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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Seminary geeks

For the last few weeks, a few of us have been unwinding on Wednesday nights by proving to ourselves how much previously learned Greek we don't remember. Si is boning up, pursuant to proving some second-language competence to college admissions boards. Beth and I are dredging up memories of classes gone by; she's had more coursework than I, but it was also longer ago, so we're about on a par. And AKMA, bless his patient heart (whose Greek, quite honestly, is better than my English), is cheerfully correcting our foibles and misconstructions and parsing faux pas. I suppose we'd learn more if we didn't spend so very much time giggling...

Then last night, I sat with friends at dinner, immediately after our regular Thursday night community Eucharist. The group being what it was, we had a lively discussion of the liturgical and homiletic choices that had been part of our worship experience. I'm sure there are folks out there who would have been crossing their eyes at the "shop talk;" but I thought it a lovely way to spend my last evening on "on the block" for a while.

I will miss my cohorts on campus, but I am very glad to be home.

Today officially begins a whole week without classes-- a combination of Reading Week (time given to finish up end-of-the-term coursework) and Thanksgiving. It is not vacation time, really-- goodness knows I brought plenty to do with me. Texts to read, papers to write, quizzes to study for... Reformation history, and liturgy, and theology. It would likely feel quite onerous, if it weren't work I enjoy.

Some folks think engineers are geeky, but they've got nothing on seminary types. And now I suppose I'm both. Oy.


Blogger AKMA said...

Wait a minute — you mean there are people who might think studying Greek wasn’t fun?

I think there must be some misunderstanding somewhere. . . . .

November 19, 2004 9:07 PM  

Blogger Beth said...

These are the things your students aren't supposed to let you find out. Sorry.

November 20, 2004 9:39 AM  

Blogger Dawgdays said...

Cool! A TheoTechnoGeek!

November 20, 2004 4:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One question. Why Greek and not Hebrew?

Me I'm considering restarting my theological education (I was studying for an M.Div. through the University of Melbourne (Trinity Theological which is an Anglican Seminary)) but dropped out two years ago while in RCIA. (It is difficult to study Anglican theology while struggling with questions regarding Catholic conversion). I'm now considering going back and studying for an M. Theol. through the University of Sidney (a Catholic school). (This is simply for fun, I don't anticipate "doing" anything with it.

Points for doing this through Sidney would be:
1. I don't need an M. Div. since I'm not called to be a priest or deacon.
2. I can skip the Liturgy, Homiletics, and Clinical Pastoral stuff, and focus on History, Theology, and Scripture which are more important to me.
3. No cognitive dissonance since I remain in the same faith tradition.

Points against doing this, however would be
1. I enjoy the Anglican approach to theology
2. Melbourne offers Hebrew, while Sidney only offers Greek. I would like to read Scripture and the Torah with the eyes that Jesus brought to bear on Torah, and He certainly came to it from a Hebrew culture...

So why do y'all think Greek is better than Hebrew? Also, if you had the luxury of designing your own curriculum, and did not need to answer to either bishop or COM, how would you go about doing it?

Shari (The clueless christian, currently in a hotel in Tulsa).

November 20, 2004 8:21 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

No special bias there Shari, and I do not think that Greek is "better" than Hebrew. It's simply that I've had the opportunity to take one, and not the other. At Seabury, the biblical languages are taught in alternate years; last year was Greek, this one Hebrew. I'd like to take the latter, but will not be able to do so, as I'll be on field ed for the whole of winter quarter, and not on campus.

I agree with you about the importance of the Hebrew Bible as foundational for our Christian faith, and for gaining a better understanding of Jesus, his teaching, and the culture to which he spoke. I think we as Christians hold a justifiable preference for the New Testament, but sometimes-- and I confess to being guilty of this-- we do not pay sufficient attention to the Old Testament in the process. And we are poorer for it.

My hope is to include Hebrew as part of my plan for continuing education, sometime after I graduate. If not as a formal course of study, then maybe I can find a sympathetic rabbi somewhere who will be willing to take me on as a student.

As to designing my own curriculum, that's a good question, and one that will take some consideration. It may end up as it's own post, one day.

November 20, 2004 8:44 PM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

November 20, 2004 8:45 PM  

Blogger AKMA said...

Greek isn’t better, though it has the advantage of a copious extrabiblical literature and ancient versions of both testaments. It’s more Western, and hence a closer cognate to English — though that can be misleading. I ended up specializing in Greek to a great extent because I took the class first.

I loved Hebrew, too. It’s radically different (no pun intended, Hebrew wonks) from the languages most Euro- (and Australo- ?) Americans know. Its morphology and syntax both require more of a ground-up effort for them to learn (whereas students can suss out a rough, often inaccurate, sense of Greek by relying on familiar assumptions about Western syntax). I loved Hebrew, and miss a higher degree of fluency in it. I don’t by any means wish I’d gone into Old Testament specialization — too many other ancient languages and archaeological brouhahas — but as a language, Hebrew rocks.

If I were only to learn one, it would be hard for me not to choose Greek, as the language in which the New Testament is written; but choosing Hebrew would be a wise and lovely decision.

November 25, 2004 10:10 AM  

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