An Interview About Greek Pedagogy

You might be interested in checking out a fairly substantial written interview I did with Thomas Hudgins about communicative Greek pedagogy. He has just posted it over at his blog. Thomas is an Ed.D. student at Southeastern Seminary in North Carolina.

To whet your appetite, here’s a list of the questions Thomas asked:

  • What are the top three strengths to teaching Greek as a living language?
  • Will you please describe what your class time looks like, from the minute you and the students walk through the door until the time you all leave class. Let’s say you are covering the Present Active Indicative, or feel free to describe covering a different subject matter. I’m curious what your class time looks like compared to the Greek courses I had (David Beck, SEBTS; David Farnell, TMS; Paul Felix, TMS; David Alan Black, SEBTS).
  • From an education standpoint, I have not seen any research assessing the proficiency of graduates in using New Testament Greek, or what percentage even uses it at all in ministry after they graduate. I hope that someone will endeavor to do this research on a broad-scale in the future. I’m curious about your perception. Do you think the Living Language approach has a marked increase in (1) a graduate’s proficiency and retention of New Testament Greek, and (2) graduates’ utilization of New Testament Greek in ministry after graduation? If so, why?
  • What textbook do you use, or can you use a standard textbook while following the Living Language approach?
  • Is the Living Language approach only good for beginning Greek courses? In other words, can you use Living Language techniques in advanced Greek courses? If so, how?
  • How did you get involved with this approach to teaching/learning New Testament Greek?
  • What were your impressions of Greek courses when you were a student?
  • Are there any weaknesses about the Living Language approach that you have identified as a teacher?

See my answers here!

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About Daniel Streett

Associate Professor of Greek and New Testament at Criswell College, Dallas, Texas
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6 Responses to An Interview About Greek Pedagogy

  1. ὁ μὲν Θωμας ἠρώτησε καλῶς, σὺ δὲ καλῶς ἀπεκρίθης. ἐχάρην οὖν τοῦτο ἀναγινώσκων.

    θέλω δὲ τὸν Δανιηλ ἐπὶ τῷ Sixty Minutes εἶναι! :)

  2. josh says:

    Daniel, you touch vaguely on this question in the interview: what about Living Greek and Bible translation? Obviously Living Language is the best method for ancient language acquisition. My question would be, then, What place does it have for Bible translators on the mission field? Is Living Koine the quickest and most effective method for equipping missionaries to prepare a translation for an unreached people group? Does using this method lend towards a more dynamic equiv. translation coming about, on account of the fact that students learn the *thoughts* of Greek, and not just the words?

    Any other insights that you have in this area?

    Thanks for your work,
    Josh

    • Josh, I think any task that benefits from actually having fluency in Greek will benefit from a communicative method, since that seems to be the fastest and perhaps only way to get to fluency in a language. I would never want someone to translate Shakespeare, Twain, or Joyce (!) into a foreign language if they had not first become (very) fluent in English. Likewise, I think that becoming fluent in ancient Greek (and I mean both fluent in the language and well-acquainted with the cultural context) is highly desirable for Bible translators. I do think that all good translation is ‘meaning-based,’ which means that it will take into account linguistic features above the word level. Word-for-word translation (or a preference for it) is usually a sign that somebody does not know the source language, or does not understand how languages work.

      • josh says:

        Very true… How about when it comes to speed and efficiency?

        Can you see good translations coming about more quickly and effectively through students being trained in this method, than through traditional methods?

        Or, what variance in time investment difference can you see for future Bible translators, between being trained traditionally to translate, vs being trained for Koine Fluency? Does Living Koine require a higher level of mastery (and therefore, greater time investment) before good translation is possible, in comparison to traditional methods? Or do you think it would be the other way around?

        Just some questions I’m wondering about :P

      • Josh, with Bible translation we have a very strange situation, since the majority of people translating the Bible into foreign languages (especially for the ‘unreached’ people groups) are native English speakers who have access to a multitude of English versions of the Bible. Such translators are not anywhere near fluency in Greek/Hebrew; they depend heavily on English translations and tools (lexica, parsing guides, etc.) in their work. So, rather than have a translation from Greek into the target language, we end up with something more like a translation from English into the target language, with the translator looking at the Greek text throughout the process. In the end, it probably doesn’t make that big of a difference, given the wealth of tools we have for the Biblical text, but I think that conceptually the two should be kept distinct.

  3. Matt says:

    My question is this: What do recommend for someone who has already begun to learn Greek in the traditional, grammar-analytical method? I’ve taken one class of Greek, and I have a basic understanding of things like Mood, Tense, etc. But I desire to understand Greek as a living language. Do I start over from the beginning? Or will my previous study still be beneficial.

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