I posted the following to my blog:http://my.opera.com/BarryHofstetter/blo ... -important
Many of our Bible schools and seminaries prepare students to read New Testament Greek, and this is all the Greek they ever will actually read. Now, besides the fact that many former NT Greek students don't keep up even with the minimal skills they acquire in their classes, students who never read anything outside a narrow range of literature, who have what teachers sometimes call a closed curriculum, have never really learned the language. What they had done is learned to decode the Greek with English equivalents, using various tools (often electronic these days), parsing guides and lexicons, on which they are dependent. Now, I'm not going to say that this is all bad, and it might be helpful better to understand what underlies a particular English translation, or to see a little more clearly what a technical discussion in a commentary is talking about. But what they have not done is learned the language. Instead, they have learned what scholars think the English equivalent for the Greek vocabulary item or grammatical construction is supposed to be.
In other words, for them, the Greek New Testament (this applies to those who learn Hebrew this way too) is an artifact. It's a kind of stand alone item, and, linguistically speaking, is out of context. It can be admired, and you can learn a lot from studying it, but you don't get anywhere near the full benefit.
Where do you get that full benefit, and where do you learn really to read and understand NT Greek? By reading lots of extra biblical Greek literature. You then become familiar with a wide range of idioms. You see familiar friends, so to speak, in new places and doing new things. You see that there is more than one way to say the same thing. Suddenly your Greek NT is no longer an artifact to be studied at a distance, it's no longer an archeological dig to determine the meaning of the text, but it is a document that makes sense as a nearly living language. The reader also has the added benefit of a better sense not only of the linguistic context, but of the general context of the ancient world.
So what are you waiting for! Read more Greek... NOW!
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Classics
The American Academy