Biblical Languages and The Busy Pastor:

A Practical Guide to Keeping and Using Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in Ministry

By Dr. R Kevin Carroll

Reviewed by Christian McShaffrey

Every faithful Pastor is busy and often feels pressed for time as he prepares sermons and studies each week. Much of his time is spent reading books (e.g., confessional standards, commentaries, etc.) but sadly, and in spite of all this time reading, sometimes the book he loves most remains closed and gathering dust on a shelf: The Holy Bible

I do not mean his English translation, of course. He reads that daily in private and publicly at every meeting of the church. What typically goes unread is his Hebrew and Greek edition of the scriptures. This is a great tragedy.

First of all, it is simply poor stewardship. Men spend thousands of dollars at seminary and countless hours in study to obtain proficiency in these languages. Losing these skills is like purchasing a luxury car and leaving it to rust. More significantly, however, lost proficiency also makes him a less effective as a preacher (which is his chiefest calling and highest joy).

Dr. R. Kevin Carroll addresses this problem and invites Pastors to recover their language skills in volume 11 of the GlossaHouse Dissertation Series: Biblical Languages and The Busy Pastor.

The book begins as most do, with an introduction, but a unique aspect of this one is that it includes the results of a “Language Use Survey” conducted amongst conservative Reformed denominations. While most Pastors reported regular engagement with the biblical languages, the level of it was somewhat superficial.

The next section seeks to convince Pastors to recover their skills by offering biblical, theological, and historical reasons to read scripture in its originally inspired languages. Practical reasons are then added; one of them being this choice quote from our own J. Gresham Machen:

“If you are to tell what the Bible does say, you must be able to read the Bible for yourself. And you cannot read the Bible for yourself unless you know the languages in which it was written…. In his mysterious wisdom [God] gave his [Word] to us in Hebrew and Greek. Hence if we want to know the Scriptures, to the study of Greek and Hebrew we must go” (pg. 29).

At this point in the book, I will admit to feeling convicted for my own attrition of skills. At the same time, I also wondered, “But as a busy Pastor, how am I going to find the time to re-learn all I have forgotten?” Dr. Carroll answers this question by recommending a very reasonable plan and, more surprisingly, by suggesting that recovered proficiency actually saves time since we are no longer “vassals to secondary literature” (pg. 77).

The most enjoyable section of the book was a sample of Dr. Carrol’s weekly engagement with the original languages. It reminded me of what we did every single day in seminary and how enriching it truly is to find exegetical gems while translating.

 You should buy this book for your busy Pastor.

As an Amazon Associate, we may earn from qualifying purchases.