RE: Keeping up with NT Greek after class

From: Hultberg, Alan (
Date: Thu May 20 1999 - 20:14:13 EDT

I agree with Jim that reading Greek is ESSENTIAL to maintaining or solidifying
facility in Greek, but my experience with students has been that they get very
frustrated with "reading" if they don't have a solid foundational vocabulary
and, less so, fair skill in parsing. The "reading" becomes a tedious word by
word translating with much time spent in looking things up. If your skills
have slipped to the point that the majority of the words in John are not
recognizable on sight, I'd recommend spending one or two of your 15-20 minute
sessions each week reviewing or learning vocabulary and/or morphology. In a
few weeks those skills will be up to speed and you'll actually be reading. If
you know all words occuring 10 times or more in the GNT (most people get them
from Metzger's list or Trenchard's list) you'll be in great shape. Keep
learning as much vocabulary as you can, but once you're up to speed, don't let
vocabulary building keep you from actually reading the text.

As to helps: I think the best for reading is Sake Kubo's A Reader's
Greek-English Lexicon, which goes verse by verse through the GNT and lists all
words in any verse that occur fewer than 50(?) times in the GNT. If you have
it open when you're reading, you won't need to look a bunch of stuff up. I'd
recommend reading as much as you can first, underlining the words you don't
know, till you get to the end of the passage. Then go back and check in Kubo
the words you underlined, writing the definition in the margin of your GNT.
The act of reading and writing them will help you remember them, and you'll
have them there the next time you read the passage in case you need them.


From: Jim West on Thu, May 20, 1999 2:22 PM
Subject: Re: Keeping up with NT Greek after class
To: Biblical Greek

At 05:04 PM 5/20/99 -0400, you wrote:
> I was wondering if any of the "middle" or "big" Greeks could offer a
>suggestion on keeping up with your Greek skills after you have finished
>your Greek classes. I took Greek 3 or 4 years ago and find it difficult
>to keep my skills up, much less improve on them. This is especially true
>when I am teaching a lot out of the Old Testament as I am this year. I
>simply do not get to study the NT much this year, so I am not using
>Greek very much.

Read it every day. Read it for your daily Bible reading. Read it on the
bus or train. read it in the "privy". Read it whenever you can. The best
way to keep your Greek is to use it- and the best way to use it is to read
it. If your teaching OT- read the LXX. Just read.

> I guess my basic question is "what is the best way to spend my
>time?" I do not have a lot of time (family, pastoring, still in
>seminary, etc.). If you could only devote 15-20 minutes a day, where
>would you devote it?


> Working on vocabulary, reading through grammars to
>brush up, reading some portion of the NT, or a combination of the

Just read the text. The grammar will come back.

> If you recommend reading, do you recommend using a reader such
>as the Graded reader by Mounce, or simply opening the NT a little each
>day and reading.

Dont use a crutch. It might be slow going at first- maybes just a verse a
day. And dont bother with a lexicon either. Just read. The more you read-
the more you will pick up. Words will fall into place, your vocab will
rise- and your facility will triple. Just read.

> Finally, if it is reading the NT, what books would be
>most profitable to start with (few "unusual" constructions, easier
>grammar and vocabulary, etc.) Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Read the Johannine epistles and the Gospel first. Then move on to Mark and
Matthew. Do Pauls letters and then Luke-Acts. Finally, read the catholics,
saving 1 Peter, Hebrews, and Rev for last (for very different reasons) :-)



Jim West, ThD
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