Sunday School Greek
The premise, put forward by Hank of Think Wink, and warmly received by the ESV Bible blog is that eveyone in the church could learn Greek and Hebrew in Sunday School. And then people could decide for themselves all the sticky translation issues. The democratization of exegesis! We might wake up one day and find out that the world really is flat. As Hank says,
- the whole fuss over dynamic vs. formal equivalent would go away because the people would have the ability to look up exactly what the word means and how the word was used. People could then make the decision over which translation is best in that particular verse, phrase, or word.
Let me recount a little of my own experience here. I am an overqualified literacy specialist, being trained both as a Reading Recovery practitioner and also in policy through the, ahem, Marshall McLuhan Centre (of goodness knows what - communication, I think.) I am a little embarassed by both of these qualifications, but in this case, let me say, someone should be qualified.
First, as a literacy teacher, I have taken the two illiterate 10 year old children who were brought to me in Sept. up to the level where they can now read about Shackleton's Antarctic Expedition. I am an eternal optimist when it comes to children reading. Children in our school are rarely refered to special programs if they can be sent in my direction first.
Second, I once attempted to teach Greek to adults in a Sunday School situation. It was a 2 hour session on a Wed. evening. Me, the teacher who can teach anyone how to read, who never loses a child, emptied my class in less than 5 weeks. That was it - my clientele of adults disappeared, evaporated. It was the most humiliating failure of my life that I was not able to make Greek easy enough for the average non-university trained adult.
In fact, I studied Greek every day for 7 years to attain what I consider to be the most mediocre level, an amateur level of skill in the Greek language. I did not study the scriptures in Greek so much as the language itself. However, I didn't spend years of my life functioning only in Greek so I don't actually speak Greek.
The first Sunday Schools were indeed vehicles of literacy, a venue for teaching children and adults how to read their own langauge, but they were never a place where one could learn to read an entirely new language. There is difference!
But, one might say, now we have software! As a teacher who uses technology quite a bit, I am always cautious, and never of the opinion that technology replaces traditional learning. I was amused recently, and flattered I might add, at the honest attempt of one blogger to recreate my Junia study using software. He soon bogged down.
I couldn't help but speak out on these issues since literacy and digital literacy are, in fact, my daytime job, and Greek is my playtime. I hope that those who think that anyone can be a biblical languages specialist and make all their own translation decisions will accept this word of caution.
Thanks for posting about this Hank. Many people have the same thoughts.