Why Teach Greek?

Amy at Buffaloes and Butterfly Wings said, “I would love to know why you chose to teach your kids Greek over Latin or another language, and what the practical benefits are.

When we began homeschooling we assumed we would teach our children Latin because in our circles, homeschoolers teach their children Latin.  As we researched and prayed, God brought a godly homeschooling family into our life.  This family taught their children both Greek and Hebrew, how strange is that?  As we got to know them we had a few conversations about priorities and goals.  God used that family to help us see that we need to pray about what subjects we choose to teach our children and the message that those choices send.

So our primary reason for teaching Greek as opposed to Latin goes back to our goal in educating our children and that is to equip them to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Both studies (Latin or Greek) will be a considerable investment of our children’s time and both will improve their language, vocabulary, grammar and logic skills (among other things).

Every argument that I’ve seen made for the study of Latin could also be made equally for the study of Greek.

The main argument for teaching Latin is vocabulary and grammar development.  Eighty percent of our English vocabulary has its roots in Latin and Greek.  Additionally, Latin and Greek share the advantages of grammatical structure. So the advantages of  vocabulary and grammar are shared by both Latin and Greek.

The other arguments for teaching Latin: that it enables a child to appreciate literature, understand the infancy of our Graeco/Roman civilization, that the study of the grammar trains the student in the essentials of the scientific method (observation, comparison and generalization) and that Latin provides a great foundation for studying other European languages, all of these arguments could be made equally for the study of Greek.  (These reasons for teaching Latin are found in “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” by Doug Wilson)

The difference comes with what is written in Latin versus what is written in Greek and our focus and purpose in educating our children.  If they become proficient in reading Latin they will be able to read and study, in the original tongue, some of the ‘greatest’ (and for the most part godless) logic,  philosophy, poetry and history ever written by men.  If they become proficient in reading Greek and/or Hebrew they will be able to read and study, in the original tongue, the greatest logic, philosophy, poetry and history ever recorded.  Our children will be able to read, in the original tongue, logic, philosophy, poetry and history that is inspired by God.

If we teach our children Hebrew, Greek or both, we give them the gift of being able to study the WORD OF GOD in the original language.

We desire that our children will be focused on gaining a better, more thorough understanding of the Bible rather than other literary works.  (I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t study works of men, that would be foolish.  I’m merely talking about focus.  If our children had a thorough understanding of one or both of the Biblical languages and wished to study Latin, we think it might be a good second or third choice.)

One reason that we chose Greek over other traditional languages such as Spanish is that our children will, Lord willing, use their knowledge of Greek their whole lives, no matter what calling God has for them.  Every Christian can benefit from a deeper study of the Bible.  It is very possible that some of our children will want to study other languages in the future, depending on the calling that God has on their lives.  We will encourage and assist with that as it becomes evident.

These are some of the  things that our family has discussed and part of the reason that we have chosen to teach Greek.  Our tentative plans for the future include a possible Latin root study and, depending upon how proficient they become with Greek and what direction their lives seems to be taking, a progression to Hebrew or another language.

This is another one of those topics that we must be willing to disagree with love.  Our goals are different from other family’s goals and so our homeschool looks different from that of other families.  We don’t know many other Christians who are working to teach their children Greek, most of our friends have their children studying Latin.  We realize that we hold a minority opinion and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

I have more to say on this topic, but this gives you our main thoughts in a nutshell.

I posted about our Greek curriculum if you’re interested and as always I’m happy to field questions.

 

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50 Responses to Why Teach Greek?
  1. Dawn
    October 19, 2009 | 8:34 am

    I’m with you on the benefis of Greek. We’re considering it for next year. However, the real reason I came over was to tell you that I have nominated Raising Olives as the Best Nitty-Gritty Blog in the Homeschool Blog Awards. You need three nominations to make the voting list.

    Blessings,
    Dawn

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Wow, thank you. I’m honored!

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  2. Heather
    October 19, 2009 | 8:55 am

    Ok, so I am with Dawn, I am also nominating you for best nitty-gritty, so you only need 1 more nomination.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you, friend.

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  3. Anita Chamblee
    October 19, 2009 | 9:24 am

    Enjoyed your post today. Yesterday I started thinking about a post on the Hebrew method of homeschooling versus the classical method. Trying to think about the differences without offending. I do know of several families (classical is HUGE in our area) who seem to have taught classical material but maintain a seemingly Hebrew lifestyle. Does this make any sense? There are very few families around us who model a true Hebrew homeschooling lifestyle and those who do are considered a little strange. : (

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Please be sure to let me know when you post about the classical versus the Hebrew method. The Hebrew method is our goal, though I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone outside of our family use that terminology. We are praying and learning as we go. I know that we really don’t understand it all and would love to learn from someone else who has this view.

    Yes, I know what you mean. We see much of the same here.

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    Tamara@{School}Days Gone By Reply:

    I’d love to know if your friend here ever wrote the post comparing hebrew vs classical models of education. I’d love to read it and share it! We use Heart of Dakota which is definitely very much a Hebrew model but I never know how to explain it to others and how it compares/contrasts to classical without stepping on toes. Your post is also what took me from certain we’d learn latin to certain we’re all learning greek!

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  4. abba12
    October 19, 2009 | 9:39 am

    My husband and I want to teach one of these three languages, as in fact, we want to learn them all ourselves! I have always had a fascination with Latin, but he often talks about the Greek and Hebrew language roots that help us to translate the bible ourselves. I suppose it would be overkill to learn them all ;)

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  5. Amy
    October 19, 2009 | 10:19 am

    Oh, thank you you much for this response! Almost a year ago I won a free-sample-type “Hey Andrew” beginning Greek kit from a blog give-away. My oldest was in kindergarten at the time and we hadn’t made any decisions about what languages to teach. With him now in first grade we still haven’t begun teaching a language, but plan to in the future. While you see many families learning Spanish, French, etc, and quite a few learning Latin, you don’t see as many studying Greek, so it was wonderful to hear your opinions and reasoning. Thank you!!

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    You’re welcome Amy. Thank you for the question.

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  6. Laurie
    October 19, 2009 | 11:53 am

    Thank you so much for taking the time to tell what subjects you teach and why. I am just starting homeschooling with a first grader, a pre-schooler, and an 1 year old. So I really appreciate hearing what other people are doing and why. I really enjoy your blog! Thanks again! :-)

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you Laurie. Best wishes as you begin your homeschool journey.

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  7. Jamie
    October 19, 2009 | 4:49 pm

    Excellent post! I have not quite decided how we’re going to teach them yet. I am an oddball, in that I have learned the basics of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (I was a classical studies minor in college and took Hebrew in high school and for one semester in college). We have not decided yet in what order we’re going to teach them to the kids! The benefits of all three are incredible. I would like to encourage anyone that might be hesitant to learn/teach one of these languages… it’s just another language! For some reason, there is a stigma frequently attached to Greek AND Hebrew. They are seen as being for “Bible scholars” and too hard for the average person to learn. Latin is often considered for “really smart people”. Not so! They’re just languages… neither harder nor easier than learning Spanish or German. So, anyway, good post, Kimberly! I’m enjoying getting caught up on your blog after my “having another baby” break!

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  8. Bekki
    October 19, 2009 | 4:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing you reasons for studying Greek, my husband and I are leaning toward teaching this to our children, instead of the latin but didn’t know anyone who was actually doing it.

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  9. Hannah
    October 19, 2009 | 11:48 pm

    I’m allowed to agree with love too, right? :) If/when we are able to home school, we have always wanted to teach Hebrew and Greek. My hubby and I are both obsessed with Hebrew, and (Biblical) Jewish culture in general, and love the idea of being able to read the Scripture in the original language.
    What curriculum do you use? Kaleb has a Hebrew tutor for our computer that is fun, and some big Greek books, but what do you use for your children?

    Blessings!

    Hannah

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes you’re allowed to agree in love. :) We are using Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! with the children. They have really enjoyed using it and it has been super easy to implement.

    A friend of mine just recommended a Hebrew text, but we aren’t considering any more curriculum until next year and forgot what it was she suggested. If you’re interested let me know and I’ll give her a call and get back with you.

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  10. Celee
    October 20, 2009 | 1:30 am

    I find this an interesting topic. I only took 1 year of Latin in school and also an honors vocabulary class that reviewed both Latin and Greek roots. My language of choice in high school was German, because we had lived there and my parents were Germanophiles. Then in college I took French and two semesters of Hebrew. I absolutely loved Hebrew!

    I tried Latin with my kids last year and it was ok. This year we aren’t taking a language. I may try Greek next year. I hope some of my kids will inherit my love for languages and study several of them. I agree with you that you can accomplish as much with Greek as Latin, especially if you supplement with some kind of Latin roots vocab training.

    There’s nothing as cool as reading the Bible in its original language! I have a Hebrew Old Testament, a Latin Bible and a German Martin Luther translation Bible. Back when I was single and had lots of time on my hands I liked to memorize the same verses in different languages. I would love to learn Greek with my kids.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m always fascinated by people who have a gift with learning languages. I struggled through 2 years of Greek in highschool and remember very, very little. I have enjoyed learning along with the children, but pretty soon I’ll have to get my own book and really study if I really want to keep up.

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  11. celee
    October 21, 2009 | 12:32 am

    That’s the fun of homeschooling! I love that about Sonlight, that I get to learn right along with them!

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  12. Kim
    October 21, 2009 | 10:59 am

    I have never heard of the Hebrew Homeschooling lifestyle. Can you please share? I am interested in learning about this. Thanks!

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  13. Kathi
    November 7, 2009 | 1:56 pm

    When you mention Hebrew Homeschooling, do you mean Heart of Wisdom?
    We use MFW, which uses English from the Roots Up…we learned Greek roots last year, and are learning Latin roots this year. We also have Latina Christiana I, but haven’t used it. I would love to get Rosetta Stone Hebrew.
    Maybe we’ll look more into Greek though!
    Found your blog today (Large Family Mothering comments), and am loving it!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    I’m actually not familiar with Heart of Wisdom. What I mean by Hebrew Homeschooling is homeschooling based on the pattern of the Old Testament and how God tells the Hebrews to train their children in the things of the Lord. My husband and I believe that if that method or system is God-ordained for teaching our children the most important things in life, then it should be the best way to teach our children those things that are not quite as important.

    If I were to summarize what I think of as Hebrew homeschooling it would be in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, teaching our children as we live our lives together. Relational homeschooling.

    Maybe I should go check out Heart of Wisdom…… :)

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  14. Erin
    February 16, 2010 | 12:26 am

    I think it’s wonderful that you’re teaching your children Greek! I took four semesters (i.e. two years) of Greek in college with the focus on Classical Greek and Koine(Biblical) Greek. Learning the Classical first made the Koine easier to learn. I also took two semesters (one year) of Hebrew and absolutely loved it! I firmly believe that I learn much more from reading the Bible in the original languages than I do reading it in English. Translating it takes much extra time and effort, but I feel that it is always worth it!
    If the Lord blesses me with a husband and children someday, I plan on homeschooling our children and teaching them Greek and Hebrew.
    Keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I hope that at least some of our children will progress to learning Hebrew. What a great background to have experience with both.

    Do you know of a good program to teach Hebrew to kids (especially if the parents don’t have that knowledge?)

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    Erin Reply:

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of a program to teach Hebrew to kids. We used the text book “Fundamental Biblical Hebrew” by Andrew Bartelt when I was first learning Hebrew. It’s published by Concordia Publishing House. I’ll email my Hebrew professor and ask him if he knows of any good resources for teaching kids Hebrew.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I appreciate you looking into that for me.

    Our oldest son (10) is very interested in Hebrew. We want him to get a little more established with his Greek, but will be looking for something in the future.

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    melinda Reply:

    Erin and Kimberly, did you ever get that Hebrew for kids recommendation? I thought I read that you (Kim) used something specific but I can’t find it now. I think I’d like to start some Hebrew…if I can just figure out how :)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Melinda,

    I don’t have any recommendations for Hebrew. Developing proficiency in Greek is still taking all of our time.

    Our son, Matthew, who I mentioned was interested in Hebrew is now thinking that Hindi may be a better language for him to pursue. (He believes that the Lord may be calling him to be a missionary to India.)

    I am still very interested in hearing suggestions for teaching Hebrew to children!

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  15. Sarah
    February 21, 2010 | 4:42 pm

    I recommend this self-teaching book for learning the Hebrew alphabet:
    http://behrman.powerwebbook.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=6065

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  16. My Boaz's Ruth
    March 19, 2010 | 5:22 pm

    This is fabulous! I’ve often thought the two languages I’d want to learn the most are Greek and Hebrew (I even took a half year of Hebrew courses; had to drop out due to logistical problems). (though living where we do, I’d put Spanish in there, not primarily for the ability to get jobs, but also for mission opportunities! IT is very difficult for me to talk to half our neighbors because they don’t speak much English — they are primarily Spanish speakers. The husbands tend to have more English because they work out in the “world” but the wives and young children don’t. Inviting them to our church would be both difficult and pointless; I can not imagine they would feel comfortable if they don’t understand most of what is being said. So that puts it more on me, personally, and our children to model Christ and, one day, to be able to share Him with them.

    Finally, because of the large number of Spanish speakers in our area, one productive avenue for reaching our neighbors is English-language tutoring.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Spanish is another language that I would love to be able to teach the children. As you mentioned there are many practical uses for it in our area.

    [Reply]

  17. Homeschool Greek | Raising Olives
    May 12, 2010 | 4:47 pm

    [...] arrived in the mail. I know I’m getting ahead of myself.  I had planned on telling you why we chose to teach Greek and then how we have taught it up to this point, but these books look like so much fun, I just had [...]

  18. John
    May 13, 2010 | 12:35 pm

    I love this post. It made me consider how much of our current thoughts on HS curriculum is influenced by the “in” thing. We had said that we would like to teach Latin to our children when they are old enough but that was mainly because that is what all of the classical ed folks do. We were going to add Greek in Highschool but that was a concession to my passion for the biblical languages (I have my undergrad degree in biblical languages). However, that “concession” never sat well with me since we are pursuing a Deut 6 model of education in our home as well. This helped clarify and clear some of the “clutter” away so I could re-examine our language choice in light of our eternal goals. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I agree. Who said that homeschooling eliminates peer pressure?

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  19. Dauna
    June 3, 2010 | 12:59 am

    Is it modern Greek of ancient Greek you are teaching the kids? I always wanted to learn ancient Greek. Then I married a Greek man (who, subsequently knows little Greek, but half of his family lives in Greece, and his dad just moved back 3 years ago). It makes way more sense for me to teach my kids modern Greek, but my father in law says he can only read about 30% of the Bible because he doesn’t know ancient Greek. This makes me a little sad, but learning both seems way too ambitious for me. I have been once already before kids (and we’ve been married 9 years), but we are planning to go every other year from now on, so I gotta get moving with the kids lessons…

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We’re teaching the children Koine Greek so that they will be able to read and study the New Testament.

    How neat to have a Greek heritage!

    [Reply]

  20. [...] to GA, while digesting lots of good info from a favorite blog RAISING OLIVES, I discovered a post (http://raisingolives.com/2009/10/why-teach-greek/) concerning how this family was studying Greek and their choice of curriculum.  WHAT?  How [...]

  21. [...] large table ($25 at a bookstore going out of business sale) is where the children work on Greek, handwriting, math and copy work as well as art or craft projects. It’s larger than it [...]

  22. Jenny Davis
    November 2, 2010 | 9:20 pm

    I was thinking of leaning towards Spanish… I think it’s because, not only is it so widely used today, but also because I took a few years of it in High School and am fairly confident about teaching it. On the other hand, I can literally use the cliche “It’s all Greek to me”, because I know NOTHING of the Greek language. NOTHING! It really comes down to a lack of confidence… Am I the only one unsure in my abilities on the subject?

    [Reply]

  23. Kori Ireland
    April 8, 2011 | 2:36 pm

    I am so glad to read a review on this. I have looked at it off and on. We definitely want to teach it, but haven’t done it yet. Probably out of fear. :-) The more I read the Bible and study it alone and with my kids, the more I wish I could read the original language – so much is lost in translation! I want our entire family to be able to truly study God’s Word.

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  24. Laura Hostetler
    May 23, 2011 | 3:51 pm

    I love it that many are interested in learning Biblical Greek. However, it does bother me a little that so many are sure they are missing out on some of God’s truths by not reading the original language. No scripture is given by private interpetation. It is admirable to study the Bible and even look up meanings when you are confused, but be careful not to put more importance on the language than the message. One more thing with these wonderful ambitions of learning Biblical language consider translation work for the many languages that don’t have any Bible available to them at all. There are more than a thousand with out God’s word in their language. Keep up the good work.

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Laura,

    I’m curious that you say, “it does bother me a little that so many are sure they are missing out on some of God’s truths by not reading the original language.”

    Who conveyed that sentiment?

    Who is putting “more importance on the language than the message”?

    Our motivation for choosing Greek rather Latin is BECAUSE of the message.

    [Reply]

  25. Laura Hostetler
    May 24, 2011 | 9:59 am

    Kori Ireland said “so much is lost in translation”. I am in absolute agreement for the reason to learn it. We are currently teaching our children Greek and would love to work on Hebrew someday for translation purposes and it will have an extra benefit of helping clarify some things for themself. I know for myself there have been times when looking up a word in the Greek really did make me understand it more ( meek and quiet spirit is one example.) I suppose part of it also is I have been in churches before where a preacher used the Greek to try to explain away truths that were clearly taught throu out scripture, and expected everyone to bow to his superior knowledge just because he knew a few Greek words. I should not have used past unpleasant experiences to taint my view of this conversation. It is a valuable thing to learn and I look forward to seeing more post on this topic and tips inhow to accomplish teaching Greek.

    [Reply]

  26. Rachel
    August 24, 2011 | 1:47 pm

    I recently discovered your blog and have been reading older posts through the links in your new posts. I love the idea of teaching a biblical language to our children. My son is still 2 years away from beginning school but we do plan to homeschool. I am gathering ideas and praying for wisdom now. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

    [Reply]

  27. Casey
    August 24, 2011 | 3:37 pm

    I also just discovered your blog through the Not back to school blog hop. My son is only in Kindergarten this year, but I’ve been wondering about what language we will use in the future. I took French in high school, but have never used much of it. I was considering Spanish because at least there are some Hispanic people around that they could talk with. But I love the idea of learning Greek or Hebrew so they could read the bible in its original language. I think I would love to learn it with them too! And it really is something that they could use their whole lives. We always hear our pastor telling us what the Greek words are and what they mean, how great to understand it yourself. Thanks for the inspiration today.
    Casey

    [Reply]

  28. Tuvia
    September 17, 2011 | 3:40 am

    Sounds really interesting. Our kids are bilingual in Hebrew and Swedish, and we’re teaching them English as a third language (first foreign language) from 1st grade. And whenever the possibility comes up for another language I think Arabic would come in more useful here in Israel. But Greek would also be great… I wish! But I would really need a good curriculum for both Greek and Arabic since I don’t speak any of those languages myself.

    By the way, once you get started with Hebrew, we’re available for any questions you might have. We speak modern Hebrew at home, and the kids are learning biblical Hebrew in their Torah-classes. That’s actually part of the regular public school curricula here in Israel, whether you are religious or secular. The Old Testament is our national heritage – kinda our Shakespeare.

    [Reply]

  29. Nicole
    October 22, 2011 | 2:11 pm

    This is a great thread for me right now. I have wanted my children to learn Spanish, because we live in Los Angeles and have Spanish speaking relatives and neighbors. My husband is fluent in Spanish, and is also currently learning Hebrew. I would love to hear of good resources for introducing Hebrew to my littles. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  30. Janee
    November 2, 2011 | 12:57 pm

    I am really enjoying reading your blog. I’ve homeschooled on and off for several years. Originally as a means to transitions my kids from one system to another while we dealt with issues at both public and a private Christian school. This is our first year of permanent homeschooling. I always liked the idea but could not get it to work on a practical level with my kids. We are finally in the right place to be able to do it in a way that is functional. I had decided to teach them Spanish but now think maybe we need to look into Greek. One other homeschool family in our group is teaching it to their kids as well (the dad is a Greek professor at a local University). Thank you for sharing your reasons for doing what you do. I wholeheartedly agree with your goals and enjoy reading about how you are going about meeting them.

    [Reply]

  31. Kristi
    June 18, 2012 | 10:34 pm

    Thanks for the great post!! We have decided that we will start our children off with Latin first, starting in K, and transitioning into Greek at about 3rd grade or so, once they’re established in Latin. We’d love to start with Classical Greek, but, unfortunately, there aren’t many Classical resources out there for younger children. There aren’t many Greek resources out there in general, which seems to be a real shame. We’ll start Hebrew when they have a fundamental grasp on the Greek. After that, our children are free to learn whatever they feel called by God to, but I want them to have those three down, both for the linguistic knowledge and the spiritual.

    [Reply]

  32. Jamie
    July 25, 2012 | 4:07 am

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this! My husband and I studied Koine Greek in college and for some reason I hadn’t even really seriously considered teaching it to our children. Wow. What a good idea!

    [Reply]

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