“Do I understand Greek and Hebrew? Otherwise, how can I undertake, as every Minister does, not only to explain books which are written therein but to defend them against all opponents? Am I not at the mercy of everyone who does understand, or even pretends to understand, the original? For which way can I confute his pretense? Do I understand the language of the Old Testament? critically? at all? Can I read into English one of David’s Psalms, or even the first chapter of Genesis? Do I understand the language of the New Testament? Am I a critical master of it? Have I enough of it even to read into English the first chapter of St. Luke? If not, how many years did I spend at school? How many at the University? And what was I doing all those years? Ought not shame to cover my face?”
John Wesley, “An Address to the Clergy,” in Works (London, 1872), X:491.
I do not believe that every minister of the gospel, to be faithful, must know the original languages. But many should and must. It is the standard. Yes, let’s make room for special cases. But they are special cases. And if we have had the privilege of studying the Bible in the original texts, the Lord has given us a stewardship to cultivate, not neglect.