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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to Learn Biblical Greek

Note: I will be updating this post as I get more and more vocabulary MP3 files.

When you are learning a language, the vocabulary is at least 80% of the job. Imagine that I did not understand Greek forms, but I understood my vocabulary well enough that I knew all the words, but not their tenses. Therefore, I translate all verbs "to be" and all nouns in their nominative form. Let's say I read this passage to you.

"To say he Jesus: I to be the way and the truth and the life: no one to come to the father if not through I"

It should be pretty obvious that this is John 14:6. We can discover the tenses of the verbs almost entirely through context. Jesus is the one speaking. The verb "to be" is the first person "am." "Come" refers to "no one" so it should be rendered "comes." The "I" probably means "me" since it is used at the end of the sentence.

So without even telling the verbal forms or the case, number, and gender of the nouns, we can get a lot of the meaning out of this verse, and discover a lot more through the context.

This is why vocabulary is so important. You will need to learn how to conjugate your verbs, nouns, and participles, but this is relatively easy once you know the vocabulary.

I am taking a class right now that is finishing up Bill Mounce's book on Biblical Greek. Here are the materials.

Basics of Biblical Greek
Basics of Biblical Greek Workbook
Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary Cards
Basics of Biblical Greek Vocabulary CD
A Reader's Greek New Testament
A DVD set of Bill Mounce's lectures

Memorizing the vocabulary is not difficult if you are willing to spend enough time on it. The key is repetition. My technique is to listen to the vocabulary for one chapter at a time. I listen to that chapter's vocabulary in a continuous loop until I can give the definition of the word before the presenter does. If I can do that 3 times without making any mistakes, I am ready to move on to the next chapter. After I have done this for all 36 chapters, and it will take about 4 months to do this if you do it almost every day, I will then play all 36 chapters straight through. If I can give the definition for all 325 words, I will have mastered the vocabulary for first year Greek, and will know 85% of the words on any given page of the New Testament.

The New Testament contains about 5393 unique words depending on which text you use, but the overwhelming majority of these words occur only a few times, such as proper nouns. This is where the Reader's New Testament comes into play. Any word that occurs less than 50 times has its lexical form and definition in a footnote at the bottom of the page. As long as you have memorized the vocabulary words for the first 36 chapters, the Reader's New Testament will help you with the rest of the words.

Vocabulary (not all chapters have vocabulary)
All Vocabulary .zip
Chapter 4
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20 
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30-33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35

But what if this is not good enough for you? What if you want to learn the rest of the vocabulary cards, the other 675 words that came with the set, but want to learn it through audio? Never fear. I am working on those right now. They will come in sections of 20 words each (coming soon)

Extra Vocabulary
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
Part 26
Part 27
Part 28
Part 29
Part 30
Part 31
Part 32
Part 33
Part 34