I thought about titling this post Where Angels Fear to Tread . . . Figures Mike Doesnt Know Any Better.
Ive given the idea Ill sketch out below considerable thought over the last year. A year ago I asked newsletter subscribers if they would be willing to pay for Greek and Hebrew courses from me. There wasnt a huge response, but what did come in was positive. I more or less dispensed with the idea as other issues were more pressing. That means Ive either been inspired in recent weeks to revisit the idea, or that I took a stupid pill. You be the judge.
Ive decided that Im going to take a step of faith and try the learning Hebrew / Greek with Mike idea. Ive been prompted by a couple of things. Last year I taught some courses at a local university. None of those courses were ancient languages, but I decided to give students in my ancient Egypt class extra credit if theyd stay 10-15 minutes to learn ancient Egyptian after I dismissed everyone else. I had close to a dozen stick it out the entire quarter, and our progress surpassed my expectations. A few weeks later I discovered online groups (yes, I seem to find everything late) when an Egyptology blog I subscribe to scheduled some Yahoo groups for teaching and learning Egyptian. The idea intrigued me. Next, my employer decided that we need to develop ancient language courseware of some type. Now that Ive finished my second reverse interlinear, Im devoting a lot of time at work to thinking through the video lessons Ill be doing for that. Those wont be at all like what Ill describe below (I dont have the equipment, plus our philosophy for what were doing there is pretty non-traditional), but they did at least motivate me. Lastly, I believe that during my lifetime what we think of as professional biblical and theological education may well have to be done off the radar in light of the current and emerging socio-political climate. All these forces have converged to make me think that I need to take a whack at this. If it works, Ill do more, including non-language courses. Anyone interested in taking Hebrew or Greek with Heiser, read on.
In a nutshell, Ive plotted out an independent study course for each language that will take an entire year. Students will have two weeks to master each unit (usually a chapter from a grammar, but sometimes more). I will go through each unit and the answers to all exercises in the grammar through the magic of screen capture software (with audio of course). It will (I hope) be the equivalent of having a professor there with you explaining the chapters, exercises, and answers. For questions and interaction with others, Ive set up a Google Group for each course. Ill lurk in the groups and incorporate posted questions into my explanatory videos. The course is ideal for beginners and for those who need a refresher.
Sound cool? I think so. But there are some catches:
1. Its still going to be work. Youre only going to get out of it what you put into it. Im right there with you, but I cant (and wouldnt) do the work for you.
2. Theres a cost. Im not doing it for free, since its a real time commitment on my part. To do this I have to axe other things I do for free (and yes, Im still planning to finish the Myth book by the end of September) and dont do for free on the side. Id just rather do this in lieu of the latter, if there is enough interest. The cost is going to be about 10% of what youd pay at any college, university, or seminary for a year-long course.
3. Theres a schedule. The courses are slated to begin on October 4 and have to be prepaid. I am setting a limit at 15 people, and a minimum of 5 people. If I dont get five people to sign up, I wont do the course (and youll get a refund). If you arent in the 5-15 who sign up by October 4, you wont get in. Youll have to wait for the next module (if there is one). Once the courses start, they will move along in two week increments. Within those two weeks, you work according to your own schedule and convenience.
But wait, theres more! (Sorry, I just wanted to say that).
Well, I guess there really is more. Here are the course syllabi (Hebrew; Greek) that people who sign up will get upon payment. Here is the link on my main website to sign up for the course. Im administering this through E-Junkie; those who have bought a paper or subscribed to my newsletter know the system. Ill remove the product link after October 4. Note that if you sign up for both theres a big discount.
Ill be sending this announcement out to my email lists, but I wanted to give blog readers the news first. So, the clock is ticking. You have seven weeks, so tell your friends (and maybe some enemies). Well see if I can get five people to take the plunge with me.