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Importance of Biblical Language Study

MLC InFocus asked Professor Thomas Nass, a member of the WELS Translation Evaluation Committee, to write about the importance of biblical language study for WELS pastors, study that begins at MLC.
Importance of  Biblical Language Study

Professor Thomas Nass

By Professor Thomas Nass WLS ’82

MLC played a modest role in the recent Bible translation discussion in WELS. Fourteen MLC faculty members actively participated in translation evaluations for the WELS Translation Evaluation Committee, which I was privileged to serve on. In addition, 40 MLC graduates were among the 102 WELS pastors who participated in the 2012 translation review. Perhaps this was MLC’s greatest contribution. MLC has given to our youngest generation of pastors the ability to work with the Scriptures in the original languages, a skill that was vital in our translation discussion.

Without a doubt, differences of opinion surfaced in the synod-wide Bible translation discussion. Some WELS pastors and people preferred one English Bible translation and others another. Some encouraged the production of a WELS Bible translation, and others did not. But everyone agreed it is good that our pastors know Hebrew and Greek. It is good that all our pastors can evaluate English Bible translations on their own on
the basis of the original languages as they preach and teach in their congregations.

This is a service that MLC has been quietly providing for our church body ever since 1995. All preseminary students in the regular degree program at MLC are required to take four years of Greek and two years of Hebrew. Already at MLC they read portions of John’s Gospel, Acts, and 1 Corinthians in Greek, in addition to some 40 pages of the Hebrew Old Testament. When they arrive at the seminary, they are ready to go with in-depth study of the Scriptures on the basis of the original languages. This is a benefit that other denominational seminaries generally do not enjoy. 

With its emphasis on biblical languages, MLC is continuing the legacy of Northwestern College. As seen in the accompanying charts, requirements in Latin and German have been reduced over the years, but a commitment to provide four years of Greek and two years of Hebrew has been steadily maintained.

It is a blessing from God that we have a strong preseminary training program, and it is a privilege for us at MLC to open up the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament to a new generation of pastors. This training shows itself useful every day as WELS pastors preach and teach God’s Word, and it showed itself useful in a special way recently as WELS evaluated English Bible translations.

Read more articles in our Fall 2013 InFocus magazine.

InFocus article image and link