Re: Software for Biblical Studies

Gary S. Shogren (
Tue, 26 Nov 1996 09:02:54 -0500 (EST)

Dear Ken,

You asked about teaching Greek overseas. It's a question I've dealt with
for a few years now.

I teach twice a year at Institutul Biblica Timotheus in Bucharest Romania.
There are about 200 students, and they have three units of Greek, for which
I've designed materials (mainly my own Chapman-Shogren NT Greek Insert,
translated into Romanian. BTW - they're free for the asking, if anyone out
there does work in Romania). Over five years of modules and work
in-between, they earn a Masters.

What's interesting is that Timotheus is run by the Romanian equivalent of
the Plymouth Brethren, and so whomever we train will be considered "lay
leadership". We have people of all ages: SS teachers, elders and deacons,
etc., about half are women.

I have to have limited goals, and these are on the level of "Tools" rather
than real competence. However, the students do very fine work considering
the circumstances.

I give them a couple of stern lectures about "a little knowledge" being a
dangerous thing, and remind them (gently!) how little they know about Greek,
so don't lord it over the flock, etc. They take this very well. Their
subculture certainly knows of people who are the self-proclaimed Bible
experts, and part of the reason these people are taking formal education is
because they are sensible of their own ignorance.

Bottom line: the reason they need Greek seems to be the same reason my
American students need it. Romania needs competent exegetes, because of the
swirl of weird teachings in the region (conspiracy theories, etc.) but also
because they can be swamped with North American books and ideas.

Problems include: no BAGD in Romanian!! In fact, no nothing in Romanian!
This has led - and I think prudently, at this time in history - to Timotheus
offering English classes to their students. Even then, BAGD, for example,
might take the better part of a month's wages. So I bring them as much
material as I can reasonably carry in two huge suitcases, including p-part
lists and our own Greek-Romanian version of Metzger's Lexical Aids, down to
100+ words.

Also - it's pretty difficult teaching a third language to a group whose
receptor language you cannot understand well. So...this is why I think
through illustrations and examples BEFORE class and have them written out.
Their major translation (Cornilescu) is very pleasing, so far as I can tell,
sometimes bringing out nuances that would require a paraphrase in English.

Any other thoughts out there?

PS - Remember! America was once thought to be "overseas", and someone
decided to bring Greek to the settlers here. We're just returning the favor.


Gary S. Shogren
Biblical Theological Seminary
Hatfield, PA