What does it mean to be a beginner and what kinds of questio
Posted: September 27th, 2015, 12:00 pm
Elsewhere in the Beginners Forum, a recent discussion raised the issue of appropriate questions for a beginner to ask. Here's my view on that issue:
... a good question: what does it mean to be a beginner and what kinds of questions should a beginner ask?
My answer would be, first of all, ask questions about the Greek language that you are in the process of learning; if you want to discuss the Greek text of Biblical passages, such as ὑπὲρ τῶν νεκρῶν in 1 Cor 15:29, analyze the elements: preposition ὑπὲρ, gen. plural of the noun phrase ὁ νεκρός; don’t start with how translators render that phrase into English; rather, start with what the lexicon tells you about each of the words in the phrase and with what the textbooks from which you’re learning grammar tell you about prepositions and the cases which they govern. As for the Biblical text, don’t make assumptions about what the text cannot possibly mean, especially theological assumptions. Rather, raise questions about what kinds of interpretation are allowed by the Greek grammatical construction and the Greek words that you find in that text. Beginners’ questions really ought to be about things in Greek that beginners are concerned with: forms of words (morphology), meanings of words (lexicology), and grammatical constructions (syntax). We have a subforum in the Beginners’ Forum termed “What does this text mean”; quite often the questions raised in that subforum really go beyond the kinds of questions that belong there and might better fit in one of the subforums in “Greek Texts.” But the real meat and potatoes of the Beginners Forum is questions about morphology, lexicology, and syntax that are encountered in beginning textbooks and first-year courses in schools.