Monday, 9 February 2015

Learning biblical greek is a spiritual exercise

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I have just begun my formal theological training at Moore College last week. And my week has been filled with Greek Intensive classes. In fact, biblical Greek is the only subject I am studying for the first two weeks. Now, here’s a lesson I learnt in the first week of college, which I think is the most important lesson of the week.

Learning biblical greek is a spiritual exercise. This does not mean that only Christians can study biblical Greek or get good marks in exams. What I mean is that when I study biblical Greek as a Christian, I should approach the subject with the same kind of humility and dependence on God as I would when I do a bible study, for example.

I suppose there is a sense in which everything a Christian does has a spiritual dimension to it, since the doer is a living spiritual being who lives before the face of God. However, I initially came to the Greek class thinking that this is a time where I simply learn a tool to really get into God’s word. To be sure, the language of biblical Greek is not divine in and of itself. However, I now realise that studying biblical Greek is much more than simply learning some grammar and memorising vocabularies. As I study biblical Greek, the grammar and the vocabularies, the words and meanings are found from the pages of Scriptures, which is the written word of God. As I engage with a phrase and try to discern the meaning of it, I am faced with the very word of God. Hence, the whole exercise of learning and memorising biblical Greek takes a very explicit spiritual dimension. Learning biblical Greek is more similar to doing a bible study than, say, learning aerodynamics, or even learning French.

I am glad that the lecturers at Moore college have impressed this reality upon me and keep on emphasising the importance of humbling ourselves before God through prayer as we study biblical Greek. I was humbled by the fact that each session began with a prayer even when we had three sessions back to back. I am also glad that I am not doing this alone, but in company of many other like-minded students who are willing to submit themselves to the Lordship of Christ.