[B-Greek] Invasion of Technology

George F Somsel gfsomsel at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 10 02:39:09 EDT 2009

I would generally agree with you regarding the invasion of technology making some too dependent upon what others have said rather than reading the texts themselves.  I have been a strong advocate of the Logos software for some time; HOWEVER, one thing I do is to stay completely away from interlinears and analytical lexica.  If you use the morphology in an electronic text at all (and why not?), it should be only after you have yourself formed an opinion on the matter.  It thus serves as a confirmation (or disconfirmation) of your thoughts on the matter.  There is nothing in the software to keep you from reading, reading, reading, and you should continue to do so.  Use it wisely and it can be quite helpful.  Consider the time saved in grabbing a print copy of BDAG and looking up some word you either don't know or would like to know better when you simply click on the word and the book appears already open to the correct location.  Time is
 saved.  Use that time to

Also, don't be afraid to disagree with the experts if you believe you are on solid ground.  I just moments ago posted on two verses in Galatians where I took issue with the usual understanding, but this is not simply taking issue with the software itself but with centuries of interpretation IN PRINT FORM.  In the end, the experts may be correct and I may be wrong, but I stuck my neck out and disagreed.  Hopefully my head won't be lopped off as a result.

… search for truth, hear truth, 
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth, 
defend the truth till death.

- Jan Hus

From: Louis Sorenson <llsorenson at hotmail.com>
To: B-Greek List mail to all <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 10:56:15 PM
Subject: [B-Greek] Invasion of Technology

Hello all,

After several years of using online tools for reading NT and classical Greek (I have a good number of books, grammars, lexicons, commentaries, etc.), I finally went and purchased the Logos Original Languages software ($212 on sale). A week or two ago, I had purchased the new BDAG (2001 Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich) lexicon.  I had been very active learning classical Greek twenty-five years ago, and again reconnected with Greek about 4 years ago.  I'm an old guy who has linked with technology. I have been very active using the GNT and Tischendorf texts in a database format. My lanuage background is strong. I had 10 years of high school, college and post-college education diagramming sentences, using both the traditional and modern tree-structure methods of diagramming sentences..

One of the drumbeats put forward by those who lead the b-Greek list, is that technology has replaced many of the "stations of the Greek learner".  When I opened up and installed the Logos software, multiple interlinears and sytactical/diagraming tools and utilities were also installed.  I was amazed at how many tools were included in the software bundle.  It was overwhelming -- OVERWHELMING -- the focus changed from reading Greek texts, to reading what others say, or how others analyze Greek texts.  This is the invasion of technology.

After years and years of diagramming English sentences, I find what I have always believed. The emphasis on diagramming and identifying forms, parsing verbs, etc. has overtaken the goal of those who are studying ancient Greek.  Diagramming sentences does not help you understand pararaphs and the flow of thought in a passage (Discourse analysis was not taught in my day).  Who, when reading something in their native language of English begins to parse verbs, or diagram a sentence before they decide they understand what that sentence is saying? People pay attention to tenses, etc. , but when do they talk about "he said it in 3rd singular"?  "No, it was 2nd person plural!"  If there are discussions, they say "He said 'him!' or "He said 'You all'. It's a level above the simple parsing that happens in the stilted Greek education of western modern-day Christendom.

The Lexham interlinear, present in the Logos software,  and all other versions do help one begin to get a handle on a text (I used the Hebrew Lexham interlinear to help me get back into Hebrew), but it is a cheat. It does not let me pick up an unknown Hebrew/Greek text tommorrow and begin reading it.  

I strongly believe that the digital tools of the new millenium will help people learn Greek and Hebrew when used in moderation. But getting the Logos software also made me keenly aware of the CAVEAT of those who have climbed the Greek/Hebrew mountain. Don't rely on tools -- what you need to do is READ, HEAR and COMPOSE.  

The last few months I have been teaching a Greek class on 1 John and leading an online Psalms reading group.  But while I study all the books on the book of 1 John or the Psalms, I have noticed that my reading of texts has crawled to a standstill.  Aristophane's Frogs (and a commentary) and Chariton's Callirhoe have been sitting in my book bag just waiting to be read. The very skill that will help me become a better teacher (being skilled at reading Greek) has been put to the side by books about books.

THE ADVICE --You need to read, read, read. And you need to read in volumes. Set a goal - one to two pages (of Loeb text) a day of Greek text that is unfamiliar.  Even if you read slowly and verbalize as I do (Greek students of old were always taught to do this; there was no such thing as 'speed reading' in ancient Athens), I believe that spending an hour of reading will help more than spending an hour anlayzing an interlinear.  

My regret. I do not read enough original Greek texts.  I know how to fix this problem.

Louis Sorenson

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