Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Teaching and Learning Greek - John 3.16

In a previous post, I argued that rather than learning how to read Greek, it is probably better for students who will not have enough time to become expert in the language that they learn how the Greek language works and how to use Greek resources appropriately. Here is an example of the approach I am suggesting using one of the most well-known New Testament verses, John 3.16. It is a bit more than a blog entry can handle, so let me point you to a separate web page. I would certainly be interested in hearing what you think of this kind of approach and whether you think it is a good one or not. Thanks.


  1. Hi,
    I like the exercise you put together. I think it is a very good way of demonstrating to students the benefit of Greek in exegesis.

    Personally, I myself would use it a bit differently: My aim is to get students to be able to read the UBS readers edition Greek New Testament after a year of Greek training from Mounce's text book. (This will be my first year teaching a year's course, so I don't have anywhere near the amount of experience you have, and I can't comment on previous success, but I do believe its feasible).

    Therefore I would be using an exercise, like you've put together here, towards the end of the 1st year course, so that I could show the students what kind of things they would learn in year 2 - where I would hope to cover something like Wallace's grammar.

    I understand completely where you're coming from with the time constraints you've been given, and I respect your qualifications and experience, but at the same time I wonder if they will actually be able to do exegesis without making lots of mistakes, if they are not actually able to read Greek properly?

    Yours humbly,

  2. Thanks for your response, Duncan. I would love for students to be able to read the Greek NT using the USB readers edition,... but I have given up on that goal.
    Having a year's worth of Greek instruction, you will have more time than I do with my students, so it may work for you. Even with a year's worth, unless there is required and sustained work with the Greek, my experience has shown that very few students are able to retain enough to be capable. (In a survey of Lutheran pastors I saw, out of about 35, only 1 was using Greek weekly, and only about 8 were at least trying to check out some of the Greek. I don't think it is a problem just for Lutheran pastors...) So that's why I'm trying to think about how to get to using Greek tools productively. Even my little study still assumes quite a bit of Greek, but if I am aiming for students to be able to do that kind of exercise (rather than aiming for reading, even with some helps), it changes my approach to instruction.
    I'm still trying to figure it out, and I will be interested to hear the short- and long-range success you experience. Thanks again.

  3. MGVH,
    To put the following comments in perspective: I'm no pastor or seminary student. I'm just a Christian who loves God's word. I'm...ahem...older (48) and find that my schedule makes learning a language tough...

    I've been teaching myself to read Greek for well over a year now and am only at the place where I can pick out words that are very commonly used.
    I've been trying to assimilate the grammar/endings but I've found that I'm more inclined to know the particulars about what an ending means rather than to spot it in the text. With the tools available like interlinears, spotting and recognizing the grammar isn't the chore, but knowing how it affects the meanings is.

    I'm going to continue to try and teach myself to actually read the GNT but really, I agree that most students would benefit by understanding how to put the knowledge that they can glean from an interlinear/morph text to good use.

    Thanks for the study...I appreciate it.

  4. Ever since I finished school I didn’t think I would want to have anymore lessons ever again, however recently I have wanted to learn a foreign language, maybe become fluent in one and basic in a couple of others. I did a bit of research and found there were loads of different packages available I went with one that claims you teach yourself French and I was impressed it was a computer program that helped with pronunciation and speaks back to you so you can hear it too.