This is my first post and in introducing myself you'll see that I have a problem.
I'm a 45 year old insurance agent--please don't hold it against me, selling insurance was not my life's dream job--married with no children. I started studying Greek in 1989 when I took a university NT Greek course for one year.
I had studied Latin intensely in 1985 at CSULB. I was enthralled to learn this language because I had a conversion experience that lead me from disbelief in god's existence into the catholic religion. Latin came so easy. I was so disciplined in those early days. I would study 1 hour a day, no matter what. In `88 I had the privilege to study under Fr. Reginald Foster in Rome and learned the language sufficiently enough to clumsily speak it.
From about 1990 to 1992 I entered a different college--you can see, if you are checking into the math, that I was a bit of a perpetual student back then--and I studied informally some Greek texts: Aristotle's De Anima and later the Greek NT with one of the philosophy professors.
Then in 1997 I took a job at that college in the admissions office. I had another great chance to study with one of my coworkers who got his PhD in classics from Stanford in the late `50s. We went through the entire Athenaze, the Apology with his and another commentary, some Xenophon and then life sort of got in the way after about 3 years.
Now I'm at it all alone with whatever time and energy I have after work. My wife is very accepting of my 'odd' interest in Greek. She's been very supportive in all my 'odd' extra-work interests, the principal one of which is philosophy.
My main goal in Greek is to read Plato and Aristotle as if I were reading a Marvel comic book. Heck, I wouldn't even mind mastering it so well that I be able to speak it so that I can seem cool, like when I speak my infantile Latin on the rarest of occasions.
But here's my problem: verbs, verbs, verbs!!
Give me 8 declensions, complicate the syntax, muddy up the moods for all I care. I could handle that.
But the verbs have undone me. Would that the simple 4 principal parts of Latin been somehow pre-adapted by the Greeks of ancient times. But then I guess the language would have been less beautiful and precise.
*I get the distinction between the primary and secondary tenses.
*I get the consistent personal endings (but please don't ask me to reproduce them to you without a handy reference grammar nearby).
*I get the aspectual distinction in the use of the aorist and the other tenses, especially, for example, the perfect.
*I also get the participles to a large degree.
*I get the epsilon addition and reduplication issues.
*I recognize my good friend the deponent from Latin and I get the middle use of the Greek verb.
But what I don't seem to get is any sense of a hint when it comes to one of those stem changes in the latter principal parts. I know there's rules about classes and orders of some consonants to determines the lengthening of vowels and all sorts of other seemingly ceaseless contingencies. It all seems so overwhelming.
I've began--and quickly stopped short of reading through Smyth's section on inflection and studied where in the text it pertains to the verb issue I'm having. And even though it's NT Greek, I've also looked at Wm Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek, but again I stopped short either because life got in the way, or I just shrank from the task.
So, what I hope for are some responses--yes, I know I even need some kicks in the hind-quarters--where members can give me some tips, a handful of simple rules, point to particular texts that aren't voluminous, insight into issues that I'm most certainly making harder than they are, and even offering a bit of encouragement.
There are just too many Greek verbs in the lexicon for me to commit to memory the six--or maybe more!--principal parts of, say, 500, or even 50 Greek verbs. When I read Greek, or look at it with mouth agape, I want to paraphrase Heraclitus and say you can never step on the same Greek verb form twice.
Now that people know that I'm an old dog trying to learn what remains a new trick (since I can never learn it), please know that I have no pretentions and will take all help. If you happen to be a first year student in high school and you've made progess in mastering the principal parts of the Greek verb and its amophousness, then I want to hear from you. If you're like me and you've had a 19 year exposure to the language and you're still stuggling to formulate what your real problem is in your encounter with the Greek verb, then, please, I want to hear from you. And of course if you're either a master or know that you're well along the way in your mastery of the verb--because you can read Greek like it's a Marvel comic book--then, please, please, please, I want to hear from you.
So, I'll stop it right there. I appreciate any help from anyone. Thanks for your time.