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My Advice to Students — Van Pelt Shares Solid Languages Advice He Got and Wished He Got

Categories My Advice to Students

9780310270201When it comes to advice for students trying to master, let alone study and grasp, the biblical languages there is no small amount of solid, reliable advice for students.

Yet in our video today Miles Van Pent, professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at Reformed Theological Seminary and author of Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, offers us a two-meal helping of solid biblical languages advice he got and wished he would have gotten—advice I wish I would have gotten, too!

His sage wisdom centers around the priority we give to studying biblical languages and the priority we give to the primary text itself:

1) If you're going to be good in the biblical languages you've got to do it regularly and almost everyday.

He says, "The way I have found most effective in my own life is to get up early and do it before everyone else starts to want your time, your schedule, and your attention." For him this rhythm has really paid off in learning Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.

2) Keep the primary literature primary, both in terms of your attention and the amount of time you invest in it. Then use the secondary literature secondarily. Don't get the two inverted.

Obviously for us biblical studies students and thinkers, the primary source is the Bible. Secondary literature is everything everyone writes and says about the Bible. He says, "Don't let secondary literature impose a worldview on the primary literature that's not there. Let the primary literature critique the secondary literature." This way you won't be held captive to everyone else's ideas.

So carve out the time, regularly and everyday. Focus on studying the Bible, especially its original sources, over studying books about the Bible. Doing so will help set you on a sure course toward mastering the Primary Literature that should guide and govern your teaching, let alone your life.

-Jeremy Bouma, Th.M. (@bouma)


"My Advice to Students" is a weekly video series designed to advise and guide students who are studying for a future of ministry in the Church, whether in the academy or in congregations. In these specially curated videos, leading scholars of biblical studies share their seasoned wisdom to help you navigate this important season of preparation.

(Can't see the video? Watch it here)

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