Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 8

29 01 2010

From the chapter on using your senses:

Increasingly, teachers are harnessing different methods for learning Greek, including catering for different learning styles and utilizing the power of our senses for language acquisition.

Because Greek is normally treated as a dead language (though it is far from it!), there is often little interest shown in pronouncing it or hearing it read aloud. This is a great shame. Speaking Greek out loud can be a very useful way to internalize the language.

It seems that singing Greek is all the rage at the moment.

Personally, some of my fondest Greek memories are associated with Kalamata olives and feta cheese, but that doesn’t really help with paradigms.

Posted by Con Campbell

Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 7

27 01 2010

From the chapter called Get it right the first time. This chapter is aimed at students learning Greek for the first time, rather than pastors who need to recap.

If you’re a student at seminary, bible college, or university and are currently studying Greek, you will never have a better time to get it under your belt.

Keep in mind that you want to know Greek so that you can teach God’s word with depth of understanding, observing its subtleties and nuances, many of which cannot be conveyed in translation.

The more capable you become with Greek when you first learn it, the easier it will be to keep your Greek in the future.

If you can get yourself to that place, you will find it easy to keep your Greek. And that means that you’ll have years ahead of you to read the New Testament in Greek, study it in detail, and teach it with depth and understanding.

Posted by Con Campbell

Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 6

25 01 2010

From the chapter on reading slowly:

While it’s a good thing to practice reading Greek quickly (see the last chapter), it’s very important to balance that with reading slowly. Not because reading slowly is necessarily an inherently good thing, but the point is that you practice reading Greek carefully.

This can be incorporated simply into our daily Greek reading, as can reading quickly. The key is to mix it up so that your daily Greek reading is fast on occasion, and slow at other times.

The irony is that reading slowly and carefully will ultimately enable you to read quickly and easily.

Posted by Con Campbell

Keep your Greek: Testing some lines 5

19 01 2010

From the chapter on reading Greek quickly:

When we read Greek quickly, it helps us to get ‘the vibe’ of the language. To get the vibe of something, you need frequent exposure to it, but also some comprehension of the bigger picture.

Reading quickly will also help you to ‘internalize’ the language in a way that slow and careful reading may not. To ‘internalize’ a language means that you no longer treat it as an abstract ‘code’ to be deciphered. Rather, it becomes more like a song you know really well.

Reading quickly also feels more like you’re actually reading because you’re taking in more content, and therefore piecing together the ideas and the wider message of the text.

Read Greek quickly and dig the vibe, man.

Posted by Con Campbell

Review of Granville Sharp’s Canon and Its Kin

11 01 2010

Allow me to share the (unedited) conclusion of my review of Dan Wallace’s new book. I’ve already offered a few thoughts about the book here, and the rest of the review will be found in the Themelios journal later in the year. Yes, I know it’s a bit gushing, but it reflects my honest opinion!

It is rare to be invited to review a book that is both a landmark and robust to the point of seeming virtually irrefutable. It is a landmark book because it has in my opinion put to rest the debate about Sharp’s rule, and has shown that it is of enormous importance both to Greek syntax and to theological exegesis of the New Testament. Truly, the humble Greek article reaches the heights of the deity of Christ! The book is robust in that it is difficult to imagine its key conclusions being overturned any time soon, if ever. If such claims appear grandiose, the following is more so: this book will stand the test of time as one of the best contributions to Greek syntax of the twentyfirst century. Dr Wallace is to be congratulated, and all serious students of the Greek New Testament should read his book, and will do so to great profit.

Now, go read the book!

Posted by Con Campbell

Preaching without notes

8 01 2010

I’m a convert to preaching without any notes.

I know it’s not for everyone, but I reckon more preachers could do it if they wanted to.

I’ve preached evangelistically without notes for years, by memorising certain talks that I knew I would get to repeat many times. But I’ve not thought it “worth it” to preach all the time without notes. Until now.

I recently preached 5 talks at the Queensland CMS Summer School, one talk each day. With the exception of one point in my last talk, during which I was struggling with a severe stomach bug, I didn’t forget anything I had planned to say. I really enjoyed the freedom of not using notes, and was surprised by how much detail could still be offered without them.

Why is it good?

There are several things I can think of, but three things stand out.

1. The ability to connect to hearers is greatly enhanced away from a lectern. I’ve preached a lot with notes and without, and there’s no question in my mind that without notes, connection is better. I feel better connected, and from feedback it seems that hearers do too.

2. The freedom to “reshape” the talk as you go can be very useful. Sometimes I don’t like being locked into my notes, and certain parts of a talk might be crying out for further comment or a slightly different direction. I think the vibe of “the moment” is key here, and it’s all intuition, but preachers know what I mean, I’m sure. Now, I used to improv when using notes anyway, but it can be awkward then returning to notes after an unexpected improv bit. By not using notes at all, this problem disappears.

3. There is a need to be more connected to the text being preached than to the notes of the sermon. I used to need to know my notes and the text, but now I only need to know the text.


Surprisingly, I never felt at risk of forgetting what I’d planned to say, so that was not a drawback.

Also, as mentioned above, I had suspected that details might suffer, but this was not the case. In fact, I think details were communicated more clearly this way than they have been with notes at various times.

A common assumption is that learning the talk will add so much time to preparation that it is not worth the effort. I agree, if it does take a lot of time, but if you can work out a method that does not require much time, this is not a problem. I think I’ve discovered a way that works for me, so it adds maybe an hour of extra work.

I think the main drawback is that 70% of the feedback I received (especially from other preachers) included some comment or question about preaching without notes. There’s a risk that it (at least initially) distracts from the message. Which is kinda counter-productive, huh? But once people get used to it, I think that problem disappears.

Posted by Con Campbell

What’s in a word?

1 01 2010

In reading about a debate on “Patronage” vs “Benefaction” it occurred to me that lots of people are ignorant of a really important discussions about the nature of words. So here is the first of a few extracts from Chapter 3 of Anthony Thiselton’s  “New Horizons in Hermeneutics”. Hope this is helpful in stimulating your thinking…

All texts presuppose code. The text of a medical prescription, for example, has been encoded by a medical practitioner in accordance with the conventions of the profession, and invites a pharmacist to de-code it for action in light of these shared conventions. A music score has been encoded by a composer, and waits to be decoded by an orchestra or singers in a musical event. In these exampels, however the code is not the items of information which constitute the “message.” The codes is the sign –system, lattice, or network, in terms of which the linguistic choices which convey the message are expressed. The musical code which enables the composer to specify the production of a particular note for a particular length of time is not the note itself (which would be the message); but the stave or staff of five parallel horizontal lines (together with the clef and the specified areas where possible choices about key signature and time would be supplied) which constitute the structure in terms of which given notes can be chosen and properties specified. Complex texts may presuppose several different layers of code. For example, the Apocalypse of John at one level presupposes the range of possible lexical and grammatical choices available in Hellenistic Greek… But it also operates on the basis of a system of conventions used by earlier apocalyptic. Some allusions to earlier texts such as Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel are not merely reminders about earlier traditions… Language in the Apocalypse of John about “one hundred and forty-four thousand” (Rev. 7.4) presupposes a code which is different from that which generates meaning in the case of mathematical propositions. In the case of mathematics, the network of choices operates in terms f a contrast which opposes or excludes “one hundred and forty-four thousand and one” or “one hundred and forty-three thousand and ninety nine.” But the text of Revelation presupposes contrastive networds which signal differences between completeness and incompleteness with reference to a history of traditions about “twelve” which have become familiar enough to represent a convention among certain communities. Where horses’ heads seem to become merged with heads of lions (Rev. 9.10) the code which is presupposed is not that of empirical visual observations and description. The “measuring” of the temple (Rev. 11.1-2) may perhaps involve several layers….

Posted by Bruce Lowe