First-look at a text

Grammar questions which are not related to any specific text.

First-look at a text

Postby Brian Renshaw » March 27th, 2012, 7:50 pm

I am now midway through my second semester of Greek and am still having trouble in finding a method to begin reading a text. I guess I will just tell you how I currently begin a text and if there is any advice out there for a better methodology I have open ears :D .

For example this past week our text was Mark 1:1-11. (FYI - For each week we have to translate all the verses and diagram 3-4 of them.) Before I look at the text I grab my "Reader's Lexicon of the Greek NT" by Burer and Miller and make notecards of all the words that I have not learned yet and then I learn them. I do this because then it does not get me hung up on vocabulary. I then print off the Greek text and translate underneath. For forms that I struggled with or could not figure out I first look the word in Mounce's morphology book and see if I can deduce what form it is by the change in the morphology. Finally, I go through and try to name all the syntax for the verses.

I feel like when I get done I have disassembled the text so much that I do not actually know what it is saying but could tell you how each word is functioning and connected to other words and phrases and so forth. I then try to read it as a whole to make more sense out of it. For the Mark passage this process took about 4 hours. It seems to me this is an extremely long time because if I just sit down to read it I can read it in my head in about 30 minutes.

Is it better to sit down and analyze the text in depth for the 4 hours or read it over and over to get the flow of it. If I just read it over and over I feel that I am missing the syntax (especially naming all the categories). I guess my other question would be (which may need a different thread) is what is the best way to learn syntax? I have been reading through Wallace's grammar throughout the semester but I am not sure if that is really helping all that much.
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Re: First-look at a text

Postby Eeli Kaikkonen » March 28th, 2012, 4:42 am

Brian Renshaw wrote:Is it better to sit down and analyze the text in depth for the 4 hours or read it over and over to get the flow of it.


Definitely the latter. People never learn any other language or text in the other way. NT Greek teaching and learning is generally skewed. For the writers and original readers of the NT the Greek language was their first or second language, fluent and learned by practice. They didn't analyze texts in depth and didn't put any subtleties or "gold nuggets" into their grammar to be found 2000 years later for parsers and analyzers. They just used their language as all people in the world do, and so should you.

Of course analyzing is still needed if you want to discuss about texts or read commentaries critically. I'm quite fond of theoretical frameworks and metalanguage myself, but it's different than knowing the language or understanding texts. The NT was written to be just read and understood, not to be shredded into parts.
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Re: First-look at a text

Postby Jonathan Robie » March 28th, 2012, 6:23 am

I think the approach you are taking involves a lot of analytical thinking in English. I find it more helpful to get as much Greek into my head as possible.

I like to listen to the text repeatedly using my MP3 player. I wish there were a free, complete recording of the New Testament in the Restored pronuncation, but for now you probably have to choose between modern pronunciation and Erasmian. Louis Sorenson has a list of recordings here:

http://www.letsreadgreek.com/resources/greekntaudio.htm

I'm using Zhodiates, which costs about $15.00 at Amazon. But here's another modern Greek recording that is clearer than Zhodiates, and includes the text:

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1084&p=5155#p5155

When I'm working on a text that's complex for me, I often try to put one phrase on each line - this is easier than diagramming a sentence, and less analytical, less thinking in English. Some of this requires actually understanding the text, but you can at least separate the lines according to punctuation as a first step, and make other obvious separations even before you fully understand the text.

1 Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ.
2 Καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ·
Ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου,
ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου·
3 φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ·
Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου,
εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους αὐτοῦ,
4 ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ
κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν.
5 καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα
καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμῖται πάντες,
καὶ ἐβαπτίζοντο ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ Ἰορδάνῃ ποταμῷ
ἐξομολογούμενοι τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν.
6 καὶ ἦν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐνδεδυμένος τρίχας καμήλου
καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν αὐτοῦ,
καὶ ἔσθων ἀκρίδας καὶ μέλι ἄγριον.
7 καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων·
Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου,
οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ·
8 ἐγὼ ἐβάπτισα ὑμᾶς ὕδατι,
αὐτὸς δὲ βαπτίσει ὑμᾶς ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ.
9 Καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις
ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας
καὶ ἐβαπτίσθη εἰς τὸν Ἰορδάνην ὑπὸ Ἰωάννου.
10 καὶ εὐθὺς ἀναβαίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος
εἶδεν σχιζομένους τοὺς οὐρανοὺς
καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα ὡς περιστερὰν καταβαῖνον εἰς αὐτόν·
11 καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν·
Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός,
ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.

After that, I get out Zerwick and Grosvenor's Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament to figure out the parts I missed, or use LaParola:

http://www.laparola.net/greco/index.php

That also helps me correct my lining-out of the text, so I go back and fix things there.

I like to do this AFTER grappling with the text, because the process of working through the text develops your language skills a lot better than trying to learn the words ahead of time, IMHO. You learn things in linguistic context. You learn how to figure things out. Both good skills.

The parts I still can't figure out, I ask about here on B-Greek.

Then go back and listen to the text again several times in Greek. Let your intuitive mind work.
ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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Re: First-look at a text

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 28th, 2012, 10:54 am

I would say that it's better to get reading the text first and worry about the syntax later, especially, if by "syntax" you mean the bazillion categories of genitives and datives etc. that are found in Wallace's grammar. I think that's far too detailed at this stage.

All you really need to understand at this stage are the basic, prototypical functions of the cases and other grammatical forms. And it is by reading the text--a lot of it--that you will start getting a sense of their syntactic nuances.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: First-look at a text

Postby ed krentz » March 29th, 2012, 1:09 pm

The best brief grammar I know is H. P. V. Nunn, A Short Syntax of New Testament Greek (Cambridge University Press, 1912 + many later imprints). It is brief, gives excellent NT examples, and includes a summary of English grammar that many American students need! You can down-load it at Textkit,
http://www.textkit.com/

Many Greek Grammars, including Kuehner BLass Gerth, can be downloaded at
https://perswww.kuleuven.be/~u0013314/g ... ammars.htm

Both sites are rich in resources

Ed Krentz
Edgar Krentz
Prof. Emeritus of NT
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
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Re: First-look at a text

Postby Brian Renshaw » March 31st, 2012, 10:29 pm

Thank you all for your advice. I appreciate you all taking the giving your responses. I feel like I am in a rock and a hard place. It seems in class we are not learning the best way, we are told to focus on the many grammatical categories in Wallace. We are just to analyze and diagram one text per week and there is no stress on actually reading Greek. I hope this summer I can begin to actually start reading Greek for Greek.
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Re: First-look at a text

Postby Shirley Rollinson » April 1st, 2012, 1:47 am

In class the Professor is always right :-) So just go along with what hse wants in class - but start reading for yourself out of class. You might try to get a group of classmates to meet about once a week and read together, then work out the meaning between you.You could start with John's Gospel. And if there are any second- and third-year Greek students get them involved too.
Brian Renshaw wrote:Thank you all for your advice. I appreciate you all taking the giving your responses. I feel like I am in a rock and a hard place. It seems in class we are not learning the best way, we are told to focus on the many grammatical categories in Wallace. We are just to analyze and diagram one text per week and there is no stress on actually reading Greek. I hope this summer I can begin to actually start reading Greek for Greek.
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