Blogging through teaching Greek…(and thoughts on preping for first day)

I have decided to try and blog through my experience teaching NT Greek (for the sixth time!).  Though I have developed some habits and systems for how I teach Greek, I always want to be refining my teaching.  I may not post on every week’s worth of material, but I want to blog enough that I can offer ongoing advice and I can also get some advice now and again.

So – the first class (which will be Oct 5):

I have chosen to teach from Clayton Croy’s A Primer of Biblical Greek (Eerdmans, 1999).

I picked this book for several reasons.  First, I like Mounce, but I taught with it four times and I am ready for something different.  I also taught Duff (which is popular in the UK) and I did not like it at all.  Second, it comes highly recommended from my colleague here at Ashland Seminary, David deSilva – someone whose opinion I trust!  Thirdly, since I am teaching at an extension campus with mostly students who have full-time jobs, I needed something simple (even if a bit simplistic) and that wouldn’t scare students away.  Finally I like that Croy introduces the reader to the LXX and encourages students to understand the significance of it for NT study.

My overall plan is to take it easy the first couple of weeks – to ease the students into the course.  We meet once a week for three hours and there are 10 weeks in a term (and we will meet for two terms).  This is not ideal, as it is better for learning purposes to spread the work and instruction over two, and ideally three, days a week.  But – I did not design the schedule and, frankly, this one-block system works best for commuters.

So, we will spend a lot of time in the first class getting to know the alphabet, working on pronunciation, and looking at those funny things called breathing marks and accents.

I want to do a devotional that would be suitable for the first day – something having to do with the Greek alphabet.  Any thoughts?

Also, we will try a couple of songs – one is the Greek alphabet – the tune I got from Bill Mounce.  It is from a nursery rhyme I think.  The other song is ‘he is Lord’, but we will use kyrios throughout the song when you are meant to sing ‘he is Lord’ (i.e., ‘ky-ri-os, ky-ri-os, he is risen from the dead, ky-ri-os, every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, I-e-sou ky-ri-os…).  That way I can also introduce the fact that you did not really need to say, in Greek, ‘he is…’, because that part is implied.  YOu could properly say, ‘Every tongue will confess “Jesus Lord”‘, and leave out the verb.

That is the plan.  I intend to do slides on Powerpoint, but that becomes tedious after a while.  I will certainly use it for the first few weeks, and maybe even the whole first semester (it serves as kind of a lesson-plan for me and it keeps me on track).  When we get into the second term, we end up spending more time on exceptions to paradigms and unusual forms that the discussion is centered more on the nuts and bolts of translating, parsing, and interpreting and less on understanding paradigms.

More to come!

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9 thoughts on “Blogging through teaching Greek…(and thoughts on preping for first day)

    • I did not like that Duff completely avoided accents. This leads to not being able to easily distinguish certain words and verbal forms. When the student eventually opens the UBS or NA27 text, they will be overwhelmed by all the markings.

      Also, on the issue of verbal aspect, Duff is really outdated and way off. I had to tell the students to ignore anything Duff says about aspect.

      Finally, Duff doesn’t have a good balance of info per chapter. Some seem too basic, and others overload the student with information.

  1. No, Nijay! Resist the power of the dark side! To do an alphabet-based devotional (or a dative-, or pluperfect-, or whatever-based devotional) only encourages students to believe in the magical properties of Greek grammar. Better to focus on humility throughout — something sorely needed by many first- and second-year Greek students!

  2. Thanks for the warning Esteban, but I am not talking about a ‘holy language’ sort of devotional, just something that would be of interest to students from the Bible and that they could grasp with only the alphabet under their belt. I was thinking of finding some example of alliteration or rhyming or an acrostic in the NT/LXX. I might use the alliteration in Philippians 3.2, for instance.

  3. I found Croy to be too overwhelming in the exercises section without enough variety of exercises. I’ve been happy for the past 2 years with Gerald Stevens Greek Primer.

    3 hour blocks for 10 weeks, that should be interesting. Have you thought of using video lessons during the week? That is how I run my course— my students do lessons and exercises during the week, we recap for 1 hour on friday, and then test the previous week’s material on Monday. Then we start the process over again.

    You may like to do Jesus Loves Me in Greek. I haven’t shared this yet, I’m interested to see what other people think of how I greekified it.
    Start reading it one word at a time, with them repeating. Do it once or twice. Then sing it to the tune.

    Anyway, I have it up as a jpg on my flashcards site (p.s. I have Croy flashcards— your students may find them useful).

  4. Nijay,
    I am teaching Greek this year and I have been using Croy’s grammar. I learned from Mounce several years ago, but moved to Croy for teachign purposes back in 2003. My students are learning well through Croy. His layout and exercises are extremely helpful. The teachers material is also useful. However, I have noticed quite a few misprints, typos and errors in the teachers resources .pdf. All in all, I really appreciate Croy and think he has done us a great service for teaching.

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