SATS seems weak in Old Testament Studies

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by PatsFan, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    There are many things I like about what I've read about SATS. I like their doctrine, their brand of Christian counseling and their "customer" service. They seem weak, however, in Old Testament studies. According to their website they don't appear to offer Hebrew language courses and they offer very few courses on Old Testament books. I'm wondering if anyone had any firsthand experience studying the Old Testament with SATS?
  2. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Hey Moderators,

    Thanks for fixing my typo. Not a single bite! I thought I'd hear from a few theology buffs on this subject. I'll have to make my topics more interesting or controversial in the future.
  3. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    I discussed this with SATS people a while ago and they were aware and candid that this is not a strong point. They--and I--think there are plenty of other strong points sufficient to make SATS an excellent choice for DL seminary degrees.
  4. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    I've noticed their strengths as well, UJ. Their counseling courses look good. I'd love to get my hands on one of their "readers." They are apparently offering undergraduate students the option of readers instead of books, which may contain exerpts from required reading. Their profs have put these together for the students. Maybe they are simply photocopies of chapters like my social work profs used to provide for us at UConn before they realized it was illegal, ha, ha.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2005
  5. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Serious question

    How strong does a Christian minister's education in the Hebrew Bible really need to be? The religion is derived from the New Testament much more than Torah, is it not? Wouldn't a solid grasp of Greek and Latin be more useful?
  6. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Re: Serious question

    IMO the best Protestant seminaries try to give about as much time to Hebrew as they do to Greek. Congregations will get pretty bored if their pastor preaches mostly New Testament texts. The prophets offer some rich themes of social justice that I personally enjoy. Protestants don't get into Latin too much.
  7. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    to Nosborne

    Yes. But don't tell anybody.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2005
  8. Howard

    Howard New Member

    Due to the fact that many of the prescribed theological textbooks are difficult to find and extremely expensive, the South African Theological Seminary is compiling Readers for your convenience in all the subjects within the Diploma and Bachelor programmes.
    These Readers include selected extracts from all the books recommended for the courses in these two programmes, as well as a selection of other relevant documents which we are sure will assist you as you complete each assignment. So that we do not infringe any copyright laws, we have signed a contract with the Dramatic Arts and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), the terms of which enable us to include these extracts in the Readers.
    Although the Readers are provided free of charge, you may also obtain the textbooks if you so choose.

    The above is right off the SATS webpage. I think you will find that SATS is very up front with all aspects of their institution. (DISCLAIMER - I recently became a supervisor in their ThD Masters in Counseling).
  9. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member


    The NEW, REGALVANIZED University of London LL.M. programme promised me a "reader" for their NEW, REGALVANIZED sections in modern Jurisprudence.

    God knows I'm PAYING enough for it!

    I'll let everyone know what the beast looks like when it shows up in the mail...
  10. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Well, they use a counseling supervisor from a Canadian seminary (M. van der Spuy). Why not an American too?
  11. CLSeibel

    CLSeibel Member

    As an intersting side note, he is actually a South African who received all of his education in that nation. He continues to spend significant portions of each year in South Africa. I think he may already have been working with SATS before joining the faculty at Prov.

    My doctoral supervisor (who is an individual of almost unparalled stature within the South African church community) is acquainted with him and views him with respect.
  12. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Cory, SATS entire faculty seems rather impressive. How does SATS compare to the school of theology at University of Pretoria?
  13. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Here is the difficulty as I see it: One can do the four year ThB at SATS without any Hebrew and only two courses in Biblical Greek and very slight, or no, course work in the doctrine of God either as in His attributes and Triunity. I see neither no coursework in Bibliology or the very important doctrine of the Person of Christ as in the issues raised or supposedly answered by the Chalcedonian and Constantinople Creeds or exemplified in the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.

    And these doctrines are much emphasized elsewhere as in USA schools. And rightly they are emphasized as the crux of Christianity is who Christ is and the truth of Christianity hangs or falls on the nature of the Scriptures-- not on warm feelings in the chest.

    What I am saying is, this is very slender exposure to some very important learnings to go immediately into earning degrees by thesis only!

    Nevertheless from the BTh one can enter the MTh in Systematic Theology or Greek or Old Testament , and I suppose the soon to be D.Th too, by doing theses more coursework!

    One may come away from these activities with a MTh/D.Th. and know, in my estimation, far less than the MDiv/ThM grad of many seminaries.

    For in many Evangelical American MDiv/ThM programs one does does 3-6 courses in Hebrew and 4-8 in Greek and does also 4-6 also in Systematic Theology including covering very extensively those doctrines which I cannot find covered in the SATS ThB courses. Furthermore, in many Bible Book courses these are done in the original Greek, not just in English!

    Our friend Cory , whom I grant knows more about praxis than I, has agreed with me that even if the MTh and Dth are in Praxis, nevertheless the owner of those qualifications must have interacted and must be able to go on interacting deeply with the disciplines of Exegetics, Systematics , and Historical Theology.

    But this deep interaction is based on acquiring learnings and skills over years through serious study leading to the ability and practice of exegeting in the text of the original languages and in learning and evaluating the many, many conflicting opinions on the major doctrines of Christianity.

    So, at SATS when does all of this happen?

    In the SATS scenario I provide above, I do not clearly see that happening much at all! It doesn't appear to much occur in the ThB and the MTh (and soon the DTh) can be by thesis only--no other courses or exams!

    So when does it happen??

    If any can point out my blindness to me, I will be thankful and I will certainly recant.

    Understand that the occasion for my concern is the love I have for my discipline and for the One who is the Subject of it. And that love should drive one to higher accomplishments and to do more, not to do less.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2005
  14. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    I don't hear your comments as mean-spirited at all. It's great that SATS has a fine faculty, excellent customer service, is genuine and is inexpensive. IMO it needs to evolve a bit more to become a good seminary--and I want it to become a good seminary. Their Greek language requirements are indeed substandard. I can't believe they offer an MTh in Old Testament and don't teach 1 Hebrew class. Hebrew is not just for theologians. I know a number of pastors who still look at their Hebrew text when they prepare sermons. In all fairness they are a fairly new seminary and may have plans in the works to beef up these deficiencies. I truly hope so. I think they could be a wonderful force in the international Evangelical community if they made just a few changes.
  15. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Cory, I see what you mean. I've been examining some course syllabi for Dr. Van der Spuy at the Providence Theological Seminary website. I really like what he offers. He seems to thoroughly cover the material and uses solid text books.
  16. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    I think your appraisal of the situation is good. SATS has come far already! I have personal experience with the excellent SATS customer service as I enrolled into UZ through SATS when SATS was accredited by UZ and offered to assist foreigners with the UZ paper work. I always found SATS to be of great help to me. Perhaps if my concerns are valid and deserving of attention then those at SATS will recognize the needs on their own and work toward meeting them.

    My only concern is that the learning equal what is implied by the degree: one holding a MTh should truly be a master of that and one who is a D.Th. a doctor of it.
  17. Howard

    Howard New Member

    I think that we must agree that all learning is different and simply because we know Greek or Hebrew we are not necessarily more intelligent or better at the intrepreting of God's word than someone who doesn't know Greek or Hebrew.

    My seminary, Memphis Theological Seminary (Cumberland Presbyterian) allows for the awarding of degrees of MDiv and DMin without a course in either Greek or Hebrew. This seminary is used by Cumberland Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and several other demoninations. Are those who gradute with either the MDiv or DMin of lesser intelluctual abilities simply because they have no exposure to Greek or Hebrew?

    In looking at Asbury Seminary I notice that you can obtain the MA in Theological Studies without taking either Greek or Hebrew, you need Comprehensive Greek and Survey of Hebrew + Grammer for the MDiv but you can obtain the MA in Professional Studies (Christian Ed, Counseling and etc) without either Greek or Hebrew.

    Then there is Reformed Theological Seminary where you can obtain the MA in Distance Studies without either Greek or Hebrew, the MA in Bible or Theological Studies with Greek and Hebrew as an elective, however, you need, it seems, one course in Greek and Hebrew for the MDiv.

    Can all these Seminaries, and others with like requirements, be awarding substandard degrees simply because they do not require the amount of Greek and Hebrew some posters on this board think is adequate?

    From the above, it seems that SATS is offering valid degrees with worth. May I caution, based upon what I have seen in the thesis work, against assuming that the MTh at SATS by thesis is either easy in time or reqirements.

  18. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    IMO there are some highly skilled pastors who never studied Greek or Hebrew. There are also some very talented Christian ed directors, youth pastors and Christian counselors without such training. Christian leaders trained in the biblical languages may not be more intelligent than others, but I think they really ARE better equipped to interpret the scriptures. You have a decided edge when you are so equipped. Graduate education without adequate Greek and Hebrew classes might get one into a DMin program, but I can't think of any Evangelical PhD or ThD programs in the U.S. that would consider a candidate for N. Testament or O. Testament studies.

    Howard, the SATS counseling courses look really good. Just curious (I'm a counselor myself). What kind of counseling topics are students writing their theses on?
  19. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2005
  20. Howard

    Howard New Member

    A quote from the last posting by Bill Grover:

    graduate research in the Scriptures is considerably enhanced by having a working knowledge of the Biblical languages

    On this I totally agree, however, I do believe that you are quite a bit over zealous and somewhat postulating when it comes to the necessity and degree of depth in the study of languages since you seldom post without alluding to your study of or knowledge of the Greek.

    I also wonder how the difference in interpretation of the original scriptures affect how theology is studied since there are many, many different translations of the Bible and most claim that they are the true and exact translation of the original text.

    I also wonder how studying the original languages in a totally different environment affects the outcome. One could probably also say that unless you study Greek in an environment that embraces the idiosyncrasies and cultural constraints of the language that you have only half learned the language.

    And, unless you study Hebrew in Jerusalem you cannot and will not have an understanding that can be considered totally learned in that language. You see, having learned the book does not make one proficient unless they have also mastered the cultural and social barriers relative to that language.

    So, I guess what I am saying is that I applaud those who have really mastered the original languages (did we miss Aramaic somewhere) but I am getting somewhat frustrated reading into the postings that those of us who do not have such a mastery (however you wish to describe it - two courses of each; trips to the Holy Land where you study with the Priests [which sect]); are inferior theologians or ministers who are less qualified to preach the WORD of GOD, as we interpret it, to our flock.

    And, IMHO, you have made a lot of unfounded assumptions in your reply! As a matter of fact, I think you make an unfounded assumption in each of your four points..........knowing Greek DOES NOT make you smarter, the only thing that can definitively be said is that the person knows Greek........his translation may be way off base since, as we all know, different scholars interpret the Greek in different ways.


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