Re: A use for interlinears (was Re: Interlinear Bibles)

From: Steve Long (
Date: Tue Mar 16 1999 - 17:07:12 EST

>Generally, I agree with the prevailing opinion of the "leading scholars" of
>the list regarding interlinears--that they become crutches that keep people
>from learning to "walk." But different people will use them for different
>purposes. If someone is using the interlinear as a shortcut to "learning
>Greek", then they are indeed making a grave mistake.
>That being said, I want to suggest that there *may be* a couple of
>legitimate uses for interlinear Bibles. (Of course, they should not be used
>until one has already worked through a given text *without* the interlinear,
>and I assume below that one has already done so).
>The thing I find most beneficial about having an interlinear is that it
>allows me to skim large chunks of text at high speed. This is very helpful
>if one is, for example, looking for discourse markers or commonplace
>rhetorical expressions.

There are many ways of learning a language and one of the best is to hear
it pronounced. If you think of how we all learned to read English, it was
usually from picture books, which is a somewhat primitive interlinear. You
see a picture of a cow, your mother pronounces the word and you memorize
the word form. It can work essentially the same with an interlinear except
that you can do the pronounciation. Just read a section aloud, without even
looking at the English. Your mind will *see* the English underneath and you
will memorize the word form. It is not a substitute for learning syntax and
grammar, it is simply an aid. After reading from the interlinear aloud, set
it down and read the same section from a non-interlinear aloud. You will
find you can comprehend the Greek much easier. Do a chapter a day for a
month and you will be amazed at your increase in fluency.

I don't use an interlinear much any more, just as I don't read picture
books much any more, but I wouldn't stop a child from reading from a
picture book and I wouldn't stop a beginning student from using an
interlinear as an aid to fluency.

However I would caution students from using it for serious Bible study. A
short quick gloss is bound to be incomplete and could lead to

If you have a broken leg, a crutch is a wonderful thing.

Steve Long

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