Zwinglius redivivus does it again! If you haven’t checked out his blog I highly recommend you do for you will find intriguing quotes like the following one there as well as the best of the ancient and modern:
“How can a preacher know theology, if he is ignorant of Hebrew, Greek and Latin?”- Sir Thomas More
via Quote of the Decade — Zwinglius Redivivus
My Opinion: In an idealistic world and under idealistic conditions all pulpit preachers should be instructed in Biblical languages as well as Latin (and maybe theological German), however, this simply is not a possibility at least not in the typical seminary (graduate school of theology / Divinity School/preachers school) due to the time constraints of imposed by the programs and or the curriculums not to mention individuals’ dispositions. Of course one can study on their own, or outside of a theological program should one desire to.
I would, however, say that it is much more of a priority for a preacher or a missionary to know the culture and the language of the intended audience or the congregation at large unless, of course, the preacher/missionary has a dedicated interpreter. I am pleased to say that in my very limited experience here in Japan all of the foreign preachers I have met have been fluent in modern Japanese to at least an upper-intermediate level, if not an advance one!
Mel Shaw says
Sir Thomas More’s question is very challenging. It should cause every aspiring theologian to do some soul searching. Hopefully, the result of such self-examination will be humility, even among those who are blessed with knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. Yes, Sir Thomas’s question is a real challenge, but I think Mr. Mitchell has answered it well.
Brian K. Mitchell says
Thank you, Mel Shaw, for your very generous comment!
A little bit of a side note:
A little over a hundred years ago Junior High and High school students in the western world were widely required to take years of Latin and attic Greek before entering university. During that time for one to make the transition between the knowledge of classical Latin & Greek to that of ecclesiastical Latin and the Koine Greek of the NT would have only taken a full dedicated month. As one can imagine during those days it would be a lot easier for congregations, critics, and individuals to make such requirements of Preachers and Pastors or to hold to such assumptions of them. So perhaps Sir Thomas’ quote makes more sense within is historical time period than it does in the current one.