[B-Greek] RE: Why learn Greek?

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu Feb 20 08:03:37 EST 2003

I just want to add a note here; I too, especially after an off-list
exchange with Mark, am quite satisfied that the above is the point that
Mark particularly intended to make in his original post to the list that is
reproduced below. It's certainly a valid point that citation from BDAG or
the like is not necessarily the appropriate final word in a discussion
about usage in a particular text--and I suppose that I'm guilty of such
citation myself without making further comments.

On the other hand,

(a) I think that serious questioners on this list HAVE on more than one
occasion, followed up a citation from such a respected resource with
further questions about the validity of what is presented in the
resource--and that's appropriate too, in my opinion: any assertion offered
by anyone or any source is open to further discussion and subject to
invalidation by evidence offered;

(b) I also think that Mark's phraseology in his original post was a bit
misleading and suggested that one might reach a point in one's grasp of
Koine Greek where one might not be dependent upon such resources--and that
seems to imply that one doesn't need them any more. I think some of the
other responses to Mark caught that unintended implication; my own post was
intended to argue that the major reference resources are never to be
considered negligible by anyone seriously endeavoring to understand an
ancient Greek text, no matter how "advanced" in Greek that person may be.
Those major reference resources are by no means inerrant--a fact that has
been demonstrated in this forum more than once--but they do represent the
invaluable fruit of the labors of generations of scholars upon whose
experience and wisdom all of us who study Greek must necessarily rely and
to whom we owe an inestimable enduring debt of gratitude.

At 11:09 AM +0000 2/20/03, Anthony Forsyth wrote:
>In a sort of defence of Mark Wilson, I read what he wrote somewhat
>It was my understanding that he was responding to the mentality of "BDAG
>says it, so that's the end of the matter" and he was pointing out that
>getting an understanding of Greek so that we could use these references
>and then be, for all intents and purposes, bound to their conclusions,
>was not enough.  Rather we should be able to look at what these tools
>say and try and understand WHY they say what they say so that we can
>agree (almost certainly the vast majority of the time) or disagree with
>their conclusions.
>The phrase Mark used that has caused the problem is "be dependent on" -
>my understanding was that he meant that in the sense of "total
>dependence" as if they were unchallengeable - not a reference to
>depending on them for help day to day.
>But only Mark will be able to say what he really meant.... :-)
>Anyway, I just wanted to respond because I read Mark's original post,
>thought it was really good, and yet have agreed with the all the points
>made by all the posts disagreeing with him!  I guess I just read it
>Anthony Forsyth
>Calvary Bible Church, Medway, UK.
>anthony at calvarybiblechurch.org.uk
>> [Original Message]
>> From: Mark Wilson <emory2oo2 at hotmail.com>
>> To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
>> Date: 2/18/03 6:22:24 AM
>> Subject: RE: [B-Greek] RE: Trench's Synonyms
>> >But I do not agree that BDAG should have the last word! That is very
>> >lexicon and it has an important contribution to make, but it is not
>> >infallible.
>> I hope the reason many have undertaken the study of Greek is so they
>> do
>> have to rely on Trench, BDAG, etc. Using secondary sources, such as
>> BDAG,
>> should only be used as a pointer. Secondary sources inform us / point
>> One reason I decided to learn Greek is so I would not be dependent on
>> sources such as commentaries, lexicons, etc. What is the point of
>> Greek if we are going to stop at lexicons? Is that learning Greek? Can
>> we
>> any better than say, "Well, that's what BDAG says." (Like those who
>> know
>> Greek and say, "Well, that's what this commentary says.")
>> Bear in mind I have a long way to go myself, but that is the direction
>> I
>> headed. Am I heading in the right direction?
>> Mark Wilson
>B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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>B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at mcsinternet.net
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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