Scholarship

Why I Read the Scholars Yet Still Believe that God Means What He Says

Recently, I have been immersing myself (not for the first time) in the works of writers who would disagree very strongly with the views espoused at Telos and by traditional dispensationalists in general. Trawling through these big books, paying attention to each argument and their use of Scripture, and repeatedly coming across assertions that seem to make God guilty of double-talk is, to be brutally honest, a sort of self-imposed torture. So why do I do it? I read these works because I want to be informed about the latest arguments against my position. I want to keep abreast of how many evangelical scholars think. I don’t want to be a Bible teacher and theologian who is ignorant of what’s going on around him.

Another reason I read books by those with whom I disagree is because if a good argument arises which demonstrates I am wrong, I want to see it. So far, I have to report that I have not found any argument which impresses me that way. In fact, the more I read of these men, the more convinced I become that they are, hermeneutically speaking, barking up the wrong tree.

Let me give you an example:

Perhaps one of the most striking features of Jesus’ kingdom is that it appears not to be the kind of kingdom prophesied in the OT and expected by Judaism. (G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 431)

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Becoming a True Christian Scholar: Some Recommendations, Part 2

TalmudReprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read Part 1.

Recommended areas of study

Beginning in 1977, I have been more or less continually involved in the educating of men in or preparing for the ministry in a variety of Bible colleges, seminaries, and Bible institutes, besides seeking to educate myself as well, and have concluded that certain areas of study will yield the greatest benefits, if diligently pursued, to those seeking to become well-prepared and useful Bible scholars. What specific areas of study would I recommend for a budding young scholar-in-training who wishes to maximize his usefulness in the service of God?

Of course, a general Bible course in college and seminary or graduate school is presumed, but specifically in such a course, I strongly urge, even insist, that for a scholar-in-training, there is no substitute or alternative to knowing and knowing competently well both Greek and Hebrew, as well as Aramaic, the three Biblical languages. There is no getting around it: the Bible was originally written in these three ancient languages, and if we are to be truly masters of this book (as far as that is humanly possible)—”homo unius libri” [“a man of one book”] as John Wesley famously declared1 he wanted to be—then we simply must study these languages extensively. And that may—in fact, definitely will—require the foregoing of other study and activity to a not inconsiderable extent. Historian and biographer Douglas Southall Freeman wisely affirmed, “In deciding what you’re going to do, your first decision must be what you’re not going to do. To do, you must leave undone.”2 Priorities, priorities.

Nineteenth century Scottish theologian A.M. Fairbairn is quoted by A. T. Robertson in the preface of his A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research as having said, “No man can be a theologian who is not a philologian. He who is no grammarian is no divine,” (4th edition, p. x). Robertson himself adds:

There is nothing like the Greek New Testament to rejuvenate the world, which came out of the Dark Ages with the Greek New Testament in its hand… . The Greek New Testament is the New Testament. All else is translation. Jesus speaks to us out of every page of the Greek. Many of his ipsissima verba are here preserved for us, for our Lord often spoke Greek. To get these words of Jesus it is worth while to plow through any grammar and to keep on to the end. (p. xix)

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