Michael Sharpnack wrote: ↑
February 17th, 2017, 1:03 pm
Thanks for the responses. So, I just bought Deckers Greek Reader, and I think I'll buy Smyth's grammar as a reference as well as Dickey's composition book to start working through.
Another question: as I'm reading passages right now, I'm basically translating them into English in my head. I know the best way to learn the language is to internalize it, and read it for itself, not to translate it, but I feel I have to right now for it to make sense to me. Are there any specific steps to work towards that goal? Anything to avoid? Or, just keep reading that way, and eventually it will start to internalize?
Most of the people who are here are much more experienced than me, and there is lots of great advice here, but a few points from my own learning that might be of help.
A couple of years ago I was in the same position as you, and tried roughly what you are doing - buying intermediate & reference grammars (both Wallace) and also Decker's reader. My Greek learning essentially ground to a halt. It needn't have, with a bit more effort, but that strategy certainly didn't help.
A little later, I discovered the UBS reader's NT, and using that brought me from incompetent parser to comfortable reader. And now the intermediate grammars are actually useful and interesting. I also worked hard at vocab (using memrise) which made reading much more fluid and rapid.
After that experience, my strong
recommendation is that you read the reader's NT for a while before
tackling the grammars/readers.
Decker's reader is great, and selects passages very well. But it is intended as an intermediate textbook for seminary courses, more a companion for those grammars, to which it constantly refers you. It teaches you grammatical categories which don't make that much sense without plenty reading under your belt. Lots of those grammatical categories are meaning dependent, and therefore impossible to use without a decent understanding of the text. Both
Decker and any Intermediate grammar I tried simply seemed impossible to really internalise.
Contrary to what you might expect, using a reader's GNT (especially the UBS with parsing) is actually easier that this, as long as you have enough vocabulary to read every word down to 30 occurrences. 10 is even better, and very manageable with memrise or Anki.
It's hard work at first, but tackle books in order of difficulty (so 1 John, John, and so on... there are lots of lists out there). If you have to translate into English at first pass, that's fine. I think doing otherwise at this stage is optimistic. Instead, every day review what you read the day before, and it should be much more natural reading - even better, do this two days running - before tackling new stuff. Start small - a verse will do - and read every day. At first you will be parsing each verb and decoding verse by verse, but it gets easier by the day. After one pass through the NT found I could really read - no translation, no pauses, no difficulties - on the easier books.
Aim to read through the NT, and once you are done (even if you skip hard books like Hebrews and the second half of Acts) the intermediate and reference grammars go from impenetrable to fascinating, as you have the tools and info to really understand and absorb them.
Of course, as so many mention, Daily Dose of Greek is a fantastic help at this stage also.
It's worth remembering that intermediate grammars come next in seminary curricula not because they are what you need next to understand Greek, but because they give you the tools necessary for advanced exegesis classes. That's great. But you do yourself a great favour by postponing that and reading until you can read naturally.
For me, this was also a lot better for my devotional life! Reading the GNT every morning is wonderful for that - grammars, slightly less so...