Learning vs Staying in the Original Languages
I remember diligently studying Greek paradigms one day in seminary when I asked my professor, “Is this how we’re going to be studying Greek after we graduate?” He just laughed and said, “Nah, you’ll be using Bible software.”
In reflecting on his words, I’ve also noticed an interesting trend now that I’ve been out of seminary for a few years. Many of my friends and colleagues who bought Bible software in seminary are still using it to access the original languages today as pastors and ministry leaders. Granted, they may not be masterful scholars, but they are engaging the original languages on some level. In contrast, most of my friends who forwent Bible software in seminary haven’t touched their hardbound Nestle-Aland 27 or BHS since graduating. I’m not saying this is a hard and fast rule, but I’ve noticed the trend among my own peers.
This begs the question...why do the Greek and Hebrew retention rates seem to be higher among those who use Bible software? There may be several factors, but I have a strong suspicion that most of it boils down to convenience. There is a direct correlation between motivation and convenience, so while highly motivated individuals will tolerate inconvenience, less motivated individuals will require greater convenience to accomplish the same task. This brings us to the crux of the problem: while it’s not something we want to admit to our Greek professors, most of us experience a decline in motivation to study the original languages once we graduate. That’s not to say we have zero motivation, but it does mean that most of us need something more convenient than reviewing paradigm charts, otherwise we won’t bother.
I suspect this is why my friends who use Bible software continue to stay in the original languages. Programs like Accordance make studying the original languages convenient, and sometimes all but automatic. For example, it only takes a few seconds to add a parallel Greek or Hebrew text to any Accordance workspace. Even if you ignore the Greek and Hebrew panes 99% of the time, you can always leave them up, just in case. When the scholarly urge does strike, you can get a definition, parsing information, and cross-highlighting just by hovering over a Greek or Hebrew word.
Of course, there are plenty of advanced features in Accordance that take more time to learn and master, but if your primary goal is to stay connected to the original languages, it really doesn’t take much. It’s actually kind of ridiculous how convenient this all is when you consider what similar endeavors required just a few decades ago.
I’m curious to know what you think. Have you noticed the same trend among your friends and colleagues who did/didn’t invest in Bible software? Has Accordance helped you stay connected to Greek and Hebrew after graduating seminary or Bible college? Post your thoughts in the comments.