Read lots! And then read some more!

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Read lots! And then read some more!

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 23rd, 2014, 2:04 pm

Classicist Steven J. Willet posted this to the Classics List, pay special attention to that last paragraph...

Three years ago I had been reading so much Latin that my Greek was getting rusty. So I decided to make a grand tour of the canon and visit old friends or meet new ones. Here in approximate chronological order is what I've read or reread. Let me add, these are complete texts.

Homer: Iliad and Odyssey with the OUP and CUP commentaries. I particularly enjoyed Kirk's and Janko's volumes.

Plato: Republic 1~2.368c4, Apology, Crito, Symposium and Phaedo (each more than once in the past). When I finish with my Hellenika project, it's back to the Republic.

Herodotus (second traversal).


Aristophanes (third time through thanks to a great grad school teacher).

Sophocles: Medea (third time), Electra, Ajax, OT.

Pindar: Pythians and Isthmians in Gentili's editions.

Philodemus On Poems 1 and 3-4.

Pindar: Pythian 4 in Bruce Karl Braswell's well thumbed, annotated and marked commentary (every scholar should own it whatever the price).

Euripides: Bacchae, IiT and both A&P volumes of fragments.

Plutarch: Aristeides & Cato, Malice of Herodotus.

Aeschylus: Oresteia (fourth or fifth time, with Fraenkel, Page & even Verrrall).

The fragments of Old Comedy in the three-vol. Loeb.

Xenophon: Anabasis, Memorabilia, Symposium, Apology and Hellenika (this last with G. E. Underhill's old OUP commentary). I'm about to do the Cyropaedia and Agesilaus.

Thucydides (with as I mentioned the HCT and Hornblower plus several other editions of specific volumes. Second traversal, the first being long ago. I tried to cover 5 to 10+ pages of the OCT edition at every sitting. It got faster as I accustomed myself to the vocabulary and style. The narrative sections are not difficult and often wonderful, especially the plague, the Pylus-Sphakteria campaign and the whole of the Sicilian Expedition. The speeches can be pretty gruesome.

I usually try to devote the morning from about 10:00 to 2:00 or 3:00 for Greek. In the case of prose, I found that reading whole works without a break led me to internalize the syntax and vocabulary so well I no longer translated. I simply read Greek. I even started to mumble and dream in Greek. I also don't need to consult a lexicon except for particularly unusual words. That is, total immersion really does work to produce fluency. Peter Green's famous seminar at Austin where they read all of Herodotus in 15 weeks is the kind of thing that should be done more if any students could find the courage and discipline. And a teacher.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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