Don’t know what to do with Greek

I’ve been working on Greek for about three years now, with some breaks for surgeries and other low points for various reasons. I started with Croy’s grammar and switched to Black after I reviewed it and liked it better. I bought Mounce for good measure. After getting great help from Esteban with pronunciation (not the never-used-by-any-Greek-speaking-person Erasmian rules), I tried to spend about 20 minutes a day on the book and then some time on vocabulary. After starting over with Black’s book twice, and dabbling in Dobson, I’ve finished Black, but feel like I don’t know the material very well. I used the workbook for a while, but didn’t use it fully, because I’m a bad person. I’m now taking an online conversational Greek course, but I’m not sure if it’s getting me where I want to go.

So, I’ve spent three years on this and I can read some easier passages and pretty much know what they say, but I don’t understand the intricacies of the grammar or understand it in a way that’s more nuanced than English translations.

Sometimes I want to just leave it here and be satisfied with being able to understand what scholars are writing about in commentaries. I really miss memorizing new Scripture, even though I have my head full with reviewing what I have, and I could do more book reading if I’m not spending as much time on Greek. Or I could go back to the workbook and get to know the material better. But to really be able to read my Greek NT, I would need to spend another three years on this. I probably need another year reviewing Black’s material and going through Mounce for secondary material, and then maybe work on Black’s next book that’s an in-between before going on to Wallace. I think Wallace is asking too much. (Well not him, but you know.) I keep seeing things on why we should learn the Biblical languages, but those are mainly for pastors.

So what would you do? Should I be content with where I am and learn more here and there? Should I keep on spending more time on something I’m not sure I’ll be able to fully utilize, meaning NT exegesis?

I will continue with the conversational course through June or July, keep up with the vocabulary and possibly go back to the workbook for a while, but I just don’t know what my expectations should be, or how much more time I should or want to spend. If you have any opinions, I’d love to hear them.

4 Responses to “Don’t know what to do with Greek”


  1. 1 Dave Moser

    Jeff,
    You’ve already identified the crucial element: “understand it in a way that’s more nuanced than English translations.”

    If you don’t get past that point you will have wasted all the time you invested in it (not entirely wasted, I’m sure, but it won’t have gotten you what you want). You really need to get a good grasp of how long it will take you to get to that point and determine if you’re able to make that commitment. Talk to a pastor who knows Greek so he can help you inventory your skills and help you plot a course.

    If you choose to pursue it further think about distance courses from a seminary.

    God bless in this pursuit!

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    Thank you for your input Dave. I’m not going to slow down unless I have good reason to and have thought and prayed about it a lot, so for now I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. I will try to find some guidance.
    Jeff

  3. 3 Derek

    χαῖρε, Δαυίδ! My experience was similar, though I didn’t have quite the endurance you’ve described in pursuing the traditional grammar based approach to learning Greek.

    I tried to pick up Greek a few times in my early to mid 20’s, trying to read through grammars and memorizing flash cards, but I eventually just gave up. It wasn’t until this year that I discovered the TPRS approach, Booth’s materials, and shortly thereafter Sebastian Carnazzo’s online classes, that I felt I finally started making progress toward actually learning the language.

    Dr. Carnazzo has been teaching biblical languages at the seminary level for 10 years and studied under Francis Gignac, whose work has been the basis for the Restored Pronunciation style popularized by Randall Buth. In harmony with Randall Buth’s teaching materials, Dr. Carnazzo focuses primarily on teaching Greek the same way a child acquires their first language … through repetitive association of what one hears with what they see and experience. His online classes, of necessity, are primarily TPRS based, while he incorporates more TPR in his seminary classes. As with the acquisition of our fist language, grammar is first taught indirectly through the process of continuously hearing words used in their proper form with a much later and secondary emphasis on learning paradigms. I’ve found this approach to be quite effective and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to reach conversational fluency. To find out more about Dr. Carnazzo’s classes, you can check out his website at http://www.academyofclassicallanguages.com/.

    Ἔρρωσο!

  4. 4 Scripture Zealot

    Hi (I can’t type in Greek yet),
    Thank you for the feedback. Right now I’m doing a combination of a conversational style class (as you know) and also working through Black’s workbook–although it wasn’t him who put it together. I think going through the workbook will help me learn the material much more thoroughly.
    Jeff

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