I’ve been a Teaching Assistant for the Using Biblical Languages course at ABSW on and off since Spring 2009. Every year when the course starts I look at the faces of the students. Biblical Hebrew and Koine Greek in one semester?!?! I know. It seems insane, but it’s not. It’s ambitious. It’s tough. It’s also rewarding.
Imagine you are the entertainment at a children’s birthday party. A magician. Rabbits in hats. Handkerchiefs up sleeves. Disappearing doves. You get the picture. The entertainer must arrive at the party with a metaphorical bag of tricks. Everyone has seen a hat, handkerchief, or dove, but they may not have seen what you will do with it.
Now returning to the UBL course, the 15 weeks or so of the Spring 2012 semester gives every UBL student the opportunity to develop her or his metaphorical bag of tricks. Most of you have been, are currently, or plan to be involved in some sort of church service. For those of you planning to take a leadership role in your community, what is in your bag? For those of you that preach or would like to preach at services, what is in your bag? For those of you working with the people of God in ministries that involve the use of Scripture, what is in your bag?
We all have a little of ourselves in our bag. Our previous relationship(s) with (the) C/church, Scripture, and the people of God, that is what we already came with to seminary . Now that you’re here there’s a little theology, biblical studies, homiletics, pastoral care, church history, etc. thrown in that bag. Seems like every day your faculty offer you something new. Biblical languages are no different.
UBL gives students the opportunity to scratch below the surface of the Bible you have been reading for only God knows how long and make it come alive anew. Gaining access to the richness of the Bible through the grammar and syntax of its original languages is the first step. The second step is remembering that you are developing your own bag of tricks, so that when you leave this class in May you bring that bag of tricks to your preaching, Bible studies, pastoral counseling, etc. Most of the time it’s the illumination of only one word that opens the door to greater ponder, clarity, and/or wonder. A little goes a long way for the greater glory of God.