Random Musings on Theological Education #1

I know I am going to step on a few toes here as I think through some ‘sacred’, dare I say, ‘cow’ in theological education here. I am doing research and preparing a paper on theological education in Malaysia and Singapore and do value your feedback.

I wonder how useful is studying ancient Greek and Hebrews in training people who aim to be pastors. Here I am thinking of certificates, diplomas and degrees up to to M.Div level, and D.Min. Most of these are aiming for a pastoral ministry either in churches or para-church organisations. For those who aspire to M.Th or PhD, I have no argument that a knowledge in ancient languages is essential.

In my limited experience, most of the pastors and seminary graduates I know in pastoral work do not make use of their knowledge of ancient languages. In fact, they begin to forget the languages due to disuse once they have passed the required courses. Most of them prepare their sermons and teaching by use of commentaries. Often commentaries are written by people who spent their life on a single book so it will be a height of arrogance to think that a person with one or two semesters of ancient language will be able to understand the text in the original better than the scholars.

So in view of the tremendous of time and anguish spent on ancient languages in an already tight theological education curriculum, why do we insist that the students learn the ancient languages? Would the time not be better spent equipping the students to use secondary sources?

What do you think?