I’m putting together a statement for our catalog explaining GRTS’s commitment to training in Hebrew and Greek exegesis. This isn’t a final draft, but I’m posting it in its current form in order to solicit thoughts and impressions. Am I missing anything? Are there considerations that need to be expanded, removed, added? What do you think?
The Master of Divinity degree is the historical standard in academic preparation for both vocational ministry and advanced theological study. The program develops essential biblical competencies in leaders who must be skilled in interpreting Scripture. Because of this, GRTS requires three semesters of exegesis in both Hebrew and Greek, in addition to two semesters of basic instruction in each language. There are several reasons for this.
First, detailed and close scrutiny of the biblical text in the original languages offers the opportunity for greater interpretive accuracy. The flourishing of God’s people depends on them faithfully attending to what God has said. Ministers, therefore, must be skilled and accurate interpreters who can communicate God’s word to God’s people.
Second, the logic of God’s work in the world and the precise and varied contours of the gospel are communicated by the linguistic thought-forms and verbal expressions of biblical Hebrew and Greek. Skilled interpreters will pick up nuances of meaning and shades of expression that translations cannot capture. Because of this, skilled interpreters who know the languages can penetrate into the truth more effectively and communicate with greater freshness the hope held out in Scripture.
Third, translations into any language inevitably shape the biblical text to some extent according to the values, thought-forms, and worldviews of the receptor language. Skilled interpreters who know the languages have the opportunity to allow Scripture to critique contemporary cultural values and corrupted mindsets.
Fourth, God calls his people to live by faith in him and to enjoy his blessing by walking in his often counter-cultural ways. In order for ministers to faithfully lead God’s people in the life of faith, they must have confidence that they have rightly understood what God has said and the promise to which he calls his people. Interpreting the biblical text by skillfully working in Hebrew and Greek offers the opportunity for ministers to faithfully lead God’s people.
We affirm the excellent and essential work of translators and publishers of translations so that the Word of God is in the hands of as many people as possible. And we affirm the fruitful and God-blessed ministries of many diligent and God-honoring people who have not learned Hebrew and Greek. We remain strongly committed, however, to training ministry practitioners who excel in interpretation and proclamation of the Bible in the original languages.