Tony posted an interesting entry on the need for Asian biblical scholarship, and suggested reasons for the lack thereof.

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I shared the following comment:

Sorry for joining this discussion rather late. First and foremost, I agree with Tony on the need for more Asian biblical scholarship. Generally, I also agree with the 4 reasons suggested.

Qualifier: I’m a M.Div graduate from SBC, so allow my 2 cents worth for a different perspective. Note, what I share is just my own personal experience going through SBC, so hope nobody will get the impression that this is meant as a SBC-TTC comparison or debate.

During my time (2004-2007), SBC offered 2 M.Div tracks, namely Biblical Studies (BS) or Pastoral Ministries (PM). I took the latter. The main difference for BS track was more focus on biblical language and exegesis, namely 2 x 4 credit Hebrew, OT exegesis and advanced NT exegesis.

For both tracks, we did the same 2 x 3 credit Greek and 2 modules of NT exegesis (Lk-Acts, Rom). However, for PM track, we only did 1 x 3 credit Functional Hebrew. Having said that, the key difference was more modules and focus on practical and pastoral theology e.g. church growth, emotional health, spirituality, counselling, etc.

I believe there’s a place for both tracks. I know friends and pastors who did the BS track, and I see great value in it, particularly if one feels called towards linguistic or academic areas of ministry e.g. lecturing, researching at seminary level, or like one couple I knew, doing Bible translation work as missionaries.

I did not choose the PM track because it was “easier,” or because I was disinterested in biblical languages. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed and did well in the languages and exegesis classes. I chose PM as I wanted a balanced theological education that had both bible/theology/language and practical/pastoral elements, and of course, because I knew my calling as a pastor, and wanted to be equipped to serve. I believe as pastors, we need to be equipped well both in theology and ministry.

Was what I learnt of the biblical languages enough? Yes, for a basic grasp, and helpful in preparation of sermons, teachings. However, I still am grossly inadequate to teach a language class, or go on to teach theology or exegesis. As Alex mentioned, perhaps that’s the place for the Th.M or M.Th.