After much consideration of various ways to improve the foreign language experience at Greyfriars Classical Academy (GCA), the Board has decided to introduce two new courses at the high school rhetoric level: Greek I and Greek II. These two courses will replace Latin I and Latin II at GCA starting in the fall. We found many compelling reasons to move to Greek starting in grade 9, complementing the work in Latin that is done by students in the Greyfriars Tutorials program prior to high school. Here are eight of those reasons:
- Greek allows all incoming freshmen to participate in our Language Arts program. Currently, the Latin track makes it difficult or impossible for those who do not have prior experience with Latin to begin in 9th grade.
- Learning the original languages of the Bible offers a closeness with the text that bears much fruit. The New Testament was written in Greek and the entire Old Testament was translated into Greek long before Jesus was born. The Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) was the version used by many people, including Jews, Gentiles and early Christians. The apostles and Gospel writers often quoted from this Greek translation of the Old Testament when writing the Greek New Testament.
- Greek, like Latin, is an inflected language, and thus the grammatical benefits accrued from studying Latin will continue into the study of Greek.
- The body of Greek literature is ten times as large as that of Latin1, offering a wider opportunity for translation practice, and, eventually, for reading literature in the original.
- Greyfriars now offers both classical languages: Latin for those in the Grammar and Logic Tutorials, and Greek for those in the Rhetoric program at the high school. “Not to know Greek is to be ignorant of the most flexible and subtle instrument of expression which the human mind has devised and not to know Latin is to have missed an admirable training in precision and logical thought” (Sir Richard Livingstone, past president of one of the colleges of the University of Cambridge).
- Both Greek and Latin are helpful for deciphering the meaning of English words. The full GCA experience will offer both languages.
- Mastery of Greek (should students continue to study the language beyond high school) will make available not only the New Testament and Septuagint, but also the earliest Christian authors after the period in which the New Testament was written (e.g., Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, Justin Martyr). In addition, most of the Jewish literature that was written between Malachi and the birth of Christ was also written in Greek2.
- Many classical educators emphasize the complementary nature of learning both Greek and Latin3.
- See Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, rev. ed. 1996), as quoted by Kenneth Berding, “Why Classical Christian Educators Should Teach Greek Instead of Latin” http://www.thegoodbookblog.com/2015/nov/09/why-classical-christian-educators-should-teach-gre/)
- See Kenneth Berding website above.
- Cf. Tracy Lee Simmons, Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 2nd edition (September 15, 2007), p. 166: “Certainly the classically educated man and woman must have both Greek and Latin….”