In my first semester at Bible college I had to take a course on Old Testament Survey. I was expecting it to be boring and obscure. Up till that point I mostly thought the Old Testament was in the Bible to just provide some interesting stories for Sunday School until we got to “the more important stuff” in the New Testament. However, my professor for this class demonstrated from the very beginning his deep passionate enthrallment with the Hebrew Bible (in case you didn’t realize the “Hebrew Bible” is another way of referring to the Old Testament :-). His hair would begin combed neatly and by the end of class it would be completely disheveled because of his excited lectures and discussions…and his hands and sleeves would be covered in chalk from all his writing. He made the Old Testament come alive for me.
The next semester was my first real introduction to the Hebrew language (which was nothing more than learning the alphabet, some discussion of tenses and sentence structure, and how to use basic research resources for it). One of the things that most strikes me as I remember the professor who taught this class was when he wept while reading the apocryphal “Prayer of Manasseh” (which is not a part of the Protestant canon of the Old Testament, but is in the Catholic canon and still belongs to the overall genre of Old Testament studies). His passion for original languages was contagious and I had never seen anyone weep while reading from the scriptures (sorry…I don’t actually think of the “Prayer” as Scripture in the same sense–note the little “s”–, but it certainly is a wonderful piece of literature based upon other recognized Scriptures).
Then somewhat later in college I took an Intro to Hebrew with a brilliant professor of the Hebrew Bible (who had rather “interesting” ways of teaching…to say the least). More than anything else I took away from that class an appreciation biblical Hebrew culture (and a little modern Jewish culture mixed in). Playing dreidel (here’s a very brief description) for Hanukkah as we discussed the history of the game and various other aspects of Hebrew culture. FWIW…I won LOTS of candy that night. 🙂
Now nearing the end of my graduate studies where I’m trying to focus on Hebrew Bible (and hopefully some day earn a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible)…I’ve had opportunity to study with some very gifted Hebrew scholars who have continued to impress their love for the Book (but more importantly their love for the God of the Book) upon me.
I am truly grateful for the amazing men and women who have shared their passion with me over the years. Most of them will never know the impact they have made in my life. It has enriched my love for the LORD beyond measure and I only pray that I continue to pass on that same passionate love through my preaching, teaching and living. I look forward to as many days as the LORD may give me to draw deeply from the depths of this wonderful life-changing Book.