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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:

  1. Complete an entire year of language study in 7 weeks;
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Using the biblical languages exalts Jesus and affirms God’s wisdom in giving us his Word in a book.
  2. 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.
  3. Using the biblical languages allows us to use more efficiently and evaluate more fairly the best secondary tools for biblical interpretation.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Using the biblical languages equips us to defend the Gospel and to hold others accountable more confidently.
  7. Using the biblical languages helps preserve the purity of the Gospel and a joyful glorifying of God by his Church into the next generation.

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Comments:


8 thoughts on “Summer Institute for Biblical Languages”

  1. Darren says:

    We called it “Suicide Greek” at Trinity. But it was 4 hours a day, 6 days a week.

  2. Mike says:

    At Southeastern Baptist, our summer terms are 3 weeks for 4 hours a day. I am “thinking” about taking Greek that way??? I imagine that submerging myself in the languages will be the best way to learn it.

  3. I would add one other reason for why to learn the original languages. It enables you to spot those who misuse them to twist and distort what the Scripture says.

  4. Tom Beetham says:

    Thank you for this post, Justin. I have been feeling convicted about my neglect in this area, and I hope your post is just enough to push me over the edge of really pursuing this area again. Keep these posts coming my brother!

  5. Robert Brown says:

    By “immersion” does RTS mean that the languages will actually be spoken or do they simply mean that students will be immersed in Greek or Hebrew to the exclusion of other subjects? If they are trying to create a true immersion context, this is a huge step for seminaries!

    1. Mike says:

      Hey Rob, this is actually the norm for many seminaries. You can only talk one class at a time, so the intensive part constitutes for being submerged in the single subject for 4 weeks strait. As far as fluency in speaking, Greek courses make students memorize a million vocabulary words, which they have to read and define.

  6. Casey Hough says:

    RTS has a good program, but the best kept secret for the Biblical languages is at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. They too have a Summer Biblical Language Institute and for Southern Baptist students, it is half the price of RTS. Here is the link to their program : http://www.nobts.edu/Graduate%20Program/Summer%20Biblical%20Language%20Institute.html

    Having taken Greek at RTS and then taking it at NOBTS, I must say that program at NOBTS is just more developed and the professors more accessible. RTS takes two classes to cover introductory grammar while NOBTS covers it in one class. Then NOBTS offers Intermediate Grammar, Advanced Greek Exegesis, and New Testament Textual Criticm in the same Summer institute. Each Summer they rotate between Greek and Hebrew, so in 2011, it will be Greek and in 2012 it will be Hebrew.On top of all of this, their online education options are both quality and broad. To my knowledge, they offer the only accredited Distance Education MDiv among the evangelical seminaries.

    Is NOBTS a quality school? Just ask Russell Moore, David Platt, or Tony Merida about their education at NOBTS, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

    The Language department at NOBTS is doing some great things…so Check them out before everyone else picks up on it!

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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