What Now?

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.
Chris Servanti
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Joined: September 10th, 2015, 2:30 pm

What Now?

Post by Chris Servanti » November 30th, 2015, 7:53 pm

I have completed Mounce's basic grammar to Biblical Greek and I want to move on to deeper waters, where should I go from here? (I'm really into linguistics so fancy terms and long sheets of paradigms don't bother me as long as they thoroughly explain the concept)

Jonathan Robie
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Re: What Now?

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 30th, 2015, 7:59 pm

Chris Servanti wrote:I have completed Mounce's basic grammar to Biblical Greek and I want to move on to deeper waters, where should I go from here? (I'm really into linguistics so fancy terms and long sheets of paradigms don't bother me as long as they thoroughly explain the concept)
Yes, you really are. I've been impressed.

Tell me this: what are your goals?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Chris Servanti
Posts: 55
Joined: September 10th, 2015, 2:30 pm

Re: What Now?

Post by Chris Servanti » November 30th, 2015, 9:04 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Chris Servanti wrote:I have completed Mounce's basic grammar to Biblical Greek and I want to move on to deeper waters, where should I go from here? (I'm really into linguistics so fancy terms and long sheets of paradigms don't bother me as long as they thoroughly explain the concept)
Yes, you really are. I've been impressed.

Tell me this: what are your goals?
Fluidness (Fluency is not really possible) in the Koine dialect, which means I want to plumb the depths of the language not just be able to make my way around the NT.

I also hope to make a program like Duolingo and make a course for Koine because the Duolingo way of learning is quite effective if it were coupled with video lectures for more in depth grammar. This all has to do with a serious flaw I see in the teaching of Biblical Greek: Either they teach it form a purely analytical method (aka seminary) or from a completely anti-analytical "absorption" method (aka living koine). Neither of these are the best way to teach a language. The student must both learn real grammar and put it into practice via reading and writing. That's how we should treat Koine - there's no way around the grammar, but if you want to be fluid you must read, write, speak and listen to it.

Jonathan Robie
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Re: What Now?

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 30th, 2015, 9:35 pm

For that, you need lots of practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening. All four channels matter. And you need lots and lots of examples to work with. I'm not completely there myself, but here are a few things I've found helpful.

I think it's helpful to do some slow, careful reading where you pay attention to every detail and make sure you understand every little bit. I think it's also helpful to do some less careful reading where you read pages of text and get the gist of it. To me, it's important to do both. Teaching someone else is a great way to make sure you do the detail work.

I think composition is very useful, especially composition based on authentic ancient texts. Find someone to criticize what you write. I'm definitely still working on this. Few of us are expert at composition.

I'm not as convinced as some that conversational Koine is particularly important, except for conversation around an authentic text. I'm sure you'll hear people disagree vehemently ;=>

Also, I really think reading unfamiliar texts is helpful. 1 Maccabees is a fun read.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stephen Hughes
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Re: What Now?

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 1st, 2015, 2:44 am

Chris Servanti wrote:where should I go from here?
A textbook is something produced for everyone as a general introduction. You cold move on to find your own present learning needs and then to find material to master them. Here is a suggestion towards that goal.

Test yourself on a passage of Greek.

Here is a text of the Epistle of Barnabas Chapter 9. It is a reasonable grammatical standard and the vocabulary. The ι and η floating about unattached ARE the numerals δέκα and ὀκτώ, that the authour is writing about. It is part of a reasoned argument, with a number of quotations embedded in it.

After you've finished, ask yourself what the difficulties you faced in reading it were. At what points were you unable to make any sense at all, what parts of the text. Look at an English translation of that. Ask yourself what was lacking in your Greek, that didn't allow you to read "fluidly"? Master those points, learn that vocabulary, then move on to another passage, and do the same again. Slowly by slowly, the missing bits will become less, then you will naturally look for the depth of knowledge.

There are a broad range of difficulties between texts. There is no point jumping straight into Lycophron's Alexandra, it's obscure. There are other straightforward authours and familiar topics into which you could break off. There are a range of genres in the New Testament corpus. Depending on which of those genres you are trying to improve your skills in and knowledge of, you could make appropriate choices of texts - reasoned arguments like Paul (for example) writes, or Stephen (for example) is recorded as speaking are similar to the passage from Barnabas. Shipwreck, mob violence, bondage, peril, legal trials and appeals to rulers, and the plotting of enemies are things that are all found in the Hellenistic novels. Personal letters such as stand under their own names in the New Testament canon, or those woven into the Acts, are well paralleled in the papyrus found in Egypt. It is a little easier to make progress by staying within a genre, but eventually it would be better if you could master all of them.

I'm only suggesting you start testing yourself on that sort of reasoning based on quotations type text in Barnabas - because that type of writing is found in so many places in the New Testament, but really any genre is okay. It depends what interests you.
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

Re: What Now?

Post by Stephen Hughes » December 1st, 2015, 3:03 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:I'm not as convinced as some that conversational Koine is particularly important ... I'm sure you'll hear people disagree vehemently ;=>
Do you imagine that their disagreement will be expressed in Greek or English? Μήτι ὑπονοεῖς διαφωνεῖν αὐτοὺς Ἑλληνιστί;
Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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

Re: What Now?

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 1st, 2015, 6:38 am

In addition to the excellent replies you've gotten so far, make sure that you are reading as much extra-biblical Greek as you can. It really helps...
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Jonathan Robie
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Re: What Now?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 1st, 2015, 10:28 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:
Jonathan Robie wrote:I'm not as convinced as some that conversational Koine is particularly important ... I'm sure you'll hear people disagree vehemently ;=>
Do you imagine that their disagreement will be expressed in Greek or English? Μήτι ὑπονοεῖς διαφωνεῖν αὐτοὺς Ἑλληνιστί;
None of the studies I would refer to were written in Koine Greek, and I don't really have the vocabulary to discuss this question in Koine. We could invent some vocabulary along those lines, I guess, but a native speaker of Koine wouldn't understand the vocabulary we invent, and there's already a perfectly good language for writing and discussing such studies.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Jonathan Robie
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Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm
Location: Durham, NC
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Re: What Now?

Post by Jonathan Robie » December 1st, 2015, 10:34 am

One more thing: you can easily tell if you're reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Greek in a way that requires comprehension. You already know this is not the same thing as reading, writing, speaking, and listening to metalanguage about Greek or opinions about Greek or opinions about Greek pedagogy. No matter what the subject matter is, the most important things are:
  1. To spend time reading, writing, speaking, and listening to Greek, regularly, over a long period of time, and
  2. To find a good feedback mechanism so that you aren't teaching yourself bad pidgin Greek that has no relationship to authentic texts. To me, that generally involves:
    1. Basing the vast majority of your work on authentic Hellenistic texts, and
    2. Finding someone who is willing to go back and forth with you to try to figure out the best way to phrase something, using authentic texts as a guide for what is good Greek.
This is the path I'm on right now, at any rate.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Chris Servanti
Posts: 55
Joined: September 10th, 2015, 2:30 pm

Re: What Now?

Post by Chris Servanti » December 1st, 2015, 11:27 am

Thanks to all! These replies have been really helpful. So I'm seeing pretty much everybody say that I should dives straight into lots of reading. Would y'all recommend taking a more advanced grammar study also, or just focus on learning from the text?

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