This may be the best way to learn the original biblical languages: an intensive summer-immersion course at RTS Jackson.
Here’s a press release:
The RTS Jackson Summer Institute for Biblical Languages (SIBL) has been created in order to provide thorough, intensive introductions to all three biblical languages. Hebrew and Greek will be offered each year during the summer, five days a week, three hours per day, for seven weeks. During this seven-week period, students will complete a full year of language study (Hebrew 1 and 2 or Greek 1 and 2). Aramaic can be offered every other year or as needed by request (two hours a day, five days per week for three weeks – 2 credit hours).These courses are intended to provide a better educational context for the biblical languages given the increasing part-time nature of student enrollment. Any RTS student at an RTS campus can take these courses for credit. Additionally, pastors who would like to brush up on biblical language skills may find it to better fit their current ministry contexts. Also, RTS alumni can take the courses for free.Benefits to this system are:
- Complete an entire year of language study in 7 weeks;
- The intensive, immersion context is better suited for language acquisition than intermittent exposure during a regular academic year full of other distractions. Your proficiency after 7 intensive weeks will normally be better than after one year at a regular academic pace.
- This intensive environment also creates strong community. We eat together. We play ultimate frisbee together. We study together. We worship together!
Do you love the Gospel? Then come study the biblical languages in Jackson, Miss, during the summer. If God has called you to Gospel ministry then he has called you to study the biblical languages, all of them, not just to get by and use the tools, but to know better God’s Word and be transformed by that Word into a minister of God’s gospel! Martin Luther once said, “Without the languages, the Gospel will surely perish!”
If you need persuasion or motivation regarding the importance of the original languages, consider this quote by Martin Luther:
We will not long preserve the gospel without the languages. The languages are the sheath in which this sword of the Spirit is contained; they are the casket in which this jewel is enshrined; they are the vessel in which this wine is held; they are the larder in which this food is stored; and, as the gospel itself points out, they are the baskets in which are kept these loaves and fishes and fragments.
Rod Decker has collected some helpful reading here:
- John Piper, “Brothers, Bitzer Was a Banker!” The Standard, June 1983, 18-19.
- A. T. Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament (1923): Chapter 1, “The Minister’s Use of His Greek New Testament”; Chapter 7, “Grammar and Preaching”; Chapter 9, “John Brown of Haddington or Learning Greek Without a Teacher”
Also see Jason DeRouchie’s talk, “Biblical and Historical Perspectives on the Need for the Biblical Languages,” with the following seven arguments:
- Using the biblical languages exalts Jesus and affirms God’s wisdom in giving us his Word in a book.
- Using the biblical languages enables us to observe more accurately and thoroughly, understand more clearly, evaluate more fairly, and interpret more confidently the inspired details of the biblical text.
- Using the biblical languages allows us to use more efficiently and evaluate more fairly the best secondary tools for biblical interpretation.
- Using the biblical languages fosters a depth of character, commitment, conviction, and satisfaction in life and ministry that results in a validated witness in the world.
- Using the biblical languages provides a warranted boldness, a sustained freshness, and a more articulated, sure, and helpful witness to the Truth in preaching and teaching.
- Using the biblical languages equips us to defend the Gospel and to hold others accountable more confidently.
- Using the biblical languages helps preserve the purity of the Gospel and a joyful glorifying of God by his Church into the next generation.