I am considering trying, at my ancient age, to learn ancient Greek. Why? Well many biblical scholars read the Bible in ancient Greek in hope of gaining additional insight. But if I studied for the rest of my life, I would never qualify as a Biblical scholar. I have read that as we get older it is important to keep your mind engaged, but surely working crosswords or studying baseball box scores fill that requirement. On my sabbatical, I read the entire Bible following a program suggested by a clergy friend. I enrolled in EFM partially to learn more about the Bible, although EFM took me to a lot more places and become much, much more than Bible study. So why try to learn more? Why do any of us continue to read the Bible, or the Koran, or other ancient texts of other faiths? It is a question where there is no “right answer.” Everyone has their own response, including the often heard reply that the Bible has no relevance today.
What is my response to those who think that time has passed the Bible by? I think about my response, while I scour the Internet for a beginners course on classical Biblical Greek for Dummies, (Anybody who has a recommendations please let me know). The Bible offers much for historical scholars, but also for people like me who are fascinated by how God works through common everyday people to make himself known to the world and to draw the world back to himself. To me it is not just about characters from the past Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David, to name a few. It is a book about ourselves. James Muilenburg said until we can read the stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, David and Bathsheba, as our own stories we have not really understood the Bible. I see part of myself in Peter’s denials, Thomas’s doubts, and yes in Judas’s betrayal, and I want to know more about why we continually reject God, and yet God continues to mysteriously and relentlessly pursue us even still.
Bottom line, there isn’t a Sunday that after I have heard the readings, both Old and New Testament, that I don’t walk away with a new insight, or a new way to look at something, and if I am lucky a little bit more knowledge about myself and/or God. This happens whether I have heard the readings before or not. So I know whether I read the text in English, or someday in Ancient Greek, I am continuing to learn, and in that I believe “God is well pleased.”
Your friend, Webb