Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby RDecker » September 11th, 2011, 8:10 pm

As I've already said, many of Louis' points are well taken. As I've browsed a bit more, however, there are a couple that might need to be re-thought.

Louis L Sorenson wrote:3. The numbers δύο, τρεῖς, τεσσαρεις are not given in the number section (there is room - chart on p. 78 under Adjectives)

10. The charts have no glosses (as does Smyth's A Greek Grammar), so the student is left looking at a word with no English meaning.

16 The pronoun section (ἐγώ, σύ, ὑμεῖς, ἡμεῖς) is stuck in the middle of adjectives.


Re. #3, These are given in the number section (= p. 11); the chart on p. 78 is in the 3d declen forms section.

#10: I'm not sure why that is necessary for its purpose. Why would a student need to know the English gloss here? Typically such a tool is designed for those trying to puzzle out the form of a word they've encountered. If they want to know its meaning, they would turn to a lexicon, not a forms reference. If this were designed for use as a primary teaching text, then you'd perhaps want the gloss in the chapter since a student is learning both word and form (but probably not in the typical appendix of such a text which is primarily for forms reference).

#16 appears to be a matter of page layout pragmatics. It follows the 2d declension forms and there is not room for 3d declen on the same page, but the pronouns happen to fit nicely. :) (Bill usually does his own typography and his "eye" has improved dramatically from the 1st to 3d ed of BBG. I assume, but do not know for sure, that he did this one also.) Notice how he also filled blank space on p. 134 where an unrelated note on ablaut appears, and on p.135 with one of his famous "professor cartoons" so that a chart (which spans a 2-page spread) begins on a new page.

And in a later post, Louis says,
It would also be nice to have a short English-Greek lexicon.

If you're referring to having one in the CG, there is one: pp. 154-212. Having said that, I'm not sure why it's called a lexicon. The entries that students need most are not included! This is a list of all words used 10x or more in the NT. A student, however, is more likely to need the less frequent words rather than the most frequent. There is only the bare minimum morphological info (& that only for verbs) and no definitions, only simple glosses. Better, I think, to tell the student that they need to have a good lexicon if they want to learn Greek.
Whoops! I just read your statement more carefully. You said English-Greek. I assume the order is deliberate. Sorry; I misread your statement and intent (but I'll leave my comments stand as they are for their own point). For English-Greek, one could use Bullinger. It's not brief, and is essentially a reverse lexicon of the NT based on KJV (as would be expected when it was written), but it does provide a way for a student to figure out what Greek word might be used for some English terms. Else Louw & Nida is more current, though one can't look up a specific word. That might not be a bad idea, however. If one insists on working from English to Greek, then one ought to consider the options available and their possible nuances rather than having a tool that simply gives simple, gloss-based equivalents. Otherwise students end up inevitably creating artificial sentences that do not correspond with anything natural in "real" Greek--the liability of the current fad of trying to teach oral competency. (I'm sure advocates will surely disagree with that assessment; I merely note it as part of my assessment of the approach, not to stir a hornet's nest! ;) )
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby Mark Lightman » September 11th, 2011, 9:30 pm

Rod Decker wrote: Otherwise students end up inevitably creating artificial sentences that do not correspond with anything natural in "real" Greek--the liability of the current fad of trying to teach oral competency. (I'm sure advocates will surely disagree with that assessment; I merely note it as part of my assessment of the approach, not to stir a hornet's nest! ;) )


Hi, Rod,

I'm not interested in stirring up a hornet's nest either, nor am I interested (at least, not at the moment) in entering into a pedagogical debate on communicative methods, but I'm really curious. I have heard your concern expressed by so many people that I assume it must be true and that I am just missing something, but I really don't get it. What is wrong with speaking artificial Greek? How would that harm one's reading fluency in real Greek.? Is it really better to speak no Greek at all than Greek that is less than perfect? I know most people feel this to be true, but why?
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby MAubrey » September 11th, 2011, 10:11 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:What is wrong with speaking artificial Greek?


Why would you want to speak artificial Greek when you could be speaking the real thing?
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby Mark Lightman » September 11th, 2011, 10:27 pm

Hi, Mike

Why would you want to speak artificial Greek when you could be speaking the real thing?


Because I'm still learning the language. I can't speak the real thing yet, so I speak the best I can to internalize the forms. What's wrong with that? Isn't that HOW I will learn to speak the real thing? What's the alternative?
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby Daniel Streett » September 11th, 2011, 11:27 pm

Looks like ἡ σφηκιά might have already been stirred! And BTW, how many Greek profs would know how to say 'wasp's/hornet's nest' in Koine? I had to look it up, but that's something every 7-year old Alexandrian would have known (and a Biblical word--LXX Ex 23:28). Is it really too much to ask that Greek profs strive for the vocab of a 7-year old? But I digress . . .

I really have two points I wanted to contribute:
1) On the issue of artificial Greek, perhaps, Mark L., you might want to say "imperfect" rather than "artificial" Greek? "Artificial" seems to me a pejorative term that one who opposes natural language learning methods might use to denigrate a beginning speaker's output. Second Language Acquisition theorists might instead speak of imperfect or nonstandard usage resulting from interference from the first language. Of course, the solution is more oral/aural Greek, not less! To correct nonstandard Greek, we need more authentic comprehensible input (written or spoken), and more practice with output (writing or speaking), not less.

2) On the dismissal of communicative approaches to Koine Greek as a "fad," I would like to point out that this is a "fad" with a long pedigree. Erasmus, e.g., participated in a conversational Greek group in Venice. The methodology was nothing new for Erasmus, though, since he taught all his language courses using the colloquium, i.e. conversational, method. See here: http://tinyurl.com/68hkd56 .
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby MAubrey » September 11th, 2011, 11:34 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:Because I'm still learning the language. I can't speak the real thing yet, so I speak the best I can to internalize the forms. What's wrong with that? Isn't that HOW I will learn to speak the real thing? What's the alternative?


I know. I'm just teasing.

But on a serious note with this issue: there are numerous documented cases of minority language speakers in remote areas who want their children to grow up knowing a language of greater prestige such as English or Spanish, but only know a small bit of the language themselves and as a result teach their children ineffectively. In the end the children cannot function in their parent's native language and cannot function in the prestige language and are essentially have no hope in either culture/language group. They become rejects who fit nowhere.
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby RandallButh » September 12th, 2011, 2:24 am

I've started a different thread to deal with the important issues being raised that are not really related to this thread's title at all.

"Fad or Necessity--Developing Oral Competency in Greek"

προσδοκῶμεν τὴν σφηκιάν
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby RDecker » September 12th, 2011, 1:10 pm

Mark asked,

What is wrong with speaking artificial Greek? How would that harm one's reading fluency in real Greek.? Is it really better to speak no Greek at all than Greek that is less than perfect? I know most people feel this to be true, but why?


My concern in that regard is that people who achieve some level of oral ability typically assume that the way they say it is the way it’s said—and then basing their interpretation of the text on what they think it means because that’s what they mean by it when they say it. If their oral ability is artificial (or incomplete), then their interpretation will likely also be artificial (or incomplete).

Re. Dan’s dismissal of my describing a communicative approach as a fad by appealing to Erasmus:

What Erasmus did only proves that there have been people at various times who have done so. The recent efforts of some to use this to teach Koine in a biblical studies setting differs by a wide margin from what has been done for at least several centuries. That doesn’t mean that the traditional methods are “correct’ or best (I’ve made my own criticisms of some aspects of that approach), but it does say that the oral approach is certainly new—as advocates themselves like to point out in some contexts. Whether my judgment that it is a fad is correct won’t be known for some time. My *guess* is that in 15-20 years it won’t be as popular in some circles as it seems to be now. Pedagogy changes as resources and possibilities emerge (some of them technologically), but I’d be very surprised if there were a paradigm shift on the horizon. I may be wrong. If in 20 years the average seminary grad who enters pastoral ministry does so speaking fluent Koine, I’ll be surprised. I’ll be even more surpassed if any students who might become orally “proficient” now while they are in seminary are still such a couple of years after they graduate. That linguists or teachers with such an interest can maintain some semblance of fluency is not surprising, but I’m not training linguists and (college/seminary) teachers. My concern if for those learning Greek for use in pastoral ministry.

I don’t intend to pursue my comments along this line any further here. The most vocal folks on b-greek these days seem to think that the oral route is a good thing, so I’ll try not to spoil the party too often.
Rodney J. Decker
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby RandallButh » September 12th, 2011, 2:46 pm

My concern in that regard is that people who achieve some level of oral ability typically assume that the way they say it is the way it’s said—and then basing their interpretation of the text on what they think it means because that’s what they mean by it when they say it. If their oral ability is artificial (or incomplete), then their interpretation will likely also be artificial (or incomplete).



That's strange. I've found exactly the opposite in practice. People who speak become sensitive to little differences and then they ask what the different options mean.

On the other hand, I've found that people are able to apply artificial (=wrong) grammar paradigms to texts and extract "meaning" without ever asking whether the system really works that way. So as not to step on Greek toes I'll give a Hebrew example. One person reads "ha-sefer `al ha-shulHan" as normal, another reads "`al ha-shulHan ha-sefer" as normal (the book is on the table), and another quotes a statistic (e.g., it's 43% the first way and 57% the second way [numbers are fictionalized for the example]). A speaker will be forced to choose intonation patterns, and will start to ask questions. They will also recognize the bankruptcy of the statistics in the third approach--the statistics don't explain what a speaker or listerner is doing at any one time. If they process enough texts they will learn that the first pattern above is 'default'.

We give a lecture to both our Hebrew and Greek ulpan/sxole on "Leaning Tower of Pisa" to prepare students to deal with grammarians who never deal with "gravity", they never try out and see what their grammar theory would produce so that they never get a reality check on comparing the production with ancient texts. It is amazing how people can extrapolate things in a foreign-language gridwork like English and claim that such extrapolation is 'the grammar of the original language'.

For responses: please see "Fad or Necessity--Developing Oral Competency in Greek" in the Teaching and Learning Greek sub-forum.
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Re: Mounce's Biblical Greek: A Compact Guide

Postby Louis L Sorenson » September 13th, 2011, 12:04 am

Regarding Mounce's charts.

In a class yesterday I was looking for a quick look to show my students the athematic perfect participle ἐγνωκότες in 2 John.

CG has only ἑστηκώς , ἑστηκότι (p. 130)(all three genders forms for ἵστημι, τίθημι δίδωμι, but only the nominative and genitive). This is actually more complete than even his BBG which only lists the masculine forms. Even Smyth §308 takes the same approach.

My biggest problem with Mounce's charts is the way he strings them together. This applies to BBG also. I am used to Smyth, where I can look at any given type of verb, and follow that particular verb through all its moods and tenses. Mounce separates all the verb types by moods - this seems to me to be very disjointed. This disjointedness could be ameliorated by GoTo page numbers (or sections - which Mounce does not include). The bottom line is that anyone who has ever used Smyth on a regular basis will simply never swallow Mounce's order of presentation - It just does not seem natural or intuitive. This could be a personal preference of mine. I wonder how others feel about Mounce's order of charts.

Smyth's order is clear: Nouns, Adjectives/Participles, Comparative Adjectives, Pronouns, Adverbs, Numbers, Verbs (by stem type) followed by Irregular Mi verbs. I know exactly where to look for something if I need to look. I've got six kids - they are always placing stuff in different places in my house - it costs me a lot of time and frustration. I just want to know where things are, and expect them to be there. Mounce, imoho, is like one of my kids - he has his own quirky order of presentation, and expects me to conform to it. Why would anyone do that?
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