Sometimes choosing the path less travelled offers some surprising benefits. For Kendall Davis ’16, pursuing the Biblical Languages major at Concordia University Irvine made all the difference in his college experience. “It was the best thing I’ve done so far on my journey to becoming a pastor,” Kendall reflects.
Theology is a popular choice for students who see seminary in their future, but Concordia also offers another path. In the Biblical Languages major, Kendall took several courses in Greek and Hebrew: “You get good at reading Greek and Hebrew.” Kendall credits his language courses with giving him a strong footing for his graduate coursework at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, where he feels better prepared than many of his peers.
“The difference in skill level is stark,” says Kendall. “It really prepared me for the language portion of seminary in a way that it wouldn’t have if I had taken a different major. I can spend more time digging into the text because I’m not worried about looking up so many words. I can focus on what it actually says.”
Verb charts and vocabulary weren’t the only things Kendall mastered in the Biblical Languages program. “I learned how to read the scriptures deeply and with fresh eyes,” he says. He recalls one class, Johannine Literature, which required reading through the entire Gospel of John in Greek. “We weren’t just sitting around parsing verbs,” he says. “We were talking about what was being said and how it affects what Christ has done for us. It was academic, but we were reflecting on it spiritually. The focus is really on understanding the theology of the writers of the scriptures in their own words and their own context.”
Quite often it challenged him to examine what he thought he knew about theology. “I can’t even count how many things I had to rethink,” he says. “Sometimes it was difficult. But it was always rewarding.”
Kendall is still in contact with some of his professors, who were crucial in his decision to attend CUI. It was while he was in high school in Houston, TX, that he found out that his pastor, Rev. Charles Mallie, was an alumnus of CUI. Mallie encouraged him to visit the school. Kendall flew to Irvine to meet with faculty and was sold.
“The faculty do a good job of coming alongside and working with you, challenging you, he says. “They acted as mentors for me. Not just mentors academically, but because they’re all pastors they have a very pastoral approach in spirit.”
Kendall used his time at Concordia to pursue his other interests, as well, including a second major in Theatre. He was active in Concordia’s theatre program, performing in the stage adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel Till We Have Faces, two Shakespeare plays, and capturing lead roles in Reckless and Falling.
He also participated in the President’s Academic Showcase, an undergraduate research competition. The competition, in which he was a finalist, allows students of any discipline to research and present a topic under the guidance of a faculty mentor. “It’s an opportunity to really dig into your discipline and explore what you’re interested in outside of class,” Kendall says. “Now in grad school, I know how to do this kind of research.
Kendall says his undergraduate work in the Biblical Languages major gave him the foundation not only for seminary, but for the Ph.D. he hopes to pursue, and eventually for his role as a pastor someday. “I learned how to study the scriptures to feed myself spiritually and be prepared to teach others as well.”