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Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Are you learning Koine Greek, the Greek of the New Testament and most other post-classical Greek texts? Whatever your level, use this forum to discuss all things Koine, Biblical or otherwise, including grammar, textbook talk, difficult passages, and more.

Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Postby Ramses » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:46 pm

I've just ordered John H. Dobson's "Learn New Testament Greek". I think I'll like it because it teaches NT Greek mainly through an inductive method.

Anyone else that uses it or used it in the past?
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Re: Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Postby Lina » Sun May 03, 2009 8:20 pm

I used Dobson's book early on. Nice, gentle introduction.

The best assessment (for the beginner) of various Greek books I have found is on this webpage: http://www.pocm.info/good_books_read_greek.htm

Scroll about halfway down the page and read carefully the comments about the pros and cons of Dobson's method and what you need to do to rectify the problem.

I would highly recommend Dobson's fun and welcoming book to get you started, but I think most people will begin to feel lost in his highly inductive method by chapter 15. I didn't even make it as far as the POCM website said I would.

I did what was recommended and purchased Mounce at that point. Mounce has a great, approachable grammar method for the beginner. But readings and exercises are only found in his workbook, which I personally found to be useless. Unlike Dobson, Mounce's workbook quotes bible verses you will already know. The verses/quotations you read will be bulked up with many repetitive phrases that run through the NT, like "of Jesus Christ our Lord", a phrase you only need to read a handful of times in the course of the textbook to know. The workbook for me involved recognizing a verse or verse theme I already knew and then "reading" it. Hopefully Mounce will revise the workbook, buff up the vocabulary and write some original sentences and stories for it. Not to mention putting an answer key in the book.

If you follow the POCM website's advice, you will return to Dobson after learning grammar from Mounce. I sort of did that. But at some point, I got fed up with going back and forth, trying to find places where Dobson's book would give me corresponding reading practice for Mounce's grammar. Nor can you learn vocabulary effectively in this scattershot way. If Mounce and Dobson (now sadly deceased) had gotten together, they could have created a really meaningful package for learning biblical Greek.

So I ended up buying Athenaze I, some of which, at that point, was review. After finishing Athenaze I, I went through the "Summer Greek Reader" (with passages from the NT) and found I had very little problem with it. Since I'm learning Greek for kicks, and not as a seminarian or bible student, Athenaze has turned out to be a good fit for me.

I'm still glad I began learning grammar with Mounce, and without Dobson, I would have quickly quit learning Greek altogether. My advice is to use Dobson, see if you are motivated enough to stick with it for 15 chapters, and, if you are, start looking for other books to supplement or continue with.
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Re: Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Postby rustymason » Mon May 04, 2009 1:05 pm

I was at first excited by Dobson's book but became lost and discouraged between chapters 15-20. I made three more runs at it over the last two or three years, with the same results.

Mounce's grammar tables and his approach to memorizing the declensions and conjugations are confusing to me. Perhaps he does have a better way but I like the old way of learning a language better, paradigm by paradigm. Let me invent my own shortcuts, say I. His summary tables are useful as a comparison, though, and a help to see ahead into the "big picture."

Personally, another problem with both is the limitation to Biblical Greek. Ultimately, I'm after the whole banana, Homer, Xenophon, etc., and the Biblical sized holes in the principle parts and the paradigm tables ist kein gut.

I'm now using the First Greek Book from John Williams White. It's OK. I've also ordered all the Teacher's Association Beginner Greek books and CD's for their program as a supplement or alternative. I've gone part way through the first book and don't know what to think about them yet. The CD's are well made and they may be helpful but it's difficult to get used to the speakers' voices.
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Re: Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Postby Prometheus » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:24 pm

I've used Dobson (started about a year ago and finished a few months ago) and got quite a bit out of it. I used an inexpensive early paperback edition that I found at one of the online booksellers and the audio CD that comes with the latest edition which I found in a local library. I didn't work through most of the exercises, but I read what I could of the grammar and examples and highlighted and learned what I wanted from the vocabulary.

In the book, Latin for People/Latina pro popolo Humez et al. made the unusual suggestion that beginners start with the easiest Latin: the late medieval Latin of the Vulgate, on the thinking that by building up reading skill on easy and familiar material, you'll be making the transition to classical literature easier. I think it's also good advice for Greek: Dobson is the easiest introduction to any sort of ancient Greek, partly because the familiarity of the contents provides helpful contextual clues, but also because of Dobson's teaching approach. Notwithstanding the arguments often made for starting with other dialects of Greek, I found very little that I learned from Dobson that I had to unlearn to transition to classical Attic Greek.

Dobson sensibly limits the number of new forms and new vocabulary in a single lesson and provides examples of everything. Grammatical concepts are introduced gently, and again, I think, sensibly, by first teaching (for example) the imperfect and its meaning and later teaching the grammatical terminology. Some readers are likely to feel that Dobson's grammar is dumbed down for his church audience (certainly I found his reminder of what "plural" meant superfluous), but I personally like his approach. The grammatical terminology is there and is used knowledgeably, and without pedantry, but the terminology and rules are de-emphasised, rather than paraded. As a non-Christian with a limited interest in the New Testament, I also found the author's interests and biases bearable (moreso than Mounce).

The best selling point of Dobson's book and CD, though, are that it helps you reach the stage of formulating and comprehending entire sentences, rather than leaving you mostly at the single word or phrase stage (where a traditional grammatical approach tends to leave you). Dobson's glory is also his tragedy--he essentially doesn't take you any further than the single sentence level. He mostly misses natural opportunities to put in loads of "sentientiae antiquae" a la Wheelock's Latin text. Simple familiar narratives and dialogues from the gospels, such as the prodigal son, the parable of the sewer, would have been ideal to have in little text boxes. (One alternate, and inexpensive source of such authentic quotes is in Teach Yourself New Testament Greek.) Instead you find mostly home-made Greek sentences, and rarely connected. But if you use both the text and the CD you'll definitely feel comfortable in constructing or interpreting sentences like "the prophet writes the words, but you do not read them".

Dobson's book, in my view, has several shortcomings: (1) in my edition, Greek accents were not marked and the subject was pooh-poohed in the text. I understand that accents were added to later additions. But the recording is marred by inconsistent stress (i.e., sometimes THE-os, sometimes the-OS), which hinders learning and comprehension of other Greek pronunciations. (2) Dobson and his colleague's British school-Erasmian pronunciation are in general a hindrance (the vowel sounds in "theos" are also pronounced inconsistently, which is confusing to the learner). But, arguably, "Anglo-Erasmian" one of the varieties of Greek pronunciations that a student in an English-speaking counter should become familiar with, since he will often encounter it. (3) Dobson doesn't include enough actual text from the New Testament.
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Re: Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Postby messiah888 » Sat Dec 03, 2011 2:40 pm

I was considering learning Hebrew and Greek. I actually have John H. Dobsons Learn Biblical Hebrew. I haven't got around to using it as much as I would like. It comes with a CD rom also. As I'm writing this I have just put it into my Think pad edge. It has 13 lessons.

I personally think that learning the basics of Hebrew may be the best place to start, just from what I have read.... I also have Learn to Read Biblical Hebrew by Jeff A. Benner. and when I did read it I did get a quicker understanding of the Hebrew. So I think getting the basic alphabet learnt is important.
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Re: Anyone using Dobson's Learn New Testament Greek?

Postby Σαῦλος » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:44 pm

I did not use Dobson for learning, but have used it for teaching several times. I'm just posting to this old thread to note two things:

    Prometheus's evaluation above is spot on.

    I'm using the Dobson book as a 2nd year of instruction after one year (130 lessons) using communicative approaches (TPR, TPRS, WAYK). It seems to be working very well.
I will babble until I talk. ετι λαλαγω...
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