Interdenominational Protestant Seminary Inaugurated in Jerusalem (VIDEO REPORT)
The institution prides itself on being the only English-speaking Protestant seminary in the land of Israel
Among the plethora of biblical, religious and educational institutions located in Jerusalem, it’s no small distinction that the Jerusalem Seminary prides itself on being the only English-speaking Protestant seminary in the land of Israel. Dedicated to teaching the Hebraic roots of Christianity, the seminary is committed to revisiting the connection between the land, its language, and Hebraic roots.
Recently, under the banner of “One Seminary, Three Schools,” its faculty, students and supporters came together in its Jerusalem facility to launch the first arm, the School of the Bible. The other schools are the School of Graduate Studies and the School of Hebrew.
Dedicated to placing the words of the Bible in the physical setting of the land, the institution’s philosophy is described in its literature as one seminary offering three schools that are “grounded in the Hebrew Bible and New Covenant Scriptures” in Jerusalem itself.
Traditional, modular and online course models attract students from around the world. On Wednesday evening at their urban setting along a major Jerusalem thoroughfare that connects the west part of Jerusalem to the eastern neighborhoods in and around the Old City, a small and enthusiastic group comprising Jerusalem Seminary administrators, teachers, students and supporters gathered to celebrate an endowment that will enable the school to solidify its three-school vision.
An online syllabus of courses ranging from “Biblical Hebrew as a Living Language” to the study of Gospel and Christian worship in a Jewish context, the seminary’s offerings celebrate its commitment to teaching what participants at the dedication program called “the inseparable connection between the land and the language of the Bible.”
According to President-elect Brian Kvasnica, early plans anticipated full use of its Jerusalem facility for in-person learning by this time, but the default to online study became necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, buoyed by its present successful enrollments and a growing presence on Haneviim Street, Kvasnica shared an optimistic note when he told The Media Line that he expected both in-house and online student bodies to grow, feeding vigorously off of what he called “a seismic shift and re-grounding of seminary education.”
According to Dr. Gerald McDermott, chair of Anglican Divinity (retired) at Beeson Divinity School, while the latter is a formidable task, it provides a cogent example of the need for offering English-language study. Addressing the gathering, McDermott spoke of the dramatic turnarounds in support and sustainability experienced by leading divinity schools. Among his examples, he cited a 2018 study documenting a loss of half of seminary enrollment in the short span of a decade. But rather than offering a silver lining, McDermott told The Media Line in an email that “things are worse today, three years later.”
Asked what a Protestant seminary teaching in English brings to the mix, McDermott unhesitatingly addressed the controversial issue of “supersessionism” — often referred to as “replacement theology,” the two ideas differing over the matter of whether the Jews were replaced or superseded by the church in their position before God.
A Protestant seminary, according to McDermott, “is more likely to question the long Christian history of supersessionism that has taught that in God’s affection the Gentile church has superseded or replaced Jewish Israel.” He opined to The Media Line that “since English is now the world’s lingua franca, an English language seminary has greater ability to reach the whole world in appeal and outreach.”
If Kvasnica’s predictions bear fruit, the Jerusalem Seminary will be doubling its student body to more than than 100 students globally over the next year and tripling it one year later.