[B-Greek] RE. Marketing Biblical Greek

Timothy Mitchell taztimmitchell at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 12 01:46:50 EDT 2007

I have been teaching myself Koine Greek for almost 2 years now, mainly from Mounce's BBG, Wallace's GGBB, together with struggling to learn grammar and sentence structure through BibleWorks Diagramming tools. But the most beneficial activity for me is when I pick up the GNT and read it! I have been struggling with reading it for 2 years now, but I have been able to read it! Slowly, more and more as my vocabulary builds. I have also been trying to work through the GNT while [properly] (there is some debate on that one) pronouncing the words in my head even when I am reading to myself. This has slowly helped me to connect the Greek words and sounds with the idea or object that the Greek word or clause is describing. Despite my limited knowledge of Greek but because I have spent a lot of time struggling on my own I would have to agree with Jeffrey T. Requadt, that there seems to be no point in learning Greek for the point of understanding the NT if one is going to always realy heavily onn tools. I find that a lot of the time my Greek retention goes down and becomes lazy and sluggish when I use Bibleworks to much (it is still a Great program to use for exegisis and Textual Criticism!) but tools can become a crutch! Just as commentaries can become a crutch, instead of immersing oneself into the Biblical text on ones own and digesting it and understanding, and comprehending the text for oneself! My point is in agreement with Jeffrey T. Requadt's point that it is much better to first understand and read in the language you know best, instead of just doing the job of the translator all over again. Some day I hope to know and understand Greek as good and better than I know English. Which in the near future I hope to use Randall Buth's "Living Koine Greek" material, with this type of study the primary use of language (spoken) is implemented in learning and language comprehension, as is natural for everyone. Thanl you all for letting me participate in B-Greek!
In Christ
Tim..."What happy application, what praiseworthy industry, to preach to men by means of the hand, to untie the tongue by means of the fingers, to bring quiet salvation to mortals, and to fight the devil's insidious wiles with pen and ink! For every word of the Lord written by the Scribe is a wound inflicted on Satan. And so, though seated in one spot, the scribe traverses diverse lands through the dissemination of what he has written"...   -Cassiodorus, Institutiones (C. 536 AD)  

> From: jeffreyrequadt_list at hotmail.com> To: cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu; b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org> Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2007 19:44:56 -0700> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Marketing Biblical Greek> > I remember reading the same blog to which Carl refers (I subscribe to it as> a user of its product), and thinking that it was exactly what we (or, more> accurately, usually people who know a lot more than I) have talked about> many times on this list: (a) what is the point of learning Greek, New> Testament in particular; and (b) what is the best of way doing so? The> longer I listen to this conversation, and think about the various arguments,> as well as my own experience in life with people in ministry, the more I> think that maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea if seminaries DIDN'T teach> Greek (or maybe Hebrew, since I don't know anything about that, but I expect> that the same educational/academic philosophies govern both departments at> the seminary level).> The reason for this is precisely the examples given both in the blog and> what I see in churches today. Not that I think it's a bad idea for ministers> of all kinds to learn Greek; rather, I obviously think that if you want to> truly understand the New Testament, and consequently the doctrinal teachings> of the New Testament, you must have a deep understanding of the language and> culture of the people who wrote the New Testament. So if seminaries wanted> to teach Greek as it should be taught--perhaps the way classics used to be> taught--where a student was expected to be able to translate things BOTH> ways, to read fluently and to comprehend what they read, etc. I think that> so many times when I've heard people say "the Greek says/means," it's> usually citing their sources because they don't actually know. I can't think> of how often in Bible college fellow students and I would debate what the> different phrases meant without having any real understanding of how those> phrases were used in lots of different literature. Yes, knowing a little> Greek can help you read commentaries, but I can't say that knowing a little> Greek has really helped me to evaluate the actual arguments of the> commentaries on what the Greek means! I will say that knowing a little Greek> has given me a much greater appreciation for the style and humanity of the> literature within the NT (and occasionally, when I have the occasion, the> LXX or a church father), but that has to do with my appreciation of> literature, not my comprehension of, and fluency with, the Greek language.> So all I'm saying is that if you want to know how to English the Greek New> Testament, get a good translation, or a multitude of English translations,> just like many others on this list have said.> I'm really not elitist, because I come from a rich Baptist heritage that> values the common person. I teach third grade in a public school. I believe> that every person is intelligent in some area. And most of all, I strongly> and firmly believe that every single person is capable of reading the> English New Testament and understanding it if they take the time to read it> in context, using common sense, just the way they would read any other piece> of literature. Taking one year of Greek (or even two) does not enable anyone> to truly contribute to their own understanding of the New Testament, or to> anyone else's understanding, unless that time is spent in truly becoming> proficient in Greek, not just Englishing the Greek. In fact, I think the> elitism comes from thinking that only people who have studied Greek (or> Hebrew) have a "true" understanding of the Bible.> Just like this list isn't really for studying the Bible, but for studying> Biblical Greek, I think that if people really want to study the Bible, they> should start to read it for all its worth in their native language. If they> truly want to go beyond that and study it for all it's worth, they should> learn Greek to the best of their ability, not haphazardly, not for one or> two years, not part-time, and not just to retranslate into English what has> already been done superbly (and not-so-superbly) many times over. To get> back to my original questions: (a) what is the point of learning Greek? If> your reason is to truly understand the New Testament without going through> someone else's interpretation (i.e., a translation), then the answer to (b)> [what is the best way of doing so] can only be something like "get to be as> fluent as you can in Greek. If your reason is to know "what the Greek REALLY> means," as if somehow all the other English translations have got it wrong,> then you don't really want to learn Greek: You really want to learn a very> limited body of knowledge separately from its entire field.> If I can put that in an analogy, that's like learning the multiplication> table without truly understanding what multiplication is. When I am teaching> my students to read, I don't want them to not just decode (i.e., figure out> what the words say), but also to comprehend--and not just comprehend what> the words "mean," but also to connect what they're reading to other things> that they have read, to their own experience, and to what they know about> the world. In other words, I am trying to teach CHILDREN, not CONTENT.> Getting back to Greek, I would want my students to learn Greek, not just to> know what specific words mean in specific circumstances in specific cases or> tenses, etc. I think a great deal of harm has been done to understanding the> Greek of the Bible by years and years (and probably decades) of behaviorist> education that wants people to exhibit certain behavior (i.e. automatic> translation, or reproducing the paradigms) without truly connecting the> words and the phrases to the meanings and culture behind them. And I think a> great deal of harm has been done to the church by people who believe that> finding all the occurrences of a certain word in the New Testament, and> doing a word study based on that, is truly learning the meaning(s) of that> word.> Again, I am a user of Logos; I have used it a great deal in the past to do> research and to understand the Bible. I think it's a great product. But when> I hear things like "this can be accomplished using automated tools," I think> that these people want language learning to be "easy." I don't know that> it's really possible to learn a language "easily." I know you can spend your> time effectively, and maybe learn it without lots of distraction, but I> don't think that's necessarily "easier." I think this really stems from a> much deeper problem that we want things to be easy in our life. We don't> like to struggle! If you want biblical literacy to rise, as the author of> the blog states, then maybe we should have more people ACTUALLY READING THE> BIBLE, not studying little words in a language they don't really know. If> you want Greek literacy to rise, maybe you should have people ACTUALLY> READING GREEK. What a concept!> And now I'll get off my self-righteous, long-winded soapbox! I'm sorry if I> offended anyone; I certainly didn't mean to. But I am continually concerned> by what I see as lazier and lazier attitudes towards studying and becoming> proficient at something.> Have a good day, everyone.> > -----Original Message-----> From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org> [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Carl W. Conrad> Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2007 4:18 AM> To: B-Greek> Subject: [B-Greek] Marketing Biblical Greek> > I have found in this morning's perusal of the "Biblioblogs" another> item on Biblical Greek (and Hebrew) pedagogy. Posted yesterday on the> Logos Bible Software Blog, it is entitled "Original Language Study: A> Boutique Specialty." You can find it at:> > http://blog.logos.com/archives/2007/09/boutique_specialty.html> = http://tinyurl.com/2xormj> > Judging from the tenor of the numerous comments appended to it, I> suspect that many will applaud what's set forth in this essay. I have> my own doubts whether it is understanding the Biblical text or> acquisition of competence in reading Biblical Greek or something> else that is being marketed here. It is the "reverse interlinear"> that is being promoted here: you start with an English translation> and somehow you work back toward an understanding of the Greek text> and thereby you learn Greek.> > Carl W. Conrad> Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)> > ---> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek> B-Greek mailing list> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek> > > ---> B-Greek home page: http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek> B-Greek mailing list> B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-greek
Can you find the hidden words?  Take a break and play Seekadoo!

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