Four mornings each week I march down the stairwells of my dorm with Greek books cradled into the soft public morning. Breakfast was never enough to seduce me from my bed at early hours, but the animal crackers and vanilla chai from the night before will not produce adequate brain chemicals for parsing. I take my table alone and shuffle through flashcards between mouthfuls. Greek class is motivation for more than getting up early and going to breakfast – it is the means to my end as a student majoring in Bible Exposition and Theology: Being active in understanding my faith.
I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose from the dead. My study of the original language of His recorded life exemplifies my life philosophy of striving to understand the things that shape my faith. It is my duty as a student to study critically, thoroughly, and objectively. It is my duty as a Christian to study Greek to engage my faith actively. I am a cell that moves through Greek class to pick up a fresh perspective on biblical exegesis and the organs of theology.
My Greek professor challenges me to ask “What is the speaker saying? How does context and original audience determine meaning?” Greek savors like math, because the outcome is an objective reality. I cannot manipulate the tense or the mood to form my own subjective interpretation.
Studying Greek has obliterated ill-formed biblical misconceptions. I can identify a verse that has so often been pulled out of its context that the original meaning is diluted or lost. Understanding Greek is like putting on special glasses that help me to see the beautiful thread connecting a verse with the writer’s theme and continuing his thoughts. My appetite is whet with each morsel of understanding from Greek class; I can read the New Testament in its original language. A mode of communication is open now that provides a level of intimacy previously unknown to me. I am at the mercy of no translator. I ‘came to faith’ as a child, but am coming to understanding as a student.
It is too easy to be a passive learner, too easy to regurgitate the thoughts of past and present professors, without making the thoughts my own. I am learning what the vessel of my faith – the original text – states! My faith is not passive, but active.
There are times I question why I get up early to humble myself in Greek class. Times I question why I am studying the Bible and making it a part of my daily life when I could be studying something more practical. I take Greek because I am brought closer to the words of my Lord. Shall I remain in comparatively murky translations when I can put forth effort to think and know the beautiful details for myself? Certainly not! I believe that faith is not passive. I believe in actively engaging my faith.