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 Should I Take Greek Classes at a Seminary or Learn on My Own?

FluentGreek is a Biblical Greek reading fluency program. Many students considering the program reasonably wonder how they can learn enough Greek grammar to get started. In this article I will compare traditional seminary New Testament Greek courses with self-study to help you decide which is right for you.

Before beginning, let me say that FluentGreek is neutral on the question. Different approaches will be right for different people. Your focus should be on reading proficiency in either case, using the coursework to support your reading.

What is True of Both Approaches

  • Information – The same textbooks, containing all the information you need to learn, are used in both cases.
  • Lectures – Seminaries host in-person lectures, but high-quality lectures are available for free or for purchase for self-study. Some students can make do using the textbooks without lectures.
  • Accreditation – If you are seeking an MDiv, or similar, most seminaries will let you test out of Greek. This means you can get credit hours towards your degree with either approach.

The Advantages of Taking New Testament Greek Courses at a Seminary

  • Accountability – Possibly the main benefit of traditional coursework are the assignments and exams you must complete to pass the class. Many struggle with discipline and find assigned completion dates to be the motivation they need to progress.
  • Member of a learning community – Another significant benefit is being part of a learning community that studies Biblical Greek together. This helps create motivation to learn, support, and camaraderie.
  • Office hours – Though language learning requires less external support than the study of, say, theology, it is still nice to be able to ask for help sometimes.

The Advantages of Self-Study

  • Cost – The seminary I attended is $585/hr at time of writing. A typical seminary Greek sequence is 9 hours, which equates to $5,265. For self-study, Harris offers an online course for $299. Accreditation likely costs around $100. Because students must purchase the same textbooks and supporting materials regardless of approach, self-study costs between $0-$399 compared to ~$5,000.
  • Learning Approach – Seminary classes typically make students of grammar textbooks instead of competent readers. These are not at all the same thing. As stated at the beginning of this article, your aim should be to become fluent in Biblical Greek, using grammatical study to refine your understanding as you progress. Learning grammar, without fluency, makes you good at neither grammar nor reading.

In-person New Testament Greek courses may be right for you if you want to be part of a learning community with built-in accountability, you anticipate needing extra help, and you can afford to pay the costs. Self-study may be right for you if you are able to maintain motivation and study habits to study Greek without requiring external compulsion. The FluentGreek Syllabus lays out a self-study program for those who are interested.