Preparing texts for study

Preparing texts for study

Postby Jonathan Robie » November 15th, 2011, 9:02 am

How do you go about preparing a Greek text for personal study, reading groups, or teaching in a classroom? Are there examples of handouts or prepared texts that you can point to?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
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Re: Preparing texts for study

Postby Jonathan Robie » November 16th, 2011, 10:17 am

Let me say more. I'm currently going to a church that is located next to Duke, and at lunch during a recent men's retreat, I found myself surrounded by 5 people who know Greek. We discussed the possibility of a Greek reading group with a spiritual focus - a Bible study for people who like to read their Bible in Greek.

I'm not sure if I have the time to organize this, or if it's over my head, but I'm at least thinking about it. We could just wing it, but handouts might be better, especially for people who once knew Greek but have largely forgotten, and are interested in getting back to it. We might decide to work through a book systematically, or follow the sermon texts, or whatever.

The standard inductive framework for Bible study starts by "what does the text say" - and that's when careful attention to the Greek text would be useful.

Some questions:

  • I think we need some kind of handouts. They could be as simple as a printout of the text, perhaps lined out by phrase, with plenty of room to write notes on vocabulary or grammar. Or perhaps grammar and parsing notes could be provided in footnotes. Thoughts?
  • Most people will have had formal instruction, and I should probably leverage their skills. Some will be very rusty or perhaps not that good. So perhaps we should pick through grammar and vocabulary next, identifying the forms of verbs and the meaning of unfamiliar terms. Is it better to have these things worked out on paper ahead of time, or should we make this part of the group exercise? I'm beginning to lean toward the latter, to leverage the skills of the group, and to lessen the time needed for preparation.
  • I suspect the next step might be to discuss which parts of the text are emphasized, the relationship between main verbs and other verbs, etc. I'm not so keen on diagramming sentences - that's hard, and it doesn't get at everything. I wonder about using colored pencils to highlight various features of a sentence. Surely someone with an InterVarsity background has applied what they know to Greek!
  • I have no idea how to bring "living Greek" into play in study of a text. Suggestions? I imagine at least reading the text out loud at the beginning would be important. Perhaps we could read it again once we're all confident on the vocabulary and grammar. Anything else you would suggest?

Does anyone out there participate in a group like this? What do you do?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
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Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: Preparing texts for study

Postby Mark Lightman » November 16th, 2011, 3:37 pm

Jonathan asked

I have no idea how to bring "living Greek" into play in study of a text. Suggestions? I imagine at least reading the text out loud at the beginning would be important. Perhaps we could read it again once we're all confident on the vocabulary and grammar. Anything else you would suggest?

Does anyone out there participate in a group like this? What do you do?


Hi, Jonathan,

I've told this story before. A while back, for about a year, I was involved in a traditional NT Greek reading group. We would choose a text and take turns reading it in Greek and then translating it into English. Then we would discuss grammatical/vocab points as they related to theology or personal spiritual concerns. At that time I was not into Greek as a Living Language. The group broke up when one of the guys moved to Mississisppi.

Looking back, I really wished we had run the group differently. What we should have done is asked each other questions IN ANCIENT GREEK, about the Greek text, and answered the questions in Greek. I have since done this face to face, on the phone, through Skype, and via audio/video exchanges. I think this is a much more effective way to improve one's Greek skills. The questions tend to be very basic: We've been working through Mark. τί ἐστιν ἡ ἐργασία τοῦ Λευιν? τίνα ἐνόμισεν ὁ Πέτρος τὸν Ἰησοῦν εἶναι? τἰνα ἐξουσίαν ἔδωκεν ὁ Ιησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς? You are not going to be fluent enough in Ancient Greek to get into any grammatical subtleties (no loss, from my perspective) but you are going to get practice after practice drilling the forms, and by active use of the vocab you are going to retain it. You can get into BASIC theology. τίνα σὺ λέγεις τὸν Ἰησοῦν εἶναι, ὦ Μᾶρκε?

I have found again and again that people with no practice in speaking Ancient Greek, and people who are really just starting to learn the language CAN speak basic Greek in the context of asking and answering simple questions. I think there is something in the nature of a question τίς? τί? διὰ τί? that makes in much easier to figure out what is being said.

So, I would strongly urge you, that if you are lucky enough to have a group of Greek learners, don't waste the opportunity to use Living Language methods. You can always break out into English if something really interesting comes up, but if you try speaking in Greek, I think you will like it, and will find it very helpful in learning to better READ Greek, which remains the goal for all of us.

You prepare for this by reading a chapter and coming up with as many questions in Greek as possible. Don't memorize the questions and don't read them to the group. Speak them off the top of you head. It also helps to listen before hand to the audio of the chapter you will be discussing.

Here's an example of a recent audio exchange on Mark 9.

http://www.archive.org/details/MarkosRe ... AboutMark9

This will not be everyone's cup of tea, I know. There are other ways to run Greek groups. This is just what works for me.
Mark Lightman
 
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Re: Preparing texts for study

Postby Jonathan Robie » November 16th, 2011, 3:46 pm

Mark Lightman wrote:Looking back, I really wished we had run the group differently. What we should have done is asked each other questions IN ANCIENT GREEK, about the Greek text, and answered the questions in Greek. I have since done this face to face, on the phone, through Skype, and via audio/video exchanges. I think this is a much more effective way to improve one's Greek skills. The questions tend to be very basic: We've been working through Mark. τί ἐστιν ἡ ἐργασία τοῦ Λευιν? τίνα ἐνόμισεν ὁ Πέτρος τὸν Ἰησοῦν εἶναι? τἰνα ἐξουσίαν ἔδωκεν ὁ Ιησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς? You are not going to be fluent enough in Ancient Greek to get into any grammatical subtleties (no loss, from my perspective) but you are going to get practice after practice drilling the forms, and by active use of the vocab you are going to retain it. You can get into BASIC theology. τίνα σὺ λέγεις τὸν Ἰησοῦν εἶναι, ὦ Μᾶρκε?


I could imagine doing some of that.

But I wonder if that wouldn't significantly limit the scope of discussion - wouldn't our lack of fluency make it difficult to discuss the text in depth, point out parallelisms, make sure we all correctly understand grammatical constructions, discuss what we know about the character of a person from other texts, etc?
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
Jonathan Robie
 
Posts: 1547
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:34 pm

Re: Preparing texts for study

Postby Mark Lightman » November 16th, 2011, 4:38 pm

But I wonder if that wouldn't significantly limit the scope of discussion - wouldn't our lack of fluency make it difficult to discuss the text in depth, point out parallelisms, make sure we all correctly understand grammatical constructions, discuss what we know about the character of a person from other texts, etc?


Yes, it probably would. But what I found was that discussing in English the types of things you mention did not at all improve my ability to read or understand Greek. Those things may be interesting in their own right, but it depends on one's priority. If you goal is read NT Greek the way you would read English, your time is better spent, IMO, by a limited discussion in Greek instead of a more detailed discussion in English.

I'd be curious to hear if the other members of your group have any interest in using Greek. Towards the end of my group I brought up the possibility of speaking in Greek and the other members were not all that interested, so I know I am somewhat in the minority.
Mark Lightman
 
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Re: Preparing texts for study

Postby Shirley Rollinson » November 18th, 2011, 10:42 pm

I read through the text (silently, quickly) first to get an over-all feel for what it is saying.
Then I read it again, slowly, stop at any words or constructions I don't recognize, and make a note of them in sequence down the left-hand side of a page of paper.
I analyse each bit that I don't recognize, and note it on the page.
It it's a word which is new to me, I check each side of it in the dictionary and make a note of related words, etymology, etc.
If the text is from the New Testament, I crib from Grosvenor and Zerwick.
If it's from LXX - I might use John Barak's resources at http://www.motorera.com/greek/text/greek.html
If it's from elsewhere I tough it out and analyse it myself, maybe with the help of Smith's Grammar.
Then I make enough of a notation that I'll understand what I wrote if I come back to it in a couple of years.

Then for study, if with a group - we take turns reading the text aloud, a verse or section at a time, and start picking it apart (in English) - Who does What, with What, to Whom, and Where and When ? And how does it apply? And what other texts does it remind us of? (And I'm in a group with a couple of ADHDs who love to go rabbit-trailing, so we're good for an hour-or-so).

The main thing is to keep reading and enjoying it :-)
Shirley Rollinson
 
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