[B-Greek] You Are Smarter Than a Lexicon (?) The beat goes on ...

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Fri Jun 4 06:23:23 EDT 2010

On Jun 4, 2010, at 1:22 AM, John Sanders wrote:
> I also was surprised by the blog entry.  I am not against LOGOS making
>> money or producing products that I personally do not desire to purchase-I
>> generally do not purchase them.  Where I am disappointed is that they have
>> decided to move into the teaching field, that is supplying products that
>> will augment Greek studies.  I am not disappointed that they enter this
>> market, but that they appear to ignore what I would think is also a market
>> for a different slice of learning Greek.
> I would liken the product that I think is being pitched here, "Learn to Use
> Biblical Greek and Hebrew Video Tools" as selling Diet Coke and exercise
> videos in lieu of exercising at the gym or pool.  I would have hoped that
> they would also attempt to market to those who would like to practice what
> Dr. Buth promotes, or Rico, or Athenaize, or any other programs that
> attempts to help students develop language skills, what I call real language
> skills.

This morning's followup on yesterday's blog entry at the site in question is:


Yes, that's "Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos." From my
own perspective, I think I'd rename it, "Learn to USE Biblical Greek and 
Hebrew without really knowing either language." I don't mean to be unfair
to the software company (I am using the Mac version of some of its items
although my primary Biblical software is Accordance -- which by its nature
is engaged in some of the same (to me) questionable didactic ventures).
In fact, I find that the argument against traditional classroom methodology
-- teaching Greek through memorization of paradigms and grammatical rules
and demonstrating what's been learned by production of wooden literal 
translations -- quite compelling and not far removed from the argument that
I and some others have made against traditional Biblical Greek pedagogy.

My concern is rather that this pedagogy being peddled in the above-referenced 
video effectively makes its user dependent upon predigested interpretation of
the original-language texts. One learns not the languages, but the use of the
software, and the software functions in su;ch as way as to begin and end with
English language versions of the Biblical text and English-language explanations
of how and why the English-language version means what the original-language
text says.

I'm not happy about this, but I do think it is the wave of the future in the
pedagogy of Biblical languages; in its own way, it's like the plume of slick
oil spreading across the Gulf, but I think there's a better prospect of the oil
slick being eventually checked. The trend was already there before computer
technology accelerated it: colleges and seminaries can't expend the effort on
bringing students to real competence in the Biblical languages and students
have other things that they need to learn more urgently. Commentaries on
the Biblical text have for some time now included translations of the 
Biblical Greek or Hebrew original text because it cannot be assumed that
users of the commentaries will be able to understand the original-language
text unassisted. The upshot is that competence in Greek and Hebrew is
becoming restricted to an increasingly small number of scholars whose
task is to filter the original-language texts through the software to the
end-user reader/student endeavoring to understand the Biblical text. What
concerns me is the accelerating diminution of those who are sufficiently
competent in Biblical Greek or Hebrew to challenge the validity of what
the predigested scholarship provides the end-user. My question is a
version of Juvenal's "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (Who will take
care of the caretakers?) -- It seems to me that the opening up of the
Biblical text to the educated laity in the Renaissance and Reformation
is, in a sense, being reversed. The custody of the text of scripture is
being entrusted to a new kind of technological clerical hierarchy.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

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