Starting to learn Greek

Discussion in 'Languages' started by JWesley, Jul 23, 2015.

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  1. JWesley

    JWesley Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm moving to Minnesota to attend Bethlehem College and I'll be beginning to study Greek this coming fall semester. Any thoughts on good ways to prep so I can get the most out of introductory Greek? I've started learning the alphabet, any other thoughts? What about things not to do?
  2. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

  3. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Keep this in mind...

    Of the approximately 5,437 words in the Greek text, 313 words occur more than 50 times.

    The total occurrence of these 313 words account for about 110,425 of the total Greek words of around 138,162.
    [The TR (140,722 words) is two to three thousand words longer than Westcott-Hort (137,681) or NA27 (138,020). In the New Testament alone, there are 1,932 words (USB) that occur only once, referred to as hapax legomenon.]

    Students memorizing Mounce’s 319 words will know 79.92% of the words in the Greek NT, or about 4 out of every 5 words.

    But, of the 110,425 occurrences of these memorized words, 29,023 are the Greek words for “the” and “and”, so more than 26% of the words student will recognize are the two most common words.

    In fact, by learning the words that occur more than 50 times, the student will have learned only 6% of all the lexical forms found in the Greek NT (5,437). So that leaves 5,118 words that the student does not know. These 5,118 words account for 27,737 words found in the NT text.

    Assuming 27,737 words and 9,942 verses, each verse will contain about 3.5 words the reader may not recognize. ;) The point being that memorization of common words is a starting point, but the student should understand its limitations.

    Many beginning Greek courses proceed along these lines:

    The Alphabet, Vowels, Diphthongs, Consonants, Breathing Marks
    The Greek Verb, Parsing
    The Greek Noun, Declensions
    Articles, Pronouns, Adverbs, Adjectives, Word Order
    Conjunctions, Prepositions, Subordinators
    Infinitives and Participles

    So if you want to get a head start focus your self-studies along these lines.

    Given that II John, III John, I John and John (Gospel of) are relatively "easy" to translate, you will probably be using sections from them in the beginning Greek classes at some point. If you have the funds obtaining the following will be very helpful:

    You may also want to obtain:
  4. JimmyH

    JimmyH Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know how helpful it will be, but Danny Zacharias' app 'Flash Greek' has been very helpful for my memorizing vocabulary. I'm up to about 200 words so far. It costs about 6 or 7 bucks at the google play store and has a wide selection of linguists work, Black, Mounce, &tc to choose from.

    I am attempting to teach myself so it is tough. Particularly tough since I do not have a firm grasp on English grammar. I'm working on that as well. Reading D.A. Carson's chapter on translation in 'The Inclusive Language Debate', has helped me to understand that while memorizing vocabulary is necessary, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Of course since you are going to college, and will have instructors you'll be ahead of the game.
  5. psycheives

    psycheives Puritan Board Freshman

    - Go in with an "I'm going to conquer this language" or it'll kick your butt! You MUUUUST do this. Hype yourself up. Get excited about becoming good at Greek and make it fun so you'll put in the time and when you take the time make sure every second you are "BUSTING through it" and not distracted and floating here or there. You know how much Piper emphasizes the original languages - so emulate him. Set the goal to be as good as him. I've seen too many students go in defeated or scared and they end up spending 3 hours doing what should have taken 10 minutes. Not kidding at all. When checking on them hours later, they had only written 6 paradigms - about 48 words.
    - Get the textbook you will use for class or if you can't ask and figure that out, use Baugh's A New Testament Greek Primer Can't use an old edition of Baugh's work because the updates are key. Stick with the latest edition - the 3rd edition as of today.
    - If using Baugh's book, work up to at least Chapter 9 "2nd Aorist". Or in another book, work up to the "2nd Aorists" before class. Get really good at everything up to this point. "2nd Aorist" are really hard, so make sure you are an expert on everything up to them before you start seminary. Do the problems again and again and write your answers in a notebook so you don't mark up the original book. You will need to repeat the exercises many times before you will be good.
    - Make sure you memorize all the paradigms up to including 2nd Aorists like the back of your hand. I know if feels impossible. But just keep doing them. Again and again. 50-200 times each or more. Not kidding. Take the Present Active Indicative paradigm and just write it in a notebook about 20 times in a row - non-stop. Bust through it in 10 minutes. Time yourself! Countdown timer! Don't let yourself float away. Stay focused! Now that it's "cemented" in your head and you can do it in your sleep, do this with the Present Deponents. 20 times. Now do it with the Imperfects. 20 times. Do you still remember the Present Actives? No, probably not!!! So go back and do them again. 10 more times. Do you still remember the Deponents? Nope. Not anymore! Do them again, 10 more times. Make sure you have all 3 in your head. Can you repeat all 3 in 2-5 minutes without error? Okay, good. Now go add another paradigm. Always checking to see if something fell out of your head. Just keep cramming and cramming. Remember, conquer it!!! Don't let Greek defeat you! You're the next "John Piper" or whoever, remember? You want the honor of mastering God's Word and teaching his people. Mastering Greek is step 1. Conquer it! :)
    - You MUST say EVERYTHING as you read and write them. Don't forget this step! It counts as if you had written the paradigm twice! When the test comes, your brain will bring your voice back into your head to help you remember the paradigms. Everytime you write it, that counts as one time. Everytime you speak it, that counts as another time. So write and speak it at the same time - counts like two times!

    - Do NOT NOT NOT use vocab cards. And certainly don't waste your time making them! Total "newbie" blunder! No one believes me on this but I have yet to see anyone manage their time wisely and successfully learn this way. After wasting weeks worth of time, many eventually give up on the cards and switch to computer. So do it right from the beginning, use Quizlet or Mounce's app to memorize Greek vocab. It is 1000% times more efficient and everyone I know who used vocab cards (no matter how careful - myself included) has lost some cards and missed key words. Load Quizlet on your cell and practice a chapter here and there whenever you are waiting in line etc. :) I practice on my cell as I'm lying in bed at night before I sleep. Just did 6 chapters of Greek vocab last night and got maybe 2-3 wrong. :p

    Hope you master the languages like Dr. Piper and will be able to read fluently from the Greek text someday! It takes a TON of dedication to accomplish this. Only the ultra determined and dedicated will accomplish this! Prepare for war with Greek!!! :D

    John, I'm curious as to your user name - J. Wesley? I see your name is John W. Bush III. Neat to be the 3rd? :) Is Wesley your middle name? Were you named after John Wesley, the Arminian preacher?
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
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