Reader Questions Answered

Who is this 'Regina Hunter' anyway? (2007)


Regina Hunter I hear you’re a real expert in Greek.
So.... I hear you're an expert in Lego building.

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Of all the addresses in the scripture email address book, about half are for people whom I don't know at all or have barely met.  A few more are for people I know only slightly.  This means that more than half of the email readers, and virtually all of the website readers, are candidates for asking today's question, which has been referred to me several times by readers who do know me.  It actually doesn't make any difference who I am, since I will tell you over and over again that you should read the scripture for yourself and not take my word for what's in it.  Nevertheless...
 
In 1979, God tricked me (long boring story deleted for brevity) into taking the teacher-training course of the Bethel Bible Series.  This course is two academic years long and took me about 15 hours of study per week.  I turned out to be a pretty good student, so after that course was over my church sent me to the workshop that certifies people to teach the teacher-training course.  The workshop is two weeks long, at 40 hours per week.  I have taught the teacher-training course three times and the congregational course about 10 or 12 times since then, most frequently as part of a team comprising myself, my handsome and charming husband (a retired minister), and my beautiful and intelligent daughter-in-law.  Each time we teach the course, I study large chunks of the scripture again. 
 
In 1999, I began studying Biblical languages, and I have had course work in Greek (which I read reasonably well) and Hebrew (which I don't).  For fun I read Biblical commentaries and footnotes in English (as well as murder mysteries and science fiction) and meet with a study buddy to read the New Testament in Greek.  I have a Ph.D. in geology and retired from
Sandia National Laboratories in 2004.
 
We all know people who have, or we ourselves have, chronic medical conditions, for which daily medications are required.   We all have a chronic condition of the soul, too – that is, we are sinful and prone to wander even after we have been saved.  For this we also need daily treatment – the word of God.  Sometimes we forget to take our daily pill, or we leave the pills at home when we go somewhere, or we don't want to take the pill because it makes us feel crummy, or we are just plain contrary.  All these reasons come up for skipping our Bible readings, too.  But overall, we try to take our pills and read our Bibles each day, and our various physical and spiritual conditions are improved. 
 
Late in 2006, the Sunday School class that I belong to at St. John’s UMC was discussing how to keep up with daily scripture readings, and the upshot was that I started sending out daily emails.  (Tricked again!) My goal for the scripture emails is to get you, like the kandake's treasurer, to read the Bible for yourself. Maybe I, like Philip, can help you understand what you read a little better. You can skip the study tips entirely with no loss.  If the study tips help you out, great, but you need to read the scripture for yourself.

Of course, anyone who wants to read the scriptures can get out a real Bible.  This raises the question:  why email at all?  Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to develop a good habit?  And now we are trying to develop two good habits at once:  (1) get out our Bibles, and (2) study scripture.  The only purpose of the emails is to break that into two pieces and build on a habit we already have – checking our email.  Once we are in the habit of studying scripture every day, we can move on to the habit of getting out our Bibles every day, which is my prayer for all of us. 

I hear you’re a real expert in Greek. (6/11/2010)

Goodness gracious, people! Please don’t go around telling impressionable new readers that I’m an expert in Greek!

In the third place, I’m not. I admit to knowing a little Greek, probably just enough to be dangerous. There’s a lot of agreement (although I don’t know who made it up originally) that it takes about 10 years of consistent practice to become “expert” at something. By this time next month I will have had 3 1/2 years of course work in Greek, and I have read the Greek New Testament off and on for about 11 years. I haven’t put in the time or the effort – the consistent practice – required for expertise.

(Now, if you want to say that I am an expert in Old Testament content, I might not argue so much about that. I have taught the Bethel Bible series 15 times, which means that I’ve spent 15 years on Old Testament. I really am a whiz a OT Bible trivia questions. I can summarize the content of the OT in 5 minutes, an hour, a few hours, or twenty hours. I’m weak on the prophets, though.)

In the second place, expertise or lack of it has no bearing on my salvation or yours, which are of much more concern to me than Greek, Hebrew, or even Biblical content. As near as I can tell, Biblical knowledge – much less linguistic knowledge – is not an especially good indicator of whether a person knows the Lord.

And in the first place, I’m trying to work myself out of a job here! I want you (and your 2.1 billion fellow-Christians and Jews) to read and understand the scripture for yourself, so that I can go back to playing with my Legos.

If you think I’m an expert, you’ll be less inclined to study for yourself, and more inclined to keep me in business. You’ll also be more inclined to believe me when I say something entirely wrong, and trust me, this will happen from time to time. Have I mentioned that I collect egregious pastoral errors? For example, “God can bring evil from good,” or “Acts is a letter written by Paul.” Both these pastors knew better, they just accidentally misspoke. But sometimes “we experts” don’t know any better, and we accidentally mislead.

So don't take my word for anything in Greek or English! This is a perfect opportunity to exhort you to read your Bible for yourself. If you find my comments – on the text, or the Greek, or life in general – to be helpful, that's great, but it's also optional. Reading the text for yourself is not optional.

So.... I hear you're an expert in lego building. (6/12/2010)

This very funny follow-up comment from fellow-reader Pauleta H. is so true!

Since about 1996 or 1997, I have been a Lego Maniac™. Mostly I design and build castles, although I also invite children over to play. They have fabulous imaginations, and I have been known to file the serial numbers off their ideas and incorporate them into my own castles.
In short, I have spent the time, the effort, and the money to develop the skill necessary to support a reputation as an expert Lego builder. Now, if I had been working on Greek instead…


Copyright 2007, 2010, 2011, 2015 by Regina L. Hunter. This page has been prepared for the web site by Deanna Rains.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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