October 26, 2011
For the first time in North America, spoken Greek was heard as it was in biblical times.
Brian Schultz, assistant professor of biblical and religious studies at Fresno Pacific University, and Randall Buth, director of the Biblical Language Center, led 24 participants from 10 states and two African countries in a New Testament Greek workshop August 3-11.
These scholars did more than translate texts and discuss grammar in sessions at California State University, Fresno. They brought New Testament Greek to life by speaking it.
“One learns a language best when one can hear it spoken and then tries to speak it oneself,” Schultz said. “However, since New Testament Greek is a dead language, it is no longer spoken, even by professors. This is what these scholars would like to change: they wish to learn to speak it fluently in order to teach New Testament Greek in an immersion environment just like modern languages are taught.”
Participants ranged from clergy and university faculty to middle-school teachers. Institutions represented included Denver Seminary, Colorado; Urshan Graduate School of Theology, Florissant, MO; Houghton (NY) College; Denton (TX) Bible Church; and St. Thomas Episcopal School, Houston, TX.
“I had no clear idea of what to expect,” said A. Philip Brown II, professor at God’s Bible School and College, Cincinnati, OH. “I was highly skeptical that I would bring home much more than a few nifty items, such as choruses or perhaps some stories in Greek.”
But the workshop revolutionized Brown’s thinking, “Metaphorically speaking, I parked in the garage a highly effective, smoothly running, finely-tuned Greek grammar-translation approach…to strike off into the virtually uncharted territory of living language learning,” he said.
Teaching language through story telling inspired Lee M. Fields, professor of Bible and theology and chair of the biblical studies department at Mid-Atlantic Christian University, Elizabeth City, NC. “We were taught new vocabulary as preparation for a story, and then a simple, but engaging, story was told. We discussed the story in the language.”