It’s that time of year when students head back to school and eighteen years ago, after the turn of the century, Janet and I began to discuss the idea of me attending seminary. I requested information from a number of schools and interviewed at several of them in the hope of possibly being accepted.
Of course, there were the Ivy League schools, but they were too liberal – and a number of midwestern schools including Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY and Garrett up at Northwestern in Evanston, IL. I also considered Trinity in the same region and would have loved to have gone to Dallas Theological Seminary, better known as DTS.
My Dad’s first cousin, Dr. Stanley Toussaint, was on staff at DTS at the time and it would have been awesome to sit under his teaching. However, our family wasn’t in a position to move to Dallas and they didn’t offer any kind of distance program at the time. So… I narrowed my search and end up interviewing at a small school in the Indianapolis area that specialized in conservative theology and the original languages – I really wanted to learn Greek and Hebrew.
Anyway, I was accepted for admission and I could hardly wait to start my new adventure. Each August, I think about how much I anticipated studying Greek and the other things I would learn in graduate school. I purchased all the books, as well as the binders and other materials I would need to start this new season of my life.
Then it happened – the first day of class. I had to get up at 5:30 and be on the road by 6:30 in order to be in my seat when theology class started at 7:30 am. After theology, Greek was up next at 9:00 am. The Dean of the school walked in, started to tell us about the expectations of the class and we dove right in.
I was fascinated and shell shocked at the same time. It had been more than 25 years since I had been in school and there was no way that I was going to be able to handle this schedule – along with projects and homework. By the time the 90 minute class was over, I was almost running to the admissions office to drop Greek. I know it sounds strange, but I just knew that there was no way my brain could learn all that had to be done to succeed in that class. I was just too out of practice – and probably too old…
Dr. Smith, the professor, saw me heading down the hall and stopped me to ask what I was doing. I was honest in telling him that I was on my way to drop the class. He asked if I could trust him for three weeks. Apparently, I had some inquisitive look on my face, as he went on to explain that he was sure that I would be “hooked” within several weeks and challenged me to stay in the class. I agreed to give it my best effort.
He was right. I stuck it out and Greek became my favorite class in seminary. In fact, I took it all three years that I attended school and in my second year, I added Hebrew as well. I never cared for that language quite as much, but I learned to love the Greek. And there is no denying that studying the Bible in Greek is significantly more exciting than it is in English. Greek is such a colorful language and the average person at the time of Jesus knew about 14,000 words of the language as compared to the average American today who only knows about 3000 words of English.
The first verse I learned to read in Greek is John 1:1. That’s because the writing is rather simple and helps the student to get off to a fast start by being able to actually understand the translation of a verse from the Greek New Testament. So, I thought that would be an appropriate verse for tonight – the first verse I ever read in the Greek – almost 16 years ago this week.
The apostle John tells us, in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Interestingly, in the Greek, we are told at the end of the verse that “God was the Word.” That simple difference from the English translation was what started me on a love affair with the language.
My encouragement tonight is that whatever language we read the Bible in, it is the word of God and tells the wonderful story of God’s plan for our redemption and the opportunity to spend eternity with Him. My prayer is that we will all spend more time in the Bible reading about the Trinity and how much God loves us – after all, the Bible is the greatest love story every told. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…
what a neat story. I had forgotten that you were going to drop Greek. It was God’s working in your life and HIS timing to put the professor in your way as you went to drop the class.
Thanks for the story and the inspiration.