[B-Greek] How to Learn Ancient Greek — Mounce and others weigh in

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Sun May 24 07:16:36 EDT 2009

The discussion continues:

> "Hebrew and Greek Reade"r blog:

> Seumas Macdonald, "Compliant Subversity" blog:

On May 23, 2009, at 8:50 AM, Carl Conrad wrote:

> Much of our recent back-and-forth (I guess that means the same thing
> as the German word I used to like, Auseinandersetzung) over the
> usefulness of “Reader’s Editions” of the GNT or of Classical Greek
> texts has turned upon the issue of what has been traditionally termed
> “proficiency.” Traditional pedagogy in Classical Greek has as its
> objective the acquisition by students of such proficiency that they
> can comfortably read — without resorting to “decoding”: parsing aids
> and glossaries and annotations explaining how the rapidly-recurring
> problem-passages are to be construed and understood, and without  a
> compulsion to convert the Greek text into one’s native language. Older
> pedagogy in Biblical Greek used to have a comparable objective with
> respect to the Biblical Greek text, but more recently the teaching of
> Biblical Greek has surrendered to a far less ambitious goal: teaching
> students to confront the Biblical Greek text through the analytical
> tools for parsing and syntax and lexicographic discrimination prepared
> by scholars and promulgated as tagged texts in software packages,
> interlinears, analytical GNTs such as that published by the Fribergs,
> and, more recently, “Reader’s Editions” of the GNT.
> Others have noted as have I that teaching ancient Greek by drilling
> into students the analytical tools for “decoding” ancient Greek texts
> does not really succeed in bringing students to “proficiency” in
> reading ancient Greek texts. There must be somewhere in those students
> who really want to be proficient a drive to transcend "decoding" or
> reading by analyzing the parts of a text and to arrive at an ability
> to read the Greek as Greek -- as it was originally intended to be
> apprehended by the ears and eyes of those who originally communicated
> with the language.
> Recently none other than Bill Mounce, whose textbook, Basics of
> Biblical Greek, is standard fare in seminaries, has publicly suggested
> that ancient Greek pedagogy must turn to acquisition of proficiency or
> ability to understand ancient Greek through the use of the language
> for real communication between students and teachers — through
> conversation.
> Here’s te URL for the entry in Zondervan’s Koinonia blog:
> Mounce on the future of Greek pedagogy:
> http://www.koinoniablog.net/2009/05/where-is-the-study-of-biblical-languages-headed.html
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq1Zcv9DreE
> What? Is Mounce endorsing the classroom method of Randall Buth? Is
> that really conceivable? Is that something that is really conceivable
> or practical in a seminary classroom. One resounding response is,
> “Absolutely not!” or, as they express it, “No such thing!”:
> "Hebrew and Greek Reade"r blog:
> http://hebrewandgreekreader.wordpress.com/2009/05/13/no-such-thing-vol-1/
> http://hebrewandgreekreader.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/no-such-thing-vol-2/
> I expect that Randall will have his own response (he’s been arguing
> the case on B-Greek for years now, all too often ‘whistling in the
> dark.’ Mike Aubrey is going to have something to say about it. And now
> Seumas Macdonald has entered with a series of thoughtful comments on
> the pedagogical questions involved:
> Seumas Macdonald, "Compliant Subversity" blog:
> http://jeltzz.blogspot.com/2009/05/conversational-dead-languages- 
> i.html
> http://jeltzz.blogspot.com/2009/05/conversational-dead-languages-ii.html
> http://jeltzz.blogspot.com/2009/05/conversational-dead-languages-iii.html
> I don’t intend to argue this case further myself; I’ve long since
> retired from active teaching and I didn’t learn Greek myself by the
> oral/aural method, but I know that if I could return to teaching, I
> would certainly adopt it. But I think that those B-Greekers who are
> interested might want to follow this little blip on the radar scans of
> potential pedagogical climate change.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

More information about the B-Greek mailing list