Most Greek teachers shy away –better yet downright discourage - the use of Bible software in the introductory courses for biblical Greek and biblical Hebrew. I was one of those for quite some time. Now I’m a tech whiz: I use accordance and Logos like a boss, I teach others how to do it, and I regularly get questions from friends, colleagues, students, and people I don’t even know on how to use Bible software. Bible software is amazing! When I stop and think about the seconds it takes me to do masterful searches compared to the time it would’ve taken senior scholars in the field and long since passed away scholars, I always remind myself to be grateful.
But—it is a crutch. It is very easy to just rely on the software to tell you everything. I acknowledge that as a danger but I also want to be realistic. Most pastors who are actually working with the original languages are doing it via Bible software. Our warnings to “keep away lest your mind become lazy” have largely been ignored. And I think they were right to ignore us.
Don’t get me wrong, I have not given up on students who sincerely want to learn how to read Greek unaided. But pastors today need such a wide skill set that, unless they are one of the determined few, they will not be sitting in their church office parsing Greek participles.
So, instead of complaining about how Bible software makes their mind the lack, let’s instead fully engage with Bible software and our students. Let’s make sure they understand all of the information that Bible software gives them fully. Let’s make sure they know how to utilize the program to save them valuable time for ministry, to prepare their sermons with rich and deep content, and to actively engage in exegesis of the original languages. It can be done!
What is needed is a conceptual grammar, like the one that I’ve written and am revising. Rather than focusing on how to recognize noun cases and how to parse them, let’s instead push the students to remember what nominative nouns do, what genitive nouns do, etc. let’s make sure they fully understand the difference between a subjunctive verb and an indicative verb. There is still a ton of learning involved in this process—if you think I am watering down Greek to be a simple course, talking to any one of my students will quickly dissuade you of this notion! I was pushing them to do 9 to 10 hours of homework every week. I just changed the questions.
This year, after my trial year, I recognized the need to work even more with the software and I had. I will now be working with Logos directly in the class and getting the students to work along with me on their own machines. Part of their exercises will be doing work in Logos Bible software as well.
Another thing that I focused on is on how to actually use the lexicon. All throughout my Greek training I was told how important it was to use the lexicon regularly. Yet, no one actually told me how. In my introductory grammar, when we talk about nouns we also talk about nouns in the BDAG lexicon. When we talk about verbs, we talk about their entries in the BDAG lexicon. I do not want lexicons to be gobbledygook, which they are for the vast majority of introductory Greek students. Every major introductory grammar on the market today does NOT teach students how to use the lexicon. Isn’t that ludicrous?! Especially now that they are so easy to access in Bible software.
Another aspect of Logos Bible software are syntax charts. Rather than teaching students how to diagram sentences, they can access syntax charts immediately. I’ll instead spend my time on showing them how to understand the syntax charts and why it’s important to know. Those who go on to the 2nd semester and beyond, those are the students who will earn how to do it on their own.
In my next post I’m going to talk about what I hope my new grammar will be once I am all done with it.