New Greek Teacher

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Adam Denoon
Posts: 5
Joined: June 14th, 2019, 9:58 am

New Greek Teacher

Post by Adam Denoon » November 6th, 2019, 5:29 pm

Hello, everyone! My name is Adam and I've just begun teaching a college Greek class. I wanted to share with you what I've learned so far during this Fall semester, and reach out to the body of wisdom present here for pointers :D

I took three semesters of Greek at the undergraduate level, and have spent the last 5 years self-educating at a mostly intermediate level. I initially learned my teacher's custom curriculum, then via Black's "Learn to Read New Testament Greek," then a hodgepodge of other resources, including Wallace's "Beyond the Basics." After reading much advice on this forum, and looking at a variety of reviews and criticisms, I landed on Mounce's BBG as a curriculum, and I've been working through it ahead of my students to make sure there aren't any relevant holes in my understanding.

Our school is currently seeking accreditation, so I am working towards a MA in Practical Theology, which will be complete beforehand. I believe I may need to supplement with Greek-specific classes, but I'm not sure. Consider that a question raised, if any of you have recommendations about that.

For the BBG, I started out by assigning "discovery" homework, saving class time for "practice" work, but I found that the students weren't discovering enough during the week to practice in-class. So, I reversed the order: discovery in-class, practice homework. I've found that works much better, as the closed-book exam grades have shown. We cover the chapter material using Mounce's slides, using the whiteboard for examples and small amounts of practice. I then assign the chapter reading, workbook exercises, and quiz. The students do and check their own work before handing it in, knowing that if they just cheat with the key, they'll fail the in-class exams. I also strongly encourage them to make flash cards, and use Mounce's online practice materials.

So far, this system has been working. I am curious as to how others teach these materials, or others, and could always do with some criticism or additional advice.

Final tidbit: I absolutely love ἡ κοινή διάλεκτος, and I'd love to keep picking your brains!
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προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς καὶ παντὶ τῷ ποιμνίῳ, ἐν ᾧ ὑμᾶς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἔθετο ἐπισκόπους ποιμαίνειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου. ~ Acts 20:28

Jason Hare
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Joined: June 2nd, 2011, 5:28 pm
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Jason Hare » November 6th, 2019, 10:00 pm

Hey, Adam. Without getting into your post at this point, I wanted to let you know that your first couple of posts are moderated. This is to prevent spam and to take care of the custodial issue of changing usernames. We have a policy on the forum that everyone needs to use their real names. You can read the policy here.

You can reply to this post and give us your name. We'll change it and then delete your reply, and then you'll be off to the races!

Sorry for this glitch.

Regards,
Jason
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Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1631
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 7th, 2019, 12:28 am

Adam, my advice for you is to read as much Greek as possible, including extra-biblical Greek. Have you read through the entire GNT? You need to be actively involved in the language as much as possible for your teaching to have the depth and breadth that it needs.
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N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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Devenios Doulenios
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Joined: May 31st, 2011, 5:11 pm
Location: Carlisle, Arkansas, USA
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Devenios Doulenios » November 7th, 2019, 10:14 am

Welcome, Adam!

I would second Barry's advice about reading Greek yourself, as much as possible. Include some Septuagint reading and Apostolic Fathers after you feel comfortable reading the GNT. And, to best help your students, find a way of introducing them to authentic Greek readings, at least simple ones, as soon as practicable in your course sequence. Many primers fail students in this and leave this to near the end. Another suggestion, use a little conversational Greek along. It helps cement vocabulary and increases motivation. Songs are good for this also.

Take care and welcome!

Dewayne Dulaney
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος
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Dewayne Dulaney
Δεβένιος Δουλένιος

Blog: https://letancientvoicesspeak.wordpress.com/

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

Adam Denoon
Posts: 5
Joined: June 14th, 2019, 9:58 am

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Adam Denoon » November 7th, 2019, 5:17 pm

Thanks Barry and Dewayne for the advice! I have not read the entire GNT straight through, but every passage I've studied/preached on has involved reading the context widely to make sure I was being fair to the flow of thought. I have been reading the LXX and Church Fathers also. I'm all for reading as much Greek as possible, and will strongly consider starting a reading of the GNT from front-to-back. Admittedly, I've begun this endeavor a number of times, several times starting with Matthew, sometimes with John, sometimes other books, and I always seem to get moved from that goal to another within a few chapters. Looks like some self-discipline is in order!

For the students, as we pass concepts in the grammar, I begin to sprinkle them into our written and verbal conversations... replacing pronouns, nouns, adjectives, prepositions, etc, intermingled with English. It's been fun! By the end of next semester I expect we'll have adopted plenty of idioms and speak more Greek than the bystanders will be comfortable with :lol:. We also come up with melodies as a class for each essential paradigm to help set it in memory.

I have been assigning Mounce's quizzes, but they're a bit too light on the translation exercises (in my opinion), which to me seem the most valuable way of getting "hands-on" with the GNT. I will be editing the quizzes some to incorporate these, because I don't think everyone is working as carefully in their workbooks as others.

I've gone with Mounce's suggested two-semester syllabus and schedule. For the next semester, I intend to have them purchase a GNT for class. I'm leaning towards the UBS5+NIV GNT ( I know the goal is to eliminate dependence on English as early as possible, but I'm considering this one for the following reasons:

- Knowing these students well, I believe the majority of the time some of them will spend with their GNT is when they're "out-and-about" with it: meeting other students, going to church, etc. They won't bring a Greek-only about at this point if they are still reliant on the English.
- If they *do* have the discipline to spend extracurricular time alone in their dorm with it, they will likely have the discipline to focus on the Greek text without too much reliance on the English
- The English is the NIV, which is not a word-for-word translation. The dynamic equivalence will allow them to "check their work", without maintaining a dependence on English for parsing and translation.
- Having the dynamic equivalence there might help them learn some things inductively.
- If they continue into a 3rd semester, a Greek-only text can be required at that time.

What are your guys' thoughts on this? I'm not "stuck" to the UBS5+NIV, so suggestions are more than welcome!
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προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς καὶ παντὶ τῷ ποιμνίῳ, ἐν ᾧ ὑμᾶς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἔθετο ἐπισκόπους ποιμαίνειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου. ~ Acts 20:28

Stirling Bartholomew
Posts: 959
Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 7th, 2019, 5:29 pm

Adam Denoon wrote:
November 6th, 2019, 5:29 pm
Hello, everyone! My name is Adam and I've just begun teaching a college Greek class. I wanted to share with you what I've learned so far during this Fall semester, and reach out to the body of wisdom present here for pointers :D

I took three semesters of Greek at the undergraduate level, and have spent the last 5 years self-educating at a mostly intermediate level. I initially learned my teacher's custom curriculum, then via Black's "Learn to Read New Testament Greek," then a hodgepodge of other resources, including Wallace's "Beyond the Basics." After reading much advice on this forum, and looking at a variety of reviews and criticisms, I landed on Mounce's BBG as a curriculum, and I've been working through it ahead of my students to make sure there aren't any relevant holes in my understanding.
Looks like you have fallen into the path most traveled.

You learned from someone with a custom curriculum and have "landed" on something that is nothing more than Machen updated to feed student's unprepared to deal with the rigors of Machen. I suggest you explore other options. I have no particular ax to grind. Just think that Machen REDUX is a really poor choice.

Worth considering as an improvement over Wallace.
Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament by [Mathewson, David L., Emig, Elodie Ballantine]
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

Stirling Bartholomew
Posts: 959
Joined: August 9th, 2012, 4:19 pm

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Stirling Bartholomew » November 7th, 2019, 6:03 pm

Stirling Bartholomew wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 5:29 pm

Intermediate Greek Grammar: Syntax for Students of the New Testament by [Mathewson, David L., Emig, Elodie Ballantine]
Perhaps the first question you need to ask is what are you trying to teach? What are your objectives and intended outcome.

The path most followed is very heavy on acquiring grammatical meta-language. Mathewson & Emig claim to be meta-language minimalists but their book is saturated with it. However, they alter your attitude toward meta-language, give you insight on how to use it and how to avoid abusing it. You still get the meta-language and lots of it but your approach will be much different than what you get from the path most followed.

Others will offer more radical departures which drastically reduce the reliance on meta-language. Mathewson & Emig are not so radical. Reading ancient greek as an exercise in linguistic analysis is old school. Various other approaches currently offered. Making people grammarians so they can read the Greek Bible is a side trip. Most of us have been down that road.
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C. Stirling Bartholomew

Adam Denoon
Posts: 5
Joined: June 14th, 2019, 9:58 am

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Adam Denoon » November 7th, 2019, 6:26 pm

The goal of the students (and my goal as their teacher) is to better understand the theology of the Text, and thus be better able to communicate its truths. That is, being able to identify grammatical-syntactical relationships present in the text to eliminate ambiguity and obtain a more robust interpretation of the author's intended meaning. Our goals in this context are purely Bible-Theology-oriented (Bible Theology according to the Philadelphia school of thought... a holistic biblical-and-systematic theology).

A more subliminal goal I have for them is to expose them to the surface of work and material underlying the Text, in hopes that it will inspire faith in them the same way it has for me.

Besides the *road most traveled* and its emphasis on "acquiring grammatical meta-language," where can I find a comprehensive list of other approaches that I can try and analyze (if there is one)?
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προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς καὶ παντὶ τῷ ποιμνίῳ, ἐν ᾧ ὑμᾶς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον ἔθετο ἐπισκόπους ποιμαίνειν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου. ~ Acts 20:28

Jonathan Robie
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Location: Durham, NC
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Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Jonathan Robie » November 8th, 2019, 4:33 pm

Adam Denoon wrote:
November 7th, 2019, 6:26 pm
Besides the *road most traveled* and its emphasis on "acquiring grammatical meta-language," where can I find a comprehensive list of other approaches that I can try and analyze (if there is one)?
The road most travelled is also the one best marked.

Here's one experimental approach, but it is not very complete. I know how to teach this way in person, and have 13 lessons I can use to teach that way, but we are only slowly getting it online as we juggle other things. Try Lesson 1 and Lesson 2, they will show you a different way to teach the constructs of a language without metalanguage.

http://livingtext.org/

Metalanguage is useful, but best taught after you get exposure to real language. Many Americans speak perfectly good English but do not know what an adverb is. If they have used adverbs, it's easy enough to explain. If you don't know English, teaching the concept of an adverb first doesn't help you get it. Most traditional texts are strong on metalanguage and weak on language. For instance, students who have finished a year of Greek may have no idea how to ask or answer a question in Greek.

There are various "living language" approaches. But in general, you need some retraining or significant self-teaching to teach with them. After all, many Greek teachers do not know how to ask or answer a question in Greek.
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
http://jonathanrobie.biblicalhumanities.org/

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1631
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: New Greek Teacher

Post by Barry Hofstetter » November 9th, 2019, 11:46 am

Adam, honestly, you are already doing a great deal that's right, and I think both you and your students will benefit. Doctor docendo discit! A couple of general principles:

1) Metalanguage discussion aside, the more your students and you engage in the Greek without English intervening the better. Try to think less in terms of translating and more in terms of understanding.

2) Theology.... hmmm... I think one of the problems with Greek instruction at Christian institutions is that it often serves the purpose of theological apologetics. Best avoided. Work on understanding the Greek as Greek. If the NT, ask yourself and your students how someone with no prior exposure to the Gospel or to the LXX might have read the text. It's impossible to separate ourselves entirely from our reading of the text and equally difficult fully to engage the original context in that sense (so much we don't know), but it's worthwhile to engage in as an exercise, and often helps to see the Greek for what it is.

3) Use texts outside of the NT as supplements. This exercises the students genuinely in the language (no help from memory) and drives them crazy, a major goal of any teacher... :) I used to teach Latin to Ph.D. students when I was at WTS. For a practice exam, I would give them a section from the Latin translation of 1st Maccabees. One student (who scored nearly perfectly on that practice test and easily passed his real exam) said in frustration, "What was that? It's like the Bible -- but not."
1 x
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
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