Christianity,  Educational,  Theology/Bible

Do seminaries really need to require biblical languages?

Last Wednesday, Dr. Rob Plummer delivered a really important faculty address titled “The Necessity of Biblical Languages in Ministerial Training.” In his lecture, Dr. Plummer takes dead aim at the recent push in some seminaries to do away with biblical language requirements. He shows that this is a horrible idea driven not by concern for the best way to train pastors but by educators who wish to make it easier to get through seminary. It’s a pragmatic carelessness about the core competencies of a pastor.

Dr. Plummer masterfully explains why this reasoning fails and why we need to retain the languages in seminary curricula. He says, “Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your bride through a veil.” He’s right about that.

Below are the brief notes I scratched during the lecture. Read them, but by all means listen to the address for yourself in the video below.

Why do we value biblical languages?

1. Because we value the Word of God as our inerrant and ultimate authority. “The rejection of biblical authority goes hand in hand with a rejection of biblical languages.”
2. Because we value teaching and preaching that is biblical, fresh, and relevant.
3. Because we have limited time.
“Reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your bride through a veil.”
4. Because they are the sap in the tree that nourishes the other disciplines.
5. Because we must remain true to our heritage as Southern Baptists and specifically to the heritage of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Four challenges to prioritizing language instruction:

1. We have some bad models.
2. Distraction and laziness.
3. Refusing to adapt to new methods and technology.
4. Difficult to prioritize instruction when students do not retain their skills.