Resolve: Learn Greek in 2009
Friday January 02nd 2009, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Books,Patristics

I’m sorry to say I didn’t take my first stab at learning Greek till I was almost forty. Luckily, I’d had some pretty good schooling in the other dialect, Latin, so it was a relatively painless transition. Rod Whitacre made it so by leading me to some pretty good resources.

But I must say that I longed for a text that would treat Greek the way Sister Herberta treated Latin. She made it unforgettable, ineradicable in our memory. The trend these days, though, is away from form and drilling and toward immersion, which may work for many kids, but not so well for me.

How grateful I am, now, to lay hands on Ann F. Castro’s brand-new Greek For All Ages: An Introduction to New Testament Greek. It’s a clear, concisely written book that actually lays out the rules so that they’re easily committed to memory.

Greek For All Ages reminds me so much of Sister Herberta’s teaching — spare, essential, memorable, no gimmicks, no nonsense. This book will work well for teens or adult learners. I plan to use it with my pre-teen Latin scholar next year.

This is a great gateway drug to reading the Fathers in their original Koine. Next step, of course, is Rod Whitacre’s A Patristic Greek Reader. Make your resolution now, while the year is young!

If you need still more reasons, visit a good Greek teacher, my other brother Darrell, and view this video.


14 Comments so far
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Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek is also an excellent resource, a grammar and introductory text in one, really, although it would be difficult to impossible to use it do-it-yourself fashion.

Comment by D. P. 01.02.09 @ 9:56 pm

Mounce is very good. In fact, that’s what I used when I first got started — and you can indeed use it in a diy fashion if you buy his tapes. He’s the one, though, who made me long for drills and forms. He seems to be allergic to such things. I’m sure he’s right and I’m wrong. But it’s hard for us old dogs to learn new tricks.

Comment by Mike Aquilina 01.02.09 @ 11:09 pm

I just finished my first semester of NT Greek in Seminary (using Mounce’s text) and really enjoyed it. I completely agree that at times I really wished for some handy charts to memorize rather than an unwieldy set of arcane rules to apply in given circumstances. They work, but they just aren’t as easy to call to mind like a simple chart (a la Latin declensions) would be. My prof found it annoying enough that he put together paradigms for memorization.

The best part of Mounce is that he gives you a constant account of how much you have mastered: he tells you how many times any given vocab word is used in the NT and at the end of each chapter he tells you what percentage of the NT you can now read. It’s not too long before you’re above 50%–but most of that, of course, consists of words like God, Jesus, is, and, and the.

Still, I’m loving Greek as a subject and look forward to more.

Comment by Br. Bob, C.O. 01.03.09 @ 1:17 am

Memorization is not to be despised as a learning method. I learned my multiplication tables by chanting them aloud in class, and learned them much more quickly than my own children, whose teachers prefer other methods. My seminary preofessor, a kindly Benedictine monk, insisted that we memorize Greek verb and noun forms, and they still tick with me. Ten years later, my Latin professor did not require memorization, and I still have to consult a grammar for Latin declensions.

Comment by Carl Sommer 01.03.09 @ 12:06 pm

Machen’s introduction to NT greek is very good that is what I used at harvard div.

Comment by ignacio 01.03.09 @ 2:55 pm

This message is from Ann. If you would like more information about the text, including sample chapters and exercises, see http://www.greekforallages.com.

Comment by Ann Castro 01.03.09 @ 3:03 pm

FYI, everybody: Ann (above) is the author of the book!

Comment by Mike Aquilina 01.03.09 @ 3:46 pm

you know, I’ve always wanted to learn Greek. Maybe this is the year? We shall see.

Comment by Christina 01.03.09 @ 5:41 pm

I have used Mounce in a diy fashion, and I was moderately successful. What I found was best (for me) was to memorize all words found 50+ times in the NT before I even started the text. It took me about 3-4 months, but once I had those down, I found that just learning the grammar while already knowing the vocab made it much easier.

But I’m always looking for more help, so perhaps I’ll pick up Ms. Castro’s book as well.

Comment by Eric Sammons 01.03.09 @ 9:01 pm

Mounce is a good text, but there are some problems with how he presents the material that Greek For All Ages consciously seeks to overcome. I like Mounce, but it’s Greek for All Ages that I have on my shelves. When I was looking at Greek texts a few years back, I considered Mounce but passed it by because I didn’t like how the material was presented. I’ve used Greek for All Ages though, and that is what I keep on my shelves now, along with Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (the perfect follow-on to Greek for All Ages). Greek for All Ages is the new kid on the block, but I think it has potential to replace Mounce as the industry standard.

Comment by Tara 01.03.09 @ 9:29 pm

My hat’s off to you for DIY’ing with Mounce. I agree about the paradigms, and constantly drilled them into my students back in the day.

Comment by D. P. 01.04.09 @ 8:04 pm

“Greek, sir, is like lace: every man gets as much as he can” — Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). That most men of today are unconcerned with getting either is a commentary on civilzation’s decline since the 18th cen.

Comment by David Trumbull 01.05.09 @ 9:22 am

Hooray! I started learning Greek as well and I’m learning Wenham’s “Elements of New Testament Greek.” It’s pure joy to inch ever closer to the thoughts of the NT authors and audience, and I look forward to reading the Fathers as well! My knowledge of English grammar is also *cough* improving a bit.

Comment by David Charkowsky 01.06.09 @ 10:46 am

Mike, your position is mine. I too learned Latin at school, and never looked at Greek until I was 40+. Still very weak on it. I have plenty of books on the shelf, tho!

“Greek for all ages” isn’t on the UK Amazon site. But I’ll get one from the US and see if it works for me. The sample material on her website suggests that it might be very good for self-teaching.

Comment by Roger Pearse 02.14.09 @ 4:37 pm



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