SATS seems weak in Old Testament Studies

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

  1. mattchand

    mattchand Member


    Let me preface this by noting that my own MDiv (in South Asia) was without Biblical languages (which was too bad; I am now working on Greek on my own), so I am certainly not waving a flag for an absolute necessity of mastery of Greek and Hebrew for ministry purposes.

    That having been said, I would agree with Dr. Grover that a comprehensive knowledge of Greek, Hebrew and/or Aramaic can legitimately be said, in my opinion, to be necessary for advanced graduate work in Biblical Studies (OT or NT); of necessity these would be research languages for the topic at hand for advanced work. That being Dr. Grover's specialty, I believe he is to be applauded for his committment to rigor in this area.

    Part of the difficulty, however, is related to the fact that PhD and ThD (as well as DLitt and other doctoral configurations) can be had in subjects in which comprehensive knowledge of Biblical languages is less important than perhaps even other languages. If one were doing a doctorate in Church History, for example, access to primary source materials in the original languages might require a more classical type of Greek, Latin, Aramaic, German, Old Church Slavonic, or even English depending on one's geographic focus as well as the period involved. If it were a missiological subject, Swahili or Sanskrit might be more important than Biblical Greek for the subject being treated.


    Matt F
  2. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    When the SATS-jabbing season is over, somebody please let me know. La dracu.
  3. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2005
  4. Guest

    Guest Guest

    When it comes to painstaking due diligence of translation, and one's willingness to just go with the flow of whomever did the translating, I see Rev. 22:18, 19 (whichever translation one considers) as the justification for such due diligence.

    Now, I've heard it argued that those verses only refer to the book of Revelations itself, and I've heard arguments that, since Revelations is the last book of the Bible as we know it in our Era, that it applies to the whole thing. About which interpretation one wishes to go with on that issue, I shan't enter a debate. My own view on this (which as I say, I won't enter a debate over) -- is that these two verses are 4th and 3rd last-most verses of the whole work -- and their placement says something to me personally as to their solemnity.

    However, that said, the spirit of those verses is pretty unambiguous.

    So let each have their conscience as their guide (a conscience tempered by Rev. 22:18, 19), as pertains to the matter of the study of classical Biblical language. I did a bit of such study myself in my youth, and even what very little I did convinced me that it's a very, very complex arena. I respect those who jump into the fray of such an awesome task.
  5. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    seems : several on DI were jabbed by Peppler and I by Peppler's professor . Do only my jabs count on your scorecard?
  6. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    a huzzah for St Jerome on Reformation Sunday!

    Just so, Quinn. I respect them, too, and that profoundly.

    I had to do an exegesis (explanation of the original Greek) paper for a meeting of our circuit last week. [A circuit is the smallest grouping of parishes in our church body: usually 10-12; then conference, district, and synod in ascending order.] Boy did I tremble! The paper turned out to be pretty good after all (colour-coded an' ever'thing!), but my Greek training is classical, not NT, and my classical training is far more Latinist than Hellenist. My Hebrew is pretty weak. So I do due diligence with the original languages (just wanted to say "do due"), but am definitely more at home with the Vulgate.

    St Jerome was simply an extraordinarily gifted translator, as were Dr Luther and the "King James" translation committees, and I just stand in awe when I read the Vulgate. St Jerome was also the first great cranky Balkanoid in church history, so he is a special pal of mine in the communio sanctorum.
  7. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    in which, having sung high mass this morning, u.j. entertains thoughts of Carly Simon

    Bill, I wasn't talking about you. If I had a problem with something you said I'd communicate it to you privately. I don't. Peace, ain't it wonderful.

    (sings) "You're so vain / you probly think this song is about you..." :p
  8. Howard

    Howard New Member

    If this is directed at me I guess I would wonder why if someone disagrees with you it is a jab. But then, this seems to be keeping with your over-all perspective. Shalom and Agape! (Shucks, I do know a little Hebrew and Greek).
  9. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    SATS gets a lot of positive strokes from this board. I think it can handle a little scrutiny, UJ.

  10. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    I've never understood this

    As a matter of logical consistency, how can ANYONE who adheres to the doctrine of inerrency justify NOT learning the ancient languages? I should think that anyone with a SINCERE belief in the doctrine that God dictated the Bible would be all lathered up to learn to read the texts for himself.

    Certainly, WE consider a decent ability to read and understand Hebrew as a bedrock requirement for ANY scholar.
  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: I've never understood this

    I tend to agree with you, Nosborne, on a personal level.

    However, if you will indulge an NT book a moment, consider Acts of the Apostles 2:1-36, especially verses 6-8. Also consider Mark 16:15-17.

    Some Christians might consider those passages, absent miraculous ability to be understood by a direct Gift of the Spirit, as a strong suggestion (and in the case of Mark 16:15-17, a commandment uttered by Christ Himself) to speak to the various parts of the unconverted world in their own language.

    Of course, Biblical interpretation being what it is -- other's mileage may vary considerably from my personal understanding of the matter.
  12. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Re: I've never understood this

    I'm probably the last person to comment on this.

    But the issue here seems to be whether one imagines a Christianity where the Bible is (at least potentially) the foundation of faith for everyone, or just for an intellectual elite.

    Not everybody reads ancient Hebrew and Greek. If the Bible is supposed to spread the word of God to all people, then it has to speak their language. And that suggests that that the essence of the gospel message has to be preserved during translation.

    If a conservative Protestant that believes in Biblical inerrancy doesn't also believe that the inerrancy is preserved through translation (in the good translations at least), then Christianity becomes either a religion that's only suitable for a gnostic elite, or else a religion that's mediated through a new class of priestly intermediaries who insert themselves between man and God.

    Now you are talking 'scholars'. That's where the Bill Grovers come in. It's hard for me to see how the languages can be avoided if somebody wants to be a Biblical scholar with an advanced education. Of course, there can be other sorts of theological scholarship, but I'd expect doctoral programs in those areas to have their own language requirements as required.
  13. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Re: Re: I've never understood this

    Me, too, since when I had my chance to go to a local university (UBC) at 18 and study the classical Biblical languages formally, I chose the other university (SFU) and instead studied French. And look where that got me. ;)

    One never knows when one is going to need it. In chapter 8 of my dissertation, I just pasted in a page of Genesis in Hebrew, as I am proposing that the Genesis account of Babel is an early example of the notion of "Underlying Universal Language." (Something Chomsky explores in his deep structures.)

    It would be of immense use to me to know which verses I just pasted in -- or to even have an image of teh Babel passages themselves. But my ability in Hebrew is limited to reading YHWH and recognizing it.
  14. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member


    Howard I was using Unk's metaphorical term for disagreement. I thought Unk in his usual crytic and vague manner was expressing unhappiness with me because he perceived that I was criticising SATS. If he called my observing the deficits there "jabs,"(ie, expressing disagreement) then I reasoned that he should also call some at DI being called two faced by Peppler or me being called over zealous by you with perhaps the implication of pridefulness "jabs." I did not see another observing SATS perceived deficits with the vigor I was using , so I assumed I was the object of Unk's post . I do not feel attacked by you . I only was using Unk's terminology and feel neither threatened nor attacked by you.

    Truth is more important than me or you being right . But to know truth, since neither of us is inerrant, requires careful thought on our part . I invite you to continue in this dialogue to discover truth. Here is what I think is true:

    The usefulness of Greek is great to the one who is researching in NT or Theology in a grad program OR merely in his pastor's study for personal knowledge or sermon preparation because with that language tool he can understand and interact with and evaluate opinions which are expressed and evidenced with the meaning of Greek words or Greek grammaticisms.

    I should back up and explain that IMO the goal of exegesis is to discover what the inspired writer most probably meant. I suggest this often requires work in the language that the writer used and not merely in translations. Had you ventured to tackle yourself the four problems I proffered as evidence IMO you would have seen that. But your response was that I was ASSUMING things about those problems because those with Greek disagree IMO your saying I am assuming things is much of an assumption on your part!

    Let me illustrate why IMO YOU are the one assuming by discussing two of those problems:

    1) It is argued by Eadie that in Eph 4:11 the pastors and teachers are one office because a NT Greek grammaticism is said to be that when two descriptive or personal substantives of the same case are joined by the conjunction 'kai' and the first is articulated, but the second is anarthrous , then the second is the same as the first.

    And my scenario was that one in a MTH or Dth in Bible or Theology was researching this text , and I'll add the case of a pastor preparing to teach or preach on the text. In all three cases, also, the goal is to spend whatever effort is required to understand the apostle. The goal is not try to get by with the least possible effort. These goals are determined by one's view of the importance of these writings and one's duty toward them

    Now, what is the most scholarly way to research this?

    (A) To say that because Greek users disagree, it is pointless to investigate the grammaticism? or ,

    B) to count the number of commentators who take one side or another and presume the side with the highest number is right? Is that really grad level Biblical research??? or,

    C)To examine other examples in the Pailine Literature and NT literature to see if that grammaticism elsewhere used means what is claimed about it in (1) above re Eph 4:11?

    I once spent 6-8 hours doing (C) , and my conclusion was that the grammaticism is not applicable to 4:11 because the rule does not cover plural substantives. If you suppose that I am assuming some thing, then present your evidence of that! I am NOT assuming , I spent hours on the problem!

    IMO something like (C) is required when doing grad level studies! And that takes exposure to Greek exegetical principles.

    (2) It is claimed by Dahms that monogenes as used by John ( only) of Christ in ,eg, 3:16 and 1:18 is proven to denote a derivation of essence, a birthing, as in the Nicene Creed and the Westminster Confession, BECAUSE the adjective in the Septuagint, which translation John and his readers favored over the Hebrew , is used to indicate a generation of the subject described by that adjective.

    You suggest that I ASSUME things about that problem or that since Greek users disagree about it, the claim cannot be convincing evidenced as either true or false and that therefore, the English only reader knows JUST AS MUCH about the issue as does the Greek reader.

    I deny that! The truth of the claim in the first place, can be tested by observing that in the LXX the Greek monogenes is used to translate ONLY one Hebrew word and that word is 'Yahid." But that Hebrew word does not indicate a birthing, It indicates rather uniqueness or solitariness (BDB, 402;INDOTT, 2:434) Secondly, one with Greek can by using a concordance of the LXX find the seven occurences of that adjective in the canonical and apocryphal Books and then can in each case read the usage in the Greek context to see in a birthing is meant or not.

    IMO THAT exemplifies grad level research which is enhanced by the ability to use Greek.

    I DO NOT assume, I research.

    I will admit that I am zealous about the need for the languages. The seminary i am attached to also is. It requires just for the mdiv SIX classes in Hebrew and SIX in Greek. I also admit that I occasionally give out personal infoas my studies . But so do others! Unk has mentioned sickness in his parish, and Quinn has talked about his dissertation!

    I will look forward to your responses on the other two problems in your effort to show that Greek is not very useful because Greek users disagree about the meanings so English only readers know just as much as Greek readers do. The ball is in your court!

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2005
  15. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Speaking of which -- if any Biblical Hebrew scholars out there reading this could PM me and let me know if they could get me a scan of the Babel account in Genesis in Hebrew -- I'd sure appreciate it! (One page is enough.)
  16. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    But every JEW is commanded to study and every male Jew (Orthodox) and every Jew of both sexes (Conservative and Reform) is required to undertake at least some study of Hebrew. And the focus of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah is to demonstrate those language skills.

    Surely the average Christian is not stupider or less devoted than the average Jew. Why, then, are Christians "let off the hook?"
  17. Bill Grover

    Bill Grover New Member

    Re: I've never understood this


    Good point, but inerrancy in the view of Evangelicals does not require dictation(although obviously some portions were)! We happily admit that generally the writers expressed themselves in their own vocabularies and styles.
  18. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    Oh, QTJ,

    Do you want it in Torah script or pointed?
  19. uncle janko

    uncle janko member

    If Dr Bill Grover, via a displaced Bengelianism (ha!), is going to persist in applying my "jab" post to himself then I withdraw the comment.
    It was not a jab at him. I would never do that, which I hope Dr Bill Grover knows.

    As for Bill Dayson's comment about inerrancy and translations, something like that is indeed true (for the good ones, as Bill usefully specified). The Bible, in the view of conservative Lutherans, and I suppose of conservative Protestants too, can be effectively translated. Those who wish to get technical on the point (which I do NOT) will specify original autographa or some such as just what is inerrant. But a good translation--and that judged upon common academic standards for good translation, not upon some sectarian basis--certainly is the Word of God or "real Bible" in our view, not a second-rate "interpretation" of it, as a Muslim friend of mine explained that serious Muslims regard the various Englishings (in Monsignor Ronald Knox's* term) of the Qur'an.

    Also to Bill Dayson--the hate campaign against Earlham continues um elsewhere.
    I appreciate your speaking up in defence of this fine school. Multumesc foarte mult.


    What I do not want to happen on this thread or on any other thread about SATS is for a fine school and its leadership to appear to get "trashed" on Degreeinfo. My belief is that if questions exist about the school or its leadership they should be addressed--and one hopes resolved--first through private communication to the persons involved; only then should discussion begin here.

    I remain absolutely convinced that SATS is one of the very best choices available for distance theological education despite any lacunae in its curriculum.

    Long ago and far away I felt that my religion major at the college I attended needed supplementation with an additional course on Roman Catholic theology. It included one of RC church history, but not one on RC theology in the more exact sense. So I attended a RC seminary in the summer and took a couple of courses there, which were duly transferred to my undergraduate college. Matter solved. But then, I have never been one for spoon-feeding. There are times when one must devour learning without excessive regard for table manners.


    *Mgr Knox's translation of the Bible, despite its primary dependence on the prior Vulgate translation, albeit with consultation of the Hebrew and Greek, remains a literary gem, full of wit and devotion alike.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2005
  20. Guest

    Guest Guest

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