COOKEVILLE — It’s still Greek to them, but the original language of the New Testament is getting clearer every day for Tennessee Bible College students Jeff and Judy McDaniel.
The retired Gainesboro couple, who are members of Frederick Church of Christ, just completed their first Greek course and are now enrolled in a second one for the summer. A third is in the plans for the fall.
“The last time she and I were actually in a class together, I had football practice after school,” said Jeff, thinking back to their high school days 46 years ago. Both graduated in 1975 from Musselman High School in West Virginia.
Jeff went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Tennessee Tech University, while Judy studied nursing at George Washington University. Both enjoyed long careers in their professions before deciding to further their Christian education at TBC.
Jeff was the first to take the plunge. He enrolled in January 2020 to pursue a master’s degree in theology. But first he would need to take some prerequisite courses, one of which was New Testament Greek.
While on campus earlier this year to complete registration for the spring term, he introduced Judy to TBC’s vice president and instructor of Greek, Kerry Duke.
“They talked, and the next thing I knew, she was in the Greek class with me,” Jeff said. “But it’s been very good because we’re learning this together.”
Judy had a couple of reasons for enrolling, one of which was helping her husband to be successful in the course.
“Learning a foreign language is a challenge, and if you don’t have somebody to practice it with, you never really learn it,” she said. “You need to use it on a daily basis. So knowing that for him it was important to take this class, to be able to support him was very good.”
Her other reason had to do with the Bible itself — so she wouldn’t have to wonder, “Is that really what it says?”
“We bought a Hebrew-Greek Bible,” she said. “So now if I have a question about something, I can go back and look at it, read it, and be able to translate it.”
Jeff added, “I thoroughly enjoy the class because, first of all, Dr. Duke is just a fantastic teacher — all of the teachers here are first class. Also, it’s very humbling trying to learn something all these years later.”
The McDaniels, who have three children and 12 grandchildren, are sometimes asked why they would want to go back to college after retiring.
Jeff’s response is simple: Why not?
“I’m not going to be a preacher at this stage in my life,” he said. “This is a bucket list. I came here to learn the word of God. I didn’t grow up in the church like many have. I have severe gaps, and this college is helping me fill those gaps so that I now understand the stories and lessons better. I’m just thoroughly satisfied here.”
Judy, like her husband, is taking other TBC courses in addition to Greek, and she encourages others to consider doing the same — no matter their age.
“So many people think ‘I’m too old’ to do this or that,” she said. “Classes like these are things you can do regardless of how old you are and your background. You don’t have to have a college education to take this Greek class. So that’s a nice thing.”
TBC, founded in 1975, offers a two-year diploma in Bible, bachelor of religious education, and master’s and doctorate degrees in theology.
For more information, call 931-526-2616 or visit www.tn-biblecollege.edu.
“I highly recommend this school,” Jeff said. “It’s just a great place to learn the truth.”
-Amy Davis, TBC Correspondent