Learning Biblical Greek

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SladeWilson
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Learning Biblical Greek

Postby SladeWilson » Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:08 am

Recently I began a log at HTLAL for French, Esperanto, and Biblical Greek. Most of what I wrote does not apply to this new log, was not interesting, and having only made a few posts I have decided not to link to that log here.

I will not be logging my French progress here (although I might add it), nor any Esperanto updates. I have drifted away from Esperanto rather quickly, but I hope to one day return to it. There is no timeframe on that. French, just not until I am capable of posting content of interest, which means I would have a good grasp being able to read more content and share these things with you. I hope that logging my study of Biblical Greek in the meantime will at least be of novel interest to some.

Biblical Greek has a more proper name, Koine (which means common, as in the common dialect).

Koine is not just the language of the New Testament.

The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh or Old Testament, for instance, also was translated into Koine for Greek speaking Jews. It is called the Septuagint, or often referred to as the LXX (Roman numerals for 70). There is a legend found in the Letter of Aristeas that King Ptolemy had 72 Elders placed in chambers, having each of them produce a separate translation of the Torah independently of one another. This should have resulted in 72 separate translations, but the legend states that every one of those translations came out identical because God had put it in their hearts.

The Koine of the New Testament and the LXX are different varieties. The NT appeared 300 years later, and it isn't a translation of a Hebrew text.

I'm focusing on New Testament Koine as a starting point.

My first book I am using is John H. Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek, Third Edition. It shares some things in common with Duolingo, or even Assimil. First the book offers up new words and gives you the meaning. Then it takes the new words and combines them with previously learned words to create new sentences. To the right of the target language sentences are the sentences in English, in parallel, like in Assimil. You're supposed to cover them up and translate them, which is kind of more like Duolingo than Assimil. Things are repeated in following lessons. Also, unlike Assimil, the author actually encourages you to keep moving ahead (no one lesson a day crap), as quickly as you can. If something is not quite clear, there are multiple things in the instructions on what to do about it. If anyone is interested in the instructions, I am more than happy to post them.

I am currently in the middle of lesson 5. So far I'm not having any troubles. I'll keep you posted on that front.

The thing I'm liking most about Biblical Greek as opposed to other living languages is I get to skip the a lot of the mundane stuff you would need to get by in everyday life. All I'll ever need to know to read the New Testament is what is written in the New Testament. Sure, they might talk about fish and unleavened bread, but it's not imperative that you memorize those words. I feel as though I could take this book, and use it as a blueprint for learning living languages to get me communicating faster.

While the book does spread some grammar explanations throughout the book, it seems to be a mostly inductive approach. I will need a grammar to work with. I have been recommended William Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar, and if I get that I will probably pick up the complementary Sing and Learn New Testament Greek as a way to make things stick. I know using song really helped me nail down the alphabet once and for all.

I hope to share more about the materials I am and will be using, so that if anyone lurking or posting is trying to make a decision they will have more info.

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Amerykanka
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Re: Learning Biblical Greek

Postby Amerykanka » Fri Jul 24, 2015 1:49 pm

I'm always excited to see people learning ancient languages, so I will keep an eye on your log. My focus is Attic and not Koine, but one of my reasons for learning Greek was to read the New Testament in the original.

If you are looking for a good grammar, I would like to suggest Smyth's. It is not a Biblical Greek grammar, but it does discuss the many different dialects and variations of Greek and it is exhaustive and enjoyable to read (for me at least). Most importantly, you can download the PDF for free to see if it is something you would use. I would recommend it wholeheartedly except that, as your focus is Koine, it might not be as relevant for you as it is for me.
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SladeWilson
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Re: Learning Biblical Greek

Postby SladeWilson » Sat Jul 25, 2015 6:14 am

Amerykanka wrote:I'm always excited to see people learning ancient languages, so I will keep an eye on your log. My focus is Attic and not Koine, but one of my reasons for learning Greek was to read the New Testament in the original.

If you are looking for a good grammar, I would like to suggest Smyth's. It is not a Biblical Greek grammar, but it does discuss the many different dialects and variations of Greek and it is exhaustive and enjoyable to read (for me at least). Most importantly, you can download the PDF for free to see if it is something you would use. I would recommend it wholeheartedly except that, as your focus is Koine, it might not be as relevant for you as it is for me.

Is that sprinkled throughout the grammar itself (the different dialects it discusses) or is it mainly historical writing and there is a section on it? I thought I already downloaded it so I checked my hard drive and, sure enough, it's there.

I would love to learn more Greek in the future. On the Logos 6 Bible Software, they offer a free download of the Perseus Digital Library, if you are interested. Logos is a very powerful software. It may actually be free to download but I don't know because I got a base package, which bundles some resources and saves you some money on them. Either way, it's costly to get use out of the software. The company has great sales strategies though, for example they have dynamic pricing where you will never pay twice for the same download (many packages offer some of the same content. If there is something you own in your library, it will be grayed out in their store so that you don't buy it twice by mistake. The offer payment plans for their packages and resources. They have a great forum, and employees do occasionally answer questions. A great investment for me personally. I do realize that Perseus is also online completely free, but combining that with Logos with all its resources and tools makes a great combination.

Then there's Noet, which is basically the same software (as I understand) by the same company, except it isn't Bible focused. I don't think there are any base packages. The software is free on their website. You have to pay for most resources, but as with Logos the Perseus resources are free for Noet as well. If you're not all that into the Bible, I would recommend Noet + Perseus Classics Collection and a purchase of one or more of the dictionaries or lexicons, etc.. If you are into the Bible to the point you want what a Logos base package offers, the Logos store as far as I know offers everything the Noet store offers and more.

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basica
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Re: Learning Biblical Greek

Postby basica » Sat Jul 25, 2015 2:19 pm

I gotta say Logos does a great job for what it was designed for. I haven't used it in many years now, but my only pet peeve with it was how long it took the new version (at that point in time) to download, index and then reindex files. Sometimes a whole day was needed (I did have what was called the platinum package which was the biggest pack at the time and hence probably contributed to the indexing time; also not sure if they still use the same naming convention now). I hope they've improved their engine since then - especially with this Noet software. This definitely caught my attention, thanks for mentioning it SW - I definitely will be taking a closer look at this.
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SladeWilson
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Re: Learning Biblical Greek

Postby SladeWilson » Sat Jul 25, 2015 2:57 pm

basica wrote:I gotta say Logos does a great job for what it was designed for. I haven't used it in many years now, but my only pet peeve with it was how long it took the new version (at that point in time) to download, index and then reindex files. Sometimes a whole day was needed (I did have what was called the platinum package which was the biggest pack at the time and hence probably contributed to the indexing time; also not sure if they still use the same naming convention now). I hope they've improved their engine since then - especially with this Noet software. This definitely caught my attention, thanks for mentioning it SW - I definitely will be taking a closer look at this.


I have noticed the same thing with Logos 6. My PC isn't very high-end at this point but it seems to run the software well enough, but yes it seems as though the indexing issue you bring up is a persistent problem through the earlier versions to now I guess. And I just have the Starter package plus a purchase or two, and the Perseus Classics library (the latter being a fair size though itself). I don't know if it's just an issue with reporting the wrong percentage at the top of the window, or if it's actually still indexing at that time.
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Amerykanka
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Re: Learning Biblical Greek

Postby Amerykanka » Sat Jul 25, 2015 4:02 pm

I would say that there are notes concerning different dialects of Greek scattered throughout Smyth's. If you are looking for a systematic presentation of Koine grammar, Smyth's isn't the best option - but it is an invaluable reference tool. There are detailed footnotes accompanying each paradigm that explain all of the alternate forms, etc. Of course, I've never approached the grammar from the perspective of a learner of Koine so you'll have to see what you think.

Perseus is incredibly useful, both because of its primary texts and its commentaries. Since I'm not focusing on Biblical Greek right now, Logos wouldn't be that helpful, but thank you for telling me about it - at some point I am sure that I will begin exploring the Bible in its original, and then I will check it out. I will look into Noet, too.

My two main resources are currently Smyth's and the LSJ Intermediate Greek Lexicon. Whenever the intermediate lexicon fails me, I go on Perseus and look the word up in the full version of the dictionary. It has worked out well for me so far.
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