I “Finished” Beginning Greek; Starting Colossians

Finished is in scare quotes because I don’t think I’ll ever really know the material well. But it only took me about four years. That’s how long it takes normal people, right? I did have a couple of breaks for surgeries, many weeks where I just wasn’t right, many restarts, and other bumps along the way. I started with Croy’s grammar, which is excellent, and got Mounce as a secondary source. Then I requested a review copy of David Black’s book, and they also gave me the workbook. I had to beg them for the document with the answers. I liked it and switched to it. I think I’ve gone through it about 2 1/2 times because I would go through several chapters and then feel like I wasn’t really learning it, and then start over.

At some point I wanted something really different, so I got Dobson’s book, which is what I needed. Then about 2/3rds of the way through I got kind of lost, as seems to happen with many grammars. I also took an online conversational Greek course where I wasn’t able to conversate much when I got done. Then I got really serious earlier this year and went back to Black and did everything in the workbook, which is a lot. I’m so glad they sent me that. I think it’s more expensive than the book, although it has so many mistakes, it’s hard to trust it. (It wasn’t put together by Prof. Black.)  So, I know just enough Greek to be dangerous. I don’t have to worry about being arrogant about my knowledge of Greek or delve into it on this blog, unless it’s quoting a scholar who knows it.

So now what? For now I’m going to spend less time on Greek than I have been. I miss memorizing Scripture, and I want more time to read. Not to harp on it, but with chronic fatigue, I only have so much mental in addition to physical energy. I’d love to study for hours a day. As far as Greek, I get to freelance. I’m going to keep up the vocabulary, but not work on it everyday. I’ll read some passages in the Greek NT that I have memorized in English. I may go back to the Dobson book and just casually go through it, and maybe Mounce later on. There is an online community where they communicate in Greek. I may lurk there.

I’m very eager to start studying Colossians. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for years. I don’t know when the idea first came up, but I did my Three Year Plan where I read a commentary on each book of the NT, which lasted four years. Then I did my Year of the Old Testament, which lasted two years. Then I did my Year of the Psalms, which lasted less than a year (as planned), along with reading most of the OT again and finally reading a great commentary on Job. It may have been before all of that when I got the idea, so it’s been a long time coming. (I don’t have any grand future plans at this time other than various books I want to read.)

It started when I listened to a sermon by John Piper on Colossians 1:9-20. He said, “Memorize this!” and I did. Since then I’ve had a special affection for the book. I’ve been reading it numerous times the last week, and have started reading it in different translations. Then I’ll read all of the introductions I can find, like the NLT and ESV Study Bibles, An Introduction to the New Testament, and other various sources. Then I’ll use various exegesis helps like Fee’s NT Exegesis, a new book I got called A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis by Craig L. Blomberg et. all, and Bibleworks. I have Moo’s commentary and Colossians and Philemon (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) which I can hopefully understand and use. Also some great stuff at Epistle to the Colossians Resources Online » All Things Expounded. I plan on this being a years-long thing. I’d like to write a Bible study on it eventually.

There is a professor out there who has concentrated on Colossians for many years. I read about him once a long time ago and can’t find him. Let me know if you know who that is or if you have any other resources.

I will also have a couple of book reviews coming up. One on Thinking Rightly About Christ and another on What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About. Possibly at least one book giveaway and hopefully other things.

8 Responses to “I “Finished” Beginning Greek; Starting Colossians”

  1. 1 Eric

    Hi Jeff – we definitely are kindred spirits when it comes to Scripture and biblical languages. I read commentaries all the time too, & especially love word studies. I’ve dabbled in Greek, have Mounce’s book and flashcards, etc. & it’s been really tough for me. Like you, I start & stop a lot, but always come back to it. I understand German & some Spanish, but Greek is, well, “Greek to me.” I like to read my great grandfather’s German “Bibel” from Luther. Colossians is a great book & worthy of memorization. Charis kai eirene, adelphos! Eric

  2. 2 Scripture Zealot

    Are you the same Eric who often responds to posts on suffering and who isn’t a Calvinist but puts up with my writings on it?

    It’s nice to hear from someone similar to me. I would think Luther’s Bible would be great. It would be nice to read a translation written in common… German, or whatever language I would know. Where on the spectrum of formal (literal) to dynamic would you say it is?

    Grace and peace to you too, bro.

  3. 3 Eric

    Yes, I’m that suffering-reading, Calvinist-tolerating Eric. I think the Luther Bible is to the Germans what the KJV is to us. Pretty formal. Somehow reading it in the old German script makes it seem even more sacred.

  4. 4 Dave Black

    Hooray! Proud of you Jeff!

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    Eric. Very cool. I didn’t know that about you, or didn’t remember it. I didn’t realize the Luther was formal, although I suppose any language from that long ago would sound formal now.

    Prof. Black (Dave), thank you very much. Your book was so great to go through, and I was sad for the last few chapters. The most efficient way for an autodidact to learn Greek. I will refer to it often farther in the future. I have stuff highlighted all over the place, and I think I can reacquaint myself with a lot just by going over those.

    I’m really looking forward to Becky’s writing (and your editing).

  6. 6 Dave Black

    Me too. The book will have color photos! God is good.

  7. 7 Scripture Zealot

    “The book will have color photos!”

    Hmmmm. I wonder who shot most of them.

    The LORD is good, a stronghold in a day of distress;
    He cares for those who take refuge in Him.
    Nahum 1:7

  8. 8 Dave Black

    Love that verse!

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