[B-Greek] How NOT to learn Biblical Greek

Bryan Cox bccox99 at tx.rr.com
Sat Jul 14 10:33:07 EDT 2007

While I can appreciate the warnings, as an autodidact, I have a very 
different opinion of the various tools that instructors nearly denounce as 

Tools such as interlinears, parsing guides, computer software (eg. 
Accordance, Bibleworks, Logos, etc.), and online resources (eg. Perseus, 
Zhubert, Blue Letter Bible, etc.) can also be extremely valuable to those 
learning the languages.

In the beginning, the learner will obviously be heavily dependent upon such 
resources (unless instructed otherwise, which I think can also be 
potentially damaging to learning).  However, the more often one makes use of 
such resources, the more will sink in and become memorized over time.

My own experience began with reading through an interlinear Greek Bible.  I 
focused on the Greek words and grammatical structures, referring to the 
English as necessary for lexical definitions and some help with grammar (of 
course other sources must also be used since the English cannot always 
follow the Greek perfectly).  As I continued through the interlinear, my 
recognition of words and sentence structures became better and better so 
that I was eventually able to graduate to a Greek Bible (by Zondervan) that 
had minimal word definitions at the bottom of each page.  Finally, I was 
able to procede to a purely Greek Bible.

So, while I understand the warnings given, I feel that they may discourage 
(and even scare away) students from using tools that may also benefit them. 
I can't tell you how often I've heard the mantra blindly repeated by recent 
graduates from seminary that interlinears and parsing guides are bad and 
should not be used.  Why?  They are very helpful tools if used correctly 
(that's why they exist to begin with)...I think this sort of indoctrination 
can be damaging.

Just my 2 cents.

Bryan Cox
Plano, Tx

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu>
To: "B-Greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, July 14, 2007 5:55 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] How NOT to learn Biblical Greek

>From his early days as a reporter of parliamentary debates, Charles
Dickens was an indefatigable satirist of the way British government
functions. The "Circumlocution Office" is the primary instrument of
Britain's parliamentary government in Dickens' late novel, "Little
Dorrit." The fundamental concern at which the Circumlocution Office
labors diligently day and night is "how not to do it."

The blog to which I call attention this morning bears the title I
have cited in m my subject-header above. It is yesterday's offering
in "Withering Fig," maintained by Stephen Hebert:

OR: http://tinyurl.com/2yrxq

I must say that the advice offered therein is not at all at odds with
what I've urged repeatedly in this forum myself, but I cite the key
headers and applaud in parentheses:

"(1) “Reading” Through Perseus: By far, the most egregious error that
students make is the extensive use of sites like Perseus, or software
like Logos or Accordance."
(That is to say, make an interlinear your primary resource -- and an
online interlinear is quicker and dirtier)

"(2) Study for the Exam"
(That is to say, memorize all the endings and rules so that you can
reproduce them on demand; I've seen all too many students who could
parrot the endings and rules of grammar and still couldn't make sense
out of a paragraph or two of Greek text.)

"(3) Skip to Koine"
(That is to say, read the Greek NT first and only, and by no means
make forays beyond the LXX.)

And finally: "No matter what you do, practice is essential. I
strongly suggest using flash cards and daily schedules. Treat it like
exercise. Heck, get religious and fanatical about it. Do it with
friends if that motivates you. Just find some way that keeps you
doing it day in and day out."
(Amen, Amen!)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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