[B-Greek] Tips for first-time teaching of NT Greek?

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Sat May 3 23:45:59 EDT 2008

I don't think the pedagogies you choose in teaching
  (or learning) Greek matter much.  Your students will
  learn Greek very well if they are bitten with the Greek]
  bug, if they wind up averaging say an hour of Greek a 
  day for the rest of their lives.  If they don't, they won't.
  So I think your ultimate job is not to teach forms or 
  explain imperatival hINA; they will or will not
  learn that on their own--"therein the patient must 
  minister to himself."  Your job is to somehow inspire
  the students to understand that falling in love with
  Greek will make their lives richer in a way nothing else
  will.  That the life which does not examine the bare dative
  in not worth living, as Socrates might say.  I have to say
  with all due respect that none of my Greek teachers in
  school really did this.  They were all wonderful, but years later
  I realized for the most part they were not passionate about
  ME becoming passionate about Greek.  They seemed more
  interested in letting us all know how smart they were, how 
  well they knew Greek and in so doing they made Greek seem
  harder than it really is.  Years later, after keeping my Greek
  barely alive as on a ventilator, I was watching a sermon on
  TV. by James Kennedy and he said in passing that he tried to
  read a little NT Greek everyday.  THAT did it for me, somehow,
  that inspired me and since then I can count on one hand the
  days I have spent without doing some Greek.  I don't know how you
  can inspire your students thus, but I know that this is much more
  important than whether you go with Mounce or Machen or Erasmus
  or Buth.
  Having said that, I would emphasize early on that the aorist is
  the default tense, it is the progressive that is seeking more
  attention in form and meaning.  I would use Mounces'
  Morphology of Biblical Greek (for yourself, not for them)
  in explaining principle parts.  I would try to teach the root
  idea of the cases and emphasize that prepositions further
  pinpoint the meanings of the cases more than determining the
  meanings themselves.  For what it is worth (and it is worth very
  little, because people are perversely attached to a given 
  grammar just because it worked for them; all grammars work
  pretty much equally well) I would use Machen over Mounce
  because I think his exercises are still unmatched for systematically
  leaning all elements of the language.  The revised edition is pricey
  but no more than Mounces grammar and workbook, although again
  Mounce is good and Baugh and Ray Summers and a half dozen others.
  As far as being an effective teacher in general, people think that
  knowledge of the subject is one of the most important elements of
  good teaching.  It is not; it is probably the ninth or tenth most important
  thing.  Knowing Greek well is helpful, but you will be learning along with
  the students and that is better.  Often, teachers know the subject TOO well
  and therefore fail to teach what they need to.  The three most important
  elements of good teaching are (1) and by far most important, ENTHUSIASM (2) 
  ORGANIZATION and (3) FAIRNESS, which includes making sure you
  make contact with each student to encourage them and leave none behind.
  Give tons of encouragement and praise.  Remind them that after they learn
  the alphabet they know more Greek than 99% of all the Christians that
  ever lived and that they will make it if they just stick with. 
  I thank God that He is giving you this long awaited opportunity and trust that
  you will do great!
  Mark L. 

Kenneth Litwak <javajedi2 at yahoo.com> wrote:
  In teh Fall, I"m gong to have the great opportunity
to teach NT Greekj. I've not done that ever before,
even though I've wanted to do so for a long time. The
course is an intensive, 12 units of Greek, the whole
first year, in one quarter. The standard textbook
(though I don't think I have to use it) is Mounce (I
learned using Machen, long before Mounce's book
existed). From looking at Rod Decker's web site, I
got some other ideas about things to potentially also
bring in. However, I would just like to know if
anyone has tips for a first-timer, as this is unlike
any course I've taught before. Conveying information
on, say, Acts, is totally different from teaching the
1 Aorist forms. I've looked around search results
from Google for tips but not found much taht I thought
was useful. Of course, I got way many more hits than I
examined, so theer may be gold out thjere I didn't
look at. Thanks.

Ken Litwak 

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