After Machen

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.
Post Reply
User avatar
ibix
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:23 am

After Machen

Post by ibix » Fri Aug 23, 2019 5:36 pm

Hello all.

Although more of a latinist, I have taken up Greek for reading the Gospels. I am halfway through Machen's New Testament Greek for Beginners and enjoying the journey. In my view it holds up well. Alongside the goal of reading afterwards Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, what else would you recommend from the period that is written in accessible Greek? I'm largely but a motivated beginner in this area.

Thank you for any and all considerate responses.

W. Ibix James

User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1092
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: After Machen

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:59 pm

Maybe the rest of the NT, the LXX, and the apostolic fathers if you want to stick to what is normally classified as biblical Greek.

I taught out of Machen. It's wholly inadequate, even McCartney's revised version. They no longer use it even at WTS. My suggestion is that you scrap anything that purports to teach you NT Greek, and start with a good Attic prep. If you are ready to sit down with Plato or Xenophon, nothing in the NT will defeat you.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

User avatar
ibix
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:23 am

Re: After Machen

Post by ibix » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:29 am

Dear Barry,

Thank you for your reply. Your expert advice is appreciated. I will follow it. You would be more aware of the failings of Machen’s book as I’m only midway through.

I have Hanson’s Greek volume. I’ll start that after an upcoming holiday. Your recommended progression is intriguing because it’ll prepare me for more than biblical Greek.

Kind regards,
W. Ibix James

C. S. Bartholomew
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1257
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:03 pm

Re: After Machen

Post by C. S. Bartholomew » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:30 pm

Yes, absolutely, dump Machen. Start over with something else for reading the NT. Beware of more recent works that are simply the same thing in new clothes. This applies to probably 90% of the New Testament Introductions published in the last 30 years.

I haven't seen anything "new" that I would recommend.

I learned from E.V.N. Goetchius Language of the New Testament (1965) which was a genuine alternative to Machen in third quarter of the last century. Nothing like it out there now. There is an equally old "structuralist" work by Robert W. Funk, A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek. This isn't my favorite. Funk's style and attitude wear thin very quickly. The B-greek forum put it online.

https://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/project/ ... pre-alpha/
C. Stirling Bartholomew

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3303
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: After Machen

Post by mwh » Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:20 am

A few points.
— If all you’re interested in is New Testament Greek, you don’t need to bother learning classical Greek first. Otherwise, you should.
— The trouble with most NT grammar books is that they treat koine Greek almost as if it were classical Greek, effacing the difference. (I’ve taken a look at Machen, and he’s a prime example.)
— The more up-to-date ones downplay tense as an indicator of time in favor of "aspect," which is not so useful for a beginner; and they tend to be very narrow in scope.

And also, more basically, as you may already recognize:
— There’s really no such thing as New Testament Greek. The various books of the NT are composed in a wide variety of kinds of Greek. So an NT grammar is something of a perversity.
— The NT is a very small corpus (as well as a very varied one), and it makes little sense to treat it in isolation.

So: a less stultifying and more dynamic procedure that you might consider would be simply to take an English translation and dive into the Greek of one of the gospels (and then the others, or one of the other NT writings). You could use a basic Greek grammar alongside if you wanted, or a comparative grammar of Greek and Latin, but since you already have Latin you should be able to figure it out readily enough, and learn as you go, inductively.

As for other accessible Greek of the period, I’d recommend Epictetus, and/or papyrus letters.

User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1092
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: After Machen

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:08 pm

mwh wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:20 am
A few points.
— If all you’re interested in is New Testament Greek, you don’t need to bother learning classical Greek first. Otherwise, you should.
It's been the experience of everyone that I know who's done it that Classical Greek provides a smooth entry into the Greek of the NT. It does so also for Homeric Greek, which certainly has greater differences morphologically and syntactically.
MWH wrote:— The trouble with most NT grammar books is that they treat koine Greek almost as if it were classical Greek, effacing the difference. (I’ve taken a look at Machen, and he’s a prime example.)
The similarities are far greater than the differences.
MWH wrote: The more up-to-date ones downplay tense as an indicator of time in favor of "aspect," which is not so useful for a beginner; and they tend to be very narrow in scope.
Quite true.
MWH wrote:And also, more basically, as you may already recognize:
— There’s really no such thing as New Testament Greek. The various books of the NT are composed in a wide variety of kinds of Greek. So an NT grammar is something of a perversity.
:shock: :lol: I don't know where to begin, so I won't. I mean, yes, but there's so much more to say.
MWH wrote:— The NT is a very small corpus (as well as a very varied one), and it makes little sense to treat it in isolation.
I think BDAG makes a good effort to supply a much wider context for their lexical entries. But what would you suggest for a grammar? A grammar of Koine based only on writings from the post classical period?
MWH wrote: So: a less stultifying and more dynamic procedure that you might consider would be simply to take an English translation and dive into the Greek of one of the gospels (and then the others, or one of the other NT writings). You could use a basic Greek grammar alongside if you wanted, or a comparative grammar of Greek and Latin, but since you already have Latin you should be able to figure it out readily enough, and learn as you go, inductively.
This is really bad advice. The less the English is used with the Greek, the better one's Greek gets. People following this method tend to be able to read what they have already read, but take the English away, and they can't transfer their knowledge to the new text.
Last edited by Barry Hofstetter on Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

mwh
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 3303
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: After Machen

Post by mwh » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:10 pm

Barry, A brief rejoinder, then you can say whatever you want. I stand by all the points I made. Your knee-jerk response was all too predictable.

People learning English don’t start with the English of 500 years ago. Of course classical Greek can provide a “smooth entry” into koine but the reverse is also true, probably more true. You don’t seem to have really thought about this. Your experience teaching privileged schoolchildren is no doubt valuable so far as it goes, but I don’t think that is quite far enough.

The success of an inductive approach, which I mentioned as a possible alternative in this particular case, would naturally depend on the learner's actively registering how the Greek differs from the English and building on that. You dismiss it too readily.

RandyGibbons
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 400
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:10 pm

Re: After Machen

Post by RandyGibbons » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:51 pm

and/or papyrus letters
Hi Michael. You also mentioned in another, recent thread a growing body of papyrological material that you said serves as a good introduction to, I think in that case it was early Hellenistic-era Greek. With apologies to the OP if I am straying beyond the bounds of his original question or interests, are there any editions of papyrological material to serve the interests not of specialists in particular fields but of the general Greek reader?

Randy

User avatar
Barry Hofstetter
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1092
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:22 pm

Re: After Machen

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Sun Aug 25, 2019 11:09 pm

mwh wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:10 pm
Barry, A brief rejoinder, then you can say whatever you want. I stand by all the points I made. Your knee-jerk response was all too predictable.
Actually, a quite well thought out response, based on experience and research.
MWH wrote:People learning English don’t start with the English of 500 years ago. Of course classical Greek can provide a “smooth entry” into koine but the reverse is also true, probably more true. You don’t seem to have really thought about this. Your experience teaching privileged schoolchildren is no doubt valuable so far as it goes, but I don’t think that is quite far enough.
Nice ad hominem that you slipped in there (as though being a university professor isn't the epitome of privileged). How many students have you helped or taught who started with Koine and then migrated to Classical? In my experience, it is always more of a struggle for them than students who have started with Classical and then read the NT.

1) Of course we start with modern English in order to read Shakespeare. Shakespeare is early modern English, and thanks to a solid tradition of literary scholarship and a widespread community that has kept current with English and its changes over the centuries, modern English is the context or matrix in which Shakespeare is best read, though special helps and instruction are often needed. A Koine speaker of the 1st century would have had a similar experience when he sat down to read Plato, a fully supportive linguaculture with resources of which only a tiny percentage survive today.

2) That matrix no linger exists for ancient Greek. Since Koine is in many was a reduction or simplification of Attic, the student who has read a bit of Plato and Xenophon literally (!) can handle anything written in the NT. A seminary student starts with the Gospel of Mark and finds the Epistle to the Hebrews impossible. A student who has read Plato can effectively sight read Mark and work through Hebrews with far less difficulty, other than those inherent in having less rather than more reading experience.
MWH wrote: The success of an inductive approach, which I mentioned as a possible alternative in this particular case, would naturally depend on the learner's actively registering how the Greek differs from the English and building on that. You dismiss it too readily.
There has been a great deal of research, especially in the last half century or so, on language learning and acquisition. Practically all of it contradicts this "method."
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

seanjonesbw
Textkit Fan
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue May 22, 2007 7:06 pm
Location: Wales

Re: After Machen

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:06 am

Striding out into the middle of the O.K. Corral to respond to the original poster.

Barry mentions the apostolic fathers - there are Greek texts here https://www.ccel.org/l/lake/fathers/toc.htm and I would particularly recommend the Martyrdom of Polycarp (there's also an animated version with subtitles if you're interested), the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache as the most interesting and enjoyable to read. It would probably be a good idea to read the Wikipedia page for each first to have in mind why they were considered important in the early church (especially the Shepherd of Hermas).
ἁλὶ γὰρ δέδμητο φίλον κῆρ 🌊

User avatar
ibix
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:23 am

Re: After Machen

Post by ibix » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:05 am

Dear all,

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I am especially grateful for the recommendations for how to progress after gathering the basics. I am copying this thread into a text document so I don't lose the titles of useful works. Additionally, I apologize for inadvertently sparking a furious debate. However, it is nice to see people passionate about learning and the best ways to do it.

Have a pleasant evening.

W. Ibix James

User avatar
ibix
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:23 am

Re: After Machen

Post by ibix » Tue Sep 03, 2019 12:11 am

Postscript: I will comment in more detail after I've investigated resources and methods you've all recommended.

Post Reply