Yes, You Can Learn Greek or Hebrew (Or Both!) | Ep. 53

If you’ve sat under a good preacher or have opened a good commentary, you are aware that there is a depth to the original languages of Scripture that can sometimes be difficult to capture in our English translations.

But have you ever considered learning biblical Greek or Hebrew yourself?

Our guest today says this is not only highly beneficial for your study of Scripture but is also entirely possible – even if you are not a whiz with learning languages.

His name is Ryan Martin and he is the founder and lead instructor for KairosClassroom.com, an online school that offers affordable and accessible courses in New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew.

Listen as we discuss the many benefits of learning a biblical language, why having a command of Greek or Hebrew is not as difficult as you might think, and tips for picking up a language more quickly.

On This Episode We’ll Discuss:

  • The value of learning a biblical language
  • Why Greek and Hebrew are not just for pastors and seminary students
  • How you can learn a biblical language in as little as 3 hours a week
  • Why learning Greek and Hebrew might not be as difficult as you think
  • Tips for learning a biblical language more effectively
 


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About Our Guest

Ryan Martin is a teacher, theologian, and the founder of Kairos Classroom, an online school that offers affordable and accessible courses in New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew. Ryan received his MDiv from Beeson Divinity School and taught Theology and Biblical Studies at the Christian Bilingual University of Congo. You can learn more at KairosClassroom.com.

 New students with Kairos Classroom can get 10% off using the promo code THEOLOGY at checkout. Enroll at KairosClassroom.com 

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Transcript

Clay Kraby

Well, thanks for joining us on this episode. We’re talking to Ryan Martin. He’s a teacher, a theologian, and he’s also the founder of Kairos Classroom. This is an online school that offers affordable and accessible courses in New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew. Ryan received his M. Div. From Beeson Divinity School and he actually taught theology and biblical studies at the Christian Bilingual University in Congo. You can learn more about Ryan and his work kairosclassroom.com. We’ll of course link to that in the show notes for this episode. So, Ryan, thanks so much for joining us on the Reasonable Theology podcast.

Ryan Martin

It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Clay Kraby

You bet. Now, to start things off, could you share a little bit about yourself and your family and what your ministry looks like with Kairos Classroom?

Ryan Martin

Yeah, absolutely. Aubrey and I have been married for eleven years and we have two little boys. Micah’s three and Hezekiah is nine months now. It’s crazy. We live in Birmingham, Alabama. We have lived most recently in Congo, where I taught at a University there. And we kind of feel like we have our heart in two different places. And we’ll just always, on certain days, wish we were the other place. We loved our time there, but we also love being in Birmingham.

I think of myself as a Bible teacher. That’s what I’m passionate about. That’s what I do right now. I’m doing that through the biblical languages with Kairos Classroom, which I’m sure we’ll talk about as we go. I teach Greek for a living and I love it. It’s awesome.

Clay Kraby

That’s really what we’re going to focus a lot on is that the everyday Christian has the ability and should be encouraged to actually pick up and learn biblical languages, which might seem a pretty daunting task for some folks. How did you get into biblical languages yourself?

Ryan Martin

Yeah, that’s a great question. For me it was seminary and it was a great experience. I was, like you said earlier, at Beeson Divinity School, and actually one of the reasons that we wound up there was because of their emphasis on the languages. That was something that just as a Christian interested in studying theology, studying the Bible was really interesting to me.

I wanted to learn Greek. I wanted to learn Hebrew. So I took four semesters of Greek, I guess five semesters of Greek, four semesters of Hebrew there with some awesome teachers and loved it. I didn’t know at that point I’d be doing this. But I really did enjoy those classes and enjoyed particularly a class I took on Romans after I went through the grammar and the syntax like an elective class. It was just three students with Frank Fieldman in the Book of Romans, and it just kind of changed my life. I loved it and still think of that in my own kind of journey with the languages as a time that I’ll never forget, a time that I realized how many resources were there in these things. So, yeah, I had no idea at the time, but I definitely loved it.

Clay Kraby

Now, just thinking back to my own time learning, attempting to learn Greek at seminary. Now, were you one of those kids that I had a hard time loving that just picked this up easy and was three chapters ahead and was parsing verbs and all these things just for fun?

Ryan Martin

I mean, maybe. I’m certainly a language nerd and I’m fascinated by how this works. I didn’t always do great, but I probably bugged my professors with questions and showing up in their office and ate it up great. But definitely it was by no means easy. I mean, lots and lots of study, lots and lots of hard work, for sure.

Clay Kraby

Yeah, it is a ton of work. And there are good tools out there like yours we’ll be getting into quite a bit as our conversation goes on. But there are good tools and there’s good reason for going through that difficult work. It was an uphill climb for me. Some others, it’s easier just depending on their familiarity with other languages and English grammar, for that matter. But what is the value? And you think of someone who is not in vocational Ministry, someone who is not a pastor, someone who’s not going to seminary, what would be the value for them to learn biblical Greek or Hebrew?

Ryan Martin

Yeah, great question. There is tons of value, and more than half of our students, I’d say, haven’t been to seminary and no formal Ministry role. The value is in God’s Word, right? It’s in the value of the Bible. It’s that that we’re taking one step closer to. When we’re reading in the Greek or in the Hebrew, the value is in just a slightly closer relationship with the text. Reading it like somebody in a Jewish Christian in the First Century would have read it the way that one of the members of the original audience of one of these documents would have read it. It’s one step closer to that.

You’re not relying on a translator to give you the English translation as thankful and wonderful as those translations are. And even when the translators do the best job that they possibly can, you know, anybody who’s translating, anybody that’s learned multiple languages before knows it’s just not quite the same. So the value is just in the proximity to the text in its original context, wrestling with the text on its own terms, hearing it kind of in an unmediated kind of fashion yes.

Clay Kraby

What is that ancient phrase? I don’t remember what language it comes to us from, “translator, traitor,” and just a commentary on the difficulty of really capturing and conveying. And that’s not to say that we don’t have reliable scripture in the English language, but we’ve all been sitting through a sermon and having the pastor exposit and explain, “hey, you see this word here’s what it means” and pulls out all this richness that frankly, a lot of times the English language just can’t carry as much weight as maybe a Greek word does.

And so you can see the value in that just sitting in an English American Church with an English Bible translation in your lap. We have that all the time where they explain the meaning of a word and how great it would be to have that command of the language, the familiarity. Now when we’re talking about someone picking up Greek or even Hebrew, are the options either I don’t know any Greek or Hebrew, or I am fluent in Greek or Hebrew. What are the levels that you kind of help people through and what kind of goals might people set to where there’s still a lot of value for them in at least gaining a familiarity with the languages?

Ryan Martin

Yes, that’s something we actually think about a lot. And I mean, just to be frank, our goal when we start with students like Greek one or Hebrew one is that they come out on the end of Greek four, Hebrew four, and they’re able to sit down with the text and work through it on their own.

Everything we do is directed towards that goal. We believe this is possible for anybody if they take the time and really keep with it even when it gets challenging. This is where our students come out. However, to your question, we want students at every step along that journey to be enriched and to be better readers of scripture, to be more attuned to the way that language works, more attuned to the way that coin a Greek works so that whether they’re three weeks into Greek one or halfway through Greek three, wherever they are, they’re learning how the New Testament fits together.

They’re learning, for example, how to do word studies without kind of lapsing into these exegetical fallacies that we hear so often. Have you ever, I think, with any kind of discipline, you’ve probably heard this phrase “just enough to be dangerous,” right?

Clay Kraby

Yes.

Ryan Martin

So I think that is such a very meaningful category. There’s almost nothing worse than somebody just knowing a few Greek words and maybe a few grammar categories and then just like handing them a lexicon and say, hey, go, exegete. Right. Unless they are aware enough of kind of how translation, how languages work, how meaning relates to the text, the flexibility of words, the semantic range and overlap of words.

And these are the kind of cringey, that’s what the young people are saying now right? These are the kind of cringey uses of the Greek that you hear sometimes where it’s like, oh, “I read this definition in this dictionary. So I’m just going to take all that meaning and cram it into this particular usage.”

So one thing we take really seriously is that every step along the way, whether they’re ready to really set loose on the text on their own or whether they’re just kind of slow learning these categories and vocabulary, that they’re able to use what they have in a really responsible manner that honors the integrity of the text in its original form. That’s not ignorant of the way that words and translation are challenging or flexible. And to be able to use these things.

While our goal is always we want to crank out people that can sit down with First John at the end of Greek four and just kind of read it. That’s our goal. But not everybody is able to get that far. Most of our students do finish, thanks be to God. But wherever they are in that journey, they’re being taught how to read well, how to exegete well, just given to use resources, responsibly is a big part of it, right?

Clay Kraby

Yeah. And one of those things that you often see or maybe are tempted to commit when you do have just that little bit of knowledge is you will find there’s all this rich meaning in this Greek or Hebrew word, and you assume that anytime the text is using that word, it’s using it in that sense and in that way.

And of course, being if you’re a native English Speaker, you don’t do this. I mean, you don’t speak of the word “caliber,” and it always has to do with loading ammunition and various sizes. There’s different nuances to meaning.

Ryan Martin

Yes, for sure. I mean, this is never we never, ever, no matter how far we zoom in, we never, ever want to lose the forest. Words don’t sit in isolation by themselves. Just like there to be unpacked. The words get their meaning from their connection to other words. And I think you could keep going with that. A paragraph finds its meaning and its context in a larger argument. Yes, absolutely.

We need to place these things in their context and understand them in that and where they are in whatever book, whatever text they’re in. The caliber example is great. I use “trouble” with my students. I say “I was in trouble with the law when I was a teenager” versus “I was having trouble setting up my WiFi at the Airbnb.” Like both of those uses of the word trouble fit under the dictionary definition of the word trouble. Right? But if I were to import meaning from one of those uses into another, I’d end up with something very bizarre.

Clay Kraby

Right. Yeah. I love my wife, I love my kids. I love Cherry Pepsi – and if you assume that I mean it in the same way to the same degree, you’ve got a pretty perverse individual’s fascination with sugary soda.

So your goal with Chiro’s classroom is truly to walk alongside someone all the way to where they really have a command of the language. But at the same time, you want to make sure that there’s fruit that they are able to enjoy at each stage of that journey, making sure they’re getting something out of it. And that probably really keeps them encouraged, I imagine.

Ryan Martin

Oh, for sure. I tell students there’s kind of two curves. There’s like a reading curve, which is very slow, very flat for a long time, and then ramps up. You finish Hebrew one, still can’t read much to the Old Testament on your own. Finish Hebrew two, still can’t read much Hebrew three. Okay, some Hebrew four. It’s like, oh, my goodness, I can sit down and just go.

But there’s another curve, which I would say is just like kind of the curve of exegetical understanding, of interacting with an exegetical commentary, of understanding the language. And there’s fruit, very gradual along the way. I mean, lesson three of Greek one, we’re talking about the noun cases. And when you open up a commentary and say, oh, this is a subjective generative, the student that has been taking Greek for three weeks is like, “oh, my goodness, I know what that is.” I just started this, but I can interact with this scholarship and understand what it means. I can see these things when I open up my Greek text. So, yes, very well said. The reading curve is slow but fruit all along the way.

Clay Kraby

Yeah. And you’ve been studying languages for years, and obviously now you’re teaching languages. So I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve got a strong command of the languages that you’re teaching. How is that enriched  your own Bible study? How has that enriched your relationship with Scripture?

Ryan Martin

Man, in so many ways.  One thing is I think I’m like borderline attention deficit, something, I don’t know, my brain is just always going, and I grew up in the church and thank God, so thankful for that. But if you can even call it a downside with that, there are passages in the New Testament that I feel like I’ve heard and known from the cradle to now. I don’t know, Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3 or the Sermon on the Mount or big, big chunks of Paul.

I feel like I practically have this memorized without trying. Right. Well, the downside of that is that it almost like loses your brain. Almost my brain kind of shuts off when that’s going. I found out really quick when I was learning Greek that when I walked through these in the original language, it’s almost like reading it again for the first time and maybe even things that I could have been able to see in English, I’ve been forced to slow down and take it word by word, phrase by phrase.

And like, man, I’m getting goosebumps right now. There are texts that just have come alive for me. I’ve read this a million times, and now I’m seeing the same thing, but it just becomes a part of you. And I could tell you right now, give me a book of the New Testament. I could tell you which parts I’ve really broken down in Greek in detail, working with the commentary, and it’s almost like they’re a part of me. I know them really well, and they stick with me more.

So I think if I were to pick one answer to that question it would be that I just texts that I worked through in the original language really stick with me, maybe more broadly understanding just how the Greek language works, even if I’m reading in English or hearing a sermon, I just have a sense of, like, here’s how the text is flowing. I bet that’s a participle. It really does change the way that you approach the text.

I’m a question asker. I push on things. I like to follow ideas and dig and hear what people say. And for me, I love it. I love being able to let my fascination kind of drive me into a better understanding of God’s word and come out with just a deeper understanding of what the Lord has for us in it.

Clay Kraby

Yeah. And I imagine it gives you a much greater appreciation for the work of the translator as well. When you see just how complex a task it is, and it’s interesting to hear – you’re just reminding me of what it’s like sitting in that room and laboring for an hour over a sentence and how it really does; it forces you to slow way down and wrestle with, okay, what is this verb doing? Who is it referencing here?

You can take a familiar passage you’ve heard 100 times, and it’s very difficult to force yourself to hear it with fresh ears. Very difficult. If you’ve grown up in the church and you’ve heard that passage many  times, it’s very difficult to hear it anew. But then you try to write it out from Greek to English, and your eyes are open to a lot of things.

Ryan Martin

Yes. So true.

Clay Kraby

When you sit down and read your Bible, what are you reading? Are you devotionally in your Greek text? Do you have one of those Bibles where it’s Greek on one page, English on the other? Do you mix it back and forth? What does that look like for you?

Ryan Martin

Back and forth? I mean, I spend a lot of time in the Greek just as a teacher, especially now that for the last six months, really, we’ve had enough students that have finished Greek four and are like, “okay, now what?” We have exegesis courses that walk you through portions of Scripture.

All the students have learned Greek either with us or in a seminary University. So, one of my favorite parts of my job is preparing for those courses, I guess basically just like, “okay, I’m about to walk with you.” I’ve got six students in a class on Ephesians right now, and it’s just like, here’s the chunk I need to know this text backwards and forwards before we meet so I can help these new Greek students that have just kind of gotten their feet under them, their legs under them in terms of the grammar and syntax, and help them untie it. And that’s extreme.

This might sound like dry academic. I don’t know. Whatever. It is extremely devotionally significant to me as I work through the text and I’m consulting commentaries and asking the question; I was just like, “okay, what is the antecedent of this participle?” I mean, so often the answer to that question is something that’s incredibly theologically significant, and it’s exciting. Can I just throw an example your way?

Clay Kraby

Yeah, absolutely.

Ryan Martin

Yeah. So, doing Ephesians right now. We just did Ephesians two, the first through verse ten last week. And that being raised with and made alive together with Christ, raised with Christ, seated with Christ. It’s all one word in Greek: raised with, seated with. And those are the same words that are used in chapter one without the with, to talk about what God did to Jesus, to talk about God having vindicated Christ or raising him from the dead and seating him above all powers. Right?

Well, here ten verses later, we get those same verbs of what Christ, what God has done for us in Christ, just the same words, but with the privilege of our union with Christ and what this means for us as sinners who are reconciled to God through our union with Jesus. And it’s something that you just don’t get when you’re reading English, you just don’t see it. You just don’t see “Oh, wow. That’s the same word.” So, yeah, that’s something you get from reading the commentary. But, boy, does that help me get out of bed in the morning.

Clay Kraby

Yeah. And how enriching in some ways… and I don’t mean that you see something in the text that nobody else sees. If so, you’re wrong. But how enriching to kind of make these discoveries on your own, to sit there with the text and learn something through your own labor and just have that hit you. What a tremendous gift that is. That really is only available if you do the work to learn the languages.

Who are your students? I mean, do you have people preparing for seminary, those who maybe had some knowledge and forgot it, and those who are starting at zero? What does your typical student looks like?

Ryan Martin

Yes. All of the things that you just said, it does not cease to amaze me. The different kinds of people that end up in our classes, they have nothing in common age like level of education, men, women, young, old people in formal, vocational, Ministry, things are not what they have in common is that they love the Bible, and that’s about it, which is awesome. What it means is that the kinds of people that are sitting together in our classes, sometimes I feel like this is the only thing in the world that would bring these people together. But it’s a love for God’s word and a desire to understand what it says on its own terms. So yes, I’d say like maybe a little more than half, 60 percent of our students are just theologically interested church members that are either just like the curious types that go and read theology books for fun, which I would imagine that was a lot of your audience, if I had to guess.

Clay Kraby

Those are my people.

Ryan Martin

Those are your people. Yeah. Well, I’ve got a lot of those people, too. And those are some of my favorite people on this Earth, right? Yeah. So a lot of those folks and then I don’t know, maybe the other 40% are either going into seminary and want a leg up. I’ve got a few students that are in seminary and they just like, I just need all the help I can get. I’m going to take this other program, too. More common. I’ve got several pastors, teachers that have learned Greek in school and didn’t keep it up, learned Hebrew in school, didn’t keep it up. And this is a very effective and convenient way to get it back.

Clay Kraby

Yeah, I definitely would land in that box. They tell you every day, if you don’t use it, you lose it. And it turns out they weren’t lying.

Ryan Martin

They were not lying.

Clay Kraby

So it’s nice to have an option like this. Let’s picture someone that really is starting at zero. They’re aware that New Testaments Greek, the Old Testaments in Hebrew. They’ve heard the pastor explain and expound on words like agape. So they have some really basic familiarity with the biblical languages, and they’ve seen some commentary work and things like that. Can you talk us through it? Like, what does that journey look like working with Kira’s classroom? What is the format of the training?  What does it look like to take someone from zero to they’re able to read First John in Greek. What does that look like?

Ryan Martin

Yes, it really is remarkably simple. They meet once a week in a live online class, meets 90 minutes once  a week. All of our Greek and Hebrew classes are 90 minutes once a week. And then our teachers expect about the same amount of time outside of class, about 90 minutes of personal work once a week. So that’s 3 hours a week to basically get to where you can work through a text on your own after a year, after four nine week classes. So it’s online. It’s live. It’s with qualified instructors who are both Bible nerds and down to earth, people that love to teach. And it’s student focused.

So students are working through things and asking questions and pushing back and asking, “hey, can you repeat that again?” It’s all live and all online. All of our teachers, we laugh all the time. We all have kind of these nightmares from our seminary trainings of just being called to parse on something in front of all your classmates. If you took Greek and Hebrew and you don’t have nightmares about this, then you’re lying. Let’s just be honest. So we want to do something that’s a little bit more laid back, made for busy people.

This is just as effective. We really believe that people learn languages better when they’re enjoying themselves. I think the pedagogy of the research backs that up, not just in languages, but in anything. So we try to foster that environment, an environment of curiosity and of exploration and of learning these things, recognizing that every student is going to kind of learn these things in different ways and at different paces. So a lot of repetition, a lot of giving students time to process and ask questions, just to answer as simply as possible. It’s just meeting once a week with a group and doing a little bit of vocab, memorization and translating on your own.

Clay Kraby

So you’re confident that just the average everyday Christian that’s listening to this, that’s watching this conversation, you and your team can take them, hold their hand, walk alongside them, and they can learn biblical Greek and Hebrew?

Ryan Martin

I’ve seen it happen over and over again, like dozens and dozens of times. The students that persevere to the end and make this a part of their lives, they’re not the smarty pants language people. They’re people that  want it and that make the space in their life for it. And then by space, we’re talking about 3 hours a week. I’m not talking about quit your day job.

Students that are consistent and engaged and do their work, they make it. I don’t know, maybe you’ve studied French or Spanish. We learned French before we moved to Congo. And there’s no way that in 3 hours a week for a year you could be competent in French. But the difference is that when we were learning French, we had to learn how to speak and listen and write and read. And the vocabulary that we need to know in normal conversation about, just like doing life is expansive. Right. With a biblical language, you’re limited to the vocabulary. Of course, you can go beyond this. You can take a step in the class of goal, direction and learn Plato, whatever.

Clay Kraby

Sure.

Ryan Martin

But in terms of New Testament exegesis, you’re learning the vocabulary of the New Testament, Koine Greek. It’s a lingua franca, it’s one of those languages that was adopted by lots of people and simplified for the sake of practicality. So it’s an easier language as far as languages go and you’re just learning to read and recognize. You don’t have to be able to pull the past tense of “raised” out of your head. You just have to recognize it when you see it on the page. And that’s a much lower bar. And that’s why you can get through it in a year.

Clay Kraby

Yeah. I recall in learning, going through our Greek lessons even early on, being struck by our textbook would have a little kind of meter at the bottom of you have. Now if you’ve kept up with your vocabulary, you’ve memorized 30% of the words in the New Testament because it really is a limited you’re talking about a closed canon. This is a limited number of words. They can count them. And so your vocab is not endless. It’s kind of there.

And just like English, I mean, I’m sure if somebody’s probably done this, but if someone sat down and really counted of all the many thousands, millions, I don’t know, English words, how many do you actually use in a week? Probably not a very big percentage. And so maybe it’s not as daunting as someone might think. But at the end of the day, there’s probably people listening and say, “oh, yeah, that sounds nice. I could never do that. That’s beyond me.”

If someone has an interest in learning the biblical languages, they have a desire, they would like to, but they just feel like this would be too difficult to accomplish what would be one or two pieces of advice you have for them to really get them to attempt that and see that this is possible and it is worthwhile.

Ryan Martin

I mean, it is possible and it is worthwhile. I have seen so many different types of people with different gifts and passions and fears and excitements make it through and are now no Greek. You can do it. I mean, really, really, you can. It’s work. Sometimes it feels more like work than others. We try to have fun. It is work, but it’s possible and you can do it. We walk you through it. I mean, you’re not doing this on your own. Gaps are there, and we fill them with you. That’s what we’re here to do. That’s our job.

Clay Kraby

Right. And that’s the value of using a resource like this, like Kairos Classroom, is you’re not just sitting down with a book, you’re sitting down with people that teach these languages and alongside a handful of others learning. They’re at the same step you are. So I can see a lot of value into this kind of format where they have that benefit of a smaller group. But they’re in a group. They’re not by themselves. They can hear other people mispronounce something and get corrected. They can be corrected.  They can ask questions and really walk through that step by step and no one’s promising that you’re going to go from zero to fluent in a week. So it’s step by step 1 foot in front of the other and you’re there to walk them through that.

Ryan Martin

Essentially, you’re absolutely right. We believe and we say this all the time that we were meant to learn and community. I’m going back through Hebrew right now with Kairos just because like, Clay, you said with Greek, I haven’t kept my Hebrew very well. It’s been great. And do you know how many times in the last ten years I’ve tried to go back and relearn the Hebrew on my own? I make it five chapters in, and then something else in life kind of comes up and I fall off. It’s the best kind of accountability, and it’s all the right kinds of social pressures, isn’t it?

It’s like, man, I’m part of this cohort we’re in this together, and I need to do my work and I need to keep up with this and continue pushing along. It really is a blessing and it’s fun to watch our students get to know each other. And you’re right about it. Feeling like you’re going back to the beginning and that’s hard. And it’s nice to have other people. I’ve got one student that says it’s like I’m back in the first grade. yeah. Like you are in Greek first grade.

Clay Kraby

You are learning your Alphabet. Yeah.

Ryan Martin

So own it and enjoy it and know that there’s no such thing as sounding silly, like we’re all in this together and it really is just kind of a celebration of God’s word, of the strengths and weaknesses that we all have when we’re in a community and just enjoying kind of embarking on this together. Yeah. I’m glad you said that.

Clay Kraby

Yeah. So as we wind down our conversation here, what is some advice that you give to someone who might just happen to already be learning? Maybe they’re in seminary right now and they’re learning Greek or Hebrew or someone who’s learning with you. What’s some advice you have for the new biblical language student? How can you kind of make the most of it? And are there any tips that you have to maybe make that a little bit of a smoother process?

Ryan Martin

Yes. And this is such a different answer than I would have given five years ago before I was teaching this all the time. Vocab. My advice is vocab. And here’s why: When you fall behind on your vocabulary, translating becomes less fun. It becomes stressful because you’re looking back and forth from your notes to your book, your notes to your book, you lose the flow of the text.

I would say when things get busy, when things get crazy, if you’re in seminary right now and you’re learning Greek, just don’t fall behind on your vocab. And if you are behind on your vocab, catch up. Yes, I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. If you’ve if you’ve learned a language you’ve been there prioritize, getting caught up so many good ways to do it.

Make flashcards, make lists in a book and fold over a piece of paper and try to write that there’s so many different ways you can do that. But here’s what I’m finding more and more the more I teach students that are up on their vocab that know their vocab, even if the grammar is hard, even if they come with incomplete translation homework, sometimes students that are up on their vocab can figure it out. And because they know the word that’s there, maybe they don’t recognize this ending or whatever, but then the gears are turning and they’re able to kind of figure out other things inductively.

Unless you can get in a time machine and go back to first century Mediterranean world, it’s going to be really hard for you to pick up on enough vocab inductively just by, like, exposure. However, I think the inverse might be true, that if you know your vocab really well, you can start to recognize some of these grammatical and synthetical patterns because you know these words and you know how they’re functioning. And I really think let’s say you’re sitting in your Greek two exam at your seminary where you’re at right now. If you know the vocab words on this, like, translation exercise they give you, you can fiddle around with it and probably figure out something pretty close. Right to where if you’re out on your vocab, you don’t even know what to fiddle with. So I’ve seen with my students, like, when things get busy, when things get crazy, if they can just stay up on their vocab just 5-10 minutes a day, maybe even every couple of days just to keep it fresh, if they can stay current on their vocab, it’ll make a huge difference. Not only will you do better, but you’ll enjoy it more. It’ll be more fun.

Clay Kraby

Now that makes a lot of sense. And again, I have got to dig deep in kind of the memory banks at this point. But I wholeheartedly agree. I think as much success that I did have and I was able to complete the courses and like you said, sit down with First John and read it and just enjoy the ability to do that, having those flashcards with me at all times, and you’re waiting pretty much for anything and being able to do that.

And I would always too, I would write out a little phonetic spelling on there, just my own little so I wouldn’t be embarrassed in class when you have different things, different tools where someone’s maybe like an audio CD or something where someone saying the vocab is like, “well, boy, that’s not how I wrote it.” And it’s just a little more helpful. •

Ryan Martin

Yeah.

Clay Kraby

It’s difficult to go about learning a language if you don’t have your pronunciation. Right. And if I could just throw something out there, too, you need to know that alphabet. I joked (only slightly joking) that if at the end of my third Greek or Hebrew class, if the final only asked me to put the alphabet in order, oh, man, I was going to be in trouble because I didn’t just drill it in there until it was as natural as the English alphabet.

And it slowed me down, even in using the tools when I’m looking up a vocabulary, I don’t know, it slowed me down to have to sing this song in my head like a first grader. So, yeah, learn that alphabet. And I would encourage folks, too. If you’re going to jump in there and go to Kairos classroom and sign up and do a class, maybe between now, whenever it starts, man, hit that alphabet hard and you’ll be glad you did.

Ryan Martin

That is a good word.

Clay Kraby

Yeah. Well, I’m really excited. You and I have had the chance to talk before, and we’re actually able to do something pretty cool. We’re going to partner up. And if there are those listening or watching this that would like to get in there and learn either Greek or Hebrew or both, but probably not at the same time. That would be quite the undertaking.

But if you have a desire to learn the biblical languages, Ryan actually made it possible to where we can offer you 10% off so you can start whenever you’re a first-time student. Whatever classes that you sign up for, you can get 10% off there at KairosClassroom.com.

You can use the discount code THEOLOGY when you visit them. Sign up for some classes. We will, of course, put all the links in the show notes. You can see the show notes for this with any resources that we mentioned and also links to sign up at Reasonabletheology.org/episode53. And so definitely check that out. So, Ryan, I want to thank you and give you a chance to just encourage folks again to head over there to Kyrasclassroom.com and sign up to learn some of these languages.

Ryan Martin

Man, it’s so good to be here and to talk with you. And seriously, I mean, if you want this, if this is fascinating to you, then you can do it. That’s it. It’s not a certain type of person. If this is something that is interesting and exciting to you, come on. We’d love to help you make this a lifelong habit. When you go to the website, you’ll go to Greek one or Hebrew one, whatever class you want, and you’ll see several options. We try to give, like a weekday morning option, a weekday afternoon options, an evening option, sometimes a weekend option just for that class that’s going to meet once a week. And you’ll just find whichever one fits your schedule, which start date works for you and enroll right there.

Clay Kraby

Excellent. I’m hoping that this conversation for those that joined us, encourages them in a couple of ways. One, just to plant that seed that you can learn a biblical language. You can do this and maybe  they’re heading to seminary. Maybe they’re going to go a different route. Great. God bless you and we hope it goes great.

If Kairos Classroom sounds like a great option for you, I want to encourage people to check that out. Head to Kairosclassroom.com. You can get 10% off for any new students. Use discount code THEOLOGY when you do that, but check them out because it really is an opportunity where you have the convenience. This is online. You can do it.

Obviously the classes are meeting live, so you have the benefit of meeting with people, going with real live teachers. You can interact with them, but at the same time you’re not in a seminary or a school environment. So it has a little bit of that mix of accountability and flexibility to really kind of push you and walk alongside you to where step by step, you can really do this. So I would encourage people to check that out.

I want to thank you, Ryan, not only for joining us for this conversation, but I want to thank you for really putting the work into creating something like this. I think this really fills a gap that exists between going full-fledged into some formalized education for this or being off on your own. And the only other options I’ve personally come across have been really just video base where it’s a resource that’s created it’s a great resource. I’ve used them. I was one of those who picked one of those things up alongside my in class instruction because I needed the help. At the end of the day, I couldn’t ask them to go back and repeat something in a different way or ask if my pronunciation was correct. All those things admit that I can’t remember what a participle  is in English. So how am I supposed to know it in Greek?

You have that opportunity in a classroom environment and this is a way, again, an affordable, accessible way for people to check that out. So again, that’s in the show notes at Reasonabletheology.org/episode53 and this has been our guest Ryan Martin of Kairos Classroom. So, Ryan, thank you so much for joining me.

Ryan Martin

Yes, thanks again for having me.

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