Learning Greek Is Only for Professional Scholars, Right?
Most people think that learning Greek and Hebrew is NOT for the common man. Three factors strengthen this belief:
- Methodology. Since the middle ages most people have taught Greek with what is called the “Grammar-Translation Method”. This method treats the language more like a code you’ve got to learn to crack, rather than something you use and enjoy. With this method you’re swiftly introduced to complicated paradigms that you have to learn through rote memorization. In a lot of ways it feels like doing mathematics. In other words, it’s not at all like the way you learned to speak your mother tongue as a child. For most people it’s just too intimidating, so they leave it to the “professionals.”
- Insufficient technology means that for centuries there has been no way for one person to teach millions of people (like you can on YouTube today). You could print a book that teaches people, but because of the intimidation factor, most people wouldn’t buy your book, and if they did, they wouldn’t end up using it. Languages are learned best with a teacher who shows you how to use the language, so that you hear it a lot, see the context it’s being used in to get a feel for how it works and practise using the language. You just can’t do that with a textbook. On top of that problem, books appeal to literary cultures, not oral cultures. And 70% of the world’s cultures are oral. That means that the vast majority of Christians in the world don’t come from a culture that’s used to learning things from books.
- Expense: Only in the last 150 years have books become affordable to normal people who live in literate cultures like the West. But in most of the rest of the world books tend to be unaffordable for the average person. Quality instruction is also expensive and until now it’s simply been too difficult and expensive for most translators in developing countries to study the biblical languages. We want to change that by making the biblical languages available to everyone in the world—for free! To learn more, read our article: Why Free?
Embracing the Future
At Alpha with Angela we’re working hard to use the new technology God has given us to teach Greek to the world in a way that works for them. Since our videos are audio-visual, fun, and immersive, they resonate with people from oral cultures. The intimidation factor is gone. And since they’re free, and always will be, there’s no cost obstacle. Finally, since they’re monolingual videos, anyone in any people group can learn, without having to know English.
Actually, Learning Languages Is Normal
We now live in a world where learning languages is normal. There are hundreds of millions of active users just on Duolingo, one of the most popular language learning apps. Most people in the world have to use two or more languages to function in their daily life, and they’re used to learning new languages. Learning a new language is like learning lots of other skills which people do all the time.
Playing an instrument is a difficult skill to master, just like a language, but millions of people still learn all over the world. So if people are spending so much time learning instruments and other languages, why not learn Greek and Hebrew? It’s totally possible if we help each other and make quality teaching available for free!
Use your time wisely
Timesaving technology allows more people than ever to learn new things. Education was a luxury for people in the middle ages, but now it’s possible for more people than ever. Trillions of hours of free time will be spent on something each year. Why not make it learning the languages of the Bible? You may find yourself discovering the joy of exploring God’s Word in its original form, growing in your love for Him as you do so!