Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Resources and methods for teaching and learning New Testament Greek.

Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Jacob Rhoden » February 26th, 2013, 9:12 am

As "one of the rest of us" who also has many other commitments, I guess I am about to find out how quick it will take. Im opting for extreme optimism, heres hoping I can come back in a few months and say "Your wrong, you can achieve this in a few months." (:
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Stephen Hughes » March 12th, 2013, 11:03 am

Hi Jacob,
Let me throw my 2 cents in the pond along with the big names.
Besides what I have read for work, study and to follow the news, I do the majority of all my reading each day in Koine Greek; New (1905 book form) and Old Testament and other secular texts, (which I mostly access online).
It took me far more than a couple of months to achieve a truly useful knowledge of Greek! I have done the BA with double majors in Greek and Modern Greek and have read regularly for many years. It probably took me 15 years of working with the language to get a good return on my investment of time and effort in Greek.
By reading widely in Koine Greek, the world around me becomes increasingly more "Greek". English was my first language of education, now after a number of years reading a variety of texts, I am able to understand some of how the world around me works "in Greek". That has made a very big difference in the way I understand a Greek text.
Overall, the biggest difficulty I faced over the years was acquiring a vocabulary in way that got me above beginners level decoding and translation skills. Language learners usually begin by using L2 to L1 dictionaries at beginners’ level then move to L2 to L2(L1) dictionaries at Intermediate level and just L2 to L2 at advanced level. But in this language there are simply no such resources available. There is a difference between initially learning "λύχνος m. lamp", and later reading definition, (simple) examples, collocations and related words like this:
"λύχνος - πήλινον οἰκεῖον σκεῦος καιόμενον ἔλαιον καὶ φαίνον . τὸ φῶς λύχνου ἔλαμψεν ἐν οἰκήματι. ὁ λύχνος φωτίζει σε. ὁ κεραμεὺς τοῦ πηλοῦ ἐποίησεν λύχνον. (That means.. A λύχνος is a household vessel made of clay, which burns olive oil or and gives off light. The light of a lamp lights up a room. The lamp gives you light. The potter made a lamp out of clay.) Other things we can do with a λύχνον are ἐπισκευάζειν / ἅπτειν / (ἐπι)θεῖναι ἐπὶ τὴν λυχνίαν (Trim / light / place upon a lampstand). It is not a λαμπάς (which is for outdoor use). Related words are “wick” ἐλλύχνιον and “lamp-holder” λυχνοῦχος. etc.".
Unless I’ve overlooked an excellent book somewhere, it seems that you’ll have to make your own definitions like that from your reading and analysis – and that is a real drag when you want to transition from beginner (decode and translate) to (upper-)intermediate (lost in the feel of the language and over whelmed by uncertainty). Without such resources, students have to go to an advanced level to provide for themselves intermediate level material so they can progress beyond beginners level (weird!! but we manage).
For grammar, it was difficult for me to get beyond recognising forms and move on to guessing ahead what the Greek would say next, (and realizing what in didn’t say). Teaching grammars don't deal with those things well, and it is something that is left for you, the student to acquire by experience.
That being said, learning Greek is really worthwhile. Depending on what you want from the language, you can get some return on your investment in a few months, but don't just aim for that, be prepared to be in it for the long haul. How long do you spend to read the New Testament in English? A year? Some people say learning a language takes 10,000 hours, if you have a family, then you're young, you have time. Learning the language and reading the book are both real-time activities. Don't be put off by that.
There’s no need to do away with the English translations, they are good.
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: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Stephen Carlson » March 14th, 2013, 5:32 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Some people say learning a language takes 10,000 hours, if you have a family, then you're young, you have time. Learning the language and reading the book are both real-time activities. Don't be put off by that.


The 10000 hours is a Malcolm Gladwellism, but the basic idea is right (regardless of the exact number of hours). To paraphrase Aristotle, there's no royal road to learning Greek. You just have to put in the time. Whatever motivates you for putting in the time is what's good for learning the language, for you. I think that sharing our experiences with Greek here on B-Greek is a good motivation, so thanks for that.

PS. I would love more L2 to L2 resources for Koine too.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby James Bell » June 16th, 2013, 2:29 am

The greek new testament is my daily reading. I'm reading two to three chapters daily. At two and a half years of effort, two hours a day, and having memorized all the words down to 10 times frequency or less, I must say, I have not arrived. Rather I sometimes despair of knowing greek. Somebody said it takes 10.000 hours to be an expert and I believe it.
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby joshhuntnm » June 29th, 2013, 6:57 pm

I read with Logos and toggle back and forth between straight Greek, Greek Interlinear, etc.
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » June 30th, 2013, 7:37 am

I tell my students that the secret to learning Greek (or Latin) is to do lots of Greek, the more the better. I have been reading through the GNT on a regular basis regularly since about 1979, and average 2 or 3 chapters a day. To say the exercise has been invaluable would be something of an understatement.
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Dwayne Green » August 9th, 2013, 11:26 pm

Hi Barry,

I've been self studying for the last 4 years or so with the help of online communities, and although I'm no expert, I have found a level of reading fluency. I am able to read the gospels with relative ease, Luke is still hard though. I've come to expect certain patterns of usage in these books, and of course the use of the aorist tense in these narratives. I bring my GNT to church with me, and I am, for the most part, able to follow along when the pastor is preaching on an NT passage. My advice is this... Keep pressing forward, things may get difficult and discouraging, but remember why it is that you want to learn koine! To read God's Word in the language he gave it! Go slow, concepts don't get branded in memory unless you take your time and pour over the meterial. There have been times that I've spent days on the same chapter. Also, be consistent. A little each day is better than a bunch once a week.

To answer your question, I mostly read my GNT. If I need to refer to something quickly, I go to my english version for convenience.
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Barry Hofstetter » August 11th, 2013, 8:00 am

Dwayne Green wrote:Hi Barry,

I've been self studying for the last 4 years or so with the help of online communities, and although I'm no expert, I have found a level of reading fluency. I am able to read the gospels with relative ease, Luke is still hard though. I've come to expect certain patterns of usage in these books, and of course the use of the aorist tense in these narratives. I bring my GNT to church with me, and I am, for the most part, able to follow along when the pastor is preaching on an NT passage. My advice is this... Keep pressing forward, things may get difficult and discouraging, but remember why it is that you want to learn koine! To read God's Word in the language he gave it! Go slow, concepts don't get branded in memory unless you take your time and pour over the meterial. There have been times that I've spent days on the same chapter. Also, be consistent. A little each day is better than a bunch once a week.

To answer your question, I mostly read my GNT. If I need to refer to something quickly, I go to my english version for convenience.


This is all excellent. One of the problems that faces those who teach what we call Koine Greek is the student's familiarity with the biblical text in English translation. Getting used to "certain passages of usage" means it's time to get out of the comfort zones. That's why I encourage students to read texts outside of the NT to whatever extent they can do so. This challenges your Greek, and greatly profits your main focus of study. In a Classics regimen, no student would be allowed only to read his favorite author and nothing else. He is required to read texts from many different authors, because one cannot specialize until one has a sufficiently broad knowledge base within which to work.
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Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Devenios Doulenios » August 12th, 2013, 2:57 pm

Good for you, Dwayne! (I'm a Dewayne too, just use a modified Greek form of it here). As it happens, I'm reading the Gospels in Greek also and am doing Luke now. I find him more difficult than John or Matthew and Mark, but it is coming along. I also am reading Luke in the Latin Vulgate. I am also listening to the Koine text being read by a native Greek (audio available from www.bible.is and also from www.faithcomesbyhearing.com: 1901 Ecumenical Patriarchal ed.) and it is really helping, since he uses a good conversational speed.

I also am listening to the Latin NT text from www.bible.is (Italian accent) and www.greeklatinaudio.com (Spanish accent). The latter site also has the Westcott-Hort Greek NT read with a modified Modern Greek accent at a good, fluid conversational speed. I really feel that listening to the text this way has helped my reading comprehension, and helped me internalize the Greek more since I am focusing on Greek as Greek, not as a code for English.

Besides the NT I am also listening to the Psalms in Koine Greek (Louis Sorensen's selections from his site, and the complete set by the same native Greek who does the NT at bible.is, streamed from www.vivlos.net). I've also read and listened a little to the first two chapters of 1 Maccabees. And I listen to the Israeli Bible Society Modern Hebrew Gospels on bible.is (the vocab. is close enough to Biblical Hebrew that I can usually follow most of it) and to the Psalms in Heb. from the Academy of Ancient Languges site (www.aoal.org).

Dwayne, I encourage you to keep up the good work. Try adding listening to Greek to your reading, and see if it helps you. Let us know how it goes.

God bless,
Devenios Doulenios
Δεβἐνιος Δουλἐνιος
"τὴν ζωὴν καὶ τὸν θάνατον δέδωκα πρὸ προσώπου ὑμῶν τὴν εὐλογίαν καὶ τὴν κατάραν ἔκλεξαι τὴν ζωήν ἵνα ζῇς σὺ καὶ τὸ σπέρμα σου"-Dt. 30:19

"Ὁδοὶ δύο εἰσί, μία τῆς ζωῆς καὶ μία τοῦ θανάτου."--Διδαχή Α, α'
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Re: Who does their main bible reading in Greek?

Postby Devenios Doulenios » August 12th, 2013, 3:10 pm

I find that this approach (reading plus listening) is helping my listening comprehension of spoken Koine as well.

For texts outside the Bible I would encourage you to read them aloud (or "aloud" inside your head if you can't do so without disturbing others). I just finished reading the Apostolic Fathers in Greek (along with Michael Holmes' translation) a few weeks ago and found that reading aloud helped me. I am doing this now with some selections from Epictetus. Even though I am not that familiar with him and am not following him completely, I find the technique helpful.

Δεβἐνιος
"τὴν ζωὴν καὶ τὸν θάνατον δέδωκα πρὸ προσώπου ὑμῶν τὴν εὐλογίαν καὶ τὴν κατάραν ἔκλεξαι τὴν ζωήν ἵνα ζῇς σὺ καὶ τὸ σπέρμα σου"-Dt. 30:19

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