Monday, December 28, 2009

Changing Up

As I've written many times before, I'm a bible reading plan junkie. I've done straight through from Genesis to Revelation a couple of times. I've done a plan where you read from the Pentateuch one day, the history the next, then psalms, poetry, prophecy, gospels, and epistles. I've done a chronological plan. I've done the ESV reading plan. I've done the Discipleship Journal plan (my favorite). I suspect I've read through the whole Bible at least 8 times in various translations (NIV, NASB, ESV, and NLT). I write this not to brag, but to establish where I'm coming from. I highly recommend all of these.

What's on my heart now is to read through the entire New Testament in Greek. I also want to read through the entire Old Testament in Hebrew. I know that I won't do this unless I make this my regular reading for the day. Therefore, I am committing to a chapter of the New Testament every day for 2010. My plan is to keep reading a little bit of Hebrew ever day as well. My goal is that eventually I will read both devotionally every day.

The problem now becomes this blog. I know that there are a few of you who read it regularly and I really appreciate it. It encourages me that anyone would find my musings useful, especially since I just write here as something of a personal journal. I haven't settled on this yet, but my initial plan is to journal about what I find as I read through the New Testament in Greek. I may post the passage in Greek and English and write about it. I haven't quite decided yet.

What I do know is that we have something of a "game reset" going on as I read Matthew 1 today. I may write about some of my favorite psalms in the meantime. I haven't decided yet, but I do know that I plan on continuing to blog. We will see where this goes together.


Joshua Allen said...

How did you learn to read in the original Greek? Any advice for someone who would like to get started? I was inspired by C. S. Lewis's autobiographical account of how he learned to read Homer in the original as a child, and it seems that he did it largely through perseverance -- reading a sentence a day at first, then two, then a paragraph, and taking several months to get to a comfortable reading speed. I wonder if such an approach is possible today, and what sort of study guides would be necessary as accompaniment.

Jason said...


Happy New Year! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I learned Greek in seminary. We used a textbook called Basics of Biblical Greek by Bill Mounce. Then there is the hardcore way to do it like John Brown did.

My recommendation is to find a class if possible. Failing that, the book I mentioned above has resources for you to self-teach. You can watch lectures from Dr. Mounce and those will help you.

I will give you the same warning as Yoda gave Luke. If you're going to learn Greek you need to be very serious about it. It requires discipline for regular study. Plan on spending at least 15-20 minutes/day with at least 1 hour/day twice a week on top of that. It's like learning to play an instrument in that there is no substitute for practice.

I will be glad to help you. Feel free to email me at jchamber73 at gmail dot com if you'd like to chat more.

Joshua Allen said...

Thanks, Jason! I've added the Mounce book and workbooks to my Amazon shopping cart, but will mull on it awhile before deciding to buy. Good advice to investigate classes at the local university.

I completely understand about the need for regular practice. Regularity wins out over brute effort every time. I actually taught myself conversational Chinese, including reading a few thousand words, in large part because I wanted a very difficult and tedious language challenge to inculcate good study habits in myself (and secondarily for mercenary considerations of business, which has paid off). However, I had the added advantage of regular access to native speakers, which would obviously be lacking in study of archaic Greek.

Researching about Mounce has led me to the conclusion that it could require a full year of study just to arrive at proficiency to even really *begin* reading the NT in original. Chinese cost me several years, so it's not unreasonable. But it does indeed seem like a daunting commitment.

Jason said...

Joshua -- if you can teach yourself conversational Chinese then Koine Greek should be no problem. learning to read it is not that hard. If you stay focused you can get through the whole book in 6 months, depending on the time you put into it. Make sure you get the workbook as well. Also, be sure to look into something for vocabulary flashcards. If you have any kind of smartphone I recommend Anki.