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New Testament Greek

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Recommendations For Learning New Testament Greek

I assume that if you are reading this information you are already convinced of the benefits gained from the efforts to learn New Testament (Koine) Greek. If not, you are welcome to look at other articles on this site such as  The Value of New Testament Greek in Ministry, by Tim Savage. If you are wanting to know how to prepare to take your first Greek class, please see the article entitled, Preparing to Learn Elementary Greek.

Determining your Long Term Goals

First of all, you must consider what are your long-term goals for understanding and utilizing the Greek New Testament. Your goal may be to have the ability to do thorough and more knowledgeable word studies in Greek. This surely has a place in our study of the Word, but is limited in its usefulness. If this is your goal, then you don’t need to spend the time to memorize all of the vocabulary and learn all the syntax related to Greek grammar. Using the section on Learning Greek contained on this site would be a very good starting point. Using this site and a few good books (discussed in the section on Greek Grammar and Reference works) would allow you to accomplish this.

However, if your goal is to be able to read the Greek New Testament with some degree of ability, then you will need to take a different approach, as discussed below. I personally feel that spending the time and energy to learn Koine (Biblical) Greek is well worth the time and effort that it takes to do so. Learning Greek has been the single most important thing that I have done in my life as far as understanding the Word of God. (That is, other than receiving Christ and thus having the Spirit of Truth that is leading us into all reality. -- John 16:13.) Not only will you have a better understanding of the New Testament, you will also be able to understand many of the excellent New Testament commentaries which are technical in nature, (such as those by Lenski, Alford, New International Greek Testament Commentaries, etc.). These can only be understood properly by someone who has a background in Greek.

Methods for Learning New Testament Greek

The following section, then, assumes that you are interested in spending the time to learn the Koine Greek language. The method that you choose to learn New Testament Greek depends on various factors. The best method for you to learn Greek will depend on things such as: How much time does your schedule allow for this effort? How motivated (desperate) are you to learn Greek? (This obviously has to do with the benefit you perceive from knowing the original language of the New Testament.) What is your current knowledge of English grammar? Have you studied a foreign language before? How easily does learning a foreign language come to you?

Based on the answers to the above questions will help you determine which method you choose to learn New Testament Greek.

Refreshing your Previous Knowledge of Greek

If you have already studied some New Testament Greek and are looking for how to refresh your skills or want some reference information to continue learning, please go to the section on Learning Biblical Greek on Your Own.

I. Taking a New Testament Greek Class

For most people starting out to learn Greek, I feel that that best method is to take a structured class. Having a teacher with assignments and deadlines has a number of obvious benefits. First of all, most of us need structure to give us motivation to make time in our schedule for studying. Next, depending on how easily learning a language is for you, it is helpful to have someone to ask questions of. Sometimes a textbook does not adequately explain or clarify a topic in a way that you can understand. If there is no Greek course available in your area, you could take a correspondence or on-line course where you still have an instructor leading a semi-structured class.

Please be warned up front that all too often the beginning student of Greek gets discouraged and loses interest (or runs out of time) before acquiring any substantial benefit of studying Greek. Many classes that I have taught have started out with 25 to 30 people and after a year have ended up with about 5 or 10. I have heard it said that "Learning Greek is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration." (Although my feeling is better expressed: "Learning Greek is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent repetition and reiteration." (The long term consistent time commitment is what is more important.) For those of you with the heart, time, and ability to go on to study and master the New Testament in Greek, know for sure that you are a wise person and are spending your life on the highest calling in the universe. Know also that all hell will break out to discourage, distract, and otherwise thwart your knowing of God's word. For it is through the living word of God that people come to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and through which the church is built; Satan and all his dark forces know that the gates of Hades will not prevail against the "builded church".

There are a few reasons why you might not want to take a class when you are starting out learning Greek. There is the possibility that the class you would find to take is not moving at a fast enough pace for you. If this is the case, you probably are a person with some outstanding language abilities and maybe could pick up the basics of Greek faster on your own. However, if your reason for not taking a class is that you ‘are too busy’, then I doubt if you are really that serious about learning Greek and have not made the necessary arrangements in your schedule to make time for it. If you can’t make time for a class (even an on-line course where you could work on your own pace), then chances are you will not make time to study Greek on your own either. You maybe should consider just learning Greek in a casual way and be content to do Greek word studies and the like.

II. Learning Biblical Greek on Your Own

If you are a person that has a good understanding of grammar (and can easily pick up languages) and want to learn Greek on your own, then there are a number of resources available to help you accomplish this. This section also applies to you if you are a person that has already had some Greek, but wants to refresh your skills or continue further on in the learning process.

Even if you are learning Greek on your own, you probably will still want to get a good first year Greek grammar book. There are a myriad of these kinds of books available today. Please see my recommendations on the page regarding beginning Greek Grammars. (Please note that the beginning Greek grammar book by Bill Mounce also has a set of audio cassettes available.)

There are resources on the Internet that may also be a help to you. Please see that page referencing those resources.

Once you go through some of these basic grammar books, you could use a book like "Rienecker" to help you identify forms and answer some grammatical questions. Even if you decided not to take a structured course, I feel it is always helpful to find someone to whom you could ask questions regarding difficult grammatical concepts.


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