From: Randy Leedy (
Date: Fri Apr 02 1999 - 17:06:53 EST

A question arose in a 4th-semester Greek class today, my answer to
which I thought might make an interesting topic for the list. At least
*I* would be interested to hear of others' experiences in this regard.

Some students seem finally to discover the value of Greek near the end
of their program, at which point they've already failed abysmally to
gain mastery of the material. "What can I do now to learn this stuff?"
they ask. The answer, it seems to me, depends on why they've failed up
to this point. If they have aptitude for language learning but have
lacked the discipline required to do it well, then it seems to me that
they're in the same category as those who pick up the language purely
on their own: get some good self-teaching manuals and go to it. If
they've matured to the point of adequate self-discipline, then they're
likely to succeed as well as any others who pursue a self-taught
program. It seems to me that such a program could emphasize either the
mastery of paradigms or the reading of the text (with a minor emphasis
on the other); the overall outcome in terms of competence level is
likely to be about the same in either case, though the emphasis on
reading the text would seem more enjoyable to me.

But some students seem simply to lack aptitude. (And some lack both
aptitude AND discipline!) I found myself wanting to include in my
answer to the student's question the following suggestion. Pick up
your Greek Testament, open it to a few relatively easy or familiar
passages, and start trying to read it using the tools we've equipped
you with--a grammar and a lexicon. If you find yourself unable, after
4 semesters of Greek, even to ask good questions and to locate answers
in your tools, then there's not really much hope for your ever gaining
a real mastery of the language. You might as well not throw away any
more time trying.

My question for the list is whether others' experiences confirm or
refute this idea. I want to be optimistic about EVERYONE's prospects
for learning Greek, but the more experience I gain, the less
optimistic I become.

Thanks in advance for any forthcoming responses.

In love to God and neighbor,
Randy Leedy
Bob Jones University
Greenville, SC

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