I was recently told that there is not much of a future in my line of work in my country (Sweden). This was not the first time I hear this.
Semitists in general are unasked for and Hebraists seem particularly unwanted.
I am told that unless one ‘diversifies’ professionally with theology, then there is not much I could do with Hebrew in this country. As if we are not all called to have our theology straight as Christians. Apparently I must become a professional Christian… 🙂
Well, the key word apparently is “my country (Sweden)” for I’m told I would stand greater chances elsewhere – that is in the truly English speaking world, or as the French would say, in the world ‘Anglo-Saxon’.
Why is that? In many other countries Hebrew is more than a grossly unnecessary, long dead language which happens to be the language of the largely irrelevant Old Testament.
In other countries Hebrew is a profoundly Christian language. Hebrew is considered even more Christian among the Semitic languages than even Syriac and Ge’ez.
This is because there is a Christian culture , scholarly and popular, of the Old Testament being foundational for the understanding of the only trinitarian God and for his promised Gospel (good news). The OT is not considered a loose and obscure prelude to the ‘real thing’.
This Christian culture does not feel the need to, at every cost, approach the OT ‘scientifically’ by assuming, like secular scholarship, that Christ has nothing to do with the OT since OT is B.C. Rather, this culture acknowledges the Christ-centered nature of the Old Testament, and does not fail to see the marks of this in the Hebrew language.
Therefore Hebrew is important, relevant, interesting, exciting – you name it.
So, if God calls me for service in Sweden, there is some preparation of that ground that needs doing.
Attitudes need to change towards the OT and thus people’s grasp what the Bible is about, who God is and so on.
When this happens it will be a source of excitement for many in their Christian lives.
And they will want to learn some Hebrew…
But, how does one bring about these kind of long term attitudes in a nation? Any takers?