Saturday, May 2, 2009

My thirst for knowledge

I have mentioned before how everyone reads in the metro here.

I've run out of thinner books to read, and I can't bring any extra weight with me. And besides, sometimes I prefer taking a snooze (or rather, my body decides for me). But I was desperate for something to read the other day. I dug through my purse and found some Greek flashcards from one of my previous attempts at memorization. They were the usual mix of 1) nouns that I already know, 2) obscure verbs that I'll never memorize, and 3) articles that I can usually figure out from context. Pitiful. I thought wistfully of learning more.

The young man sitting next to me was looking over my shoulder. "Are you studying Greek?" he asked.


"Latin is easier." I agreed.

"But the easiest was Hebrew." That was surprising. I didn't ask for more information because it's too noisy in the metro and it seemed too intimate to be yelling into a stranger's ear. But I was impressed.

As I walked along the platform, the old passion for languages rose up again. I've been reviewing some Russian verbs recently, but it doesn't seem to help my conversational skills. And besides, Russian doesn't hold the same intrigue (sorry, everyone).

Sometimes I find "helpful" sites for studying Greek, but I end up bookmarking them and saving them for later. I spend more time exploring how the tools work than actually using them. The best way is to just sit down and study.

Flashcards are a good way to keep busy in the metro (or anywhere), but of course it takes a little preparation work at home. I don't like ready-made flashcards because they don't offer my brain any exercise. It's better to write them out myself.

I wasn't sure what passage would be good for memorization. But for now I've chose the Beatitudes. It seems fairly easy since there are pairs of phrases, clear content, and a lot of repetition.

1ιδων δε τους οχλους ανεβη εις το ορος και καθισαντος αυτου προσηλθαν [αυτω] οι μαθηται αυτου

2και ανοιξας το στομα αυτου εδιδασκεν αυτους λεγων

3μακαριοι οι πτωχοι τω πνευματι οτι αυτων εστιν η βασιλεια των ουρανων

4μακαριοι οι πενθουντες οτι αυτοι παρακληθησονται

5μακαριοι οι πραεις οτι αυτοι κληρονομησουσιν την γην

6μακαριοι οι πεινωντες και διψωντες την δικαιοσυνην οτι αυτοι χορτασθησονται

7μακαριοι οι ελεημονες οτι αυτοι ελεηθησονται

8μακαριοι οι καθαροι τη καρδια οτι αυτοι τον θεον οψονται

9μακαριοι οι ειρηνοποιοι οτι [αυτοι] υιοι θεου κληθησονται

10μακαριοι οι δεδιωγμενοι ενεκεν δικαιοσυνης οτι αυτων εστιν η βασιλεια των ουρανων

11μακαριοι εστε οταν ονειδισωσιν υμας και διωξωσιν και ειπωσιν παν πονηρον καθ υμων ψευδομενοι ενεκεν εμου

12χαιρετε και αγαλλιασθε οτι ο μισθος υμων πολυς εν τοις ουρανοις ουτως γαρ εδιωξαν τους προφητας τους προ υμων

(Matthew 5:1-12, Westcott-Hort NT)


  1. I took a basic Greek course while in Bible School but sadly to say didn't continue in it.

  2. Yes, unfortunately it's not the kind of thing you can learn overnight.

  3. I'm impressed. I came to the conclusion that I do not have a mind for languages. Russian came with great difficulty and left with great speed. And the language was always hard for me, whereas the literary study was complete joy.

    And then there is just the whole question of long and short-term memorization As an actress I memorized lines and lines of Shakespeare. So wouldn't it be lovely if I could intersperse my conversation with a quote or two? No way! The moment the darned show was over, every bit of every line would bid me farewell forever. Same with Scripture. So it is just as well I'm Catholic, I guess - we don't generally throw citations around.

  4. That's a good point. I generally only remember the first few verses of long passages that I've memorized, since those get repeated the most often. I've tried systems that review old info and introduce new info simultaneously. But somehow I don't have the discipline to keep reviewing the old ones.

    I've noticed that I am remembering a certain percentage of the Greek words that I've gone over quite often. But there are others that I once memorized and just aren't sticking. But I guess it helps that it's something I like.


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