The Biblical Language Center, at Qibbutz Tzuba, just west of Jerusalem is offering its second annual, immersion Greek SXOLH this summer 2008.

Two teachers in class teach in Koiné Greek, 90%+ of the time. Outside languages (e.g. English, Hebrew) are restricted to 10% within the classroom. From the beginning students start to play in the language with understanding, like being thrown into a learner-friendly kindergarten. While the class starts at a ‘zero’ level, officially assuming nothing as the first words and situations are communicated, about half of the students come with one to four years of Greek. Everyone is surprised to be learning together, and those with background discover what Greek can be like when used for communication and as the medium for thought and expression. A sense of humor and ability to laugh at oneself makes for more rapid language learning.

Texts studied include selections from NT gospel parables, Aesop’s fables, Acts, NT epistles, Apostolic Fathers, Josephus, LXX, Epictetus, Plutarch, some papyri and inscriptions. Grammar is discussed within the fun and games, of course, though terminology and description is mainly done in ancient Greek (some of the 10% non-Greek time is occasionally used at this point for clarification). Five field trips include 1st to 6th century sites at Caesaria, Jerusalem, Bet Shean, Hippos, Paneion, Tsippori, Bet Shearim, et al., where the place is described in ancient Greek, appropriate texts are read, as well as the inscriptions in situ. It turns out that ancient Provincia Ioudaia and Syria are excellent places for studying Greek. Most of the remains from the 1st century up thru the 6th century are accompanied by Greek inscriptions. What kinds of texts do students read at these sites? To begin with there are gospel parables and stories at appropriate sites, e.g. Nazareth village synagogue and Luke 4, and NT texts, e.g., Acts 26 overlooking the road to Damascus. At Bet Shean the class can stand in a restored bathhouse and read Epictetus on how to stoically prepare for a visit to a BALANEION, or at the Paneion, Plutarch on “PAN O MEGAS TEQNHKE”. Students read and acted out LXX Genesis 22 at Tsippori, where we also read the Greek inscriptions in the synagogue floor and discussed the artwork about the ‘binding of Isaac’. There is also a wonderful symposion room at Tsippori with mosaics relating to Dionysios, Heracles, and harvest, (though the setting is too dark for reading an ‘extra-credit’ 1st century symposion song).

While students may come with no Greek background, everyone is asked to begin listening to the 1000 pictures in Living Koiné Greek (pictures are described in Koiné Greek without written text [including both sentences and occasional story lines], afterwards transcriptions of the pictures are read). This “opens one’s ears” and begins to record the language in a different part of the brain than when discussed in another language. The alphabet is also expected to be learned before arrival and is drilled in Living Koiné Greek, Part One.

A biblical Hebrew immersion learning experience is also available, with two levels. Naturally only one class, Hebrew or Greek, is possible to do at one time because of the intensive nature of the programs. Written tests and examinations are given and a transcript can be issued for 8 Continuing Education Units (1 CEU represents 15 classroom hours and equals 1 semester credit of study). 22 June – 1 August 2008. $3650 for six weeks, room, board,tuition, and field trips.

Dr. Randall Buth, developer of the programs