Friday, January 27, 2006

Greek to me

Those of you who look at my "What's in my bookbag" list may have noticed an ominous appearance there this week -- Basics of Biblical Greek. Yes, foolhardy though it may be, I am attempting to learn Greek more or less on my own. I know many of you who visit this page have been down this path yourselves. So...any advice?


Luthsem said...

Greek is hard. I took one semester of it and I passed by the skin of my teeth. Thank God for Bibleworks! I am a glutton for punishment because I'm taking Hebrew next and I'm already trying to learn Spanish.

LutheranChik said...

You go!

I once picked up a "teach yourself Koine" book...I think I got as far as being able to read agapo and kore written in Greek letters. I'm usually pretty good at picking up languages, but not having either an aural component to my studies or the back-and-forth of a real classroom situation made it hard to pursue it seriously.

One of my fellow lay ministry students lives in a community with a Reformed college and seminary within easy driving distance...she's interested in the pastorate, and is in a discernment process regarding that, but in the meantime she takes a 7 am Koine class at the seminary -- it ends just in time for her to zip to work. She's lucky.

Andy said...


You are indeed a glutton for punishment, but it sounds familiar. I've got a whole list of languages I intend to learn (though so far, good American that I am, I know only English). :-(


That sounds like my experience a couple of years ago trying to learn Latin on my own -- though I got as far as being able to read short passages with a dictionary in hand (ask me about Remus and Romulus), now I can't even conjugate "amo".

I have high hopes for Greek, though. The book I'm using came with a couple of programs (flash cards, etc.) and audio lectures. I've also got an audio book of the words that occur 20 times or more. So far I've learned just how badly I've been butchering these words when I read them in commentaries.

Tom in Ontario said...

I've actually heard that Hebrew is easier to learn than Greek because there's less gramar to learn. I chose Greek because the alphabet seemed more familiar to me.

As for advice on Greek, memorize the alphabet well. It helps when you're looking stuff up in a dictionary if you know what the alphabetical order is.

Pronunciation doesn't really matter much. We're probably guessing that they might have pronounced their Greek the way modern Greeks do but there's no guarantee about that.

Be prepared, that if you hope to gain some proficiency at it, you've got to expect to work hard for a long time and have a lot of space in your brain to memorize lots of stuff. Actually, I think having a good grasp on English gramar (which I don't) and then knowing some other languages (I know German and I took French from grade 6-12) seemed to help me a lot.

Then there's a retired New Testament professor who, I've heard, brings his Greek New Testament to church every Sunday and reads along with the 2nd lesson and the gospel readings. Ugh.

LutherPunk said...

Oh no, Hebrew sucked. I almost became a Marcionite after that. I was convinced that a loving and benevolent God would NEVER use that horrid language to reveal truth. I later back peddled, but still.

As far as Greek goes, the best vocab resource i found was Metzger's "Lexical Aids for Students of Biblical Greek." It breaks vocabulary down by frequency of use in the NT. Nailing the first few lists will really help your ability to read.

The grammatical stuff wasn't too bad. I had taken Latin in college which had some similarities.

Still, trying to learn it alone is tough. Fins something that has an interactive CD-ROM, or even consider searching the internet for an online course taught through a university.

Many blessings on this quest.

Christopher said...

Tom, one of my favorite Professors does that sometimes at Church. I tried to emulated him bringing my TaNaK in, but I kept getting lost.