One of the reasons most people fail to learn the biblical languages, or fail to maintain them, is simple: they didn’t start learning early. It’s no secret that if you want to master something like an instrument or a sport, you have to start young. It’s very rare to see someone who is extremely good at playing the guitar who started learning when he was 30 while married and raising a family. The best basketball players don’t pick up a basketball for the first time when they’re in college. Yet for some reason we expect pastors and leaders to be able to master the biblical languages when they’re adults, with no prior experience or practice! It goes against common sense, but it’s been the status quo for centuries, and for good reason. You see, up until now there has simply never been a way for normal children to learn. Sure, once in a while a strange child will be born who loves reading complex Greek grammars at the age of 5, but that’s unusual. Normal children don’t enjoy memorizing paradigms and grammar rules. It’s really hard to get a six-year-old to spend time reviewing flashcards in an ancient language.
So it’s no wonder that we’ve become so accustomed to a vicious cycle: 1) grow up, 2) study the biblical languages while at university or seminary, 3) forget everything you learned, 4) hope that the next generation will do better somehow. Yet at the same time we know that if we want our children to speak and understand Spanish or French well, then they have to start young, and they have to be taught those languages in a way that’s natural for them to learn–through comprehensible input!
When people go to seminary, many try their best to avoid studying the biblical languages because, deep down inside, they know that they don’t stand a chance of mastering the languages like they might if they had been learning since childhood. People tend to avoid the unfamiliar; we all tend to find the easy way out.
But what if we started teaching Greek or Hebrew to our children before they could even walk? We believe this is possible now, and it’s already happening! We want to see a revolution in how people think about biblical language training. With our videos, for the first time children have the opportunity to soak up the sound and structure of Greek in a way that they enjoy—that even seems fun! They can internalize the language early with all of their effortless, young energy. And when they grow up, Greek will neither seem unfamiliar nor difficult. Instead they’ll gravitate towards studying it more, simply because they grew up with it, just like Mozart grew up playing the piano from the age of 3.
But you may still have objections to this idea. You may be suspicious because it’s new, or afraid of subjecting your children to screens at a young age. Let’s talk about that.
I don't want my children growing up in front of a screen
This is a typical concern for many. But most haven’t looked at the actual research of the past few decades. It shows that children who grow up playing video games and watching shows in moderation actually are smarter than previous generations. Their IQ scores are going up, not down. All the way back in 2005 authors like Steven Johnson were talking about this phenomenon. It goes against everyone’s expectations. We’re used to grumbling that humanity is getting dumber, as though this were irrefutable common knowledge. But Johnson shows two main things that are a bit shocking:
- By almost all the standards we use to measure reading’s cognitive benefits — attention, memory, following threads, and so on — the nonliterary popular culture has been steadily growing more challenging over the past thirty years.
- Increasingly, the nonliterary popular culture is honing different mental skills that are just as important as the ones exercised by reading books.
So, 20 minutes or an hour of Alpha with Angela per day definitely won’t hurt a child’s development. Rather, it’ll be the start of a new reformation in the church, where children grow into men and women who can go deeper into the Word than any generation before.
But what if my child doesn't want to be a pastor when he grows up?
Nothing in the Bible leads us to believe that reading Scripture in the original languages is reserved for pastors, elders, priests, or anyone else. Instead we see over and over that all of God’s people are to treasure and honor His Word as much as possible (e.g. Psalm 119). If we’re to become more like the person of Psalm 1 whose delight is in the law of Yahweh, who meditates on it day and night, we’re going to do everything possible to understand His Word. Psalm 78:5-7 says, “He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.” We all want our children to set their hope in God, so why not teach them how to go as deep as possible into His Word? As the great 17th century God-besotted William Gurnall wrote,
Oh, do your best while they are young and in your constant care, to win them to God and set them on the road to heaven.
And a wonderful way to set them on the road to heaven is to raise them to be intimately acquainted with the Bible, able to handle rightly and faithfully the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). We plan to eventually develop even more resources for children to learn Greek besides our videos. We want to serve parents in every way possible to make this a reality.
So we invite you to embrace a new paradigm: make Greek (and Hebrew) the new normal for raising children and for Christian discipleship. It’s not impossible. It costs nothing. It’s a joy. What do you have to lose? And you and your children have so much to gain!
“Your video series is an answer to prayer beyond what I ever imagined. I share your videos with my three sons. They’re pretty young (7, 4, and 2). We are all learning together! And yes, they totally remember more from one lesson to the next than I do, more often than not. 🙂 Anyway, I genuinely have prayed, “Lord, I want to learn these languages and somehow have my boys learn them, too… Help me find a way.” I hope that through these films, God will equip translators to take His Word to unreached peoples. This is an awesome project. I am telling whoever I can about it! I have this crazy idea of a future where Sunday School time is spent training up children in Biblical Languages. 🙂 It’s a lot of hard work but so worth it! Keep up the hard work! P.S. – my youngest, Elias, absolutely adores your episodes and asks specifically to watch “Angela” all the time. He’s 2 and a half!” ~ Megan