re: learning Greek

From: Jim West (
Date: Thu Apr 23 1998 - 17:48:10 EDT

Carl's very well structured (as always) comments regarding how long it takes
one to learn Greek contained one fragment which is of special interest. He
wrote that seminary's which teach crash courses of 6 weeks which are
intended to teach Greek or Hebrew are "lunacy". In this he is certainly
right- and I would never defend the practice, because it is lunacy. But I
do understand why it is done (as I have a foot in two worlds- academia and
Church; for not only do I teach, but I am also a Pastor!!!!!!)(I can almost
hear the collective groan among those who see me a heretic!! But I digress).

Most pastor's simply do not know the Biblical languages, and could not care
less about reading the Bible in them. So, in order to equip these folk for
at least the ability to look up words in a dictionary or use those infamous
"Word Studies" collections which proliferate on the shelves of Pastor's
studies, some grad schools offer what can only be described as "crutch
Greek" or "crutch Hebrew". Such courses are designed with the uninterested
Parson (yes Parson- not person) in mind; and they are full when they are

But the curious question is- why are they offered? The short answer-
because most pastor's are too busy to keep up with their language studies;
"so why invest years learning if you will never use it" they say. Plus,
most congregations are not interested in Pastor's who know things. They
want someone to sit by the bed and soothe their fevered soul- and one need
not know Greek to do that!

I will conclude (at last) by suggesting that a more educated Church would
generate the need for a more educated clergy. And the less one wishes to
know of the Bible, the more one will clamor for a pastor who knows even less.

I feel certain that I will be blasted for this, as for some of my other
comments, but as Luther said, "hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders".

Best to all,


Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

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