New Greek Teacher

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Barry Hofstetter
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 13th, 2019, 12:23 pm

Adam Denoon wrote:
November 12th, 2019, 4:04 pm
Thank you all for your deep responses! This is the kind of can of worms I enjoy to smush around on the table as I pick it apart (how's that for evoking imagery in a shared cognitive framework :lol: )
τοῦτο φιλῶ!
The flip side to this is that I believe God chose writings as a vehicle for His self-revelation for a purpose: they can be read and examined, even if they are in a dead language.
Excuse me? Not a dead language, an immortal one. We are still studying it, and we will know it even better in eternity... :D
Part of why I find it so hard to read straight through a book in Greek is that I can become fixated when I find something I've never seen before. For instance, I barely made it into Matthew when I came across "μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν ὁ θεός", and the author's chosen word order, combined with the theological/historical significance of the child, struck me and I couldn't move past it that night. Ὁ θεός has been there all along, but with this child, He's now "With us, God". I'm probably not articulating this accurately, but it provides a small but succinct example of my interest in currently-understood Greek nuances (e.g. word order often used for emphasis), and how it adds something special to the reading of His Word, of which I possess a high view. I don't think I'd enjoy it nearly as much if I read it quickly without as much comprehension :D Of course, I pick back up where I leave off and keep going till I get stuck on the next thing. I'm also vaguely aware that a tendency to fixate could indicate some sort of cognitive issue :roll:
Wrong! You are absolutely the first one ever to have this problem... except for a couple million or so who have preceded you, including ἐγὼ αὐτός.
I'm in total agreement with reading extrabiblical, contemporary literature because the authors didn't invent a liturgical language... they wrote to people who read and spoke a common and secular language shared with the other authors (still nodding to special Semitisms and community-specific language features, of course). Reading such is a major help to comprehension of the New Testament, and if that's truly someone's goal, they'll read the other stuff too!
And seriously, don't give up chasing those rabbits (they can lead you to very interesting and profitable places), but discipline yourself so that you really get through your "rapid reading." The long term benefits are inestimable.
I might be rustling some jimmies with this question: but how much value is added to New Testament interpretation by reviving Koine and turning it into an anachronistic living language usable only by the rare folk who care to learn it? I don't think my students would be interested in using Koine as a spoken language. Their motivation for taking my class has been expressed as gaining a clearer understanding of the underlying text so they can apply it and communicate its precepts more clearly to those who endure their sermons and theology papers. How valuable would living language precepts be to them? (I'm not being snarky, I promise; This is a real question.)
We have zealous living language advocates as members here who can give their ἀπολογία. I personally have found mixing in some conversational "living language" elements helpful both for me and for my students (though I am currently doing so for Latin, since I don't at present teach Greek). It helps us to remember that this really was a language for communication and not just a literary language or a frozen archetype of some sort. To that end I've found the Colloquia of the Hermeneumata Pseudodositheana quite helpful. While the manuscripts are somewhat later than the NT (late third early fourth century) I don't know how many parallels I've seen to the NT in the Greek columns. Since they were largely designed to teach Greek speakers Latin, they tend to use real examples from real life situations, some of them quite hilarious (my students love the sections on insults and how to get money back from a deadbeat):

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Hermeneumata ... nb_sb_noss
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ πάντοτε· πάλιν ἐρῶ, χαίρετε

Jonathan Robie
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 13th, 2019, 12:42 pm

I appreciate and agree with Barry's responses.

Let me respond to this part:
Adam Denoon wrote:
November 12th, 2019, 4:04 pm
I might be rustling some jimmies with this question: but how much value is added to New Testament interpretation by reviving Koine and turning it into an anachronistic living language usable only by the rare folk who care to learn it? I don't think my students would be interested in using Koine as a spoken language. Their motivation for taking my class has been expressed as gaining a clearer understanding of the underlying text so they can apply it and communicate its precepts more clearly to those who endure their sermons and theology papers. How valuable would living language precepts be to them? (I'm not being snarky, I promise; This is a real question.)
My view is that it is much better to focus on the language of the New Testament, not "conversational Koine", but it really is better to learn how to ask and answer questions about the text in Greek, learn how to write Greek as well as read it, etc. The focus should be on the written text.

I think this is more efficient than trying to use ancient Greek as a modern language for everyday communication. I also find it more effective than using analytical metalanguage. Human beings are wired for natural language, not for analytical metalanguage. Using Greek actively improves your understanding and intuition for the language.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Paul-Nitz
Posts: 479
Joined: June 1st, 2011, 4:19 am
Location: Lilongwe, Malawi

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Paul-Nitz » November 13th, 2019, 1:15 pm

Adam Denoon wrote:
November 12th, 2019, 4:04 pm
How valuable would living language precepts be to them?
Let me try out three theses as a short answer.

What is language?
It is the primary vehicle for communication. Language may be spoken, heard, written, and read.

What is communication?
The expression, interpretation, and sometimes negotiation of meaning.*
* Bill Van Patten says something similar.

How do you learn a language?
By using the language to communicate.
Adam Denoon wrote:
November 12th, 2019, 4:04 pm
I don't think my students would be interested in using Koine as a spoken language.
For my African students, engagement, enjoyment, and interest in the classroom has increased exponentially. The number of those who graduate and use Greek in the ministry has increased.
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Paul D. Nitz - Lilongwe Malawi

RandallButh
Posts: 1020
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by RandallButh » November 13th, 2019, 8:35 pm

how much value is added to New Testament interpretation by reviving Koine and turning it into an anachronistic living language usable only by the rare folk who care to learn it? I don't think my students would be interested in using Koine as a spoken language. Their motivation for taking my class has been expressed as gaining a clearer understanding of the underlying text so they can apply it and communicate its precepts more clearly to those who endure their sermons and theology papers. How valuable would living language precepts be to them? (I'm not being snarky, I promise; This is a real question.)
The easiest answer to this is by analogy. Have you, or someone you know, passed a "Language for Reading Exam" (like French, German, etc., in grad school) and then learned the language to a level where they could listen to lectures in the language and engage in reasoned debate in the language? Ask such a person if learning to speak the language changed their perceptions, understandings, and reading skills. This is a rhetorical question, my experience is that there is a considerable gap in skill and understanding between the two.

The point for learning to speak Koine is to internalize the language to a high level so that they can process the language at the speed of speech and so that, when reading, they understand sentences immediately on reaching the end of sentences. (Typically, unless dealing with a pre-learned text like the NT, our Greek NT profs must re-read and repeat before they can understand a new sentence. This, of course, is not how fluent second language users read a text. So the idea of living pedagogies is to produce readers who are truly FLUENT from a cross-linguistic and psycholinguistic standard and not from current "NT standards.")

So--do you or they want "a clearer understanding of the underlying text"? Then learn it fully to real second language fluency! To do so you will need to discuss issues and speak hundreds and thousands of hours on diverse topics in Koine Greek. That is how God has built those who are in his image.
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Devenios Doulenios
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Devenios Doulenios » November 14th, 2019, 10:02 am

To follow up on what Randall has said, remember how you learned your native language, Adam. You had several years--5 or 6 at a minimum--of learning to communicate in your native tongue before learning to read. You heard others speak to you, you learned to respond, and you listened to others speaking. All of these used your language to communicate meaning. Before you can learn to read, even on a basic level, it helps tremendously to have the language internalized. Not impossible without that, but it's a huge advantage.
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Dewayne Dulaney
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος

Blog: https://letancientvoicesspeak.wordpress.com/

"Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου."--Διδαχή Α, α'

Shirley Rollinson
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Shirley Rollinson » November 14th, 2019, 5:00 pm

RandallButh wrote:
November 13th, 2019, 8:35 pm
how much value is added to New Testament interpretation by reviving Koine and turning it into an anachronistic living language usable only by the rare folk who care to learn it? I don't think my students would be interested in using Koine as a spoken language. Their motivation for taking my class has been expressed as gaining a clearer understanding of the underlying text so they can apply it and communicate its precepts more clearly to those who endure their sermons and theology papers. How valuable would living language precepts be to them? (I'm not being snarky, I promise; This is a real question.)
The easiest answer to this is by analogy. Have you, or someone you know, passed a "Language for Reading Exam" (like French, German, etc., in grad school) and then learned the language to a level where they could listen to lectures in the language and engage in reasoned debate in the language? Ask such a person if learning to speak the language changed their perceptions, understandings, and reading skills. This is a rhetorical question, my experience is that there is a considerable gap in skill and understanding between the two.

The point for learning to speak Koine is to internalize the language to a high level so that they can process the language at the speed of speech and so that, when reading, they understand sentences immediately on reaching the end of sentences. (Typically, unless dealing with a pre-learned text like the NT, our Greek NT profs must re-read and repeat before they can understand a new sentence. This, of course, is not how fluent second language users read a text. So the idea of living pedagogies is to produce readers who are truly FLUENT from a cross-linguistic and psycholinguistic standard and not from current "NT standards.")

So--do you or they want "a clearer understanding of the underlying text"? Then learn it fully to real second language fluency! To do so you will need to discuss issues and speak hundreds and thousands of hours on diverse topics in Koine Greek. That is how God has built those who are in his image.
As someone who learned "scientific German" in a couple of months, in order to be able to work out what research papers were reporting, and then learned German over several years 'on the spot' in Germany, in order to function as a member of the local community (becoming pretty-well bilingual), let me say that these are two different methods, with two different aims. The aim to be able to communicate fluently is laudable - BUT - it takes a VERY long time. I do not count the "Where is the pen?", "Here is the pen." type of dialogue as being truly functional, any more than "Look, Look, See Spot run!". I've done that sort of course for Spanish, and I still cannot get much further than "Lo siento" and "Hablo un poquito Espanol"
How long did it take any of us to become truly 'fluent' at an adult level in our native language? 15 years? Certainly more than 5 years. Most of us do not have the time needed for total immersion, and we don't need it in order to be able to read and understand (at some level) the GNT.
I've found that one can use modern Greek as the "language of communication" (using Rosetta Stone or one of those systems) as a means of internalizing Greek, and it has the advantage that one can actually speak to Greek people when one meets them. All one needs to do is make a few intellectual adjustments for the way the language changed in the past 2,000 years.
Just my two denarii :-)
Shirley Rollinson
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RandallButh
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Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by RandallButh » November 14th, 2019, 6:45 pm

Most of us do not have the time needed for total immersion, and we don't need it in order to be able to read and understand (at some level) the GNT
Well, it depends on what one is dedicating their life to. If to biblical literature, and they are teaching Greek--then they should consider the level that would be required for a German lit professor. Common sense, common expectation. ναί, προστιθεὶς δύο δραχμὰς κἀγώ.
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Peng Huiguo
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Joined: April 28th, 2019, 2:02 am

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Peng Huiguo » November 14th, 2019, 11:22 pm

Would λεπτά better capture the sense of the "cents"?
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RandallButh
Posts: 1020
Joined: May 13th, 2011, 4:01 am

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by RandallButh » November 15th, 2019, 1:48 am

βεβαίως. ἤθελον χρήσασθαι τῇ ἑλληνικῇ δραχμῇ ἀντὶ τοῦ Ῥωμαϊκοῦ δηναρίου.
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Devenios Doulenios
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Devenios Doulenios » November 16th, 2019, 10:24 pm

Adam and Dr. Shirley,

It seems I left the wrong impression with my comment about how native languages are learned. I only meant to say that we become good readers in our first language because we have learned to communicate in it, i.e., we have internalized it. So, we need to internalize the Greek in order to learn to read it and become good Greek readers. I did not mean to imply that we must spend five or six years in full Greek immersion, only using it orally, before we can learn to read Greek. That would not be practical or desirable. Nor is it necessary. But, to the extent we can, we should learn to appreciate Greek as a language, Greek as Greek, if we want to read it with comprehension and enjoyment. Jonathan's suggestion that you learn to ask and answer questions in Greek with your students is a sound one. That is a good step toward internalizing the language. There are other methods as well. Another is listening to recordings of the Koine Greek New Testament and the Septuagint done by people using either a modern Greek accent or Buth's Restored Koine accent. I have found that this helps me.

One reason I and some others on this list feel strongly about this is that the typical first-year Greek course and textbook focuses on grammar and isolated vocabulary lists. The idea is put across, spoken or not, that Greek is dead and that it is merely a tool for exegesis and theology. Well, I grant that it can be a good tool for exegesis and theology. But, approaching things a bit differently leads to better use of the tool. Equally important, or even more so, is the value of the study to the student and teacher. If we take something that is meant to be used for communication and never communicate with it, we fail to realize much of its beauty, richness, and power. Plus, motivation and retention suffer. And, both research and experience have shown that about only 4% of students do well with learning grammar and memorizing vocabulary as a means to learning Greek if that is the main or only approach. Throwing in translation exercises doesn't improve this, as to translate well you have to know Greek a lot better than a first year student does. In addition, those who have studied how modern languages are acquired have found that while grammar and vocabulary learning are important, they are best acquired in context. That is, in the course of communicating in the language. So, even if you only use some communicative methods and don't go with them exclusively, odds of helping students get ready to read Greek vastly improve.

In my own experience, even though I learned to enjoy grammatical studies (and still do), I found that the grammar-translation approach didn't prepare me for reading Greek well, even simple Greek. Shortly the end of my first year course, while in preacher training, our teacher had us go through 1 John and do an interlinear translation. (To his credit, he went through areas where a wooden translation made no sense and helped us make it more idiomatic.) Now, 1 John has some of the simplest Greek in the NT. It wasn't that I was bad at language learning. I had already become fluent in both French and Spanish, both conversationally and in reading. I had also studied German and Portuguese. The problem was that this was an unnatural approach to learning a language. When I started reading literature in Spanish and French, I had already learned to use them conversationally first. And for the most part, I did not do any translating from Spanish to English or English to Spanish in my first Spanish courses. By the time I had translation assigments in college Spanish, I had already been speaking Spanish for 5-6 years. (I should note here that translation and reading are two different skills. Many Greek teachers and textbook writers seem to believe they are the same. They are not.)

Adam, I encourage you to read and follow Dr. Seamus Macdonald's blog, The Patrologist. While his training was in Patristics, or the study of the Church Fathers, he has worked extensively in developing teaching methods and materials for ancient Greek and Latin. He also teaches several classes of beginning and intermediate Greek and Latin students. He has some excellent insights on how students can best learn to understand and read Koine Greek, and is developing his own textbook for beginning students. It is called Lingua Graeca Per Se Illustrata, inspired by a similar work by Oerberg for Latin. While it is an immersion approach, it could be used along with your other materials. You can get a free PDF of what he has done so far of this textbook from his blog.

We wish you every success, Adam. I hope these thoughts are helpful.

Δεβένιος Δουλένιος
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Dewayne Dulaney
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος

Blog: https://letancientvoicesspeak.wordpress.com/

"Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου."--Διδαχή Α, α'

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