How Much Greek And Hebrew Should I Take?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Jamal5000, Jun 30, 2002.

  1. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Gentlemen,

    In order to thoroughly verse myself in the languages, how much Greek and Hebrew should I take in seminary? 9 units of each language? 18-20 units?

    Thanks for all the input!

    Praise Jesus,

    Jamal5000:)
     
  2. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    Jamal, do you not want the ladies' input on this for some reason?

    I took two semesters of intro in each language, and then several reading courses in Hebrew and a couple in Greek. This was certainly adequate preparation for the pastorate and for graduate school as well.

    Joshua
     
  3. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Jamal,

    I took a year of Beginning Hebrew in Seminary and have been studying the language independently for 6 years since. I would say that it depends on how good your prof is and how well you pick up the language. I personally had to spend about 4-5 hours a night studying my Hebrew grammer and doing my homework to keep up. At the end of my first year, my final exam was to translate about 15 verses of a selected text by the prof within an hour. I did so at 85% accuracy which I think was a pretty good start. It also depends on how well versed you want to be. Finally, I would say that once you get a good foundation after the first year, it will be a matter of disciplining yourself to do a little bit everyday if you want to really get good at it. Unfortunately for me, as much as have wanted to keep up with my studies, my life has not allowed me to keep it up and I am not as fluent as I once was after that first year. If you give me a text, I could probably still translate many of the words on the spot, but I would have to spend probably about 3-4 hours confirming each of the words and translating the passage. I do, however, plan on taking some of this time off as a teacher this summer and refreshing my skills in Hebrew and improving them by beginning a study in a Hebrew Grammerpublished by Yale University.

    Joseph Botwinick

    [ June 30, 2002, 09:20 PM: Message edited by: Joseph Botwinick ]
     
  4. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    Brother Joseph answered the Hebrew question. As for Greek, if I had a regular pulpit ministry, I would seek to gain a moderate fluency in the language. Not to take anything away from Hebrew, but for a NT preacher not to have a firm grasp on his Greek is like a person seeking to do business internationally not to have a firm grasp of English. Without a firm grasp of English, such a person can not at the least read the Wall Street Journal or the London Economist.
     
  5. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Whoops... ;) :D
     
  6. Baptist Believer

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    I've always had trouble picking up written languages (that is, languages I can't really speak and practice everyday -- no one seems to speak New Testament Greek and I don't know any Hebrew speakers), but I recommend becoming experienced with both languages so you can use the language tools properly. It also frees you from the tyranny of the so-called "experts" who want to tell you what a passage *really* means -- you can check it out yourself!

    That being said, I suggest taking at least all of the basic courses for both languages and one or two reading courses for both languages. The reading courses are important to understand how the language is used in a broad context and helps you rehearse your vocabulary and add new words everyday. (Also, you'll find great materials for sermons each class!)

    While this may sound strange to some people, I found Greek much more difficult than Hebrew. While Hebrew is a very foreign system (reading right to left with no recognizable letters), the syntax is much simpler. I found in Hebrew and earthy beauty that I could not find struggling with all of the complex syntax of Greek.

    Now I have a friend who finds classical Greek (not NT Greek) to be a beautiful language. He's not it vocational ministry but instead is finishing a PhD in the Classics. He reads Greek and Latin fluently and finds New Testament Greek to be a cinch to read. (He reads the New Testament almost exclusively from the Greek text and uses the English translations something like commentaries!) He's the guy I call when I'm working through a question with Greek!

    Good luck with your language studies. Unless you are specially gifted, you will have to spend several hours a day studying, memorizing, parsing and translating to gain a proficiency with each language. But at the end of each day, remember that the Bible is not a technical document or a legal contract with God, it's a living and active love letter of Christ to you.
     
  7. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    These are the courses that I plan to take:

    Beginning Greek 1 (3 hour course)
    Beginning Greek 2 (3 hour course)
    Intermediate Greek Grammar, Syntax, and Exegesis (3 hour course)
    Greek Exegesis of Romans (3 hour course)
    Greek Exegesis of Luke (3 hour course)

    Beginning Hebrew 1 (3 hour course)
    Beginning Hebrew 2 (3 hour course)
    Biblical Hebrew Exegesis(3 hour course)
    Biblical Hebrew Advanced Exegesis (3 hour course)
    Reading Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic (3 hour course)

    Is that enough or at least a decent start?

    In Christ's Peace
    Jamal5000:)

    [ June 30, 2002, 10:38 PM: Message edited by: Jamal5000 ]
     
  8. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    Jamal,

    Some of these courses seem to be focusing more on exegesis (theological interpretation or "meaning finding") rather than straight reading and language work. Depending on how much language work you did, you might want to add in some additional straight reading work.

    Joshua
     
  9. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Thanks, Joshua. I suppose that I could pick up that kind of coursework through some undergrad courses through the local secular university, eh?

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I am not a Greek scholar at all. But I do know a bit about Hebrew. The thing about Hebrew is that many times, context determines the translation and therefore, require interpretation skills. I think I would have to disagree with Josh and say that the exegesis classes will be important. If you have a good Hebrew prof., one year of strict grammer and straight reading should be enough if you discipline yourself to do a little bit everyday and make it a part of your life.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  11. swaimj

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    My seminary required(s) 8 hours of Hebrew and 10 hours of Greek for an M.Div. I took some extra Greek classes because I found it beneficial. I agree that Hebrew is simpler than Greek in its grammar, but exegeting Hebrew is quite time-consuming because a given word can have many more possible meanings than you would find with a word in Greek.
     
  12. Rev. Joshua

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    I'm not saying that exegesis is not important, I'm just saying that if the emphasis on the class is exegesis, you're not going to get as much language work done (although comparative word studies are handy for that sort of thing). Spending a half hour on one verse is good for theology, but spending the same amount of time site reading a couple chapters out-loud is better language training.

    Jamal, you could probably take straight reading courses at your seminary, but courses at a local university are also a very good option (particularly if you want to do graduate work after the M.Div.). Undergraduate classes probably wouldn't transfer, but graduate ones would.

    Joshua
     
  13. TomVols

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    At bare minimum, you need a couple of semesters each in order for you to be able to interact with the best tools. As many have advised, take all you can. But remember, language study is a means to an end. Be able to apply your knowledge to exegesis and application. Know as much as you can about both languages, but remember that the lady in the pew who just lost her husband and the lady in your office whose husband just left her won't give a rip about the Qal or the Aorist.
     
  14. Baptist Believer

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    Very well said!

    I've known too many people who focus so much on the technical aspects of their studies that they forget that they are ministers (representatives of God) first.
     
  15. Jamal5000

    Jamal5000
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    Thanks for all of the advice everyone. You have helped me tremendously.

    Here's another question:

    Should I take classic Greek or Modern Greek both?

    How about Hebrew?

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Rev. Joshua

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    Koine Greek if you're focused just on biblical studies.

    Classical Greek if you want to do additional graduate work in that time period.

    Modern Greek only if you plan on travelling or living in the area.

    ____

    On the other hand, I found Modern Hebrew very helpful for ancient Hebrew - and in particular for reading later midrash which generally lacks vowel pointings (just like Modern Hebrew). Plus, if you study Modern Hebrew at a Jewish Cultural Center or similar place you can learn an awful lot of history and culture as well.

    I was a linguist in the Army and as an undergraduate, so the learning methods used in studying Modern Hebrew were very familiar to me (as opposed to the somewhat different approach used when studying a language solely for reading).

    Joshua
     
  17. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    I had 18 or 20 hours of Hebrew (can't remember which) and probably 20 hours of Greek. I would take all I could get. If they offer something in original languages, take it.

    The exegesis classes are invaluable for a number of reasons. 1) It is not easy to pick up syntax and usage on your own. While they teach you that in elementary and secondary levels, seeing it put into action by a prof is invaluable. 2) It saves a lot of time when you go to preach because you are already that much more familiar with the material. You are several hours ahead each week. 3) It gives you more familiarity. Greek and Hebrew are easy to lose if you don't stay in them.

    I know translate everything I preach. It takes a little extra time, but not all that much. For instance, Sunday AM I preached from Isaiah 44:6-8, and translated 1-8. It took me about 20 minutes or so. But in so doing, I was very familiar with the text before I ever opened a commentary. I just finished 1 John (easy Greek) and it would take me on average of 5 minutes each week to translate (3-6 verses). The more you use it, the more comfortable you are. I figure since I put the effort into learning it, I might as well use it. It doesn't take that much more time and it helps your study immensely. I am beginning a series on Gen 1-3 so I will translate all that. I have already done it in Rapid Hebrew Reading class I took so it will be review.

    Take as much as you can and then discipline yourself to use it.
     

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