Should New Testament Greek Be “Required” in Our Ministerial Training Courses? -- By: Henry C. Thiessen

Journal: Chafer Theological Seminary Journal
Volume: CTSJ 11:1 (Spring 2005)
Article: Should New Testament Greek Be “Required” in Our Ministerial Training Courses?
Author: Henry C. Thiessen


Should New Testament Greek Be “Required”
in Our Ministerial Training Courses?

Henry C. Thiessen

This article was originally published in BSac 91:361 (January–March, 1934): 34–45, and is reprinted here by gracious permission of Bibliotheca Sacra. (All Scripture references that were abbreviated in the original have been spelled out in accordance with the CTS Journal format.)

Should the theological seminaries follow the example of many colleges and make the study of the ancient languages optional? This is one of the crucial questions before theological teachers and students today. Very important results flow from the solution of this problem, and it is our purpose to examine the question briefly.

More and more keenly the theological seminaries feel the effect of the changes being made in the courses in the colleges. Since today many colleges require neither Latin nor Greek for the B.A. degree, the ministerial student often comes to the seminary not only without any knowledge of these languages, but with the distinct feeling that the study of the Biblical language is, to say the least, not important. Let him that wishes to become a specialist in that field have the opportunity of taking a thorough course in Greek and Hebrew, but let him that is not interested in these languages as a specialty be permitted to take other subjects, more to his liking and more important in his judgment. This is the attitude of many young men today when they consider what seminary to attend for training for definite Christian service. It is a matter of regret that so many theological institutions are adopting this viewpoint and are making either one or both the Biblical languages optional. One wonders how the smaller seminary can long maintain a language department when such is the attitude toward the subject; for no matter how much individual teachers may recommend the courses in the Greek New Testament, the seminary’s attitude in making the course selective indicates that officially the school does not consider them indispensable to every student.

But why oppose this tendency? Why not follow the example of other institutions, even if it becomes difficult or even impossible to maintain a language department? The writer does not assume to be an authority on the technicalities of pedagogy, but he does insist that as best we can we ought to examine the question before we come to such a conclusion. We must remember that not all that is new is good, and that not all that is old is bad. Since the older seminaries rather uniformly required the languages of all their students, we begin by considering the objections that are being offered today to this practice. When we have had these

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