Question: Off topic?

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Thu Mar 14 13:57:11 EST 2002


>===== Original Message From Polycarp66 at aol.com =====
>In a message dated 3/14/2002 11:37:54 AM Eastern Standard Time,
>06PETERSON at cua.edu writes:
>
>
>
>My quick answer (and therefore only half-serious) is: So you can be
>confused
>in more than one language.
>
>
>
>Unfortunately, for all too many seminary students this is precisely what
>it becomes.  Some never learn the language well enough to be able to sit
>down and even struggle through a passage several years later.

I agree, but I wouldn't call this being confused in another language. That's 
being confused *about* another language, and I think there's a difference. 
When I say "confused in more than one language," I'm referring to the effort 
of making sense out of a passage, regardless of the language that it's written 
in. Obviously, there are basic readings skills that are prerequisite to this 
venture. My point is that I don't want students to expect that they will 
finally understand all the "problem passages" that they couldn't figure out in 
English. If anything, they will become more aware of the difficulties (and a 
slew of difficulties they never knew existed) and just how difficult they are.

>Others
>learn only enough to be dangerous to themselves and others.  They never
>learn to be able to distinguish between what is a viable interpretation
>and what is pure hogwash.

I'd be happy (sort of) if a student learned enough to come up with both a 
viable interpretation and hogwash. I'm afraid most seminary students don't get 
beyond the point where they can come up with a translation roughly 
approximating what they already knew from English anyway.
>
>I think it is criminal if a seminary allows ANY student to graduate
>without acquiring a reasonable proficiency in BOTH Hebrew AND Greek - no
>exceptions.

I agree. The seminary I attended was somewhat unusual in still requiring both 
(at least three years of Greek, at least two years of Hebrew) of all of its 
M.Div. students. What frustrated me was how many students settled for an M.A. 
(one year shorter) because they could get out of Hebrew that way. To make 
matters worse, they dropped Greek as a requirement for their new counseling 
M.A. program. (This happens to have been a seminary that stresses a biblical 
focus in counseling, which always made me wonder, how much more important is 
it to handle the Bible accurately when dealing with deep issues in people's 
lives than when preaching to a general audience?)

Well, I guess the discussion is in danger at this point of moving truly 
off-topic. But I think, since all of us probably have some interest in 
promoting the learning of Hebrew, it's worth spending some time on concerns 
like this.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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