[B-Greek] Decker on why to learn Greek

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 7 18:25:22 EDT 2010

Excellent post, Patrick.
I agree with your points #1 and #5 and everything in between.

 <I really am much more interested in developing
fluency than in developing analytic skills.>
What do you think is the best way to develop fluency?
If you are a "little Greek," I say, less is more.

Mark L


--- On Wed, 4/7/10, Patrick Narkinsky <patrick at narkinsky.com> wrote:

From: Patrick Narkinsky <patrick at narkinsky.com>
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Decker on why to learn Greek
To: "James Spinti" <JSpinti at eisenbrauns.com>
Cc: "B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Wednesday, April 7, 2010, 1:56 PM

I'd like to offer my own humble observations on why I study NT Greek, from
one who is a "little Greek" indeed when compared to most others on this

   1. I study it so that I know about the "neglected alternatives" that
   translators necessarily have to reject based on a statistical choice.  For
   example, "faith of Jesus" as opposed to "faith in Jesus" may or may not be
   the preferred translation in certain passages, but if I only read in English
   I'd never know that a choice had to be made.  It's not that they're
   necessarily true, but I could build my whole theology on one interpretive
   choice that was only 60% right without ever knowing it might be wrong.
   2. I study it for the poetry and the flow of it.  "Biblish" just sounds
   horrible when compared to the original.
   3. I study it in self-defense, so that I'm not at the mercy of someone
   who *has* studied it--or more often has a copy of Strong's and
   Vine's--and wants to claim, "but the Greek really says" in support of
   whatever aberrant interpretation they might have to offer.
   4. I study it because it's an interesting intellectual challenge*,
   in its own right.
   5. I study it as an exercise in humility, in order to constantly remind
   myself of what I do not and cannot know.  I think it was Wallace who said he
   knew maybe 50% of the Greek known by a dock-worker at Athens, or words to
   that effect.  After 10 years of work, I know maybe 5%.  How then can I
   propose to pound my Bible and pronounce authoritatively what it says?
    (Incidentally, I find myself becoming more and more paleo-Orthodox because
   of this.  Sorry to bring my personal theology up, but in this context I
   think theology is at least somewhat relevant to the topic at hand.)

As a consequence of all of this, and because I'm of mildly post-modern
sensibilities, I often find discussion of technical grammatical issues ...
shall we say uninspiring?  I really am much more interested in developing
fluency than in developing analytic skills.

Thanks for listening to this "little Greek",


Patrick Narkinsky
patrick at narkinsky.com

"Let things true be preferred to things false, things eternal to things
momentary, things useful to things agreeable."

Lucius Caelius Lactantius

On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 1:22 PM, James Spinti <JSpinti at eisenbrauns.com>wrote:

> Actually, Rod Decker has a snippet by Silva on learning Greek:
> http://ntresources.com/blog/?p=864
> Enjoy!
> James
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