DALLAS—Easter and Christmas pageants in ancient Greek? Texas college students texting each other in the language of Paul’s day? A Chihuahua that obeys the command to sit—when she hears it said the way the apostle Peter would have?
This is the not-so-far off world of Daniel Streett, associate professor of Greek and New Testament at Criswell College. Along with a handful of others worldwide, Streett is paving the way for his students to learn New Testament Greek the way other students learn modern Spanish, French, or German—as a living, oral language. Through simple commands, such as sit, stand, walk, the use of common objects and everyday phrases, as well as pictures and games like Jeopardy and UNO, Streett brings not only learning and fluency to the classroom, but also fun.
“This method keeps the students engaged and enthusiastic,” Streett said. “They find that Greek class is actually fun, and they begin to get a feel for the language. . . .
I thought the author (Clinton Wolf) did a great job capturing the spirit of the method. He is well-acquainted with immersion methods for language learning as he has served abroad as a missionary in numerous foreign-language contexts and has come to discover a) what it means to really know a language, as opposed to knowing about a language, b) how long it takes to achieve true proficiency in a language, even in an immersive environment (hint: a lot longer than we give our students in first-year Greek!), and c) how absolutely necessary it is to be communicatively proficient in a language in order to understand its texts and concepts.