Dr Wes is a Bible scholar.
When I got my first full-time college teaching job, he had been teaching there as long as I had been alive. He helped translate part of the New International Version. He taught Greek and Hebrew and Romans and Theology.
I once sat in a meeting where people were discussing his paper about a specific theological idea. For 90 minutes, Dr Wes answered questions. People pointed to specific passages of the Bible in a thoughtful way. He knew them in the English translations, but also in the original languages (Greek or Hebrew). He traced themes of reasoning through the whole Bible, in three languages, with reference to a couple traditions of interpretation.
I sat in awe.
I’ve thought about how cool it would be to be a Bible scholar like that. To know that much, to have that much facility.
In a sermon on Sunday, I talked about Nehemiah 8. I explored a question I had about the story: “why were the people crying?” It was an interesting question to pursue, one that ended up taking me through the whole story of the Old Testament. It was a blast.
And I realized that the way to become a Bible scholar like Dr Wes is to be a Bible scholar like Dr Wes. It’s a lifelong devotion to learning as much as you can. It’s continuing to teach Hebrew long after retirement because it keeps your understanding of Hebrew fresh.
All it takes to be a Bible scholar is studying the Bible. Not just reading it, studying it. Being astonished by the way that idea connects to that idea. Talking to the author. Being curious about what that thought means. It’s studying to understand rather than reading for obligation. I’ve done both.
One’s harder. And cooler.
You can listen to the sermon if you want: After the wall is done