Re: Greek Pedagogy

From: Rodney J. Decker (
Date: Wed May 24 2000 - 09:31:33 EDT

<x-flowed>At 08:42 AM 5/24/00 -0400, you wrote:
>observations I'm about to make are ones that I came to after the first
>fifteen years of teaching Beginning Greek.


Thanks for an eloquent challenge to those of us teaching (esp. first year)
Greek. I'm hardly one to speak authoritatively regarding how to teach Greek
as I've only done that for 10 years now (though I began my Greek studies
over 25 years ago). It's been a humbling experience. For the first few
years I was convinced that I could teach anyone Greek. But that naivete
didn't last too many years! I like to think that I'm not the poorest
teacher, but that's hard to judge when one has had generally fairly good
students. (Only one beginning class in 10 years has been weak academically

Of your comments re. method, etc., I agree heartily with almost all of what
you've said so well. (Only on the Greek composition end of your argument do
I waver--"almost thou persuadest me"!). Read, read, read. I'm constantly
trying to find the best (or at least, "better") way to do that with my 3d
semester students before I turn them over to my colleague for his exegesis

I'm afraid that we constantly struggle with the pragmatic, utilitarian mind
set of our culture in many of these things. In one sense, it's amazing that
Greek has survived in this context at all. There is also quite a difference
in *where* one teaches Greek: university or seminary. I am appalled at how
many seminaries have dropped any Greek requirement at all or who require
only a few semesters. Those who have maintained it, have often reduced the
hours required (and offered) substantially below what was once expected.
Even there, however, there is a significant historical shift: in the last
century (by which I mean the 19th, since the 21st has *not* yet begun!)
seminaries didn't teach first year Greek. They assumed that students
already knew Greek from college (and at one time in our history, from high
school) and simply taught all the Bible and theology courses from the Greek

But bemoaning these things won't help change them. Your comments, Carl,
*will* help encourage those of us committed to the value of knowing Greek.



Rodney J. Decker, Th.D. Baptist Bible Seminary
Assoc. Prof./NT PO Box 800, Clarks Summit, PA 18411
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