Dr. Black posted a list of seven pieces of advice for new seminarians here (8-26-14 at 7:28PM). Item number five naturally caught my attention. He writes:
Take the languages first. Yes, I recognize that Greek and Hebrew are not usually prerequisites for theology courses or even for NT and OT Introduction. But if your professor is anything like me, you will be hearing lots of Greek and Hebrew in even the most basic general ed classes, and the more of the discussion you can follow, the better.
I couldn’t agree more. Writing a hermeneutics paper, theology paper, or sermon becomes cumbersome without an intimate familiarity with the biblical languages. Most of the best resources available interact with—at least to some degree—the biblical languages.
The only caveat I might add—and this is true of every course you take—ask around the campus to find out which biblical language professor inspires a profound love of that language in their students. Few things are worse than learning a foreign language from someone who isn’t excited about the material he is teaching and isn’t dedicated to instilling that excitement and passion in his or her students.
If the professor you want isn’t available for Greek, take Hebrew first. If the professor you want for Hebrew isn’t available, take Greek first. In any case, take the biblical languages early, learn them, and keep them. They will forever shape you in your future studies and ministries.
I would even recommend learning Modern Hebrew on duolingo or some such software before you even go to seminary. The retention skills that come from knowing a language as a living language are indispensable.