Behind the scenes of the trivia questions...

Anything related to Biblical Greek that doesn't fit into the other forums.

Behind the scenes of the trivia questions...

Postby Stephen Hughes » January 14th, 2014, 4:09 pm

ed krentz wrote:All of these trivia questions gather useless facts that do not aid in interpreting the text or advancing linguistic knowledge

Having a "feel" for a subject is important in producing a rounded understanding of the subject. Most of these trivia questions are designed to bring to participants' awareness things of a background nature, so that "interpreting the text or advancing ... knowledge" can happen in a more mature and balance way. Some of my thoughts behind the formation of the questions are:
  • In what year NT canon? - there is a general tendency to treat the NT as a whole rather than a series of individual works that were later put together. There is also often the uncritical assumption - when quoting examples from various passages - that all books of the NT existed together and were available to all who wrote. In fact, the most available book was the Old Testament.
  • Popular devotional material? The people we call "early Christians" read more than just the Bible in Greek (I gues that then like now there were some who only read the Word). This question is an invitation to consider the canon as a guide for public reading, rather than how many people now see it as a guide for private spiritual reading too.
  • The words Καινὴ Διαθήκη? As I just implied, it is usually the New Testament that is quoted for both language and content understanding. That is quite good, but not historically accurate. I think that the language was a feature of the age the works were writtne in and the thought world came from the LXX and other sources. The New Testament as used in the passages that Carl has suggested as examples are meant to show that the name New Testament is not just the title for a corpus, but evidence of a theological re-orientation and a statement that the New Testament was seen as the fulfillment of that Jeremiah prophesy that was quoted today. This question is an invitation and encouragement to read more in the LXX and to quote it more when discussing the text and language of the NT.
  • Who wrote the most words? Some orientation of size will allow those dealing with texts and language to think about whether they should be looking at finding parallels, comparisions or further examples in the other works of the authour or elsewhere and to consider what value to place to those other things found. It is for a background feeling of what is normal and what is exceptional.
  • Which LXX chapt uses κύριος the most often? During discussions about Κύριος, a person following the discussion may have gotten the impression that it was a very common word in the OT. This question allows readers to moor their thought on the fact that it is occurs about twice per chapter and at most about 4 or 5 times. It is a frequent word, but not so common like the definite article for instance.
  • Which Idiomatic expression is most difficult? An invitation to grapple with the text and encourage interpretative consideration of many possibilities before arriving at a conclusion. There is an ethos from time to time on the board that we are looking for THE correct answer, when in fact there could be more than one and in searching out difficulties, we have the chance to expand our horizons.
  • Most number of meanings and useages? The learning of words that have many meanings and useages requires a different approach. It has been claimed, and I think also assumed that a word like ποιεῖν or ἔχω can be known by just remembering a few English glosses from a Lesson 1 vocabulary list. This question is an invitation to explore the dictionary and to read through the various useages and meanings that can be found there and not to be satisfied with just knowing a gloss or two.
  • Is there a NT verse that contains all 24 letters? & All the diphthong together? This question is to encourage the rote memorisation of Bible verse which have both a language (and others with a faith) significance. It is an invitaion to look for patterns and become familiar with the sound and writing patterns of the Greek language. It is an encouragement to look at the letters of the text and to notice them, and so hasten the acquisiton of fluency.
  • Challenge: Is there a longer LXX verse? An encouragement to open the LXX and at least look through it and possibly see that there is so much familiar in it already and that reading it is not so daunting.
  • How many verses contain hapax legomena? An encouragement to learn or at least be familiar with the other parts of speech that are related to a word that we may see in our reading or be learning as part of the langauge. The implicit message of the question is that what are usually called hapax legomena because they only occur once - but have other parts of speech related to them - are a different kind of hapax legomena to the ones who are really [/i]sui generis[i] liek ἐπιούσιος and that the means of analysis open for us in either case is not the same, and that they should be treated differently. I included the stipulation that the NT was part of the wider Greek literature to encourage thinking about Greek as a language.
  • Which verse has the least / most number of words? An encouragement to Bible verse memorisation (or at least close familiarity). Something like "φόβουνται γάρ." feels manageable for a learner. In fact it is a "quasi-memorisation" because it is memorised in a different way than something longer, which requires the application of grammatical knowledge to facilitate memorisation - that is to say that starting with the memorisation of small phrases is good, and as the phrases get bigger, there is more need to apply one's knowledge of grammar to the memorisation.
  • What is the longest word in the New Testament? This question was just for fun, and is without ulterior aims.
  • How many datives absolute occur in the NT? This was an early attempt to raise awareness of a lesser used grammatical category. I learned from this to be more subtle, so I can say, "Which is the shortest verse?", rather than say, "Can you memorise these verses?".
  • Is χρυσελεφαντήλεκτρος the longest word in Greek? This initial question came from reading through the book (in German) that you recommended to the forum for its discussion of word formation. So in effect your (Ed's) action led to the instigation of this thread. This question was just truly, meaninglessly trivial and I included it just because I thought it was interesting. After thinking about it, I realised that I had no idea how long an :"ordinary word" was in Greek, or what the longest in the NT would be, so I started to look into it and things grew from there...

I think that people who have followed some of the questions have both found a way to express themselves, memorised a scripture verse or two, gotten a feel for some of the numbers and sizes involved in the handling the text and have just simply enjoyed participating. I think that fun and happiness are great things and that they make the matter of our serious concern lighter and more agreeable.
"αἴκα" (The Spartan Ephors' reply to Philip II of Macedon) is even better than "nuts" (General Anthony McAuliffe reply to General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz).
Stephen Hughes
 
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