Keep your Greek (04)

23 01 2009

03102692024. Make vocabulary your friend!

Clearly one of the hardest elements of keeping your Greek is vocabulary. You might remember your paradigms, and recall the syntax, but without knowing what the words mean, it is all for nought! Not only is vocabulary easily forgotten, there are many words that only appear once or twice in the New Testament. All of this means that vocabulary acquisition and retention can become a major hurdle for keeping your Greek.

Here are a few tips:

a. I’ve already posted about the risks of using software to help with vocabulary, though there are ways to resolve these issues. A favourite tool of mine, however, is Sakae Kubo’s A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. You need to learn all the vocabulary that occurs more than 50 times in the New Testament (most first year Greek students will achieve that, and I recommend learning all words above 20 times), and then the vocabulary that occurs less than 50 times is listed for each chapter in which the words appear. This means that you can open any chapter of the New Testament, open Kubo to the same chapter, and have all the vocabulary you need at your fingertips. Using this tool, you can know immediately whether you should already know a word or not, and those you don’t know are there for you to see.

b. You can use Kubo to acquire new vocabulary in a fun way. Before you read a particular passage, look up the section in Kubo that addresses that passage, and go through all the vocabulary that you don’t know. If you give yourself enough time, you can learn these words; it will only be a few if you are going to read Greek for 10 minutes or so. Then when you read the passage, you will know all its vocabulary. You will enjoy reading Greek like never before, since you will not need to look anything up.

c. A Reader’s Greek New Testament is a good tool. Only the rare vocab is provided, and it’s at the bottom of the page—rather than alongside the Greek—unlike interlinears. This will basically achieve the same thing as Kubo’s tool when seeking help with rare vocabulary. One possible drawback is that it might be more difficult to learn new vocab ahead of time, the way you can with Kubo. But if it works to do that (I don’t have one, so don’t really know), then great. Another possible drawback is that you will probably never learn the rarer words, because they are always there on the page. With Kubo, you can put it away after learning new words, so it doesn’t short-cut the learning process. But then, you’re probably thinking “who cares about the rare words, except geeks like you?” Point taken.

Posted by Con Campbell

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9 responses

23 01 2009
curtiswlindsey

Dr. Campbell,

Thank you for your posts concerning retention of NT Greek. From my experience, I can absolutely affirm the truth of each one. Concerning vocabulary, I would only add Michael Burer and Jeff Miller’s “New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament,” is another beneficial vocabulary reference work. In short, it’s a update of Kubo (published in 2008) and in my opinion a fine book.

Curtis W. Lindsey

23 01 2009
jthom18

In terms of vocabulary, some of the Zondervan materials have been placed on Audible for download. This is helpful for anyone whose digital player goes everywhere with them like mine does. The Readings in the Greek New Testament and New Testament Greek Vocabulary: Learn on the Go can be helpful in keeping the vocabulary in mind while driving or exercising. There is an ad for a trial that would let someone get some of the Greek resources for free.

23 01 2009
jthom18

In terms of vocabulary, some of the Zondervan materials have been placed on Audible for download. This is helpful for anyone whose digital player goes everywhere with them like mine does. The Readings in the Greek New Testament and New Testament Greek Vocabulary: Learn on the Go can be helpful in keeping the vocabulary in mind while driving or exercising. There is an ad for a trial that would let someone get some of the Greek resources for free.

23 01 2009
jthom18

Sorry the first comment was an incorrect link.

23 01 2009
Con Campbell

Thanks for those references.

23 01 2009
redpooba

Dr. Campbell,

Thank you for yours posts, I have been encouraging many friends to read your ideas. What do you think about, New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament by Roger Cleon? Like Kubo it does give the voc. but also addresses some exegetical issues that people may not be familar. I have not agreed with every thing said by Cleon but then again I have not actually agreed with any grammar 100% either.

25 01 2009
Dave Miers

glad the greek reader wasn’t trashed!!

😉

26 01 2009
Con Campbell

Sorry, I don’t know Cleon’s book, so can’t comment. Though I’ve known some people who use it and seem to appreciate it.

1 02 2009
Alex Kowalenko

I purchased the Reader’s Greek NT last year, and I really like it. It is great for traveling, or for church as you only need to take with you one book, instead of 2 (or 3 including an English Bible – but who only takes 2 books with them when traveling!).




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