"Tools of the Trade"

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

Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby cwconrad » September 6th, 2011, 1:53 pm

James F. McGrath on his blog "Exploring our Matrix" (http://www.patheos.com/community/explor ... ent-study/) weighs in today on the issues raised by Larry Hurtado's two entries noted at the outset and later in this series: "Essential Languages for New Testament Study?"

I highlight a couple of his comments that I particularly applaud:
... if I had shown that I not only was capable of flubs but unable to read the Greek text and discuss it intelligently, presumably I would have and should have failed. A PhD in New Testament without a good grasp of Koine Greek is a contradiction in terms.


Being able to read and understand fluently is a different skill than parsing, and I am much more impressed when someone reads a word and understands it, than when they read a word, rattle off “second aorist active indicative third person singular” and then struggle to explain what that means.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby refe » September 6th, 2011, 3:25 pm

I don't want to be under the knife of a doctor who Googled his way through medical school, and I don't want a teacher/pastor/author who Accordance-d their way through seminary.
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby JBarach-Sr » September 6th, 2011, 6:18 pm

If Greek is under the gun, so are other "hard" courses like theology and history.
The reason, as Carl intimates, is based on the philosophy of the school.

1. This school is here for the purpose of making money to pay for expenses.
2. This school is recognized for its well-known teachers who need to be well paid.
3. This school believes that every student must pass every course so that he/she will return for the following school year.
4. This school promotes non-academic student recruitment events such as singing and drama tour groups, sports teams, and mission teams.
5. This school believes these practical non-academic events have precedence over strictly academic studies.
6. This school encourages hands-on learning involving group projects, field trips, and motivational-speaker seminars.
7. This school will discipline those teachers who make unreasonable course demands and tough exams.
8. This school uses the latest electronic equipment and visual aids and abhors the lecture method.
8. This school recognizes that traditionally difficult courses must be eliminated or simplified.
10. This school promotes interpersonal relationships.
11. This school knows that graduates do not have full knowledge or skills, thus they are encouraged to be involved in life-long learning through the alumni seminars.
καὶ ἀνέγνωσαν ἐν βιβλίῳ νόμου τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἐδίδασκεν Εσδρας καὶ διέστελλεν ἐν ἐπιστήμῃ κυρίου καὶ συνῆκεν ὁ λαὸς ἐν τῇ ἀναγνώσει. (Neh. 8:8)
http://www.motorera.com/greek/lxx/neh/neh08.html
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby Shirley Rollinson » September 6th, 2011, 8:03 pm

What is the point of learning New Testament Greek?
Is it to dazzle a congregation with esoteric word-studies in a sermon or Bible study??
Is it to logic-chop with other scholars as to translation??

I get the feeling that many Seminaries, Bible Colleges, and other "Institutions of Higher Learning" operate on the above suppositions.
Take two paradigms and call me in the morning :-)

Or is it so that a student may begin to read with enjoyment and understanding (somewhat) the Greek New Testament and take what it says to heart ???
"Read, Mark, Learn, and Inwardly Digest"
Shirley Rollinson
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby Mark Lightman » September 6th, 2011, 9:25 pm

Hi, Shirley. It's great to see you on the new forum.

What is the point of learning New Testament Greek?


There are only two reasons to learn New Testament Greek. (1) It makes it easier to distort the text to make it say what you want it to. Rob Bell, for example, in his best-selling book "Love Wins," argues that εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον in Matthew 25:46 does not "really" mean "into eternal punishment" but means "for a period of pruning." This helps him argue that the New Testament does not teach the doctrine of Hell. Bell needs New Testament Greek because everyone who reads the New Testament in English (or any other language) finds that it teaches the doctrine of Hell all over the place.

The second reason to learn New Testament Greek is because it allows you to skip books like Bell's, which purport to tell you what the "Greek really says." You realize early on that the Greek really says basically the same thing that the translations do.

A third reason to learn New Testament Greek, I guess, is that it's lots of fun. I would make it optional for preachers.
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby George F Somsel » September 7th, 2011, 1:23 am

I don't want to be under the knife of a doctor who Googled his way through medical school, and I don't want a teacher/pastor/author who Accordance-d their way through seminary.


But if they got through seminary by using Logos, it's OK. :D :lol: :evil:
george
gfsomsel



… search for truth, hear truth,
learn truth, love truth, speak the truth, hold the truth,
defend the truth till death.



- Jan Hus
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby cwconrad » September 7th, 2011, 8:21 am

Shirley Rollinson wrote:What is the point of learning New Testament Greek?
Is it to dazzle a congregation with esoteric word-studies in a sermon or Bible study??
Is it to logic-chop with other scholars as to translation??

I get the feeling that many Seminaries, Bible Colleges, and other "Institutions of Higher Learning" operate on the above suppositions.
Take two paradigms and call me in the morning :-)

Or is it so that a student may begin to read with enjoyment and understanding (somewhat) the Greek New Testament and take what it says to heart ???
"Read, Mark, Learn, and Inwardly Digest"


The focus of the discussion was not (originally, at least) about amateur or lay students of Greek and the sort of competence they need to achieve -- whether for their own entertainment or because they want to understand the GNT better --, but rather about scholars, those who pursue advanced degrees in New Testament studies and need to be competent to read NT and other Greek texts with facility and to read and evaluate scholarly studies concerning the text of the NT: commentaries, versions, etc. Think about the question in terms of the degree of competence you look for in a physician who treats you for a life-threatening ailment: how do you draw the line between a trustworthy medical practitioner and a quack?
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: "Tools of the Trade"

Postby Randall Tan » September 7th, 2011, 2:36 pm

Even though the discussion has strayed somewhat from the original question about scholars who pursue advanced degrees in New Testament studies & the competence needed, I really appreciate the viewpoints expressed so far. I think that we now have a broader understanding of the nature & extent of the issues involved as a result. My intent with this follow-up post is to help refocus & synthesize the discussion in light of the previous contributions.

In the general background we have problems in education & educational philosophy as well as societal changes (including in Christian communities). There are also market forces & economic realities that reflect those general background changes. My original point was that there is little we can do to change those larger environmental factors directly. However, I should add that a good appreciation of those factors can help us figure out how to adapt successfully &/or overcome them (whereas simply lamenting, complaining, or lambasting generally do not contribute to positive change or results). In addition, several have noted that the responsibility for upholding standards lies with the training institutions, especially graduate schools. Carl has also pointed out that the predominant grammar-translation type of pedagogy is broken.

In my opinion, the facts, in general, that we face are: (1) students entering into Ph.D. study are generally less equipped & less motivated to master Greek; (2) admission standards are generally lower; (3) career prospects are generally bleaker & market pressures involved in making oneself more marketable for a teaching post make mastering Greek a relatively low priority; (4) the pedagogy method most frequently used to teach Greek does not serve to equip many of these students well (some manage to thrive regardless, but this has always been a very small percentage--mostly restricted to people who end up doing Ph.D. work, but as more people outside of these ranks gain admittance into Ph.D. programs, the problems become more pronounced).

In my view, a minimum solution requires addressing issues (1) & (2). There are some institutions that have resisted market forces better & upheld or even raised admission standards for Ph.D. study. Far-sighted & determined leadership & financial independence are usually present for these institutions (often the far-sighted & determined leaders purposely raised specifically-targeted endowments to ensure the ability to withstand market pressures). A broader solution would require addressing issues (3) & (4) too. By & large, the people in positions to make decisions at institutions & who possess the resources or determine the allocation of resources are not going to be Ph.D.s in NT or biblical studies. To change perceptions & influence more decision-makers in future generations, new generations of students going through seminaries & religious institutions need to receive more effective training in Greek & receive a better experience with both the joy & relevance of language learning. Initiatives such as Randall Buth's Biblical Language Center deserve wider consideration & use. As market forces (at least within Christian circles) begin to change for the better, demand for highly competent Greek scholars would improve (improving career prospects will cycle back to help motivate candidates preparing for these positions). In addition, I think that better biblical language software tools can be part of the solution, helping to bring comprehensive understanding of the original texts of the New Testament (& related Greek literature), not only to the masses, but also supporting, enhancing, & speeding up the work of future generations of Greek scholars.
Randall Tan
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