From: Trevor Peterson (06PETERSON@cua.edu)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 16:40:56 EST
First, let me say "ditto" to Ken's remarks. (There--that's one more response
than opinion.) I was taught by an approach that seems to have gone for the
first suggested option--to get the student to a point of facility with tools.
We were even allowed to use interlinears in the second year :-( I don't feel
I've ever fully recovered from that, and who knows whether I ever will. I've
learned Hebrew and other Semitic languages by a strategy closer to the second
option--to read fluently without much help. Of course, it takes quite a while
to outgrow the lexicon, and that point may never come. (Lexica have a lot of
valuable information--they shouldn't be underestimated.) As far as that goes,
I think we all probably find times when we have to pick up an English
dictionary, even if it's our native language. But as a goal, I think this
second approach is much better and much more useful than the first. Even so, I
have also heard the siren-call of Randall Buth, and I'm currently working
through his Greek material, which teaches by listening and works toward real
fluency--the ability to formulate thoughts in Greek. I'd like to work on
Hebrew eventually, but right now I know my Greek is in worse shape.
To Ken, I say, you should check out Buth's material. I don't know what method
you use with your immigrants, but the stuff he is doing is quite unlike
anything else I've seen for Biblical Greek or Hebrew.
To Michael, I suppose everyone has a different idea of what they want to
accomplish. But working toward fluency actually has a lot of elements that are
far less painful than the way Greek is typically taught. Yes, it may mean
extra time, but not extra suffering. If anything, I think it will help reduce
the suffering involved in learning how the grammar works. It will also move
you more quickly to the point of reading at a level where you can enjoy the
act, rather than feeling it is a chore. And there is really no substitute for
being able to read well. Yes, there are plenty of tools available to help
people with little or no real knowledge of Greek. But the more you understand
about the natural workings of the language, the more meaningful those
resources will be (and the less you will need them to do the work for you).
And after all, isn't reading for yourself the whole point of learning Greek in
the first place? Otherwise, you may as well just let the commentators and
teachers tell you what to think.
I wish you the best in your endeavor, regardless of the strategy you take.
Hopefully the advice you receive on this list will save you significant
>===== Original Message From Ken Smith <email@example.com> =====
>I expect that this will engender a number of responses and an equal
>number of opinions from folks on the list, but I'll toss out my opinion
>as a Not Very Big Greek.
>I learned Greek from the perspective that you should be able to read
>passages from the NT without a lot of assistance, but that any attempts
>to speak it or even write it were of very little value.
>I've come to question that goal, even as various commitments in other
>directions have precluded my moving beyond it. Certainly, there is a
>value to knowing Greek at any level, and unless you're Fred Danker,
>there's probably a "point of diminishing returns" for energy you can
>expend. But I'm finding that this "point of diminishing returns" is
>moving further and further out for me. I'm afraid I've almost entirely
>bought into Randall Buth's rhetoric about moving beyond the "language
>monitor" stage of learning, even if I haven't yet been able to following
>him in doing so. (There's no way I could write this email in Greek, for
>instance, without investing several hours doing so.)
>In other words, I'd say that the goal shouldn't just be the ability to
>read the text without (many) aids, but should also include the ability
>to produce the language, both written and verbally. How long it would
>take to get there . . . Well, given current pedagogical methods,
>probably a lot longer and with a lot more effort than it would take if
>we adopted something more like what I've used when tutoring Mexican
>immigrants in English.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Michael Sawilowsky [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
>> Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 9:41 AM
>> To: Biblical Greek
>> Subject: [b-greek] Read or Study
>> I have a question related to the purpose or goal of NT Greek study.
>> Is the study of Greek designed to equip the student with
>> tools to help him study the Bible?( ie You can translate a
>> passage with the help of a lexicon and other tools) Or is
>> the purpose to put the student on the road to being able to
>> sit down, basically unassisted and read from the Greek?
>> Is there other options? And how much time must be invested
>> by on "average" student to be fluent enough to do both?
>> Any comments about a guiding philosophy behind learning NT
>> Greek would be helpful.
>> Michael Sawilowsky
>> B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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