After Mounce

Textbooks, Graded Readers, Beginner Resources and links, Teaching aids, etc.
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Jesse Goulet
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Joined: October 15th, 2011, 12:48 pm

After Mounce

Post by Jesse Goulet » February 26th, 2012, 2:02 am

What is suggested for intermediate study of Koine/Hellenistic Greek?

For our intermediate class in Bible College we were given Wallace's grammar book. Looking at various schools' syllabi, various textbooks are assigned. But what do you suggest be the next step? So far, I'm planning on a slow and more thorough re-read of some of Wallace's grammar, though I plan on using Mounce's Graded Reader first since it progresses toward's Wallace. As well as Mounce's Morphology book to deepen my understanding of word formation, and going through Robinson's Mastering Greek Vocab to balance the vocab/grammar spectrum.

I also found Dana & Mantey's Manual Grammar, Green's Handbook, Winer's Grammar, Trench's Synonyms, and Moulton & Milligan's Vocab for sale in my school's library for a dollar each, which I grabbed under the recommendation of Daniel Wallace himself, who said they were all classics. But now I'm not sure how and when to use them, since they vary on the beginner-expert wavelength and are outdated. Any suggestions?
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: After Mounce

Post by Shirley Rollinson » February 26th, 2012, 2:28 am

You're now probably at the stage where you don't need so much grammar, but rather more vocabulary, idioms and facility with the language.
Try reading through the whole of one of the Synoptic Gospels, with Zerwick and Grosvenor, and Smyth's Grammar as helps.
Make grammar notes and vocabulary flash-cards as you go.
Then read Luke or Acts or start on some Epistles.
When you've read the NT, try the Septuagint.
We learn koine grammar so as to be able to read (and understand) the NT in Greek - so now throw off the training wheels and get reading :-)
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: After Mounce

Post by Barry Hofstetter » February 26th, 2012, 8:53 am

Shirley has the words of eternal Greek – hearken to her. Wallace, et al., should be reference works. Reading through them or even studying them won't help you all that much. Reading lots of Greek will.

I would add this – do not restrict yourself to biblical Greek, if you really want to gain some facility with the language. The more you read, the better you get... :idea:
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

Stephen Carlson
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Re: After Mounce

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 26th, 2012, 9:13 am

I certainly agree with the advice to just read more Greek. I would also note that as your familiarity with Greek increases, you'll get more out of reading the reference works because you'll also be able to relate what they discuss to what you've read.

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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
Melbourne, Australia

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Re: After Mounce

Post by cwconrad » February 26th, 2012, 11:03 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:I certainly agree with the advice to just read more Greek. I would also note that as your familiarity with Greek increases, you'll get more out of reading the reference works because you'll also be able to relate what they discuss to what you've read.
I wish there were an easy way to explain this to people who haven't "gotten there" yet. Jonathan Robie and I were actually discussing this at lunch yesterday. Different people learn more successfully in different ways. In my later years -- i.e. ten years after retiring from teaching -- I've come ever more profoundly to believe that the "grammar-translation" pedagogy for ancient Greek will bring very few people to an ability to think and read with some fluency -- and yet, it does seem to work for some, and I know of one or two very successful teachers who use the method (I'm aware that some will dispute this altogether).

What I am now convinced of is that understanding written or spoken Greek does not depend on understanding the grammar of a Greek text or utterance or being able to explain how or why it is intelligible. I don't believe it's possible to speak or write intelligibly about how or why a Greek text or utterance means what it does unless those discussing it already understand quite clearly what the text or utterance means. Grammar may help to explain why the phrasing of a text or utterance is wrong, but that grammar must depend upon a recognition of "correct usage." I think that such recognition is probably intuitive even if it is acquired; the question is, "How does one acquire it?" Playwrights and actors and novelists are praised for having an "ear" to speech patterns characteristic of some particular social milieu; I think it is the same faculty that enables the successful student of any language to discern what's right or wrong in an utterance heard or a text read.

If that is true, then it has a bearing on the curious fact that grammars are more useful to those who already know a language than they are to beginning students. Stephen said something in another thread this morning that is à propos here: that rules which don't help one in composing "correct" Greek aren't very helpful. So what does help? Listening to people talk to each other in the language and speaking to them; living in the midst of native speakers and reading texts written by good writers in a language is ultimately worth more than reading all the textbooks and grammatical treatises ever written. The upshot of all this is: if you can't go and spend a week or a month or a year or two in an ancient Greek-speaking community, then keep on reading all kinds of texts composed by native-speakers/writers of ancient Greek.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Mark Lightman
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Joined: May 6th, 2011, 6:30 pm

Re: After Mounce

Post by Mark Lightman » February 26th, 2012, 3:59 pm

Nobody has mentioned that Mounce himself has said that after Mounce should come not just reading but speaking Ancient Greek:

To paraphrase a former French king

μετὰ μὲ, ὁ τῆς λαλιᾶς κατακλυσμός.
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Re: After Mounce

Post by RDecker » February 26th, 2012, 10:02 pm

There are such things as "readers" that provide (usually graded) passages with various sorts of pedagogical features for both classical and koine. I think Carl often recommends the JCAT series of readers for classical. There are others for koine from the very basic, barebones one that Mounce wrote to some that go well beyond NT to include LXX, apostolic fathers, and early creeds. There's also one that takes you on into Byzantine Greek with the patristics. Do a search on Amazon for "greek reader" and you'll find a number to pick from. Likely one of those could be a useful second step. Some have lots of blank lines that expect you to write out an English translation; others assume you will be primarily reading and focus more on meaning and how it is communicated. Regardless of the type study you think is best (or have been told is best) several of these are quite adaptable to different approaches.
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Rodney J. Decker
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, PA
(See profile for my NTResources blog address.)

James Spinti
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Location: Red Wing MN

Re: After Mounce

Post by James Spinti » February 27th, 2012, 10:12 am

Rod is being modest. He wrote one:
Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers
by Rodney J. Decker
Kregel Publications, 2007

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Proofreading and copyediting of ancient Near Eastern and biblical studies monographs

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