B-Greek Survey Report of October 19, 1997
Carl W. Conrad
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Wed Sep 2 17:45:46 EDT 1998
N.B.: This report is dated a little less than a year ago; while the
list-membership as well as the venue of the list has changed since then, I
think there's little reason to suppose that the nature of the membership
has changed fundamentally, so I'm hopeful that a re-posting of this survey
may be illuminating in the light of the question posed to us this afternoon.
B-Greek Survey: Our List
Preliminary Note: I am not a statistician, and I really don't know how to
evaluate the particular sample of 117 respondents out of about 450
list-members of B-Greek and B-Greek-Digest (with double-subscribers
eliminated); nevertheless it's about 25% and it includes a goodly
proportion of our most active contributors. To me the most interesting
thing to note is the broad variety found in responses to every section of
the survey, be it professional or lay status in the church or in academia
or other vocations, or be it the degree of baptism by water or fire in
Biblical Greek from wet toes and sprinkling to total immersion, or be it
what we are looking for from our fellow-posters, our peeves and
gratifications, the resources and published contributions of many, and the
earth-encircling range of our own particular internet community. Most
gratifying of all to me is that the responses to this survey are a clear
indication that our list is indeed a genuine community. Finally, I have
tried to do just a little bit of interpreting of the responses rather
giving you only the bare-bones statistical data. --cwc
If there are any who have not yet responded to the survey and would still
like to, we shall post the text of the survey at the List Archives
(http://sunsite.unc.edu/bgreek/); you can copy the text with your web
browser, fill it out and send it to me at cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
1. WHO WE ARE:
33/117 Laypersons seeking to enhance skills in Biblical Greek
20/117 Pastors seeking to enhance skills in Biblical Greek
5/117 Undergraduate college students studying Biblical Greek
3/117 Seminary students studying Biblical Greek
16/117 Laypersons chiefly interested in Koine language/linguistics
36/117 Professional teachers of Biblical Greek
Others: Ph.D. candidates; one who wants involvement with "dispassionate
scholarship in order to keep my scripture interpretation honest"; one
missionary in Peru; one pastor "beginning to use the GNT in personal
meditation"; one "bored pastor seeking intellectual stimulation."
2. WHAT KINDS OF GREEKS WE ARE:
6/117 have done little or no study in Biblical Greek
16/117 have taught themselves much of what they have learned of Biblical Greek
36/117 have done one or more years of formal course work in Biblical Greek
50/117 have been reading and studying Biblical Greek for several years
9/117 opted the "other" category and have explained themselves as holding
advanced degrees in Biblical Greek or in exegesis involving skills in
Greek, four list-members admit to active involvement in research projects
directly concerned with Biblical Greek linguistics
3. WHAT WE FIND MOST USEFUL IN LIST MESSAGES:
76/117 appreciate grammatical explanations of specific Biblical passages
75/117 are looking for exegetical insights into Biblical meanings as
derived by grammatical analysis
76/117 are interested in questions directly concerned with Biblical Greek
linguistics, including lexicology, morphology, and syntax
67/117 enjoy learning of new or useful bibliographical information through
47/117 like discussions of pedagogy and experiences of others in learning
and teaching Biblical Greek
10/117 mentioned other items that they appreciated or commented further on
the utility of the list as follows:
"like being able to put specific questions about my problems and get
"looking for and happily finding some information on ways Biblical and
Classical Greek are related" (this was not my comment! cwc)
"like to see postings about Greek materials available at other sites on the
"looking for anything bearing upon the Synoptic problem"
"like the atmosphere of the list and the generosity of list-members"
"like the challenges to my own theological conservatism to sharpen my
"enjoy even the flames and doctrinal discussions"
"enjoy everything posted; that's why this is my favorite list "
4. OUR WEAKNESSES -- AND OUR STRENGTHS:
Please note that these "peeves" overlap each other, and that some
complaints from one side of the spectrum are neatly balanced by complaints
from the other side of the same spectrum!
(a) 26 persons complained in different phraseologies about what I would
call "theological imperialism"--the endeavor to promote a distinct
theological attitude as normative for all; it is worth noting that this
complaint is voiced from both ends of the spectrum.
(b) 17 persons complained about "interminable threads on subjects already
(c) 11 persons complain about "flaming, discourtesy, clear violations of
(d) 5 persons complain of posts that are clearly external to the focus of
(e) One person complained of "repeated questions about fundamental things
in morphology or syntax," while another was most grateful for "recurrent
clarifications of elementary grammar."
(f) A few complained of "gender wars" on the list; another spoke more
bluntly of "testosterone-spitting contests disguised as 'theological
(g) One theological conservative complained of "discussions from people
outside the Christian paradigm," while another one professed that "even
challenges to conservative theology are helpful for sharpening apologetic
(h) A couple people noted how ready people are to respond to a question
which they soon reveal their incompetence to discuss; I'd say that this
shows something good about the list: we're not afraid to make fools of
ourselves and are sufficiently confident that if we're wrong, somebody will
soon tell us about it.
(i) The threads on verbal aspect, as might be expected, drew grateful
comment from some who felt they had learned a lot from them, while others
admitted they found these threads utterly boring. I'd like to think this
means we have a fair degree of tolerance for differences in what people are
(j) There were complaints about "long philosophical discussions." Scholars
got called down for "academic arrogance" and "appealing to credentials."
One respondent went so far as to say, "Scholars won't open a can of worms,
but go into technical questions with no practical significance." I'm quite
sure that was directed at myself; not being a fisherman, I really don't
like cans of worms and I confess to enjoying discussions of technical
questions with no practical significance, such as whether there is a
"doctrine of the subjunctive."
(k) Some respondents expressed frustrations of one sort or another: --the
volume of list-messages is too heavy to keep up with (suggestion: get the
digest and read only what matches your own interest); --the transliteration
schemes are inconsistent and hard to get accustomed to (but we're not going
to prescribe a single transliteration scheme); --the archive is not up to
date (sorry; Jonathan has been very busy lately and is in the course of
changing jobs; we must consider ourselves very fortunate to have as
complete an archive as we do have); --many complain of excessive citation
of an entire previous thread-history (it clogs up the pipeline, hindering
one's eagerness to find what, if anything, is being said that is NEW in
this thread); --some complain of people changing the subject without noting
the change in their subject-headers; another complains that a question may
be asked on a topic and the focus will shift to another poster's concern
before the first question has been answered.
(l) One complained of the number of persons that repeatedly send their
requests to be subscribed or unsubscribed directly to B-Greek rather than
to majordomo at virginia.edu; I know that some people just never learn how to
do this, but I also suspect that "unsubscribe" requests come in
surprizingly soon after I have posted something outrageous to the list and
I always suspect that they're just trying to tell me something.
(m) The recently-established guidelines spelled out in the B-Greek FAQ and
in clarifying statements made on the list have evoked some comments in the
survey also: while one respondent complains about the narrow restrictions
placed upon subjects open to discussion, a majority pretty clearly finds
the restrictions and the manner of their enforcement welcome. Thus one
respondent, after mentioning three or four peeves, goes on to say, "but
this is the best list I'm on." A relatively recent subscriber says, "... a
very good list with a competent and learned staff ... "-- isn't that
sweet?-- "... I have learned very much in my 9 months on the list." Another
writes, "I have been on this list seven or eight years and learn a lot at
times. The best thing that has happened is the current system of policing;
some are still off on a theology point, but it is better now." Another
long-term list-member is far less enthusiastic, but nevertheless hopeful:
"... it's not as bad as it once was ... "
5. WHAT SOME OF US HAVE WRITTEN:
--John Moe: "I have publised articles in LOGIA on, EUANGELISTHS, 1John 1:9,
and a Review essay on the translation 'GOD'S WORD.'"
--Jim West: "I have a book forthcoming from Quartz Hill Publishing Company
(end of'98): _Biblical Studies: A Beginners Guide to the Study of the Bible_
--Brian Wilson: "I have had an article published in the _Expository Times_,
June 1997 Volume 108 number 9 pages 265-268 on "The Two Notebook
Hypothesis: An Explanation of Seven Synoptic Problems."
--Mark Goodacre: publications are listed at
--A.K.A. Adam: "I am always pleased to find that people have read my _What
Is Postmodern Biblical Criticism?_ from Fortress or _Making Sense of New
Testament Theology_from Mercer U P.
--Paul Bodin: "I have a papyrus in the most recent volume of _Columbia
Papyri_, and a section of "Preaching Helps" in _Currents in Theology and
--David Warnock is Associate Editor for the _Criswell Study Bible_.
--Carlton Winbery: _A Morphology of New Testament Greek: A Review and
Reference Grammar (with James A. Brooks) 1994; _Syntax of New Testament
Greek_ (with James A. Brooks) 1978.
--Ward Powers: _Learn to Read the GNT_. SPCK Australia; _Marriage and
Divorce: The NT Teaching _ Family Life Movement Australia; _Ministry of
Women in the Church: Which Way Forward _ SPCK Australia
--Micheal Palmer: _Constituent Elements of NT Greek Discourse_ Peter Lang
--Rolf Furuli: "I will, during the first part of 1998, publish the book
_The Role Played by Theology and Bias in Bible Translation - with an
Investigation of the New World Translation of Jehovah`s Witnesses_ .One
third of the book discusses linguistic principles related to Bible
translation and the rest discusses the role of bias and theology in the
translation of theologically important passages. It has a final chapter on
how a reader not familiar with the biblical languages can come as close to
them as possible when he studies the Bible."
--Grzegorz Turkanik: "Yes, but unfortunately it is all in Polish "
--Edward Hobbs: "Most of it is out of print."
--Chris Stanley: "My book, _Paul and the Language of Scripture_ (Cambridge
U. Press, 1990) contains a wealth of detailed textual data regarding Paul's
handling of the text of his biblical quotations. This could prove helful
when questions arise about the Greek text of Paul's quotations. I have also
published detailed studies of various Pauline texts in journals and
collections of essays, but it's probably not worth your trouble for me to
cite them here.
6. RESOURCES SOME OF US HAVE MADE AVAILABLE ON THE NET:
--Rod Decker: http://www.bbc.edu/courses/BBS/RDecker/Index.htm
--Andrew Bromage: http://www.prairienet.org/prisca (not his, but his
--Carl Conrad: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/
--John Sweigart: http://intheBeginning.org
--Mark Goodacre: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/q.htm "A World without Q"
--Jonathan Robie: The Little Greek Home Page:
--Debbie Gaunt (Cybertheology): http://dialspace.dial.pipex.com/debbie.gaunt/
--Brian Wilson: http://www.twonh.demon.co.uk/
--Micheal Palmer: http://home.earthlink.net/~mwpalmer/
7. WHERE WE LIVE AND/OR WORK:
Of 117 respondents: 8 currently reside in Australia, 8 in the United
Kingdom, 4 in Canada, 2 in Norway, 2 in the Philippines, 1 each in
Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Guatemala, Peru, Poland, and Sweden. States in the
USA represented are: Arkansas (1), Arizona (1), California (5), Colorado
(2), District of Columbia (2), Florida (4), Georgia (1), Illinois (5),
Indiana (1), Iowa (2), Louisiana (2), Maryland (2), Massachusetts (1),
Michigan (4), Minnesota (4), Missouri (2), Mississippi (1), North Carolina
(6), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio
(3), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (6), South Carolina (2), South
Dakota (1), Tennessee (5), Texas (7), Virginia (2), West Virginia (3),
Wisconsin (1), Wyoming (1).
Carl W. Conrad
Co-Chair, B-Greek List
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cconrad at yancey.main.nc.us
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