Greek, Part I
I gave the first part of my Greek for “church people” class yesterday. There were just four students, but they were enthusiastic, which makes all the difference. It turns out that they are each from a different country and at some point have had to operate in a second language, so explaining the importance of language was very easy. It also helped provide examples of the difficulty of translating a word from one language so that it has meaning in another.
Being my first time teaching a class of this sort, I had no idea what would grab people’s interest and what would be easier or harder to learn. So I put in a little of everything—history, the alphabet, pronunciation, grammar, formation of the New Testament—with the goal of reading some of John 1 and pointing out key words and their meanings. The students seemed very interested in all of it, and asked some very insightful questions I was not anticipating.
One man would ask really good questions that I could only guess at, then later in the class he would come up with a great answer on his own. It made me realize that the person teaching has a lot to learn from the students, and the role of a teacher is to provide a space for everyone to learn from each other. This became more clear to me as one student laid out in detail the grammatical rules in Spanish for accenting, syllables, etc., then asked me if Greek does the same thing. At times I could just smile and nod and say, “Yes, you’ve got the right idea.” (Spanish class was many years ago!)
So, four hours of Greek went surprisingly fast, leaving me now to think about next week’s class (the last class). I want to introduce some key grammatical concepts we didn’t cover yesterday, but that the students were asking about. One student told me he is interested in studying more on his own, so I think I will explain more about the tools for Bible study using Greek, and give resources so that they can keep learning.
The impression I’m left with is how there are people in the churches that are hungry to know things we are learning in seminary, but don’t have the same opportunity to study in-depth, as we do. I think the teaching ministry in churches is crucial, especially when there is so much that leaders learn from interacting intellectually with the congregation. Yet at least in many churches I’ve been in, it’s underdeveloped. This is something I hope to change.