[B-Greek] Con Campbell on Interlinears

James Bowick james at bowick.com
Tue Oct 6 10:08:00 EDT 2009

Just to stir the pot...

There are many out there who are seeking to gain a little better
understanding into their sacred text.  Many have neither the time, nor in
some cases the ability, to learn the language. While it is no doubt true
that the use of an Interlinear is absolutely no substitution for learning
the language, I would argue it is a pretty good substitute for strict
dependency on English translations.

For those who would object that such folks are not qualified to be thinking
about the Greek text, let me ask you at what point we are? Surely, it is
important that all of us understand our limits and what we know we can do,
and cannot do.  And it is true that the further you go the more you become
aware of those limits.  But the same could be said of Bible interpretation
in general. Is a student after one semester able to make an observation from
the Greek?  One year?  Two years?  Or do you need to be a proficient reader
before you are able to use Greek in your own spiritual development?

As I said, just stirring the pot - and advocating for those for whom an
interlinear is the closest they will ever get. Give them a voice in the
academy?  Perhaps not.  But stop someone from dabbling into Greek with a
Strong's concordance and an interlinear?  Surely not. I would be curious to
know how many of us, some now with Ph.Ds, got their first taste of Greek,
and got hooked on it, through such tools?

James Bowick

On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 9:02 AM, James Spinti <JSpinti at eisenbrauns.com>wrote:

> I saw Con's post and was thinking a nice bonfire was in order. Then I
> remembered that most interlinears are electronic now; I don't want to
> cause toxic smoke, but perhaps a few electrons should be rearranged?
> At the very least, if you must use electronic cheat-tools, turn off the
> automatic pop-up so you have to think  before the answer appears. I was
> appalled when I first started using electronic tools at how quickly I
> came to depend on them--even after reading Greek for 25 years. My Greek
> got worse, not better because of the auto-parsers.
> Another old curmudgeon,
> James
> ________________________________
> James Spinti
> Marketing Director, Book Sales Division
> Eisenbrauns, Good books for more than 30 years
> Specializing in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Studies
> jspinti at eisenbrauns dot com
> Web: http://www.eisenbrauns.com
> Phone: 574-269-2011 ext 226
> Fax: 574-269-6788
> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Carl Conrad
> Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 6:41 AM
> To: B-Greek
> Subject: [B-Greek] Con Campbell on Interlinears
> That old curmudgeon Clay Bartholomew once described his posts to B-
> Greek as Molotov cocktails stealthily-tossed into the public square to
> create a stir. Things have been relatively quiet on B-Greek for a day
> or so, wherefore it seems worth noting that Con Campbell, about whose
> "Basics of Biblical Greek Verbal Aspect" I have raised some questions
> heretofore, has posted a nice remark about interlinears in a blog post
> at:
> http://readbetterpreachbetter.com/2009/10/06/keep-your-greek-testing-som
> e-lines/<http://readbetterpreachbetter.com/2009/10/06/keep-your-greek-testing-som%0Ae-lines/>
> = http://turl.ca/tkkf
> Says Professor Campbell:
> "Just as performing bicep curls without using your biceps is
> counterproductive and lame, so too is reading Greek without using your
> Greek.
> "Instead of using the primary 'muscle group' needed to read Greek-your
> memory!-the interlinear allows you to underwork your memory and rely
> on the stronger 'muscle group'-the printed English vocabulary sitting
> right there under each Greek word.
> "So, go ahead and burn that interlinear. Or, at least, give it to
> someone you don't like very much."
> Of course, there is hardly any danger that we shall be seeing a
> bonfire of the interlinears in the near or distant future; things like
> that have a long lifespan.
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
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