Re: Interlinear NT

From: Edgar M. Krentz (
Date: Wed May 06 1998 - 19:28:56 EDT

Ben Crick wrote, among other good things
> Look up each unknown word in the Lexicon. If you put the
> lexicon upstairs in your bedroom, and have to mount the stairs each time
> you want to refer to it, then it sure assists the memory so as to avoid
> another dash up and down stairs each time! Jotting down the new vocabulary
> and then committing it to memory is a useful thing to do. The act of writing
> a word down is a powerful aid to later instant recall.

There is no one correct way to learn Greek. But there are some guidelines.

1. An interlinear can be an aide; the danger is that one reads too easily
and quickly the English between the lines and assumes one knows more than
one really does.

2. An interlinear thus may prevent one from considering alternative
translations that are also possible and, in some cases, preferable.

3. More useful, in my opinion, are those books that give vocabulary chapter
by chapter, e.g. S. Kubo's work.

4. My own method, many years ago, was to develop work sheets for each
author I read. I ruled 3 ring sheets into columns. On the left I put the
chapter and bverse number [orbook and line number for Homer, or book and
section number for Thucydides, etc.]. In column 2 I entered the dictionary
form of the work I had to look up. In column 3 I put the definition[s] of
the word I looked up, and the dictionary reference to BAG or to LSJM. In
column 4 I put the parsing according to my shorthand system. And there I
added any additional information./

5. In seminary I did this for Luke-Acts, Romans, John, 1 Corinthians, and
Hebrews. In graduate school I followed this for all of the Iliad and
Odyssey, plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, and
Greek orators. The process of looking up, analyzing, and writing involved
two different senses. I did the same in Latin courses.

6. After translating [in some cases] I then read the text out loud in the
original language, trying to indicate the sense by rhythym, stress, flow of
the sentence, etc.

7. Books like Metzger's [and there are a number of possibilities] are helful.

8. Read in a more advanced grammar of classical Greek sections on word
formation. Figure out generalizations as to how compounding words affects

9. Finally, there is a marvellous Greek proverb: OU POLL' ALLA POLU. Not a
lot, but much. One should translate every day, increasing the amount one
does. In my first class in Homer our original assignments were 20 lines per
period, three periods a week. When I took Homer in graduate school, the
assignment was 2 books a week, anywhere from 2000 to 4000 lines. In Greek
tragedy Saul Levin assigned 200 lines per period--and would ask at the
beginning whether we had any problems in translation. After dealing with
out problems he turned to the interpretation of those lines. And then we
usually went on"at sight." We soon learned to do an extra 100 lines in
prepartion, so as not to sound or look stupid.
        Apply that approach to the NT and you will arrive as the time when
you rarely consult the lexicon for basic word meanings. Here, to parody an
old military axiom ["Familiarity breeds contempt."] familiarity breeds ease
of translation.

10. Verbum sapienti sat.

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Edgar Krentz
Professor of New Testament
Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
1100 East 55th Street
Chicago, IL 650615
Telephone: (773) 256-0752
Office: [preferred for anything professional]
Home: [Tel: 773-947-8105]
GHRASKW AEI MAQWN. I grow older, learning all the time.
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