Expertise in Greek

Anything related to Biblical Greek that doesn't fit into the other forums.
tdbenedict
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Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:48 am

Expertise in Greek

Post by tdbenedict » December 3rd, 2017, 6:46 pm

This may be a very old and ignorant and many-times answered question, and is not necessarily directly connected to this particular topic, but here it goes:

When I read about discussions re Porter, Campbell, Wallace, or [insert name here, this is not aimed at any particular person but more at a milieu of people], the topics seem very esoteric and hard (at least to the self-taught like me) to connect to actually increasing one's understanding of any text. But that's fine -- that's what laypersons always think about intra-professional discussion, regardless of the field.

But there are times when reading this forum, particularly regarding language education, where I read posts where the person posting seems to suggest that many NT Greek scholars don't have reading fluency in Greek. Since I have never been in academia for Greek, I have never known whether I am misreading or missing something.

So my silly question: do Professors of Greek have reading fluency in Greek? I've always assumed that if you stuck a text of Plato, St. John Chrysostom or Plutarch in front of any "Professor of Greek," they could just read it straight off, about the same as their first language. I assume the answer is of course they can --- that's requirement number one for being a Professor of Greek. After that, you go on the esoteric.

Tim
Tim Benedict

RandallButh
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Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by RandallButh » December 3rd, 2017, 10:06 pm

In Reading studies in Second Language Acquisition reading occurs when a person reads over 150fps. Sad to say, most profs do not 'read'. Perhaps one could make a little allowance for long strings of backgrounded phrases in a sentence, but that would not change the overall picture. Particularly at seminaries, if you plopped a text of Josephus in front of the prof they would hem and haw and get most of a paragraph but not the whole thing. Similarly for Hebrew. And no, that is not like the situation in other languages and literatures.

daveburt
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Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by daveburt » December 3rd, 2017, 11:05 pm

tdbenedict wrote:
December 3rd, 2017, 6:46 pm
So my silly question: do Professors of Greek have reading fluency in Greek? I've always assumed that if you stuck a text of Plato, St. John Chrysostom or Plutarch in front of any "Professor of Greek," they could just read it straight off, about the same as their first language.
If I may add an anecdote to Randall's fuller data above, I heard a seminary Greek teacher speak of having recently gone to a course where they increased their Greek vocabulary up to 1,000 words, and that was receding since. A three-year old native speaker knows that many words but is quite unable to understand philosophy, theology and history books! Grammar-translation is more or less a completely different animal to language learning. You don't need to know a language to teach its grammar in the abstract or to apply a grammatical algorithm to translate.

tdbenedict
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Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:48 am

Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by tdbenedict » December 4th, 2017, 1:44 am

I don't get it. If a person can't fluently read Greek, how can they claim to be an expert on Greek? How do they have any authority whatsoever to opine on the meaning of a Greek text or construction? It's like listening to a blind man give a long lecture about what "red" looks like, isn't it? Or a Linux expert who doesn't know how to open a terminal or . . . . In any other profession, wouldn't such claimed "expertise" get you eviscerated?

This obviously isn't an original question. But if a person tells me about aspect or whatever but can't READ, isn't their opinion by definition simply baloney?
Tim Benedict

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 4th, 2017, 2:14 pm

tdbenedict wrote:
December 4th, 2017, 1:44 am
I don't get it. If a person can't fluently read Greek, how can they claim to be an expert on Greek? How do they have any authority whatsoever to opine on the meaning of a Greek text or construction? It's like listening to a blind man give a long lecture about what "red" looks like, isn't it? Or a Linux expert who doesn't know how to open a terminal or . . . . In any other profession, wouldn't such claimed "expertise" get you eviscerated?

This obviously isn't an original question. But if a person tells me about aspect or whatever but can't READ, isn't their opinion by definition simply baloney?
This is one of the huge frustrations about the whole subject. I'll say there's nothing wrong with knowing abstract theory, but it should come from the context of knowing the language really well. I recently had a discussion with one of our Hebrew teachers (I'm at a Jewish day school) about the different ways in which language works, and אֵת, eth, came up. "Ah, yes," I said, "the definite direct object marker." She replied, "You know, it wasn't until I started teaching Hebrew that I learned what that really meant, although before I knew how to use it correctly in speaking the language." That's what we want, practitioners who are proficient at both practice and theory.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Stirling Bartholomew
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Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 4th, 2017, 4:24 pm

tdbenedict wrote:
December 4th, 2017, 1:44 am
I don't get it. If a person can't fluently read Greek, how can they claim to be an expert on Greek?
The title of this thread is "The Greek Verb Revisited," so why are we wandering into pedagogy once again, a topic which is worn itself out by overuse. We all know where the regular people stand on this. We don't need to be constantly lectured about it. The advocates have more than adequately identified themselves. Drum beating doesn't win over skeptics, it just hardens them in their skepticism. Trashing people for not being "fluent" isn't going to win you any friends.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by Barry Hofstetter » December 4th, 2017, 4:40 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
December 4th, 2017, 4:24 pm
tdbenedict wrote:
December 4th, 2017, 1:44 am
I don't get it. If a person can't fluently read Greek, how can they claim to be an expert on Greek?
The title of this thread is "The Greek Verb Revisited," so why are we wandering into pedagogy once again, a topic which is worn itself out by overuse. We all know where the regular people stand on this. We don't need to be constantly lectured about it. The advocates have more than adequately identified themselves. Drum beating doesn't win over skeptics, it just hardens them in their skepticism. Trashing people for not being "fluent" isn't going to win you any friends.
Don't need more friends, need more people fluent in the language! :lol:
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Stirling Bartholomew
Posts: 678
Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » December 4th, 2017, 5:04 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
December 4th, 2017, 4:40 pm
Don't need more friends, need more people fluent in the language! :lol:
Right. But it's like discussing John 1:1. Do we really have to do it all the time? Is the purpose of the forum sales and marketing[1] for people in the fluency business? How about a little diversity right?

[1] This has been going on for decades.
C. Stirling Bartholomew

tdbenedict
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Joined: June 29th, 2014, 10:48 am

Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by tdbenedict » December 4th, 2017, 8:37 pm

I apologize because my previous post was much too strongly worded to further any discussion. I also should have started a new thread. I also think I mishandled some buzzwords that made things worse.

I wasn't intending to say anything about pedagogy. By "fluent" I only meant the ability to grab a text and read. I've always assumed that they only way to get that high reading level is to spend years and years reading texts. Maybe there is a shortcut or other method. I don't know.

To regular people, the idea that a person can opine as an expert on the meaning of a text or the language of the text without a high reading level in the language of that text seems really strange. However, as a grumpy middle-aged professional in a completely different field, I understand that regular people are often completely wrong. Question: Is there any work out there that deals with this question head-on that I can read and get smarter?
Tim Benedict

Stephen Carlson
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Re: Porter's SBL review of "The Greek Verb Revisited"

Post by Stephen Carlson » December 4th, 2017, 11:42 pm

I think I'll split this thread into its own.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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