Why Learn the Biblical Languages at Eternity?
As Mark blogged about previously, we’re excited to roll out an online Greek and Hebrew program at Eternity. Mark talked about the benefits of learning Greek and Hebrew, which I recommend you read. I’ll emphasize a point he made in passing.
Most people think that we should study the languages in order to be more accurate in our theology and translation. While that is a good reason, you shouldn’t expect after learning one year of Greek or Hebrew to be correcting your ESV or NASB!
Why do we learn the languages then? Because we want to see the emphasis of the original author. By studying Greek and Hebrew we are better able to see what the author is emphasizing and where he is going in his argument. We’re better able to understand the point of his sentence, paragraph, and book. It’s not that it isn’t there in the English translations, but sometimes it’s much harder to see the intention of the author without the original languages.
I want to answer a different question, though: Why would I want to learn Greek and Hebrew at Eternity? What makes our program different than all the other ways out there to study Greek and Hebrew?
Mark began with the most obvious reason that sets our program apart, that these are go-at-your-own-pace classes. One of the biggest hindrances I’ve seen over the last eight years of teaching Greek and Hebrew is that students are not all at the same place. Some pick up language more naturally than others, while some are able to devote much more time than others. Yet in a traditional class, we have to go at one pace. We shoot for the middle and hope the slow students can catch up and the fast students don’t get too bored.
But another major benefit of how we are teaching the languages at Eternity has to do with pedagogy (our philosophy of how to teach the languages). Now, while we cannot claim that our pedagogy is completely unique and there are other language classes that teach the languages based upon modern linguistic theory, this is a benefit of learning the languages here. Without getting into the details, we teach the languages based upon understanding how the language works rather than rote memorization of all the possible forms of words. Now, of course this doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to memorize when learning a language, but by using well established linguistic theory, we are able to cut down on unnecessary rote memorization and to teach the languages in a way that will stick with the student. We emphasize getting into the text quickly and learning the language through practice.
This gets into the part of the classes that I am personally most excited about. Having a background in Computer/Electrical Engineering, I have written a computer program that allows students to interactively look at the forms of Greek and Hebrew words. They can click on the various parts of the word, and the program will tell them what those various parts mean. There are also charts in the program that get marked up for each different part of the word. When you incorrectly identify a part of the word, the program is able to identify what part of the word you didn’t notice and will highlight that for you. We are excited that we will be giving the program away for free to all of our students who sign up for the languages! This allows students to practice identifying Greek and Hebrew words at home, which is what is needed. You can take a quick look at some screenshots at scrolltag.com/trainer.
Put that together with full length lectures online with many hours of instructional videos, access to the professor, and an affordable price, and we are praying that many will take the jump to studying and understanding God’s Word in greater depth!