Does the bible belong to the Academy or to the Church?
I know, the question is a false dichotomy; it is not an either-or proposition. I get that, but as far as I can tell, those who own the bible are of the Academy. Like a great athlete who owns the court and his lesser opponents, the Academy dominates in biblical studies. The few outstanding exceptions (where ministers hold their own with the Academy) actually prove the rule because, “a stated exception implies the existence of a rule to which it is the exception.”
If you are a minister of the word, I hope you would wish to be the exception to the rule. If you want to advance the Word with real proficiency — which I am sure your parishioners wish you to do — then take a page from the Frank Moore Cross playbook (Dr. Cross dominates, and is of the highest rank in the academy):
I think biblical scholars… should have broad training in a whole group of languages, particularly comparative Semitic philology and the history of the Hebrew language… You should do enough archaeology to be able to read archaeological literature critically. You should know enough ancient history so that you’re not lost. You should be able to check a cuneiform text if you have to. In short, you should not be restricted if you have to move in another direction… you should have enough training in Greek so that you can bring your Greek up to the point of using it in textual criticism… you have to have the necessary equipment, the necessary languages and the necessary tools, the necessary historiographic theory to operate. Otherwise, it seems to me, you are constantly at the mercy of the secondary literature. You control nothing on your own. I don’t like what comes out of that–you continue to rely on old paradigms that are antiquated.
If you are a minister, and you are not up to this, then I know your answer to the first question. In fact, you are on the bench watching the Academy own the court.
This subject is not a matter of smart pastors, but of worship. Biblical proficiency is for the praise of Christ and is Worship leadership. Leading in Worship means advancing the Word of Christ by his Word.