Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 4

26 10 2009

Since vocab learning and retention is one of the biggest hurdles for keeping your Greek, I thought I’d share some more thoughts on this for your feedback. It’s been helpful so far!

My thoughts can be grouped into principles of learning and retention, and tools to achieve this. The following is a summary; it’ll be fleshed-out in the book, of course.

Caveat: I don’t necessarily expect everyone to use all of these; they’re ideas and suggestions (though some are more important than others).

Tell me: what do you think, and what’s missing?

How to learn/remember words

1. Invent a memory hook for each word.

2. Make each word your friend.

3. Pronounce each word.

4. Try listening to vocab (make your own recording or download).

5. Try writing vocabulary out by hand.

6. Practice going from English to Greek, not just Greek to English (more advanced).

7. Make vocab a part of your life. Busy people need a pattern that does not take much time or effort.


1. A New Reader’s Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. This provides rare vocabulary for each passage in the GNT, which makes reading more enjoyable AND facilitates learning the vocab you don’t already know for any passage you might be working on.

2. A Reader’s Greek New Testament. This is similar to the above.

3. Various software tools (there’ll be an index of these, I think). My favourite is iVocabulary for iPhone.

Posted by Con Campbell

Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 3

23 10 2009

Here are some more. These are from the chapter on vocabulary.

Make vocabulary your friend! You remember the names of your friends, right?

Clearly one of the hardest elements of keeping your Greek is vocabulary. Even if you remember your paradigms and recall the syntax, without knowing what the words mean, it is all for nought!

I get the impression that some people are ‘above’ learning vocabulary. What I mean is that vocab learning is not especially sexy or sophisticated, like, say, verbal aspect 🙂

While it can be tempting to rush your vocab learning—since there are so many words to master—it’s important to let quality rule over quantity.

The great thing about a good memory hook is that it will really help to keep the word in your long-term memory, because the connection that’s made makes a lasting impression in your mind.

Posted by Con Campbell

Douglas Campbell, “The Deliverance of God”

22 10 2009

Douglas Campbell’s new book “The Deliverance of God – An Apocalyptic Rereading of imagesJustification in Paul” is a very substantial work likely to ruffle more feathers than a windstorm in a chicken coup.

This book is a 1000 page “crystallization” of over 20 years of musing on Romans and justification. What he tries to do in a nutshell is chart a new way forward by giving a completely new reading of Romans 1-4. Campbell believes that a correct reading has been stifled by a “justification reading” of these chapters. This he claims is true for almost every past reader. What needs to be realized instead is that in many places Paul is not expressing his own opinions so much as outlining and refuting the ideas of a Jewish teacher. His reading is very much shaped by seeing an ongoing fictitious exchange throughout.

No one is really safe from Campbell’s critique. On the one hand the NPP’s de-emphasis on good works righteousness in Judaism comes under scrutiny. On the other, traditional justification is beaten up both in broad daylight and in every dark alley where Campbell sees it lurking.

What do I think? 1) I don’t like the “everyone else is bias” approach that has somehow become fashionable in this discussion; 2) I do like the fact that he tries a new reading of Romans 1-4, which I think is overdue; 3) I don’t like the way he relies on the ficticious dialogue throughout. I think this dialogue is right for Romans 2.1-3.8 but to try and push it out almost everywhere gets quite thin. If the dialogue is wrong at any moment, if Paul is actually asking or answering a question instead, then what was the opponent’s opinion suddenly becomes Paul’s, in a way that could turn his whole thesis on its head. This indeed is what I think can and will happen as more thorough attention is paid to some of the rhetorical clues that have been missed by Campbell and the apocalyptic side is developed more naturally.

9/10 for critique of others; 8/10 for charting a new way of approaching Romans 1-4; 6/10 for execution of a new reading; and 3/10 for the conclusion that results.

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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Who is Babylon the Prostitute in Revelation?

18 10 2009
Hanging Balls Of Babylon
Image by Vermin Inc via Flickr

Revelation is one of those books (letters?) that is tough for anyone to read. So much confusing imagery, lots of controversy at every turn. I’m not going to attempt to unravel its mysteries , but I will argue for something I think is pretty important, which can then act as a key for opening up other things: Who is Babylon the prostitute? In many different ways the Letter / book itself points to: earthly Jerusalem. Here’s some of the reasons:

Reason #1 – Unfaithful Jerusalem was portrayed as a prostitute in the OT (Ezek 23), so the metaphor here is just the same.

Reason #2 – Jerusalem has already been called by the names of other wicked cities in Revelation (see 11:8), so there is a precedent for it going by the name of yet another OT city.

Reason #3 – The woman with stars on her head in Chap. 12 (Jerusalem) gets transported into the wilderness in 12:14. Then when John gets taken into the wilderness himself, he sees a woman: “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet.” Same place is suggestive of the same woman – she has become corrupted in the wilderness (another OT theme for Israel).

Reason #4 – Only other woman (besides Jezebel, 2.20) in Revelation is the bride (contrasting the prostitute) and she is the heavenly Jerusalem. Logically then there is a contrast between unfaithful earthly Jerusalem and the faithful heavenly one (21:10)

Reason #5 – The prostitute cannot be the Rome (next best possibility), because Rome is the city of seven hills (17:9) which is the beast on which she rides – a picture of Jerusalem prostituting herself to Rome.

Reasons #6 – … and the beast turns on here (17:16) which is perfectly explained by the destruction of Jerusalem under the Romans in the year 70.

Reason #7 Note also how in 4Ezra, Ezra has a vision of a woman and it ends up being Jerusalem:

[EZRA HAS A VISION AND SEES A WOMAN…] [I] turned to her and said to her, “Why are you weeping, and why are you grieved at heart?” ”Let me alone, my lord,” she said, “that I may weep for myself and continue to mourn, for I am greatly embittered in spirit and deeply afflicted.” And I said to her, “What has happened to you? Tell me.” She said to me, “Your servant was barren and had no child, though I lived with my husband thirty years…” [SHE GOES ON FOR A BIT AND THEN …] suddenly she uttered a loud and fearful cry, so that the earth shook at the sound. And I looked, and behold the woman was no longer visible to me, but there was an established city (!!!)

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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Avoiding a “God-less” Theology

14 10 2009
writing...the old fashioned way
Image by Darwin Bell via Flickr

In a now famous little article by Nils Dahl (“The Neglected Factor of New Testament Theology”) the point is made: “New Testament theology, as practiced in the contemporary scholarly community, does not speak about god but about the way in which the New Testament authors talk about god; its discourse about God is indirect… the theme of ‘God’ has been neglected in New Testament theology.” How amazing that this could happen -a loss of the forest for the trees! There is always a danger isn’t there that ideas about God can capture our attention at the expense of actually thinking about and relating to God!

Dahl adds a provocative thought to this that perhaps under the influence of the Christological school of Ritschl in the 19th century, we think of Christ but not God.

Posted by Bruce Lowe

Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 2

8 10 2009

From the chapter on software tools…

Bible software tools provide incredible speed and convenience […]. But, they come at a risk. And—just like cars—the very thing that makes them convenient is also the thing that threatens to kill your Greek: Speed.

By moving that cursor too quickly, you can replicate the perennial problem that is inflicted by the dreaded interlinear (that you have recently burnt).

So, my advice to you is the same as it will be to my kids when they’re old enough to drive (in the way-distant future): by all means harness the power of software tools, but be very careful that their speed does not kill your Greek.

Posted by Con Campbell

Keep your Greek: testing some lines

6 10 2009

What do you think of these lines?

They come from the chapter I’m working on for Keep your Greek.

Just as performing bicep curls without using your biceps is counterproductive and lame, so too is reading Greek without using your Greek.

Instead of using the primary ‘muscle group’ needed to read Greek—your memory!—the interlinear allows you to underwork your memory and rely on the stronger ‘muscle group’—the printed English vocabulary sitting right there under each Greek word.

So, go ahead and burn that interlinear. Or, at least, give it to someone you don’t like very much.

Posted by Con Campbell