Is it ever too early to parse?

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.

Is it ever too early to parse?

Postby Scott Hughey » August 5th, 2013, 10:33 pm

Here's another broad question. Is it too early for me to spend time trying to read/parse/translate one of the easier NT books? I know the answer will be subjective, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Here's where I am, along with my resources.

I am going through "Essentials of New Testament Greek" by Ray Summers, the revised edition. I'm learning on my own, although I have two friends who are language scholars and teach Koine Greek. I don't get to meet with them often but I can usually get an answer out of them when I have a question. The book is not the first one I started with, but it seems the most accessible so far. (I have a copy of Machen's "New Testament Greek for Beginners. It was difficult going through the first few chapters although I suspect I'd do better now.)

I've covered the first 8 chapters of the Summers book which goes over 1) Letters & Sounds, 2) Pronunciation & Accents, 3) Verbs: Present and Active, 4) Nouns 2nd decl, 5) Nouns 1st decl, 6) Adjectives (1st and 2nd decl), 7) The Greek Sentence and 8) Prepositions

I have a pretty good understanding of the material, although it takes me quite some time to complete the exercises. I know the sentences in the NT will be much harder. I'm still working on learning the prepositions. Each day I try to go back and briefly refresh the material I've already learned and advance some more.

I also have a copy of Westcott & Hort's text as well as "A Reader's Greek New Testament 2nd Edition" compiled by Goodrich Lukaszewski.

My vocabulary is very limited. It's slightly larger than what I would have had using just the Summers book through these early chapters but not by much. I find myself flipping though the GNT. I practice pronunciation. In church I'll look up the passage being discussed and try to see which words I know, and which forms of the words I can sort out.

I don't want to get ahead of myself. At the same time I wonder if trying to go through a chapter of John or I John might help me learn quicker. It would certainly break up the monotony of turning to the next chapter and finding yet another chart to learn.

Thoughts?
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Re: Is it ever too early to parse?

Postby Hefin J. Jones » August 5th, 2013, 11:19 pm

I started learning greek mainly through learning of vocab and paradigms/rules. It only gets you so far.

The next time around I got much much much further by translating paragraph sized sections of text weekly. Parsing was not a priority.

I think the folk who advocate extensive reading are wise - the difficulty is finding accessible graded reading. There are some standard works out there worth looking at.
Hefin Jones
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MTh student - Moore College
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Re: Is it ever too early to parse?

Postby Stephen Hughes » August 6th, 2013, 12:32 am

Hefin J. Jones wrote:Parsing was not a priority.

I think that parsing basically becomes less and less important as you go on.

At the a beginning, even if you could fully parse all forms, you won't know what to do with the knowledge that you have. Once you get into things, there can be 3 or 4 possible parsings for a single form, and often 2 of them will fit the context. In that way, parsing is great for making you think beyond your own assumptions.

Many people have a negative reaction to the superfluity of information, just take it step by step: ask yourself questions like, "What does that need? What else could it be? Why is it like that?"

Hefin J. Jones wrote:translating paragraph sized sections of text

translating sort of builds on parsing ... but later you may go beyond translating too.
Stephen Hughes
"If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself."
(Attributed to Albert Einstein)
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Re: Is it ever too early to parse?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » August 6th, 2013, 7:33 am

Scott, you are asking excellent questions. Parsing is like the alphabet. For a kindergartner, reciting the alphabet and being able to recognize the letters is the goal, but when she's in third grade, we expect her to be able to read using that same alphabet. Similarly, the goal in parsing is to help you develop instantaneous recognition of forms without parsing, just like the real goal of learning the alphabet is to read without having to identify each letter and then painfully assemble them into a word. In other words, the more you parse, the less you should have to do it...

Ideally, we could do that by exposing students to different forms in lots of different contexts, both spoken and written. You may have noticed, however, that we don't live in an ideal universe, so that its still helpful to memorize vocabulary and paradigms. That's fine as long as it is also in the context of seeing those forms in various contexts. It's not going to hurt you at all to start looking at your Greek testament -- in fact, it's only going to help you. I would suggest also looking at extra-biblical Greek and seeing what you can do with it. Don't get discouraged if you only recognize one or two words out of ten when you start. Each time you do so, you improve and grow. It really is an incremental process.

And you now have ἀλλοὶ ἑταῖροι in addition to your two friends whom you can ask questions... :D
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Is it ever too early to parse?

Postby Shirley Rollinson » August 6th, 2013, 8:59 pm

Scott Hughey wrote:Here's another broad question. Is it too early for me to spend time trying to read/parse/translate one of the easier NT books? I know the answer will be subjective, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

- - - snip snip - - -

I don't want to get ahead of myself. At the same time I wonder if trying to go through a chapter of John or I John might help me learn quicker. It would certainly break up the monotony of turning to the next chapter and finding yet another chart to learn.

Thoughts?

You're welcome to try some of the sentences and NT passages from the Online Greek Textbook.
Don't burn yorself out on charts and whatever gets monotonous. Read and enjoy :-)
The textbook starts at
http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook/index.html
and there's also an online Greek course, starting at
http://www.drshirley.org/gr201/index.html
I'm not teaching an online course this semester, but you're welcome to contact me with any quesitons.
Enjoy Greek
Thanks
Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Is it ever too early to parse?

Postby Scott Hughey » August 7th, 2013, 4:06 pm

Thanks everyone. And Shirley, this is a great resource! I'll be using this in the days to come.
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