Learning a language in lockdown

Learning a language in lockdown


While lockdown presents challenges, it can be a good time to learn a biblical language.

Dr Jeff Aernie teaches a number of language units at United Theological College (UTC). He told Insights that the ability to learn a biblical language, Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, “provides us with a key tool for understanding Scripture.”

“These languages offer us the ability to think deeply about the identity and character of God and God’s word,” Dr Aernie said.

“Indeed, study of the biblical languages is essential to the faithful interpretation of Scripture. The translations that we engage with on a regular basis—whether they be in English, Tongan, Korean, or Fijian—are the product of immense learning and labour. As we learn the languages we are able to join in this important work of communicating the message of Scripture.”

“Engaging with the biblical languages impacts our approach to Scripture in two key ways. Learning the biblical languages is a reminder that while Scripture is written for us, it is not written to us. Working in the original languages allows us to consider the world into which Scripture was written. And that is a key step for understanding how we can engage Scripture in our own experience. Learning the biblical languages also requires focus. Reading the original languages provides an opportunity for slow and deliberate engagement. And that change in reading velocity creates opportunities for new insights into Scripture.”

With much of the NSW and ACT Synod currently in lockdown, Dr Aernie said that he realised it was a challenging time to learn.

“Lockdown language learning is a unique experience,” he said.

“Language is a key part of our identity as God’s image-bearers. So thinking about language while not being able to be present with one another can be a challenge.”

“However, I am so thankful for all the wonderful technological resources that have made it possible for us to continue sharing together in our study of the languages. And I am so encouraged by the commitment and persistence of our students to their learning in the midst of our current challenges.”

“Knowledge of and love for the Biblical languages are key characteristics of our programs at UTC,” Dr Aernie said.

“We welcome engagement in languages across our programs. You can study at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Or you can simply come join the fun as an audit student. And, if you are really keen, you can devote an entire Graduate Certificate to language study.”

For more information on United Theological College’s units, visit the official website here.

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