I’d like to do something different than what Chris has (see his post for the background- and by the by, I’ve never heard of the people he’s responding to except the Duane guy – so this isn’t really part of that meme. I’m just using it as a launching pad).
So, what languages must people know? I’m going to answer in parts-
Part One- Pastors
Pastors need to know the Biblical languages: Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. At a minimum. No pastor worth his salt will ‘kiss the beloved through a sheet’ and come away satisfied and none can expound the biblical text without being able to read it.
Part Two- Old Testament Scholars
These folk need to know Hebrew, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Eblaitic, and Greek.
Part Three- New Testament Scholars
Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, Coptic, and Latin
Part Four- Text Critics
These need to know the relevant ancient languages of the text they are examining. If an OT text, than all those which the OT scholar masters plus those of the NT scholar plus at least German and French. If a NT text critic then, frankly, many more (since the NT is attested in numerous languages from up to the 5th century CE).
All of the languages listed by section above are the bare minimum for each. It really is necessary to read one or more modern language as well so that one can keep up with developments in one’s field and not be shackled to the narrow parochialism so common of pastors and academics in North America.
Without mastery of the requisite languages, pastors will be deficient, and academics will be as well, incapable of understanding that which they profess to be explaining to others.