RE: Machen Redivivus?

From: Dale M. Wheeler (
Date: Mon Sep 15 1997 - 18:18:45 EDT

Jim Oxford wrote:

>At 11:07 AM 9/15/97, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>What's objectionable about Machen is the made-up Greek
>>sentences and the concentration of reading on sentence units rather than
>>upon the connected sentences and paragraphs of real Greek.
>Having taught from Machen, I agree with your objection to Machen's "made-up
>Greek sentences." The second part of your sentence raises a couple of
>questions for me: At what point does the instructor of first-year Greek
>introduce to students connected sentences and paragraphs for translation as
>opposed to sentence units? From my own experience of teaching in seminary,
>I found that most of my students were not ready to tackle paragraphs until
>late first/early second semester. (That is when I began to have them read
>sections of the NT concurrently with translating Machen's sentences). And
>also, couldn't your second objection to Machen be leveled at many
>first-year textbooks?

Carl's objections to made up sentences is one of the major reasons that I
moved to Greek To Me (from Goetschius, before that others). My feeling is
that made up sentences produce readers who think (unwittingly) that Greek
is "made up" and they apply a very rigid and wooden approach to translating;
rather than learning to decide among the possibilities of a word based on
the context, they tend to see Greek as some mathematical formula to be
rendered into English in a 1 for 1 manner (eg., ANQRWPOS always means

As to the "reading paragraphs" issue, it seems to me that it depends on
what paragraphs you're reading. If you mean ones straight out of the NT,
then you do need a semester of vocab just so the students don't get so
discouraged that they quit on the spot. But if you have graduated
stories which exercise their vocab and grammatical level, then they can
begin early on to learn to read Greek as Greek and not as disconnected
nonsense English.

In my first year class this year (which has NINE ladies in it, BTW; its
so great to see them involved) we are beginning our 3rd full week and
for tomorrow they have to translate a 3 paragraph story based on the
relationship between David and Mephibosheth (Ch 4 in GTM). They can
translate this story with no problem (they can't "read" it in the sense
of understanding it in Greek, but they are on their way).

My $0.02 worth...


Dale M. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Research Professor in Biblical Languages Multnomah Bible College
8435 NE Glisan Street Portland, OR 97220
Voice: 503-251-6416 FAX:503-254-1268 E-Mail:

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