Editorial -- By: Richard L. Mayhue
MSJ 11:1 (Spring 2000) p. 1
Occasionally I am asked if TMS ever plans to move away from a classic seminary curriculum with an emphasis on Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew, to a more practical approach that majors on the utilitarian skills of the pastorate. My intentional answer is “No!” Now, there are multiplied reasons for our continued commitment to the languages in which the Scriptures were originally given, but few have equaled Martin Luther’s superlative reasoning for that commitment. So, I want to call on this stalwart Reformer in support of our 2 l st-century approach to seminary education. Read carefully his thoughts on “The Importance of the Biblical Languages.”
“All right,” you say again, “suppose we do have schools; what is the use of teaching Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and the other liberal arts? We could just as well use German for teaching the Bible and God’s Word, which is enough for our salvation.” I reply, Alas! I am only too well aware that we Germans must always be and remain brutes and stupid beasts, as the neighboring nations call us, epithets which we richly deserve. But I wonder why we never ask, “What is the use of silks, wine, spices, and other strange foreign wares when we ourselves have in Germany wine, grain, wool, flax, wood, and stone not only in quantities sufficient for our needs, but also of the best and choicest quality for our glory and ornament?” Languages and the arts, which can do us no harm, but are actually a greater ornament, profit, glory, and benefit, both for the understanding of Holy Scripture and the conduct of temporal government—these we despise. But foreign wares, which are neither necessary nor useful, and in addition strip us down to a mere skeleton—these we cannot do without. Are not we Germans justly dubbed fools and beasts?
Truly, if there were no other benefit connected with the languages, this should be enough to delight and inspire us, namely, that they are so fine and noble a gift of God, with which he is now so richly visiting and blessing us Germans above all other lands. We do not see many instances where the devil has allowed them to flourish by means of the universities and monasteries; indeed, these have always raged against languages and are even now raging. For the devil smelled a rat, and perceived that if the languages were revived a hole would be knocked in his kingdom which he could not easily stop up again. Since he found he could not prevent their revival, he now aims to keep them on such slender rations that they will of themselves decline and pass away. They are not a welcome guest in his house, so he plans to offer them such meager entertainment that they will not prolong their stay. Very few of us, my dear sirs, see through this evil design of the devil.
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