You, too, can be a Bible scholar

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

7 thoughts on “You, too, can be a Bible scholar

  1. Rich Dixon

    And we no longer have any excuses. Don’t have to take classes or buy books or trek to dusty libraries or trust the priest, minister, or pastor. It’s all right behind that keyboard, limited only by how much I want to look. It was easier when I could blame guys like you when I didn’t know stuff…but not nearly as cool.


    1. Jon Swanson

      I know. and I’m happy to be blamed, in part because of not letting you know that you can dig in yourself. And in part by not being even more proactive in giving tools and telling you that you already have permission. Thanks Rich


  2. Hugh McDevitt

    Jon, any chance we could have an offline discussion about bible reading and study? I’ve been thinking about what I could change in my current routine and would like to bounce some thoughts off you.



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