimate the value of becoming fluent enough in Greek to do GNT exegesis speaking Greek - I just question whether it could be done in the typical time alloted to Greek instruction in a 3 year MDiv program or a 2 year MA.

For example, a pastor might want to teach an adult education class on his or her denomination's distinctive take on some theological topic, using the relevant Bible passages, consulting denominational resources and commentaries that discuss, in English, the Greek and Hebrew of the Bible passages. Even the Greek-and-Hebrew-deficient typical seminary grad can handle that sort of task. I doubt that one would get to that point by talking about the Greek in Greek, (and Hebrew in Hebrew) for the 2 years of 3-hours-a-week instruction that a typical MDiv or MA would allow.

I could be wrong, of course...


In my opinion the time "constraint" is much less important than how much we wish to rely on second-hand sources. There is always the possibility of misinterpretation on the part of commentaries and even lexicons, so it depends on each individual to decide how, if at all, one is to ascertain the true meaning (assuming most writing has a singular meaning) of the original writings. For example, it would be difficult for me to trust someone who cannot speak English fluently on correct English vocabulary, not to say the finer points concerning grammatical structures or subtle nuances between different tonal inflection and stressed syllables. That much is enough to push me to learn Greek on my own, even if it may mean nothing to others, and Hebrew soon I hope. And I think an acquired grasp of a language is far better than just knowledge of its grammatical semantic possibilities, even though I am far from either. So I would prefer to gradually and naturally become familiar with a language no matter how long it takes. :)
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Re: Seminary exegesis classes

Postby RandallButh » February 9th, 2012, 8:44 am

Several decades ago I was among faculty in a liberal arts college voting to eliminate a two-year language requirement for a B.A. degree on grounds that a two-year exposure to a language is insufficient to acquire proficiency;


I think that that was a good call, unless the other would be required, i.e., functional ability in at least one language (functional ability means able to converse on basic topics and read a newspaper or paperback novel without bothering to look up occasional rare words).

the US is at a disadvantage here. The rest of the world can require a language like English for all of their students and no one will object because it is so universally useful. But in the US, the 'useful' language may appear to be Spanish, or Japanese, or French, or Chinese, or Arabic, or 'other' (Swahili, Russian, German, Portuagese, Dutch, Hebrew, Hindi, ...) A school can hardly be a Monterrey Institute or a Middlebury, so they may need to limit the options to 3 or 4, max. And therein lies the problem. A student may be interested in Hebrew but is asked to choose between functional French or Spanish. OK, I can live with tri-lingual (Eng, Span, + language of real interest). But I suspect the rest of the faculty couldn't.
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