Dear Dottie: Women Teaching Greek
I have a female student who is very gifted in Koine Greek. She now has a BA in Christian Studies from TMU and an MA in Biblical languages from SEBTS and she loves to teach. She has taught Greek in her local church and is teaching at the high school level. What is the place for such an outstanding young woman in academia? In our Baptist colleges? In our seminaries?
As always, I am thankful for your wisdom.
What an encouraging question concerning a remarkable young woman with proficiency in the language of the New Testament! I am very grateful for the 5 years I spent studying Greek in college and seminary. I have never taught Greek, but I have used that special tool in a myriad of ways throughout my decades of woman-to-woman teaching and numerous writing projects!
Here are some of the opportunities I see for this young woman:
The enrichment of her personal study of Scripture. To translate the text yourself is a first step for the most insightful study of Scripture. To explore the fullest meaning of key words in the Greek lexicon (i.e., dictionary) and other language resources, to consult technical commentaries that provide the work of scholars on passages in the New Testament—this adds a depth to your understanding. I often diagram sentences in Greek to help me see the flow of long and complicated sections of the text.
Teaching women in the church—women are avid students! Young people also can profit from such study. When my son was young, I took him out of his private school to go to the Hebrew synagogue where we had “Hebrew for lunch,” introducing him to the language and refreshing me in that biblical language! In-depth knowledge of the language can equip a woman to become a master Bible teacher.
A Christian high school, college, or university might consider hiring her to teach, including a class in Greek. Christian colleges also often include studies in Greek.
Writing commentaries, curriculum for Bible studies, even devotional literature is greatly enhanced by proficiency in Greek. All Christian publishers need editors with this language proficiency.
Now, here is a personal caution from me: God never calls you to do any task in the kingdom that would place you in a position of contradicting Scripture! For me, here is where the door closes in formal teaching of men in a seminary setting—when the course being taught is “training a man” to become a pastor. While the seminary setting is not the same thing as a local church, it is wise to model in the seminary classroom what you would want duplicated in the church. The teaching of biblical languages in seminary should be taught in such a way as to help a young preacher learn the skills of exegesis to use in his sermon preparation. For me, by all logic that eliminates the teaching of Greek by a woman in this setting. However, even in seminaries, good tutors are needed. Pastors who take their sermon preparation seriously can use researchers with language proficiency to help in pulling together resources for sermon preparation. The latter falls in the pattern of Priscilla and her unique personal ministry to Apollos.
In conclusion, pursue studies with diligence. Be ready in season and out of season in order to serve Christ with all your giftedness, being determined to hold fast and stand under the guidelines of Scripture. God’s Word will never lead you astray!