Preparing a text

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Jonathan Robie
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Preparing a text

Post by Jonathan Robie » September 14th, 2014, 3:48 pm

I am teaching a weekly Sunday School class based on the Greek text of Luke, and I want to be fully familiar with the nuances of the text we are working through.

This morning, I printed out a text derived from a syntax tree, outlined according to phrases and clauses, and used it to take notes. I read it out loud once, then read through it slowly with a pen, identified the morphology of verbs I did not immediately recognize, and thought through the relationship between main verbs and participles or infinitives in each clause, with Zerwick and a dictionary at hand. That was actually fairly efficient. If I had been more prepared, I would have then read through a couple of commentaries on the same passage, but I didn't leave enough time for that this week, I will next week.

I had started out explicitly diagramming each sentence, but at least the way I was doing it, that was simply too slow for the amount of text we needed to cover, given the time I had.

I assume a bunch of you do something similar, I'm curious about how you go about this. Do you have particular ways of marking up texts as you go? Do you use a computer or paper or both? Do you listen to the text or read it out loud in preparation?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » September 14th, 2014, 5:07 pm

Jonathan Robie wrote:I am teaching a weekly Sunday School class based on the Greek text of Luke, and I want to be fully familiar with the nuances of the text we are working through.

This morning, I printed out a text derived from a syntax tree, outlined according to phrases and clauses, and used it to take notes. I read it out loud once, then read through it slowly with a pen, identified the morphology of verbs I did not immediately recognize, and thought through the relationship between main verbs and participles or infinitives in each clause, with Zerwick and a dictionary at hand. That was actually fairly efficient. If I had been more prepared, I would have then read through a couple of commentaries on the same passage, but I didn't leave enough time for that this week, I will next week.

I had started out explicitly diagramming each sentence, but at least the way I was doing it, that was simply too slow for the amount of text we needed to cover, given the time I had.

I assume a bunch of you do something similar, I'm curious about how you go about this. Do you have particular ways of marking up texts as you go? Do you use a computer or paper or both? Do you listen to the text or read it out loud in preparation?
Jonathan,

A old friend of mine (even older than I am!) told me decades ago that he refused to preach his first sermon on Hebrews before he had diagrammed the greek text of the entire book. That is what he was taught at Multnomah in the early sixties. Luke being narrative you don't need to do the entire book. Narrative can be broken down into scenes or pericopes.

I am not a proponent of the school of diagramming. I don't diagram a passage in Faulkner to understand what he is saying. So why should I do it in Koine narrative? I think that Yancy Smith has the right idea. Cultural and historical information is vastly more helpful to understanding an ancient text than fussing over lexical and grammatical minutia. But this discussion is for a different forum which is probably why we don't seen Yancy Smith posting here.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stephen Hughes
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by Stephen Hughes » September 14th, 2014, 11:41 pm

To help you compare what you are doing with what I have seen, these are some of the things that happen with texts within an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) programme in schools and colleges where I have taught.

I have seen non-native speaker teachers of English (themselves advanced (now) self-taught (for their continuing English education) learners) that I have worked closely with, do a few things when preparing to introduce a text. Of course there are a range of strategies depending on the individual and the students.

For an Intensive Reading class - short text in a long time - they pay attention to the grammar / syntax / spelling, and get ready to point out different forms. They identify idioms as either fixed or changeable, note the fixed ones and compose variants of the changeable ones. Not-so-competent teachers make note of phrasal verbs (They chopped the tree down) and similar things on paper, while others will mark them in the text. If there is a particular form or pattern in a text (taken from an integrated textbook or series), then that may be highlighted (if the book doesn't do so first). Students are asked to identify the forms, sentence structures and those things are explained as needed. The key points are discussed till the students are sure that the teacher knows what she is saying. A variety of follow-up activities can be given - either passive or productive (depending on the stream). Grammar questions often accompany the text.

For an Extensive Reading class - long text read for comprehension - teachers need to prepare for students' questions, which involves a similar amount of work for the intensive reading, but without the need for composing similar sentences with the same structures. Teachers also need to summarise the overall sense of the passage (paragraph by paragraph) - but in the class they will often ask students to give a summary first - usually in the students own language (depending on the students' level and the stream). Some historical or cultural information may be supplied to help understand the broader context of the passage. Content questions often accompany the text.

For English Linguistics classes (given especially in English Language major, English teacher training but not necessarily Business English programmes) - application of linguistic principles to the text - they do things like diagramming, discuss etymology, cognate forms, mention which languages the words were borrowed from. Students often go well in these courses because there is a finite number of things to learn / memorise for the exam.

[By way of comparison...
In an ESL (S for Second) programme, it is similar, but teaching and discussions happen in the target language, and more active student output in the target language is expected. In this case - where instruction is done in a language that the students are still learning - a big distinction is made between fluency exercises and accuracy exercises. At one time, students can take things very slowly and carefully, and they are commended / graded well for accuracy. At another time, they are encouraged to develop fluency in increasingly more intelligible target language, and they are commended / graded well for getting their meaning across. English teacher training programmes emphasise accuracy, while Businjess English (English for professional usage) training programmes give more attention to being able express and understand precise meanings without necessarily accurate or idiomatic expression, and without understanding the grammar in a theoretical way. ]
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cwconrad
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by cwconrad » September 15th, 2014, 7:47 am

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:I am not a proponent of the school of diagramming. I don't diagram a passage in Faulkner to understand what he is saying. So why should I do it in Koine narrative? I think that Yancy Smith has the right idea. Cultural and historical information is vastly more helpful to understanding an ancient text than fussing over lexical and grammatical minutia. But this discussion is for a different forum which is probably why we don't seen Yancy Smith posting here.
I am inclined to agree with Stirling here. Looking back over the years, I can now see that, although I used to think, more or less, that diagramming was a useful method for analyzing a text, so much so (I thought) that I even ordered a book on diagramming -- which I never did work through.

One of my High School English teachers assigned my class as an exercise the diagramming of sonnets of Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. At the time I thought it was very helpful for discernment of how the words fit together in very long and complex syntactic units. After many long years, however, I have come to think that diagramming is no more than a way of envisioning what you already know: if you don't understand what the author is saying, you can't fit those words into a diagram without doing just too much guesswork. My endeavor to diagram the first chapter of Ephesians was a "breakthrough" of a "make-or-break" sort in my thinking about diagramming. The fact was that I could mark off the units of meaning but I just couldn't reach any satisfying conclusion about how the phrases and clauses of Eph 1:3-14 related to each other. That experience was one factor in my coming to the conclusion that one must really understand an expression before one can analyze it; unless the meaning of interrelated words is grasped first, the analysis cannot be carried out.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 15th, 2014, 8:56 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:I am teaching a weekly Sunday School class based on the Greek text of Luke, and I want to be fully familiar with the nuances of the text we are working through.

This morning, I printed out a text derived from a syntax tree, outlined according to phrases and clauses, and used it to take notes. I read it out loud once, then read through it slowly with a pen, identified the morphology of verbs I did not immediately recognize, and thought through the relationship between main verbs and participles or infinitives in each clause, with Zerwick and a dictionary at hand. That was actually fairly efficient. If I had been more prepared, I would have then read through a couple of commentaries on the same passage, but I didn't leave enough time for that this week, I will next week.

I had started out explicitly diagramming each sentence, but at least the way I was doing it, that was simply too slow for the amount of text we needed to cover, given the time I had.

I assume a bunch of you do something similar, I'm curious about how you go about this. Do you have particular ways of marking up texts as you go? Do you use a computer or paper or both? Do you listen to the text or read it out loud in preparation?
The purpose of syntax trees and diagramming is to understand the relationship of clauses one to another in order to grasp the overall structure of the text. Like parsing, it's something that should go away, the sooner the better. Honestly, I have never done anything like this. What I do is read through the text multiple times, jotting down thoughts as my neurons start firing off associations. Shortly before actually teaching the text, I will read through whatever exegetical commentaries or other pertinent secondary literature I happen to have on hand. If I am teaching through a book of Scripture, I prepare as stated for the specific passage, but also read through the entire document, shorter ones once a day (.e.g,, Philippians, Ephesians), longer texts (a gospel, Acts) once or twice a week.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by Stephen Carlson » September 15th, 2014, 6:07 pm

Here's one way to prepare:

First, read the text as quickly as you can. No aids, no look ups.

Then, read the text slowly, looking up everything you don't understand. Use whatever resources you need for this.

Then, keep rereading the text until everything is automatic.

Repeat and refresh after a week or so to maintain your knowledge.

To get the most out of this, your goal before encountering the text should be that you should know the morphology cold, all the function words cold, the common and even the less common syntactic patterns cold, and the frequent content words cold. At this point, it is mainly vocabulary acquisition that is left to learn. Words used less frequently will still need to be looked up. Reading outside the NT will help this, but it will also expose you to words outside the NT.
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cwconrad
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by cwconrad » September 16th, 2014, 5:29 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:Here's one way to prepare:

First, read the text as quickly as you can. No aids, no look ups.

Then, read the text slowly, looking up everything you don't understand. Use whatever resources you need for this.

Then, keep rereading the text until everything is automatic.

Repeat and refresh after a week or so to maintain your knowledge.

To get the most out of this, your goal before encountering the text should be that you should know the morphology cold, all the function words cold, the common and even the less common syntactic patterns cold, and the frequent content words cold. At this point, it is mainly vocabulary acquisition that is left to learn. Words used less frequently will still need to be looked up. Reading outside the NT will help this, but it will also expose you to words outside the NT.
I think this procedure is splendid. By no means to be neglected is the final bit of advice. Amen!
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by Barry Hofstetter » September 16th, 2014, 6:16 am

Let me echo Carl echoing Stephen. Excellent advice, and how I started curing myself of "rapid translation" some years ago.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by Shirley Rollinson » September 16th, 2014, 6:19 pm

cwconrad wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:Here's one way to prepare:

First, read the text as quickly as you can. No aids, no look ups.

Then, read the text slowly, looking up everything you don't understand. Use whatever resources you need for this.

Then, keep rereading the text until everything is automatic.

Repeat and refresh after a week or so to maintain your knowledge.

To get the most out of this, your goal before encountering the text should be that you should know the morphology cold, all the function words cold, the common and even the less common syntactic patterns cold, and the frequent content words cold. At this point, it is mainly vocabulary acquisition that is left to learn. Words used less frequently will still need to be looked up. Reading outside the NT will help this, but it will also expose you to words outside the NT.
I think this procedure is splendid. By no means to be neglected is the final bit of advice. Amen!
Great advice.
I would add - read it aloud - slowly - and listen to yourself (it's probably the only way you'll hear much Koine spoken - and the aural channel is important, as is the oral)
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ed krentz
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Re: Preparing a text

Post by ed krentz » September 17th, 2014, 11:29 am

Let me add one small note. When I read advanced Greek prose in a graduate seminar (Polybios, Thucidiydes, etc). We were allowed to read the Greek text out load, reading it so as to show we knew what it meant. If successful we did not have to translate.

That is the reading of a Greek text which one should aim at. Given the Greek of the NT, relatively easy Greek in terms of word order, sentence length, and syntax, one should be able to do it with only a minimum of effort.

When I conduct a Greek class, I always ask students to read a sentence out loud before translating. In some cases, in sight tranlation Iask after they have read it out loud, can they tell me the main verb, the subject, object, etc. before they try to translate.

Ed Krentz
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Edgar Krentz
Prof. Emeritus of NT
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago

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