The demonstration of a working knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew will no longer be a requirement in order to complete the examination successfully. When exams are graded, the readers will comment on the language facility which is demonstrated in the paper. Such comments will be offered as guidance for Committees on Preparation for Ministry in determining readiness for ministry.
Don’t quite have the conhones to send this via the postal service, but I thought i would share with the 3 readers of this blog (ps–I am also in a very sarcastic, exhausted and frustrated mood, so it is also smart not to mail ((or blog for that matter)) in these states). New Exegesis Grading
I just came across the grading change for the PC(USA)’s Biblical Exegesis exam. I am greatly bothered by this change and wanted to express that to the PCCEC. I believe you all should reconsider the change:
The demonstration of a working knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew will no longer be a requirement in order to complete the examination successfully.
As Princeton Theological Seminary student who had taken Ancient Greek courses in undergrad and having received As in my Summer Greek, Exegesis of Luke and other original language courses, I felt I was well prepared to write my exegesis exam on Jesus’ Temptation in Luke during the Fall of 2006. Unfortunately and to my surprise, I received a failing grade due to my failure to show working knowledge of the original language.
I share this to say that through the process of failing and having to retake the exam, not only did my academic ability to adequately exegete a passage, and articulate it in such a manner to show proficiency increase but also my understanding of faith and ordination. While having to wait 6 months to retake the exam provided temporary stress and frustration in my family as we sought our first call, I was greatly challenged as to what it means to be called into ordained ministry.
Certainly, I would commend some change, such as having only Ministers of Word and Sacrament or qualified elders, who have knowledge of the original language, be graders, but by diluting the examination process of candidates and expecting a local CPM to assess the working knowledge of a candidate diminishes our responsibility and call to ministry.
Ordination is not a right; it is something that challenges, that sends us into uncomfortable and strange environments (my failing a language exam was unknown territory for me), and at times seems “unfair.”
The third question on the PC(USA) website shows the essential problem with this grading change. Of course it is reasonable to expect a qualified candidate to retain—or at the very least relearn—the basics of translation and exegesis. If they have not maintained a working knowledge of the language, should they not be told to retake an exam once they have undertaken adequate retraining and study?
Are we so concerned about the lack of qualified ministers, preachers and pastors in our denomination that we are willing to lower our standards with regard to an examination about a fundamental aspect of Presbyterianism?
This exam addresses a central piece of Reformed Theology, namely the Word. As Ministers of the Word and Sacrament we must ordain ministers who are able to engage and exegete scriptural passages from their original language and the examination process is a part of that responsibility. It should not be solely left to the CPMs. For example, the biblical examination question I received at CPM—having failed my initial exegesis exam—was, “which book of the Bible do you wish was not included?” Is that suffeceint mark of my readiness for preaching?
We are people who gather around and are sent by the Word, and to pass inquirers and candidates who are not prepared or proficient in interpreting Scripture from its original language only further diminishes our denomination’s ability to article God’s message to the world.
I ask that the PCCEC seriously reconsider its role in the examination and ordination process rather than sending that responsibility to the local CPMs.
Rev. Wesley Barry
2007 PTS Graduate
2006 Failure of Exegesis Exam