Keep your Greek (02)

16 01 2009

Image by Catherine Jamieson, via Flickr

Image by Catherine Jamieson, via Flickr

2. Burn your interlinear

Interlinears are a tool of the devil, designed to make preachers stupid.

I’m kidding, of course—interlinears have their place. If you don’t know much Greek, and have no intention of getting good at it, then an interlinear can be useful to check a word here or there, and see what Greek word is lying behind an English translation.

But if you want to keep your Greek, if you want to develop your Greek, if you want to read the Greek New Testament, then take your interlinear outside, douse it with gasoline, and light a match.

The problem with an interlinear is that it shortcuts the learning process. Since an English word is right there under each Greek word, you don’t stand a chance. Of course, if you don’t know a word, you’ll need some help (I’ll come to the issue of vocab in a later post), but your brain won’t even get a chance to work out if it knows a word or not when you use an interlinear. You won’t struggle to make sense of the Greek sentence. You won’t practice your Greek—and without practice, your Greek will die.

P.S. – this issue relates to the use of software tools, which I’ll address shortly.

Posted by Con Campbell

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5 responses

16 01 2009
Stan

Yea – I gave away my interlinear. I’m really grateful that I did too!

16 01 2009
John

You’re not going to hammer the ‘Reader’s GNT’, are you Con? Seriously, there are some words that none of us could be bothered to learn. (None of us except you, of course!) 🙂

16 01 2009
Gordon Cheng

Loving your blog, Con.

Lose the interlinear? Ooh that’s cruel. I love mine like an uncoordinated kid loves his training wheels, or at least I did until I got Accordance and now I just flick my eyes from side-to-side and do the best I can.

There was that time in NT with David Peterson when I tried to translate aloud while reading slowly and haltingly from the NASB, but my fellow students sprung me. Had it been high school rather than Moore College, I would have copped a detention.

I actually found my interlinear kept me reading Greek when it was all getting too hard and depressing. Like with music—you naturals just get up and do it, we poor old plods sit at home with our metronomes ticking. But at least we’re still having a go.

16 01 2009
Con Campbell

Thanks for sharing, Gordon. I would never have described you as a ‘poor old plod’, but that NT story is hilarious.

17 01 2009
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