Reading the New Testament in Greek

edited June 8 in Kerygmania
This discussion was created from comments split from: Page 47: A Game For Shut-Ins.

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  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited June 2
    7 ἄλλα δὲ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τὰς ἀκάνθας, καὶ ἀνέβησαν αἱ ἄκανθαι καὶ ἔπνιξαν αὐτά.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    7 ἄλλα δὲ ἔπεσεν ἐπὶ τὰς ἀκάνθας, καὶ ἀνέβησαν αἱ ἄκανθαι καὶ ἔπνιξαν αὐτά.
    I tried to get Google Translate to work on this*, but it was having none of it. Would you care to enlighten me?

    * It is Greek, isn't it?
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    Yes indeed, out of the Greek New Testament sitting on my right. It's Matthew 13:7, "But some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and strangled them". Query: should we be translating the sentences if they happen to be in a different language? We can...
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Circus Host, 8th Day Host
    Well, to her shame this host couldn't translate yours despite having studied Greek for two years :neutral:
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    :lol: I'm actually on a graduated program of reading my way through the Greek NT starting with the easiest books, and wending my way upward. I'm in Matthew now.
  • Ray SunshineRay Sunshine Shipmate
    :lol: I'm actually on a graduated program of reading my way through the Greek NT starting with the easiest books, and wending my way upward. I'm in Matthew now.

    What a good idea! I'm tempted to give it a try. If you don't mind me picking your brains, which is the easiest book to start with?
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    Here's a discussion of the best way to order the books from easiest to hardest. I myself would start with the Johannine books, either the Gospel of John (if you like easy vivid stuff you probably have half-memorized) or John I, II, III (which is easy but shorter). Here's the link:

    https://www.ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1842
  • Ray SunshineRay Sunshine Shipmate
    Thank you for that link! I will make good use of it. I see Hebrews is listed as the most difficult of them all. I'm rereading that at the moment and it's difficult enough in English, let alone in Greek.
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    Oh yes! I imagine it's stacks and stacks of participial phrases.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited June 15
    Between my sophomore year and my junior year of college, I translated the Gospel of John during the summer. I got into my junior year and had to do a qualifying test. I scored so high I was placed in an advanced Greek class where I was just lost. I ended up having to retake the class the next semester and passed with a solid A.

    Same thing happened when I took Hebrew. I had taken two years of it before going into Seminary. The first seminary I went to was pretty hard on the original languages but by the time of my second year I was studying under a rabbi in Hebrew. I never worked as hard for his classes as I worked on other classes.

    Regards the above verse--it is in Koine Greek, which Google Translate does not recognize.
  • MMMMMM Shipmate
    Macarius, who taught koine Greek for a number of years, suggests Mark or John. Something with lots of stories you probably know anyway is easier to work out than something with lots of theological concepts. And the Greek in Mark & John is more straightforward than that in Matthew & Luke.

    MMM
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    That list @Lamb Chopped is interesting. I don't really know much Greek. I'm quite surprised that Ephesians is only mid-table. In English, I find it by far the most difficult book in the New Testament to understand. It can't just be the quality of the translation in my usual reading Bible. As I have the same problems with all the other translations, I think it must be something in the original text.

  • Not a Hellenist either, but I think endless successions of clauses probably don't help. Sometimes reading Paul is a bit like reading a stream-of-consciousness novel.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    If you are not familiar with them, there is a mostly excellent series of handbooks from Baylor University devoted to translating the various books of the Bible. They are done by different scholars, so their style and value vary. The two books devoted to the first and second halves of the Gospel of John were just recently released. The book devoted to the letters of John can be examined here. FWIW.
  • tclune wrote: »
    If you are not familiar with them, there is a mostly excellent series of handbooks from Baylor University devoted to translating the various books of the Bible.

    Thank you for that recommendation. It looks just the thing to answer readers’ questions and clear up their doubts. I don’t know anything about Baylor University Press as a publishing house. I know that Baylor is an explicitly Baptist university. Might that mean that their authors are expected to toe a party line, or are these the kind of books that Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics and anybody else can safely rely on without having to be on their guard against any possible sectarian spin?

  • Enoch wrote: »
    That list @Lamb Chopped is interesting. I don't really know much Greek. I'm quite surprised that Ephesians is only mid-table. In English, I find it by far the most difficult book in the New Testament to understand. It can't just be the quality of the translation in my usual reading Bible. As I have the same problems with all the other translations, I think it must be something in the original text.

    That's so funny, I have exactly the same problem! When I read it, I just see an endless series of abstract nouns in what looks like free association, and my eyes glaze over. The hardest thing I ever did in terms of writing was to do a sermon series on Ephesians for my brother-in-law--I have NO memory of what I had him say, because stuff out of that book slides off my brain like Teflon.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    I know that Baylor is an explicitly Baptist university. Might that mean that their authors are expected to toe a party line, or are these the kind of books that Anglicans, Lutherans, Catholics and anybody else can safely rely on without having to be on their guard against any possible sectarian spin?

    I understand your concern. I always find Zondervan's references dodgy in that regard. But I have not noticed any such problem with the Baylor volumes that I have used (there are multiple authors, so this may vary with volume.) They really focus on syntax, grammar, and usage, which is a lot less fraught than theology generally. I have found the Genesis 1-11 volume irritating, but it is because the author insists on using a grammatical scheme that seems to be of his own devising. You need to fully digest a 40-page introduction to be able to decode his system. It doesn't appear to be theologically biased, just idiosyncratic.
  • Thank you, @tclune. That's reassuring. In fact there are several volumes in that series that I'd like to take a look at, though I notice they don't list one for Hebrews. I wonder whether that means it hasn't been published yet, or just that it's temporarily out of print.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Thank you, @tclune. That's reassuring. In fact there are several volumes in that series that I'd like to take a look at, though I notice they don't list one for Hebrews. I wonder whether that means it hasn't been published yet, or just that it's temporarily out of print.

    From the Baylor Press page it does not appear to be done at this time. But they are still producing volumes in the series, so I expect they'll get around to it eventually.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Learning Attic Greek first, and reading works written in Attic Greek, is a good way to gain competency for Koine Greek. Since I'm in the Episcopal church, we follow a lectionary and I use that to practice my ancient languages. I read all of the lessons in Greek and Latin (no Hebrew yet, alas) and this keeps my reading fresh.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    Learning Attic Greek first, and reading works written in Attic Greek, is a good way to gain competency for Koine Greek. Since I'm in the Episcopal church, we follow a lectionary and I use that to practice my ancient languages. I read all of the lessons in Greek and Latin (no Hebrew yet, alas) and this keeps my reading fresh.

    Except that Attic Greek is even more insanely difficult. It could end up like learning Icelandic to get to grips with Norwegian.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    It is quite difficult, yes, but provides a much more thorough knowledge of Greek, and you get to read a lot more fun things :smile:
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    edited June 15
    Every person on Desert Island Discs automatically gets a Bible unless they chose not to have one. Enoch Powell asked for the New Testament in ancient Greek and the Old Testament in Ancient Hebrew.

    He was a very clever chap regardless of his views.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Knowledge of ancient languages is no indication of mental aptitude. I had a couple classmates in undergrad in my ancient language courses who were phenomenally stupid. It's quite possible Powell was quite clever, but using foreign language knowledge as the sole evidence for this seems unwise to me.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    Knowledge of ancient languages is no indication of mental aptitude. I had a couple classmates in undergrad in my ancient language courses who were phenomenally stupid. It's quite possible Powell was quite clever, but using foreign language knowledge as the sole evidence for this seems unwise to me.

    After graduating from Cambridge with a double first, and having won several classics prizes, including the Porson Prize and the Browne Medal, Powell stayed on at Trinity College as a fellow, spending much of his time studying ancient manuscripts in Latin and producing academic works in Greek and Welsh.In 1937, he was appointed Professor of Greek at the University of Sydney aged 25 ......Wiki
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Being very clever in one field has never protected anyone against being stupid in others.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    Host hat on

    This discussion is getting away from the thread topic. Let's get back to the subject.

    Host hat off
  • admin mode/
    Telford wrote: »
    Every person on Desert Island Discs automatically gets a Bible unless they chose not to have one. Enoch Powell asked for the New Testament in ancient Greek and the Old Testament in Ancient Hebrew.

    He was a very clever chap regardless of his views.

    @Telford introducing a notorious racist into a discussion on reading NT Greek is blatant trolling. You have form on this. The next hint of anything like this gets you a couple of weeks shore leave, or permanent shore leave if the admins decide you've annoyed them enough. Don't expect any prior notice of this if you reoffend.

    /admin mode
  • MargaretMargaret Shipmate
    I was going to suggest having a look at a website I've found really helpful, and then I realised that the link which Lamb Chopped posted above listing the books of the NT in order of difficulty comes from there. If you follow the links at the top back to the index you'll find all sorts of useful and interesting material about the Greek NT to explore.
  • Ray SunshineRay Sunshine Shipmate
    edited June 16
    Here's something very useful, and very user-friendly, that I found at B-Greek, the site recommended by both @Lamb_Chopped and @Margaret. It's a Koine Greek textbook made freely available by the author, a British-born lecturer at Eastern New Mexico University:

    http://www.drshirley.org/greek/textbook02/contents.html
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Shipmate
    MMM wrote: »
    Macarius, who taught koine Greek for a number of years, suggests Mark or John. Something with lots of stories you probably know anyway is easier to work out than something with lots of theological concepts. And the Greek in Mark & John is more straightforward than that in Matthew & Luke.

    MMM

    I have heard that Mark's Greek is very poor, as though written by someone for whom Greek was a second language. But this might make it easier to read, I suppose.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    There may well be something in that. Back in the days when I was at school, which was quite a long time ago, we were still required to do Latin, and to be able to show that we had kept up some ability to understand it even until university entrance. The examination paper for that always included one mediaeval or early modern text. It was usually from some work of history, written by somebody whose first language would have been either Chaucerian English (or later) or Norman French.

    Although the pieces chosen were from writers credited with being good Latinists, they were noticeably easier to translate than even straightforward pieces by classical writers who would have been first language Latin speakers.

  • MMMMMM Shipmate
    LatchKeyKid, Macarius agreed that Mark’s Greek was not accomplished - he said that Matthew and Luke tidy it up where they use it.

    He learnt on Mark, but started his students with John.

    MMM
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    I started with Luke because that was the gospel I was most familiar with. Since I already knew what it said, it was easier for me to figure out the grammar.

    One thing I found invaluable was an analytic lexicon, which told me the exact grammatical form of each word I looked up.
  • cgichardcgichard Shipmate
    Oh yes, an analytical lexicon is an essential tool for deciphering Greek, both NT and LXX, especially verbs, given the spelling will change so much with both tense and mood.
  • MargaretMargaret Shipmate
    May I suggest that rather than worrying about the grammar too much at first you get a feel for the language as a whole? Pick a book or a chapter or even a verse that you know well, and read it in Greek. I find it really helps to read it aloud, as people did in the ancient world, if they could read (though probably most of the first Christians only ever heard it read).
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