Question about taking college courses

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
Thomas Dolhanty
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Re: Question about taking college courses

Post by Thomas Dolhanty » January 1st, 2015, 1:10 pm

Stephen Hughes wrote:Classical and New Testament Greek are burdensome and boring to learn, with many long and unsavoury hours of mind-numbingly repetitive and seemingly up-hill learning with the majority of your inter-personal interaction being trying to understand the thoughts of those long since dead. It requires personal sacrifice, dedication and application to the task. But after you've done that, it is good to be able to pick up a Greek New Testament and read. If you use Classical Greek as your "launching point" you will be learning what you want to learn and you won't need to study further, but you will also need to learn to study despite the frustration and lack positive personal feedback. Learning only Classical Greek will allow you to read the New Testament, but it will look a little weird (and badly written) to you. The overhead will be that 20% of the grammar and 60% of the vocabulary that you will learn will not occur in the New Testament.

Modern Greek is fun and interactive, it is the language of a living breathing society and you can have real interaction with your teacher and classmates, using at first simple, but never-the-less real, language. The thought-world and values expressed in the texts you will read are modern and European, so you will be able to more easily intuit meanings of Greek words. While many of the things you will learn in vocabulary are applicable to your reading of the New Testament, the grammar - both inflection, sentence words and narrative construction techniques - is really different. If you use Modern Greek as a "launching point", the learning will be much easier, but you will have to actually learn Ancient Greek later on too. Learning only Modern Greek will not allow you to read the New Testament - you will see many familiar things, but will be unable to put together the meaning of even one entire sentence in the text. The overhead is that most of the Grammar that you learn will only be a little similar to the grammar that you will find in the New Testament and the vocabulary that you learn outside of the field that is broadly termed "the humanities (inc. religion)" consists of loan-words and forms of words that are so far developed from their ancient forms that you will not be able to recognise them. It will also cost you a year's delay.
.
This sounds almost like a caricature of all that's wrong with the teaching of ancient Greek - which is now under scrutiny and revision on many fronts! Perhaps it was intended that way? Who but the most ardent ascetic would find this a welcoming task? Even the outcome doesn't sound very rewarding! When you think of one standing on the threshold, with very few reference points, this must appear as a rather stark portrayal!

I am somewhere along the path with both modern (using Pimsleur, Living Languages, etc.) and Koine, (much further along - reading substantial portions=Books of the Greek Bible) but I also must say that this does not describe my experience. I find enormous reward in reading Biblical Greek - a growing reward as my mastery grows. Again, I must agree with the comment:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:but like Jacob's 14 years of labor for Rachel, seemed trivial compared to the goal
For me, if anything modern is more of a laborious task. Of course, my study in ancient is still limited to Koine and Biblical, so I speak from that limited vantage point.
γράφω μαθεῖν

cwconrad
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Re: Question about taking college courses

Post by cwconrad » January 1st, 2015, 2:13 pm

Thomas Dolhanty wrote:
Stephen Hughes wrote:Classical and New Testament Greek are burdensome and boring to learn, with many long and unsavoury hours of mind-numbingly repetitive and seemingly up-hill learning with the majority of your inter-personal interaction being trying to understand the thoughts of those long since dead. It requires personal sacrifice, dedication and application to the task. But after you've done that, it is good to be able to pick up a Greek New Testament and read. If you use Classical Greek as your "launching point" you will be learning what you want to learn and you won't need to study further, but you will also need to learn to study despite the frustration and lack positive personal feedback. Learning only Classical Greek will allow you to read the New Testament, but it will look a little weird (and badly written) to you. The overhead will be that 20% of the grammar and 60% of the vocabulary that you will learn will not occur in the New Testament.

Modern Greek is fun and interactive, it is the language of a living breathing society and you can have real interaction with your teacher and classmates, using at first simple, but never-the-less real, language. The thought-world and values expressed in the texts you will read are modern and European, so you will be able to more easily intuit meanings of Greek words. While many of the things you will learn in vocabulary are applicable to your reading of the New Testament, the grammar - both inflection, sentence words and narrative construction techniques - is really different. If you use Modern Greek as a "launching point", the learning will be much easier, but you will have to actually learn Ancient Greek later on too. Learning only Modern Greek will not allow you to read the New Testament - you will see many familiar things, but will be unable to put together the meaning of even one entire sentence in the text. The overhead is that most of the Grammar that you learn will only be a little similar to the grammar that you will find in the New Testament and the vocabulary that you learn outside of the field that is broadly termed "the humanities (inc. religion)" consists of loan-words and forms of words that are so far developed from their ancient forms that you will not be able to recognise them. It will also cost you a year's delay.
.
This sounds almost like a caricature of all that's wrong with the teaching of ancient Greek - which is now under scrutiny and revision on many fronts! Perhaps it was intended that way? Who but the most ardent ascetic would find this a welcoming task? Even the outcome doesn't sound very rewarding! When you think of one standing on the threshold, with very few reference points, this must appear as a rather stark portrayal!

I am somewhere along the path with both modern (using Pimsleur, Living Languages, etc.) and Koine, (much further along - reading substantial portions=Books of the Greek Bible) but I also must say that this does not describe my experience. I find enormous reward in reading Biblical Greek - a growing reward as my mastery grows. Again, I must agree with the comment:
Barry Hofstetter wrote:but like Jacob's 14 years of labor for Rachel, seemed trivial compared to the goal
For me, if anything modern is more of a laborious task. Of course, my study in ancient is still limited to Koine and Biblical, so I speak from that limited vantage point.
My own experience is more akin to Barry's; the big breakthrough to easy reading was reading huge chunks daily while working on the graduate reading list in Greek. To me it was an immense satisfaction all the way through; even the rote learning was easy to do because I was reading all the time and the pay-off was immediate when I found I was recognizing all those odd forms of θη/θε and η/ε roots of τιθέναι and ἱέναι and ϝεπ- roots. Moreover the surviving literature of ancient Greece from the centuries before the composition of the GNT is rewarding reading. It was decades later that I ever found that I wanted to read modern Greek texts. Another factor, I doubt it not, was that I found the structures and formulations of ideas in ancient Greek texts were themselves always fascinating. In my case, then, there was an allurement in the literature of ancient Greece that fired my passion to understand it.
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Jacob Rhoden
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Re: Question about taking college courses

Post by Jacob Rhoden » January 2nd, 2015, 1:23 am

Austin Dixon wrote: Should I take this to mean that learning the language well enough to pick-up and read a Greek bible is not very obtainable, or that it will take decades of study? I realize that I'm not going to ever be considered a Greek scholar, but being able to read the New Testament is the only goal that would motivate me to take the time and effort to learn.
This other thread will provide some insight as to if people here think its attainable.

http://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/vie ... =14&t=1725

Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: Question about taking college courses

Post by Barry Hofstetter » January 2nd, 2015, 8:48 am

I think it is obtainable through the normal course of study. Stephen: I did not find my pursuit of Greek and Latin any more arduous than I found anything else. It never occurred to me to make that comparison. I knew what I wanted to study, and I went for it. Even more important, I think, then "effort" is consistency, daily working in the language. That is what really gets you where you need to go.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Question about taking college courses

Post by Shirley Rollinson » January 2nd, 2015, 7:15 pm

Austin Dixon wrote:
Most learners don't have a choice, and sad to say, the vast majority of those who study classical and New Testament Greek don't continue to anything that even remotely resembles (even reading) "mastery" of the language.
Should I take this to mean that learning the language well enough to pick-up and read a Greek bible is not very obtainable, or that it will take decades of study? I realize that I'm not going to ever be considered a Greek scholar, but being able to read the New Testament is the only goal that would motivate me to take the time and effort to learn.
It is completely attainable - and very enjoyable.
One "help", once you have started on some basic grammar and vocabulary, is to get "Zerwick and Grosvenor" - "Analysis of the Greek New Testament" - it's about $50 on Amazon. Then just start reading the GNT (preferably aloud - that does seem to help one learn and remember not just isolated words, but the phrases in which they are used) and start keeping a notebook with whatever you want to record for each day's reading.
That's how I started, and I've been doing it for maybe 20 years now, and still learning :-)
Shirley Rollinson

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