I thought about titling this post “Where Angels Fear to Tread . . . Figures Mike Doesn’t Know Any Better.”

I’ve given the idea I’ll 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 wasn’t 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 I’ve either been inspired in recent weeks to revisit the idea, or that I took a stupid pill.  You be the judge.

I’ve decided that I’m going to take a step of faith and try the “learning Hebrew / Greek with Mike” idea. I’ve 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 they’d 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 I’ve finished my second reverse interlinear, I’m devoting a lot of time at work to thinking through the video lessons I’ll be doing for that.  Those won’t be at all like what I’ll describe below (I don’t have the equipment, plus our philosophy for what we’re 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, I’ll do more, including non-language courses. Anyone interested in taking Hebrew or Greek with Heiser, read on.

In a nutshell, I’ve 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, I’ve set up a Google Group for each course.  I’ll 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. It’s still going to be work. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it.  I’m right there with you, but I can’t (and wouldn’t) do the work for you.

2. There’s a cost.  I’m not doing it for free, since it’s a real time commitment on my part. To do this I have to axe other things I do for free (and yes, I’m still planning to finish the Myth book by the end of September) and don’t do for free on the side.  I’d just rather do this in lieu of the latter, if there is enough interest. The cost is going to be about 10% of what you’d pay at any college, university, or seminary for a year-long course.

3. There’s 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 don’t get five people to sign up, I won’t do the course (and you’ll get a refund).  If you aren’t in the 5-15 who sign up by October 4, you won’t get in.  You’ll 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, there’s 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. I’m administering this through E-Junkie; those who have bought a paper or subscribed to my newsletter know the system. I’ll remove the product link after October 4. Note that if you sign up for both there’s a big discount.

I’ll 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). We’ll see if I can get five people to take the plunge with me.