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Learning koine Greek

Are you learning New Testament Greek with Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek? Here's where you can meet other learners using this textbook. Use this board to ask questions and post your work for feedback. Use this forum too to discuss all things Koine, LXX & New Testament Greek including grammar, syntax, textbook talk and more.

Learning koine Greek

Postby Rhuiden » Tue Nov 29, 2005 10:37 pm

I was curious as to what those of you who have learned or are learning koine greek think about how it has helped you understand the Bible. Has it helped considerably, some, or very little? Has it been worth the effort? Would you do it again?

I am about to start taking some Bible classes with an emphasis on theology and am trying to decide if it would be helpful to learn the greek. I have been studying latin but I am still a beginner. I will most likely have to put that on hold for a while, depending on time requirements of the classes I will be taking.

Opinions......


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Postby Carola » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:05 am

I haven't studied any myself but I know someone who has who found it very interesting. I don't know if you would help your "understanding" as there has been so much commentary on the Bible over the years by so many people who have devoted a lifetime of study to it. I would probably like to look at some of the other philosophical and religious writing from the early years of Christianity, some of it has only been recently discovered and not yet studied in such detail.
I found a copy of "A Short Syntax of New Testament Greek" by Nunn in a bookshop yesterday, so once I feel a bit more comfortable with Greek I might start looking at Koine. I am just starting to realise how many fascinating aspects of Greek there are to discover.
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Postby Kasper » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:17 am

I'm finding it very usefull to read it in Greek. Because it still takes me quite some effort to read it, I read it much more thoroughly. Also, I often find that translators cannot help but work from their own perspective, especially when a direct translation (verbatim) is not possible.

I find it so rewarding in fact, that I've started to study hebrew, to read the OT.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”
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Postby Carola » Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:47 am

Kasper wrote: Also, I often find that translators cannot help but work from their own perspective, especially when a direct translation (verbatim) is not possible.



Yes, of course that is something I overlooked - while the original text stays the same, our language and thinking change over time. So what might have been a very good translation 100 years ago now seems very stilted and probably doesn't give the "feel" of the original.

I have also noticed this in old history textbooks - the emphasis is on completely different things. We are not really intererested in a list of who was king of where so much as how people actually lived and worked, what were they like. We draw quite different conclusions from what is basically the same material.
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Postby JulianJ » Wed Nov 30, 2005 8:52 pm

It is impossible to study textual criticism without koine. It is also invaluable for studying early christianity. Not being a christian, I cannot say how useful it would be for studying theology but I am sure that it can only help.

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Postby Bert » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:52 pm

I would certainly do it again.
I'm not saying that you can't understand the Bible without knowing Greek (or Hebrew) but knowing Greek sure helps.
I don't know how involved your Bible classes get but my quess is that knowing Greek is going to be a huge asset.
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Postby Kopio » Thu Dec 01, 2005 6:18 am

Wow....I thought I had chimed in on this subject.....but I hadn't

Now for my two cents worth.

The simple answer to the question is...Yes...learning Greek is most certainly worth it. But I might add, that you only get out of it what you put into it. If you only study Greek for a little (1 year in school)...it's not worth much. I am a GReek major...I have completed all 4 years my school has to offer. A couple of years have passed since my last year of Greek. Now, I find myself being able to read my GNT almost as easily as my NIV....key word is almost :) Hebrews and the Corinthian letters are much more tricky than the rest of the NT (I still do struggle with those)...but the gospels are like "See spot run". I guess what makes it better is that....there are things that you could see in your english bibles without any Greek background....but if you are looking at it in the Greek it just kinda smacks you upside the head.

Case in point... I teach a bible study Sunday mornings at our church. My prep consists primarily of....reading the passage in Greek (we are in Ephesians)...then looking at the passage diagramed....and then going over the diagram with an exegetical outline. That prepares me to teach the passage to class. I see all of the intertexualities, exactly how the syntax meshes together, and what exactly the "main points" are that Paul is trying to communicate. If there are things that I am stuck on (Eph 3:10 still has me scratching my head) I consult a good commentary (Marcus Barth's commentary in the Anchor Bible is outstanding) that can usually help me resolve tricky theological problems.

So....I guess I would say "Yes", but only if you are really willing to commit the time. A year or two is nice, but it will just get you reading. Four years is enough time for you to really start understanding how the language works and how to correctly interpret it.

IMHO what this world needs is more pastors that really understand and read Greek...so if that is what you are eventually shooting for...I would encourage you even more.
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Postby Rhuiden » Sun Dec 04, 2005 12:55 pm

Thanks for everyones thoughts on this subject.
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Postby Rhuiden » Sun Dec 04, 2005 1:01 pm

Kopio wrote:IMHO what this world needs is more pastors that really understand and read Greek...so if that is what you are eventually shooting for...I would encourage you even more.


I think that I agree with you on this point but I wanted to clarify something. I am not a Pastor. My purpose is rooted in discipleship and apologetics. My calling is to teach and defend the Word of God. I want to become better in both areas and learning the greek can only aid me in these.

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Postby Rhuiden » Fri Dec 09, 2005 4:48 pm

Kopio wrote:Case in point... I teach a bible study Sunday mornings at our church. My prep consists primarily of....reading the passage in Greek (we are in Ephesians)...then looking at the passage diagramed....and then going over the diagram with an exegetical outline.



Where do you get the diagram of the passage? Is this online or in a reference book of some type. I think this would be a most useful tool in my teaching also.

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Postby Kopio » Sat Dec 10, 2005 4:44 am

The diagrams came from a former teacher. He has copyrighted them and you can currently get them at www.gramcord.org hopefully they will be in Mac format fairly soon. You can buy some Will Ramey's diagramshere.

It appears the he has pulled all of the exegetical outlines that he used to have, but I still have all of those, and they are free for distribution :)

Lemme know if there is a particular book in the NT you need an outline for, and I can e-mail it to you. A lot of time with a good exegetical outline and a good translation, you can go a long way.
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