"Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

"Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Mark Lightman » March 8th, 2012, 3:37 pm

Jeffrey Requadt wrote: The idea is to take a text, perhaps from the New Testament, but just as easily from any other Koine or Classical text, and to create several different versions of that text at progressing levels of difficulty. The first level might be a page with a few short sentences with only a predicate an a prepositional phrase, accompanied by a picture that shows what the page is telling. The next level might be sentences that fit more of an authentic Greek sentence pattern (although probably not the original, which would probably be too complex), including authentic Greek word order, but still not too far removed from level 1. Then as you progress levels, you come closer and closer to the original Greek text.


Hi, Jeff. Did Susan and I spell your name right?

Jeffrey’s Level One is what I call “Method Three” in its most pure form. I call it “Method 3” because it is an alternative to grammar-translation (Method 2 and Method 1, respectively.) Here is Method 3 applied to Hebrews 10:19-22, a moderately difficult passage. Make sure to see if you can understand the unadapted passage before reading the leveled readings.

Hebrews 10:19-22 unadapted: Ἔχοντες οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, 20 ἣν ἐνεκαίνισεν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν πρόσφατον καὶ ζῶσαν διὰ τοῦ καταπετάσματος, τοῦτ' ἔστιν τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, 21 καὶ ἱερέα μέγαν ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ, 22 προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως, ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ:

Method 3 Level 1: ἔχομεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν. ἐρχόμεθα οὖν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ. ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς λούει ἡμᾶς.

Method 3, Level 2: Χαίρετε! ἔχομεν τὸν Ἰησοῦν. ἔχομεν οὖν παρρασίαν. ἐρχόμεθα οὖν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Θεοῦ. τὸ δὲ καταπέτασμα ἐστιν ἡ θύρα τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ Θεοῦ. ἡ δὲ θύρα ἔστιν ἡ σάρξ τοῦ Ίησοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ μέγας ἰερεῦς. διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ οὖν προσερχώμεθα εἰς τὸν τόπον τῶν ἁγίων. ἐρχόμεθα δὲ διὰ τῆς θύρας τοῦ καταπετάσματος. καῖ ἔχομεν τὴν καρδίαν πίστεως. ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς λούει καὶ ραντίζει τὴν καρδία ἡμῶν.

Method 3, Level 3: φίλοι μου, ἔχομεν παρρησίαν ἐν Ἰησοῦ. ἐρχόμεθα οὖν εἰς τὸν τόπον τῶν ἁγίων. ἔχομεν δὲ τὸ αἶμα τοῦ Ἰησοῦ. καὶ ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐποίησεν καινὴν καὶ ζῶσαν ὁδὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν. ἐρχόμεθα δὲ εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τῆς θύρας. καὶ ἡ θύρα ἐστιν ἡ σἀρξ τοῦ Ἱησοῦ. ἔχομεν δὲ τὸν μέγαν ἱερέα ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ. καὶ ἐρχόμεθα μετὰ τῆς ἀληθείας. ἔχομεν οὖν τὴν καρδίαν τῆς πίστεως. ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς λούει τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν. οὐκ ἔχομεν τὴν πονηρὰν καρδίαν. οὐκ ἔχομεν τὴν πονηρὰν συνείδησιν. ὁ δὲ Θεὸς ἐχει. καθαρὸν ὕδωρ. σὺν τῷ ὕδατι καθαρῷ ὁ Θεὸς ραντίζει καὶ λούει τὸ σῶμα ἡμῶν.

Method 3, Level 4: Ἔχομεν οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν ἐν τῷ αἵματι Ἰησοῦ περὶ τῆς εἰσόδου τῶν ἁγίων. ὁ γὰρ Θεὸς ἐποίησεν ἡμῖν καινὴν καὶ ζῶσαν ὁδὸν διὰ τῆς θύρας τοῦ καταπετάσματος, τοῦτ' ἔστιν τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ. Ἔχοντες οὖν ἱερέα μέγαν ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ, προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως, ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ:



And, so you can see how this would work, here is the original text again:

Hebrews 10:19-22 unadapted: Ἔχοντες οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, 20 ἣν ἐνεκαίνισεν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν πρόσφατον καὶ ζῶσαν διὰ τοῦ καταπετάσματος, τοῦτ' ἔστιν τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ, 21 καὶ ἱερέα μέγαν ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον τοῦ θεοῦ, 22 προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆς καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως, ῥεραντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς καὶ λελουσμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ:


There is only one way to evaluate Method 3. Is the person who cannot understand Hebrews 10:19-22 able to BASICALLY do so after reading through the levels a few times? I cannot evaluate the Method because I can already understand Hebrews 10:19-22. Pure beginners cannot evaluate the Method because they cannot even understand Level One. Fluent readers don’t need any of the Methods. Method 3 is really designed for intermediate learners, a class of folks who I think would benefit most from alternatives to grammar-translation methods.

I suppose what would make the Method better would be to add sub-levels, maybe to have as many as ten. I may do so when I get a chance. If anyone else wants to add levels or suggest corrections to the levels I have done, feel free to do so. Just make sure you understand the purpose of the sub-levels before making your suggestions. AND MAKE SURE YOU SPELL JEFF’S NAME RIGHT!

Μᾶρκος
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 8th, 2012, 7:13 pm

Another way to do this might be to build up using sentences more similar to the original text. For instance, say I want to build up to this:

Ἔχοντες οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ
αἵματι Ἰησοῦ


I could work up like this:

  • ἔχομεν παρρησίαν
  • Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν, προσερχώμεθα
  • Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν ἐν τῷ αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, προσερχώμεθα
  • Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων, προσερχώμεθα
  • Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ
    αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, προσερχώμεθα
  • Ἔχοντες οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ
    αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, προσερχώμεθα

If any of those intermediary representations require further explanation, it could be done in parentheses after the phrase itself. After I build up to this part, on to the next ...

Mark Lightman wrote:There is only one way to evaluate Method 3. Is the person who cannot understand Hebrews 10:19-22 able to BASICALLY do so after reading through the levels a few times? I cannot evaluate the Method because I can already understand Hebrews 10:19-22. Pure beginners cannot evaluate the Method because they cannot even understand Level One. Fluent readers don’t need any of the Methods. Method 3 is really designed for intermediate learners, a class of folks who I think would benefit most from alternatives to grammar-translation methods.


I would want to design Method 3 so that it teaches these people HOW the passage means what it means, and points out the relationships between the individual clauses and the verbs in the sentence. I would also want to design it in a way that helps people learn how to pick out individual parts of a complex sentence and see the relationships themselves, over time. That's the thought behind what I did.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Paul-Nitz » March 9th, 2012, 7:52 am

I am an intermediate learner. I have just given the Method 3 a try using Mark Lightman's Hebrews 10:10ff example. I am entirely convinced it would work well with a learner like me. I am at the level that I could understand some of the relationship between phrases. But after reading it three times, I did not even get the gist of it. It took me about 15 minutes to work through the four levels. As I did, I needed to look up the meaning (not form) of about 7 words. It was an enjoyable and engaging task. When I was done, I fully understood the unadapted text.

Brilliant method!
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Mark Lightman » March 10th, 2012, 11:35 am

Jonathan wrote: Another way to do this might be to build up using sentences more similar to the original text. For instance, say I want to build up to this:
Ἔχοντες οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ
αἵματι Ἰησοῦ


I could work up like this:
• ἔχομεν παρρησίαν
• Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν, προσερχώμεθα
• Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν ἐν τῷ αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, προσερχώμεθα
• Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων, προσερχώμεθα
• Ἔχοντες παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ
αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, προσερχώμεθα
• Ἔχοντες οὖν, ἀδελφοί, παρρησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ
αἵματι Ἰησοῦ, προσερχώμεθα


Sure, what you are doing here is using a modified version of Method 3, using mostly rearrangement of the words, which is what Betham does in Reading Greek with Plato (without the leveled readings.) I would call your method Method 3a. In this example it works very well. I would like to see you do more of it.

If any of those intermediary representations require further explanation, it could be done in parentheses after the phrase itself. After I build up to this part, on to the next ...


As long as the explanatiions are in Ancient Greek (Method 4) I like it very much. Being a blend of my Method 3 and your Method 4, I would call what you are proposing here Method 3.5. Let a thousand ἄνθη bloom.
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Mark Lightman » March 10th, 2012, 11:42 am

Here is Method 3 applied to what I think is a particularly hard sentence, 2 Cor 10:2. I did not spend a lot of time on this, so I’m sure that there are lots of minor mistakes, but, again, the point is to build to the real Greek, not to focus on the sub-levels.

Cor. 10:2 δέομαι δὲ τὸ μὴ παρὼν θαρρῆσαι τῇ πεποιθήσει ᾗ λογίζομαι τολμῆσαι ἐπί τινας τοὺς λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Method 3, Level One: ἐλπίζω ὅτι οὐ λαλῶ ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ὅταν εἰμι μετὰ ὑμῶν. λαλῶ ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἀνθρώποις. οὗτοι οἱ ἀνθρώποι λέγουσιν ὅτι ἡμεῖς οὐκ ἔχομεν τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ.

Method 3, Level Two: οὐ θέλω λαλεῖν ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ὅταν εἰμι μετὰ ὑμῶν. λογίζομαι ὅτι λαλῶ ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἀνθρώποις. οὗτοι οἱ ἀνθρώποι λογίζονται ὅτι οὐκ ἔχομεν τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ.

Method 3, Level Three: δέομαι μὴ λαλεῖν ἐν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ὅταν εἰμι μετὰ ὑμῶν. λογίζομαι ὅτι δύναμαι λαλεῖν ἐπὶ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους. οὗτοι οἱ ἀνθρώποι λογίζονται ὅτι ἡμεῖς περιπατοῦμεν κατὰ σάρκα.

Method 3, Level Four: δέομαι μὴ λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει τῆς φωῆς μεγάλης ὢν μετὰ ὑμῶν. λογίζομαι ὅτι δύναμαι τολμῆσαι λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει τῆς φωῆς μεγάλης ἐπὶ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους. οὖτοι λογίζονται περὶ ἡμῶν ὅτι περιπατοῦμεν κατὰ σάρκα.

Method 3 Level Five: δέομαι δὲ ὢν μετὰ ὑμῶν μὴ λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει τῆς φωῆς μεγάλης ἐν ᾗ λογίζομαι ὅτι δύναμαι τολμῆσαι λαλεῖν ἐπὶ τινας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. οὖτοι λογίζονται ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Method 3, Level Six: δέομαι δὲ παρὼν μετὰ ὑμῶν μὴ λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει ἐν ᾗ λογίζομαι ὅτι δύναμαι θαρρῆσαι λαλεῖν ἐπὶ τινας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους. οὖτοι λογίζονται ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Method 3, Level Seven: δέομαι δὲ παρὼν μετὰ ὑμῶν μὴ λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει ἐν ᾗ λογίζομαι ὅτι δύναμαι θαρρῆσαι ἐπὶ τινας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους οὓς λογίζονται ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Method 3, Level Eight: δέομαι δὲ τὸ παρὼν μετὰ ὑμῶν μὴ θαρρῆσαι λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει ἐν ᾗ λογίζομαι ὅτι δύναμαι τολμῆσαι ἐπὶ τινας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Method 3, Level Nine: δέομαι δὲ τὸ μὴ παρὼν μετὰ ὑμῶν θαρρῆσαι λαλεῖν ἐν τῇ πεποιθήσει ἐν ᾗ λογίζομαι τολμῆσαι ἐπὶ τινας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους τοὺς λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Method 3, Level Ten: δέομαι δὲ τὸ μὴ παρὼν θαρρῆσαι λαλεῖν τῇ πεποιθήσει ᾗ λογίζομαι τολμῆσαι ἐπὶ τινας τοὺς ἀνθρώπους λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

And again, the real text: δέομαι δὲ τὸ μὴ παρὼν θαρρῆσαι τῇ πεποιθήσει ᾗ λογίζομαι τολμῆσαι ἐπί τινας τοὺς λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.


Μᾶρκος ὁ Τριτημεθοδευτής
Mark Lightman
 
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Louis L Sorenson » March 10th, 2012, 11:44 pm

2 Cor 10.2 is a tough sentence, to be sure. The placement of παρών after μὴ makes one want to read θαρρῆσαι μὴ παρών. It helps to know θαρρῆσαι is intransitive (no object, not in the dative). I like how Didymus Caecus breaks it down.

Didymus Caecus Scr. Eccl., Fragmenta in epistulam ii ad Corinthios (in catenis)
Page 36, line 6

ὅθεν <δέομαι μὴ παρὼν θαρρῆσαι>
οὕτως ὡς φέρειν πρόσωπον ἐλέγχοντος καὶ πλήττοντος διδασκάλου,
ὅπως μὴ ἀναγκασθῶ τῇ σὺν παρρησίᾳ <πεποιθήσει> διδασκάλου
<τολμῆσαι> κατά τινων λογιζομένων βαδίζειν ἡμᾶς <κατὰ σάρκα.


Cyrillus Theol., Fragmenta in sancti Pauli epistulam ii ad Corinthios
Page 357, line 13

ἐπὶ καιροῦ τοιγαροῦν
τῆς Χριστοῦ ζωῆς εἰς ἀνάμνησιν αὐτοὺς ἀποφέρει, πραοτά-
τους καὶ ἐπιεικεῖς καθιστάς· ἐγὼ δὲ αὐτός φησιν Παῦλος ὁ
παρὼν μὲν ἐν ὑμῖν κατὰ πρόσωπόν εἰμι ταπεινὸς, οὐ γαῦρος,
οὔτε μὴν ἠκονημένος εἰς ἔριδάς τε καὶ μάχας, ὃς θαῤῥῶ μὲν ἀπὼν,
δέομαι δὲ καὶ νῦν μὴ παρὼν θαῤῥῆσαι· ὅτι καθάπερ ἔπεισί μοι
λογίζεσθαι, κατ' οὐδένα τρόπον τολμήσετε κατά τινων οἰο-
μένων ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατεῖν, τουτέστι πολιτεύ-
εσθαι σαρκικῶς ἐν ἔριδί τε καὶ ζήλῳ· “ὅπου γὰρ, φησὶ,
“ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις ἐν ὑμῖν, οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε καὶ κατὰ ἄν-
“θρωπον περιπατεῖτε;
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Mark Lightman » March 11th, 2012, 6:25 am

χαίροις Λουις

Paul wrote in 2 Cor 10:2: …ἐπί τινας τοὺς λογιζομένους ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατοῦντας.

Lightman had written: …τοῖς λέγουσιν ὅτι ἡμεῖς περιπατοῦμεν κατὰ σάρκα.

Louis pointed out that Didymus Caecus wrote: …κατά τινων λογιζομένων βαδίζειν ἡμᾶς <κατὰ σάρκα

and that Cyrillus Theol wrote: κατά τινων οἰομένων ἡμᾶς ὡς κατὰ σάρκα περιπατεῖν.



These guys were doing Method 3 before Method 3 was cool...

A Method 5 (hi, Stephen) question is whether we should meta-phrase Paul’s

δέομαι…τὸ…μὴ θαρρῆσαι...

as

δέομαί σε περὶ τοῦ μὴ θαρρῆσαι.

or as

δέομαι μὴ θαρρῆσαι.

but we don’t hair split here on the Teaching and Learning Greek forum. :P
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby cwconrad » March 11th, 2012, 9:35 am

I have some reservations about "Method 3" -- or I think I do, but I'm not altogether sure that I've understood it.

First let me see whether I have grasped the idea of it correctly; if I'm wrong about that, then maybe my reservations don't really apply. As I see it, the idea is this: when one reads a text that seems too complex or less than clear in its meaning at first reading, then one should endeavor to paraphrase it. The process of paraphrasing may involve piecemeal steps with phrases and word-groups inclusive of two or more phrases, but ultimately one should be able to formulate a paraphrase of the whole text that one originally found troubling and make sense of it. Have I got it right? And if not, what am I missing?

My reservations about "Method 3" amount to my own paraphrase of Juvenal's celebrated question, (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? I'll phrase it ῾Ελληνιστί, hopefully such that it won't need to be paraphrased further: ἐὰν μὲν ἡμεἰς πάντες μαθηταὶ ὧμεν μηδὲ ὡς ἀληθῶς σοφοί, τίς διδάξει ἡμᾶς τοῦς μὴ διδασκάλους ὄντας;

It seems to me that there's a paradox here: I am myself convinced that one cannot analyze a text, whether in our own language or in another language that is not our native language, without understanding that text. If one does not understand it, or doesn't quite understand it, one cannot -- or not cannot completely analyze the text -- nor adequately or completely paraphrase it, whether piecemeal or as a whole. Can paraphasing tentatively or in tentative stages bring the reader of a difficult passage to a clear understanding of it?

My guess is that what we actually do when we do a double take on a difficult text is to reread the text to discern which parts of the text are clearly intelligible and which appear to us to be syntactic ciphers. How do we ordinarily deal with those phrsaes or word-groups that appear to us to be syntactic ciphers? Is "deciphering" the same thing as "decoding"? Maybe so and maybe not. What I think we do in that case, consciously or less than fully consciously, is to explore the troublesome word-group and compare it with anything similar in our experience (that's what one gains from long and varied reading in all kinds of texts in the language). If it does seem similar, I think we try to categorize the usage we're looking at -- and I think we do that in terms of a metalanguage with which we are familiar, whether that's from traditional grammar or from some theoretical linguistic framework. Can we avoid that altogether? I don't really think so; for all his disdain of metalanguage, αὐτὸς ὁ Φώσφορος has said that he would want Smyth's Greek grammar with him on a desert island -- so that I think we are entitled to think he has some use for it. I confess that I do consult Smyth when I encounter an ἀπορία in reading a Greek text (and that's precisely what ἀπορία means: want of a way forward). I try to work out a descriptive term or phrase for the sort of construction that is troubling me and consult the grammar -- shamelessly! And if I think that I can get help with my ἀπορία from a Linguistic resource such as Steve Runge's Discourse Grammar of the GNT, I won't hesitate to go there and hunt.

I don't really object to the endeavor to paraphrase the difficult text. But the fact is that I don't really trust my own ability to compose Greek that adequately expresses what somebody else thinks. I can write Greek after a fashion -- I did do two years of Greek composition in grad school and I have tried my hand at baseball chatter with αὐτὸς ὁ Φώσφορος. But I am dismayyed when I read the Greek-to-English sentences that teachers like Machen have composed for their textbooks (and I don't doubt that Machen could read Greek quite well. I've seen the Greek sentences composed by some other teachers of Greek too, including some that are first-rate. I have tried my own hand at writing Greek sentences and paragraphs for classes that I've taught, only to check them later and be dismayed at my own unquestionable errors. That makes me question just how useful the endeavor may be to paraphrase difficult Greek texts into simpler Greek formulations. Can one write good, clear Greek? I don't trust myself to do it for others. As for Greek primers making use of "made-up" Greek sentences composed by scholar-teachers, I've been more impressed by the sentences composed by British scholars for the JACT Reading Greek course or for Athenaze. So who is to do this paraphrasing? The student who confronts the difficulty in the text being read? That seems somewhat perilous to me: how can the student who found a difficulty in the text being read paraphrase into simpler Greek a phrase that hasn't been understood? Or are we talking about "Readers" prepared for students that do this sort of paraphrasing? I see fewer perils in the published "Readers" -- provided that they are well vetted before publication. (And who will vet the vetters?). I might add that I've always found it to be an interesting -- and sometimes distressing -- feature of commentaries on Greek (or Latin) texts that they provide help more often with things that I haven't found difficult than with things that I have.

I may have touched on this above, but I want to make it a bit clearer. Mark speaks of my criticism of "pidgin" Greek (that's a proper English word; it's in the dicitionary). You may call it "Dr. Seuss" Greek if you like, but the Dr. Seuss books are written in simple and amusing English, but in good simple English. I've no quarrel with that. I think it's fine to want to express onself in Greek, to use it as a vehicle of real communication. But I think that one ought to be making a constant effort to improve one's written Greek (by reading lots of the kind of Greek one wants to write and emulating the usage of those good Greek writers). I really think that Mark agrees with me about this too -- I hope I'm not wrong about that. I think there's something of a peril in making composition in Koine Greek an end in itself -- a hobby-horse (unless one is aiming at a modern Koine Greek literature!). I see speaking and writing in Koine Greek as a pedagogical means to an end rather than an end in itself.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Mark Lightman » March 11th, 2012, 11:28 am

Conrad: I have some reservations about "Method 3" -- or I think I do, but I'm not altogether sure that I've understood it.

First let me see whether I have grasped the idea of it correctly; if I'm wrong about that, then maybe my reservations don't really apply. As I see it, the idea is this: when one reads a text that seems too complex or less than clear in its meaning at first reading, then one should endeavor to paraphrase it. The process of paraphrasing may involve piecemeal steps with phrases and word-groups inclusive of two or more phrases, but ultimately one should be able to formulate a paraphrase of the whole text that one originally found troubling and make sense of it. Have I got it right? And if not, what am I missing?

Hi, Carl,

No, you have not understood the idea of Method 3 at all. (Well, what I mean is, you have understood it, but you have gotten it completely backwards.) In Method 3, the person who does not understand a Greek passage does not paraphrase it, but has it paraphrased by someone who does. And we are not talking about passages that are less than clear in meaning, but a passage—a sentence, really—that the student completely fails to process. As one’s Greek get better and better, one is able to process most simple sentences, but again and again one will encounter a difficult sentence that one cannot understand. Usually there is just one bit of information—what goes with what, a word used in a sense one has not encountered before, an intransitive verb taken transitively, a verb unexpectedly taking two accusatives, an unfamiliar ὡς construction, a genitive or dative going not with a noun it's close to but with verb father away, κτλ--that causes the whole sentence to be mystery. If you give that student an English translation (Method 1) or a little meta-language analysis (Method 2,) they can go back to that sentence and now they are able to process it. All Method 3 suggests is giving them a Greek paraphrase--or a series of leveled paraphrasing beginning with the most simple Greek possible and ending with something very close to the original—instead. And again, Method 3 has nothing to do with helping the student figure out EXACTLY what a Greek sentence means, but only BASICALLY what it means. It's all about as reading as many Greek sentences as quickly as possible, not about analyzing in minute detail any one Greek sentence. There is simply an implicit advantage in staying in the target language.

So, most of your reservations do not apply. Let me just add that we agree that the student should be exposed to the best made up Greek as possible—whether that Greek be part of Method 3 or part of simple Readers—and that one should write lots of Greek and should strive to make that Greek as good and correct and proper as possible. I also agree with you that JACT has the best Method 3 Greek that I have ever seen. Reading their paraphrased Wasps along side the unadapted Aristophanes is one of the things that inspired me to create Method 3 in the first place. They have in there a brilliant and very easy to read paraphrase of part of the Apology. Method 3 would be to have them paraphrase the entire text in several graded versions. This in my mind is better, for intermediate Greek learners, than reading the Apology via Loeb (Method 1) or Helm’s grammar-filled commentary (Method 2.) That’s all Method 3 claims, that’s all Method 3 is. Do you still have a problem with that?

Now that Method 3 has been created and found helpful—for the person reading the paraphrases, not the person writing the paraphrases--I would be thrilled if somebody whose written Greek is better than mine would use it to help ME understand some tough Greek sentences.

Can we avoid that (metalanguage) altogether? I don't really think so; for all his disdain of metalanguage, αὐτὸς ὁ Φώσφορος has said that he would want Smyth's Greek grammar with him on a desert island -- so that I think we are entitled to think he has some use for it.


1. I’ve said it many times, that to learn a language you need a little—just a little—metalanguage. About what they give you when you learn sign language or High School Spanish or ESL. Anything beyond that INTERFERES with fluency, in my humble opinion.

2. I make an exception for Smyth because his book is so damn good.

3. Whether metalanguage is a valuable thing in its own right (no) and whether it helpful to nail down the PRECISE meaning of a Greek passage (no) is not something I feel like talking about right now.

I see speaking and writing in Koine Greek as a pedagogical means to an end rather than an end in itself.


I agree one hundred percent. I speak (mostly to myself) and write Koine almost every day, but I have no interest in these things in themselves, but only as a path to reading fluency.
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Re: "Method 3" A New Way to Learn and Improve your Greek

Postby Paul-Nitz » March 11th, 2012, 11:58 am

Ὁ μεσος μαθητης - τῳ Τριτημεθοδευτῇῃ

From the intermediate student to the Method 3 guy.


Mark, I have worked through the ten levels of Method 3 applied to 2 Cor 10:2. Great fun again. It took me 23 minutes and here are the results of the experiment:

    Original – read three times & understood just about zilch.
    Level 1 - read once
    Level 2 - read once
    Level 3 - read once
    Level 4 - read twice, and looked up τολμαω
    Level 5 - read once
    Level 6 - read once, looked up θαρρεω
    Level 7 - read once
    Level 8 - read twice
    Level 9 - read once
    Level 10 - read once
    Original - Read three times and wrote this:

    "I must [use] the not-being-present bold [way] of doing things by which I usually think to be bold against some who think us [to be] walking according to the flesh.


Call it rubbish, but I'm thrilled. Sure, I messed up and thinking δεομαι was δεῖ. But, after a quick look at a translation, I can go back and understand it well "in Greek." Method 3 quickly increased my comprehension and kept me "in the Greek zone," rather than switching back and forth between second language and mother tongue (tiring and tedious).

Method 3 is fun and a great tool for me personally. But I think this Method 3 might have more going for it than my personal preference. I think it jibes with approaching Greek as communication and using the brain globally. An approach that is in stark contrast to the way I was asked to learn: using only my working memory (rote memorization for the test) and the frontal lobe (puzzle solving and analytical skills).

Second language acquisition (after age 12) makes fuller use of the brain than this. In fact, brain damage can knock out the more localized (left temporal) mother tongue ability and leave ability in a second language intact. By using a method of learning Greek that would be more natural for learning a living language, I believe students can make better and more meaningful progress toward reading and understanding Greek. But do we also avoid analysis and metalanguage?

In the learning process, we would certainly decipher and metalanguage will certainly be learned and used. The labels help us sum up learning and help us to be able to talk to one another about the language. And we use them to help each other decipher and learn more comprehension. But AT FIRST, it is important to avoid anything (terms, parsing, diagramming) that might slow down the task of rushing ahead to a bit of comprehension. Otherwise, the dominant frontal lobe will take over and get in the way of using our brain fully.

Learning the metalanguage is easy once a person is already comprehending at a certain level. That's certainly my experience now. I am reading Smyth and enjoying it. Who would have guessed! But it makes sense to me now and it is immediately practical, helping my comprehension.

This Method 3 fits very nicely into a more efficient and natural approach to learning Greek. The approach, as Mark has mentioned, would not start with Method 3. But it would not be long before Method 3 could be used. As soon as we know enough Greek to make a thought, we can use the words and forms we know to help understand what is new. That's pretty much the basis of all learning, to move from the known to the unknown, isn't it?
Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi
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