"Non-Academic" Original Languages?

Mark Wessner mark at wessner.ca
Tue Dec 17 11:37:31 EST 2002

Hi Trevor,

I have also used Mounce / Seow and share your thoughts, and I appreciate 
your comments about "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".  You're 
right (in my opinion, anyway!).

I guess my intent for a pre-introductory course in the languages is to help 
the participants discover the excitement and relevance of the languages 
without scaring them off.  Maybe something that is similar to the 
exegetical insights at the beginning of each chapter of Mounce? (just 
thinking out loud).  Then, once they see it as fun and/or interesting, the 
next step would be a more traditional approach like the way most of us have 
learned (or taught).  Perhaps I am just naive about this approach ...

Oh, I also think you are correct about the need for basic exegetical skills 
before jumping into the languages, and since I have created and taught that 
kind of course over the last fews years, it seemed that the languages would 
be a fun place to go next!

Thanks for the advice, Trevor (and everybody else)


At 12:51 PM 16/12/02, Trevor & Julie Peterson wrote:
>Mark wrote:
> > If you have taught Biblical Hebrew / Greek in a non-academic setting (eg.
> > church, neighbourhood group, etc), what text(s) have you used, or
> > have you
> > had to create your own material?
>I've done both--Greek to two small groups at church and Hebrew to one brave
>soul. I've also taught Greek as a college night course, for a basis of
>comparison. I used Mounce for Greek. I tried switching to something else
>with the second group, but they struggled with the textbook, so I switched
>back. (Generally speaking, you can't put the kind of class time into this
>sort of teaching that you get in a college or graduate course, so the
>textbook has to be very user-friendly.) I used Seow for Hebrew, just because
>it was what I was used to. I don't recommend it for this purpose, though.
> > I would like to offer a
> > Biblical language
> > course that is not "pre-seminary", but instead raises the
> > original language
> > awareness of the participants (why the languages are important,
> > how to use
> > the better lexicons and commentaries, issues in translation, etc).
>When I taught, the purpose was to cover basically the same sort of stuff
>you'd normally cover in any college introductory grammar class. I have a lot
>of reservations about teaching people how to use a language without learning
>it. That's why I haven't tried to do so yet. I keep toying with teaching
>something on the topic at church--maybe something like "How not to use
>biblical languages," or a similarly tongue-in-cheek title that puts the
>point right up front, that trying to use the languages without learning them
>well is dangerous. I probably wouldn't teach people to use an interlinear,
>except perhaps as a quick look-up for a key number to get into the tools.
>You can do the same thing with an exhaustive concordance, but it is
>admittedly faster to use a keyed interlinear. I would also make sure to
>teach them how to work with tools that require no linguistic knowledge. You
>really can go further than most laypersons ever care to, just by using a
>good Bible dictionary and commentary. Teaching them the scripts and
>alphabets would be useful, so they can work a bit more intelligently with
>the tools they use. Source-language concordances would be high on my list,
>since they can do their own contextual word-study without knowing anything
>about the languages. There is very little about the grammar that would do
>more good than harm in the hands of a novice. The problem with grammar is
>that you generally have to know both what something is doing and what it
>could be doing but isn't. In other words, you need to have a comprehensive
>feel for the grammar that will never be acquired by learning a few key
>points here and there.
>Well, that's enough time on my soapbox :-) I'm not saying such a thing can't
>be done--just recommending some caution.
>Trevor Peterson
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