LEARNING GREEK?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Paul1611, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. Paul1611

    Paul1611
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    HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR A PASTOR TO BECOME FAMILIAR WITH THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN? A LOT OF COLLEGES THAT I HAVE LOOKED INTO DO TEACH A SEMESTER OR TWO OF GREEK. IS THAT REALLY ENOUGH TIME TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE PROPERLY? AND DO PASTORS REALLY USE THIS KNOWLEDGE IN THIER STUDYING FOR SERMONS?
     
  2. StefanM

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    1) It is quite important if at all possible.
    2) It is a good starting point, but it is preferable to have a more in-depth study.
    3) Yes.
     
  3. Martin

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  4. bapmom

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    Paul,

    my personal thought would be that two semesters would not be enough to really get the language. I took a whole semester myself, and while I got alot out of it, I can't say that I would now feel confident in my grasp of Greek.

    The better Bible colleges I know of have their preacher boys take four full years of Greek.....8 semesters.
     
  5. Squire Robertsson

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    first, do not use all caps. it is considered SHOUTING. and I don't think you mean to shout.
    Let me ask a question, is it reasonable in 2005 to expect a teacher of Americn History in Ekatrininburg Russia to have a working knowledge of English? Not that he/she is fluent in it, but they can work their way though say Time with a dictionary. If your answer is yes, it's reasonable. Then read on:

    I look at a 21st Century preacher's knowledge of NT Greek in the same way I look at a Russian businessman living in Ekatrinaburg's knowledge of English. Either can live and operate without both. However, if either wants to add value to their endeavours, both should gain at least a familiarity if not a working knowledge of the target language. And yes, I do use what little Greek I know in my sermon preparation. I use is to check myself. Does the original language support the meaning I am giving to a word? Is there a germane point of grammar that would show up in Greek but not in English? (Not all points of grammar are germane to a sermon.)
     
  6. Johnv

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    One need not be a jedi master on teh subject, but having a basic understaning of koine Greek as well as masoric Hebrew should be a must for a pastor.
    It's minimally adequate. And yes, persons from the pulpit use it more than you realize: How are we to know that scripture is God-breathed unless we understand that the Greek word translated "inspired" means "breathed by God"?
     
  7. El_Guero

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    John,

    I knew that long before I EVER studied Greek.

    And I don't think that preacher knew Greek either ... But, they used commentaries.
     
  8. Johnv

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    Good point, commentaries are good for reference, but I think it's important to have a whole grasp on the language rather than another person's comment on it.

    Just my toonie on the topic.
     
  9. El_Guero

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    John,

    The only ones that I know that come close to having a grasp on the language have taught the language...
     
  10. gb93433

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    It is not how much seat time you spend in class but about how much goes through you.
     
  11. gb93433

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    The only ones I know who an excellent grasp are fropm Greece and have never taught Greek. One of them told me that he found most who cliam ot have a good handle on Greek really do not. He was talking about some seminaries he visited.
     
  12. Benjamin

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    The only ones I know who an excellent grasp are fropm Greece and have never taught Greek. One of them told me that he found most who cliam ot have a good handle on Greek really do not. He was talking about some seminaries he visited. </font>[/QUOTE]OH GREAT! As I sit here using flash cards.
     
  13. untangled

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    Warning! This is about to be my opinion :eek:

    Just kidding around...

    I think that it is enough for a start to have a year of Greek and a year of Hebrew. I have known people to take three years of Greek, not use it like they should and forget it. If someone took a year of Greek they should have a working knowledge and then be able to keep practicing it in their studies over the years to develop it.

    I was not going to take it until I realized how much I needed it and that I actually enjoy studying it. I'm starting to recognize words in the original language - know the basic sounds, etc. I wish I would have taken it on the undergraduate level.
     
  14. John of Japan

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    gb93433, someone who grew up in modern Greece would not have a handle on the Koine Greek that the NT was written in. The two are 2000 years apart, and are as different as either one is from the classical Greek of the philosophers and poets 500 years before Christ.

    I am very fluent in modern Japanese (2 year language school graduate, 24 years in the country), but I have a rough time when it comes to classical Japanese. They are really two different dialects, just as Koine Greek and modern Greek are, with different verb forms and vocabulary, as well as some difference in grammar and syntax.
     
  15. John of Japan

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    Paul1611, welcome to the Baptist Board.

    Those four semesters of Greek that I took in Bible college meant far more than learning a language. Every language represents a culture, and the Koine Greek taught at Bible colleges teaches a lot about the culture.

    No, you can't become fluent in Greek after just 12 credits, but you can learn a lot about the culture of the 1st century Roman empire: their way of thinking (based on the verb system), their vocabulary, their farming system--the list could go on and on.

    Greek also has a spiritual impact in that it humbles almost every student. I taught a couple of years of Greek at a Bible institute down in Tokyo, and in the first class I always said, "Don't underestimate this class. If you don't keep up you will fail." And yep, someone did! [​IMG]

    Also, so few Americans study a foreign language that the average American really doesn't understand foreign countries. Any past language training helps the missionary learn another language when he gets to his mission field.

    John of Japan
     
  16. gb93433

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    gb93433, someone who grew up in modern Greece would not have a handle on the Koine Greek that the NT was written in. The two are 2000 years apart, and are as different as either one is from the classical Greek of the philosophers and poets 500 years before Christ.

    I am very fluent in modern Japanese (2 year language school graduate, 24 years in the country), but I have a rough time when it comes to classical Japanese. They are really two different dialects, just as Koine Greek and modern Greek are, with different verb forms and vocabulary, as well as some difference in grammar and syntax.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Not knowing much about modern day Greek. I did give a Koine Greek Bible to one of them and he read it much like we would read KJV 1611. So from what he said there is not quite that much difference.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    Well, yes, he'd be able to read it and understand a good bit of it. That doesn't surprise me at all. By the way, what he was unimpressed with about the seminary Greek professors about was probably that they couldn't speak Greek to him. Well, of course not--it is no longer a spoken language. You don't have to speak NT Greek to understand it, just like with Latin, Akkadian, ancient Egyptian or any other dead language.

    What your Greek friend would not be able to do is interpret the Greek of the NT properly. I can read classical Japanese, but I just can't interpret it. I don't understand the nuances. For that matter, I can read Chinese because I know the Chinese characters used in the Japanese language, but I sure couldn't translate Chinese very well or understand most of its idioms. In the same way, your Greek friend wouldn't be able to understand the nuances and idioms of NT Greek.

    And hoo, boy, where should I start with the differences between NT Greek and modern Greek? :confused: The verb system is different; NT Greek had more tenses, and they are extremely important in interpretation. The vocabulary is different. The NT word for doctor was iatros but the modern Greek word is giatro. The ancient Greek word for "to" was pros but the modern Greek word is gia. We could go on and on.
     
  18. exscentric

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    Story time.

    In grad school I, a non-greek and non-hebrew dunce, took a class full of gentlemen that had four to five years of both. The teacher would give a problem passage, we would research it and then go to class for couple days and discuss it.

    One passage - I got my two cents worth in with the first comment and from there we were buried in language.

    After three days there were three positions in the class. I felt this was crazy - all that study and no real answer to the problem.

    I went home and read the book of the Bible as quickly as possible in the NASB and discovered vividly that there was a fourth position, not discussed in class.

    I went to the prof. and asked if I could change my position, he replied no, but asked what I had found, I told him and he smiled.

    The next day he presented that position in class.

    Having said that, knowing the languages will save you time over the years and I would recommend it. I have regretted not having the languages many times in my ministry.
     
  19. Charles Meadows

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    It is certainly good for a pastor to have some knowledge of the original languages.

    But to have a "good understanding" of them is a little harder.

    Recall the saying, " He knows just enough to be dangerous".

    The level of Greek (or other languages) offered in a typical ministerial degree gives one a FAMILIARITY with the language, a knowledge of how the language works, and a basic knowledge of some vocabulary. It does not prepare a person to accurately exegete a passage. In fact it tends to foster eisegesis along the lines of, "the aorist tense here tells us that this is a once and for all action - therefore the believer is eternally secure..."

    Linguistics, especially regarding a language which is no longer in colloquial use, is a complex disciple. Many do not nhave the intellectual ability to MASTER it. Most pastors don't have the TIME to spend learning about discourse analysis, Matthew's particular use of "oun", verbal aspect and the like. Pastors are primarily shepherds and not academic researchers.

    That being said I see no problem with pastors learning the original languages. It in itself is a good thing.

    But we should not insist that pastors have an academician's knowledge of them, nor should we tell seminary students that 4 or 6 semesters of Greek (often using textbooks which do not interact with modern linguistics) make them experts.
     
  20. Johnv

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    The Greek that is spoken in Greece today is not the same as koine Greek that was used by the 1st century folks. Koine is pretty much a dead language. Modern Hellenistic Greek is a mixture of Dhimotikí and Katharévusa Greek, though speakers of modern Greek can typically understand koine with little difficulty.
     

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