Get a Grip on Greek
November 25, 2010 1 Comment
In the 1970s and 1980s I took several courses on New Testament Greek, at both grad and undergrad levels. I don’t need reminding how long ago that was! Like so many others, I “let my Greek go.” So my proficiency dropped dramatically. Call it my own personal “Greek tragedy.”
After investing the effort in studying Greek, I hated to see it go to waste. I’ve made good use of my knowledge at times, but I haven’t been very deliberate about sustaining and improving my grip on Greek. Now I’ve come across a little book that addresses this very typical reality—Keep Your Greek: Strategies for Busy People, by Constantine R. Campbell.
Campbell’s book of 90 pages is organized into ten mini-chapters.
- Read Every Day
- Burn Your Interlinear
- Use Software Tools Wisely
- Make Vocabulary Your Friend
- Practice Your Parsing
- Read Fast
- Read Slow
- Use Your Senses
- Get Your Greek Back
- Putting It All Together
There’s advice in an appendix on getting it right the first time, for those who are just now beginning to learn NT Greek. The book ends with a list of resources truly useful to the person who would follow the practical advice that Campbell gives.
There are no stunning new revelations here about how to stay on top of a language you’ve learned. It’s mostly common sense—but it’s wise and inspiring common sense.
The author maintains a blog—Read Better, Preach Better—where he offers practical advice on biblical study and Bible-based preaching. The chapters of his book are adapted from a series of blog posts about keeping your Greek skills intact. Each chapter concludes with a few comments or “blog responses” from his readers. It’s a clever idea whose potential, I think, is never fully exploited. The value of including these responses depends, of course, on the value of the responses themselves.
Campbell uses Accordance software in his own regimen of Greek review and New Testament study. I’ve used this tool myself. It is powerful and convenient.
Two resources especially recommended by Campbell are:
- A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, by Michael H. Burer and Jeffrey E. Miller
- A Reader’s Greek New Testament, 2nd ed., by Richard J. Goodrich and Albert L. Lukaszewski
I concur with these recommendations.
If you need brushing up, or you have the inclination to teach yourself New Testament Greek, I strongly recommend the published work of my friend Bill Mounce:
- Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, by William D. Mounce
- Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook, by William D. Mounce
- Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary Cards, compiled by William D. Mounce
- Biblical Greek Laminated Sheet, by William D. Mounce
- Greek for the Rest of Us, by William D. Mounce (You really can teach yourself Greek!)
Mounce provides a wealth of additional tools, including his FlashWorks vocabulary drilling program, at his Teknia website.
For audio assistance with Greek study and review, these tools will prove useful:
- Sing and Learn New Testament Greek—Learn on the Go, by my colleague Kenneth Berding
- New Testament Greek Vocabulary—Learn on the Go (CD), by Jonathan P. Pennington
Finally, you must poke around at the Institute of Biblical Greek website.
At least twice monthly, I teach an adult Bible study. Lately I’ve been introducing group members to the benefits of Greek study. We are currently studying 1 John, with an emphasis on Bible study technique. If you happen to live in North Orange County, California, you’re welcome to join us!