[B-Greek] Webb & Kysar's Greek for Preachers

Ken Penner ken.penner at acadiau.ca
Sun Apr 23 21:48:32 EDT 2006

I would like to clarify some potential sources of misunderstanding that may arise from Randall Buth's reponse to my post in this thread.
Primarily, I want it to be clear that the method I am proposing and what Randall advocates are not mutually exclusive; they are in fact compatible.

1. I am a supporter of Randall's teaching method with the goal of "internalization", as well of of his reconstructed Koine pronunciation and of his proposal to introduce verbs through the Aorist Inifinitive ("Verbs of Perception and Aspect: Greek Lexicography and Grammar" in _Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography_, edited by Taylor, Lee, Burton, and Whitaker).

2. If I understand Randall's analogy correctly, the problem he sees is that academic committees are satisfied or content with too little. I agree. My proposal aims to raise the language requirement rather than lower it. Randall's criticisms are against low academic standards; they do not appear to be against my proposed method.

3. My proposed method is not driven by the desire to meet the needs of committee decisions; it derives from principles of linguistic pedagogy. The major influence in this linguistic pedagogy is Robert W. Funk's now out of print Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek. For Funk's own explanation of his approach, see http://www.nauman.org/funk-bighg/preface.html and http://www.nauman.org/funk-bighg/intro-2.html Funk notes, "It is commonly supposed that the major task in learning a new language is learning the lexical meanings of words. This is not in fact the case. The more important as well as the more difficult task is learning the grammatical structures and structure signals (Gleason: 98)" (003). He argues that "the prior requirement for the use of a language is knowledge of the grammatical system, i.e. of the grammatical structures and structure signals" (003).
Specific statements of which I imagine Randall would approve include "(5) The student is advised to take every conceivable shortcut reading the signals of the language: explicit, full grammatical knowledge is no substitute for native response where reading ability and comprehension are concerned" ("A Personal Word"). 

4. The object is to get students using the language as early as possible. My method equips students to do so in half the time of standard methods (in 36 classroom hours / 135 total hours any text of the OT would be accessible). 

In my first year teaching Hebrew at university, I used a typical grammar (Seow). I started with a class of 48 mostly undergraduate students taking the course as an elective. Only 12 of these 48 registered for the second half of the class. The other 36 were left with an almost useless experience of Hebrew, without ever having been introduced to a wayyiqtol (the most common verb form). This is why I now favour a one-term overview of the language, getting a familiar but humble feel for the whole, with the second term filling in those mechanical skills that will be expected of them from the instructor of the second-year language course. There is nothing to stop these students from subsequently also internalizing the language more thoroughly using a method such as Randall's, if they have time to do so. I hope my course will in fact engender the desire to do so.

Ken Penner
Acadia Divinity College/Greek&Hebrew
Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic vocabulary memorization software: 

> O DE Penner 
> > This is the type of course I am planning to run next year (but for
> Hebrew): We would have one overview term of grammatical 
> concepts and only the most basic paradigms and vocabulary, 
> teaching the use of electronic tools for parsing and most 
> vocabulary. Then in the second term we would go back over 
> much of the material in more detail, developing independence 
> from the electronic tools, bringing the students' skills up 
> to the point normally expected from a first-year course.
> I am glad to hear there is a textbook for the first term of 
> this method for Greek; I was planning to write my own for Hebrew.>
> Ken and Scott are undoubtedly meeting the needs of 
> well-meaning administrative and academic committee decisions. 
> I commend Ken and Scott. 
> The fact that academic committees move in such directions I 
> attribute to a failure in the field to meet its true 
> responsibilities. To what may this be compared?

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