[B-Greek] RE: Why learn Greek?

Glendon Gross gross at xinetd.ath.cx
Thu Feb 20 08:54:12 EST 2003

Carl W. Conrad wrote:


>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
>by anyone or any source is open to further discussion and subject to
>invalidation by evidence offered;
Would it be fair to observe that the detail and amount of information
contained in BDAG can be somewhat intimidating to the uninitiated?
If so, then perhaps this is one of the reasons such posts from BDAG have
an air of finality about them, causing one to think twice before
challenging such well documented conclusions.

>(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
>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
>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.
While Mark's terminology may have been misleading, I suspect that it
represents an ideal that many of us are striving for:  to arrive at that
state where we are able to read the greek text and feel that we have
understood nearly 100 percent of what it means.  I have known that
feeling on a number of occasions, when I get lost in the text and forget
that I am reading a foreign language.  I do believe that when we
are in that state of mind, we are able to receive more from the text than
when we are forced to consult a lexicon after reading each word.
Personally I would rather cultivate this feeling that comes from immersion
in the text than be forced to feel tied down to lexica and other secondary
aids.  I'm not under the illusion that I will outgrow the need for lexica, but I love that feeling of being
immersed in the text and feeling that the text itself is sufficient to
bring understanding, however illusory it may be.  Deep down inside I confess I have the hope
that the insights
that come when one is immersed in the greek text are not mere illusions,
but rather genuine insights that result from a closer interaction with the
of the original author.  Yet I would agree that after having such
insights, it is necessary to temper them by testing them against the fruit
of Walter Bauer's excellent scholarship.


Glendon M. Gross
Amateur Greek Student

>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
>>>I hope the reason many have undertaken the study of Greek is so they
>>>have to rely on Trench, BDAG, etc. Using secondary sources, such as
>>>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
>>>any better than say, "Well, that's what BDAG says." (Like those who
>>>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
>>>headed. Am I heading in the right direction?
>>>Mark Wilson
>>B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
>>B-Greek mailing list
>>B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org

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