Edgar Krentz on teaching 1st-year Greek (glosses)

From: Edward Hobbs (EHOBBS@wellesley.edu)
Date: Mon Feb 17 1997 - 13:00:31 EST

From: LUCY::EHOBBS "Edward Hobbs" 17-FEB-1997 12:53:15.85
To: IN%"ekrentz@lstc.edu"
Subj: RE: 1st year Greek grammars & workbooks


--A few glosses to your excellent response.

>>>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.
*** [=sign of a gloss] These two utterances are exactly my first two! I
first began teaching college/university/seminary-level Greek in the fall of
1947, almost 50 years ago. (Carl should note that I used Rife's textbook,
because he had recently gotten his Ph.D. from Chicago, my own school!--
and I never used it again.) I had a phone-call yesterday from one of those
students in that class, praising my (rank-beginner's) teaching back then.
(I'm sure the student was not praising my choice of Rife.)

>>>There is no perfect beginner's grammar.
***No, there absolutely is not. (But, bad as Rife was, it was better than
Machen, which [pace Carl] teaches English, not Greek.]

>>> If I could (but I cannot) I would insist that
seminary students begin with either Homeric or Attic Greek.
***Absolutely right! I never had that power, either. But coming to
Harvard and Wellesley 15 years ago, I had the wonderful good fortune to be
privileged to teach students the Greek NT AFTER they have had a year of
Attic Greek, plus at least a semester of Plato, and often Euripides and/or
Homer. It is a wonderful experience; and they quickly come to see the
simplicity of the Koine, and most of all they can readily learn to
recognize the various styles of the various writers. (This is true at
Wellesley; at Harvard, alas, most learned their Greek solely from the NT;
but at least our weekly "Graeca" sessions, reading other Hellenistic-period
writers, helped them grow a bit.) In recent years, my Wellesley students
have studied 1st-year Greek with Carol Dougherty, who has done a wonderful
job; Carl Conrad and his university tried to steal her from us a few years
ago, and I am most grateful that they failed to do so.

>>> When I taught elementary Greek, I never followed the structure of any
textbook entirely, since they all do things differently than I would.
***This, too, was my experience. In the end, I wrote my own reference
grammar (from a T-G position), and used Goetchius mostly for forms and
exercises (in the workbook). Unfortunately, it was written from a
structuralist position (as was Funk's), just after structuralism suffered
its demise!

>>>The more one can read quickly, the more vocabulary one will have....
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.
***Again, I can confirm the wisdom of Edgar's remarks. KEEP THAT GNT OPEN,

>>>If you really want to learn NT (or classical or hellenistic-Roman era)
Greek, teach it. Then you really learna the language.
*** That's how I learned NT Greek; I never had a course in it, since they
didn't teach it at Chicago in those days. My Jesuit colleagues had a
little saying which I like: "I don't know anything about it; I've never
even taught it!"

Edward Hobbs

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