For a while now I have started to pick up on how people treat you differently when you get some sort of Bible education. I’m assuming that most of this treatment comes from 1 Hezekiah 7:11 which says, “Everyone who studies the Bible must be treated differently.” Okay that was a joke, it’s not really in the Bible. Please understand the tone in this post is not critical, but comical.
1. You will have to pray at every gathering.
At first it is kind of nice. You get a chance to pray with a bunch of people and bring requests before God. How can you complain about that? Then the jokes start. “Oh, you have studied, so you’re probably better at this than I am.” “You’re going to be doing this a lot more, so you’d better get practice at doing it.” I love praying, but an education doesn’t automatically make you the designated prayer. My degree is in the Bible, not sanctification.
2. People will expect you to have a sermon prepared everywhere you go.
“Would you like to share something?” That’s a question that gets commonly asked. And to be honest, yes I would like to share something and yes I do have something prepared. But that’s not the point! The point is that it shouldn’t be expected. Like someone who brings a housewarming gift 5 years after you move in, so should the expectation of having me share something. I’ve done it, and I will continue to do it, but don’t expect it.
3. People automatically assume you love hummus
“You studied the Bible. People in the middle east enjoy hummus. Therefore you must enjoy hummus.” I think that is about as rational as the trail of thought goes. And of course I enjoy hummus. I would have to be an odd person not to enjoy hummus. But it has nothing to do with my education.
4. People will remind you constantly that you won’t be making a lot of money.
“What’s your degree in?” “Oh there’s not a lot of money in that field.” Yeah it’s true. I know it, you know it, society knows it. Bible education doesn’t provide money, but it does cost money. (On a more serious note, I am stoked about not having to care too much about how much I will make. I am confident that God through His Church will take care of me wherever I am at). Also, how do you carry on conversation or correct someone who tells you that without sounding like a jerk? My move is to now announce that I won’t be making a lot of money right after I state my education.
5. If you have any kind of beard, you will be compared to a Bible Character or some Theologian.
“Nice beard, Jesus.” “Hey look, it’s Moses.” “Move over John Calvin.” “Dude, I think that guy is dressed as Iranaeus!” These are all things people will say to you when you study the Bible. I’ve been careful to keep my beard styled and trimmed and I still get told that I look like Moses. Maybe it’s the robe.
6. People will buy you and bring you books.
Nothing wrong with this one. It’s just a fact. It’s something I’ve enjoyed as a book someone loves definitely says a lot about them. People will bring you books and sometimes it’s in the middle of school, midterms, finals, essays, etc. But you know what? I love it. It would be almost impossible to get an education in the Bible and hate reading.
7. You’re expected to know everything about the Bible.
When you don’t know everything about the Bible it shocks people. I’ll never forget the first time this happened. Someone came up to me and said, “What do you think about Leviticus 5:8.” And I said, “I don’t know, what does it say?” Then they gave me that look. The look that a child gives you when you tell them Santa Clause doesn’t exist. That emptiness and hopelessness just overcomes their face. There’s nothing you can do to bring them back. You begin to urge them, “Can we look at it together?” But it’s too late. They run away to try to find comfort in being alone. You have failed them. You are expected to know everything and it can be strange to people when they discover that you don’t know everything.
8. You find out in your first semester that you really don’t know anything.
I probably shared this in another post, but it’s still true. That first semester shocks you. People throw words at you like metanarrative, commentary, library, etc. and you have no idea what category to put them in. So you just use them carelessly in papers. Also you have to write a lot. I mean a lot! This should probably be its own point, but I’ll fit it in here. The Bible major should at least give you an English minor.
9. You have a love/hate relationship with Greek.
Here’s something people won’t tell you. Greek in Bible school is hard. I remember at my first day of Greek, which is supposed to be syllabus day, two bombshells were dropped on me.
1. This is ancient Greek and is way harder than normal Greek. You will not be able to go to Greece and speak it there. This is a dead language.
2. You need to have the alphabet memorized in two days.
To be honest, it wasn’t until my last two semesters that I valued the Greek that had become so difficult in my studies. I still haven’t had a Gyro since I started my Bible education.
10. You fight hard to apply theology and the rest of your education.
This has nothing to do with the curriculum, your professors, or theology at all. When you study the Bible, you need to study theology. When you study theology, you need to apply it. You cannot read the Bible without theology. If you do not have a good theology when you approach the Bible, then you will not be reading it as you should. Yet what can be difficult is that theology can become an end in itself. It is a constant battle to apply theology. My professors have been great at helping me (and the rest of their students) with this exact problem. God is transcendent. He is so far above and so much greater than us. This is a theological truth. Yet if we do not apply this to our lives, then we have made theology an end in itself. Theology without application is a terribly dangerous road. It seems hard to connect the two at times, but the work is necessary for your own sanctification.
–Andrew “A.J.” Bessey