Westminster places a high value on knowing the original languages of the Bible. There are 19 hours of Greek and Hebrew courses to be completed prior to beginning some of the biblical theology courses. Typically, incoming students spend the summer before their initial fall semester in an intensive Greek or Hebrew course. Basically, one month of language boot camp. The idea is to get a semester’s worth of vocabulary and grammar under your belt in one language before you begin the rest of your courses (and your second language!) The Greek course begins August 2nd–a week after we move. Mark will be ready to go, probably sitting in the first row. I, however, will be in Maine. Yes, due to the arrival of grandchild #4, I will not be able to attend that first Greek course. I will be helping out with Hannah’s homebirth experience and being Amm� to �va and the new little one (we don’t know if it is a girl or boy yet). There are priorities you know.
But I am not one to fall behind… so I have been studying Greek on my own and should finish the first semester material by the end of August. Just in time to take the placement test. The goal is to do well enough on the exam so that I “place” out of that first semester and can slide right into the next course alongside Mark. My life is currently filled with lots of little flash cards on a large keyring that travel everywhere with me. If I am stuck in traffic, out comes a card and I am looking at paradigms I haven’t memorized yet. When I drive to North Carolina to visit Sarah Joy (my oldest daughter) and her family, I have 3 hours of vocabulary on CD that I can listen to and repeat. This only works when I drive separately from Mark. He can’t quite get into the vocab repetitions yet. I’ve also found some great study guides and a listserv: B-Greek- The Biblcal Greek Mailing List.
It sounds like work, but really it’s just a big, fun puzzle. I love languages. I love writing systems. I love that I will have time to learn more. To see how languages work is beautiful. To understand the order (and chaos) is like appreciating a symphony. If Eric Liddell could say “When I run I feel [God’s] pleasure” then I say “When I study languages I am worshiping.” I am embracing the creative process of a God who communicates with us. Sure, I get some grief for wanting to learn Ugaritic. No one thinks it is practical. “What will you use it for?” I think it is a great misfortune when we believe that only that which is pragmatic is worth studying. Sure, I want to learn Greek and Hebrew to better understand the Bible, to read the OT and NT in their original languages and appreciate the fullness of what is being communicated. But I also want to just savor the language for itself. The language itself, not only what it communicates, reveals to me more of the character of God. And that’s worth all the flashcards and study time I can muster.