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A new way of teaching Greek pt.1 - Why

Last summer I mentioned on my blog that a change in curriculum necessitated that I write a new intro grammar. I won’t go on about all of the great changes, but the short of it was that prior to the change, we required 1 full year of Greek for all M.Div. students, and no Hebrew. The curriculum change couldn’t add more hours to language - ideally all of us would love to require 2 full years of both Greek and Hebrew. But there is such a wide skill set that pastors need today that we decided to stick with one year. ¬†At the same time, we recognized we were being Marcionites before by not placing any emphasis on Hebrew.

All of that to say - the decision was made to require one semester of Greek and one semester of Hebrew. This in itself is not ground-breaking - other seminaries have gone this route. The ground-breaking decision we made is this:

  1. We want to teach students to use the tools of original language exegesis (lexicon and bible software)
  2. We want the course to be complete - i.e. all of the basics are covered.
  3. We want the course to prepare the MA students and other interested M.Div. students to go on to a second semester, with the 2 semesters constituting a traditional full year of Greek.
Because of the last point, it was necessary for me to write a new grammar. Every intro Greek grammar on the market is aimed at a traditional 1-year approach. Mounce has an intro grammar book (Church Greek) but it isn’t really designed for a student who would be going on to a second semester and beyond. There is also one home-grown grammar from another seminary doing a 1-semester type of class, but they are focusing on cramming all of the grammar into one semester without regard for equipping students for the tools.

I’ve completed my first year of teaching Greek this way (Hebrew too!) and I have to say, it went even better than I expected. Looking back, I think there are a few reasons for the success:

  • It takes a global (or conceptual) approach by introducing the grammar in broad strokes rather than the traditional approach of looking at small portions at a time.
  • Working with the software in their exercises introduced them immediately to how most seminary students now work with the original language (whether us teachers like it or not!).
  • I did not cut back on the grammar, I just focused on different things. It was of utmost importance to me that they understand the entire Greek system, not just how to do word studies.
  • Those who went on to a second semester were the committed - I wasn’t dragging students kicking and screaming through a full year.

I would call this way of teaching a conceptual or “forest-to-trees” approach. I focused on the big picture in the first semester, and the finer skills in the second semester. I was very happy with the outcome.

In future posts I’ll talk about how I approached this, and in future posts I’ll talk about the grammar I wrote and am now revising (and hope to eventually publish).

Filed under Greek grammar New Testament Greek Biblical Greek

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