A group of sixteen facilitators and participants recently gathered in Jerusalem (Dec 28, 2011-Jan 6, 2012) to speak Koine Greek, while reading select New Testament texts associated with Jesus in Jerusalem and visiting the ancient sites connected with those narratives.

The group gathered in Jerusalem’s Old City for over 50 immersion Koine Greek hours, interacting with stories, maps, props, and texts. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) techniques, such as TPR (Total Physical Response) and TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling), were employed to prepare the gospel texts which were read on site. Occasional smaller groups led by facilitators allowed for more speaking practice and contextual communication.

The first workshop trip was to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus’ triumphal entry (Lk 19:28-40) and Olivet discourse (Mt 24:3-14) were read and discussed while overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Temple Mount. Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Mk 14:32-42) was read in an olive orchard on the mountain’s descent.

The second workshop trip was to the southern part of ancient Jerusalem, also known as the City of David. There, at the pool of Siloam, discovered in the past decade, the group read Jesus’ healing of a blind man (Jn 9:1-41). Afterward, the group walked past recent excavations outside of Dung Gate and up through a newly opened tunnel into the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount. Texts associated with Jesus and the Temple (parable of the wicked tenants, cleansing the Temple, taxes to Caesar) were read later and discussed in their historical and cultural context.

The third workshop trip began at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, where the group entered an underground passageway into a great meeting hall from the Second Temple period. There, Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin (Mt 26:57-68) was read in the cavernous, low-lit room. Via tunnel, the group traversed the western face of Herod’s expansion of the Temple Mount, exiting where the great Antonio Fortress once stood. In the lower levels of the Convent of the Sisters of Zion, which still retains the Roman pavement stones from the ancient fortress, the group read Jesus’ appearance before Pilate (Mk 15:1-20). Afterward, the group visited the close-by Pool of Bethesda and read Jesus’ healing of the invalid (Jn 5:1-17).

Beginning with the “Jesus in the Galilee” Koine Greek session (Apr, 2010), and then followed by the first “Greek Instructors Fluency Workshop” in Fresno (Aug, 2011), this recent gathering in Jerusalem was one more step in the Biblical Language Center’s goal of stimulating Koine Greek fluency among the academy and beyond. Moving forward, Fresno will host their second fluency workshop this July, 2012, and there are tentative plans for another Koine Greek workshop in Jerusalem (“Jesus’ Last Week”) with New Testament texts and field trips in March, 2013.