Every Bible teacher wants to be liked and appreciated by those he or she teaches. As a lecturer in Biblical Hebrew at Westminster Theological Seminary since 2009, Elizabeth (Libbie) Groves doesn’t have to wonder if her students appreciate her. She has repeatedly been the highest-ranked professor on student evaluation forms at the seminary. On the day I was there, not only had she dressed up like Elvis to make her point in Hebrew grammar memorable, she also fed her classes burritos. No wonder she’s a favorite! She’s also known for her dramatic recitations of passages in the Bible in Hebrew, including this presentation of the entire book of Jonah.
We’ve heard the saying over and over: “A text without a context is a pretext for a prooftext.” We want to understand the passage we’re teaching in context. But how do we work through context in a way that affects how we’re teaching? In our conversation, Groves walks listeners through two passages—Daniel 1 and Proverbs 3—demonstrating how exploring the various aspects of context in these passages saves us from teaching them insufficiently.