Thursday, December 11, 2008

NT Greek self-study

I've been working through Mounce's "The Basics of Biblical Greek" on my own for the past several years. Hmmm, I think it is only supposed to take one year. I do like the presentation of the book. I think I've mentioned this before, but there are a lot of accompanying study aids, as well as a constantly-developing website.

I registered for the online class at, and now I can listen to free lectures with accompanying slides.

The problem with self-study is of course no accountability. The website offers quizzes that I've done a few times and then corrected myself. But in general I don't learn the material well enough and end up having to do the exercises with my book and notes open. And then if I try to translate something, I have to go searching through my book again.

But I do like Mounce's grammar explanations. I don't like the way that a lot of books for "laymen" or whomever tend to oversimplify the grammar. Yes, it can be easier to remember if you have lot of little "tricks," but the tricks don't always work!

Meanwhile, my mom was helping with a project to redo the church library, and gleaned for me "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek" by Ian McNair. I decided to give it a try.

This book claims to apply "contemporary language learning theory." The promotions all describe it as "new as exciting," not "dry like most grammar books," etc. Sometimes "not dry" means that they skip important concepts (see above), so I was skeptical.

I find "Teach Yourself New Testament Greek" challenging in a refreshing way. I opened up the middle of the book and found it confusing, so I started at the beginning, expecting to be put to sleep by reviewing the basics yet again. But I found that it drew me in.

As far as I can see, the book uses more of an inductive approach. That's how it differs from the other textbooks. Instead of dictating the rules and then assigning appropriate exercises which encourage regurgitation, you aren't given all of the information right away. You use a few knowns (such as cognates) to figure out the rules yourself. This is what they taught us to do in the ESL classroom, although I still have my reserves that it is always the best way.

While I was doing some exercises, I realized that the book was actually making me THINK. And I even felt myself retaining some of the information! It's similar to the way I learned Latin. We started from Day 1 with a text. There was an accompanying photo, which helps fill in the gaps (with NT Greek, you have your background knowledge of the Scriptures to help). There was a list of vocabulary words, and the rest we just figured out from the context.

Our first Latin teacher told us that we would always remember the first words of Ecce Romani, and I do! Ecce! In pictura est puella, nomine Cornelia. Cornelia est puella Romana quae in Italia habitat...

Time to get back to the books.


  1. You might be interested in some of the Bible studies from BTE Ministries
    The exegesis class is posted on the site as well.
    Greek can be a real pain. I think Im on the 10 year course :)
    If you have any questions let me know. I can reach me at Select website problems from the drop down menu. (That sends the emails to me) Glad to help.


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