How do I keep my Greek (or get it back)?
As we come to the end of another session of beginning New Testament Greek, I am asked this question a lot. Here are my top ten ways to get your Greek back, if it has been a while since you looked at it, or to keep it current and improve your reading skills.
10. Read your Greek/English New Testament.
In my Greek class, I ask students to buy the NET/Nestle-Aland27 diglot text. Read the New Testament using this Bible. Tell yourself it is fine if you never look at the Greek. It’s just there on the facing page. Read the notes on the English side. A note marked tn will have something to do with translation. Be curious about it (if you want). Glance over to the other side of the page now and then (if you want).
9. Use John Dyer’s Bible reading site.
John Dyer comments that he felt Bible software was operating as a crutch for him. How could he get some help from technology without all the parsing and all the vocabulary in those pop-up windows from Logos or BibleWorks? He developed a reader’s version of Greek. For the final exam in LG1200, you can use his site to create a vocabulary list and print out your text. Key in any text in the box at the top of the page. Choose the settings you prefer, print, and read! After the exam, keep keying texts into the site and using the reports to help you read.
8. Buy and use a grammatical analysis book.
The choices I know about, in the order I like them are Max Zerwick and Mary Grosvenor, A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Unabridged (a.k.a. “Max & Mary”) and Fritz Rienecker and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament (a.k.a Rienecker & Rogers). These books are organized by the order of books in the New Testament, so if you’re reading a passage, you just turn to the chapter and verse, and you’ll find help with vocabulary, irregular verb forms, and grammar. See the sample below of Rienecker & Rogers for Acts 9:1ff.
7. Use Wallace’s Grammar and its scripture index.
BibleWorks 8 includes a copy of Daniel B Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. You can buy it as an add-in module if you have BW 6 or 7. Access it in BibleWorks from Resources/Greek Grammars. If you do nothing else with this resource, get to know its scripture index, and click to the entries that have to do with whatever verses you are looking at in Greek. You will review what you already know and be constantly learning a little more grammar all the time.
6. Read one verse a day.
Do this however you want:
*Read chapter 3, verse 16 of every book in the Bible.
*Read through the gospel of John.
*Create a mix tape notebook of the New Testament’s greatest hits.
*Close your eyes and point (not my preferred method — too much risk of an 8-verse sentence!).
5. Read a text that will be read in church on Sunday.
If you are in a congregation that publishes its Sunday texts ahead of time, read one of the Sunday texts in Greek during the week before worship. You will get more out of church, and your Greek will stick and improve. If you are in a congregation that uses the Revised Common Lectionary, subscribe to Pastor Rob Myallis’ blog, Lectionary Greek.
4. Be the expert you want to see.
Luther Seminary Old Testament Professor Diane Jacobson offers this advice to her Hebrew students. Do some homework, and bring your resources to study groups or the pastors’ text study near you. Pretty soon you will be the go-to guy/girl for original language information. Knowing that your friends might ask you questions will push you to study. We never learn anything as well as when we teach it! Learn in order to teach.
3. Impress your friends with Greek on the go.
If you have a mobile phone, you can probably carry the Greek New Testament, and lots of other biblical texts, with you. Olive Tree software is my favorite iPhone Bible text app, and they have texts for Blackberry phones, Palms, and more. With this software, you can see a Bible version’s notes; you can see two versions at once (like a Greek and an English text at the same time!). You can search on Greek words or English ones.
2. Take another class a.s.a.p.
There is nothing like homework assignments to get your Greek back or keep it going. Take a class where you are pushed to use it. In the Luther Seminary curriculum, this means taking a Pauline letters class or a Synoptic gospels class as soon as you can schedule one.
You are exactly where you need to be. Even if “kai” looks only slightly familiar, where you are is a perfectly good place to start from. Do something with Greek today.