Below: A folio from Papyrus 46 containing 2 Corinthians 11:33-12:9. It is one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts in Greek, written on papyrus, with its 'most probable date' between 175-225.

Did you know? 

  • The Greek language has written history going back to 1400 BC and is currently spoken by over 13 million people. Besides Greece, the Greek language is also spoken by different communities in Cyprus, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Southern Italy, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, UK, Germany, Canada, US, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and others.  The Greek alphabet was the basis for the English language.

Going Greek in the Summer

by Jo Fisher-Kretzler (MDiv'14)

There is a Czech proverb that states: “When you learn a new language you gain a new soul.” There is some truth to this as learning a foreign language does more than teach you how to speak in a foreign country or translate a manuscript. You also learn a new worldview and gain a glimpse into a culture far different than your own.

This is true of Koine Greek. We learn Greek and Hebrew in seminary to translate our sacred scriptures, but we also are given insight into the ancient world, and sometimes the etymology of the words guides us to the origins of theological thought.

This summer The Greek class is being taught by Professor John Alsup assisted by Mike Koski, Jo Fisher-Kretzler, and Jesse Lee. It is taught using the R.I.T. method: recognizing verbs, nouns and prepositions, identifying how they are working in a sentence, and then translating their meanings. The class is fairly intensive, meeting for three hours every weekday for six weeks.

I interviewed middler student Travis Gould about this process and how he envisions using Greek in his future endeavors.

Jo Fisher-Kretzler: Are you surprised by how much Greek you have learned in a few short weeks?

Travis Gould: I am surprised by the amount of Greek I've learned. While I can't read fluently, I can quickly recognize various parts of speech and the tense, voice, and mood of most verbs. It's been fun to learn this new language and begin to see how it might influence ministry.

JK: What do you love most about Greek Camp?

TG: I enjoy the opportunity to develop a community through our common experience of learning the language. In a sense, it's an "immersion" experience, and traveling with companions always adds to the richness of the journey.

JK: How do you imagine you will use Greek in both your academic career and your ministry?

TG: Quite simply, I hope to read the New Testament in its original language more and more.  Similarly, studying this ancient language has helped inspire me to continue to learn other languages that are spoken today, such as Spanish. Learning Greek reminds me to be humble in my interpretation of Scripture, since there is obviously such a large gap between those who wrote and read the original texts and those who read them today. While we can see with insight in our modern era, this insight is always incomplete. I will continue to study Spanish, as well as Greek and English, searching for the good news that permeates all languages.


As a graduate of the Seminary I have discovered that we learn so much more than the mechanics and sentence structure of the language. Embracing Koine Greek is like having the keys to a time machine and being invited to travel to the first century to sit at the feet of the thinkers and writers who first considered the importance of the Gospel.

In the words of novelist R. M. Brown: “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”