Step off the stairs onto the second floor of NOBTS’ Hardin Student Center and head towards the display cases in the building’s northeastern corner. There, the journey back in time begins.
The past comes alive at the Museum of the Bible and Archaeology where displays that span centuries tell the story of the Bible and the dedicated scholarship that preserved it. Artifacts such as a 15th Century Gutenberg Bible or a 1617 King James Version, third edition, take the viewer back in time to see the text as earlier, faithful followers read it.
But that is only part of the story.
Behind the scenes, NOBTS faculty and students are at work laying down a legacy for future generations through their research with the Michael and Sara Moskau Institute of Archaeology, the Center for Archaeological Research, and the Haggard Center for New Testament Studies (CNTTS), all of which share a commitment to faithfully handle and preserve God’s word.
The scholarship and dedication to God’s word represented by those in the various fields of biblical studies testify to what it means to “Love the Lord your God … with all your mind.”
For more than 50 years, NOBTS professors have served as directors and field supervisors of several archaeological digs in Israel, working alongside students and international leaders in cutting-edge research.
Today, travel and site accessibility along with digital reproductions of manuscripts make opportunities for research abound, especially, perhaps, in the field of New Testament textual study.
“It’s an area that’s expanding,” said Dr. William “Bill” Warren, professor of New Testament and Greek, and CNTTS director. “We keep finding more manuscripts. We’ve got more and more work to be done.”
As students come, study, and work beside professors who have extensive experience visiting and working in Israel, they encounter the biblical world in new and exciting ways.
The journey to loving God “with the mind” includes learning the biblical languages, and there, NOBTS has much to offer.
A LOVE OF GREEK
When Dr. Bill Warren came to NOBTS as a student years ago, his Greek professor, Dr. Carlton Winbery, brought Greek manuscript facsimiles into class for students to hold and examine. That’s when Warren’s love of the Greek text began.
“It’s amazing to read the text in English but it’s not like studying the Bible in the original languages,” Warren said. “It just comes to life in a different way.”
Today, Warren invites his students to “handle” the fragile manuscripts digitally as they experience what it means to access, study, and research the bountiful storehouse of Greek New Testament manuscripts available for translation.
At the CNTTS, doctoral and masters-level students work alongside Warren in projects – some international – that are impacting the field of textual studies. One project, the world’s first comprehensive, searchable, electronic database of textual variants now included in the Accordance Bible Software, was produced by the CNTTS.
The CNTTS team is among the textual centers – if not the leading center – for studying Greek New Testament manuscripts in North America. The CNTTS at times collaborates with other settings such as the International Greek New Testament Project and the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, founded and directed by renowned New Testament scholar, Dr. Dan Wallace.
“We have become one of the major settings for people to be trained in the area of Greek manuscript studies for all of North America,” Warren said.
A former missionary to Colombia, pastor of a local church, and mission trip leader to Cuba yearly, Warren knows the tools students will need in ministry.
“That’s the joy of teaching,” Warren said. “It’s not just a light bulb coming on. All of a sudden a new door opens and they realize there’s more to this journey, there’s something more God can do in my life, and I’ve got another tool to help.”
FROM THE TEXT TO THE PULPIT
Dr. Archie England walked out of second-year Hebrew class one day knowing something special had happened. It was the kind of class every professor lives for – that moment when study crosses over to worship.
England called it “a theological moment of worship.”
“It’s so fantastic to see the words that are used, and the order they are in, and the significance of the stems,” England said. “The students and I were having this grand time and they left class saying, ‘I want to go preach this today.’”
Ruth’s question to Boaz in Ruth 2:10 came sharply into focus that day when England explained that the language could be better understood as, “How can you possibly like me?”
“I was able to break down the theology of biblical womanhood and biblical manhood in Old Testament Israel,” England explained. “And I was able to talk about the five classes of women in that culture, from prostitute to Israelite wife.”
Whether the class is master’s level or doctoral, first-year Hebrew or hermeneutics, England sees each as an opportunity to prepare students to carry the Gospel forward.
“What have we learned in class that’s become preachable to you?” England asks at the end of class. “What have we done that you can communicate through a Bible study?”
While students often describe England’s Hebrew classes as “demanding,” England pledges to work as hard as they do. England, who has 36 years of ministry experience and extensive study and tour time in Israel, knows this is what makes teaching a joy.
“It’s not how much Hebrew you have to do, but how much Hebrew you could do to be a better proclaimer of God’s word,” England said.
While loving God with all of one’s mind leads to scholarship, England knows ministry is what is important.
“God put me here because this school has missions and evangelism for its heart,” England said. “I have always appreciated the school’s challenge to be engaged in evangelism and sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world.”
- This series originally appeared in Vision magazine. To read the full issue online, visit https://issuu.com/neworleansseminary/docs/visionwinter2020-21.