St. Raphael offers biblical Greek courses for beginning and continuing students. Studying Greek trains children in the art of grammar universal to all language, as well as giving them access to the New Testament and Septuagint, Byzantine hymnography, and Patristic writings in the original tongue.
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More About Greek at SRS
Why study Greek at St. Raphael School?
Learning to read the New Testament and Septuagint as they were originally written is a cornerstone of a Christian liberal arts education (and a great foundation for later study of pre-Christian Greek classics). Moreover, for Orthodox Christians interested in serious study of theology, church history, iconography, or Byzantine chanting, Greek is a must. Biblical Greek is simpler than Attic or Homeric Greek, making it appropriate for younger learners. And the immediate relevance of Greek class to the students’ lives is clear when they learn to sing familiar hymns or say well-known prayers in Greek.
Our immersion in the prayers and hymns for the feasts brings us into the rhythm of the liturgical year. This inductive approach nourishes our souls, as well as providing inspiration and context for the labors of the deductive approach found in the grammar curriculum. To give just one example, the Lord’s Prayer in Greek contains an instance of three out of the four cases of the first person plural pronoun: Our Father (genitive/possessive), give to us our daily bread (dative/indirect object), and deliver us from evil (accusative/direct object). Our textbook instructs us in the usage of these pronouns, and we memorize the paradigm that lists them in Greek, but learning the prayer as well gives us context.
Which pronunciation do you use?
Most Koine Greek textbooks for schools, including the Memoria Press curriculum that we use, teach “Erasmian” pronunciation. This sounds different from the Greek that you hear today in church. Scholars differ on what they believe Koine Greek sounded like, but the Modern pronunciation is used in Orthodox settings. Students who learn the Modern pronunciation should not have much trouble learning the Erasmian, if they go on to study Ancient Greek in a secular or Protestant academic setting. (If your student is eager to get started on Greek over the summer, please don’t use the first two chapters in the Memoria Press curriculum, but get in touch with Mrs. Stripling for Modern pronunciation resources!)
Students who already know the Erasmian pronunciation or whose parents are able to help them with it are welcome to use it, but they are encouraged to learn the Modern pronunciation with the class so that they can sing the Greek hymns that will be supporting their study.
Which class is right for your child?
In Greek Alphabet Primer, we spend a whole year learning the Greek alphabet, along with short hymns and prayers. It is appropriate for children who can read early chapter books and won’t be confused by a new alphabet. No grammar background is necessary. Assignments consist of reading short lessons, drawing, coloring, copy work, reading saint’s lives, and memorization. Parents will check work at home. Suggested grade level is 3–4 (ages 8–10), or Level 2 Liberal Arts readiness.
In Greek Grammar Primer, we will cover the alphabet in the first month, and then proceed slowly through elements of Greek grammar. (See course for details.) It is appropriate for children who can read advanced chapter books and who show readiness for abstract thought. English grammar will be taught alongside Greek grammar and vocabulary. Assignments consist of reading short grammar lessons, completing grammar exercises, memorizing Greek vocabulary, grammar paradigms, and short hymns. Parents will check work at home. Suggested grade level is 4–5 (ages 9–12), or Level 3 Liberal Arts readiness.
In Greek 1, Greek 2, and Greek 3, we use a curriculum from Memoria Press that is clear and simple, introducing and reviewing elements of the Greek language at a comfortable pace, aiming at comprehension and mastery. In our weekly meetings, the instructor prepares the students for the upcoming week of home study by reviewing paradigms and vocabulary, explaining the lesson, and coaching students through translations. Workbook exercises assigned for each day of the week provide the repetition necessary for mastery of grammatical concepts, and flashcards aid in vocabulary recognition. In class, we devote much of our time to diagramming, classifying, parsing, and translating English and Greek sentences. This gives students an intimate working knowledge of the sentence, the basic structure of all languages. These courses are appropriate for students who read advanced chapter books and are familiar with the English parts of speech. Students submit tests online once a week, but parents check workbook at home. Suggested grade level is 6–9 (ages 12–15), or Level 4 Liberal Arts Readiness or above.
In Greek 4, we learn several more important grammatical concepts and paradigms. We move to reading selections from the New Testament and Septuagint, with study aids graded to the students’ level, working toward taking off the “training wheels.” This course is appropriate for self-motivated students who would be capable of taking Level 6 Liberal Arts and have mastered the concepts of Greek 1–3, with the possibility of testing in for those who have studied elsewhere.