[B-Greek] Marketing Biblical Greek

frjsilver at optonline.net frjsilver at optonline.net
Wed Sep 12 10:01:55 EDT 2007


MALISTA FILESTOI!  Bravo!

For some reason, my mind wandered to Keats's brief paean on 'Chapman's Homer' quoted just below.

Imagine the pleasure of reading hOMEROS in the original -- no dictionaries, no grammars!  Imagine the joy of reading the gospels and letters without the distractions of an intermediate apparatus!

Peace and blessings to all.

Father James

Monk James Silver
Orthodox Church in America
 
 
Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
John Keats. 1795–1821
  
634. On first looking into Chapman's Homer
  
MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold, 
  And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; 
  Round many western islands have I been 
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. 
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told         5
  That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne: 
  Yet did I never breathe its pure serene 
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
  When a new planet swims into his ken;  10
Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes 
  He stared at the Pacific—and all his men 
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise— 
  Silent, upon a peak in Darien.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Carl W. Conrad" 
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 6:45 am
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Marketing Biblical Greek
To: "Jeffrey T.Requadt" 
Cc: 'B-Greek' 

> 
> On Sep 11, 2007, at 10:44 PM, Jeffrey T. Requadt wrote:
> 
> > 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
> 
> Jeffrey, I very much appreciate this well-meditated, 
> knowledgeable, 
> and thoughtful response. It raises in stark contrast the two 
> alternative approaches to serious study of Biblical Greek that 
> have 
> long been under discussion on this list and in practice in 
> undergraduate schools and seminaries.
> 
> (1) On the one hand there's the brief and perhaps intense 
> exposure to 
> the elements of Biblical Greek grammar coupled with a bit of 
> practice 
> in reading and Englishing Biblical Greek texts, most of which 
> one 
> probably recognizes from memory of standard versions.
> 
> (2) On the other hand there's the methodical and industrious 
> long- 
> term appropriation of instantaneous recognition of forms and 
> anticipatory discernment of emerging syntactic patterns that is 
> essential to reading a hitherto unseen Greek text with 
> understanding. 
> I think that this could be accelerated and made much more 
> efficacious 
> through Randall Buth's method of intense classroom oral 
> application,including use of Biblical Greek for grammatical 
> metalanguage.
> 
> I won't say that (1) is useless or altogether unworthy of the 
> endeavor; I will only say that what is gained from it is rarely 
> the 
> understanding of the Biblical text that schools and students 
> really 
> want their students to acquire.
> 
> Is it an either/or choice? I've pondered that question many 
> times and 
> experiences in the early years of my teaching career and at the 
> end 
> of it have profoundly impacted my thinking about this choice:
> 
> (a) Back in the 1960's, when I was young and had just completed 
> my 
> doctorate, the Arts and Sciences faculty at Washington 
> University 
> voted to alter the foreign language requirement for the B.A. 
> from 
> "proficiency" to completion of two years of study of a 
> language. I 
> voted against the change, preferring rather to drop the foreign 
> language requirement altogether and thereby to endeavor to lure 
> those 
> students who really wanted to learn Greek or Latin. The chair of 
> my 
> department was furious with me for voting as I did. I think the 
> idea 
> was that a quarter-loaf is better than none, that exposure to an 
> 
> alien culture is a healthy thing for undergraduates, and -- 
> probably 
> most important -- that survival of our department, whether we 
> liked 
> it or not, depended upon a captive classroom.
> 
> (b) In January of 2001, when I was on the verge of retirement, I 
> 
> taught a one-month intensive course in Biblical Greek at Eden 
> Seminary, a course that students were required to complete 
> before 
> doing NT Exegesis: the class met five days a week for three 
> hours a 
> day for four weeks. It was a class of about fifteen. We plowed 
> through a textbook (I realized very soon that it had been a poor 
> 
> choice, but I felt the alternatives were not much better). I 
> think 
> that three of that class were bright enough and threw their 
> hearts 
> and souls into learning Biblical Greek and really did acquire 
> sufficient competence to meet the needs of the kind of exegesis 
> done 
> at that seminary. I question seriously whether the rest of the 
> class 
> acquired enough from that class for any useful purpose.
> 
> (c) Some of the better students that I had over a 40-year 
> teaching 
> career were M.Div. students at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis 
> who 
> were concurrently taking an M.A. in Classics with our department 
> at 
> Washington University. They had done four years of Greek in 
> colleges 
> and loved the language and literature and were eager to do the 
> extra 
> work to pursue the M.A. (some of them even taking time to 
> complete a 
> Ph.D. with us) simultaneously with their seminary work. If they 
> had 
> begun the language with no more than a desire to read the Greek 
> Bible, they had acquired in the course of the time something of 
> an 
> intimate passion for the Greek language and the literary 
> classics 
> composed in it.
> 
> It may seem that the question is whether students of Biblical 
> Greek 
> need, for the purposes of understanding the Biblical Greek text, 
> a 
> minimal grasp of essentials that is grounded in glossaries, 
> basic 
> reference grammars and proof-of-pudding English translations of 
> familiar Biblical Greek texts, or whether they need, for the 
> purposes 
> of understanding the Biblical Greek text, the competence to read 
> 
> Greek texts that are not familiar to them but that are 
> comparable and 
> at least coeval with the Biblical Greek text. Is there something 
> 
> between "minimal" and 'real" competence? My view is that a 
> student 
> who really wants to understand the Biblical Greek text should 
> never 
> be satisfied with "minimal" competence but should strive toward 
> "real" competence. I'm still striving.
> 
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Ret)
> 
> ---
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