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Advice for a Greek Student


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#1 Donovan R. Palmer

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:23 PM

I asked this question of sales, but I thought I would also throw it out here to see what people would suggest...

In 2013 I will be formally taking Greek at a University that I am studying at part time. I have studied Greek on my own over the years using resources on the web and another Bible program. My plan is to do this course and then in 2014 or maybe 2015 taking second level Greek. The course uses Mounce's BBG, which I already own in Accordance and I know I will want to buy BDAG, NIDNTT, LSJ and TDNT.

I wondered if you fellow Accordianites could recommend anything else I should consider for studying Greek 1/2 and setting up for a lifetime of Greek studies in Accordance. While budget is important, at this stage I would like to set up for what is ideal as this will form part of my permanent resource library. If I can't afford it, I'll set some priorities... so ideal is what I am looking for.

#2 James Tucker

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:47 PM

You need to read the language a lot, but also learn to hear the language. So I would recommend Spiros Zohdhiates reading of NA26th with modern Greek pronunciation. If you want proficiency, which I assume you do since you are taking a class, then you need to engage the language with all your senses. In addition, start a page on ΣΧΟΛΗ and use Greek for communication. Force yourself to think Greek!

Neither of these are Accordance offerings, but if you want to master Greek you will need to learn Greek as a language, not a code.
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#3 Mark Nigro

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 02:51 PM

If you don't have them already, the LXX and other Greek texts like Josephus, Philo, the church fathers, the Nag Hammadi etc. With your current choices, you'll have great lexical resources so I think these other texts would be great for exposure, research and comparative studies.

#4 Abram K-J

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:20 PM

Reading the LXX has been a good challenge for my Greek. I concur with Mark, and it's pretty easy to get the LXX with LEH lexicon on Accordance (you may already have it, depending on what package you have).

As much as I wish at times I could just buy everything Accordance offers, I would also counsel to not buy too much now in the early stages--get a bit farther along, perhaps, in your Greek, so that you'll have an even better idea of what resources you want.

That said, BDAG is pretty indispensable. And reading the text is good, too--both on a computer and in print. The UBS Reader's Greek New Testament (in print) is a great way to go.

Do you know Hebrew? If so, I'd recommend the MT/LXX parallel module in Accordance, too.

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#5 JonathanHuber

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 04:33 PM

My 2 cents: the grammars and lexicons you mentioned will take you far and are more than sufficient for 1st/2nd-year Greek. It is important to learn to pronounce the Greek, not just read it, so you may find the audio recordings helpful, but you will have enough practice reading/hearing by taking a class. The additional Greek texts are not necessary for learning Greek, but you will probably have difficulty resisting the urge to buy them once you've started learning the language. :)

Remember also that Accordance makes it really easy to generate vocabulary lists, based both on frequency in the NT and based on shared roots. I used Metzger's "Lexical Aids" for that information before owning Accordance.

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#6 Alistair

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:08 PM

You need to read the language a lot, but also learn to hear the language. So I would recommend Spiros Zohdhiates reading of NA26th with modern Greek pronunciation. If you want proficiency, which I assume you do since you are taking a class, then you need to engage the language with all your senses. In addition, start a page on ΣΧΟΛΗ and use Greek for communication. Force yourself to think Greek!

Neither of these are Accordance offerings, but if you want to master Greek you will need to learn Greek as a language, not a code.


I don't know this work but modern Greek pronunciation is not how I learned Greek at university. I suggest you check with your college/university first before you start learning the sounds. I already know one person who learned Greek on his own, and when he reads it out loud it just sounds, well, weird and wrong.

#7 Julie Falling

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:22 PM

I have found Mounce's Morphology of Biblical Greek verb helpful - not as a crutch, but as a reference. I've been at the Greek for just four years, and am continuing my study on my own. The book has been a very valuable reference when I get fuzzy about forms. It is about to be rereleased in Accordance. Worth buying.

One book we used in 2nd year Greek was Trenchard's Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament. I wish I'd had it the first year of Greek. It's a book of lists, including every word used in the GNT listed in order of decreasing frequency. One section has words listed in cognate groups. Another section has all the verbs and their principle parts, another has proper nouns, etc. Go ahead and get the hardcover - the folks in my class with the paperbacks complained that their books were falling apart. It's less than $15 on Amazon. I marked my book in pencil when I made up vocab cards. I also numbered my cards according to their order in Trenchard. That made it much easier to find the ones I was looking for later because I sorted them in boxes by number. (I used colored half-index cards and plastic boxes from Office Depot. Worked great. I used two of the colors for nouns, two for verbs, and the fifth color for adjectives, conjunctions, preps, and all those annoying little words that drive you nuts. I know this may sound kinda OCD, but being systematic and organized in my study really helps me.) You would be able to generate some of the lists in Accordance, but this is one place where I liked having a book I could thumb through and mark.

I really love the Greek language, but need to do more reading aloud - James & Jonathan are absolutely right about that.

One thing you might want to guard against - using Accordance as a crutch. Do all your parsing on your own without using anything but a lexicon for help. I only went to the parsing info for the GNT-T if I'd already spent 20-30 minutes trying to figure a word out on my own. That wasn't much of an issue 1st year, but 2nd and 3rd it was. I knew that if I didn't make a serious effort on my own, I would short-circuit the learning process. It was very satisfying when I succeeded, and I improved and got faster at it as I gained experience. Some of those verb forms are real stinkers!

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#8 WillT

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 05:38 PM

Learning Greek does not require having the best scholarly tools available for Greek lexical study (BDAG, NIDNTTE, TDNT etc.). With the exception of BDAG (you will need a lexicon so you might as well get the standard early on) I wouldn't see the other resources as in any way important to the learning process. On the other hand, grammatical study, reading the NT text, hearing Greek read, speaking Greek, learning vocab are all important. You can become fluent in Greek without ever once consulting BDAG or TDNT (once upon a time people in fact did). I am not warning you away from the resources you mention, just warning you that they won't per se make you a better reader of Greek. There is no substitute for reading, reading, reading.

#9 James Tucker

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 08:17 PM

I don't know this work but modern Greek pronunciation is not how I learned Greek at university. I suggest you check with your college/university first before you start learning the sounds. I already know one person who learned Greek on his own, and when he reads it out loud it just sounds, well, weird and wrong.


I have many contentions with Erasmian pronunciation. I believe the linguistic research of Randall Buth has suggested a pronunciation system that is superior. What I find most perplexing is that most erasmian readings I've heard do not accent the words correctly—it's as if the erasmian system itself doesn't accord well with the accents.

#10 Mark Nigro

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 11:54 PM

James, I concur with you about the pronunciation. It's pretty certain that the standardized pronunciation used by most if not all English-speaking seminaries is very incorrect, not only with the accents but even vowels and the absent rolling 'r'. It sounds quite "American." But I have no idea how that could be changed at this point since the fear among professors is the inability for students to talk to each other. Interestingly, I have a friend here in Italy who is a Greek professor and when she reads ancient Greek it sounds significantly different to what we might expect.

Edited by Mark Nigro , 10 December 2012 - 11:59 PM.


#11 Donovan R. Palmer

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:27 AM

Thanks for the advice everyone. I do want to keep it lean and mean, and focused. I appreciate the emphasis on hearing and speaking it. I'll do some research into which tactic I want to take on this.

I also heard N.T. Wright say one time that the only way to sharpen your Greek or Hebrew is to read, read, read. The Greek and Hebrew that I have learned so far is simply by using it over and over. I have been pleased by what I have picked up with some effort as some of the better resources are much more accessible and would like to take my skills to the next level.

I wondered if there are any views on sharpening up my english grammar before I begin the class? I read somewhere that this can sometimes help give students a head start and to be honest it was not the strongest part of my school or studies.

Edited by Donovan R. Palmer, 11 December 2012 - 02:51 AM.


#12 Kevin Soars

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:38 AM

Donovan, Bill Mounce would agree that many students need a little refresher course on English grammar before starting his Greek course and so devotes a chapter to this in his "Mounce's Greek Grammar", an Accordance Module. I am sure others will offer further suggestions.

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#13 Mark Nigro

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 03:45 AM

Hey Donovan, I have seen lots available online for free. Probably just a basic refresher of syntax and the parts of speech (what they mean and why) such as subject, direct and indirect object, pronouns, prepositions, modifiers, participles etc., will be really helpful. We intuitively use these things but most often don't know the terminology. You should be clear on the cases too. That will help make the connection when you hear or see them used.

#14 Julie Falling

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:27 AM

One of the young men in my 2nd year Greek class expressed it this way (and I paraphrase), "One of the reasons I am struggling with the Greek is that I don't know English grammar." The prof said it was because he was are the product of the US public education system. Unfortunately, that's true, and the younger the student is, the worse the problem. Those who had taken Latin did better. I had an advantage in that I'm old, and had Latin in high school - it really helped me learn Greek. That said, if you know the parts of speech and how they function, as Mark says, you're way ahead. I learned a lot of grammar in general studying Greek, and really loved it (but I've also been told that I am very strange).

There is just no substitute for diligence, and it sounds like you're motivated. I think that's half the battle. You're studying something you want to learn, not just taking a class you have to take - makes all the difference.

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#15 Jonathan C. Borland

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

Make sure you master the vocabulary and paradigms for each chapter. I recommend Erasmian pronunciation since both classical and biblical scholars use it, and you'll be the weird one in class if you're the only one answering with some other pronunciation scheme. But obviously you have little choice but to imitate the professor, who (one may hope) has learned the Erasmian pronunciation well!

One good thing that's worked for me is closing my eyes before sleeping and trying to repeat as many declension and conjugation paradigms as I had learned.

Good luck!

#16 Rick Bennett

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:25 PM

One advantage of Erasmian pronunciation is that it attempts to differentiate between vowels, diphthongs or similarly sounding letters, whereas modern Greek merges a lot of vowels together. I've heard scholars of many different backgrounds use one or the other, or what sounds like a combination! In the end, follow your prof.'s rec., but be aware of the alternative(s).

The inability of those taught Erasmian to properly accentuate words is probably more due to the lack of focus on accentuation in general; at least that's my experience.

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#17 Donovan R. Palmer

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:40 PM

There is just no substitute for diligence, and it sounds like you're motivated. I think that's half the battle. You're studying something you want to learn, not just taking a class you have to take - makes all the difference.


I am motivated. I find the richness of the original text fascinating. I think what also motivates me is textual criticism. When I read a passage of scripture, my first stop is to look at an apparatus, Metzger, Comfort and Net notes to see where translators struggled and the choices that they had to make. (One of the things I like about WBC is the translation notes for each passage) It is not very sophisticated, but the word I would use to describe it is 'fun'. I'm strange, but it really is very interesting to me and I get a great deal of enjoyment from it. Enough enjoyment in fact that I will even take it with me on a holiday trip!

In the last year or so I have started learning a bit about Hebrew as well, but that's for another thread as it is my intention to take up formal studies on this as well. I have way too many study goals right now and not enough time. Anyone else have this problem?!?

Edited by Donovan R. Palmer, 11 December 2012 - 02:42 PM.


#18 R. Mansfield

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 02:40 PM

A summary of this thread might make a nice article to keep on the Accordance website for those beginning their Greek studies. The pros and cons of Erasmian vs. Modern pronunciation could be a sidebar.

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#19 JohnK

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:02 PM

From a pre-beginner. How do you pronounce iota (eeota or eyeota) and pi (pea or pie)?

#20 Ken Simpson

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 04:20 PM

Hi John
at the risk of starting pronunciation wars....

it's eeota (almost with a "y" feel to the front - i.e. almost yota - but with the ee sound at the front)

pi is pie, more from convention that anything else I think. I've never heard it pronounced differently.

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