Re: 1st year Greek grammars & workbooks

From: Edgar Krentz (
Date: Mon Feb 17 1997 - 10:45:48 EST

Eric Weiss wrote, <i>intr alis</i>:

>I learned from Mounce, and taught a class at church using Mounce (it
>went from 16-18 students to 2-1/2 by years' end! - no reflection on
>Mounce, it's just that it required more dedication than most were
>willing to give it). If I do it again, I'm thinking of using GREEK TO ME
>by Story, based on Dale Wheeler's (?) exceptional success with it at
>Multnomah - i.e., in the first year alone, students do the whole book,
>covering all essentials of NT Greek grammar, plus read and translate
>with near-complete understanding the entire Gospel of Mark - the GREEK
>TO ME vocab cards alone bring the students up to knowing every word that
>occurs 25x or more (600+ words - Mounce only does 300+, i.e., every word
>that occurs 50x or more). [Or else I'll use another grammar, but still
>use the GREEK TO ME flashcards.]

The most important factors in learning Greek are (1) not the textbook, but
the instructor! One needs to hear the explanations VIVA VOCE with adequate
examples to make the explanations clear. (2) SITZFLEISCH, as my mother used
to say. (Look it up) There is no easy, effortless way to learn any
language, not even the child learning English, who learns over years of
observation and correction. There is no perfect beginner's grammar, If I
could (but I cannot) I would insist that semeinary studeents begin with
either Homeric or Attic Greek. When I taught elementary Greek, I never
followed the structure of any textbook entirely, since they all do things
differently than I would.

>My personal experience (but I've only had 2 years of Greek) is that
>exposure to large sections of the NT text is very valuable to students
>(it was to me), even if they may (as I still do) draw hasty conclusions
>at times - I try to check things with Dan Wallace's book, Winbery &
>Brooks, Robertson's New Short Grammar, BAGD, Abbott-Smith, NIDNTT,
>Zerwick and Smyth. If I ever take the time to really read Wallace, I
>think it will fill a lot of gaps in my knowledge of Greek grammar.

This is a very important observation. The more one can read quickly, the
more vocabulary one will have.

>So whatever grammar most quickly gets the students reading the text with
>comprehension would, to me, be a high priority in choosing grammars.

No matter what grammar is used, the instructor can begin opening the NT
early on and do it consistently. It does NOT depend on the book selected.

>"big Greeks" on this list might cringe at having students like me plunge
>into the text too much without having a better understanding of grammar,
>syntax, Greek clause structure, conditional sentences, etc. - if I
>pursue Greek to a higher level, I, too, might change my thoughts on how
>best to teach and learn first-year Greek. I know what I know, and don't
>know what I don't know but should know - so my comments/perspective
>reflect a little of my knowledge and a lot of my ignorance.

If you really want to learn NT (or classical or hellenistic-Roman era)
Greek, teach it. Then you really learna the language!

Edgar Krentz, New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Tel: [773] 256-0752; (H) [773] 947-8105

Reply to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:06 EDT