Re: Learning Greek For Pleasure (was: reading for vocabulary)

From: Theodore H. Mann (
Date: Thu Sep 24 1998 - 18:32:13 EDT

Ted Mann Wrote:

>>Am I completely mistaken when I say that, if it is the learner's
intention to discover hidden meanings and produce a better translation,
there is no great >>value in studying biblical Hebrew and/or Greek,
unless one intends to become really proficient? It seems to me that
virtually all of the subtleties and >>nuances of the languages have been
(and are continuing to be) amply explained in English, and other modern
languages as well, and that learning >>Hebrew and Greek will add little
to that, unless the student becomes so fluent that he can perceive those
nuances on his own.

Carl Conrad responded:

>These are different objectives, I think. Produce a better translation? I
like to play around with that some, but it's understanding of the
>text that I am still after. And no, it's not so much a matter of
searching for hidden meanings as it is understanding better the familiar
text. I think there are >oodles of texts in the GNT that I only
half-understand or don't understand at all, and I can't think of getting
older as surrendering the capacity to be surprised >by what's new or

It seems to me that to accomplish the objectives Carl describes,
considerable fluency in the language is required-- which is the point of
my earlier post. Unless one is willing to expend the time and energy
necessary to acquire a very high level of skill in Greek, such goals are
probably unachievable. Therefore, if a person is unwilling or unable to
gain the necessary fluency to reach those goals, he might as well just
read in his native tongue what the scholars discover, and poke along in
Greek himself more or less for the fun of it. I have reached the point
in my own hit-and-miss studies where I can, with the help of a lexicon,
usually arrive at basic translations of specific passages, and make some
use of Wallace's (or Carlton Winbery's) intermediate grammar-- and doing
so is very enjoyable. But to grasp the more complicated implications of
the text is pretty much beyond my skill. However, I can easily read
about such matters in any number of books and articles (or on B-Greek)
written by those who have gained high levels of expertise. I am not in
any way suggesting that there is no value in studying biblical Greek. I
think the personal rewards in terms of enjoyment and a sense of
accomplishment are boundless. However, if I want to appreciate for
myself the deeper things of Scripture, resulting from my own
understanding of the language, I'm going to have to become exceedingly
fluent. Otherwise, I might just as well read what others have
researched. Or could I be wrong? (I have been mistaken four times this
year already. I thought I was mistaken a fifth time-- but I was

Best in Christ,

Theodore "Ted" H. Mann

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