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Biblical Languages


One of the things about the BA course in Theology at Cliff College which excites me is the provision it makes for the teaching of the biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek.

Perhaps I should stress at the outset that these subjects are not compulsory, and if your interests are in different fields, or if you feel that learning an ancient language is more than you can cope with, then no one is going to require you to study them while you are at the College, but for those who feel up to it, and are interested, Cliff can take you to the highest levels of proficiency in either language.

Why do I say tat these courses excite me? Partly because I teach New Testament Greek at Cliff College myself, and have taught Hebrew at other colleges in the past, but partly also because I really believe that knowing one or both of the biblical languages is a great benefit in all kinds of ways. Let me name four:

To begin with, I find it to be a blessing to be in direct touch with the actual words which the biblical authors wrote, especially in view of the fact that we believe that it was the original text of Scripture which God inspired rather than any particular translation. I personally use the Greek text of the New Testament in my morning devotions every day, because I find that I can get inside the mind of the author, and thereby inside the mind of God, more fully than is possible through any English translation.

Secondly, the capacity to read the original text gives one the capacity to weigh up the value of different translations of the Bible. There is a large variety of translations of the Bible in English today, and often in house groups one finds that the members bring their own versions and puzzle together over their differences without knowing which version to trust the more. It is of great value to be in a position to evaluate the different translations, to see which ones stand closer to the original text and which have taken liberties with it in the interests of interpretation. Knowing the biblical languages gives one that capacity.

Thirdly, knowledge of the biblical languages opens the door on a whole range of scholarship which remains virtually closed to those who are nor familiar with them. The whole science of textual criticism, for example, which enables the student to assess the worth of variant readings within the manuscript tradition, is within reach of those who can handle the biblical languages. So are many commentaries and other works of biblical scholarship which assume a working knowledge of Hebrew and/or Greek.

Fourthly, as John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, once said: ‘What I learn, that I teach'. The benefits of knowing the biblical languages are not just for ourselves, but are to be shared with others. Particularly if you are called to be a preacher, you will have ample opportunity to share the special knowledge you have derived from studying the biblical languages with others, so that they also may enter into some of the riches you have discovered.

Truly there are great benefits to be had from studying the biblical languages, and Cliff College is a place where you can be helped to learn them.

- Rev. Dr Peter Ensor




How Many Friends Have You Really Got?

Five minutes goes by and I get out my Iphone, open up my Facebook app and check if I have any new wall posts, hoping that someone has sent me a message or ‘liked' my status. What did I do before Facebook? How did I stay in contact with my friends before I had them all at the click of a mouse or the tap of the keyboard?


Have you ever missed an event or not turned up to something because it wasn't on Facebook. I even rely on Facebook to tell me when my families' birthdays are. Social networking sites like Facebook have changed the way we live our lives. This has great implications for the church.

The pace and way of life is increasingly shaped by the technology we create and utilize. The way we communicate is often the basis for relationships, community and culture. New, powerful ways of communicating affect and transform the way we interact with each other in our schools, colleges and places of work. The internet and social networking sites, like Facebook, have a big potential to allow Christians to share our faith in new relevant way. They also have their dangers.

We can sometimes become so reliant on Facebook that we miss out on building relationships in person. Many times I get home from seeing my mates only to realize I'd forgotten how much I love spending time with them face to face. Nothing beats it.  While Facebook is a powerful tool, it doesn't replace the quality time that comes from hanging out with your mates and doing what you love best together.

We only need to look at the bible to see that words are powerful used in the right way, at a distance or face to face. Facebook gives us the ability to be involved in many lives across many worlds. What we do with this technology will shape the future of our relationships with one another and the way we interact with God. Your status, your wall posts and your comments demonstrate who you are and what you believe in. What have you posted in the last few weeks? What does say about your life and your world? What does it say about your bond with God?

If we use Facebook as a way of challenging people's attitude towards God then it can be a powerful tool. If we use it as replacement for relationship it becomes a poor imitation of friendship.

Ali Johnson




Cliff Saddened by Loss


Tony Sullivan

Staff, students and committee members of Cliff College were saddened to hear of the tragic death of Tony Sullivan who was a member of our College Committee. Tony died in a helicopter accident on Sunday November 15th. Rev Dr Christopher Blake, the College Principal said, "Tony was an active and important member of our governing committee. He had a particular interest in the maintenance and development of our College buildings and he would regularly and generously offer his professional and business expertise to advise the Committee when decisions had to be made on these often very complex matters. His wise insights, his infectious smile, his strong Christian faith and his commitment to the life of the College will all be greatly missed. We are deeply thankful for all that Tony has done for the College and we are praying for Gerry and the other members of his family as they grieve."

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