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Apolena Whinery


Member since January 14, 2014

  • Father_177_

    In the first class I took in seminary, the professor made an almost casual suggestion that remains perhaps the single most important piece of advice I received in my theological education. For every semester of seminary, he said, we should read the works of one Church Father to become grounded in the great tradition. At the time, I was a 23-year-old kid with a calling to ministry, but little else. I assumed the only text I needed in seminary was the Bible and, to that point, my theological reading had consisted of the writings of a couple of guys named Joshua. I had no idea who these Fathers were.

    Now a professor of theology myself, I have come to see that my experience as a young seminarian is anything but unique. Most Protestants I meet, whether in the classroom or in the local church, are unacquainted with the writings of the Church Fathers. Piously, we might say this ignorance stems from a sola scriptura methodological principle that remains a part of the Protestant DNA. However, the Protestants I know who are intentional about discipleship read voraciously from the best seller list of their local Christian bookstore and rarely interpret Scripture without reference to their Bible’s footnotes. It seems we read plenty of things to help us understand the meaning of Scripture. Unfortunately, however, most Protestants do not look behind the twenty-first century, much less the sixteenth, for their interpretive guides. Thankfully, I had a professor who led me elsewhere, and, ta...

  • Seedbed-logo1_177_

    What I Learned About the Book of Ruth from Biblical Hebrew

    During my time in seminary, I had the joy (or pain, depending on who you ask) of taking several semesters of Biblical Hebrew. As a student, I encountered many who were either genuinely scared of learning the language or didn’t see a point to it. These feelings are completely understandable. Learning a modern language (much less one that is a few thousand years old) can be a daunting task. Additionally, most pastors will dig into the Word and preach in their native language, not the original biblical languages. But, should these reasons keep someone from learning the biblical languages? Absolutely not!

    After completing my Hebrew courses, I came away with a stronger passion not just for Biblical Hebrew itself but also for what it reveals about the Old Testament, especially the book of Ruth. Ruth is both one of the easiest books to read in Hebrew and yet the most professionally written. While only four chapters long, there is so much meaning in the Hebrew that is lost in the various translations out today. Here are just a few of the smaller things I learned about Ruth from knowing Biblical Hebrew:

    1) Elimelech and Naomi’s “sojourning” in 1:1 was more than just fleeing a famine.

    The word used for “sojourn” indicates a more permanent move with an intent to assimilate into the Moabite culture.

    2.) The names of Elimelech and Naomi’s sons, Mahlon and Chilion, likely meant “Sickly” and “Weakling.”...