MALS (the Macquarie Ancient Languages School) has been running for almost 40 years now, a 1 (at times 2) week intensive school offering, initially Ancient Greek, but now and for some time a range of ancient languages. It typically runs both a summer and winter course.
I first attended MALS over 15 years ago, I’d say. There was a blessed period in which Scottish Gaelic was offered, and it was my first exposure to Gàidhlig in a live, conversational mode. I learnt a lot from those experiences. I also, over the years, took a number of Greek courses here.
Since 2015 I’ve been tutoring with MALS, taking Intermediate/Advanced Biblical/Patristic Greek. In that time I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a considerable range of texts not normally available to students of Greek, due to the lack of helps. Those have included : the Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (in its Greek version), selections of Josephus, the Acts of Paul and Thecla, the gnostic Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gregory Nazianzus’ Oration 29, Gregory of Nyssa on the Divinity of the Son and the Spirit , the Shepherd of Hermas, Melito’s On Pascha, and this week Esther and selections from Chrysostom’s Letters to Olympias.
That’s a considerable range of texts! I had to go through my archives to confirm what we’d read. It’s been a real pleasure to work through these with students, though my classes are always incredibly small. My section often fails to meet minimum numbers and runs purely by the goodwill of the organisers.
Why is it that, given that this is perhaps the only opportunity, in Australia, to read non-New Testament and non-classical texts, outside pursuing a higher research degree, that there are so few students? I don’t know, to be honest. Of course, every individuals circumstances are different, but there are indeed few opportunities to read and study these kinds of texts, in Greek, unless your Greek is already so excellent as to not need help.
I hope that MALS continues to grow and run in strength for many years to come. Greek aside, it is also one of the few places one can learn other, less commonly taught, ancient languages.