Dan Wallace on the Surrender of Greek and Hebrew

Dan Wallace on the demise of pastoral understanding of the biblical languages:

Now, half a millennium after Luther nailed his theses to the door of the great Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, theological seminaries are on a rapid decline. Greek and Hebrew continue to be casualties. Genuine study of the biblical languages is being replaced by “Greek/Hebrew appreciation” courses—a euphemism for anything but deep appreciation, or nothing at all. Bible software, which can be an absolutely amazing tool for profound study of the original languages, has too often become a crutch. Rely on it enough and it becomes a wheelchair. One really needs to get immersed in Greek for a couple of years before being able to profit fully from Bible software that deals with the Greek…

Evangelical churches are frequently seeking pastors who have amazing speaking abilities, but who can’t exegete their way out of a paper bag. This is hardly what the Reformers had in mind. Listen to Luther:

“In proportion as we value the gospel, let us zealously hold to the languages. For it was not without purpose that God caused his Scriptures to be set down in these two languages alone—the Old Testament in Hebrew, the New in Greek. Now if God did not despise them but chose them above all others for his word, then we too ought to honor them above all others.”

“And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages.”

The Reformers argued, correctly, that if the church were to truly hold to scripture as its authority then it needed pastors capable of reading and understanding scripture in its original languages. The common practice of pastors relying on Bible translation software and interlinear translations is a surrender of the pastoral prerogative to exegete and expound scripture to the church. Instead, the tools have become “wheelchairs” that do the work of exegesis on our behalf.