Because life is a series of edits

Greek to Him

In Seminary Tychicus on June 20, 2005 at 7:15 pm

Tonight is Learner’s first Greek exam. After only two weeks of four actual classes, he’s had three quizzes, covered ten chapters, learned the alphabet and over 120 vocabulary words, and memorized (sort of) almost ten different verb paradigms for present, imperfect, future, and aorist (1st and 2nd) forms, all with active and deponent variations. This is not your everyday language course (or at least not Spanish, which he took 13 hours of in college, never to speak again).

Back in my time, of course, Greek was the language of the day, much like English is now; thus, when I was delivering Paul’s letters, I never gave much thought to the reality that so much work would need to go into making his words known to so many. When you really think about it (and Learner has), it is an amazing thing that so many translations have been made for hundreds of different languages, and that so many of them have been in existence for hundreds of years. The world has benefited from some very smart and committed people in the discipline of language translation over the years.

While Learner’s glad from an educational perspective to be learning Koine (or “common”) Greek, he did mention in between flashcards that he wonders as to the actual value of devoting an entire summer (with an entire course of exegesis in the fall) to this historic language, particularly with the software and concordances available to aid in translation nowadays. Wouldn’t it be more effective and a better use of time to teach students to use those tools to get at the nuance meanings and ideas?

Truth be told, I’m a bit worried for my friend. He says he comprehends the concepts of what’s being taught but, while he knows his vocab inside and out, the verb conjugations, contractions, and parts of speech parsing are eating his lunch. His average score on the first three quizzes (45 points total) is 75% (a solid C), but this first exam is worth 100 points and covers it all. He’s studied, but he’s not sure what he really knows or if he can regurgitate it accurately and in the allotted time (an hour) on an exam.

He’ll find out tonight, I suppose.

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